Lambert’s seat grows hotter as top Villa assistants relieved of duties

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Once-mighty Aston Villa has a reasonable chance of finishing in the Bottom Five of the Premier League for the third consecutive season, a feat the club hasn’t dealt with since the late 1960s.

If the long struggles aren’t enough for a club that qualified for the Europa League in 2009 and 2010, now a mysterious suspension has been handed down to manager Paul Lambert’s top two assistants.

Former Villa player Gordon Cowans and current back-up keeper Shay Given have been “temporarily promoted” after suspensions were issued to assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and head of footballing operations Gary Karsa “pending an internal investigation.”

Culverhouse and Karsa came to Villa with Lambert from Norwich City.

From The Daily Mail:

Aston Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner was at the club’s training ground, Bodymoor Heath, on Tuesday for talks with under-fire manager Paul Lambert, Culverhouse and Karsa as the club attempt to halt their slide down the Barclays Premier League.

And while the details of why Culverhouse and Karsa have been suspended are yet to emerge, the club have deemed whatever happened to be serious enough to remove two of Lambert’s most trusted backroom staff while Villa fight against relegation.

The Midlands club have picked up just seven points from a possible 30, and are currently on a run of four consecutive defeats.

Faulkner released a statement ahead of Villa’s tough run-in, which features matches against Southampton, Manchester City and Spurs. He called for the club and its supporters to come together:

“Four games ago, on the back of two good home wins, we were looking up the table and feeling confident of a strong, positive finish to the season.

“Since then we have suffered four consecutive defeats and that is hard to take. We are hurting. Fans are hurting, players and the manager are hurting. The frustration is shared by everyone who loves Aston Villa.”

Villa’s remaining fixtures are as follows:

source:

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Halted World Cup flip-throw heard around the world

AP Photo/Sergei Grits
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Milad Mohammadi knew the time was right for something special, but special isn’t always good.

And good is a subjective term. Cause to us this is very good, Milad.

The Iranian national team defender failed with a flip-throw bid in the final moments of a 1-0 loss to Spain on Wednesday at the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

And this wasn’t like he illegally flipped or broke some other rule. No, like a kid trying an audacious jump into the deep end, Akhmat Grozny star Mohammadi just bailed and climbed in from the side (so to speak).

The kiss, the look skyward, the headbutt… all integral parts of a wonderful World Cup moment.