Crystal Palace 3-1 Queens Park Rangers: Eagles soar after scorching start

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Crystal Palace beat London rivals Queens Park Rangers 3-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday after a blistering first half display.

The Eagles were 3-0 up at half time as first half goals from Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur and Joel Ward did the damage. Matt Phillips scored a stunning goal for QPR late on, but it was the best moment of yet another poor away display from the R’s as they remain in the bottom three.

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With the victory Palace remain in 12th on 33 points, while QPR are in 18th on 22 points with nine games to go.

After a nervy start in south London, Palace took the game by the scruff of the neck as Scott Dann went close twice through headers. Then in the 21st minute a surging run and a wonderful cross from Yannick Bolasie on the right was slotted home by Zaha at the back post. 1-0 to Palace, but it came at a cost as Zaha and Jason Puncheon both needed treatment after slamming into the post.

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Both Zaha and Puncheon continued to torment QPR’s backline in the first half, as the Eagles were dominant with both Damien Delaney and Glenn Murray close to doubling their lead. The Eagles did go 2-0 up in the 40th minute as Joe Ledley’s ball found Bolasie out on the left and an almost identical cross found McArthur who tapped home from close range. Seconds later it was 3-0, as Zaha found Ward on the edge of the box and his deflected left-footed effort crept into the far corner for his first-ever Palace goal.

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After a shocking first half performance QPR improved, slightly, but Palace still looked more likely to extend their lead rather than the R’s chipping away at it. Both Puncheon and Zaha were injured and had to leave the pitch, with the former pulling up with a suspected hamstring injury.

Palace had several chances as QPR failed to get going, but late on Phillips provided a moment of magic as he drilled home a shot from all of 45-yards with a stunning strike. Sublime. Phillips then went close from long range once again as Speroni pushed another effort wide and Niko Kranjcar also went close but it was all too little, too late for the R’s.


Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Dann, Kelly; McAthur, Ledley, Puncheon (Gayle, 56′), Zaha (Mariappa, 57′), Bolasie; Murray (Sanogo, 80′)

Goals: Zaha (21′), McArthur (40′), Ward (42′)

QPR: Green; Furlong (Hill, 45′), Caulker, Onuoha, Suk-Young; Henry, Sandro (Kranjcar, 84′), Wright-Phillips (Grego-Cox, 85′), Phillips; Taarabt; Austin

Goal: Phillips (84′)

Brazilian player Taison banned in Ukraine for response to racism

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Brazilian player Taison has been banned for one game for his reaction to racist abuse in a Ukrainian league game.

The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder showed his middle finger to Dynamo Kyiv fans who had abused him with monkey chants and kicked the ball into the stands during a game Nov. 10. Taison was shown a red card.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

The Ukrainian Football Association ordered Taison to serve a one-game ban plus a suspended two-game ban.

Dynamo has been fined 500,000 hryvnyas ($20,000) and ordered to play one game behind closed doors. Another one-game sanction is suspended.

World players’ union FIFPro says “sanctioning a victim of racial abuse is beyond comprehension and it plays into the hands of those who promote this kind of disgraceful behavior.”

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Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

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Yes, Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League and, sure, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini are in managerial hot seats, but is there any match more intriguing than Man City and Chelsea squaring off with the knowledge that a bad outcome could see them double digits out of first?

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Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.

The Jose Mourinho Era begins against a familiar foe

  • West Ham v. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have matched wits many times, which could help the former in his bid to get ready for a rankled Spurs side to kickstart the Premier League weekend.

Mourinho has only matched up with six managers more than Pellegrini in his career, and boasts a 7W-3D-4L record. Can he quickly get Spurs put together for a visit to a desperate Irons side.

Chelsea, Man City put slim title hopes on the line

  • Manchester City v. Chelsea — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC

Both Pep Guardiola‘s City and Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea have lost to Liverpool, meaning their chances to directly affect the Reds’ title hopes are limited. Matches like this one are the ones that get the Reds salivating, in fact, knowing that only one team can snare three points.

City enters the day nine points back of first and a point behind Chelsea and Leicester City. The Top Four race sure looks clear cut right now — the chasing pack is eight points behind fourth — but failure to win on Saturday will likely leave either side double-digit points back of first.

Knock off the Red Devils? Wilder things have happened

  • Sheffield United v. Manchester United — Sunday, 11:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has the newly-promoted side in fifth place on the table, one point better than his celebrated visitors. The Blades will sit no worse than five points back of the Top Four if they can beat Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Red Devils, adding another big name to a season of results which already includes a defeat of Arsenal and draws against Chelsea and Spurs. United is still without Paul Pogba and now will also miss Scott McTominay. Another upset brewing?

Reds hope to get back to business as usual in title fight

  • Crystal Palace v. Liverpool — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

A week removed from a glitzy show against Man City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds now visit a Palace side who is probably getting sick of facing the Premier League’s best. Roy Hodgson‘s table rise has been stunted by a four-match winless run that includes 2-0 losses to Man City, Leicester City, and Chelsea to go with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

A Liverpool win will boost it clearer of Man City and/or Chelsea, as the Reds seek a double-digit lead on the field (Second-place Leicester City is away to Brighton and Hove Albion).

Arsenal looks to right wobbly league ship versus slumping Saints

  • Arsenal v. Southampton — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Unai Emery‘s Gunners may be doing fine in the Europa League, but they’ve taken just two points from 12 since an Oct. 6 defeat of Bourrnemouth at the Emirates Stadium. Saints only win since mid-September in any competition is a 4-0 demolition of rivals Portsmouth. If Arsenal cannot get right here, well…

The 2 Robbies break down Tottenham’s big switch from Poch to Mou

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Maybe you saw the firing of Mauricio Pochettino coming, and maybe you even though Jose Mourinho could be in the running to take his place, but the whole thing happening in rapid fire fashion calls for something different.

Call it an emergency podcast for The 2 Robbies.

[ MORE: Ederson back in training ]

Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle respond to the shocking and divisive news coming from North London earlier this week.

Tottenham Hotspur sacked Pochettino and quickly replaced him with The Special One. This episode also includes some of Jose’s first words as the new Spurs Head Coach.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs

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Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff have left Tottenham Hotspur, but not without fond words for the North London set.

Pochettino’s backroom staff was also dismissed, with assistant Jesus Perez and coaches Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez leaving to make room for Jose Mourinho’s crew.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

And Perez wanted to make sure that the world knew the final words Pochettino left for his players, something that has Tottenham supporters even more emotional.

It also surely plays as a political piece which will increase the villain status of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who’s been under fire for not helping Pochettino by selling players who did not want to be in North London.

Even Mourinho heaped praise on his predecessor.

“Mauricio, for the work he did, this club will be always his home,” Mourinho said. “He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he work with. The door is always open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”

Get your tissues, Spurs fans.