Premier League roundup: Big day for relegation battlers

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Seven Premier League games took place on Saturday, as plenty of teams at the bottom secured big wins to shake up the relegation picture.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays

Leicester, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Sunderland all prevailed, while poor old Burnley and QPR went down fighting away from home but their days in the top-flight looked numbered.

[ RELATED: Standings | videos | schedule ]

In the top half there were only wins for Liverpool, Swansea and West Ham as Manchester United slipped up at home to West Brom to breath new life into the top four race.

Below are recaps, reaction, videos and more from another busy day around the PL.

Aston Villa 3-2 EvertonRECAP

A double from Christian Benteke put Villa 2-0 up at half time. Romelu Lukaku scored a PK to put Everton back in the game but Tom Cleverley made it 3-1 before a late consolation from Phil Jagielka set up a tense finish. Huge win for Villa who now sit on 35 points. Everton’s six-game unbeaten run is over.

Manchester United 0-1 West Bromwich AlbionRECAP

Jonas Olsson turned out to be the hero for the Baggies, as Manchester United lost their third-straight PL  match. That’s something the Red Devils haven’t done since 2001 and their recent struggles have come at a pivotal stage of the season with the top four race now back on. Robin van Persie had a second half penalty kick saved by Boaz Myhill as West Brom won at Old Trafford for the second time in a row and are now seven points clear of the relegation zone with three games left.

Liverpool 2-1  QPRRECAP

Liverpool went ahead early on as Coutinho curled in a beauty but then QPR equalized with just over 15 minutes to go as Leroy Fer volleyed home. A crazy last 10 minutes then played out as first Steven Gerrard had a penalty kick, which Nedum Onuoha gave away, saved by Robert Green and then Onuoha was sent off for two yellows. In the 87th minute Gerrard rolled back the years and glanced home a header to make it 2-1.

Sunderland 2-1 SouthamptonRECAP

Two penalty kicks from Jordi Gomez sealed the win for the Black Cats as Dick Advocaat’s side boosted their survival chances. Sunderland still remain in the bottom three but are just one point off safety with three games to go. Saints’ lone goal came via Sadio Mane, who finished well after a defensive mix up, but Ronald Koeman’s men were lackluster and lost ground in the race for a top six finish.

Leicester City 3-0 Newcastle UnitedRECAP

The Foxes’ wonderful form continued as they raced into an early lead and never looked back. Leonardo Ulloa gave Leicester the lead after 38 seconds and Wes Morgan added another on 17 minutes. Newcastle were all over the place and Ulloa scored a penalty kick three minutes into the second half to put the game beyond doubt. The Magpies then had Daryl Janmaat and Mike Williamson sent off as they are now just two points above the drop zone with three games to go. Leicester have now won five of their last six and is one point above the bottom three.

West Ham United 1-0 BurnleyRECAP

It was a nightmare start for Burnley at Upton Park as Michael Duff was sent off and Mark Noble scored the resulting penalty kick to give the Hammers a lead after 25 minutes. The Clarets never fully recovered and despite the Hammers being wasteful, they secured their first win in five matches. Burnley is now eight points from safety with three games left. It’s time to start waving goodbye to the PL, Burnley fans.

Swansea City 2-0 Stoke CityRECAP

The Swansea scored twice late in the second half to grab all three points and keep their record-setting season going. Garry Monk’s boys took the lead through Jefferson Montero and Ki sealed the victory in the final minute. Stoke had Marc Wilson sent off late on for two yellows.

U-20 WC roundup: Barco’s golazo paces Argentina to big win

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action at the U-20 World Cup in Poland…

[ TRANSFER RUMORS: Man United after Portuguese duo; Spurs want Lo Celso ]

France 2-0 Saudi Arabia

While France enjoyed nearly 70 percent of possession, thanks to playing 78 minutes with a man advantage, they were anything but dominant and overwhelming in their 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia.

Les Bleus‘ opener came just before halftime, when Youssouf Fofana (Strasbourg) volleyed home from the edge of the penalty area. Saudi Arabia went dangerously close to equalizing just seconds later, but Illan Meslier (Lorient) made a stellar save to his left to deny Turki Al-Ammar.

The 1-0 scoreline remained all the way until the 75th minute, when finally Amine Gouiri (Lyon) hit a shot off the hands of the goalkeeper and watched as it bounced over the goal line for a 2-0 lead and to complete the scoring.

France will take on Panama in their next Group E game on Tuesday.

Argentina 5-2 South Africa

Ezequiel Barco might have made himself — and Atlanta United — a few million dollars on Saturday, thanks to an otherworldly golazo in Argentina’s 5-2 victory over South Africa.

The 20-year-old hit the following volley from just inside the penalty area to make it 3-1. All you can do is sit back, watch in awe and count up all the extra dollars Atlanta United are now set to make when Barco inevitably moves to Europe, following in the footsteps of Miguel Almiron and his $30-million move to Newcastle United in January.

Fausto Vera (Argentinos Juniors) opened the in just the 4th minute, followed by Barco’s first of the game — from the penalty spot — in the 63rd. The golazo came eight minutes later, followed by late tallies from Julian Alvarez (River Plate) and Adolfo Gaich (San Lorenzo) in the 78th and 90th minutes, respectively.

Next up, Argentina will face Portugal in a battle for Group F supremacy on Tuesday.

Portugal 1-0 South Korea

Much like France, Portugal were made to work mightily hard for their tournament-opening victory over South Korea.

Trincao (Braga) scored the game’s only goal in the 7th minute, when he timed his run perfectly to get on the end of Jota’s (Benfica) through ball. The counter-attack was lightning quick, and Trincao’s finish cool and precise. Portugal had the ball in the back of the net again in the 19th minute, but a look at video review revealed that Rafael Leao (Lille) was offside during the build-up before he picked out Trincao with his cross.

