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Bundesliga: Bayern’s title march continues with 4-0 win (video)

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BERLIN (AP) Bayern Munich moved to a huge 20-point lead in the Bundesliga with only nine rounds left after a 4-0 win at Freiburg on Sunday, while Cologne’s slim hopes of survival took a hit.

Two goals in three minutes set Bayern on course for its 20th win in 25 games, leaving it just a matter of time before the Bavarian powerhouse wraps up its record-extending sixth consecutive title.

Jupp Heynckes’ side showed that last weekend’s draw at home to Hertha Berlin was only a temporary scare after a 15-game winning streak.

Thomas Mueller was at the heart of Bayern’s first goal after 24 minutes in which either side could have scored. The Bayern forward’s cross came back off Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu’s heel, and Mueller reacted quickly to send the ball back, where it ricocheted off Soyuncu and goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow to go in.

Corentin Tolisso then hammered a brilliant shot from around 30 meters (yards) inside the top right corner.

Sandro Wagner, playing in place of the rested Robert Lewandowski, killed any notion of a contest early in the second half after being set up by Mueller.

Mueller crowned his performance with the fourth goal — a half-volley to Joshua Kimmich’s corner at the near post — with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Cologne’s chances of an unlikely escape from relegation were hit as Stuttgart came from behind to win 3-2 on an afternoon to forget for goalkeeper Timo Horn.

Veteran striker Claudio Pizarro fired Cologne into an early lead and his side went on to dominate the first half.

Yuya Osako, who had sent Pizarro through, thought he’d scored himself toward the end of the half after Vincent Koziello managed to get the ball from goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler. But the video referee concluded the Hannover `keeper had the ball under control and the goal was disallowed.

It went from bad to worse for Cologne just before the break. Mario Gomez equalized against the run of play, and then scored again when Horn let his harmless shot slip through his arms. Stuttgart forward Daniel Ginczek consoled the Cologne `keeper.

“I’m not making any excuses. It’s a ball that a goalkeeper should get. It’s brutal, especially after such a good first half,” Horn said.

Andreas Beck made it 3-1 early in the second half, shooting inside the far post from a difficult angle, when again Horn looked far from impressive.

Cologne struggled to create chances afterward as Stuttgart sat back and defended, though Milos Jojic got the home fans going again when he scored late with a fine free kick.

Stuttgart held on, however, to climb to ninth with its fourth successive win under new coach Tayfun Korkut, who is unbeaten in five.

Home fans shouted Horn’s name after the game to show their support.

“That’s a huge gesture from the fans and one I’m grateful for,” the goalkeeper said.

Cologne remains bottom with just four wins, eight points from safety.

Report: Liverpool agrees to terms for Roma keeper Alisson

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Liverpool has been in search of a new first-choice goalkeeper for several months, and now it appears that Jurgen Klopp and his side have their man.

[ MORE: Schedule for PL giants on U.S. tours ]

The Reds reportedly have a deal in the place for Roma shot-stopper Alisson in excess of $84 million, which would make the 25-year-old the most expensive goalkeeper in football history.

Chelsea had also been viewed as a potential landing spot for the budding star in net, however, it seems likely that Liverpool has beaten their Premier League rivals for the player.

The previous transfer record for a keeper came 17 years ago when Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon completed a $69 million move from Parma to Juventus.

Alisson started in all five of Brazil’s World Cup matches this summer in Russia, including the team’s 2-1 defeat to Belgium that knocked the Selecao out of the competition in the quarterfinals.

He managed to keep three clean sheets in the tournament.

The move for Alisson will likely spell the end for Loris Karius at Anfield, after starting 33 matches in all competitions last season for the Reds, including the team’s UEFA Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.

Iceland coach steps down after 7 years in charge

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REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) The coach that led Iceland to its first World Cup has stepped down.

The Icelandic Football Association says Heimir Hallgrimsson has decided to leave at his own request, ending seven years in the role.

[ MORE: Schedule for PL giants on U.S. tours ]

Hallgrimsson was the co-coach with Lars Lagerback of Sweden at the European Championship in 2016, when Iceland reached the quarterfinals after beating England.

After Lagerback left, Hallgrimsson assumed sole control of the national team, which became the least populous team to ever play at a World Cup. Iceland drew with Argentina in its opening group game but failed to advance to the knockout stage.

Hellgrimsson is a part-time dentist.

Report: Real Madrid close to Courtois, Hazard deals

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According to radio network RMC Sport in France, Real Madrid has an agreement with Chelsea for the transfer of Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

The report states that Courtois would cost Los Blancos $41 million, and the transfer is imminent. That would be significantly cheaper than Liverpool’s widely reported bid for Roma goalkeeper Alisson, who is supposedly costing the Reds $81 million, which would be a record for a goalkeeper.

This could likely be attributed to the player’s contracts, with Courtois’s set to run out at the end of the coming season, while Alisson’s contract at Roma is good through the summer of 2021.

Courtois has been at Chelsea since 2011 when he arrived from Belgian club Genk, but spent the first few years out on loan at Atletico Madrid in Spain. He won the Golden Glove at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the award for the top goalkeeper in the tournament.

Meanwhile, the same RMC Sport report states that Real Madrid is close to an agreement for Courtois’s Chelsea teammate and Belgian countryman Eden Hazard. The 27-year-old has spent six years at Stamford Bridge since his move from Lille, and has heavily been speculated to be Real Madrid’s preferred replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Both players are currently on holiday at different vacation destinations inSpain following the conclusion of the 2018 World Cup.

Cazorla returns to field for first time in almost 2 years

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Arsenal fan favorite Santi Cazorla saw his time with the Gunners come to an unceremonious end this summer. He had struggled for almost three full seasons with an ankle injury that continued to baffle doctors.

At one time, it got so bad that doctors told him he was lucky to walk again. Now, Cazorla is doing much more than walking.

The 33-year-old Spaniard, who is training with his old club Villarreal this summer after the expiry of his Arsenal contract, returned to the field for the first time in 636 days when he entered in the 67th minute of Villarreal’s friendly against Segunda B side Hercules.

Beaming with a massive smile, Cazorla received a hearty reception from the home Villarreal fans at the Mini Estadi on his enterance to the match. The match eventually ended in a 1-1 draw.

Cazorla posted on Twitter a week ago to say how happy he was to “feel like a footballer again” while training with Villarreal and said while there’s “much more work ahead” he has “more enthusiasm than ever.”

The Spaniard made 180 appearances for Arsenal across all competitions during his six-year stint in the Premier League, providing fluid creativity at the front of the Gunners’ attack, but the last three seasons were a nightmare. First a knee injury kept him out nearly the entire second half of the 2015/16 season, and then he ruptured his Achilles in October of 2016. It was not a standard recovery, eventually requiring a total of eight operations. A nasty infection required more surgery, forcing doctors to graft tendons from his left arm into his foot.

Gunners fans may not see him at The Emirates again, but they will be happy to know Cazorla has crossed a major hurdle in his attempt to return to the field competitively.