Fulham may be running out of steam at the worst possible time.
After a 24-match unbeaten run that lasted nearly half the Championship season, Fulham failed to secure automatic promotion with a final-day loss to Birmingham, and now the Whites find themselves in a hole midway through their playoff semifinal matchup against Derby County.
The Whites dominated 74% of the possession at Pride Park in the first leg of the playoff semifinal matchup, but former Stoke City and Crystal Palace striker Cameron Jerome hit against the run of play on 34 minutes, rising higher than Southampton loanee Matt Targett to head home the game’s only goal. Fulham built into the match in the second half, but could not find an equalizer as Kevin McDonald smashed the crossbar in their best chance with around 20 minutes to go.
Fulham has traditionally struggled against bunkered opponents, and the free-flowing attack was stifled by a quality defensive shape from the home side. Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson was also required to produce a fabulous save that kept out Tom Cairney in the 64th minute.
The match will see a quick turnaround as the two sides meet again at Craven Cottage, with Fulham needing a goal to force extra time and two to move on, while Derby could put one foot in Wembley with a single road goal.
Fulham, for their stunning form at times this season, has still never won a playoff match in club history, falling to Reading across two legs last season and now with a loss in the opening leg this time around. Whoever makes it through to Wembley for the playoff final will meet either Aston Villa or Middlesbrough, with those two sides set to meet for the first leg on Saturday at Riverside Stadium.
Bradley Wright-Phillips would like referees to consider his adulthood.
The New York Red Bulls’ super striker is going to miss a massive MLS clash with Atlanta United last weekend due to yellow card accumulation. RBNY is four points behind Atlanta in the race for the Supporters’ Shield with four matches each to play.
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BWP was given a yellow for swearing at a linesman during RBNY’s 2-0 win over Toronto FC on Saturday.
Though we don’t know what he said and certainly don’t condone swearing at officials, the player didn’t make a show of it (something that earned Jozy Altidore a second yellow in a USMNT shirt a few years ago).
A fine is coming Wright-Phillips’ way for this one:
“It’s ridiculous man, it’s too big. We’re men. If you can’t take a swear word and what really happened then we’re in the wrong sport man, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “If someone said that to me, I wouldn’t even be like…I’d be like ‘Sorry, I missed.’ It’s a yellow card. The guy was having a nightmare all game. Nightmare.”
One thing that BWP is missing: It’s not the AR’s duty to know you’ll miss a game with a yellow. Still, this is a huge disadvantage for the Red Bulls on Sept. 30 at home.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wissam Ben Yedder hit a first-half hat trick to lead Sevilla to a 6-2 rout at Levante in the Spanish league on Sunday.
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It was the second big win for Sevilla in three days. Ben Yedder scored twice in a 5-1 home win over Standard Liege in the Europa League on Thursday.
Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik saved a penalty kick by Jose Morales that would have allowed Levante to pull level at 2-2 midway through the first half.
Pablo Sarabia also scored for Sevilla and set up three more goals. Daniel Carrico and Andre Silva also got on the scoresheet for the visitors.
Sevilla had gone three rounds without a win in La Liga since its victory in the opening round at Rayo Vallecano.
Roger Marti scored for Levante, which also got a late own goal from Simon Kjaer.
Later, Barcelona hosts Girona seeking a fifth win in as many rounds.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Chelsea returns from Greece for a London Derby at West Ham United on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
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The 5-0 Blues are looking to keep pace with 6-0 Liverpool, and kept some stars home from the Europa League. Fresh for the tilt are Eden Hazard, David Luiz, and Mateo Kovacic.
West Ham is hoping to build on its first win of the season, which was inspired by Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Arnautovic. The former starts, but the latter is not fit for the 18.
West Ham United: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku, Rice, Obiang, Noble, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Antonio. Subs: Adrian, Cresswell, Fredericks, Ogbonna, Sanchez, Snodgrass, Lucas.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Hazard, Giroud. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Moses, Fabregas, Barkley, Morata.
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie was injured in the Bundesliga game against Bayern Munich and had to be helped leaving the pitch on Saturday.
The 20-year-old American received an unintentional kick in the leg from James Rodriguez as he won possession from the Colombian star. While the free kick was awarded, McKennie was unable to continue and he was replaced by Nabil Bentaleb in the 54th minute.
Bayern was leading 1-0 at the time.
McKennie, who has six appearances for the United States, missed Schalke’s defeat to Borussia Moenchengladbach last weekend after returning from international duty with a bruised knee from the Americans’ 1-0 win over Mexico in a friendly.
McKennie has made 26 league appearances for Schalke.