Three things we learned from Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton

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LONDON — Following Tottenham’s 0-0 draw with Everton at White Hart Lane on Saturday, we learned plenty about both teams as they aim to set a top four challenge in motion. On this showing, top six seems more attainable for both this season.

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With John Stones getting booed by both sets of fans and the subject of chants surrounding his transfer request amid interest from Chelsea, it was a lively encounter which saw Harry Kane continue to struggle in front of goal and Tim Howard pull off a heroic performance.

Here are three things we learned from the Lane.

KANE’S FRUSTRATION CONTINUES

As Kane raced through on goal, one-on-one with goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 23rd minute, home fans at White Hart Lane rose to their feet as one. After Kane’s heroics last season, everyone expected to see the net ripple and Spurs to be 1-0 up. Wrong. Kane hesitated, looked across at the linesman, then fluffed his shot and Howard saved superbly down low.

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He looked frustrated. Was snapping at shots and his aerial knockdowns were not finding the feet of his teammates. In the first half Kane continued to drop deep, twice hitting long-range efforts from distance which sailed harmlessly over Howard’s crossbar. After four games this season, Kane has failed to score a single goal and although he did have the ball in the back of the net in the second half, a quick glance to the linesman showed he was offside.

The England international scored 21 times in the PL last season, 31 times in 51 games total, but remember, Kane did not score his first PL goal of the 2014-15 campaign until Nov. 2. He still has plenty of time to turn things around this season but one thing is for sure, Spurs’ main man is in a slump and its now 22 shots without a goal this season.

HOWARD MORE THAN READY FOR USMNT RECALL

Just in case anybody had any concerns about Tim Howard returning to the U.S. national team fold for the first time in over a year next week when the U.S. face Peru and Brazil in friendlies, you needn’t worry.

Howard, 36, pulled off a highlight reel performance at White Hart Lane on Saturday, excelling in the first half with a string of fines saves just to give Jurgen Klinsmann a friendly reminder of what he’s capable of.

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First came his best, as Kane raced through on goal Howard stood his ground and saved superbly with his feet as Tottenham’s leading goalscorer from last year hesitated with the finish. In the 27th minute he saved well again down low from Ryan Mason after he broke into the box. Soon after Howard dove down to his left to stop a shot from Nabil Bentaleb and nobody from Spurs’ reacted to the loose ball.

In the 32nd minute he made a fine fingertip stop from Toby Alderweireld’s header from a corner and Howard’s heroics helped continued in the second half as he denied Mason with a low shot. Last week Howard was criticized by some when he was beaten at his near post by Kolarov in Everton’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City, but the New Jersey native was Man of the Match this time out.

“I am man of the match this week and last week I was the goat. That is football.”

Klinsmann recently stated that Howard is his No. 2 behind Brad Guzan for the upcoming friendlies and will be for a while longer. After taking a self-imposed sabbatical from USMNT action, that’s to be expected. But if Howard keeps playing like this, he will be the USA’s No. 1 again before you know it.

ERIKSEN INTEGRAL; DEMBELE, CLEVERLEY GO DOWN

Without the injured Christian Eriksen, Tottenham’s creativity and spark in the final third took a big hit. Ryan Mason was tasked with playing just behind Kane in the first half but despite his endless running, he failed to unlock Everton’s defense and squandered multiple chances to score. The writing was on the wall nine minutes in as Mason was set free down the right but his ball into the box was high and wide. With Mason playing a more advanced role in Eriksen’s absence, he had another chance in the 17th minute after Danny Rose’s cross but finished poorly as he arrived late in the box. Delle Alli was brought on early in the second half to replace the injured Moussa Dembele but the 19-year-old didn’t fare much better. It’s clear that Kane is going through a tough time and that’s inhibiting Tottenham, but without their chief playmaker Eriksen, Spurs’ offense is struggling as they’ve scored three times in their opening four games.

Two players are also struggling with fitness after this game as both Tom Cleverly and Dembele were stretchered off. Cleverley’s right leg was caught in-between a sliding tackle from Dier, and while many claim it was a foul from Spurs’ central midfielder, there were no complaints from Everton’s players. Yes, Dier’s trailing leg caught Cleverley and caused the injury, but when sliding in to make a tackle sometimes this happens. There was no malice in that challenge but Cleverley was very unfortunate and could well be spending a long time out on the sidelines. At the start of the second half Dembele went down right on the touchline as he clipped a ball back across the box and it looked as if he injured his Achilles by clipping one leg with another. Again, another lengthy spell on the sidelines beckons.

