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Championship roundup: Norwich remain in top spot, Fulham tops Barnsley

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On a day with many draws, the English Championship’s top sides had no such trouble find results.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Bournemouth win big in PL action ]

Norwich City earned a 3-1 win over Rotherham behind goals from Wes Hoolahan, Cameron Jerome and Steven Naismith. The Canaries remain atop the league with the victory, while sits five points buried in the relegation zone through 12 matches. Despite dominating much of Saturday’s encounter, Alex Neil‘s team will be looking to improve upon its efficiency in the final third after landing six of its 22 shots on target.

The two sides were deadlocked going into halftime but it was Fulham that came away with a 4-2 win at Barnsley on Saturday. Marley Watkins gave the hosts the lead after just four minutes, however, the fortunes for Barnsley changed significantly as the match wore on. To make matters worse for the Tykes, Josh Scowen earned himself a red card after the hour mark.

Ciaran Clark got the action going early on for Newcastle in the team’s 3-1 win against Brentford, but it was Dwight Gayle‘s double that ensured the Toons the points on the day. Gayle now has nine goals on the campaign, which leads all players in the Championship. Scott Hogan pulled a goal back for the visitors after halftime but it simply wasn’t enough for Brentford to take anything away from St. James’ Park.

Elsewhere in the Championship

Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Ipswich Town

Brighton & Hove Albion 2-2 Preston North End

Derby County 1-0 Leeds United

Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Reading

Wigan Athletic 0-0 Burton Albion

Aston Villa 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Former Arsenal, Brazil midfielder Baptista announces retirement

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Julio Baptista’s time at Arsenal only lasted 12 months, but it was a memorable stint.

The Brazilian, who played the 2006-07 season for the Gunners, announced his retirement on Thursday at the age of 37. The former Brazil international only managed 10 goals with Arsenal, but they came in bunches.

Baptista memorably scored four goals against Liverpool in the League Cup quarterfinal, as Arsenal finished with a 6-3 win. Baptista even missed a penalty kick that game.

Baptista cemented his legacy later in the season with a brace in the FA Cup against rival Tottenham.

Baptista, clearly an immensely talented player, suffered from being a good, but not great player. He seemed to have no perfect position other than the No. 10, and most teams he played for had better players in that position. It forces him to play along the wings, deeper in midfield or as a striker during the prime of his career.

In the end, injuries beset his career, especially a short spell at Orlando City in MLS.


U-20 World Cup Rewind: Italy tops Mexico, host Poland falls on Day 1 (video)

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Italy opened the FIFA Under-20 World Cup with a bang, knocking off fellow Group B favorite Mexico, 2-1, in Gdynia, Poland.

It only took Italy three minutes to get on the board, as Davide Frattesi found a pocket of space in front of the El Tri backline and dribbled in on goal. The Sassuolo midfielder then decided to fire on goal from distance, hitting a rocket into the corner to give Italy a 1-0 lead.

Later in the first half Gianluca Scamacca also took a rip from outside the box, but his strike sailed just wide.

A defensive error on a corner kick gave Diego Lainez and Mexico life. In the 37th minute, AC Milan product Alessandro Plizzari committed a howler, coming out to punch away the curled corner kick. Plizzari missed the ball and it went right to the head of Roberto De La Rosa, who calmly made it 1-1.

El Tri however suffered a blow late in the match as Italy took back the lead. In the 67th minute, Luca Ranieri collected the ball on the edge of the six yard box and from a tight angle, he scored past Mexico goalkeeper Carlos Higuera.

For Mexico, it’s a rough way to start the World Cup, having to go against a perennial power in Italy and playing on European soil. Not all is lost for Mexico, but it has to rebound with a win in its next game against Japan.

Elsewhere, Colombia defeated host Poland, 2-0, Japan tied Ecuador 1-1, and Senegal beat Tahiti, 3-0.

Saudis, Bahrain, UAE join to bid for FIFA’s U-20 World Cup

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GENEVA (AP) Middle East neighbors Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are jointly bidding to host the Under-20 World Cup in 2021.

FIFA says the Gulf plan is among five to express interest in bidding, including Brazil.

Indonesia, Peru and a Myanmar-Thailand joint bid are the others.

FIFA announced the contenders Thursday, one day after dropping a proposal for Qatar to share hosting duties for the 2022 World Cup with regional neighbors.

The 2021 U20 contenders must submit a formal bid by Aug. 30. FIFA’s ruling Council will pick the winner, likely in October.

The 2019 edition kicks off Thursday in Poland.

Putin awards medal to FIFA president Infantino

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MOSCOW (AP) Vladimir Putin has given FIFA president Gianni Infantino a medal.

The Russian president awarded Infantino the Order of Friendship at the Kremlin on Thursday.

Infantino has often said last year’s World Cup in Russia, where the host nation surprisingly reached the quarterfinals, was the best of the 21 editions of the tournament.

Putin thanked the FIFA leader for “your glowing assessment of our efforts.”

Infantino says of Russia’s “bonds of friendship” with soccer “is not the end, it is only the beginning of our fruitful cooperation and interaction.”

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