Man United’s Romelu Lukaku wants more respect

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Romelu Lukaku put in a dominant display for Manchester United in their 2-1 win against his former club Chelsea on Sunday.

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He received plenty of praise for his goal and assist in the comeback win but the 24-year-old believes he deserves more respect than he’s been getting.

Much has been made about Lukaku scoring for the first time this season against one of the “big six” clubs in the Premier League and it is true that even during his time at Everton he struggled to take chances, albeit limited ones, against the big boys.

Speaking at Old Trafford after the victory which sent United back to second in the Premier League table, Lukaku wants a little more R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

“I just need to keep working hard,” Lukaku said. “I think I have got a nice record. I’ve scored a lot this season and I just want to keep going… I started playing when I was 16. Year in, year out people expect 20 goals from me. I’ve been doing it for 10 years straight, so I think I’ve proved myself. You expect a bit more respect but it’s the situation we’re in. I don’t listen to it. I just want to improve and show the people what I can do on the pitch.”

Lukaku certainly did that on Sunday as he showed Chelsea what they were missing by first letting him leave for Everton in 2015 and then losing out on his signature in the summer. He has scored at least 20 goals in each of his last four seasons in England, with 16 and 17 his tallies in the two seasons before that.

The Belgian international has now scored 22 goals in his debut season at United and the burden of wearing the No.9 jersey for the Red Devils seems to have been lifted in recent weeks. From October to December he scored just once in nine PL games but since 2018 has arrived Lukaku has looked refreshed and ready to lead the line.

More so Lukaku’s overall contribution to United’s displays have been more impressive than his goalscoring exploits. His clever maneuvering and cross to set up the winner for Jesse Lingard on Sunday was sublime and his ability to drop deeper and spray useful balls out wide, plus launch counters that he is in the box to finish off himself, cannot be underestimated.

Does he deserve more respect? Time will tell. But being the star center forward for United with a $100 million price tag on your back certainly comes with extra scrutiny and Lukaku is probably trying to remind everyone what he’s had to overcome so far to get back among the goals after plenty of criticism.

Nothing to separate Portland and 10-man LAFC

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There was entertainment value in Los Angeles FC’s potential playoff preview with the Portland Timbers on Sunday in the City of Angels, but all that arrived was a scoreless draw.

[ MORE: Atlanta 1-1 Seattle ]

Both Giovani Savarese’s Timbers and Bob Bradley‘s nickname-free expansion club remain in the West’s Top Four. PLAFC remains unbeaten at home during their maiden voyage through Major League Soccer.

Adama Diomande came close for the hosts, who finished with 10-men when Lee Nguyen went studs-up on Sebastian Blanco‘s thigh for a pretty easy red card (though it took some time for Silviu Petrescu to produce the red).

VIDEO: France stars projected onto Arc de Triomphe

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If France’s players had any doubt about the level of import their World Cup title had back home, it was erased when their photos were projected onto one of the most celebrated monuments in the world.

The photos of Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and company made their way onto the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, hours after France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup Final.

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The Arc de Triomphe honors those who died in the French Revolution and early 19th century wars, and sits above France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

How humbling must it be for those players to grace such a heavy monument (both in weight and substance).

Dalic: In one day, Croatia went from lucky to unlucky

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Ante Cacic’s Croatia was on pace to miss out on the World Cup.

Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia rallied the troops to second place in their qualifying group, a playoff defeat of Greece, and a run to the World Cup Final.

Pretty decent stuff.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

And surely the 51-year-old will reflect on that, probably even this evening, but he’s more focused on a letdown after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to highly-favored France.

Key to the match was a penalty awarded to France when a partially-obscured Mario Mandzukic handled a ball inside the 18, leading to Antoine Griezmann’s pivotal goal.

The PK was awarded via VAR, and France went up 2-1 en route to a three-goal lead. From the AFP:

“I never comment on referees but in a World Cup final you do not give such a penalty,” said Dalic.

“It in no way diminishes France’s win. We were a bit unlucky. Maybe in the first six games we were favored by luck and today we weren’t.

“I have to congratulate my players. Maybe today we played our best game at these championships. Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we must also be proud of what we’ve done.”

Croatia had two-thirds of the ball and doubled France’s shot attempts, and Dalic isn’t the least bit controversial in wondering whether the match is much different if that penalty goes unawarded by referee Nestor Pitana.

Atlanta comes back to draw 10-man Seattle (video)

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A scrappy if not downright venomous affair between the lowly Seattle Sounders and high-flying Atlanta United ended in a 1-1 draw in Georgia on Sunday.

The Sounders went ahead through a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick, awarded via VAR a la this morning’s World Cup Final, but Atlanta leveled the score with a highlight which show every bit of the game story.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Just check Josef Martinez’s barking at Stefan Frei, who made an uncharacteristic error on the play, after his 19th goal of the season (Nice cross, Julian Gressel).

Martinez needs nine more goals to break the MLS single season record, and he has 13 games to score them.

Jordan McCrary was sent off for Seattle in the 63rd minute for a second yellow, but Seattle navigated the final half hour or so to scoop up an unlikely point.

Atlanta still sits first with its earned point but opens the door for New York City FC to reach the top of the table when it plays its match-in-hand, while Seattle is now 11 points back of the West’s final playoff spot.