- Lovren scores in 1st half
- Salah wins, converts penalty
- Shaqiri, Fabinho add insurance
Liverpool clobbered Newcastle United 4-0 on Boxing Day at Anfield, moving six points clear of second place Tottenham Hotspur.
Dejan Lovren, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Fabinho scored for the Reds, who are now unbeaten in 20-straight Premier League matches. They have a seven-point advantage on third place Man City.
Newcastle is five points clear of the drop zone, but began a daunting run of fixtures at Anfield.
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Matt Ritchie supplied a terrific cross over the head of Virgil Van Dijk in the 8th minute, but Joselu failed to turn it on goal and Liverpool were off the hook.
The Reds quickly answered with a chance of its own, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane teaming up to find Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss midfielder missed the mark.
Lovren put Liverpool ahead when Jamaal Lascelles‘ poor clearance of an Andy Robertson cross was lashed into the top of the goal from 16 yards.
The Reds were off-and-running, with Anfield behind them, and it was all Martin Dubravka could do to stop Mane from making it 2-0 when the keeper sprawled in front of the Senegalese man’s effort.
Ritchie took a ball off of Robertson following a partially-cleared cross, stinging a shot wide of the far corner from 20_plus yards.
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Paul Dummett got a hold of Salah and the Egyptian wizard hit the deck to ask for a penalty. He got it, and converted, for 2-0 in the 48th.
Shaqiri then put it to bed — not like Newcastle looked in danger of scoring more than once in the half — when Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s smart pass along the six capped off a long spell of threats from the hosts.
Fabinho got in front of Mohamed Diame to finish the scoring.
Julio Baptista’s time at Arsenal only lasted 12 months, but it was a memorable stint.
The Brazilian, who played the 2006-07 season for the Gunners, announced his retirement on Thursday at the age of 37. The former Brazil international only managed 10 goals with Arsenal, but they came in bunches.
Baptista memorably scored four goals against Liverpool in the League Cup quarterfinal, as Arsenal finished with a 6-3 win. Baptista even missed a penalty kick that game.
Baptista cemented his legacy later in the season with a brace in the FA Cup against rival Tottenham.
Baptista, clearly an immensely talented player, suffered from being a good, but not great player. He seemed to have no perfect position other than the No. 10, and most teams he played for had better players in that position. It forces him to play along the wings, deeper in midfield or as a striker during the prime of his career.
In the end, injuries beset his career, especially a short spell at Orlando City in MLS.
Italy opened the FIFA Under-20 World Cup with a bang, knocking off fellow Group B favorite Mexico, 2-1, in Gdynia, Poland.
It only took Italy three minutes to get on the board, as Davide Frattesi found a pocket of space in front of the El Tri backline and dribbled in on goal. The Sassuolo midfielder then decided to fire on goal from distance, hitting a rocket into the corner to give Italy a 1-0 lead.
Later in the first half Gianluca Scamacca also took a rip from outside the box, but his strike sailed just wide.
A defensive error on a corner kick gave Diego Lainez and Mexico life. In the 37th minute, AC Milan product Alessandro Plizzari committed a howler, coming out to punch away the curled corner kick. Plizzari missed the ball and it went right to the head of Roberto De La Rosa, who calmly made it 1-1.
El Tri however suffered a blow late in the match as Italy took back the lead. In the 67th minute, Luca Ranieri collected the ball on the edge of the six yard box and from a tight angle, he scored past Mexico goalkeeper Carlos Higuera.
For Mexico, it’s a rough way to start the World Cup, having to go against a perennial power in Italy and playing on European soil. Not all is lost for Mexico, but it has to rebound with a win in its next game against Japan.
Elsewhere, Colombia defeated host Poland, 2-0, Japan tied Ecuador 1-1, and Senegal beat Tahiti, 3-0.
GENEVA (AP) Middle East neighbors Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are jointly bidding to host the Under-20 World Cup in 2021.
FIFA says the Gulf plan is among five to express interest in bidding, including Brazil.
Indonesia, Peru and a Myanmar-Thailand joint bid are the others.
FIFA announced the contenders Thursday, one day after dropping a proposal for Qatar to share hosting duties for the 2022 World Cup with regional neighbors.
The 2021 U20 contenders must submit a formal bid by Aug. 30. FIFA’s ruling Council will pick the winner, likely in October.
The 2019 edition kicks off Thursday in Poland.
MOSCOW (AP) Vladimir Putin has given FIFA president Gianni Infantino a medal.
The Russian president awarded Infantino the Order of Friendship at the Kremlin on Thursday.
Infantino has often said last year’s World Cup in Russia, where the host nation surprisingly reached the quarterfinals, was the best of the 21 editions of the tournament.
Putin thanked the FIFA leader for “your glowing assessment of our efforts.”
Infantino says of Russia’s “bonds of friendship” with soccer “is not the end, it is only the beginning of our fruitful cooperation and interaction.”
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