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Leeds coach Bielsa accepts responsibility in spy row

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DERBY, England (AP) Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa is known for his meticulous planning and attention to detail when it comes to preparing his teams for matches.

He took it too far this week.

Bielsa, as coach of English second-tier team Leeds, has accepted responsibility for having a club employee spy on opponent Derby County’s training session ahead of their league match on Friday.

“Without trying to find a justification, I have been using this kind of practice since the qualifications for the World Cup with Argentina,” said Bielsa, who coached his country from 1998-2004. “This is not illegal. We have been doing it publicly; we talk about it in the press. For some people it is the wrong thing, for others it’s not.”

Police were called to Derby’s training center on Thursday following reports of a man “acting suspiciously outside the premises.” The man was seen at the perimeter fence, inside which Derby’s players were training. British newspaper The Daily Mail reported he had in his possession a pair of binoculars and a change of clothes.

Derby manager Frank Lampard brought an early end to the training session.

“Yesterday I talked to Frank Lampard and he told me I didn’t respect fair play,” Bielsa said. “I have a different point of view on it but the important thing is what Frank and Derby think. I am responsible for it because I didn’t ask for Leeds United permission to do it.

“It doesn’t matter if this is legal, illegal, right or wrong,” Bielsa added. “For me, it’s enough that Frank Lampard and Derby County felt it was not the right thing to do. I didn’t behave well.”

Lampard, the former England and Chelsea midfielder, suggested the same thing happened before the teams’ first meeting of the season.

“We had somebody the day before our first game against them, which we lost 4-1,” Lampard said. “Now Leeds can beat you 4-1, they’re a fantastic team, but we had somebody in the bushes that day. Twice this season now.”

Bielsa’s Leeds was top of the League Championship going into Friday’s match against sixth-place Derby.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Man City carves up Huddersfield with clinical goal (video)

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While some were still sleeping — or shoveling in parts of this country — Manchester City worked as efficient a goal as you’ll see this weekend.

[ MORE: Match recap | Pep reacts ]

New Huddersfield Town loanee Jason Puncheon gave away the ball inside his own half, and Danilo used his first touch to find Sergio Aguero outside the Terriers’ 18.

Aguero flicks his first touch to Leroy Sane, who needed a gaudy two to beat Terriers goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.

It’s one of the things that makes dangerous sides like Man City, Liverpool, and it looks too easy (For Huddersfield Town, it really was, but we digress).

The “other” Harry! Winks scores late for Spurs (video)

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  • Fulham strikes first
  • Dele finds equalizer
  • Winks gets winner
  • Babel lively in FFC debut
  • Spurs with 73 percent possession

Harry Winks‘ goal in the third minute of stoppage time led Tottenham Hotspur past Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

It was Winks first goal since November 19, 2016 v. West Ham United.

Dele Alli scored and was injured in the win, which started with Fernando Llorente scoring an own goal.

Spurs are now nine points back of Liverpool, while Fulham has 14 points, seven behind 17th place Newcastle United.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs had most of the ball in the first 10 minutes, but Fulham came alive in spurts. New addition Ryan Babel worked Davinson Sanchez to earn a corner kick, and Denis Odoi sliced a chance wide off the set piece.

Fulham went deservedly ahead five minutes later, when Llorente’s vision was obscured on a corner kick and his reaction only prodded the ball into his net.

Sergio Rico saved a Llorente chance at the other end in the 23rd minute, as Spurs angled for an equalizer.

Fulham appeared to have made it 2-0 when Aleksandar Mitrovic nodded a rebund over the line in the 41st minute, but the Serbian striker was ruled offside.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Spurs leveled the score off a flub from American center back Tim Ream in the 52nd minute, with Christian Eriksen flicking a cross to Dele for the headed finish.

Danny Rose had a shot deflected off a sliding Odoi and hit the bar near the hour mark.

Llorente missed turning Rose’s free kick into the goal from near-sitter range in the 82nd minute, and was denied a penalty shout as the match entered stoppage time.

