Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Cardiff City

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Cardiff City need a result at Goodison Park on Saturday – but the struggling Bluebirds will have to take points off an Everton side that have lost just once at home this season (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

Everton’s only home loss this season came at the hands of, of all sides, Sunderland – which might give Cardiff some hope. The visitors will also be bolstered by last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Fulham, their first in five matches. But Cardiff aren’t safe yet, occupying the final spot in the Premier League relegation zone and in danger of being pushed down by Sunderland’s three games in hand.

The Toffees have had a bit of a tough time as of late. In addition to a 4-1 loss to Arsenal that knocked them out of the FA Cup last weekend, Everton lost to both Spurs and Chelsea by a 1-0 scoreline, before finally managing to beat West Ham by the same score two weeks ago – and even that win required a late goal from substitute Romelu Lukaku.

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Everton are currently one place back of the final Europa League spot, but they’re even on points with Manchester United and still have two games to make up. But to finish in the top six, they’ll need to be practically perfect from here on out, meaning Roberto Martínez will need his side to be fit and healthy, and he’ll need to be using his best players for every match.

There was some criticism after Martínez elected to use Joel to face Arsenal in the Cup last weekend, but don’t worry – it’ll be Tim Howard in goal this time around. No word yet, however, on whether Everton captain Phil Jagielka returns to defense after missing the last two matches with a hamstring injury.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is blessed with an almost fully-fit squad, with only defender Ben Turner in doubt, after he picked up an injury in the win over Fulham. However, it was his center back partner, Steve Caulker, that scored two against Fulham, and he’ll certainly get the nod this week. Upfront it’ll likely be Kenwyne Jones alone, although both Craig Bellamy and Wilfried Zaha are pushing to return to the starting lineup.

What they’re saying

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Cardiff’s fight to avoid the drop: “The pressure is not off after win against Fulham, but three points does help the team and players. A win is always good, but we know it’s going to be a two month test of character and team spirit. It was a great start in what was an important game against a team who are bottom. There were lots of positives, but nobody will relax now.”

Roberto Martínez on Everton’s push for Europe: ‘This is a very intense period and we were disappointed to leave the FA Cup. Can we get top four? Mathematically we can. It’s still achievable. Reaching Europe would be a massive step forward, it would bring the massive nights we want that helps us grow as a club.”

Prediction

Home win. Cardiff may have bagged multiple goals last weekend, but that was against Fulham. Everton will be itching to come back from their rather embarrassing defeat to Arsenal, and they’ll be hyper-aware of the need to collect three points to keep hold of a European position.

UCL Weds: Real, Ronaldo debut apart; Man City, United, too

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The three-time reigning champions are back in the UEFA Champions League for Wednesday’s matches, as is their talisman.

They are just competing in different parts of Spain.

[ MORE: UCL Tuesday wrap ]

Real Madrid hosts AS Roma in the marquee match of the day, aiming to become the first club to win four successive European Cups since it won the first five tournaments. Roma, of course, will be lamenting the one more goal it needed to have this match-up occur in the final last May.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo has likely returned his shirt to his chest since bagging his first two Juventus goals this weekend, and he’ll be ready for the Mestalla, where he’s spent significant time as a visitor. Ronaldo has 15 goals in 17 appearances all-time against Valencia.

Of course, you’re familiar with the pair of Premier League clubs in action. Manchester United is in Switzerland to face tournament new boys Young Boys, while Manchester City entertains a tricky Lyon squad which features a few players with Mancunian connections: ex-United winger Memphis Depay and ex-City academy product Jason Denayer.

(Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP)

UCL Wednesday schedule

Ajax vs. AEK Athens — 12:55 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Hoffenheim — 12:55 p.m. ET
Man City vs. Lyon — 3 p.m. ET
Valencia vs. Juventus — 3 p.m. ET
Young Boys vs. Manchester United –3 p.m. ET
Real Madrid vs. AS Roma — 3 p.m. ET
Benfica vs. Bayern Munich — 3 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. CSKA Moscow — 3 p.m. ET

Klopp: Liverpool “changed the system” to beat PSG

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
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Bullet dodged via Roberto Firmino, Liverpool can reflect on a thrilling start to a new UEFA Champions League season.

The Reds built a two-goal lead against Paris Saint-Germain and very much looked the part of the favorite even after allowing Thomas Meunier to pull the visitors back to 2-1 before the break on Tuesday at Anfield.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 3-2 PSG ]

But a Mohamed Salah giveaway led to a Kylian Mbappe goal, and the Reds were in danger of giving two points away to start life in a group which also includes Napoli and Red Star Belgrade (who played to a 0-0 draw in Serbia).

Enter the man they call Bobby, who came off the bench days after a scary eye injury that earned reports of possible long-term damage.

A goal, and an eye-patch celebration that will live in the Anfield memory for some time.

That the match needed late heroics was a sign of some worry for Liverpool, who have taken their foot off the gas more than a few times in recent seasons. For example: the blowing a pair of leads in draws against Sevilla in last season’s group stage.

That’s not a trend, but a complete win over Paris Saint-Germain would go a long way to cementing the Reds’ status as a UCL finalist threat. And that would need

“It was really important we started like we did,” said Jurgen Klopp. “We were so strong and good with the ball. We changed the system because we expected a change from them. We needed all of our focus and we covered a lot of yards and closed all of the gaps.”

