West Brom 1-1 Fulham: New manager, same heartbreak for Fulham as Baggies equalize late (video)

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New Fulham manager Felix Magath shut up shop with just a 1-0 lead, and West Brom made him pay.

Just like the last time these two teams faced off, a late Baggies goal denies the Whites two points and may have condemned them to the drop.

The winner came from substitute Matej Vydra, as Fulham keeper Maarten Stekelenburg – who’d been fantastic all game – couldn’t handle a blast right at him and the ball trickled over the line for the equalizer four minutes from full-time.

Premier League Roundup: Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United grab wins

Fulham controlled much of the possession in the opening 10 minutes. The first real chance came in the sixth minute, as Louis Holtby played a one-two with Hugo Rodallega and the Spurs loanee fired wide left.

It turned into a possession game with precious little on goal going forward, but again the visitors had a chance as Steve Sidwell missed a follow-up shot in the 22nd minute, after Ashkan Dejagah’s cross was just out of the reach of Hugo Rodallega.

The Whites controlled possession but West Brom were dangerous on the break. Thievy Bifouma took a ball from Saido Berainho on the break, with Fulham caught out, but Maarten Stekelenburg saved very well to keep the game scoreless.

Fulham finally took advantage of their chances in the 28th minute. Kieran Richardson broke down the left touchline, and his first-time cross found Holtby. The forward whiffed at his kick, but it fell to Dejagah on the other end of the box, and the Iranian threaded the needle for the opener.

source: AP
Felix Magath saw exactly what Fulham is all about in his first match in charge.

The visitors were the more dangerous side throughout the first half, and Rodallega took a crack on goal from well far out, a great strike, but Ben Foster was equal to the task to dive and parry away, and it went to the half with just the one score.

West Brom finally had their first sustained spell of pressure on the Fulham defense following that chance. Chris Brunt had a testing shot on goal after the ball fell to him outside the box, but Stekelenburg again came to Fulham’s rescue, saving the bouncing shot and securing one of his best and most important performances in a Fulham shirt.

The home side continued to dominate possession in the second half, and Magath brought on Kostas Mitroglou for his Fulham debut on 60 minutes.

There were nearly shades of the reverse fixture earlier on, as Gareth McAuley – last time’s equalizing hero – latched onto a corner but put his header just wide with 20 minutes to go.  But with Dan Burn brought on to give Fulham five men at the back and 20 minutes to go , it was clear Magath was looking to see out the 1-0 win.

The Baggies had other ideas. With tired legs all around the pitch, Vydra took his chance.  Victor Anichebe sent in a great cross to Vydra in the middle of the box, and he blasted his shot from close range directly at Stekelenburg. The Dutch keeper, who’d had an outsanding match, couldn’t handle the heat, and the ball trickled away and just over the line.

The point is massive for West Brom.  They still have just two wins in their last 21 league matches, but the point gives them a bit of cushion over the drop.

For Fulham, who have Chelsea up next, they drop an enormous two points.  Instead of going just one point from safety, they remain bottom of the table and fail to take advantage of Cardiff City’s loss.

GOALS:

West Brom – Vydra 86′
Fulham – Dejagah 28′

LINEUPS:

West Brom – Foster; Jones (Anichebe 44′), McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Morrison, Brunt, Amalfitano; Berainho (Vydra 75′), Thievy (Gera 45′).

Fulham – Stekelenburg; Riether, Hangeland, Heitinga, Amorebieta (Riise 52′); Dejagah, Parker, Sidwell, Richardson (Burn 70′); Holtby; Rodallega (Mitroglou 60′).

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.