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UEFA WCQ: Late drama for Germany; Kane scores on Sept. 1

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A roundup of all of Friday’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers in Europe…

Czech Republic 1-2 Germany

Germany gave the Czech Republic every chance they could have done to steal a point (all three, even), but the World Cup holders eked out a victory in Prague. Timo Werner put Germany ahead after just four minutes, but the following 74 minutes consisted of the Czechs asking questions Joachim Loew’s side couldn’t really answer. In the 78th minute, Vladimir Darida unleashed a laser from 25 yards out, hitting the underside of the crossbar and drawing the home side level.

1-1 seemed destined to wind up the (fair) final score, but Mats Hummels had other ideas two minutes from full-time, when he headed home his fifth international goal. The result sends Germany onto 21 (out of a possible 21) points, still five points clear of second-place Northern Ireland, and now just a single point from guarantee a top-two finish (qualification playoffs).

Malta 0-4 England

21 hours prior to kickoff of England’s away clash with Malta, the clock struck midnight on August and gave way to September. Harry Kane, the England and Tottenham Hotspur striker infamously without a single goal in the month of August during his first-team career (this is his fourth season), was more aware of this fact than anyone.

How did Kane celebrate the arrival of September? With a goal, of course — and, not just any goal, but the winning goal in the 53rd minute, set up by his Tottenham teammate Dele Alli. Kane would score again, in the 91st minute, to make the final score 4-0 and notch his 10th England goal in 20 appearances.

Ryan Bertrand bagged his first international goal five minutes from full-time — a well-struck ball from 25 yards out — and Danny Welbeck took his tally to 15 seconds before Kane’s second goal.

England (17 points) remain atop Group F, their two point-lead on Slovakia still intact. Six points separate the Three Lions from third place, a playoff spot (at minimum) so nearly clinched already.

Denmark 4-0 Poland

The shocking result of the day came in Group E, where third-place Denmark put four unanswered goals past first-place Poland. Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen was, predictably, the star man for Denmark, playing a pivotal role in all four goals — scoring one himself and assisting on the other three.

Denmark (13 points) move to within three points of the top spot in the group and remain level with Montenegro for second place, though still behind on goal differential (+10 to +8).

Elsewhere

Group C

Norway 2-0 Azerbaijan
San Marino 0-3 Northern Ireland

Group E

Romania 1-0 Armenia
Kazakhstan 0-3 Montenegro

Group F

Lithuania 0-3 Scotland
Slovakia 1-0 Slovenia

6 clubs fined, risk FIFA transfer bans for debts to players

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ZURICH (AP) Clubs from Russia and Qatar are among six fined by FIFA and warned they risk one-year transfer bans for failing to settle debts to players.

[ MORE: Steffen to England? ]

FIFA says the clubs also face deductions of six league points if they fail to pay the debts in 30 to 90 days.

The clubs are: Kuban of Russia; Al Arabi and Al Kharaitiyat of Qatar; Zamalek of Egypt; Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates; and Mersin Idman Yurdu of Turkey.

FIFA says all failed to comply with rulings by FIFA or the Court of Arbitration for Sport “to pay significant overdue amounts of money to players.”

They were fined between 15,000 and 30,000 Swiss francs ($15,000 and $30,000).

FIFA says national soccer federations face disciplinary cases if they fail to enforce the verdicts.

Premier League friendlies: Liverpool meets BVB; Everton in Portugal

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The Premier League is three weeks and one day from opening its 2018-19 slate, when Leicester City will visit Old Trafford for a Friday afternoon match with Manchester United.

The end of the World Cup has eyeballs trained on friendlies, with 19 Premier League teams doing work over the weekend.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

The International Champions Cup has a pair of matches on the docket.

Friday sees Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, sans many of their World Cup stars, mixing it up with Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund in Chicago.

Then Sunday will see Borussia Dortmund switching gears and time zones, tangling with Liverpool in North Carolina as Pulisic renews acquaintances with old pal Jurgen Klopp.

Manchester United takes on San Jose on Sunday, two days after facing Club America.

Other marquee friendlies of the weekend include Bournemouth facing American back Shaq Moore and Levante on Friday, with Fulham hosting Lyon on Saturday, and Everton meeting Lille and Porto on consecutive Portuguese days Saturday and Sunday.

Friday

Bournemouth vs. Levante
Burnley vs. Macclesfield Town
Burnley vs. Curzon Ashton
Cardiff City vs Torquay
Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund (in Chicago)

Saturday

Brighton and Hove Albion vs. AFC Wimbledon
Crystal Palace vs. Oxford United
Everton vs. Lille
Fulham vs. Lyon
Huddersfield Town vs. Real Betis
Huddersfield Town vs. Roy-Weiss Essen or Werder Bremen
Leicester City vs. Notts County
Southampton vs. Derby County
Watford vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf
West Ham United vs. Preston North End

Sunday

Everton vs. Porto
Huddersfield Town vs. Darmstadt
Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund (in North Carolina)
Manchester United vs. San Jose Earthquakes (in Santa Clara)
Wolverhampton vs. TBD

Transfer rumor roundup: Japan, South Africa strikers to Premier League

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Percy Tau’s name isn’t yet widely known outside of South Africa, what with Bafana Bafana absent from the World Cup.

But the 24-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns winger may soon get to test his skills on a much bigger stage.

[ USMNT: More accolades for Pulisic ]

Tau, who has five goals in 12 caps, will reportedly join Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League if a medical goes well, with Sky Sports saying it’ll will be the biggest transfer fee yet for a South African Premier League player.


Yoshinori Muto could be bringing his 25 caps to the Premier League.

The 26-year-old striker made just one appearance at the World Cup, but has had a nice run with Mainz since joining from FC Tokyo. He’s bagged 23 goals in 71 appearances.

Bild report says there have been no formal offers for Muto, but that Newcastle United and West Ham are interested in the striker. Newcastle badly needs a striker, but West Ham has been spending money and Magpies owner Mike Ashley hasn’t green lit much in recent seasons.

Open Cup draw postponed as Portland protests LAFC win

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The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup draw is not going as planned, as the Portland Timbers protest the roster of victorious LAFC.

[ RECAP: Four USOC semifinalists minted ]

Philadelphia, Chicago, and Houston were the other sides to get a place in the final four teams.

LAFC’s victory had already been marred by Adama Diomande‘s claims of a racial slur hurled his way, and now their victory may be in question altogether as U.S. Soccer issued a press release saying Thursday’s scheduled draw was postponed.

From a U.S. Soccer press release:

The decision comes as a result of a protest filed by the Portland Timbers in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal at Banc of America Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

The rule says a maximum five players without green cards can be in the 18. Portland started only two Americans, Jeff Attinella and Zarek Valentin, but have green cards for many others and rules are rules.

Will the Timbers take a semifinal berth via protest?