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Portugal 2-2 Mexico: Late goals leave sides level

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It appeared Portugal had grabbed a late three points against a bright but mistake-prone Mexico side, but the CONCACAF champions leveled in stoppage time to leave honors even at 2-2.

Mexico looked positive in the opening 20 minutes, with Portugal holding the majority of possession but Juan Carlos Osorio’s squad looking up to the task.

There was a big moment after 20 minutes, as it appeared Pepe had scored on the volley after Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post, but after the goal was initially given, the referee asked for a video review, with VAR available in the tournament. After a quick video review, replay showed four Portuguese players offside on the initial delivery into the box, and the goal was wiped off. The call was correct, and the replay review was lightning quick.

Nevertheless, the moment sparked Portugal, and they began to grow into the ascendency. Moments after Memo Ochoa was forced to make a brilliant save, tipping the ball over the bar after it was headed by his own defender Carlos Salcedo, Portugal pounced. Ronaldo did the hard work to carry the ball into the box and cut between three defenders, and he laid off for Ricardo Quaresma who was completely unmarked on the other end of the net. The Besiktas made no mistake, touching past Ochoa and then tapping into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Once they grabbed the lead, however, Portugal’s cutting edge was lost. Mexico had a moment before halftime to pull back level, but while Carlos Vela’s cross met the head of Chicharito, the Bayer Leverkusen striker couldn’t do much with it, only weakly touching it into the waiting arms of Rui Patricio on the hop.

He would atone for the mistake moments later, bringing Mexico back even. Raul Jiminez sent the ball into the box, and a terrible whiff by Portugal defender Raphael Guerrero saw the ball drop to Carlos Vela, who whipped it back into the box for Chicharito who crashed home a header to equalize the score at 1-1.

The Mexican frontman had yet another chance right on the stroke of halftime, but he slipped trying to shoot and sent the ball into the clouds.

After the break, both teams looked to play with less attacking intent, and there were few attempts on net until the final minutes when Portugal began to pour men forward. With five minutes remaining, the Euro champions had their best chance to break the deadlock, as Andre Silva headed on net, but Ochoa was there to keep him out.

Mexico couldn’t see out the point, however, and Portugal seemingly grabbed a winner. Seconds after the Ochoa save, substitute Gelson Martins burst down the right edge of the box, and while his cross cannoned off Hector Herrera, it fell to Cedric Soares. His attempt on net clipped Herrera and deflected into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.

But again, the lead wouldn’t last long for Portugal. A Mexico corner in the 92nd minute fell to the head of Hector Moreno, and he buried the chance, beating Jose Fonte in the air.

With the late pair of goals, the points were shared, and both teams finished looking up at Russia who leads Group A.

Mohamed Salah starts for Egypt despite int’l retirement talks

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Mohamed Salah is coming off of his best season as a professional, but reports suggest that his time with the Egyptian national team could soon be coming to an end for reasons that extend beyond soccer.

Salah will however be included in Egypt’s Group A finale against Saudi Arabia on Monday, though, after the team sheet was revealed by the Pharaohs ahead of the match.

CNN reported over the weekend that Salah believes he is being used by Egypt as a political symbol to represent Chechnya, which has sparked talks of the talented Liverpool winger ending his international career.

Egypt has already been eliminated from reaching the Round of 16 after losing its first two matches at the World Cup.

The tides have turned significantly for Toronto FC

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2017 gave Toronto FC its first MLS Cup, as well as significant notoriety for the club’s historic season, but Greg Vanney and his side are in a world of trouble in 2018 for reasons that are still unfathomable.

[ MORE: NYCFC tops TFC in come-from-behind victory ]

A deep run in the CONCACAF Champions League (which ended in heartbeat at the hands of Chivas) and a number of injuries have plagued Toronto this season, and for that, the defending champions find themselves in unchartered MLS waters.

Over the course of Major League Soccer’s 22 previous seasons, only three defending champions have gone on to miss the playoffs the next year (D.C. United in 2000, LA Galaxy in 2006 & Portland Timbers in 2016).

So, how poor has TFC been through nearly half the season?

The Canadian side has acquired 15 points in as many matches, which puts the club on pace to finish with 34 points in 2018.

That total would leave TFC well below the average points needed for a club to get into the playoffs. It varies on a year-to-year basis, but teams typically need somewhere in the range of 45 to 50 points to finish above the red line in their respective conferences.

Last season, three teams in MLS finished with less than 34 points (D.C. United, LA Galaxy & Colorado Rapids), and none of the clubs finished within striking distance of the postseason.

While Toronto wouldn’t be the first team to show signs of struggles in the first half of the season and then proceed to turn things around over the second portion, there are definite concerns for Vanney and Co.

In 2018, the Reds haven’t earned back-to-back victories in MLS play, leaving the club in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

The talent within the squad remains there, and if TFC gets the rest of its squad healthy there could be a run made by the team, but as things stand, the club’s historic run a season ago looks to be crumbling in 2018.

Gressel ties it in Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Timbers

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ATLANTA (AP) Julian Gressel tied it in the 56th minute and Atlanta United held on for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

A loose ball deflection off defender Larrys Mabiala bounced into Gressel’s path and he pounced on it with a right-footed volley. Atlanta (10-3-4) stayed atop the MLS standings and extended its unbeaten streak to five games.

Mabiala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Samuel Armenteros was the first to get a touch with a left-footed stab on Diego Valeri’s free kick. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocked it out, but Mabiala headed home the rebound and Portland took the early lead.

The Timbers (6-3-5) extended their unbeaten run to nine.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.