Premier League Roundup: Yedlin debuts, Leicester snares lifeline, Arsenal triumphs, Sunderland shellacked

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Saturday was a fitting appetizer for Sunday’s duo of derby games, as teams at the top, middle and bottom of the table tried to create room for themselves to advance upward.

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Aston Villa may’ve pulled clear to safety and Leicester City sent a message not to count them out as a Premier League club for 2015/16, while West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland, Hull City and Burnley are left to lick their wounds and hope their points come on another day before the season lets out.

Oh, and a certain USMNT defender from the University of Akron made his Premier League debut.

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West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Leicester City – RECAP

Don’t count out Nigel Pearson and the Foxes. For one thing, the Leicester City boss might hold you down by the throat for it. For another, David Nugent and his teammates are proving to be resilient, and could be out of the drop zone if they use their match-in-hand for all three points. The Foxes trailed 1-0 and 2-1 but scored twice in the final dozen minutes to pick up three huge points, and leave Baggies boss Tony Pulis mentioning relegation as an option (despite a seven-point lead on the drop zone).

 

Sunderland 1-4 Crystal Palace – RECAP

Alan Pardew is feeling his oats after doing something Newcastle fans wish he could’ve in his last four tries as Magpies’ boss: beat Sunderland. Pardew’s Eagles, led by a Yannick Bolasie hat trick and yet another goal from resurgent Glenn Murray, tore up the Black Cats. The only goal Sunderland scored came in the 90th minute, and Dick Advocaat’s crew is just three points ahead of the drop despite its 1-0 win over Newcastle last week.

Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Aston Villa – RECAP

source: APChristian Benteke is on fire! Five goals in three matches and eight in the past month and a half don’t begin to tell the tale of the big Belgian, who looks like he’s finally found his form post-knee surgery. Benteke is not only scoring powerful goals, but he’s also slipping his teammates on for prime chances. Of course, Tim Sherwood’s taking credit for that, as well as a win against the club that sacked him last May.

Of note to United States fans, DeAndre Yedlin made his Premier League debut. The right back played a dozen minutes or so in relief of Vlad Chiriches, and may’ve shown enough battle to win some more time over the sometimes-shaky Romanian.

Burnley 0-1 Arsenal – RECAP

The Clarets had their chances, but Arsenal got its goal early and didn’t need much more to beat Sean Dyche’s charges. The Gunners remain in second place, hoping for a Chelsea stumble, while Burnley remains two points shy of safety.

Southampton 2-0 Hull City – RECAP

It took a while, but Saints broke through against a plucky, gritty Hull City side. Alex Bruce gave up a penalty that James Ward-Prowse converted, and Graziano Pelle netted in the 81st minute to salt away the win and leave the Tigers barely hanging on to a safe place in the standings.

West Ham United 1-1 Stoke City – RECAP

Never rule out Mark Hughes’ Stoke, and never consider a lead safe for Sam Allardyce’s Hammers. At the death, Marko Arnautovic canceled out Aaron Cresswell’s wonderful free kick to keep the sides level on points (but West Ham in ninth on goal differential).

Swansea City 1-1 Everton — RECAP

There weren’t a lot of exciting moments in this one, as Seamus Coleman handled a ball late to give Jonjo Shelvey the penalty kick that equalized Aaorn Lennon’s 41st minute goal. Garry Monk’s Swans probably deserved better than a point, but hard work and good soccer doesn’t always put the ball across the line.

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).