MLS Snapshot: Sporting Kansas City 4-3 Vancouver Whitecaps (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less more — definitely more): As far as flat, dreadful and embarrassing performances in the sport of soccer go, Sporting Kansas City’s first-half showing in a late, dramatic, unfathomable, come-from-behind 4-3 victory for the ages over the Vancouver Whitecaps is an all-timer. Kekuta Manneh, who about every fourth or fifth game has an absolute belter of a game, had an absolute belter of a game en route to a first-half brace. Then, the second half began. The Whitecaps, playing their third game in eight days — just as Sporting KC were — elected to sit deeper and soak up the pressure in an attempt to kill the game off. It worked, for about 35 minutes as the ‘Caps held a 3-1 lead into the 81st minute. Dom Dwyer tucked away a peach of a header and Paulo Nagamura, perhaps the most unlikely off heroes, bagged the game’s equalizer and winner in the 87th and 94th minutes. This game, in a word, was legendary. With the victory, Sporting (40 points) leapfrog FC Dallas and take sole possession of third place in the Western Conference with multiple games in hand on nearly every team around them. Meanwhile, the ‘Caps crushing defeat sees them slip to second in the West as the LA Galaxy now reign supreme.

[ WILD NIGHT IN MLS: FCD 1-2 LAG | RBNY 3-0 TFCRSL 0-1 POR ]

Three Four Five Six moments that mattered

9′ — Manneh runs circles around SKC en route to the opener — Manneh is scary-fast. Like, scary-fast. He’s also becoming a scary-good soccer player. Soni Mustivar must not know about Manneh, otherwise he wouldn’t take ill-advised touches on the ball in Manneh’s general direction. The Gambian-soon-to-be-American speedster rounded Kevin Ellis with ease and finished from a tough angle. Woo.

41′ — Manneh goes unmarked, rises up and bags his brace — Sporting’s uninspired, languid performance persisted through the entirety of the first half. After another bad midfield giveaway, Steven Beitashour provided the pinpoint cross for Manneh who was a forgotten man at the back post. Just like that, 2-0, ‘Caps.

75′ — Morales swerves a filthy free kick past Melia — Pedro Morales’ right foot is absolutely frightening, if you’re an opposing goalkeeper, of course. Just watch Tim Melia, who’s as athletic as any shot-stopper in MLS, struggle to get into the same area code of this Goal of the Week shoo-in.

81′ — Dwyer heads home to cut the deficit to one — Bonus highlight time, because this game was B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Krisztian Nemeth cross -> Dwyer header -> ball into the back of the net.

85′ — Nagamura curls home a late equalizer — Chance Myers cut inside form the left wing, cut the ball back to the top of the 18-yard box and Nagamura wrapped his right foot around the ball and curled it home inside David Ousted’s left-hand post. Sporting Park erupted.

90+4′ — Nagamura heads home the unlikely winner — Soni Mustivar’s in-swinging cross found the head of Nagamura, Sporting’s Brazilian midfield warrior, at the top of the six-yard box. Nagamura’s flicked header was never going anywhere but inside of Ousted’s right-hand post. Sporting Park could have collapsed to the ground and no one inside the building would have cared one bit.

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Man of the match: Paulo Nagamura

Goalscorers: Manneh (9′, 41′), Ellis (53′), Morales (75′), Dwyer (81′), Nagamura (87′, 90+4′)

Cruzeiro relegated from Brazilian top flight for first time

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Brazilian side Cruzeiro was relegated from the top flight for the first time in the club’s 98-year history following a 2-0 defeat to Palmeiras on the final day of the season.

Cruzeiro required victory and a loss by Ceara at Botafogo to stay safely in the Brazilian Serie A, but neither came to pass.

Palmeiras midfielder Ze Rafael scored in the 58th minute to send the visitors on their way, with fellow midfielder Dudu finished things off in the 84th minute. Referees ushered the players off the field immediately after the conclusion of the match as Cruzeiro fans rioted in the Mineirao stadium, ripping out seats, setting off smoke bombs, and clashing with police.

Cruzeiro finished 17th in the 20-team table, three points back of Ceara in 16th. In the Brazilian top flight, the bottom four teams are relegated. CSA, Chapecoense, and Avai were also relegated. Cruzeiro had won the Brazilian Serie A as recently as 2013 and 2014, winning four titles in its history. They also have six Copa do Brasil titles, most recently winning the league cup in 2017 and 2018.

Flamengo ran away with the championship, finishing on 90 points, 16 points clear of second-placed Santos and third-placed Palmeiras who both finished level on 74 points. Palmeiras had challenged for the title, but fell off at the end of the season with a five-match winless run through November.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United v. Arsenal

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Two struggling London sides meet Monday when West Ham United hosts Arsenal (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The sides might’ve expected they’d be within close proximity at this point on the fixture list, but two wildly disappointing seasons means the three points between the Gunners and Irons comes with the former in 11th and the latter 16th.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s been nine matches since Arsenal beat someone, 11 since it happened in the Premier League. West Ham hasn’t been much better, winning once in its last 10.

