Getty Images

Brazil battle past Mexico as Neymar stars

1 Comment
  • Brazil has never lost to Mexico at World Cup (scoring 13 goals, conceding 0)
  • Seventh-straight World Cup quarterfinal for Brazil
  • Mexico out at last 16 round in seven-straight World Cups

Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup on Monday in Samara, with the five-time champions battling past a stubborn El Tri side.

Neymar scored one and assisted Roberto Firmino for the other as Mexico ran out of steam after a fine first half performance.

Brazil will play the winner of Belgium v Japan in Kazan on Friday in the quarterfinal.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

Mexico started the game superbly as a cross from Andres Guardado on the left was only half cleared by Alisson and Lozano’s shot was blocked.

El Tri continued to threaten on the break and Carlos Vela was enjoying plenty of the ball on the left, as that set up another chance but Hector Herrera’s shot was blocked.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Brazil finally got going in the first half as Neymar cut in from the left and his shot was smothered by Guillermo Ochoa at the near post. Soon after both Gabriel Jesus and Coutinho got shots off but Brazil were second best as the half time whistle blew.

Jesus then danced through Mexico’s defense but his shot was saved by Ochoa and then another effort was blocked by the El Tri defense. Neymar went down theatrically to win a free kick but he curled the resulting free kick way over.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

At half time 39-year-old Rafael Marquez came off and Miguel Layun replaced him in a reshuffled for Juan Carlos Osorio as Layun went to right back and Edson Alvarez moved into holding midfield.

Ochoa saved well from Coutinho as the playmaker was allowed to dribble inside easily from a corner kick and get a shot off. Then on the break Jesus Gallardo then drove forward and then curled inches over with Lozano free on his right.

Neymar scored the opener after fantastic work from Willian who turned on the jets to glide past his marker and then cross to the back post for Brazil’s talisman to tap home.

Paulinho then forced Ochoa into a fine stop at the near post as he curled in a powerful effort, while Casemiro was then booked, meaning he will miss Brazil’s World Cup quarterfinal.

On the break Raul Jimenez, on as a sub for Javier Hernandez, played in Lozano who found Vela and his shot was pushed over by Alisson. Ochoa then tipped over brilliantly from Willian’s shot as Brazil pushed hard to get the killer second goal late on.

Neymar received plenty of rough challenges from Mexico’s players throughout, despite some embellishment, and Layun was shown stepping on him on the sidelines but no VAR review was sanctioned.

Brazil’s star man had the last laugh as he ran free down the left and his shot was saved by Ochoa but substitute Firmino tapped home to wrap up the 2-0 win and the Selecao into the last eight.

Toni Kroos signs new contract at Real Madrid

Getty Images
Leave a comment

German midfielder Toni Kroos has extended his stay at Real Madrid.

Kroos, 29, has signed a new contract at the Santiago Bernabeu which means he will be there until at least 2023, as the former Bayern Munich midfielder will close in on almost 10 years as a Real player.

The silky central midfielder who delivers stunning set pieces for club and country spoke on Monday in a press conference arranged by Real Madrid.

He has won three Champions League trophies and a La Liga title at Real, and although this season was easily their worst since he arrived at the club, locking the German down to a long-term deal makes sense.

Luka Modric’s future has been uncertain despite the Croatian midfielder, now 33, picking up the Ballon d’Or this year and the likes of Casemiro and Isco have had campaigns to forget.

With Zinedine Zidane back in charge of Real and their horror 2018-19 campaign over (it ended, typically, with a 2-0 home defeat to midtable Real Betis) it is all about moving on as quickly as possible at Real.

Kroos will be a key part of their future.

10-man Red Bulls hold off Atlanta United at home

New York Red Bulls
Leave a comment

Atlanta United’s five-game winning streak went up in smoke as the New York Red Bulls pulled off an incredible 1-0 victory.

Playing down a man for around 65 minutes, the Red Bulls shutout Atlanta United’s high powered offense in front of 18,495 fans at Red Bull Arena. Tom Barlow, in just his second appearance with the Red Bulls, scored the game-winning goal in the 65th minute off a header at the far post, one that left U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Brad Guzan rooted to his line.

[READ: Pep: Domestic Treble harder than UCL]

Tim Parker was shown a straight red card in controversial fashion, after grabbing Josef Martinez’s left arm with Martinez in front of him just outside the box. Martinez was clearly pulled back but continued running and eventually got a shot off that Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles parried away.

