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USMNT 0-1 Mexico at HALF: No more Cero thanks to Layun (video)

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Miguel Layun has ensured there will be no Cero for Mexico in this World Cup qualifier, as El Tri leads the USMNT 1-0 after 45 minutes at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

And it certainly could’ve been worse for the U.S.

The match is the first of the Hex, the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for Russia 2018.

[ MORE: Panama, Costa Rica strike first ]

Jurgen Klinsmann opened the match in a 3-5-2, and it did not work well at all.

A moment of promise in the fourth minute, as Christian Pulisic led a charge up the middle of the pitch before leaving the ball for Bobby Wood. Unfortunately, Fabian Johnson popped an attempted cross over goal.

The other end saw a neat bit of work from Miguel Layun on Mexico’s left flank end with Javier Hernandez turning the ball wide of Tim Howard‘s right post.

Tim Howard made a fingertip save that saw Jesus Corona’s 10th minute shot hit the far post, and Jozy Altidore then drew a yellow card on Diego Reyes off the counter.

John Brooks picked up the Yanks first yellow card when he chopped down Hernandez in the 15th minute.

The Yanks finally got an effort on Alfredo Talavera in the 20th minute, but Jozy Altidore didn’t get enough power on his header of Fabian Johnson’s long cross and it stayed 0-0.

The goal came at the other end moments later, as Layun’s shot changed direction off Timmy Chandler to skip of a diving Howard’s gloves and into the goal.

Bobby Wood earned the U.S. a corner minutes later, and Altidore looked set to make it 1-1 until a Mexican intervention inside the six.

Mexico headed a ball off the crossbar through Vela, who outjumped Matt Besler in the center of the pitch only to see his offering bomb off the underside of the bar.

[ MORE: The evolution of Pulisic ]

Timmy Chandler earned a free kick for the United States on the right side in the 33rd minute. Michael Bradley lorded over the offering from 30-plus yards, and Altidore nodded it back into the mix before Pulisic bungled his chance to make it 1-1.

Jones came close to picking up a second yellow as Mexico won a central free kick about 30 yards out, but Giovani dos Santos fired over the goal.

Howard had to come out of the game with a groin injury, and Jurgen Klinsmann used his first sub to bring Brad Guzan into the game in the 40th minute.

Chandler picked up a yellow in the 45th minute.

LINEUPS

USMNT: Howard (Guzan, 40′); Besler, Brooks, Gonzalez, Chandler, Jones, Bradley, Johnson, Pulisic, Wood, Altidore.

Subs: Guzan, Yarbrough, Yedlin, Gordon, Johannsson, Bedoya, Orozco, Birnbaum, Kljestan, Green, Zusi, Gooch.

Mexico: Talavera, Reyes, Marquez, Moreno, Layun, Guardado, Herrera, G. Dos Santos, J. Corona, Vela, Hernandez.

Four-star Manchester United wins Europa League group

Manchester United Mata Greenwood
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Manchester United is in fine feather and showing it, smashing AZ Alkmaar in a stylish 4-0 win at Old Trafford in Europa League play on Thursday.

Juan Mata had a goal and set up two others, while Mason Greenwood scored twice after Ashley Young opened the scoring in a group-claiming victory.

[ MORE: Saka leads Arsenal comeback ]

United wins the group with 13 points, conceding just twice in six matches.

The Red Devils have won three-straight matches, as AZ joins Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the loss column. Up next is a Sunday visit from Everton in the Premier League before Wednesday’s League Cup quarterfinal visit from Colchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed starts to James Garner, Brandon Williams, and Axel Tuanzebe, bringing youngsters Ethan Laird and Tahith Chong off the bench.

Greenwood, 18, now has six goals in 22 senior appearances, while Mata, 31, gets on the score sheet for the first time this season.

For his career, the award-winning Spaniard is doing okay, though: 125 goals and 149 assists in 542 senior appearances.

Ljungberg hails ‘amazing’ teen Saka after game-changing performance

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Arsenal phenom Bukayo Saka‘s big day spurred the Gunners to a top seed in the Europa League knockout rounds.

Arsenal went behind on two deflected goals in the second half’s first 25 minutes, but Saka answered with a goal and an assist in three minutes to take a point from Belgium in a 2-2 draw at Standard Liege.

[ RECAP, VIDEO: Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal ]

Saka was at the heart of it of all good things Arsenal, the 18-year-old handed plenty of responsibility. despite his tender age.

“He was amazing,” said interim manager Freddie Ljungberg. “He was a bit upset with me before the game that he had to play wing-back and full-back. He’s a tremendous talent.”

Saka had four key passes to go with his goal and assist, winning six of eight duels while producing two tackles and an interception.

Ljungberg said Arsenal hasn’t sent its young players on loan enough, though that hardly applies to Saka given he was 17 until September.

The injured Gunners used Konstantinos Mavropanos, Emile Smith-Rowe, Joe Willock, and Reiss Nelson in the Starting XI, and brought Gabriel Martinelli off the bench.

“I feel sorry for our young players,” he said. “A lot of them haven’t been on loan, they’ve not had that exposure to men’s football. Some of them made mistakes but they’ll learn from those mistakes and won’t do them again.”

Smith-Rowe was loaned to RB Leipzig last season and Nelson starred on loan at Hoffenheim. Mavropanos played first team football for Greek Super League side PAS Giannina in his late teens.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Arsenal uses thrilling comeback to win Europa League group

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Nothing Arsenal-related is allowed to be easy, it seems.

The Gunners used a goal and an assist from Bukayo Saka to come back from a two-goal deficit and draw Standard Liege 2-2 in Belgium on Thursday, winning its Europa League group when Vitoria came back to beat Eintracht Frankfurt on a wild afternoon of soccer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal trailed on second half goals from Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah, but rallied behind Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette to score a second-straight win for interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.

Saka sent in a laser cross in the 78th minute and Lacazette did quite well to power it under the bar.

He’s loving this competition, having made a serious entrance earlier in the tournament versus Eintracht Frankfurt. The 18-year-old now has two goals and five assists across all competitions this season.

The Gunners needed just three more minutes to tie the score on a day they outshot the hosts 15-11.

Saka showed his nose for goal to tie the score five minutes later with a dribble to the top of the 18 and a sly finish to the keeper’s left.

This was all happening around the same time Vitoria scored twice in three minutes to take a 3-2 lead on Eintracht Frankfurt.

Standard Liege goes from the knockout rounds to nothing in a blink, while Eintracht goes from winning the group to second.

The field for the Europa League is looking fierce, with Inter Milan, Benfica, Ajax, Club Brugge, Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg joining the competition via transfer from the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks

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Matchweek 17 is here in the Premier League as the games continue to come thick and fast during the festive season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

DOWNLOAD NBC SPORTS PREDICTOR

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Liverpool 3-1 Watford – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM] 

Crystal Palace 3-1 Brighton – (Monday, 2:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Leicester 3-0 Norwich – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Southampton 1-1 West Ham – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

Sheffield United 2-1 Aston Villa – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Man United 2-1 Everton – (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM


“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Arsenal 3-3 Man City – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Wolves 1-2 Tottenham – (Sunday 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM