Crystal Palace 2-1 Manchester City: Wasteful City sink their own title hopes for good (video)

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Though the odds were already long before their Premier League clash between Crystal Palace on Monday, Manchester City’s title hopes appear to be completely dead following their latest slip-up, a 2-1 defeat at Selhurst Park.

Wilfried Zaha nearly put the hosts ahead with just 61 seconds on the clock, as Martin Kelly’s left-footed cross evaded Joe Hart and found Zaha all alone at the far post, but the 22-year-old’s shot was blazed over the bar, letting the Man City defense off the hook.

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Manuel Pellegrini’s side was slow to find their way going forward, but once they got going, Palace were under siege for the next 20 minutes. Joe Hart’s quick distribution past the halfway line put Sergio Aguero in on goal in the 12th minute. Aguero rounded goalkeeper Julian Speroni, squared the ball to David Silva, whose shot was tipped over the crossbar by the head of Speroni as he rushed back in front of goal.

Silva and Aguero linked up once again seven minutes, this time the connection in reverse. Silva found Aguero centrally, 20 yards out in traffic. Aguero created the half-yard of space he needed to unleash his shot, fired through traffic and smacked Speroni’s far post with the ball rebounding back into play.

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The game’s first goal came in the 34th minute, when Scott Dann’s first-time shot was saved by the leg of Hart, but deflected into the path of Glenn Murray who was lurking at the back post, perhaps just in front of Martin Demichelis. Murray calmly put his foot through the ball and the hosts were on top, completely against the run of play (more than 2-to-1 possession held by City at that point).

The second half began just as poorly for City as the first half ended, as Jason Puncheon doubled Palace’s lead less than three minutes into the second period. Puncheon lifted his curling free kick from 25 yards out up and over the wall, then dropped the bottom out of it to beat Hart low and inside his left-hand post. (Current possession ratio: nearly 3-to-1 in favor of City)

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Yaya Toure pulls one back for City

City continued their dominance of possession through the second half, but failed to create anything with it, until the 71st minute. With 19 minutes left to play, Fernandinho saw his left-footed shot deflected by Yannick Bolasie, but the ball remained goalbound before Murray seemed to intentionally knock the ball down with a raised hand. No penalty given.

Fernandinho saw another chance go begging two minutes later, as James McArthur somehow managed to clear his effort and lift the ball over the crossbar from a yard and a half out.

The breakthrough finally came for City in the form of Yaya Toure’s thunderous, left-footed strike from the edge of the penalty area. Toure hit the ball hard and low, around Speroni as it nestled itself just inside the far post. With 78 minutes left to play, City’s entire season was given a lifeline but the miracle of the 2011-12 season’s final day wasn’t to be recreated on this night in south London.

With their latest disappointing defeat, City now find themselves nine points off the pace of leaders and champions-elect, Chelsea, who still have a game in hand. Palace have leapfrogged Everton for 11th place, just three points below Stoke City for a place in the top half of the Premier League.

LINEUPS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly, McArthur, Ledley, Puncheon, Bolasie (Souare 84′), Zaha (Gayle 88′), Murray (Sanogo 83′)

Goals: Murray (34′), Puncheon (48′)

Manchester City: Hart, Sagna, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Navas (Nasri 77′), Fernandinho (Milner 88′), Toure, Silva, Dzeko (Lampard 66′), Aguero

Goal: Toure (78′)

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.

Kane, Sterling star as England rout Bulgaria

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On a night where racist abuse from the stands in Bulgaria marred the overall spectacle, England’s players produced an incredible result and spectacle for the visiting fans, with all things considered.

Harry Kane scored once and assisted on three others as England rolled over Bulgaria, winning 6-0 on Monday evening in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both scored a brace for the Three Lions and Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt from a tight angle gave England the opening goal it needed.

The blowout result was the perfect response after England had suffered its first loss in qualifying for a decade, losing on Friday, 2-1 at the Czech Republic. The six goals England put past Bulgaria was also the fourth time out of six games that England had scored at least five goals in a match. The only other time, aside from the defeat, was a 4-0 win last month at Wembley Stadium over Bulgaria.

This story will be updated.

 

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.