West Ham 3-0 Hull City: Second-half barrage earns Hammers first win since holidays (video)

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West Ham looked sluggish in the first half, and the visitors will feel disappointed to not have capitalized, but the Hammers collected themselves at the halftime break and Andy Carroll fired them to a convincing victory at Upton Park.

Hull City were bright in the opening 45 minutes, but an early Ahmed Elmohamady miss followed by a pair of changes in defense forced by injury caused it all to come crumbling down for Steve Bruce.

Elmohamady struck just wide left after a skillful pullback from Sone Aluko found the Egyptian winger all alone in the box, and he will feel he should have opened the scoring inside 10 minutes, but flashed wide instead.

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West Ham then built themselves into the game and produced a host of half-chances in the next few minutes, but eventually it bogged down into a midfield battle. Each side’s forays forward were mostly cut-out by alert defending, although Aluko gave the West Ham back line fits each time he saw the ball.

The home side saw its best chance as Enner Valencia got a head to a cross into the crowded box, and Allan McGregor could only tip it off the bar. The Hull goalkeeper then strongly collected the follow-up chance from Stewart Downing.

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The first half closed out the without a goal, disappointingly for the visitors, who will feel deserving of one for the opening 45 minutes. Steve Bruce’s awful injury troubles continued, with defenders James Chester and manager’s son Alex Bruce both forced off at halftime. The mounting number of injuries caused the elder Bruce to try young Harry Maguire at striker up front, but today the 21-year-old went back to defend.

West Ham nearly pounced early on, with Kevin Nolan’s eyes bulging on a rebound but he fired over just moments after the break. They would capitalize ticks later as McGregor couldn’t collect a swerving shot by Valencia from outside the box, and Carroll followed up the fumble by slamming it home for the lead.

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Substitute Morgan Amalfatano killed off the game just three minutes after coming on and West Ham earned its first three points since five days before Christmas. Alex Song won the ball in the midfield, and he worked it to Valencia who sprung Amalfatano on the right edge who beat the defense with a run and slotted home. Stewart Downing added a third for good measure three minutes later.

The win jumps West Ham a place in the table, into sixth and level with Arsenal on points. Hull City remains bogged down in 18th, missing a chance to jump out of the relegation zone.

LINEUPS:

West Ham: Adrian, Jenkinson, Collins (Reid 50′), Tomkins (O’Brien 76′), Cresswell, Song, Noble, Nolan (Amalfatano 66′), Downing, Carroll, Valencia.

Goals: Carroll 49′, Amalfatano 69′, Downing 72′

Hull City: McGregor, Chester (Figueroa 45′), Bruce (Maguire 46′), Davies (Sagbo 72′), Dawson, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Elmohamady, Quinn, Aluko.

Champions League preview: Spurs host Leipzig, Valencia visits Atalanta

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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties kickoff Wednesday, including one being labeled as the biggest in a club’s existence.

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That would be Serie A side Atalanta, which hosts Valencia at 3 p.m. at Gewiss Stadium.

Atalanta had played in two consecutive Europa Leagues, but this is their first move into the Champions League. To make the knockout rounds is exceptional, and club president Antonio Percassi is fired up.

“We must be honest, this is the most important game in the history of this club,” Percassi told Sky Sport Italia. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s exciting just thinking that tomorrow we’ll be in a Champions League Round of 16. It’s wonderful for our fans too. … This is going to be a unique experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Atalanta finished second in its group to Manchester City, and is fourth in Serie A. Valencia won its group.

There’s a Premier League side in action on Wednesday, too, as Spurs begin life without Heung-Min Son.

Jose Mourinho spun a tale about how badly Tottenham will need its fans against RB Leipzig, comparing the home-field advantage to an emergency rescue crew of sorts.

Leipzig is led by Julian Nagelsmann, who was once referred to as “Baby Mourinho” by his players.

The 32-year-old was quick to distance himself from the story.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v. Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won lots of titles with big clubs, the Champions League twice. He has made his mark on European football at some big European clubs. I think it his 59th knockout game in the CL and it is my first so there is obviously respect there.”

