Premier League Roundup: Great escape is on for Fulham, Cardiff as basement boys win

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It ain’t over ’til it’s over… and these boys are hanging on in there.

Fulham, Cardiff City and former strugglers Crystal Palace all won on Saturday, as the Cottagers and Bluebirds have now given themselves a real chance of Premier League survival.

With four games to go it is so tight at the bottom of the PL standings, with just five points separating Cardiff in 19th and Aston Villa in 14th. Norwich, Swansea, West Brom and Aston Villa are now looking anxiously over their shoulders.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Tottenham surged back to draw 3-3 with Baggies, after being 3-0 down, while Stoke and Everton bagged yet another win as the PL’s two form sides keep rolling on. The Toffees have now moved into the fourth and final Champions League place.

In case you missed any of the pulsating action, don’t fret my friends, we have you covered. Below are recaps, analysis and video highlights of every single PL game from Saturday.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Aston Villa

The Eagles are in 12th place and almost getting a nosebleed. Jason Puncheon scored his third goal in two games, as the tricky winger slammed home with 15 minutes to go. Aston Villa are in free-fall but boss Paul Lambert still thinks there are ‘lots of games left’ to turn it around. Umm, Paul, it is mid-April. Palace are safe, Villa definitely aren’t.

Fulham 1-0 Norwich City

Hugo Rodallega was Fulham’s match-winner for the second straight weekend, as the Cottagers picked the perfect time to win back-to-back PL games for the first time since October. Norwich were pretty decent, under new boss Neil Adams, but couldn’t beat an inspired David Stockdale in goal for Fulham, as the Canaries now face Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in their final four games. Fulham are two points behind the Canaries, with a much easier run-in. Could these two flip-flop by the end of the season?

Southampton 0-1 Cardiff City

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Bluebirds have put a week of turmoil behind them to give themselves a big chance of beating the drop. It was only their second away win of the season, as Juan Cala’s cool finish in the second half sunk the Saints. Cardiff’s Norwegian boss said his team will ‘won’t give up until it’s over’ and on this showing, they will take this to the final day of the season. Great spirit and grit from Cardiff, while Saints will be shaking their heads in disbelief after dominating yet another game.

Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle United

The Potters are on a roll, with five wins in their last seven games catapulting Mark Hughes’ side just three points behind Newcastle United in ninth. Erik Pieters scored the only goal of the game, as his lofted cross somehow looped in past Tim Krul to give Stoke all three points. Newcastle are unraveling at the seams, as they have now lost four-straight games without scoring. Is Alan Pardew’s time on Tyneside about to run out?

Sunderland 0-1 Everton

Everton move into fourth position after a gutsy win away at basement club Sunderland. The Black Cats acquitted themselves well throughout but just didn’t have that killer instinct around the box. The lone goal of the game was an own goal, as Wes Brown put into his own net to hand the Toffees all three points. Note for USMNT fans: Jozy Altidore didn’t make the matchday squad yet again.

West Bromwich Albion 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur

Dear oh dear, West Brom… what is going on? For the second-straight home game the Baggies let a big lead slip, as they drew 3-3 again in an awful case of Déjà vu. Leading 3-0 after 31 minutes, Pepe Mel was already spending his win bonus as goals from Matej Vydra, Chris Brunt and Stephane Sessegnon put West Brom in a commanding position. Then Spurs came roaring back, as the got a lifeline before half time with Jonas Olsson’s own goal, then Harry Kane scored another to make it 3-2 with 20 minutes to go. The Baggies nearly held on, then Christian Eriksen popped up in stoppage time to seal a remarkable comeback for Spurs.

Preview: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final

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There will be plenty of 2005 U-17 World Cup final shades at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

On that clear night in Lima, Peru, the likes of Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos wrote history for Mexico, as they powered El Tri to its first-ever World Cup title over a favorite Brazilian side, who was composed of Marcelo, Renato Augusto, and Anderson, in a 3-0 win.

14 years and some change later, both youth powerhouses meet again in the same tournament, for the same silverware, and with the same pressure looming over them from entire nations who expect nothing but excellence from their respective teams.

But of course, to the Brazilians, there is a sense of added pressure given the fact that they’re on home soil.

“We’re familiar with Mexico’s quality,” Brazilian forward, Veron, said ahead of the final. We know they are a great team. But we’re Brazil, and we have five stars on our chest. We intend to play our best match and get the result that makes history.”

As it stands, Mexico is the clear-cut underdog, having barely crept into the knockout stages and being composed of players with far less notoriety to its Brazilian counterpart, who boast three players with three goals or more in the tournament.

That said, Mexico pose as a balanced, reliable, and pragmatic team under coach Marco “Chima” Ruiz. Throughout the six games this tournament, El Tri have found the back of the net 14 times and have conceded a mere three goals (two of which came against Italy). With four goals and two assists in only 344 minutes, Los Angeles Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez has proven to be the team’s most productive player going forward.