Liverpool came out of the gates with vigor, and showing an urgency which laid plain their angst from last season’s final loss to Real Madrid.

“This club and the fans have been waiting for the Champions League to come back since May,” said Andy Robertson.

The Reds scored early from Daniel Sturridge, then took advantage of a lazy Juan Bernat challenge to get a penalty conversion from Mr. Reliable, James Milner.

Faced with another disappointing stalemate, Firmino stepped up. And it’s possible that winning in the manner they did may mean more to their hopes than cruising to 2-0 or 2-1.

“It is the perfect start for us,” Milner said. “Hopefully we can build on that. I think it would have been very disappointing not to win. They didn’t create too many and we had a number of chances.

“I can’t say enough good things about Bobby (Roberto Firmino). To come off the bench after his injury at the weekend is incredible really.”

Next up: a visit to Southampton, followed by a League Cup date at Chelsea, a Blues visit to Anfield, and then a trip to Napoli.

Liverpool wins stoppage time thriller

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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  • Sturridge opens scoring
  • Mane wins PK, Milner converts
  • Salah giveaway leads to equalizer
  • Firmino saves the day

Roberto Firmino‘s stoppage time goal saved Liverpool blushes after the Reds gave away a two-goal lead but came back to beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday at Anfield.

Daniel Sturridge and James Milner scored first for the Reds, who looked to be on cruise control after a dominant first half.

Thomas Meunier and Kylian Mbappe scored for the visitors set the stage for a grandstand finish.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Liverpool was twice denied by the paw of Alphonse Areola within seven minutes of kickoff, with Virgil Van Dijk and James Milner earning corner kicks.

PSG found its first real danger when Edinson Cavani set up Neymar for a drive at Alisson Becker, and Virgil van Dijk helped produce a tame rebound effort.

Sturridge, only starting due to an injury to Roberto Firmino, put the Reds ahead in the 31st minute when he headed an Andy Robertson cross past Areola.

Liverpool headed to the spot for a chance to make it 2-0 when Juan Bernat made a clumsy challenge on Georginio Wijnaldum. That’s Milner’s office, and the two-goal lead arrived at Anfield.

But Meunier was on hand to pull one back when a partially-blocked shot came to him for a left-footed volley inside the 18.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Mohamed Salah believed he had restored Liverpool’s two-goal lead, but Sturridge’s sliding stamp on Areola’s groin was called a foul and a free kick was awarded.

Moments after Sadio Mane came oh-so-close to giving the Reds a two-goal lead, Liverpool collapsed under the weight of a Salah giveaway.

Julian Draxler snagged the ball and fed Neymar, who dribbled towards Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman got a piece of Neymar’s dribble, but the block went right to Mbappe, who did not miss his chance to best Alisson Becker.

Trent Alexander-Arnold came close to restoring the lead when Marquinhos gave away a free kick on the edge of the PSG box.

But Firmino was the man to give all three points to the Reds.

UCL wrap: USMNT’s Pulisic, McKennie shine

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Christian Pulisic can score by blocking clearances and Weston McKennie won’t stop running, as Americans made their impacts felt in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

[ MORE: PL Player Power Rankings ]

Of course, Spurs and Liverpool threw away leads and only the latter recovered to get a result on a busy night in Europe.

Inter Milan 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur RECAP

Christian Eriksen scored for Spurs, as the North London side had a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute. But Inter struck twice in the final few minutes, including Matias Vecino’s winner in the second minute of stoppage. That will leave Spurs licking their wounds after a third-straight loss.

Barcelona 4-0 PSV EindhovenRECAP

Lionel Messi now has more hat tricks than anyone in Champions League history — for now — nabbing his eighth in moving ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus plays Wednesday). And Ousmane Dembele scored a gorgeous dribble and finish in the win.

Liverpool 3-2 Paris Saint-GermainRECAP

The Reds went ahead 2-0 through a Daniel Sturridge header and James Milner penalty, and controlled much of the proceedings. Thomas Meunier’s 40th minute goal seemed destined to mean very little when Mohamed Salah gave away the ball late in the second half.

Kylian Mbappe made it 2-2, but it only set the stage for Roberto Firmino.

Schalke 1-1 Porto

USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie turned provider on the match’s first goal, sliding across for Breel Embolo’s fortunate offspeed finish (see below). But Salif Sane conceded a penalty to the visitors, and Otavio finished his chance for a share of the points.

Monaco 1-2 Atletico Madrid

A goal from diminutive Serge Grandsir gave the hosts an early lead, but Diego Costa and Jose Maria Gimenez scored before halftime to give Diego Simeone’s men all three points.

Red Star Belgrade 0-0 Napoli

The Serbians send a message that no one’s coming to their house and getting an easy night. Napoli managed 20 shots to Red Star’s six, but a 7-save performance from Canada’s Milan Borjan got a point for the hosts at the Stadion Rajko Mitic.

Galatasaray 3-0 Lokomotiv Moscow

Garry Rodrigues and Erden Derdiyok scored on either side of halftime to give the Turkish powers a win at the Turk Telekom Arena.

Club Brugge 0-1 Borussia Dortmund

Christian Pulisic began the game on the bench, entering for the final 20 minutes or so of his 20th birthday to make his 100th BVB appearance.

Happy birthday, kid.