Sunderland signs striker Ignacio Scocco, trouble for Jozy Altidore?

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Sunderland’s strike force received a boost on Thursday when they secured the services of Argentina international Ignacio Scocco from Brazilian club, Internacional.

The 28-year old was acquired for a fee in the region of £3M and has penned a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Black Cats.

Like compatriot Santiago Vergini, who arrived at Sunderland earlier this month, Scocco was a member of the Newell’s Old Boys team that won the Argentine “Final” championship in June last season under present Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino. During that time Scocco scored 11 goals in 15 matches, which, combined with the 13 goals he scored in the “Inicial” stage of the competition, made him the highest scorer in the Argentine Championship. Scocco was thereafter transfered to Internacional where he scored three goals in 16 matches.

Prior to his most recent stint at Newell’s (where he also began his career), Scocco played in the United Arab Emirates for Al-Ain, in Greece for AEK Athens and in Mexico at UNAM Pumas.

Scocco becomes manager Gus Poyet’s fourth signing of the January Transfer window after compatriots Oscar Ustari and Vergini arrived at the Stadium of Light alongside Spanish full-back Marcos Alonso earlier this month. Poyet is also believed to be on the verge of signing Brighton midfielder Liam Bridcutt after the two clubs agreed a fee in the region of £2.5m.

The arrival of Scocco heaps more pressure on American striker Jozy Altidore, who has struggled since arriving on Wearside last August on a £8.5M deal from AZ Alkmaar. Despite one goal and one assist to his name in 21 Premier League matches, Altidore continues to be selected by Poyet but needs needs to improve if he is to continue in the rotational strike-force alongside Steven Fletcher (3 goals in 19 Premier League matches).

Scocco is likely to debut against Newcastle in this weekend’s Tyne-Wear derby, Saturday at 7:00am ET on NBCSN.

VIDEO: Captain Kane puts England on the board early

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It may be the easiest goal-scoring opportunity Harry Kane‘s ever had in an international competition, and he finished it as easy as you’d like.

Kane side-footed home after Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen made a terrific save on John Stone’s header off a corner, but the save was directed right into a wide-open Kane who was standing ready inside the six yard box. The 11th minute goal will surely settle some of the Three Lions’ nerves as they open their World Cup bid in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

After slow start, Belgium takes care of business against feisty Panama

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All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life.

Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, in which Belgium put a pair of shots into the side netting and forced saves from Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Dries Mertens 47th minute goal opened the floodgates, as Belgium went on to defeat Panama, 3-0, Monday afternoon in Sochi.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

But Panama never made it easy for the Belgians. From the opening whistle the CONCACAF nation showed its incredible spirit, chasing down Belgium all across the field and making life incredibly difficult for Belgium attackers Romelu Lukaku, Mertens and Eden Hazard. Hazard was hacked down all over the field, and while he did earn fouls and a few yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players, it was enough to get in Hazard’s head.

Two minutes into the second half, everything changed. A wonderstrike from Mertens opened the game, and forced Panama to attack and try and tie the match, which gave Hazard, de Bruyne and Lukaku more space to operate.

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama’s veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

 

Six minutes later, Lukaku was put through on the break, chipping over Penedo to confirm the victory.

With the win, Belgium moves to the top of Group G. Up next for Belgium is Tunisia on Saturday, while Panama takes on England on Sunday.

VIDEO: de Bruyne delivers gorgeous assist on Lukaku goal

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It took a little bit of patience, but Romelu Lukaku finally got on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup, thanks to a delicious assist from crosstown club rival Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City playmaker delivered a spectacular outside-of-the-boot cross into the box, where Lukaku’s head met it and guided it towards the far post for Belgium’s second goal of the day.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Arsenal close in on Leno; Man City near Jorginho signing, and more

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Arsenal looks like it will have a new man between the pipes for next season.

According to a report from German publication SportBild, Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno will be introduced as an Arsenal player on Tuesday, after a reported $23-29 million transfer fee. The 26-year-old was on Germany’s 35-man pre-World Cup squad, but was one of the last cuts as Joachim Low went with Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp in Russia.

Leno became the full-time starter for Leverkusen as a 20-year-old, and has held the position of the No. 1 for the last six seasons, earning plenty of Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League experience along the way.

It’s unclear what will happen to current Arsenal No. 1 Petr Cech. The 36-year-old Premier League legend experienced one of his worst seasons in net for Arsenal and he could begin the season as a backup, unless he moves to a new club. He reportedly has a contract through 2019.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the Premier League and Europe.

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