Swansea City 4-1 Aston Villa: Shelvey wondergoal highlight of comfortable Swans win (video)

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Swansea hadn’t won back to back PL games in 17 months, but Aston Villa are very, very good at helping teams break unflattering streaks. Now the Swans have guaranteed themselves a spot in the Premier League next season – provided Norwich lose at Manchester United in the late match. Meanwhile, the future is looking even bleaker for the Villa.

It looked like it was going to be all too easy for Swansea, with the hosts threatening inside three minutes. Brad Guzan easily stopped the early attempt, but was unable to do anything about Wilfried Bony’s shot in the 10th minute. The goalkeeper wasn’t helped by a sleeping defense, who allowed Bony to get on the end of a ball from Jonjo Shelvey to go one on one against him. A cool finish and Swans were up.

With no goals in their last two games, and without star striker Christian Benteke, a comeback for Villa looked unlikely. But then Gabby Agbonlahor, who hadn’t scored a goal since January, got behind Jordi Amat to tap in a cross from Marc Albrighton, who was easily the visitors’ most threatening player in the first half.

But Villa, who haven’t won since March 15, were unable to keep the lead for even five minutes. After a series of corners, Guzan was unable to get the ball out from the back quickly enough, and had to resort to picking out Ron Vlaar. But the captain was unable to clear properly, allowing the ball to bounce in front of Shelvey. The Swansea player hit it on the bounce, lashing his curling shot from the center circle into the top corner of the net, past a frantically back-pedaling Guzan.

(WATCH: WONDER GOAL FROM JONJO SHELVEY)

Shelvey wanted another, and did well to threaten the Villa defense in the 60th minute. The Englishman beat two defenders to send in a curling shot, but this time Guzan was there to push around the post and out for a corner. That meant the attacks kept coming, with Wayne Routledge being allowed plenty of freedom and time to place his shot. Somehow, though, he managed to strike it wide.

Sure enough, Shelvey was able to get himself involved and get a third goal for the Swans. Pablo Hernández did well to knock down Shelvey’s cross, and needed just a touch to aim his shot past Guzan and into the back of the net.

Swansea were already certain of the three points, but for some reason, Nathan Baker elected to commit a woeful challenge on substitute Marvin Emnes inside the area. The referee pointed to the spot, Bony stepped up, and Swansea took all three points with a comfortable 4-1 win.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel (Taylor 77), Amat, Williams, Davies, Britton, Shelvey, de Guzman (Fulton 83), Hernandez, Routledge (Emnes 88), Bony

Goals: Bony 10′; Shelvey 26′; Hernández 73′; Bony 92′

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna (Lowton 45), Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand, Albrighton, Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi (Holt 75), Agbonlahor, Weimann (Robinson 67)

Goals: Agbonlahor 22′

Rapinoe, Ellis win FIFA honors; Five USWNT players in Best XI

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Zero surprise here.

Megan Rapinoe has been named the Best women’s player Jill Ellis has been named the top manager in women’s soccer at FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony in Milan on Monday.

[ MORE: Messi win’s men’s honor, City shut out ]

Ellis led the USWNT to its second-straight Women’s World Cup this summer, the first boss to manage the feat (Germany won two-straight World Cups, but had Tina Theune and Silvia Neid at the helm).

Rapinoe made waves on and off the field during the USWNT’s spell-binding run to a second-successive title, its fourth in history.

The Women’s Best XI sees four of her teammates join her: Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara, Julie Ertz, and Rose Lavelle.

Three members of Women’s Champions League winners Lyon also make the list, as does top goalkeeper winner Sari van Veenendaal.

  • Sari van Veenendaal (NED) – Arsenal / Atletico Madrid
  • Lucy Bronze (ENG) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Wendie Renard (FRA) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Nilla Fischer (SWE) – VfL Wolfsburg / Linkopings
  • Kelley O’Hara (USA) – Utah Royals
  • Amandine Henry (FRA) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Julie Ertz (USA) – Chicago Red Stars
  • Rose Lavelle (USA) – Washington Spirit
  • Megan Rapinoe (USA) – Reign FC
  • Marta (BRA) – Orlando Pride
  • Alex Morgan (USA) – Orlando Pride

Messi named FIFA’s Best men’s player; Best XI controversial

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Lionel Messi is the winner of FIFA’s The Best men’s player, awarded Monday in Milan.