Elsewhere in the U-20 World Cup

Panama 1-1 Mali 0 [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Sunday’s U-20 World Cup schedule

Mexico v. Japan — 9:30 a.m. ET
Ecuador v. Italy — 12 p.m. ET
Senegal v. Colombia — 12 p.m. ET
Poland v. Tahiti — 2:30 p.m. ET

De Rossi pens emotional farewell to Roma fans before final match

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After 18 years with the club, Daniele de Rossi is playing in his final AS Roma match on Sunday before his contract expires.

Ahead of the game, the 35-year-old midfielder wrote a detailed thank you to fans, team employees, and teammates before his sendoff. “Please, let me say thank you to everyone at Roma that I came to know,” he said before beginning his list of appreciation.

First, Rossi credited his playing mentor Damiano Tommasi, who was at the club from 1996-2006 and made 262 appearances for Roma. The midfielder suffered a knee injury in 2004 which saw Rossi break into the team full-time after making his professional debut in 2002. “[to] Damiano, without whom I would certainly have made fewer appearances for this club,” de Rossi wrote.

He also thanks former captain Francesco Totti by saying, “Thank you to Francesco. The captain’s armband I wore was inherited from the arm of a brother, a great captain and the most incredible footballer I have ever seen wear this shirt. Not everyone gets to play alongside their idol for 16 years. Now, with respect, I will pass this armband on to Alessandro [Florenzi]. Another brother, one that I know is equally worthy of the honor.”

De Rossi mentions Davide Astori, the Fiorentina player who passed away tragically in March of last year, saying, “Thank you Davide, I know you will be alongside me for the rest of my life too.” He also thanks Roma academy director Bruno Conti, saying, “[to] Bruno, who saw something special in me and brought me into this club’s fantastic academy.”

Finally, he thanks the Roma supporters, saying, “Thank you to every Roma fan, my fans. Today, at least, I’ll allow myself to call you ‘my fans’ – because I was one of you, out there on the pitch, and the love you have always shown me helped me to keep on doing that. You are all the reason why I chose this city, this life, time and time again. Sunday will be the 616th time I make that choice, the right choice.”

The emotion poured out in the final paragraph of his letter, referencing a tough time in Roma history where the club finished outside the top four for the third straight season and lost in the Coppa Italia final to Lazio. “A few years ago, May 26 became a day where we all thought we would never be able to smile again. I thought that too, at least until I saw a tattoo one fan had inked that read, ’27 May 2013, and yet the wind continues to blow’. I don’t know the owner of that particular tattoo, but I do know that the wind will still blow again on this May 27. I have never felt your affection like I have done in these last few days, it has truly overwhelmed me and touched me to my core.”

“Never have I seen you all united for a cause like you have been for this. But now, the greatest gift you can possibly give me is to leave that pain and anger to one side, and start again in full support of the only thing we all care about, the one thing that comes before everyone and everything – Roma.”

What a legend this man is. Roma sure knows how to produce a type of player not seen much around the rest of the world.

Celtic win Scottish Cup to secure unprecedented domestic treble-treble

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Celtic came from behind to top Hearts 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final, completing an unprecedented “treble-treble.” They are the first team in Scottish top flight history to win each of the league title, Scottish Cup, and League Cup in three straight seasons.

After a scoreless first half, Ryan Edwards put Hearts in front in the 52nd minute, pouncing on a messy backheel from Sean Clare and scoring the first goal Celtic had conceded all competition.

That jumpstarted the Glasgow giants, with an Odsonne Edouard double leading the way. His first came from the spot in the 62nd minute, just sneaking his penalty past Zdenek Zlamal for the equalizer before he won it with eight minutes to go. The moment came off a powerful Mikael Lustig header from near the halfway line that sprung Edouard free on goal, and the 21-year-old buried the one-on-one.

The victory gave Celtic its third major domestic trophy of the campaign for the third consecutive season, marking the historic achievement. Earlier in the season they had secured the league title by an eight-point margin and beaten Aberdeen 1-0 in the League Cup final, all despite losing manager Brendan Rodgers midway through the year to Leicester City, with Neil Lennon taking over and leading the finish.

Celtic has now won the Scottish Cup a record 39 times, with 50 league titles and 18 League Cups to go along with it.

Derby sued by Middlesbrough over alleged financial transgressions

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Middlesbrough has opened legal proceedings against playoff finalists Derby County over what they allege to be a breach in the Football League’s financial rules.

Boro owner Steve Gibson is taking action over what he believes to be Derby County’s intentional circumvention of financial sustainability regulations by posting an $18.6 million profit last season despite Derby owner Mel Morris selling the club’s ground Pride Park and then leasing it back.

Derby, however, has maintained its innocence, with the club even providing a written offer to all other clubs to review their books, an offer which Derby alleges Middlesbrough declined to take advantage of. “Middlesbrough were offered by us in writing to come with their advisors to go through our submissions for profitability and sustainability, [but] they declined.”

Gibson also attempted to force Derby to submit their financials to an independent inquiry, but all other Championship clubs voted it down. The Middlesbrough owner went after Aston Villa in late April, with Tony Pulis confirming the owner is “not happy” over “rules being broken.” Gibson attempted the same maneuver, hoping to force Villa to submit to an independent financial inquiry, but the other Championship clubs also turned that motion down.

Reports of Morris’s financial troubles with the club came to a head around that time in March when a report suggested Morris wanted out of the club, looking for a buyer after suffering losses of nearly $3.8 million per month as Derby owner. At that point Derby sat seventh in the Championship table and fell to ninth by the end of the month. Now, having recovered to earn a playoff position at the death, they now sit in the playoff final, set to play Aston Villa on Sunday for a spot in the Premier League.