The game in 100 words (or less): It was one of the most entertaining matches imaginable for a game that finished 0-0 heading into extra time. The Columbus Crew — who finished the regular season unbeaten in their last 10 matches — gave Atlanta all they could handle on Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and took a crucial win back to Ohio. Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen’s eight saves throughout the match stole the show, and frustrated the home side — who managed 23 shots during the 90 minutes. The Crew will now advance to face New York City FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
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Three four moments that mattered
11′ — Almiron’s curler rocks the cross bar — Crew keeper Zack Steffen has been really good throughout the season, and the young USMNT shot-stopper looked to get the tiniest touch to keep the Paraguayan off the scoresheet.
Here’s a second angle just to show you how good Steffen’s save was…
40′ — Crew denied opener after egregious offside decision — The Crew were very unfortunate not to be awarded a goal just before halftime. Why do we have VAR again?
69′ — Woodwork keeps match scoreless — Kekuta Manneh had himself a strong match after being introduced in the second stanza, but the former Whitecaps attacker will have nightmares following this attempt off the bar. Pedro Santos’ follow up will probably keep him up at night too.
117′ — Cool, calm, collected Parkhurst — That’s just amazing defending by Michael Parkhurst. The Crew were halfway back to Columbus because that was surely going to be the winner.
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Man of the match: Zack Steffen
Goalscorers: N/A in regulation… Crew PKs — Federico Higuain, Niko Hansen, Adam Jahn… Atlanta PKs — Hector Villalba
The New York Red Bulls have rejected an offer from West Ham for defender Aaron Long, according to Sky Sports.
The Hammers’ offer for the 27-year-old former MLS Defender of the Year was $500,000 for a season-long loan with a $4.5 million option to buy in the summer.
Last summer, Long, who has a $4 million release clause was on the verge of joining the London-based side, but was unable to secure a work permit.
“As our biggest ally, it seems strange that a football player from the US can’t automatically get a work visa to play in England,” the defender said last summer, amid a move to England. “Every kid in the USA dreams of playing in the English Premier League. Not many players get the chance, so of course I would like to play there someday.”
West Ham, who haven’t won in three Premier League matches, stand 17th on the table with 23 points.
Neymar dedicated his second goal to Kobe Bryant, who, along with eight others, tragically passed away on Sunday.
The Brazilian star approached a sideline camera after his second goal of the night, gesturing the numbers two and four with his fingers, a number worn by Bryant during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Following the game, Neymar paid additional respect to Bryant via Twitter.
It reads in English: “Sad day for us in sports, for us fans and especially for Kobe’s family and friends. A legend has been made with your hands, thank you for extolling the Kobe sport … may God comfort the hearts of your family and friends”
Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and six others, died in the helicopter accident on Sunday morning in Southern California.
A basketball legend and soccer fan, others within the sport paid tribute to Bryant:
In proper FA Cup fashion, League One side Shrewsbury Town pulled off a late draw against Liverpool, forcing a replay at Anfield.
[ RECAP: Shrewsbury forces FA Cup replay with Liverpool ]
The replay, which is set to take place during the Premier League’s winter break, is going to be a problem for Liverpool, according to manager Jurgen Klopp. First-team players have been granted the time off, forcing Klopp and company to play the “kids” for the upcoming replay of the fourth-round bout.
“We intend to honor the original idea of the break,” the Liverpool manager said on Sunday. “We have respect for the players’ welfare and they need this time off.”
“We got a letter from the authorities in April last year asking us not to organize anything during the week of the break and we haven’t,” he added. “We have given the players the time off, and some are going away. They will still be keeping fit, but they do not have to play football that week and they do not have to come in to Melwood.”
Jason Cummings’ right-footed strike in the 75th minute nulled Liverpool’s two-goal advantage early in the second half. The German also admitted that there was no reason for a replay on Tuesday 4 February or Wednesday 5 February.
“We lost the ball in the wrong moments and we never got used to the pitch,” he said. “We conceded the penalty after losing the ball and when they scored their second goal it was after we had lost two challenges in a row. We didn’t play well enough to take anything from the game, we got what we deserved. I would like to give Shrewsbury credit for their performance and the atmosphere their supporters produced. I enjoyed the atmosphere around the cup tie, I just didn’t enjoy the way we played.”
Liverpool may be crushing the Premier League, but League One side Shrewsbury Town wasn’t phased facing the juggernaut at its home ground New Meadow, not even after falling 2-0 down on a horrid own-goal. Instead, the hosts came back to draw 2-2 and force an FA Cup fourth round replay at Anfield.
Liverpool started a youthful lineup that featured youngsters Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, Pedro Chirivella, and Harvey Elliott mixed in with Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, and Dejan Lovren. The opener came in the 15th minute via 18-year-old Jones who slurped up a fabulous through ball from Chirivella and slotted it home from a tight angle past a charging Shrewsbury goalkeeper Max O’Leary.
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The second came just seconds after the second-half restart on a comical own-goal as former Manchester United defender Donald Love poked a Williams cross into his own net under absolutely no pressure. It was a brainless decision as it appeared Love meant to poke the ball behind for a corner, but with nobody nearby, he somehow finished into the lower left corner instead.
After Liverpool doubled its lead at 2-0, Shrewsbury came to life and began to challenge the young Liverpool lineup. Callum Lang found himself through on goal with a great chance to bring the hosts back into the match, but his one-on-one change was saved by the fingertips of a diving Adrian. Shrewsbury did eventually cut the lead in half after Yasser Larouci cut down Josh Laurent in the penalty area and substitute Jason Cummings slotted home the chance from the spot.
The Shrews were a tough out with confidence back high after the goal, O’Leary made a fantastic diving save to stop Divock Origi. He booted down the field and and they drew level in the 75th minute as Cummings grabbed his second as he brought down a long ball and split the Liverpool defensive duo Williams and Lovren. Once past the Liverpool defenders he slotted home cooly past Adrian to equalize.
Jones nearly won it for Liverpool late as the ball squirted across the line in a goalmouth scramble, but his sliding effort was blocked off the line by a Scott Goldbourne tackle.