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Relegation race: Why six teams remain in discussion

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What if we told you that Sunderland isn’t dead yet?

The Premier League’s bottom dwellers have pulled off several big escapes in recent years, and David Moyes faces the toughest test yet with a 10-point deficit to make up over the final eight matches of the season.

But Sunderland faces four of the teams still in danger of relegation: West Ham, Middlesbrough, Hull City, and Swansea City.

[ MORE: Kane back for Spurs ]

Those last four teams are fighting for three spots in the Premier League, and we’ll keep Middlesbrough in the discussion since we’re including Sunderland.

As good as Palace has looked lately, their schedule is extremely demanding and keeps the Eagles firmly in the discussion.

Here’s how the table and fixture list looks right now, with six six-pointers remaining on the docket:

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 West Ham United 31 9 6 16 41 57 -16 5-3-7 4-3-9 33
 Crystal Palace 30 9 4 17 39 50 -11 4-1-9 5-3-8 31
 Hull City 31 8 6 17 32 61 -29 7-4-5 1-2-12 30

 Swansea City 31 8 4 19 37 66 -29 5-3-8 3-1-11 28
 Middlesbrough 30 4 11 15 22 37 -15 3-4-7 1-7-8 23
 Sunderland 30 5 5 20 24 53 -29 3-4-8 2-1-12 20

Matchday 32
West Ham vs. Swansea City
Middlesbrough vs. Burnley
Man City vs. Hull City
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal
Sunderland vs. Manchester United

Matchday 33
Crystal Palace vs. Leicester City
Sunderland vs. West Ham
Stoke City vs. Hull City
Watford vs. Swansea City
Middlesbrough vs. Arsenal

Matchday 34
Hull City vs. Watford
Swansea City vs. Stoke City
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace
West Ham vs. Everton
Arsenal vs. Sunderland*

*postponed

Matchday (Week) 35
Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland
Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Southampton vs. Hull City
Stoke City vs. West Ham
Crystal Palace vs. Burnley
Sunderland vs. Bournemouth
Middlesbrough vs. Man City
Manchester United vs. Swansea City

Matchday 36
West Ham vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Man City vs. Crystal Palace
Hull City vs. Sunderland
Swansea City vs. Everton
Chelsea vs. Middlesbrough

Matchday 37
Sunderland vs. Swansea City
West Ham vs. Liverpool
Crystal Palace vs. Hull City
Middlesbrough vs. Southampton

Matchday 38
Chelsea vs. Sunderland
Liverpool vs. Middlesbrough
Hull City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Burnley vs. West Ham
Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace
Swansea City vs. West Brom

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE