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Championship Focus: Promotion favorites Norwich, Leeds win again

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Norwich City and Leeds United have spent the majority of the 2018-19 EFL Championship season battling one another for the top spot, and smart money would have long since been placed on them to finish in two-two and secure automatic promotion to the Premier League.

[ MORE: Man City win, lose KDB | Man United come back, beat Southampton ]

That was before Sheffield United began their current run of six games unbeaten (four wins) and just one loss in their last 12 games (eight wins), to complicate matters. Leeds, on the other hand, have lost five of their last 11 (five wins) and have fallen off their longtime perch atop the table. Norwich’s recent form has been somewhere in the middle of the other two (6W-3D-1L in their last 10), but just good enough to create a two-point advantage over Leeds.

Sheffield United, who will face Steel derby rivals Sheffield Wednesday on Monday, entered the weekend level on points with Leeds, but have since fallen three back after Marcelo Bielsa’s side thrashed West Bromwich Albion 4-0 on Friday. For about 17 hours, Leeds were again top of the Championship.

Norwich then proceeded to win 3-1 away to Millwall on Saturday to reclaim the summit. Golden Boot leader Teemu Pukki bagged his 24th league goal of the season in the process.

The rest of the race for playoff places is, shall we say, an unmitigated disaster zone where absolutely anything can, and likely will, happen. We’ll turn our attention to that in a few weeks when the dozen teams still in the mix begin to, hopefully, sort themselves out.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview: Merseyside, west London derbies on tap ]

After 34.5 of 46 rounds…

Place Team Points GD
1 Norwich City 69 +26
2 Leeds United 67 +21
3 Sheffield United 64 +25
4 West Bromwich Albion 60 +20
5 Middlesbrough 58 +14
6 Bristol City 54 +8
7 Derby County 51 +1
8 Birmingham City 50 +8
9 Nottingham Forest 50 +7
10 Hull City 50 +2
11 Aston Villa 48 +8
12 Preston North End 48 +5

Inter Miami refutes report claiming Beckham selling MLS club shares

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After all the delays, obstacles, and promise, David Beckham may not wind up overseeing a minute of Inter Miami CF.

Yes, really.

A report from Cristian Rivas of AS says the Manchester United legend is selling his shares of his expansion club, which is set to begin play in 2020 (from US.AS.com).

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]

Inter Miami CF has denied the report to several outlets, including intrepid MLS reporter Paul Tenorio.

Beckham’s MLS contract allowed him the option of starting a club at the end of his playing career, and he opted for South Beach.

But the English midfielder watched as stadium sites, lawsuits, and myriad issues got in the way of his project, which led to questions of “Will this ever happen?” and multiple public announcements.

It wasn’t all negative, as speculators salivated over the megastars expected to play for “Beckham United.”

According to the report, current IMCF partners Jorge and Jose Mas Santos will purchase Beckham’s shares. Nutty. If true, this report would be a face palm for the executives of Major League Soccer, who backed Becks at every turn (though maybe they knew, too).

And if it happens, maybe this was always Beckham’s plan. It would’ve been foolish for the entrepreneur to turn down the rights to his own team, and staying behind the brand this long certainly aided in the group’s growth.

But how will players and fans react in a market which has certainly had its problems growing, and has been rivaled by a number of upstart teams?

Perhaps it’s all foolhardly speculation, and a reporter was given bad information. Let’s hope so, for the good of Miami having a successful team.

Women’s World Cup: Marta sets record, Kerr scores four

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The missions were clear for Australia and Brazil as Group C play concluded Tuesday at the Women’s World Cup in France: Don’t lose.

Neither did, and Marta became the leading scorer in the history of the World Cup, stretching her women’s record in the process.

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]


Italy 0-1 Brazil

Marta increased her Women’s World Cup record for goals to 17 with a second half penalty as Brazil finished third in Group C with Italy, Brazil, and Australia all finishing on six points.

Cristiani Girelli had a goal rightfully ruled out for offside in the 29th minute, and Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara made a point blank save as the match neared halftime.

As the match wore on, Brazil was seemingly content with handing Italy the group in exchange for the point which would hand it a place in the knockout rounds, but Debinha hit the deck under a challenge by Elena Linari and Marta converted the penalty with 16 minutes to go.

Jamaica 1-4 Australia

With its World Cup hopes in jeopardy, Australia turned to its superstar to get the job done; Sam Kerr scored twice in both halves to leave the Reggae Girlz without a win at the 2019 World Cup.

The Matlidas wasted little time in establishing control, getting a goal from Kerr to make it 1-0 and firm up control of their knockout round hopes.

Kerr headed the below gem of a cross from former Liverpool and Ottawa Fury player Emily Gielnik into the goal, and doubled her output with an unmarked header in the 42nd minute.

Jamaica did manage its first World Cup goal early in the second half, with Havana Solaun working around the keeper to score with one of her first actions of the game.

Kerr added a third before this gift from Jamaica completed her four-goal haul.

Watch Live: Copa America — Day 5

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Brazil and Venezuela meet with a knockout round berth up for grabs with the Copa America continues Tuesday in South America.

The Brazilians smashed Bolivia while Venezuela drew Peru, with the hosts again heavy favorites against a Venezuelan side who beat up the USMNT last week.

Bolivia and Peru start things off in Rio at 5:30 p.m. ET, both in dire need of a win.

[ LIVE: Watch every single Copa America game ]

Salvador is the spot for the host nation’s meeting with Venezuela three hours later.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

2019 Copa America schedule

Group A: Bolivia v. Peru – 5:30 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group A: Brazil v. Venezuela – 8:30 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Reports: Mata agrees to stay with Manchester United

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Manchester United and Juan Mata are going to stay an item.

The 31-year-old has reportedly found common ground with United just days before his contract expired at Old Trafford, having been linked with Barcelona and Newcastle United should he have reached free agent status.

[ MORE: Latest on Rodri, Man City ]

Mata, 31, may be a key piece for a United team which is set for massive turnover this season, and had six goals and four assists in just under 1800 minutes last season.

He’s an extremely consistent player, scoring 50 Premier League goals with 60 assists between the Blues and Red Devils. He’s won the FA Cup and Europa League with both clubs, winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the League Cup with United.

Mata also has a Copa del Rey from his time with Valencia, and is a World Cup and EURO winner with Spain.

At least this way, Mata can be almost completely sure he won’t face a third stint under Jose Mourinho. Mata was sold by Chelsea after Mourinho lost interest in the midfielder, only to see United hire the Portuguese manager.