Stoke City 0-1 Liverpool: Coutinho stunner saves Liverpool late

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  • Liverpool featured five debutants
  • First 45 minutes progressed with little action
  • Philippe Coutinho golazo wins it with four minutes left

Liverpool went into the Britannia charged for revenge after last season ended with an embarrassing 6-1 defeat at that very ground. Just as it looked they’d come out confused, befuddled, and devoid of ideas, Philippe Coutinho unleashed a stunner to give the Reds all three points.

Stoke City held well along the back and had the best pair of chances as the two sides appeared to be snoozing their way to a 0-0 draw when Coutinho’s beauty struck the back of the net with four minutes to go.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

The first chance fell to Charlie Adam in the Liverpool box inside 8 minutes, but he whiffed on the shot as the ball fell to him in the middle of the box. From there, the game snoozed through much of the first half-hour, with either team shifting tactics to counter the other. On 35 minutes, Stoke had another opportunity but Ibrahim Afellay’s first effort was blocked and Glen Johnson’s follow-up shot looped over the bar.

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Halftime came without much else to show for the first 45 minutes. Erik Pieters had to come off after the break due to injury, replaced by Philipp Wollscheid. Liverpool eventually made a substitution as well, although it wasn’t the one many expected. With the game continuing to drag, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers brought on defensive midfielder Emre Can instead of new signing Roberto Firmino.

Past the half-hour mark, Liverpool found its first shot on target from a set-piece, a free-kick flung over the box at the feet of Martin Skrtel who found his central defensive partner Dejan Lovren, but his low shot from a tight angle was held easily by Jack Butland. Eventually, Rodgers would eventually bring on Firmino, but to little effect.

[ MORE: Click here for full lineups, stats, box score ]

Stoke had a chance as Charlie Adam found Mame Diouf with a free-kick but the latter whiffed on the far post tap-in. Liverpool picked things up past 65 minutes as a Christian Benteke shot was blocked and the pace seemed to brighten slightly, and the ensuing corner saw Butland make a diving save to keep out a solid Benteke header.

Diouf again found himself the target of a ball forward into the box, but his header just glanced wide of the post with seven minutes remaining. The game looked to be snoozing to a finish, and Rodgers was about to substitute off Coutinho when the Brazilian shook off the cobwebs, burst forward through the midfield and unleashed a sparkling ray of brilliance that lifted the visitors to delight.

Bilbao’s Williams: ‘I suffered racist insults’ at Espanyol

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams says that he was a victim of racial abuse from fans while playing at Espanyol in a Spanish league game on Saturday.

Williams said after the 1-1 draw that “I suffered racist insults, something that no one wants to hear and has no place here.”

Williams, who is black, played 82 minutes of the match before being substituted.

“People should come to enjoy themselves, to help their team. This is a sport about friendship,” Williams said.

More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

FA Cup: Chelsea survive trip to Hull, advance to 5th round (video)

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With their 2-1 victory away to EFL Championship side Hull City, Chelsea joined Leicester City, Sheffield United and Norwich City as Premier League sides to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

[ FA CUP ROUNDUP: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance ]

Frank Lampard‘s side got off to a flying start courtesy of Michy Batshuayi‘s deflected finish in the 6th minute, and the Blues were well on their way to a first half of total dominance.

Hull looked more prepared for a fight after halftime, but it mattered very little after Fikayo Tomori was gifted a free header two yards off the goal line. Ross Barkley‘s free kick was well placed at the back post and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Hull pulled the game back to 2-1 in the 78th minute, and they were more than a little fortunate in how they managed to do so. Kamil Grosicki smacked a free kick with plenty of power and got the deflection of all deflections to wrong-foot Willy Caballero and find the back of the net.

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

FA Cup roundup: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round (early) action…

[ MORE: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

West Ham United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

West Ham were the lone Premier League side to be knocked out by a lower-division side on Saturday, as David Moyes‘ side failed to find the back of the net and were beaten 1-0 by EFL Championship leaders West Brom.

Conor Townsend scored the game’s only goal in the 9th minute, and though the Hammers controlled possession the rest of the way, they created very little in terms of scoring chances and finished the game with just three shots on target. West Brom finished the game with 10 men, but West Ham could do nothing with their 18-minute advantage following Semi Ajayi‘s second yellow card in the 72nd minute.

Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United

Sheffield United’s dream season continued with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Championship side Millwall. Both goals came inside the final half-hour, but the Blades were unquestionably the better side even before breaking the deadlock.

That came in the 62nd minute, when Muhamed Besic placed a stunning curler inside the far post for 1-0. Not long before full-time, in the 84th, Oliver Norwood drove his effort hard and low and into the corner to make it 2-0.

Burnley 1-2 Norwich City

Norwich and Burnley were largely inseparable for the majority of Saturday’s clash at Turf Moor, save for a four-minute period early in the second half in which Norwich scored twice and booked their place in the fifth round.

Grant Hanley made it 1-0 in the 53rd and Josip Drmic added to the advantage in the 57th minute. Erik Pieters pulled Burnley back to within a goal in the 73rd, but that’s as close as the Clarets would get.

FA Cup fourth-round scoreboard

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur — FULL RECAP
Newcastle United 0-0 Oxford United
Portsmouth 4-2 Barnsley
Coventry City 0-0 Birmingham City
Reading 1-1 Cardiff City

RB Leipzig beaten, Bundesliga title race thrown wide open

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BERLIN (AP) Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Bundesliga leader RB Leipzig 2-0 to throw the title race wide open on Saturday.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Frankfurt defender Almamy Toure scored a brilliant goal just after the break and Filip Kostic sealed the win in injury time to deal Leipzig its first defeat since a 2-1 loss at home to Freiburg in October.

Borussia Monchengladbach cut the gap at the top to two points with a 3-1 win at home over Mainz, thanks largely to goals in each half from French striker Alassane Plea.

Bayern Munich has the chance to cut the gap to one point with a win at home over Schalke in the late game.

[ FA CUP: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

Borussia Dortmund is just four points off the top after its 5-1 win over Cologne on Friday.

Also Saturday, Union Berlin defeated Augsburg 2-0 at home, Hertha Berlin came from behind to win 2-1 at Wolfsburg, and Paderborn moved off the bottom with a 2-0 win at Freiburg.