Netherlands 3-4 USA: USMNT plays the role of comeback kids in Amsterdam

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With just 32 days remaining until the start of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the U.S. national team kicked off its final round of pre-Gold Cup roster announcement friendlies on Friday. The Yanks’ late rally from a two-goal deficit reversed the Americans’ trend of conceding late goals, instead scoring a pair of their own inside the game’s final five minutes to beat the Netherlands, 4-3 (full highlights below), in Amsterdam.

[ RELATED: Three things we learned ]

Victory for the USA was their first-ever win over Holland as Gus Hiddink’s side were great going forward, hitting the woodwork twice late on, but were all over the place at the back and the U.S. took full advantage.

The lineup deployed by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was short a number of key contributors — Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Jozy Altidore, to name a few — and averaged 23.5 years of age among its 11 members, and yet somehow, it was five younger-for-older substitutions in the second half that tilted the game in the USMNT’s favor.

The game’s first real chance fell to the feet of Gyasi Zardes in the 15th minute. The LA Galaxy striker pounced on the botched clearance of two Dutch defenders outside their own six-yard box. Zardes made a quick turn eight yards out from goal and fired a quick snap-shot on goal, but Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen made a quick-reaction kick save.

[ RELATED: Player ratings: Who helped/hurt their Gold Cup stock the most? ]

After struggling to do so very early on, Klinsmann’s side found its footing and the Yanks settled into a nice spell of possession and looked the more dangerous side for the ensuing 10 minutes. Michael Bradley, captaining the USMNT on his 97th international appearance, fired a low, left-footed shot off Cillessen’s left-hand post in the 19th minute, and Fabian Johnson’s follow-up shot went inches wide of the opposite post.

In the 26th minute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar lost U.S. defender John Brooks, got behind the American backline and raced in, one on one, with Guzan. Brooks made a desperate recovery run, though, reeling the Dutch marksman in and made the last-ditch block of Huntelaar’s shot.

[ RELATED: Comeback win massive for USMNT confidence ahead of big summer ]

Less than a minute later, Huntelaar wouldn’t waste his next chance, a header from 11 yards out. Manchester United new boy Memphis Depay served up the in-swinging cross, which eluded Brooks and fellow center back Ventura Alvarado, and found the head of Huntelaar, who finished like the prolific goalscorer he is (40th international goal).

The USMT equalized just six minutes later, though, when Zardes used the entirety of his 6-foot-2 frame to get on the end of Johnson’s out-swinging cross to the back post. Zardes applied the outside-of-the-foot finish from an extremely tight angle, and the ball found the back of the net after a deflection off Cillessen for his first international goal.

[ RELATED: Klinsmann reacts to USMNT’s wild win in Amsterdam ]

The second half began with the Dutch pouring more pressure on the U.S. defense in the 47th minute, as Robin van Persie headed Daley Blind’s left-footed cross goalward, only to see Guzan palm the ball away from close range. The rebound then fell to Van Persie, whose quick backheel was cleared away from goal by Kyle Beckerman.

A minute later, Huntelaar doubled his tally and restored the Dutch lead when he headed home Gregory van der Wiel’s cross from the right, beating Michael Orozco at the near post and beating Guzan once again.

Four minutes later, Huntelaar nearly completed his hat trick, if not for a deflection off Depay six yards out from goal. Huntelaar’s first-time shot from outside the penalty area looked destined to challenge Guzan once again, but the goal-bound ball glanced off Depay, wrong-footing the American ‘keeper and finding the back of the net to make the score 3-1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | Gold Cup 2015 | MLS ]

Following four substitutions in quick succession, the Yanks pulled a goal back in the 70th minute, when Bradley played DeAndre Yedlin into the Dutch penalty area, where his simple, squared cross found the boot of a seriously overlapping Brooks for the easy finish at the back post.

Danny Williams pulled the USMNT level in the 89th minute with a fierce strike and deflection outside the penalty area, which beat Cillessen at the near post. A minute later, Bradley played Jordan Morris down the right side of the Dutch penalty area, where he crossed to the top of the six-yard box and Bobby Wood redirected the ball inside the far post for an unlikely 4-3 comeback victory.

The USMNT returns to action next Wednesday, June 10, when they’ll face the current World Cup holders, Germany, in a friendly in Cologne, Germany.

LINEUPS

Netherlands: Cillessen, Janmaat (van der Wiel 46′), Bruma, Martins Indi, Blind, Clasie (Sneijder 78′), Wijnaldum, Promes (Narsingh 46′), van Persie (Propper 56′), Depay, Huntelaar (de Jong 78′)

Goals: Huntelaar (27′, 49′), Depay (53′)

USMNT: Guzan, Shea (Yedlin 57′), Brooks, Alvarado (Orozco 46′), Chandler, Morales (Diskerud 56′), Beckerman (Williams 63′), Bradley, Zardes (Morris 81′), Johannsson (Wood 65′), Johnson

Goals: Zardes (33′), Brooks (70′), Williams (89′), Wood (90′)

Lampard, Azpilicueta back Barkley after penalty drama

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Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta claims that Willian was encouraging Ross Barkley in the run-up to the latter’s ill-fated penalty attempt in a 1-0 loss to Valencia at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League.

“Ross  is one of the best penalty takers in the team and one who takes them. He had the confidence and he was unlucky hitting the bar. They were encouraging him to have the confidence to score. There was high expectation. They were trying to get him into the best condition. Hopefully next time it goes in.”

[ MORE: Recap, 3 things ]

That is genuinely amusing from cheeky and likable “Dave.” Let’s take a look at the encouragement, shall we?

Barkley is literally, repeatedly motioning and even saying, “Nah, I got this. I’ll be fine.”

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says Barkley was the penalty taker for the game, and doesn’t see the drama in it.