Asked who he would rather take between France or Brazil in the final, the Mexican American answered with the same confidence that has made him one of the most exciting players in the tournament.

“It doesn’t matter which of the two it is, we’ll beat them,” he said.

It’s 90 minutes for either team to make history, again. A win for Brazil will raise the number of U-17 stars to four, while Mexico can claim its third with another historic performance. Will Brazil’s high-flying attack crack Mexico’s solid defense? If Alvarez starts, will he rise to the occasion and guide Mexico to another U-17 title?

That has yet to be seen; the second final between two, routine winners awaits the first whistle.

Report: Man City considering Kingsley Coman as Leroy Sane replacement

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Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are considering Bayern Munich’s Kinglsey Coman as a replacement for injured Leroy Sane if he were to leave for the defending German champions over the summer, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sane, who is projected to be out until February or March with an ACL injury, was the subject of a $176 million move to Bayern Munich over the summer, but a move never came to fruition, largely due to the aforementioned injury. If negotiations between Sane’s camp and the defending Bundesliga champions pick up again this summer, City have a replacement in mind: 23-year-old Coman.

Coman, who has played in 10 league games for the Bavarian club this season, was managed by Guardiola during his time with the club and flourished during the title-winning 2015-2016 season. In 2017, the Frenchman revealed that the Spaniard’s departure was tough on him, saying, “I found life easier at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola.”

As expected, Coman is not the only option City are exploring.

Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, who has a reported $82 million release clause, is also on the Premier League giant’s shortlist. Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, has strong ties to La Reala that goes back to his first day in the sport.

At the Etihad, the general feeling from Guardiola’s players is that the German winger is one foot out of England, and is instead focused on a move to Bayern and a return back home. With his contract in the final 12 months this summer, it is expected that the release clause for Sane will not be as lucrative as before. 

In 134 appearances for City, Sane has scored 39 goals, while Coman has scored on 28 different occasions in 139 appearances.

Abidal: Barcelona, Messi negotiating a new deal

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Lionel Messi and his representatives are in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the defending champion’s sporting director Eric Abidal confirmed  to Mundo Deportivo in an exclusive interview.

“They are already talking,” Abidal, the former Barcelona defender, said. “I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible.”

Messi – a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer – joined the club’s well-known academy, La Masia, at the age of 13 and is under contract until 2021 but was recently questioned about his future after Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed that the Argentine can leave Camp Nou on a free transfer due to a clause in his contract.

Asked when he expects an announcement to be made on a new and improved contract, Abidal made it clear he’s unsure but hopes it happens: “It will be known when it is known, but I am positive.”

Throughout seven games in La Liga this season, Messi has scored eight goals and assisted in four occasions. In his latest appearance for the Catalonian side – a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo – the No. 10 scored a first-half hat-trick.

Abidal also confirmed that Barcelona are in talks with breakout teenage starlet Ansu Fati and his camp on a new deal.

“We are also talking to him,” Abidal said. “He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives.”

Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the youngest player in the league’s history to score and assist in the same game.

EURO qualifying wrap: Germany, Austria, Croatia join Netherlands in qualifying

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Like the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Croatia qualified for EURO 2020 after wins on Saturday.

[ READ: Netherlands qualify to first EURO since 2012 ]


Germany 4-0 Belarus

With goals from Matthias Ginter, Leon Goretska, and a second-half brace from Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, Germany routed an uncompetitive Belarus side 4-0 at Borussia-Park. The scoreline, however, should have been more lopsided, as the home side easily won the possession battle and outshot the visitor’s with a total of 31 shots (10 on target). Leaders of Group C, Germany is an early favorite for next summer’s tournament. Not hard to believe that, right? 

Austria 2-1 North Macedonia

Qualifying for Europe’s main tournament is becoming a norm for Austria.

Bayern Munich’s David Alaba scored early while Stefan Lainer added his own three minutes into the second half, as Austria edged North Macedonia 2-1 at Ernst Happel Stadion. Das Team, who stand second in Group G with 19 points after nine games, have now clinched a berth for the EURO on back-to-back occasions.

Croatia 3-1 Slovakia

When all was said and done, Croatia was too much for a 10-man Slovakia, who, initially, broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute.

Bayern Munich’s Ivan Perisic scored the home side’s third and final goal of the match, which punched Croatia’s ticket in next summer’s tournament. Nikola Vlasic and Bruno Petkovic also contributed goals in the second half for Croatia.

Elsewhere

Russia 1-4 Belgium

Azerbaijan 0-2 Wales

Cyprus 1-2 Scotland

Israel 1-2 Poland

Armenia 0-1 Greec