Portugal wins third-place at Confederations Cup (video)

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Pepe’s stoppage time equalizer and Adrien Silva’s extra time penalty kick helped Portugal to a third-place finish in the Confederations Cup as Mexico self-destructed against the EURO 2016 champs in Russia on Sunday.

A Luis Neto own goal and missed Portugal PK had Mexico up 1-0 until the late stages, but Portugal’s deserved win came after the teams played level through 90 minutes for a second time in two weeks.

Nelson Semedo was shown red in the 106th minute, but Raul Jimenez was shown his second yellow six minutes left in the match. Mexico should have been awarded a penalty near the end of stoppage time, but Pepe’s clever foul went uncalled and Juan Carlos Osorio was sent from the stadium after barking into the fourth official’s ear and bumping him.

Portugal will finish third in its first Confederations Cup, while Mexico finishes fourth for the second time.

[ MORE: 2017 Confederations Cup news ]

Rafa Marquez chopped down Andre Silva in the 18, and Video Assistant Referee made sure the Mexican defender gave away a penalty kick.

Marquez was given yellow for the takedown, as he kicked Silva’s knee. The new AC Milan attacker took the pen with Cristiano Ronaldo away from the team, but Guillermo Ochoa dove low and right to slap the ball wide of the frame (VIDEO).

Portugal then headed the ensuing corner over the frame, and the match remained scoreless in the 18th minute.

Chances at either end went wanting as Pizzi’s far post shot took a slight uncalled deflection that dragged wide for a goal kick, and Marquez nearly bundled a crossed free kick past Rui Patricio.

The Portuguese keeper made a point-blank stop on Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in the 31st minute, drawing “Mex-i-co” chants from the Spartak Stadium crowd.

Portugal was on the front foot in the second half, with Joao Moutinho blazing an effort over the bar and Gelson Martins shooting a clever chipped pass from Silva outside the near post.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Yet Mexico went ahead through Chicharito’s cross banging off Luis Neto and into the Portugal goal in the 54th minute.

Pizzi missed wide with a bid for an equalizer just before the hour mark. Ochoa then made a terrific one-handed stop on a Martins header. Captain Nani then headed the ensuing corner wide of the far post.

Pepe then knotted things up in stoppage time, leaping for a martial arts-style finish of substitute Ricardo Quaresma’s cross to make it 1-1.

Jimenez saw a shot deflected out for a corner early in the first period of extra time, and the ensuing corner led to Patricio’s stellar save at the back post.

After what could’ve been red cards to both sides in the Portugal end, Martins won the decisive penalty kick when his cheeky juggle around Miguel Layun clipped the former Watford man’s raised arm.

Mexico nearly found a rescue of its own following the pair of red cards, but Patricio dove to save from Hector Herrera’s bullet. Then Pepe was allowed a push of Hector Moreno as the latter missed a close-range header deep into the second period of extra time. Mexico could have easily been given a penalty, but was not.

Court date for USWNT’s law suit versus U.S. Soccer delayed

USWNT equal pay
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A court case that has dragged U.S. Soccer’s administration through the mud and led to a change of leadership may drag into the summer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A judge in California has delayed the May 5 trial of gender discrimination against the USSF until June 16 due in part to the coronavirus pandemic. A pretrial conference was also moved to June 1.

The federation is being sued by members of the two-time reigning World Cup champion USWNT under the Equal Pay Act.

The women are requesting more than $66 million in damages.

The extra month gives both parties more time to reach a settlement which could keep this ugly case away from trial. Given the uncertainty in our world, it could of course be delayed again.

The USSF has a new CEO in Will Wilson, who can make a major statement of change by stopping the trial from reaching court.

Handicapping the Final Four of Premier League March Madness

Premier League March Madness
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Our Premier League March Madness results have been as topsy-turvy as the 2019/20 on-field campaign before coronavirus halted it last month.

Yes, the runaway No. 1 seed is alive, but the second, third, fourth, and fifth seeds have been expelled from the tournament within the first two rounds.

Voting in the semifinal round begins Thursday.

[ RESULTS: March Madness Round of 16 ]

Before we go any further, if you’re unfamiliar: To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their current spot in the table, with Aston Villa winning the relegation playoffs on Monday to remain in the Premier League.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Before we handicap the semifinal matches, let’s take a look at where the field sits after your Wednesday voting.

No. 1 Liverpool v. No. 12 Everton
No. 6 Wolves v. No. 7 Sheffield United

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Look, all bets are off for the derby. The Everton faithful has shown up in a big way during voting, dispatching Manchester United and Chelsea.

That’s big time stuff, though Liverpool ended the dreams of our presumptive sleeping giant favorite Arsenal after beating West Ham in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Reds are going to have to not just been upstart Everton but overcome the legions of rival supporters who would happily click the Toffees’ box rather than see Liverpool gain the crown.

The other side of the bracket sees No. 7 Sheffield United looking to continue its surprising run in both the PL season and our voting.

The Blades knocked off Man City, potentially aided by the same phenomenon Everton hopes to see on Thursday.

Now they meet Wolves, who may be riding a crest of North American momentum in the form of affinity for El Tri hero Raul Jimenez.

Our prediction: Everton and Wolves in the Final.

RESULTS: Premier League March Madness Elite Eight

Premier League March Madness
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Everton continued its upset path toward in our Premier League March Madness voting, showing its sensational support and setting up a fantastic eMerseyside Derby in the Final Four.

Thousands of votes were cast Wednesday, and the Toffees upset isn’t even the top underdog story.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Chris Wilder’s Blades of Sheffield United won a back-and-forth affair with No. 2 seed Manchester City to move into the semifinals.

That’s where they’ll meet No. 6 seed Wolves, who powered past Leicester City as if it wasn’t a challenge.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final – Aston Villa prevailed, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford relegated
TuesdaySweet 16 results in full
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

IFAB: New handball rule can be adopted when games resume

Handball rule
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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) issued a letter from secretary Lukas Brud on Wednesday, outlining several changes to the game.

The “tee shirt line” handball rule may be coming to club football quicker than expected due to the coronavirus suspension of the 2019/20 season.

IFAB will allow leagues the choice to use the new handball rule when matches resume this season, also making changes to VAR protocol and vowing to review the offside rule.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The new handball rule states that the shoulder goes to the end of the shirt sleeve or the bottom of the armpit (though obviously not in the case of a long-sleeve jersey).

For the purposes of determining handball offences, the ‘arm’ stops at the bottom of the armpit

So… get ready for baggy, longer jersey sleeves, or the increased recruitment of players with the longest armpits.

Kidding aside, the handball rule desperately needed clarification and we’ll see if this gives enough to fans and players alike.

Referees will now be “expected” to go to the screen on the field when a call is subjective, forcing the official to either uphold or overrule his initial call.

This same post says IFAB will now allow accidental handballs in the run-up to a goal in certain situations.

“Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalized if it ‘immediately’ results in a goal or an obvious opportunity for the player and/or their team to score a goal (i.e. following the handball, the ball travels only a short distance and/or there are very few passes).”

Well, that needs some clarification.

Back to the timing issue for the new handball rule, it seems logical that leagues would want to introduce new laws with a new season but stand-by for the decision of your favorite league.

As for the offside rule, “The members agreed that the fundamental philosophy of offside is underpinned by a desire to encourage attacking football and the scoring of goals. It was further agreed, therefore, that Law 11 – Offside should be analyzed and reviewed with a view to potentially proposing changes reflecting this philosophy.”

It’s a lot to unpack, and we’ll surely here from proponents and opponents of the changes soon. As always, implementation will make the biggest difference in how these changes are received.