Women’s World Cup — what we learned on Day 10

1 Comment

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, we’re told, which is really disgusting and should get you thrown in jail, actually. (The origins of that gruesome cliche are interesting as well.)

Thailand and Ivory Coast attacked essentially being outclassed in completely different manners, and neither is necessarily wrong. Although, it would have been hard to argue that after last week’s first matches where Germany scored 10 times against the disheveled Ivorians and possibly could have doubled that with a little luck.

But Ivory Coast had taken the YOLO approach, throwing a legitimate 4-3-3 out there and not worrying about the repercussions of not giving much cover against the top-ranked team in the world. There were some benefits, even though they weren’t readily apparent in the match in question, the most important being that Ivory Coast actually looked dangerous on a few attacks and not just with one attacker who might get loose in a 1-v-3 situation. Thailand wasn’t about to be that brave, and they were able to frustrate Norway for long stretches. Their one outlet – Kanjara Sung-Ngeon – proved to be excellent in the thankless role, although organized, disciplined Thailand (whose average height is only 5-feet-4-inches) still fell 4-0.

[MORE: Complete coverage of 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup]

If the real test was when the two teams clashed, obviously Thailand’s method prevailed, the discipline took advantage of a couple of Ivory Coast mistakes (and the lack of an offside flag) to score three times and hold on for a 3-2 win.

But with one more chance to prove itself, Ivory Coast did not change who they were Monday against Norway, potentially setting themselves up for another lopsided result on its way out of Canada. However, as people squinted at their televisions (and in Moncton), hoping not to see another dismantling (possibly some masochists did), a funny thing happened. Ivory Coast and the dangerous Josee Nahi had the game’s first chance, and had a few others after that as well.

In the end, the Ivorians still have plenty of work to do on defensive organization and possibly goalkeeping, but they gave Norway (albeit a changed side) fits before falling 3-1. Ivory Coast had 46 percent possession and the shots ended up even at 16-16. And they left with possibly the goal of the tournament when Ange N’Guessan unleashed a 35-yard missile in the 71st minute, a goal they surely deserved on the balance of play.

Thailand certainly deserves plenty of credit Monday as well, as goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing and that discipline held Germany to just one first-half goal before falling 4-0. As I said before, their way of going about things was not incorrect, either. But with a little bit of coaching and experience, Ivory Coast, like Cameroon and Nigeria could be a factor in the international game in the not-so-distant future.

-Ray Curren

What else did we learn Monday in Groups A and B?

New Zealand falls short again: New Zealand have now played in four World Cups, including the last three, and have a combined match record of 0-9-3 (7 goals scored, 29 against.) Obviously they have yet to advance out of the group stage. But this is the one they will look at as one that got away. Sure they were hard done by a gaffe of epic proportions by the referee that altered the course of Monday’s 2-2 draw with China, but there was also Amber Hearn cracking her penalty off the crossbar in what turned out to be a scoreless draw against Canada. And there was Erin Nayler making her only mistake of the tournament and having it cost her team a pivotal goal against China. Hearn, the program’s marquee player, will be 34 at the next World Cup. Ali Riley and Emma Kete will also be across 30 and Abby Erceg and Ria Percival will be 29. That is not too old to make a run, but the window for the current crop is at the very least on its way down.

– Dan Lauletta

[KASSOUF: United States expects Nigeria to ‘fight for their lives’]

It’s tough to change gears on the fly sometimes:
Neither Germany nor Norway played well Monday, especially in their respective first halves. The coaches, despite changing several players each, will not make excuses for their teams, and they shouldn’t. However, even past all the new faces, it can sometimes be hard to play when: a) the opponent has proven that they are weaker than you, and b) the game is not essential. Yes, the group was at stake, but the goal difference was too much for Norway to realistically overcome, and really, second is almost as good as first going forward the way the bracket shapes up. The bottom line is I wouldn’t judge either team too much on this performance.

– Curren

China will be a tough out: If not for how good China were in the 1990s, the current iteration would be viewed as a future world power. Instead they are left to chase the Sun Wen teams that never quite got over the hump in a World Cup or Olympics. This team probably won’t either, but their first knockout match is going to be against Cameroon or Switzerland, and the winner of that likely gets the United States. The Chinese lack the breadth of attacking personalities to make a deep run, but whoever knocks them out is going to have to work at it.

Lauletta

Norway will likely need Ada Hegerberg to be ‘on’ to win: She won’t turn 20 until after the World Cup, but Hegerberg is clearly Norway’s best attacking option and her strength will be needed against whomever Norway draws going forward. But they’ll probably need her to finish, or at least set someone else up to do it. There is always the possibility that Norway could score on a set piece, and they wouldn’t necessarily need Hegerberg for that (see Mjelde, Maren), however if they’re scoring in the run of play, it will probably involve Hegerberg.

