WATCH: Lewandowski’s laser has Bayern leading MLS Stars 1-0 at half

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Robert Lewandowski’s wonder strike goal, an incredible save from Nick Rimando and Julian Green’s late-half entry were the banner moments of an exciting first half between Bayern Munich and the MLS All Stars in Portland on Wednesday night.

The All Stars had the first two chances of the game, the first when Clint Dempsey was well-offside ahead of Obafemi Martins’ lead pass, and the second just before five minutes had passed. Javi Martinez was able to head away Martins cross.

But Robert Lewandowski’s clinical finish got it started with a hammered curler from 18 yards out. Nick Rimando, who had stymied Lewandowski moments earlier, had no chance. It was 1-0 Bayern.

Dempsey had a chance or two, but DeAndre Yedlin’s 26th minute dribble and cross was all the proof anyone needs as to why Europe is interested in the young wide player. The cross did not find a head, but opened some eyes.

The 30th minute saw Thierry Henry laying a ball off for Dempsey, and the American striker hit a first time side volley that Starke dove to collect.

Bayern found a chance through Pierre Hojbjerg, but Rimando was able to push the Dane’s near post shot wide of the goal.

Green came on to a round of applause and “U-S-A” chants from the Providence Park crowd midway through the 37th minute. He showed what all the fuss was about with a well-timed run that was ruined by Rimando in the 43rd minute.

The 39th minute found Rimando’s incredibly-athletic punch of Xherdan Shaqiri’s point-blank rocket toward goal.

Henry went showboat in the 41st minute, juggling a loose ball into volleying range before his deflected volley was inexplicably ruled a goal kick after sailing over the bar.

Lineups

Bayern Munich: Starke; Rafinha, Bernat, Alaba (c); Martínez, Shaqiri, Rode, Gaudino; Hojbjerg, Lewandowski, Pizarro (Green, 37′)

Goals: Lewandowski (8)

Subs: Neuer, Dante, Boateng, Lahm, Badstuber, Ribéry, Robben, Götze, Müller, Schweinsteiger

MLS All Stars: Rimando; Yedlin, Collin, Besler, Parkhurst; Zusi, Cahill, Bradley, Henry; Dempsey; Martins

Subs: Dwyer, Torres, Ridgewell, Franklin, Alonso, Wright-Phillips, Hamid, Boswell, Johnson, Valeri, Donovan, Edu

After slow start, Belgium takes care of business against feisty Panama

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All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life.

Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, in which Belgium put a pair of shots into the side netting and forced saves from Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Dries Mertens 47th minute goal opened the floodgates, as Belgium went on to defeat Panama, 3-0, Monday afternoon in Sochi.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

But Panama never made it easy for the Belgians. From the opening whistle the CONCACAF nation showed its incredible spirit, chasing down Belgium all across the field and making life incredibly difficult for Belgium attackers Romelu Lukaku, Mertens and Eden Hazard. Hazard was hacked down all over the field, and while he did earn fouls and a few yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players, it was enough to get in Hazard’s head.

Two minutes into the second half, everything changed. A wonderstrike from Mertens opened the game, and forced Panama to attack and try and tie the match, which gave Hazard, de Bruyne and Lukaku more space to operate.

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama’s veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

 

Six minutes later, Lukaku was put through on the break, chipping over Penedo to confirm the victory.

With the win, Belgium moves to the top of Group G. Up next for Belgium is Tunisia on Saturday, while Panama takes on England on Sunday.

VIDEO: de Bruyne delivers gorgeous assist on Lukaku goal

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It took a little bit of patience, but Romelu Lukaku finally got on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup, thanks to a delicious assist from crosstown club rival Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City playmaker delivered a spectacular outside-of-the-boot cross into the box, where Lukaku’s head met it and guided it towards the far post for Belgium’s second goal of the day.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Arsenal close in on Leno; Man City near Jorginho signing, and more

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Arsenal looks like it will have a new man between the pipes for next season.

According to a report from German publication SportBild, Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno will be introduced as an Arsenal player on Tuesday, after a reported $23-29 million transfer fee. The 26-year-old was on Germany’s 35-man pre-World Cup squad, but was one of the last cuts as Joachim Low went with Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp in Russia.

Leno became the full-time starter for Leverkusen as a 20-year-old, and has held the position of the No. 1 for the last six seasons, earning plenty of Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League experience along the way.

It’s unclear what will happen to current Arsenal No. 1 Petr Cech. The 36-year-old Premier League legend experienced one of his worst seasons in net for Arsenal and he could begin the season as a backup, unless he moves to a new club. He reportedly has a contract through 2019.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the Premier League and Europe.

(more…)

VIDEO: Mertens scores wonderstrike for Belgium

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After a frustrating 45 minutes, it took only two minutes for Belgium to finally get on the board, even if it was a goal sprinkled with magic dust.

Off a partially cleared ball on the right side of the box, Belgium attacker Dries Mertens whalloped a shot that arced over Panama (and former LA Galaxy) goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, giving Belgium a 1-0 lead.

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