Everton make light work of Burnley, keep European hopes alive

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  • Own goal, Coleman tap-in seal Everton’s victory
  • Toffees climb to 8th, keep European hopes alive
  • Burnley fail to go 13th, remain 15th

Everton completed an emphatic double over Burnley with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Goodison Park on Friday, bringing the two sides’ aggregate score to 7-1 on the season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The result and accompanying three points went a long way toward keeping the Toffees, who now trail Wolverhampton Wanderers by just a single point, in the race for seventh — to be able to call themselves the best of “the rest” of the Premier League. Wolves will draw level on game played, and could go four points ahead of Everton again, when they host 19th-place and already-relegated Fulham on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com). Finishing seventh will result in Europa League qualification for next season if Manchester City beat Watford, who are in the race for seventh themselves, in the FA Cup final.

Whether his side finishes seventh or 10th — all places which are still mathematically in play — Marco Silva‘s first season at Everton will realize a higher point total (53 with one game still to play) than last season prior to his arrival (49).

Burnley, on the other hand, are mathematically safe from relegation but could still wind up finishing in 17th, possibly as few as three points above 18th.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Friday’s encounter was very typical of games involving Burnley, as Sean Dyche‘s men held just 38 percent of possession — their average of 43.4 percent on the season ranks third from the bottom in the PL — and they were made to pay for it early. Everton were on the front foot from the very beginning and took the lead in the 17th minute. Originally credited to Richarlison for his effort from 25 yards out, the goal was ultimately given as an own goal against Ben Mee for a severe deflection with the shot going well wide of goal.

It was 1-0 for just three minutes, thanks to Seamus Coleman‘s second goal of the season. Lucas Digne fired a shot from a spot very near to where Richarlison’s originated, though the Frenchman’s was on target and very much a problem for goalkeeper Tom Heaton. He made the save, but spilled the ball directly in front of goal, where Coleman was anxiously awaiting his free header.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Everton will visit Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the season, while Burnley will play host to Arsenal. The north London sides sit third and fifth, respectively, ahead of the weekend’s games.

PL refs told to defer to VAR more, go to the monitor “sparingly”

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Premier League interim chief executive Richard Masters says that referees have ben instructed “to use the referee review area a bit more sparingly” and rely on the numerous video-assistant referees (VAR) at their disposal to make simple calls upon review when video review is instituted in the PL next month.

[ MORE: Lukaku latest: Man United reject $67-million bid from Inter Milan ]

Following the 2019 Women’s World Cup, where far too many trip to the monitor were made by the center referees, the PL is keen on ensuring that “the Premier League or English football [is not] interrupted, or the pace of the game [is not] changed.” It sounds very much like a “less is more” approach  — quotes from the BBC:

“I think fans want to see those clear and obvious mistakes changed and put right. But they don’t want to see the Premier League or English football interrupted, or the pace of the game changed.

“I think the only difference you might see is the referees using the referee review area a bit more sparingly and relying more on the VAR for the more subjective decisions.

“But we are putting something new into the Premier League and if it needs to be refined or improved or tweaked we will look at it when the moment arises.”

In theory, this should work quite well for the PL. Many of the decisions that referees go to the monitor to review themselves could easily be made by the “fifth official.” If it’s obvious to the VAR and he/she can make the call with 100 percent certainty, the center ref should always take their decision in the name of keeping the game flowing. If the VAR isn’t so sure, or it’s a more subjective call that should be made by the person making 99 percent of the game’s calls, go to the monitor. But do so quickly.

Lukaku latest: Man United reject $67-million bid from Inter Milan

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Given two key factors — the date on the calendar and how far apart the two sides appear to be in their respective valuations — it’s looking increasingly likely that Romelu Lukaku will still be a Manchester United player when the upcoming Premier League season starts, despite numerous bids by Inter Milan this summer.

[ MORE: Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame ]

According to reports out of the UK, Man United have rejected Inter’s latest bid, said to be for $67.5 million. The Red Devils paid $96 million for the big Belgian forward just two summers ago and appear hellbent on recouping most, if not all, of their investment.

Antonio Conte called Lukaku “an important player for us” this week in an attempt to further unsettle the 26-year-old, but that doesn’t appear to have shaken United’s resolve in holding out for the fee they desire.

[ MORE: Wolves top Man City on penalties in PL Asia Trophy final ]

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is growing tired of answering questions about the saga, especially since there has been little to no progress made in recent days and weeks. When pressed on the topic again this week, he said he had “no more updates.”

Wolves top Man City on penalties in PL Asia Trophy final

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The 2019 Premier League Asia Trophy wrapped up on Saturday, as four PL sides took the field in Shanghai, China…

[ MORE: Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 (3-2 PKs) Man City

Wolves turned in a fantastic defensive display against the two-time reigning PL champions, indicating that Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side is very much ready for the start of the season. Man City had plenty of the ball in dangerous areas, but Wolves were quick to close off the passages when City typically dominate.

Wolves captain Conor Coady was part of the stellar defensive performance and he lauded some of the young players who entered the game as second-half substitutes and saw the game out to 0-0.

“To beat City at any point is a great accomplishment for us,” he said after the game. “We rode our luck at times but I thought the young boys were outstanding”

David Silva had perhaps the game’s best scoring chance in the 78th minute, but Rui Patricio made a top-drawer save to deny the Spaniard’s curling effort at the last possible moment.

Silva and Ilkay Gundogan began the penalty shootout with back-to-back efforts saved by Patricio. 20-year-old forward Lukas Nmecha was also denied on City’s fifth and final attempt.

Newcastle United 1-0 West Ham United

Newly appointed head coach Steve Bruce watched as an observer, due to “the terms of his visa,” as his Newcastle side beat Manuel Pellegrini‘s West Ham 1-0 in the third-place playoff.

Yoshinori Muto bagged the game’s only goal in the 34th minute. Jamie Sterry whipped in a cross from the right wing that curled around a pair of defenders at the near post and presented itself to Muto, still with plenty of work to do, for a first-time finish.

Zlatan saves his best for the best, Galaxy beat LAFC 3-2 (video)

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CARSON, Calif. (AP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his second hat trick in Major League Soccer and the LA Galaxy beat rival Los Angeles FC 3-2 on Friday night in their first meeting of the season.

Ibrahimovic, who is second in the league with 16 goals, scored in the 8th, 56th and 70th minutes. The 37-year-old Swedish star’s first MLS hat trick came last season against Orlando City.

Ibrahimovic has six goals in four matches against LAFC in the rivalry nicknamed “El Trafico”.

MLS scoring leader Carlos Vela scored twice for LAFCs. The forward has 21 goals in 20 games and is the fastest to reach 20 goals in a season in MLS history.

LAFC dropped just its third match in 21 matches. It leads MLS with 46 points, but has not been able to beat its rival during its two seasons. The Galaxy (12-8-1) – who moved into second in the Western Conference with 37 points – have two wins while the other two ended in ties.

LAFC (14-3-4) opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Vela converted on a penalty kick. Vela drew the penalty when Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham came off his line and upended the forward near the goal.

Ibrahimovic evened it four minutes later when he got the feed from Julian Araujo, split defenders Walker Zimmerman and Eddie Segura and fired a shot from the top of the box that beat Tyler Miller.

Ibrahimovic then gave the Galaxy the lead 11 minutes into the second half when he took a pass from Diego Polenta, went over Jordan Harvey and headed it into the net.

He completed the hat trick 14 minutes later with a blast from 21 yards out off Favio Alvarez’s pass.

Vela brought LAFC within a goal in the 97th minute off Eduard Atuesta’s assist.