The prolific megastar beat out Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo for the honor.

All three, of course, were on the Best XI, though it was not without controversy.

[ MORE: Rapinoe, Ellis headline women’s winners ]

Premier League champions Manchester City had no representation on FIFA’s The Best XI, which comically included three Real Madrid players.

Champions League winners Liverpool followed up the Best Goalkeeper honor given to Alisson Becker and Best Manager nod to Jurgen Klopp with spots for Van Dijk and obviously  Alisson on the XI.

Real Madrid, La Liga’s third place side, put Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, and Luka Modric on the team, as well as Eden Hazard who spent most of the awards season with Chelsea.

Juve’s Ronaldo is joined by Matthijs de Ligt, who led Ajax’s long UCL run before leaving for Turin.

Kylian Mbappe helps shut the attacks of Man City and Liverpool out of the team. Not one player from Germany or the Bundesliga was named to the team.

  • Alisson Becker (BRA) – Liverpool
  • Matthijs de Ligt (NED) – Ajax / Juventus
  • Sergio Ramos (ESP) – Real Madrid
  • Virgil van Dijk (NED) – Liverpool
  • Marcelo (BRA) – Real Madrid
  • Luka Modric (CRO) – Real Madrid
  • Frenkie de Jong (NED) – Ajax/Barcelona
  • Eden Hazard (BEL) – Chelsea/ Real Madrid
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) – Juventus
  • Kylian Mbappe (FRA) – Paris Saint-Germain
  • Lionel Messi (ARG) – Barcelona

Leeds, Bielsa win Fair Play honor at FIFA’s The Best awards

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Well this is peak FIFA.

Football’s governing body has just awarded Leeds United and much-admired manager Marcelo Bielsa its FIFA Fair Play award at its 2019 The Best awards ceremony in Milan.

[ MORE: Klopp wins manager award ]

The reason the Whites won the award is understandable, if you just ignore the fact that they were publicly caught cheating months earlier… and that the “fair play” moment came after an extremely questionable play which led to a brawl.

The win comes for Bielsa’s decision in late April, when his player Mateusz Klich scored a goal despite Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija being injured on the pitch.

Bielsa instructed his players to allow Villa to tie the match after a post-goal fight saw a red card to Anwar El Ghazi.

Fair play? Sure, and Leeds kissed goodbye its slim hopes of finishing in automatic promotion place in the Championship.

However, Leeds was also caught monitoring Derby County training sessions, leading to Bielsa to admit in January that he had spied “all the rivals” that season.

I mean, who were the other nominees? Jose Callejon and the Turkish player who fouled players with a sharp object during play?

Bielsa admitted this during an extraordinary Powerpoint session for media members in England which showed the maniacal depths of his preparation, which curried a lot of favor with the media and fans.

Yes, even though he admitted Leeds cheated the whole season.

He also said, “I thought I wasn’t violating the norm,” which is ridiculous.

Now of course we should be too pious, either; A whole lot of teams cheat in this way and football is a cutthroat game. Bielsa is a managerial legend and loved by Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino, and Jorge Sampaoli.

Jurgen Klopp wins FIFA’s The Best men’s manager

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Jurgen Klopp has been named the top manager in the world for the past season at FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony on Monday in Milan, Italy.

The UEFA Champions League-winning manager beat out Premier League winner Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and UCL finalist Mauricio Pochettino of Spurs.

[ WATCH: FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony ]

Klopp, of course, was magnanimous in victory.

 “It is great, nobody expected this 20, 10, five, four years ago that I would be standing here,” Klopp said. “We know what an incredible job Mauricio Pochettino did and what Pep did.”

He thanked the owners and players of his club.

“To the owners thank you, they gave me an incredible team. I have to thank my team – as a coach you can only be as good as your team is. I’m really proud of being manager of such an incredible bunch of players. This is an individual prize, I don’t 100% understand individual prizes, I’m here for a lot of people.”

Good for Klopp.