“Ross is a penalty taker and is when he starts games. He took it and missed it. It is a great story to say there is contention between players. If he scores it is not a story. But he took it and missed. That is it. The disappointment to all of us is that we didn’t get chance to win the game. There is no issue in the dressing room.”

Chelsea was the superior team over 90 minutes, but that can mean so little in a tournament where winning at home can be vital to the chances of advancement.

Champions League wrap: Ajax, RB Leipzig, Salzburg win; Barca held

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While Liverpool and Chelsea lost in shutout fashion, only three other teams saw zeroes next to their names after 90 minutes of UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

[ UCL: Scores, full lineups, stats, box scores ]

You may be surprised to see that Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund kept each other off the board, while Lille was cooked by Ajax.

Red Bull Salzburg 6-2 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team to a win in a UEFA Champions League game. The Red Bull Salzburg boss got a hat trick from red-hot 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who has 17 goals in nine matches this season and is also the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Ajax 3-0 Lille

Mexico’s Edson Alvarez now has two goals in two career UEFA Champions League games, as he joined Quincy Promes on the score sheet in a 2-0 win. American-Dutch right back Sergino Dest played 90 minutes in the win, and Nicolás Tagliafico recorded two assists. USMNT forward Timothy Weah was again absent with a hamstring tear.

Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona

Lionel Messi spent most of the match on the bench, and Marco Reus missed a Jadon Sancho-won penalty thanks to a Marc-Andre ter Stegen save.

And what a save it was!

Elsewhere

Chelsea 0-1 Valencia — RECAP
Napoli 2-0 Liverpool — RECAP
Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Benfica 1-2 RB Leipzig

Barkley sails late penalty as Chelsea falls at home

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Ross Barkley missed a late penalty as Chelsea lost its UEFA Champions League opener 1-0 to Valencia on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Rodrigo scored the lone goal, and Valencia will be thrilled to collect all three points in London.

Christian Pulisic was an unused sub for Chelsea, who out-attempted Valencia 22-8 on the day.


Three things we learned

1. Pulisic down the pecking order: The American star didn’t start, and wasn’t the first name called when Mason Mount was injured. Granted Pedro played a little deeper, but not a good week for the Hershey-born Pulisic

2. Wide men the danger men: Willian was the likely Man of the Match for Chelsea despite the lack of goals, and full backs Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta were also key to the resutl.

3. Penalty drama: VAR gave Chelsea a chance to level from the spot, but Ross Barkley stepped ahead of Willian and missed the chance. The Brazilian looked aggrieved before and after the miss, and Barkley looked mighty confident right until the moment he missed his shot. Sort yourself out!

Man of the Match: Willian — No wonder he was angry to see Barkley demand the penalty, as a Willian goal would’ve been a fitting result for his clever and industrious day at the office.


Valencia keeper Jasper Cillesen made two stops early, denying Tammy Abraham to concede a corner before collecting a Marcos Alonso header on the ensuing set piece.

Would it be Christian Pulisic time when Mason Mount left the match with injury following a challenge from former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin? Nope. Pedro was called upon to fill the void.

It was a sleepy second half, with Pedro conceding a free kick to Valencia that didn’t amount to anything exciting.

Those who stuck around were rewarded with late drama, as Valencia took the lead through a Rodrigo flick off a free kick.

However, Valencia then had to watch through its fingers as Chelsea was gifted a chance at the spot through VAR when Fikayo Tomori headed a ball off the arm of Daniel Wass.

Willian was upset to see Ross Barkley take the penalty, and the English midfielder probably wishes he let someone else take it after missing over the bar.

Napoli scores on late penalty, rare Van Dijk error in 2-0 win

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The good news is that Liverpool lost to Napoli last season in the UEFA Champions League, then went on to win the whole darn thing.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jose Callejon won a late penalty that Dries Mertens converted, and Fernando Llorente took advantage of a Virgil Van Dijk error to pad the lead as Napoli held serve at home with a 2-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday.


Three things we learned

1. Goalkeepers immense: No, he’s not Alisson Becker, but Adrian is probably the biggest reason Liverpool didn’t open its UCL defense with a loss. He made a pair of early stops on Dries Mertens before a show-stopping effort in the second half. Napoli got two fine saves from Alex Meret, including a terrific denial of Mohamed Salah in the 65th.

2. Salah, Mane can’t deliver in key moments: Take away Salah’s penalty in the UCL Final, and Liverpool’s two top threats have not accounted for a goal in four matches inside the competition. Mane was mostly good on the day, but misled Salah on an early second half pass which would have almost certainly been a goal. Salah simply had an off day

3. Callejon sells the drama: Liverpool’s Andy Robertson lost a 50/50 with Jose Callejon, who ran into the fulback and hit the deck to win a penalty. That was the difference here, as Mertens beat Adrian.

Man of the Match: Meret was especially good, the 22-year-old Italian goalkeeper big in several key moments to edge Mertens for the honor.


Napoli thought it had gone ahead through El Tri star Hirving Lozano, who nodded over the line following two Alisson Becker saves on Dries Mertens, but the Mexican was offside.

Sadio Mane had a 20th minute chance at the other end, but pumped a point blank low shot to Napoli keeper Alex Meret which led to a corner kick.

Fabinho intervened in the 53rd minute as Napoli emerged from the locker room with energy, but the best chance of the early second half was flubbed in uncharacteristic fashion: Sadio Mane was through 2v1 with Mohamed Salah but made a miserable pass to his teammate.

The first goal arrived when Callejon tapped the ball past Robertson and leapt into the defender to earn a penalty from referee Felix Brych.

It was 2-0 in stoppage time when Fernando Llorente ran onto a Virgil van Dijk error and passed beyond Adrian.