– Curren

Netherlands waiting, planning: There were high hopes for the Netherlands ahead of their first World Cup, and even though they won their opening match and grabbed a late equalizer against Canada to almost certainly go through, there must be an air of disappointment around the team. Their attacking components were not enough of a factor during group play and both the goals they surrendered were the products of horrible defensive miscues. Japan or Germany await in the Round of 16. That could be good insentive to throw caution to the wind and see if Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martins, and Manon Melis can help spring an upset.

– Lauletta
The weak group may actually hurt Germany: They obviously struggled in the second half against Norway, and really weren’t tested any other time. So does Silvia Neid really know what she has? Dzsenifer Marozsan came in battling an injury (yet curiously started Monday) and has not looked great in either of her two matches. Nadine Angerer had a couple of solid saves against Norway, but who knows about her and the back line? If they get in trouble against a team like Sweden in the second round, how confident will they be to find their way out? Or are we nitpicking and moving toward the panic button for no reason?

– Curren

UEL roundup: AC Milan, Celtic, Rangers reach last round of qualifying

Europa League results
Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/BSR Agency/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Europa League results: AC Milan, Celtic and Rangers were all victorious in the third round of UEFA Europa League qualifying on Thursday, advancing to the playoff round — the final round — on Oct. 1.

[ MORE: Son to the rescue as Spurs advance in UEL qualifying (video) ]

AC Milan 3-2 Bodo/Glimt

Hakan Calhanoglu scored twice — once in each half, including the game-winning goal in the 50th minute — as Milan did just enough to knock out Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt.

Lorenzo Colombo got the other goal for Stefano Pioli’s side, with Bodo/Glimt tallies bookending the Italians’ three.

Riga 0-1 Celtic

Celtic’s progression into the playoff round was far more dramatic, and uncertain. Neil Lennon’s side found itself level at 0-0 as they entered the 90th minute. Exra-time, and maybe even penalties, seemed likely.

Mohamed Elyounoussi had other ideas. It wasn’t the most visually pleasing goal scored on Thursday, but Elyounoussi’s bouncing, first-time finish had just enough on it to evade the goalkeeper and hit the back of the net.

Willem II 0-4 Rangers

As for the other side of Glasgow, Rangers cruised past Dutch side Willem II and were just about through to the next round before halftime. James Tavernier converted from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute, followed three minutes later by a goal from Ryan Kent.

Filip Helander made it 3-0 in the 55th, and Connor Goldson finished the rout in the 71st. Steven Gerrard’s team was one of the most impressive sides on the day, and looked ready for a season-long battle for the Scottish Premiership title. Having played one more game than their local rivals, Rangers currently lead Celtic by a single point.

Notable Europa League results

Shkendija 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (FULL RECAP)
Mura 1-5 PSV Eindhoven
Wolfsburg 2-0 Desna Chernihiv
Sporting CP 1-0 Aberdeen

Notable Europa League playoff matchups

Tottenham Hotspur v Maccabi Haifa
Rio Ave v AC Milan
Sarajevo v Celtic
Rangers v Galatasaray
Rosenborg v PSV Eindhoven
AEK Athens v Wolfsburg
Sporting CP v LASK

League Cup: Liverpool win 7-2; Man City survive and advance

League Cup - Liverpool
Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of League Cup third round results on Thursday, as Liverpool and Man City booked their places among the final 16 teams…

[ MORE: Edouard Mendy to Chelsea: What does it mean for Kepa, Blues’ defense? ]

Lincoln City 2-7 Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp fielded a team of most of his seldom used players, and had virtually no issues getting past League One side Lincoln. Xherdan Shaqiri opened the scoring in the ninth minute, and he did so in truly fantastic free-kick fashion.

Takumi Minamino scored twice — once either side of halftime — beginning with his first-time, curled beauty in the 18th minute to make it 2-0. The Japanese international appears to have stockpiled plenty of confidence to force his way into the Reds’ star-studded first team with greater regularity.

From there, Liverpool were off to the races. Curtis Jones bagged a brace in the 32nd and 36th minutes, followed the second from Minamino to make it 5-0 after 46 minutes. Lincoln hit back right on the hour mark, but Marko Grujic restored the five-goal lead just five minutes later.

The Imps clawed back another goal just a minute later, but an 89th-minute tally from Divock Origi ensured the Reds would triumph by the five-goal margin.