La Liga roundup: Celta spoil Hazard’s return in Real Madrid draw

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Real Madrid’s draw against relegation-battling Celta Vigo highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Madrid 2-2 Celta Vigo 

Celta’s Santi Mina scored in 85th minute to give a depleted Celta Vigo a precious point at the Santiago Bernabeu, spoiling Eden Hazard‘s return to Real Madrid’s lineup after a notable absence.

Madrid’s eighth draw of the season moves champions Barcelona just one point behind Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Returning from ankle injury that kept his out of action for three months, Hazard returned to the pitch in fine style, leading all players on the field in chances created with three and earning a penalty that Sergio Ramos converted to put Real Madrid ahead.

Hazard – and all of his flair – left the field in the 70th minute, granting Vinicius Junior the final 20 minutes of the match.

Ramos’ sixth goal of the season builded on Toni Kroos’ left-footed strike early in the latter half of the match. Real Madrid, more or less, were cruising against Celta, who had a goal to their name following Fyodor Smolov’s early opener.

Celta, who had arrived in Madrid in 18th place and had lost their last seven at the host’s home, were destined to do the unthinkable. Denis Suarez and Mina – both utilized as substitutes – paired up for the equalizer with five minutes to go, spoiling Hazard’s return.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Sevilla 2-2 Espanyol

Leganes 0-0 Real Betis 

Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Osasuna

Teammates appear to stop Marega leaving after racist slurs

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LIBSON, Portugal — FC Porto striker Moussa Marega, who tried to walk off the field after being the target of racist slurs from fans, faced apparent attempts Sunday by his own teammates and opposition players to prevent him from leaving.

Marega, who is black and from Mali, was visibly angered by monkey noises targeting him after he scored Porto’s second goal in a 2-1 win at Guimarães in the Portuguese football league.

But when Marega started to walk off the field, several players from both Porto and Guimarães appeared to argue with him. Porto coach Sérgio Conceição also went on the field and spoke with Marega.

It took Marega several minutes to leave the field when he was substituted.

Marega held his thumbs down at the crowd as he went into the tunnel to the changing rooms. The crowd responded with loud jeers.

The attitude of the other players has drawn criticism on social media.

“We are indignant with what has happened. Moussa was insulted from warmups (before kickoff),” Conceição said after the match.

“We are a family. One’s nationality, color, or height does not matter. We are human beings. We deserve respect and what happened was despicable.”

Marega received a yellow card following his goal in the 61st minute when he appeared to respond to the slurs by pointing at his skin and by picking up a seat that had been thrown on the pitch.

Timothy Weah returns to action with Lille after lengthy| absence

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Timothy Weah was back in action in Lille’s 2-1 loss to Marseille on Sunday after a 183-day absence.

The American attacker played the final 10 minutes of the defeat after being inactive since Lille’s second match of the season back in August 17 in which he suffered a “very bad hamstring tear“.

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Weah arrived at Lille in June on a $12 million deal from Paris Saint-Germain, placing high expectations on the 19-year-old son of Ballon d’OR winner George Weah.

Since, however, the U.S. men’s national team player has had little activity with the French side, accumulating less than 100 minutes over a three-game stretch.

Lille manager Christophe Galtier will likely ease Weah’s way into the a starting role moving forward – which is largely contingent on his performances at practice and in official play.

Lille, who’ve accumulated 40 points in 25 matches, are currently fourth in Ligue 1.

WATCH: Ashley Young opens his Inter Milan account with volley

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The first English goalscorer in Serie A this decade is 34-year-old Ashley Young.

Inter Milan’s newly-integrated wingback opened his Serie A account in proper fashion – scoring with a first-time right-footed volley strike against a strong Lazio side.

Why did Manchester United let Young walk away from Old Trafford during the winter transfer window? Surely, Young will answer that in detail when the time is right. At this moment, he’s too busy scoring goals – stellar ones, too – as we can see for ourselves above.

Young arrived at Inter in January on a reported $2-million deal for the remainder of the season, with an option to extend for another season.