Liverpool’s Robertson not a fan of Atletico Madrid theatrics

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Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson was not impressed with Atletico Madrid’s display as his side fell 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Reds fell behind on a fourth-minute Saul Niguez goal and couldn’t get a shot on target despite 73 percent possession in Spain.

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Atleti executed its plan to near-perfection, slowing restarts and taking advantage of counterattacking opportunities to assuage the constant pressure of Liverpool.

At times it was reminiscent of early-century Italian national team play, and both neutrals and Liverpool knew what they were in for once Atleti took the lead.

“We gave them the best possible start to get the fans behind them and then they can start falling over and things like that, trying to get under our skin a bit which I think we handled quite well to be honest,” Robertson told BT Sport. “We know we are better than (how they played). We put in a decent performance and we can be better than that. Luckily we have got a second leg to put it right.”

Given the performance and the reputation, you’d still fancy the Reds to “put it right” at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp thinks Atleti will feel plenty of pressure at Anfield, and he will certainly feel the officiating will be more to his liking.

Liverpool’s Klopp: ‘Our people will be ready’ for second leg at Anfield

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Jurgen Klopp didn’t have any issue with Diego Simeone’s defense-first Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Spanish side flummoxed Liverpool’s attack and the Reds didn’t manage a shot on target despite eight attempts and 73 percent possession at the Wanda Metropolitano.

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What Klopp didn’t appreciate was the referee’s work, though, implying that Polish official Szymon Marciniak was overwhelmed by the occasion. Marciniak has worked UCL matches for six seasons, twice overseeing quarterfinal ties.

Klopp was shown a yellow card in the second half, and the Liverpool boss felt Sadio Mane was harassed by Atleti. Klopp removed yellow-carrying Mane at halftime.

“He was targeted obviously,” Klopp said after the game. “The only thing they wanted was to make sure he got a yellow card. The score is 1-0, that’s all but you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere. So many things happened, after 30 minutes already three players were on the ground. The first yellow card was a striker from us. I’m not sure they even got a yellow card, which is funny.”

Atleti’s Angel Correa was shown a yellow, while Klopp, Mane, and Joe Gomez were cautioned for Liverpool.

The Liverpool boss found himself laughing a few times, especially when he was asked about Simeone’s touchline personality.

Klopp said before the game that if the German was a four in intensity, then Simeone was a 12. Simeone followed suit by constantly urging the crowd to get behind the home side on Tuesday.

That didn’t bother Klopp, but he issued a public relations officer’s dream in reacting to it.

“Wow, wow,” he laughed. “That’s energy. I don’t think I have to do it that much (at Anfield). Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield. It’s not over yet.”

Klopp finished his remarks by saying of Jordan Henderson‘s removal from the game with a hamstring injury, “I hope it was a precaution, but I’m not 100 percent sure”

Haaland wins first leg after Borussia Dortmund-PSG comes to life late

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Erling Haaland scored twice in a mid-second half flurry as Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The hosts also got an assist from teenager Giovanni Reyna, who became the youngest American to appear in a Champions League match.

Haaland now has 39 goals in 29 appearances between Red Bull Salzburg and BVB, 11 of those for his new German employer.

Neymar scored off a Kylian Mbappe goal for PSG, who brings an away goal back to the Parc des Princes for a March 11 second leg.

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Neymar had an early free kick, missing just wide of the far post.

Jadon Sancho troubled the keeper twice in the first half hour, first with a cross that Mats Hummels headed over goal. Then, Keylor Navas picked another Sancho offering out of the air.

Sancho kept serving, and Erling Haaland couldn’t turn a promising cross on target.

Dortmund walked into halftime with a scoreless match but a 7-2 edge in shot attempts. Neither of PSG’s shots were on target.

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Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre put in American teen Giovani Reyna in the 67th minute.

Two minutes later, it was 1-0 to the hosts through Haaland’s close-range goal.

Neymar replied from close range himself after a powerful, clever dribble from Kylian Mbappe led to a pass through the box.

But Haaland got his second in the 77th minute with a scorching shot that serves as the first senior assist of Reyna’s senior career with Dortmund (Watch it here).