West Ham United 2-1 Hull City: Red card, own goal doom Tigers (video)

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A mid-first half red card to goalkeeper Allan McGregor proved too much for Hull City to overcome, with the controversial decision leaving West Ham United up a goal and a man. Though the short-handed Tigers would pull that opener back in the second half, an own goal from James Chester proved decisive as the Hammers, snapping a three-match losing streak, earned a 2-1 win at Upton Park.

An even affair was broken open in the 23rd minute when McGregor saw red after a collision with Mohamed Diamé, one Mike Dean and his crew adjudicated to have denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Mark Noble’s conversion from the spot gave West Ham the lead, one that was pulled back when Nikica Jelavic deflected home a Tom Huddlestone free kick in the 48th minute. Shortly after, a cross from the right from Guy Demel was redirect by James Chester into the Hull net, giving the Hammers their final margin of victory.

The result moves West Hame three spots up the Premier League table, with Sam Allardyce’s crew claiming 11th place from Aston Villa. Hull, on the other hand, slides to 13th after losing its third in four.

West Ham created the first chance of the match when a cross from the right was knocked down by Andy Carroll, giving Matthew Taylor a chance after a poor clearance by Hull. A lunging block from Alex Bruce kept McGregor from being tested with the game’s first threat, giving way to a match that was played on even footing for its first 20 minutes.

The the ninth minute, however, West Ham was forced to make its first sub after James Collins hobbled off the field. With fellow center half James Tomkins having overcome injury doubts to make today’s starting XI, the Welsh international was forced to give way to Roger Johnson, who would soon find his day made easier by a disputed call at the other end of the park.

source: Getty ImagesNear the 23rd minute, a venture from Noble into the penalty area ended when a tackle sent the ball bouncing off two defenders and toward the Tigers’ goal. There the ball hit Diamé’s elevated right hand before McGregor, coming out to challenge a potential shot, turned to collide side-first into the West Ham midfielder. With Diamé, just outside the six-yard box, having lifted the ball over the keeper and toward goal, McGregor was shown straight red, forcing Steve Harper on at Bruce’s expense.

After McGregor was treated for injury, Noble welcomed Harper with the game’s first goal. The replacement keeper, leaning early into the left side of goal, saw the West Ham midfielder calmly finish toward the right post, making it 1-0.

Minutes into the second half, the 10-mean Tigers pulled back Noble’s opener, with a Huddlestone drive from 26 yards out deflecting off Jelavic before beating Adrían. Making amends for a missed chance toward the end of the first half, the Hull midfielder blasted his restart toward the middle of the West Ham goal. Just inside the penalty area, however, Jelavic ran into the shot and pushed it toward Adrían’s left post, giving the keeper no chance of preventing Hull’s unlikely equalizer.

The lead was gone in six minutes, however. Off a poor cross from Demel, Chester failed to adjust to an unexpected bounce, his attempted left-footed clearance seeing the ball skip off his knee. The deflection went over Harper and under the crossbar to give West Ham its winner.

Hull’s best chance over the match’s final 36 minutes was a long drive from Huddlestone that forced Adrían to concede a corner. Even against a West Ham team that failed to adjust to a man advantage, the short-handed Tigers couldn’t find a second equalizer. Instead, they were left wondering if another official would have called Diamé’s hand ball.

LINEUPS

West Ham United: Adrían; Dumel, Collins (Johnson 9′), Tomkins, McCartney; Noble, Diame (J. Cole 69′); Downing, Nolan, Taylor; Carroll

Goals: Noble (26′), Chester (54′, o.g.)

Hull City: McGregor; Chester, Bruce (Harper 25′), Davies; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler, Figueroa (Rosenior 59′); Long, Jelavic (Sagbo 82′)

Goals: Jelavic (48′)

Lletget and Dos Santos send Galaxy through past Minnesota United

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The fans were buzzing at Allianz Field as Minnesota United got its first playoff campaign under way at home, but the jubilation didn’t last long as the LA Galaxy spoiled the party with a 2-1 win over the wasteful hosts. Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos were on hand to lift the visitors on a night to forget for strikers on both sides.

Just seven minutes in the porous LA Galaxy defense parted beautifully for Minnesota, but the home side couldn’t capitalize. On the break a wonderful cross reached Angelo Rodriguez with the goal gaping, but he completely whiffed on the chance with Dave Bingham charging.

The home side produced much of the attacking intent through the first half-hour, and again nearly went in front as Robin Lod blasted over the bar with a glorious chance to smash home the opener. Bingham turned sweeper keeper to smother another chance minutes before the break as a ball long for Ethan Finlay got behind the Galaxy defense.

After the break, Minnesota again had a chance to go in front as Romain Metanire sent in a delicious ball in front of net, but Rodriguez couldn’t head on target, flailing at the ball and ending up with his back to the net when he made contact. The Galaxy’s best chance of the first hour fell to Zlatan Ibrahimovic who found himself all alone near the far post on a corner, but he too flubbed the chance, unable to make solid contact while instead sending the ball skittering out of play off the side of his foot.

With strikers on both sides struggling mightily to make the most of chances, the LA Galaxy went in front against the run of play. Christian Pavon found Zlatan all alone about six yards in front of net, and while his shot was blocked, the rebound fell right to the feet of a charging Lletget who deposited his chance in a game begging for a finish.

Ibrahimovic’s struggles continued as his one-on-one chance with Vito Mannone was smothered by the goalkeeper, but moments later Jonathan dos Santos produced a wonderful curler that Mannone couldn’t reach and put the Galaxy 2-0 up.