Up next for Liverpool is a heavyweight fourth-round showdown, at home against Arsenal.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Reyna to Liverpool; Jorginho to Arsenal ]

Man City 2-1 Bournemouth

Pep Guardiola’s men were far from full stretch, and far from their best, en route to a 2-1 victory over recently relegated Bournemouth. With as many as six first-team regulars given the rare night off, City found themselves level at 1-1 with the final 15 minutes approaching. U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen was one of the backups to feature.

Fortunately for City, Phil Foden has stepped forward in recent outings and asserted himself a star of the present — no longer of the future — and reaffirmed his ascent with a well-place winner in the 75th minute.

It was one of the youngsters, 17-year-old Liam Delap, who opened the scoring in the 18th minute, when he hammered a left-footed strike into the upper-90 of the far post. Foden provided the diagonal through ball for Delap and picked up the assist on the play. The lead lasted barely four minutes, though, before Sam Surridge had drawn the Cherries back to level terms.

Up next in the League Cup, City will visit Burnley in the fourth round.

Bristol City 0-3 Aston Villa

A pair of new signings — Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore — bagged goals, alongside the opener from Anwar El Ghazi, for Dean Smith’s Villa, to make it a comfortable 3-0 victory over Championship side Bristol City.

Villa will host Championship side Stoke City in the next round.

Son to the rescue as Spurs advance in UEL qualifying (video)

Europa League - Tottenham
Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Son Heung-min got to play the role of hero once again for Tottenham Hotspur, as it was the South Korean superstar’s second-half goal and assist which lifted his side to a 3-1 victory away to North Macedonia side Shkendija in the third round of Europa League qualifying on Thursday.

[ MORE: Edouard Mendy to Chelsea: What does it mean for Kepa, Blues’ defense? ]

Spurs took an early lead through Erik Lamela’s fifth-minute strike. Son found his Argentine teammate atop Shkendija’s 18-yard box and Lamela hit his right-footed shot with pinpoint accuracy.

Spurs were in control, without being dominant, for the remainder of the first half. Though they failed to make a handful of half-chances count, Jose Mourinho’s men looked like they never had to move past second gear to remain 1-0 ahead at the halftime break.

The second half, however, was a bit more tricky. Shkendija needed just 10 minutes, and two shots, to pull level.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Reyna to Liverpool; Jorginho to Arsenal ]

Valmir Nafiu let fly from 22 yards out, and there was very little — if anything — Joe Hart could do to get close to the upper-90-bound laser.

After scoring four goals in Spurs’ 5-2 thrashing of Southampton on the weekend, Son provided the moment of quality so desperately needed in the 70th minute. Lucas Moura’s initial effort on goal was saved, but it fell ever so kindly to Son 12 yards from goal. His finish was far from simple, though, as no fewer than two outfield players and the goalkeeper obstructed his path to goal. In the end, he picked out the top-left corner for a delicately placed finish.

It was another moment of quality from Son which propelled Spurs to a two-goal advantage not even 10 minutes later. He whipped in a cross from the left wing and found Harry Kane perched near the six-yard box, where he rose highest and put plenty of power behind his header.

Up next for Spurs will be a playoff-round clash with Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. The winner of that single-leg tie will qualify for the group stage draw.

Burnley – Southampton: How to watch, start time, team news, odds

Leave a comment

Burnley – Southampton: Two committed and hard-working clubs clash at Turf Moor on Saturday (Watch live at 3pm ET online via Peacock) as both teams are aiming for their first points of the season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Sean Dyche’s Burnley lost at Leicester in their opening game of the season last weekend, while Ralph Hasenhuttl saw his Southampton side hammered 5-2 at home by Tottenham are losing at Crystal Palace on the opening day.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

These clubs are evenly-matched as Burnley finished 10th and Saints 11th last season, but both clubs know they have increasing competition to finish in midtable.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of what should be an extremely physical early-season clash.


Team news: Burnley – Southampton (INJURY REPORT)

Burnley are without a host of players as Jay Rodriguez suffered an injury in the midweek League Cup win at Millwall and joins Ben Mee, James Tarkowski, Robbie Brady, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes in the treatment room.

Southampton only have one player missing through injury, Nathan Redmond, while Mohammed Salisu isn’t quite up to full speed following his arrival this summer.


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

With all of their injuries Burnley (+220) are the underdogs but Southampton (+135) have never fared well at Burnley and last won at Turf Moor in 2007 when both teams were in the second tier.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Burnley – Southampton prediction

This is a real clash of style as Hasenhuttl’s Saints will press high and look to force the issue, while Burnley will sit back and soak up the pressure and look to go direct. Burnley always seem to catch Saints out on the break or from set pieces and I think that will be the case here too, but with all of the Clarets’ injuries I think Southampton will come away with something. Burnley 1-1 Southampton.


How to watch Burnley – Southampton stream and start time

Kickoff: 3pm ET Saturday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com