Asian Cup: Lippi’s China comes from behind; Vietnam advances (video)

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AL AIN, United Arab Emirates (AP) China fought back from a goal down to beat Thailand 2-1 in the round of 16 of the Asian Cup on Sunday and avoid a potentially embarrassing upset.

Supachai Jaided put Thailand ahead in the 31st minute, turning and shooting despite being surrounded by three defenders, before Chinese striker Wu Lei missed a string of good chances.

World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi brought veteran Xiao Zhi off the bench in the 64th and three minutes later he scored the equalizer, knocking the ball into the net on the rebound from his own saved header.

[ MORE: Huddersfield Town 0-3 Man City ]

Gao Lin quickly added a second from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Chalermpong Kerdkaew. China goalkeeper Yun Junling averted extra time when he stopped Chalermpong’s fierce shot in stoppage time.

China will face either Iran or Oman in Thursday’s quarterfinal as it bids to end a 15-year absence from Asian Cup semifinals. China’s national team has often fallen short despite the country’s long-term ambitions of becoming a soccer superpower and the wealth of Chinese clubs. China has only qualified for the World Cup once, losing all its games in 2002, and lost its only Asian Cup final to Japan two years later.

Thailand, which got out of the Asian Cup group stage for the first time in 47 years, had caretaker coach Sirisak Yodyadthai in charge after firing Milovan Rajevac following its opening group-stage 4-1 loss to India.

Earlier Sunday, Vietnam surprised an on-form Jordan team on penalties to reach the quarterfinals.

The 20-year-old midfielder Bui Tien Dung stroked the winning penalty into the bottom-left corner as Vietnam won the shootout 4-2 after the game finished 1-1 following extra time. Vietnam took the initiative in the shootout after Jordan’s Baha Seif hammered a penalty onto the crossbar and Vietnam’s Russian-born keeper Dang Van Lam leapt to palm away Ahmed Salah’s shot.

Despite being nine places higher in the world rankings, Vietnam was something of an underdog given it had only once before played an Asian Cup knockout game and Jordan had beaten reigning champion Australia in the group stage.

Jordan took the lead in the 39th minute after referee Alireza Faghani gave a rare indirect free kick inside the penalty area for a high foot. After the slightest of touches from a teammate, Baha Abdel-Rahman blasted the ball into the net from a tight angle.

After struggling to create chances in the first half, Vietnam was more incisive after halftime. In the 51st, Nguyen Cong Phuong flicked teammate Nguyen Trong Hoang’s cross high into the net. Shortly after, a Jordan defensive blunder nearly gave Vietnam the lead but Anas Bani Yaseen rushed back to clear the ball off the line.

Vietnam will play either Japan or Saudi Arabia in its first Asian Cup quarterfinal since 2007.

It’s the first time the Asian Cup has had a last-16 round after expanding to 24 teams.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Guardiola: Man City “has to demand more from ourselves”

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Sunday’s 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town did not see Manchester City at its best, and the match didn’t require it, but manager Pep Guardiola was visibly perturbed by his side’s showing at the John Smith’s Stadium.

[ RECAP: Huddersfield 0-3 Man City ]

City led 1-0 at the break on a deflected Danilo strike but came to life with an improved second frame that saw them score in the 54th and 56th minutes.

They got what they earned, says Guardiola. That’s not a compliment. From the BBC:

“The way we played we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future. We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult. They defended deep and man to man.

“What we have done so far has been incredible, in the league and the Carabao Cup. We have an incredible number of points. But this game can teach us and show what we have to do to improve.”

Opening scorer Danilo admitted that City didn’t have the right intensity in the first half, while Leroy Sane said Pep put them right at halftime.

“He always tries to give us the solution and he did it again,” said Sane, who had a goal and an assist. “I think everyone could see in the second half it was much better.”

City starts a three-match week on Wednesday with the second leg of the League Cup semifinal at Burton Albion (City leads 9-0). It’s home to Burnley in the FA Cup on Saturday before visiting Newcastle on Jan. 29.