Referee Robert Sbiga then decided to call the play back and award Atlanta United a free kick outside the box. After what seemed to be consultation with his assistants, Sbiga then showed Parker a straight red card, likely for denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) while Martinez was through on goal.

The outcome is a massive one for the Red Bulls. It’s been a rough season, with the loss of both Jesse Marsch and Tyler Adams and the poor form of Bradley Wright-Phillips up top. Wright-Phillips was out on Sunday and another attacker Andreas Ivan, went off with an injury in the first half as he was about to be substituted off anyways following the red card.

Alejandro Romero Gamarra, Kaku, has made his feelings known that he wants (or wanted) to leave the club. His form hasn’t been stellar this season either.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s finally found its way back into the win column and is looking more like the juggernaut from last season, especially with five-straight shutout wins. It’s all back to zero today though, with the defeat at the Red Bulls on a perfect grass pitch up a man.

Mbappe hints he could leave PSG

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kylian Mbappe accepted his award as the Ligue 1 MVP, dedicated it to Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, and then mentioned he could be off soon to another club.

Wait, what?

Yes, following Mbappe accepting his award, the French star and World Cup winner stated he hoped he could continue his career at PSG but left open the possibility of moving to another club that allows him to take the next steps in his career.

[READ: Kompany to join Anderlecht as player-manager]

“This is a very important moment for me, I arrive at a first or second turn of my career,” Mbappe said, via L’equipe. “I’ve discovered a lot of things here, I feel that maybe it’s time to have more responsibility. I hope it may be at Paris Saint-Germain, it would be with great pleasure, or perhaps elsewhere for a new project.”

Mbappe later clarified his comments, stating he was looking for more responsibility. “If it’s at PSG, that’s good. If it is elsewhere, it will be elsewhere for a new challenge.

“For me, it was time to say it. I am someone whole: when I say something, I think it. For me, it was the right time to say it. That’s it, I said it!”

It’s unclear why exactly Mbappe used this moment to put some pressure on PSG. Perhaps its to remind them that the club needs to be successful in its transfer endeavors this summer, so it can compete deep into the UEFA Champions League. With Neymar injured and a central midfield ravaged by injuries, PSG capitulated and somehow fell to Manchester United in the Champions League Round of 16, grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.

There’s no reason why PSG can’t dominate the Champions League like it does Ligue 1, especially with the attacking trident of Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani. But of course, against better competition, the inferiority in mentality and in talent along the backline has started to show.

So, where could Mbappe go? There’s very few places that could effectively match both his salary and his competitive goals. It’s the usual suspects, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and perhaps Manchester City, should they be interested in it. More recently, while Man City has spent big, it’s been on signing multiple players on $50 million transfers, as opposed to one player on a $200 million transfer, for example.

It’s unlikely, but an intriguing option would be Liverpool. If the club somehow came up with the funds, imagine Mbappe playing alongside Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, with Roberto Firmino coming in to spell either of the three over the course of the season. Mbappe would likely make up that one-point difference between Liverpool and Man City, and if that’s what it takes for Liverpool to finally win the title, it could be worth the initial massive investment.

Messi finishes season leading La Liga in goals, assists, and more

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lionel Messi turns 32 this summer, and after more than a dozen years of first team soccer, playing more than 50 games a season, the old man’s still got it.

The Argentine star, playing his first season in almost a decade without direct competition from Cristiano Ronaldo, scored twice as Barcelona tied Eibar, 2-2. The two goals gave him 34 for the season, by far the most by any player in the league, and his 50th in all competitions.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Messi also led La Liga this season with 13 assists, 136 shots, 85 shots on target and 70 through balls. In terms of successful dribbles, Messi’s 132 fell seven short of Celta Vigo’s Sofiane Boufal.

Messi’s 34 goals gave him his sixth Pichichi, the trophy given to the league’s leading scorer. Messi is now tied with legendary Telmo Zarra for the all-time record of most Pichichi’s, and Messi is now three ahead of Ronaldo.

As if Messi wasn’t already a legendary player, the man seems to be showing no signs of slowing down. It may have helped that he skipped matches with Argentina after the 2018 World Cup this past fall, keeping him fresh for Barcelona. Even so, the man looks as good, if not better, with age.

Messi already holds the record for most goals in league history, and at this rate, he’ll set it to a level that will be almost impossible to reach. While he’s going to be remembered for his incredible control on the ball, it doesn’t hurt that he’s been incredibly productive during his career, including in 2018-2019. Barcelona won the league title with ease and the club made the UEFA Champions League semifinal. If for some better defending, Messi could be contesting for another Champions League title.