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CONCACAF WCQ: Panama snatch a point late; CRC hold off T&T

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Tuesday night’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers couldn’t have gone much better for the U.S. national team, who hold onto third place in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal round…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Monday | Sunday ]

Panama 2-2 Honduras

The air was rife with controversy in Panama City on Tuesday, as a Honduras side fighting for its World Cup dream pushed Panama to the limit, with a little help from a swallowed referee’s whistle.

It was a night to savor for Houston Dynamo fans, too, with the MLS side’s Honduran duo of Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis bagging a goal each. Quioto opened the scoring in the 6th minute, and Elis put Los Catrachos back in front in the 65th minute, after Blas Perez pulled Los Canaleros level with his head shoulder back neck upper-body part four minutes before halftime.

Then, in the 74th minute, came the controversial non-goal moment which Panamanians will (rightly, perhaps) feel cost their side two points on the night. Gabriel Torres appeared to redirect the ball over the goal line as he stood completely unmarked at the back post following a corner kick. He didn’t strike it cleanly, though, and the ball looped into the air just high enough and long enough for Donis Escober to palm it off his line, at least according to the referee.

The home side would get its equalizer in the final minute of regular time, as Roman Torres, the Seattle Sounders’ 2016 MLS Cup penalty shootout hero, popped up at just the right moment to slot the ball past Escober and rescue a point for Panama.

As far as the USMNT is concerned, a draw was the perfect result for the two sides immediately behind them in the standings (below).

[ MORE: 10-man France top England; Brazil, Argentina rout ]


Costa Rica 2-1 Trinidad and Tobago

Minnesota United defender Francisco Calvo got Costa Rica off to a flying start, putting the home side 1-0 ahead in the 1st minute, only to see his club teammate, forward Kevin Molino, pull Trinidad and Tobago level 34 minutes later. Bryan Ruiz bagged the game-winning goal in the 44th minute, though, to all but officially end T&T’s chances of qualifying for next summer’s tournament in Russia.

Current Hex standings

1. Mexico — 14 points
2. Costa Rica — 11
3. USA — 8
4. Panama — 8
5. Honduras — 5
6. T&T — 3

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