Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Aston Villa: Spurs clinch Europa League (video)

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Aston Villa, having clinched safety with last week’s victory over Hull, had absolutely nothing to play for at White Hart Lane – and it showed. Well, kind of. With Villa’s form this season, it was rather difficult to tell if they didn’t care, or if they just couldn’t find a way to score…or defend.

It was to Tottenham’s advantage, though. Before 40 minutes were up, the hosts had a 3-0 lead, and were able to cruise through the second half, happy in the knowledge that they’d cemented sixth place and thus a Europa League spot. Or at least, they seemed happy. They didn’t try to throw away the win or anything.

source: AP
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, left, and Aston Villa’s Matthew Lowton.

Right from the start, Spurs were on top, forcing multiple saves from Brad Guzan before ten minutes were up. The first goal came in the 14th minute. Again, Guzan managed to save, this time a shot from Paulinho. But the Brazilian was quick to pick up the rebound, burying it in the back of the net.

Villa, proving that this season, they often are their own worst enemy, doubled Tottenham’s lead in the 35th minute. Danny Rose sent in a cross, with Emmanuel Adebayor getting a touch on it. But it was Villa defender Nathan Baker that got the final flick, putting Spurs up 2-0.

Things just got worse. Three minutes after Baker’s own goal, another Villa player got in the way of the ball. This time, though, it was Gabby Agbonlahor getting in the way of Sandro’s shot, with the ball hitting off the forward’s arm. Jonathan Moss wasted no time pointing to the spot, Adebayor duly converted, and Tottenham had a 3-0 lead.

About the only thing of note the visitors managed was a shot from Fabian Delph, but the midfielder put his 57th minute strike wide. It looked like Villa were determined to bury this season in the past and move on, preferably with new ownership and possibly with a new manager at the helm. Maybe that’ll be what they need to finish higher than 15th, which is where they wound up at the end of Sunday.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches, Dawson, Rose; Sandro (Veljkovic 62); Sigurdsson (Pritchard 83), Paulinho (Bentaleb 75), Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane

Goals: Paulinho (14′); Baker o.g. (35′); Adebayor (38′)

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand, Bacuna (Robinson 83), Westwood, Delph, Weimann, Bowery (El Ahmadi 45), Agbonlahor

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

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

Adam Davy/PA via AP
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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

Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images
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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