England ousts host Canada to make Women’s World Cup semifinal for first time

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — England is headed to the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup for the first time ever after beating host Canada, 2-1 on Saturday in front of a tournament-high crowd of 54,027 fans at BC Place.

The Lionesses got off to a quick start thanks to first half goals from Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze and they never looked back.

“To come here under the pressure that we’re under against 50,000 Canadians, against the home nation, everything was against us today,” England captain Steph Houghton said. “And to be able to go 2-0 up in the first 15 minutes was credit to all the girls. There’s a great belief in this squad. It’s a historic moment for English football to be able to get to a semifinal in a World Cup.”

It will be England vs. Japan in the semifinal on Wednesday in Edmonton, Alberta, with a spot at the World Cup final match at stake. Germany and the United States play in the other semifinal on Tuesday in Montreal.

For Canada, the loss marked heartbreak on home soil.

“Obviously it’s not how we wanted the tournament to end,” Canada captain Christine Sinclair said. “Anytime you get knocked out of a tournament your upset. Especially when I thought we didn’t deserve to go out like that tonight.”

England got off to a brilliant start by smashing a pair of quick goals past Erin McLeod and a shambolic Canadian back line. Canada defender Lauren Sesselmann has been all over the map during the World Cup with her shaky and unconvincing play. Sesselmann was stripped of the ball in midfield by Jodie Taylor. The Portland Thorns forward turned Allysha Chapman inside and out while racing in on goal. Taylor deposited the ball past McLeod for an early 1-0 advantage.

As if things could not get worse for the host nation, they did. A free kick from Fara Williams found an unmarked Lucy Bronze at the back post. The England right back headed the ball off the bottom of the bar and past McLeod for her second goal in as many matches.

Fourteen minutes in and Canada was down 2-0. This was the first time the Red and White had to come back trailing in a match. Melissa Tancredi’s first half misses from in close could have absolutely changed the complexion of the match had she converted. England gave Canada all sorts of problems in the opening forty-five and John Herdman’s players looked completely shocked.

Canada was given a lifeline in the 42nd minute when they cut the deficit in half. Ashley Lawrence spun away from her defender and fired a low shot on target that England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was not able to control. The ball was dangerously left in the path of Christine Sinclair and the Canadian skipper scored and earned a thunderous cheer. Canada was back in the match before halftime.

Canada coach John Herdman elected to keep Sesselmann in the match and did not make any changes before the second half. It was in fact England that made the first substitution. Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was forced to exit the match with what an apparent eye injury. Siobhan Chamberlain entered with her team on the brink of a semifinal birth.

The long-awaited return of Diana Matheson finally happened for Canada. Realizing Canada need more offensively in a win or go home match, Herdman gave Matheson the green light for her first match action since October 2014 after tearing her ACL and suffering a foot fracture in her comeback. The midfielder came on to a huge roar in the 62nd minute for Wilkinson. Josee Belanger shifted back into a fullback position while Matheson controlled the right flank.

Adriana Leon and Sophie Schmidt both had late chances in close, but nothing really tested Chamberlain. For the second consecutive England match, it was Bronze scoring the match-winner. The fullback earned the heroics in hostile territory.

Canada’s World Cup dream came to an end.

Sinclair is proud of the way her teammates played during the World Cup. The future is bright for Canada, but at the moment, this loss to England will take a while to recover from.

“I’m proud of them,” she said of her teammates. “You look around the stadium and there’s fifty odd thousand people wearing Canada jerseys. The young kids now dream of representing Canada, and we did that. This one stings, but in the grand scheme of things this tournament was a huge success.”

Injured England player Jordan Nobbs was not able to recover from her hamstring injury to participate in the match. Nobbs has been sidelined for much of the World Cup. The England vice-captain talked about emotions from the sidelines as she watched a victorious England.

“It’s never racking watching the girls,” she said. “There’s a whole 23 that have played a massive part in this tournament. I think nearly everyone one of us in the squad have been in the squad at some point. I just think it shows the strength in our squad. We’re behind each others backs through and through.”

Now, its on to the semifinals for England.

Canada Starting XI: Erin McLeod; Allysha Chapman, Lauren Sesselmann, Kadeisha Buchanan, Rhian Wilkinson (Diana Matheson 62); Ashley Lawrence, Desiree Scott (Kaylyn Kyle 77), Sophie Schmidt; Melissa Tancredi (Adriana Leon 71), Christine Sinclair(C), Josee Belanger. (4-4-3)

England Starting XI: Karen Bardsley (Siobhan Chamberlain 51); Claire Rafferty, Laura Bassett, Steph Houghton(C), Lucy Bronze; Fara Williams (Ellen White 78); Jill Scott, Katie Chapman, Jade Moore; Karen Carney (Casey Stoney 90+3), Jodie Taylor. (4-1-3-2)

AT HALF: Deulofeu beauty highlight of goal-hungry 10 a.m. ET kickoffs

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As it stands, Watford is on pace to latch onto seventh place in the Premier League thanks to a sensational goal from Gerard Deulofeu, but all four 10 a.m. ET kickoffs are in the balance after 45 minutes.

West Ham United 1-0 Leicester City – CNBC [STREAM]

Michail Antonio got a deserved goal of full intent when he collected a Mark Noble cross and turned a header beyond the reach of Kasper Schmeichel.

Bournemouth 0-0 Fulham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Not much brewing at the Vitality Stadium.

Wolves 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion – NBCSN [STREAM]

A point for Brighton would be big as the Seagulls could increase their advantage over 18th place Cardiff City to three points

Huddersfield Town 0-1 Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

The goal of the morning so far, aided by the Terriers typical mixed-up defense, goes to Gerard Deulofeu for this kiss of the post.

