Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland: Giggs’ honeymoon over (video)

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Sunderland stunned Manchester United on Saturday, as the Black Cats left Old Trafford with a 1-0 win all but securing their status as Premier League team next season.

Man United pressed hard early on but Sunderland took the lead after 30 minutes as Sebastian Larsson finished off Connor Wickham’s cross superbly and the Red Devils never recovered. In the second half United pressed for the equalizer as Nemanja Vidic was twice denied as Sunderland’s defense held on for a huge victory.

With their win the Black Cats relegated Fulham and Cardiff City and they now sit three points above the drop zone and they have two games to go. Sunderland’s safety will be secured if Norwich lose to Chelsea on Sunday… baring an improbable swing in goal differential. As for United, Ryan Giggs’ second game in charge resulted in defeat as his men never really got going and remain in seventh spot in the standings.

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Man United dominated the early proceedings as Juan Mata buzzed around Sunderland’s defense. The closest United came to opening the scoring was when Michael Carrick whipped in a cross from the right and former Untied defender John O’Shea almost shanked the ball into his own net. Soon after Patrice Evra rose highest to head towards goal after some poor Sunderland marking as the Black Cats started slowly.

However as the first half wore on United failed to make their superior possession count and on the half hour mark Sunderland went ahead. Reigning Premier League Player of the Month Wickham ran down the right win and clipped in a pinpoint cross to Larsson, with the Swedish international cushioning a fine volley into the far corner to put the Black Cats 1-0 up.

Old Trafford was stunned as a Moyes-esque performance was playing out for interim boss Giggs with the Red Devils. United continued to have all the play but they just couldn’t engineer any clear-cut chances as Mata smashed a shot on goal just before the interval but Vito Mannone got down well to save.

After the break United continued to have all the play and Vidic really should have done better in the 51st minute but the central defender headed wide from six-yards out, as the Serbian complained about having his shirt held. Soon after a cross from the left saw Mannone flap at it and Vidic almost got in to score at the back post but Sunderland cleared.

Sunderland continued to defend resolutely as plenty of crosses flung into the box and Vidic again was thwarted by a combination of Mannone and Mackems defenders on the line. Manchester United were pushing hard but Sunderland almost sealed the win on the break as U.S. international Jozy Altidore pulled the ball back to Giaccherini but he hit the post and United cleared. Then Danny Welbeck got the ball on the edge of the box but smashed over before Fabio Borini curled an effort against the woodwork as Sunderland came even closer to a second goal.

In the end they held onto their 1-0 advantage to all but secure their PL status.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani (Januzaj, 51′), Carrick, Fletcher, Young (Welbeck, 67′), Mata (Van Persie, 66′), Hernandez

Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, Alonso, Brown, O’Shea, Cattermole, Larsson (Bridcutt, 74′), Colback, Johnson (Giaccherini , 58′), Borini, Wickham (Altidore, 65′)

Goal: Larsson (30′)

Salah returns to Egypt starting lineup

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A familiar name returned to the starting lineup for Egypt on Tuesday afternoon.

Egypt named star Mohamed Salah in its starting XI, after resting Salah in Egypt’s 1-0 defeat to Uguruay on June 15. Salah has been recovering from an injured shoulder that he suffered during the UEFA Champions League final in late May.

Salah makes his World Cup debut now against the host nation, Russia, at 2:00 p.m.

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Senegal hold off late charge, defeat Poland on controversial goal

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Two matches, two upsets.

For the second time on Tuesday, an underdog took down a favorite as Senegal defeated Poland, 2-1, with the game-winning goal decided in controversial fashion.

In the 60th minute, M’baye Niang was waved onto the field by the referee while the ball was still in play in the middle of the field, and Niang raced on to the end of a Gregorz Krychowiak backpass that stunned the Poland defense. Niang arrived at the pass a second quicker than goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, allowing the Senegal winger to score into an empty net.

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The VAR checked the goal but it was allowed, as it was a subjective decision of the referee to allow Niang back on the field following an injury, and not a clear and obvious error.

Senegal took the lead in the first half on the counter attack. With Poland slow in transition, Sadio Mane found Idrissa Gueye in space at the top of the box. After two touches, Gueye fired a strike to the far post in the 37th minute that took a wicked deflection off Poland defender Thiago Cionek and left Szczesny helpless.

Poland struggled all game against the pace and physicality of Senegal and the Lions of Teranga were very smart in controlling possession and switching the field, forcing the Poland squad to tire quickly.

Krychowiak did breathe some life into the game with a header goal off a free kick in the 86th minute, but despite some poor clock management from Senegal, its defense was able to hold off Poland’s last-ditch chance to tie the game, going level with Japan on three points at the top of Group H.

Report: Blatter to attend Portugal vs. Morocco as guest of Putin

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Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter is still in the middle of an eight-year ban from the organization he once ran.

But that doesn’t mean he’s going to miss out on some of the World Cup action, live in Russia.

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BBC journalist Richard Conway reported early Tuesday that Blatter is set to watch Portugal vs. Morocco in Moscow as a guest of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The 82-year-old would normally not be able to sit in the presidential box due to his FIFA ban, though he likely could attend matches with a regular ticket like the vast majority of soccer fans.

Just four years ago, Blatter was president during the 2014 World Cup, one that was marred by corruption scandals in addition to the corruption scandals surrounding the World Cup bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

His reign of power at FIFA finally came to an end on June 2, 2015, when he resigned following an embarrassing month for FIFA in which many of its members were arrested in a joint-raid between the Swiss authorities and the FBI.

Blatter was eventually handed an eight-year ban from FIFA’s ethics committee for an “unauthorized payment” of $2 million from Blatter to Michel Platini, the former France star and FIFA vice president who was also handed an eight-year suspension.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Fekir negotiations back on; Chelsea waiting on transfer targets; and more

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Could Liverpool get its star attacking midfield target after all?

That’s what seems to be the case, as the agent for Lyon and France midfielder Nabil Fekir told French TV channel LCI Monday evening that negotiations aren’t over between Liverpool and Lyon.

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“He didn’t sign because um… it is not over! This is not the end of the story,” Fekir’s agent, Jean-Pierre Bernes reportedly said.

It was just two weeks ago when Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulas stated that Fekir, Lyon’s captain, would remain with the club for the upcoming season, after negotiations with Liverpool fell through. According to the Liverpool Echo, the Reds wanted a second opinion on a previous knee injury, and had balked at the $70 million price tag.

But now it appears Liverpool and Aulas could still be in conversations to try and find a mutually accepted fee.

At the same time, stirring up transfer drama is in Bernes interest, as it could drive other teams into the race to sign Fekir and raise his transfer fee, meaning more money to him, Fekir (if he gets a cut) and Lyon. Watch this space for more to come during and after the World Cup.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from across the Premier League and Europe:

(more…)