Freddie Ljungberg has yet to win as Arsenal interim boss, while West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini could see his current stint in London end without more results like the Nov. 30 win at Chelsea.

Monday versus Arsenal would qualify.


Injuries/suspensions

West Ham United: OUT —  Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid. QUESTIONABLE — Michail Antonio.

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Rob Holding.


Probable lineups

West Ham United: Martin; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Fredericks; Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Snodgrass, Haller.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, Sokratis, Luiz, Bellerin, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s Antonio sees an opportunity: “The only three teams that are really performing are Liverpool, Leicester and Man City. Everyone else is getting beaten, and it means we’ve had a missed opportunity so far this season. We started the season off brightly, the best start we’ve had for four years, but then we’ve had a slump. Everyone’s having a slump and this is our slump. Now it’s time for us to start turning up. We’ve been in this situation before and we know how to dig in and pull ourselves up again.”

Arsenal’s Ljungberg on setting targets: “I don’t think we should stop talking about the top four, but for us it’s about concentrating on what we’re doing here now and not look up, down, sideways. We just need to work on our own game and our own confidence.”


Prediction

Really, you wouldn’t want to predict anything from these sides right now besides goals. We’ll give an edge in desperation to the hosts and a 2-2 draw.

La Liga: Sevilla held at Osasuna, Getafe maintains UCL fight

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Sevilla was held to a 1-1 draw at 10-man Osasuna on Sunday, giving both Real Madrid and Barcelona space at the top of the La Liga table.

Munir El Haddadi put the visitors 1-0 up just 11 minutes in, but Ezequiel Avila struck just before halftime to share the points. Sevilla was held to just two total shots through the opening 45 minutes, and despite Osasuna defender Oier Olazabal being shown a second yellow card with 29 minutes to go, Sevilla still managed just 11 total efforts through the 90 minutes, with four on target.

Getafe continued its battle for a top four spot as they won 1-0 on the road at Eibar. Angel Rodriguez bagged his eighth goal of the season to secure the win, cropping up in the 67th minute to finally put Getafe through. They had been turning the screw for some time, forcing Marko Dmitrovic into a pair of big saves just before the opener which came from an absurdly tight angle after Angel had rounded the goalkeeper. The win leaves them fourth, level with Real Sociedad on 27 points.

They were allowed to close the gap after Real Sociedad was held scoreless in a 0-0 draw at 14th placed Real Valladolid. The visitors put just two of their 14 shots on net, and dropped to fifth thanks to Getafe holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Athletic Club also fell back in the race for a top four spot, dropping a 3-2 decision on the road at Real Betis. Joaquin scored a first-half hat-trick, with all three goals coming in the opening 20 minutes to give him five in his last three games. Inaki Williams brought Athletic Bilbao one back before halftime from the spot, and Yuri Berchiche made things interesting with a minute to go, but that was all they could muster as the visitors fell to sixth on 26 points, above Atletico Madrid on goal differential with the two yet to play head-to-head.

Celta Vigo made it interesting as Iago Aspas scored a man-down goal, but Leganes held on for a 3-2 win over the 10-man visitors. Oscar Rodriguez had a first-half brace to help the hosts to a 3-0 lead, but Nestor Araujo and Aspas helped Celta Vigo make things interesting. Still, a 71st minute second yellow card for halftime substitute Gabriel Fernandez hampered the visitors in their efforts for a comeback, leaving Celta Vigo in the relegation zone, a point back of safety, with Leganes is four points behind them in 19th.

Gerrard reacts to Rangers’ Old Firm heartbreak in final

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Steven Gerrard lined his Rangers side up for success, but fate was cruel to the Liverpool legend.

Rangers lost the League Cup Final to their Old Firm rivals on Sunday despite out-shooting the Bhoys by a 16-5 margin, winning a penalty, and playing almost a half-hour up a man.

[ RECAP: Rangers 0-1 Celtic ]

“To a man we were very good … by much the better side,” Gerrard said. “But unfortunately that’s not what gets you a trophy.”

But Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster stopped Alfredo Morelos’ penalty, three minutes after goal scorer Christopher Jullien was offside on the lone goal of the game.

Scotland doesn’t yet use VAR, and Gerrard doesn’t love VAR but he likes it more than he likes Scottish officials.

“There were three Celtic players standing in offside positions but unfortunately we play in a country where there is no VAR,” he said, via the BBC. “I’d be a liar if I said I was 100% in favour of it, but the one thing I do know is that officials up here need support.”

Now he has the task of getting his men to rebound ahead of its biggest non-derby in ages, as Rangers need at least a draw against Young Boys at home on Thursday to advance to the Europa League knockout rounds

“It’s a bit raw right now… It’s up to me to pick the players up. One thing I will say is I’ll stay with these players on the evidence of today because they gave me absolutely everything. We might have to suffer a bit short-term. I need to pick them up a bit physically and mentally for Thursday which is huge but our day will come on the evidence of today.”

Gerrard has done a very good job with Rangers, who are two points back of Celtic in a two-horse race for the Scottish top flight title. Celtic has won eight-straight titles to improve their total to 50, four less than the Rangers.