Pep praises Man City after win over Spurs

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Pep Guardiola struck a defiant tone after Manchester City bounced back from its midweek UEFA Champions League set back to topple Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Pep gives KDB update ]

“As a footballer, I could not have done what my players have done today,” Guardiola said. “The title is still in our hands. I’ve not done anything. I’ve told my players that if they’ve forgotten what happened it’s good but if it still hurts then it’s good. Those 10 seconds of joy and happiness to devastation. That kind of experience has given us emotions we wouldn’t have had. Today our fans were incredible.”

When asked whether the club can manage to win the rest of its matches and the Premier League, he pointed to its 10-match winning run and motioned that it of course can move forward for four more.

“We came back with this sunshine, the effort of the players was incredible,” Guardiola said. “Even if we don’t do it, we’ve been on a remarkable run. Every day with this club and these players. It doesn’t matter what happens next. We’ll fight until the end. We’ll see how far we get.”

Guardiola noted the strength of Tottenham, having played them thrice in two weeks. City beat Spurs 4-3 and 1-0 while losing 1-0 in the Champions League first leg.

And Liverpool will not be expected to drop any more points while City meets Manchester United in a pivotal derby on Wednesday.

“Tottenham is an incredible team and club. They are an incredible organization. We are fighting with the best Liverpool ever, one of the best teams I’ve seen in my whole life.”

Will City do it?

Watch Live: Four Premier League games, 10am ET

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Four Premier League games take place at 10 a.m. ET, as Brighton & Hove Albion have a massive game in their battle against relegation.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Wolves host Brighton, Leicester head to West Ham, Fulham travel to Bournemouth and Huddersfield welcome Watford.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for all four games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Wolves v. Brighton – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Ham v. Leicester – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth v. Fulham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Huddersfield v. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Player ratings from Man City 1-0 Spurs

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The goal were scarce, but Man City and Tottenham Hotspur went on with their ability to entertain in a bounce back win for City at the Etihad Stadium.

[ MORE: Match recap | ]

A flop from either would’ve been understandable given the 7-goal thriller at midweek, but both provided fine accounts of themselves as Phil Foden was the match-winner.


Manchester City

Ederson:  9 – *Man of the Match* here was plenty of luck in his thwarting of Lucas Moura‘s late deflected strike, but the Brazilian will enjoy a clean sheet following Wednesday’s second leg.

Kyle Walker: 6 – Would VAR have him conceding a second half penalty for handball?

John Stones: 6 – Not terrific, though his partial block that led to Ederson’s last big save was bigger than we realize.

Aymeric Laporte: 7 – A notable error between Laporte and Stones late takes this down a point, but he was huge along with Ederson in the early stages.

Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7 – Is City in the UEFA Champions League semifinal with a healthy Zinchenko in place of Mendy, Delph, et. al.

Kevin De Bruyne (Off 38′): N/A – His injury will be alarming for City, given recurring knee troubles this season.

Ilkay Gundogan: 6 – An unspectacular display as time ticks down on his career at City.

Phil Foden: 8 – The fifth-minute header could hardly have been a more important first Premier League goal.

Bernardo Silva: 8 – A delightful dribble and cross to the back post set up the opener, as the Portuguese playmaker continues a fine season.

Sergio Aguero (Off 66′): 7 – Perhaps a bit quieter than usual, but his headed assist was what City needed early at the Etihad.

Raheem Sterling: 7 – Absolutely in the discussion for Premier League Player of the Season, and has been switched on from moment one.

Subs
Fernandinho (On 38′): 7 – Easy to applaud anyone who comes on for an hour off the bench and doesn’t miss a beat. Broke up some serious Spurs threats.
Leroy Sane (On 66′): 7 – Short spell, but effective. Should’ve collected an assist for his set-up of Sterling

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Tottenham

Paulo Gazzaniga:  7 – Solid enough and made a great point-blank save in the second half from Sterling.

Juan Foyth: 7 – A little lost at right back early on, but worked hard and made some important tackles against Sterling and improved as the game went on.

Davinson Sanchez: 6 – See above. Solid on his return to the starting lineup. Maybe could have done better on the goal as Aguero peeled off him.

Toby Alderweireld: 7 – As dependable as ever. Good block from Aguero in the second half, which had a hint of handball, but the Belgian knew nothing about it.

Jan Vertonghen: 7 – Dominant display and tried his best to get Spurs moving forward when he could.

Ben Davies: 6 – Struggled to cope with Bernardo Silva, but then again most defenders have this season.

Eric Dier: 5 – Has been out with injury for a while, and looked rusty on his return to central midfield.

Christian Eriksen: 7 – Some lovely balls forward for Son, and he was denied by Ederson in the first half when he should have probably scored.

Dele Alli: 6 – A few majestic flicks in the first half, and appealed for a penalty kick on Kyle Walker. Looked a little jaded, which is understandable.

Lucas Moura: 7 – Hurried and chased all game long, and nearly got in to score in the second half but Ederson denied him.

Heung-Min Son: 6 – Another sharp display, but will be disappointed he didn’t score after having three big chances in the first half. Led Spurs’ charge on the counter attack.

Subs
Danny Rose: 6 – Did okay and brought his usual energy to the left back position.
Victor Wanyama: 5 – Booked. Did his best to provide a better shield than Dier in front of the Spurs defense.
Fernando Llorente: 5 – Hardly touched the ball in his brief cameo on the pitch. No hip/arm touches today…