At halftime: Spain leads on audacious Villa goal; Chile/Holland 0-0 — FOLLOW LIVE

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Two matches at the opposite ends of the desperation spectrum are providing surprisingly different levels of excitement. Spain is trying to break down Australia but only found one bit of finish (brilliant, though!!) from David Villa. Meanwhile, the Netherlands seems content to walk out with a draw and the group win, while Chile hasn’t found a goal.

Australia 0-1 Spain

Goals:

36′ – A teaser for fans of New York City FC comes as  Villa lets a pass slide through his front leg before directing it into the Australia goal with his back foot.

Other moments:

21′ – David Villa meets an absolutely-superb cross from Andres Iniesta and, all alone at the 6, wildly volleys wide. A brutal miss for the NYCFC man.

24′ – The crowd goes wild (probably not) as a shirt tug tears Fernando Torres’ top garment across the chest. He’s upset. That was his only one.

45′ – Santi Cazorla’s pretty cross into danger is cut out before Spain can make it 2-0.

Questions for the second half:

– Can Australia make a statement? Spain looks inspired to end the tournament on good-footing. Does a Tim Cahill-less Socceroos side have any chance of finding the net?

 

***


source: Getty ImagesNetherlands 0-0 Chile

Goals:

None

Other moments:

23′ – A low-passed corner to the top of the box is hammered over the bar by Chile’s Felipe Gutierrez

35′ – Neither team can break the other down, with Chile attacking the flanks and the Dutch unable to find danger in the South Americans’ box.

44′ – Chile’s Diaz heads over from the middle of the box on a set play.

Questions for the second half:

– Can this match find some excitement? It’s the more important of the two matches, yet a much sleepier experience than watching Australia try to hold off Spain.

– Who will win Group B? If the scoreline holds, Netherlands stays atop the group.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.