There was still hope for Minnesota as they got a consolation with four minutes to go as Jan Gregus pulled one back for the hosts with a vicious low strike that rocketed into the bottom corner for the first real moment of tenacity up front for Minnesota United. Unfortunately, that would be it for the visitors as they sent Mannone forward for a late corner but nothing came of it and the final whistle blew.

The Galaxy move on to a dream matchup with their neighbors LAFC, while Minnesota United falls for the first time in 13 home games and their season comes to an end.

Rumblings that Real Madrid has contact with Jose Mourinho

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Real Madrid sits second in the La Liga table and has only just lost its first league match of the season, but manager Zinedine Zidane is reportedly already on the hot seat.

With a loss to Mallorca this weekend adding to a pair of Champions League disappointments to start group stage play, Zidane’s status is in question. While there is nothing from the more concrete sources, Spanish tabloids have begun to whisper that the club has been in contact with former manager Jose Mourinho, as Florentino Perez has flirted multiple times with returning the Portuguese boss to the Spanish capital over the last 12 months.

El Churingito reports that with Zidane under pressure, Perez has reached out to Moruinho to judge his interest in the position. The two have a history, with Mourinho taking charge of the side from 2010-2013 before a mutual split after what Mourinho called “the worst [season] of my career.” The reports state that Mourinho has a great relationship with Perez which could convince him to return. Rumors of his return are not new, as two months ago another tabloid report claimed an eventual reunion was possible.

Mourinho has been out of the game since he left Manchester United in December, serving as a pundit in a number of different capacities. At Old Trafford, Mourinho was unable to help the Red Devils return to the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson, plagued by negative tactics and inconsistent results.

This season, Madrid has fallen victim to poor defending and a lack of finishing. Luka Jovic has not enjoyed a flying start to his Madrid career, while Gareth Bale again has found himself injured. Raphael Varane was benched for the Mallorca match in favor of Eder Militao and Dani Carvajal was rested, but a seventh minute Lago Junior goal was enough to down the giants. Carvajal’s stand-in Alvaro Odriozola was sent off in the 74th minute, making things even more difficult. With the club failing to win either of its first two European matches against PSG and Club Brugge, the pressure has risen on Zidane despite his past successes with the club.

La Liga: Sevilla squeaks by Levante, La Real back to winning ways

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Real Sociedad put its two-game losing streak to bed and remained in the mix at the top of the La Liga table, turning around an early 1-0 deficit and winning 3-1 at home over Real Betis.

Lorenzo Moron scored 12 minutes in for the visitors, but a Javi Garcia own-goal leveled the score while Willian Jose and Portu sealed the three points. Martin Odegaard was fantastic again for La Real, constantly proving a threat in the buildup. Man of the Match, however, was Mikel Merino who was active in the midfield and popped up occasionally in the attacking third. The win pushes La Real up to fourth in the table, two points behind second-placed Real Madrid and three back of leaders Barcelona.

Sevilla was held for 86 minutes at home by Levante, but Luuk De Jong gave the hosts all three points as he rose high above Erick Cabaco to head home Jesus Navas’s cross from deep. Sevilla held over 60% possession throughout the match and racked up nine corners to Levante’s one, but didn’t create much in front of net until the final 15 minutes. Chicharito and De Jong both missed within two minutes of each other, and the latter eventually converted to push Sevilla to sixth in the La Liga table.

Alaves picked up a big three points over Celta Vigo with a 2-0 home win on second half goals from Lisandro Magallan and Lucas Perez. The visitors managed just two shots on target and had just one clear cut chance that Santi Mina failed to put on frame seconds out of halftime. Former Newcastle striker Joselu had a bad miss past the half-hour mark but proved a threat for much of the match, ripping off six shots on his own. Alaves also picked up five yellow cards in the match, but ultimately jumped out of the relegation zone and past Celta Vigo into 14th.

Villareal moved to seventh in the table with a 1-0 road victory at Espanyol. Cameroon international Karl Toko Ekambi scored his third goal of the season in the 17th minute and the visiting defense spoiled the Espanyol attack all game long. The hosts put forth 18 shots but managed to get just three of them on target. Santi Cazorla has been stellar all season for Villareal, and he went the full 90 minutes again, not adding much up front but proving a menace in midfield.

Athletic Club drew 1-1 with Real Valladolid as Inaki Williams put Athletic up just after the half-hour mark, but an Inigo Martinez own-goal pegged them back with 20 minutes to go. Athletic popped off 17 shots to Real Valladolid’s seven but Jordi Masip made six saves in net for Real Valladolid to spoil the home side’s day, leaving Athletic in eighth with 13 points.

Fabian downs Red Bulls in extra time, sends Philadelphia to conference semis

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A wild and wacky game saw Philadelphia come from two goals down to force extra time, and Marco Fabian bagged the eventual winner in the 105th minute to put the Union into the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 4-3 win. The victory is the first in playoff action for the Union in club history.

New York held a 3-1 advantage at halftime as Josh Sims, Tim Parker, and Tom Barlow all found the back of the net for the visitors in the opening 45 minutes, while Alejandro Bedoya found the back of the net himself.

After the break, things got even more wild. New York coughed up the lead, with Jack Elliott and Fabrice Picault each striking once despite a solid display from Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles. With the game level, the final 15 minutes were all Philadelphia as the Eastern Conference three seed peppered New York’s penalty area, but Robles made a fabulous save on a Jamiro Monteiro effort from point blank range at the back post.

In extra time, Fabian found the back of the net with what appeared to be a chipped cross that took a slight deflection and snuck into the top corner from a tight angle.

The Union will get a matchup with Atlanta United in the semifinals, after Frank De Boer engineered a 1-0 win over New England.