AP Photo/Ronald Zak

Int’l friendlies: Germany, Iceland lose late; Ireland tops USMNT

Leave a comment

With the 2018 World Cup just a dozen days away from kicking off, 32 nations are will put more thought and care into the next two weeks’ worth of friendlies than at any other point during the four-year cycle.

[ MORE: England top Nigeria on goals scored by Kane, Cahill ]

A roundup of Saturday’s friendly action involving World Cup-bound sides, plus the U.S. men’s national team…

Austria 2-1 Germany

The defending world champions suffered defeat in their next-to-last tune-up before heading to Russia, 2-1 at the hands of neighboring Austria.

Mesut Ozil put the visitors ahead after 11 minutes, deftly curling a left-footed strike inside the far post from 15 yards out, but a pair of second-half goals, scored by Martin Hinteregger and Alessandro Schopf, overturned the deficit and kept Joachim Loew’s side winless in 2018 (two losses, one draw).

For of the Germans’ front-six (everyone but Ozil and Nils Petersen) had been subbed off before Schopf’s winner, as Loew made wholesale changes in order to keep starters fresh and the backups sharp.

Ireland 2-1 USA — FULL RECAP

After going ahead — completely against the run of play — through Bobby Wood’s close-range finish just before halftime, interim head coach Dave Sarachan’s Yanks through their lead away and were beaten by a 90th-minute winner scored by Alan Judge. Bill Hamid gaffe all but gifted the Irish their equalizer just before the half-hour mark, and Matt Miazga was badly beaten in the build-up to the winner.

Iceland 2-3 Norway

Much like Germany, Iceland made sweeping substitutions throughout the second half of Saturday’s friendly against Norway, and in the end it proved their undoing as the scoreline went from 1-1 to 3-2 during a 15-minute period late in the second half, thanks to some Premier League flavor.

Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson put Iceland ahead with his 19th international goal in the 70th minute, but Bournemouth’s Joshua King equalized 10 minute later and Crystal Palace’s Alexander Sorloth grabbed the winner in the 85th.

Elsewhere in int’l friendlies

England 2-1 Nigeria — FULL RECAP
Belgium 0-0 Portugal — MORE
Sweden 0-0 Denmark
Mexico vs. Scotland — 8 p.m. ET
Honduras vs. El Salvador — 8 p.m. ET

Charlton wins promotion to Championship in stoppage time

Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Charlton Athletic struck a wildly late blow to clinch the final place in the 2019-20 Football League Championship, defeating Sunderland 2-1 in Sunday’s promotion playoff at Wembley Stadium.

A stoppage time free kick in a cagey affair led to a scrum in the box, with Patrick Bauer sliding to strike a shot off a Sunderland defender and into the goal.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The goal came at the 3:55 mark of four minutes stoppage time, and was the 26-year-old defender’s first goal of the season.

Ben Purrington had leveled the score line for Charlton after Sunderland went ahead via an early own goal. The Addicks were relegated from the Championship after the 2015-16 season, while Sunderland went down last year.

It had to feel extra special to manager Lee Bowyer, who played with Sunderland local rivals Newcastle United from 2003-06.

Pique: Copa-losing Barca still “really hurting” from UCL exit

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona was the favorite to win La Liga, the UEFA Champions League, and the Copa del Rey for the majority of the season, but only claimed one.

Liverpool’s amazing comeback to beat Barca in the second leg of the UCL semifinals met Saturday’s loss to Valencia in the Copa del Rey Final to give Barca a league title alone.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Even with that La Liga advantage being decisive — Barca carried the table by 11 points over Atletico Madrid and finished 19 ahead of Real Madrid — there’s a very dour mood and promised change for the Camp Nou set.

And Gerard Pique says it all traces back to the loss against Liverpool. From The Liverpool Echo:

“I believe that if we had gotten through at Liverpool, we would have won the treble. We would have come here [to the Copa del Rey final] with a different mood, and I’m convinced we would have won the Champions League final, but that is football. We are really, really hurting.”

There are hints of a massive clear-out at Barcelona, with Lionel Messi and Pique two of the only safe bets to stay. When will Barca get over it?

Brazilian team tangles in locker room futmesa (video)

Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was defense versus attack in the Brazil dressing room.

Neymar and Gabriel Jesus squared off with international teammates Filipe Luis and Ederson in a game of futmesa/table soccer this week.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Neymar and Filipe Luis are used to be on different sides of the field from their time in La Liga, while Jesus and Ederson are teammates at Manchester City.

Brazil is hosting this summer’s Copa America and is the favorite to win its first tournament since 2007, when it claimed its fourth in five tries.

It’s really impressive stuff for us normal to subpar athletes, even if standard for those with such deft talent.

Quite a winner from Man City’s young striker.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).