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Women’s World Cup: Italy dominates, Japan hangs on, England persists

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Japan got back on track while Scotland was the first side officially eliminated from the tournament as the Asian side clung to a 2-1 victory in Rennes. Japan dominated the first half and took a 2-0 lead into the break on goals by attackers Mana Iwabuchi and Yuika Sugasawa but they were forced to hang on late as Lana Clelland curled one in to make for an intriguing finish.

Following an opening-round 0-0 draw with Argentina that left a powerful side with more questions than answers, Japan was ruthless in the first half as Iwabuchi opened the scoring 23 minutes in as her right-footed blast found the roof of the net just under the crossbar from outside the box. They had a 2-0 lead 14 minutes later as a speculative counter-attack saw Rachel Corsie bundle over Sugasawa defending a long-ball, and the Japanese striker was on hand to dispatch the penalty.

Scotland was happy to hear the halftime whistle, and they came out stronger after the break but Clelland’s curler proved only a consolation as Japan found victory for the first time this tournament. As two-time finalists in the last two World Cups, Japan breathed a sign of relief following a much better attacking effort thank their opening game and moved atop Group D for the time being, although that would not last long as England reclaimed the lead. Scotland, meanwhile, suffered its second one-goal defeat and is still without a point heading into its final match, eliminated officially as England claimed victory later in the day.

In the second game of the day, Italy secured qualification to the knockout stages with a commanding Group C lead after dismantling Jamaica 5-0 in Reims, the site of the United States’ demolition of Thailand. A hat-trick from Juventus striker Cristiana Girelli led the way, with substitute Aurora Galli bagging a pair to finish things off.

Already with two goals by halftime on a 2-0 lead, Girelli secured her hat-trick just seconds after halftime with a far-post header that trickled over the line following a fabulous long-distance delivery from Manuela Giugliano. Girelli becomes the first Italian to score a Women’s World Cup hat-trick, marking the country’s return to the event after a 20-year absence in thunderous fashion.

Galli came on in the 65th minute and did excellent work off the bench, firing an absolute howitzer for her first in the 71st minute before tacking on the finale with nine minutes left.

Finally, England weathered a disappointing first half to come away victorious over Argentina. The South American side held England goalless in the first half in similar fashion to their opening match against Japan, with the European group dominant but unable to find the back of the net, even seeing a poor 28th minute penalty from Nikita Parris saved. After halftime, it was more of the same early as Vanina Correa made an absolutely stunning close-range save on a messy England set-piece.

Argentina held through the hour mark, but were undone right there as the Lionesses broke through via Jodie Taylor on the break. After a rare Argentina attack, England countered and a stellar cross from Beth Mead evaded the racing defenders and a diving Correa, and Taylor was there for the tap-in.

England failed to score again, with Paris heading over on 71 minutes before they appeared to take their foot off the gas, but in was still a dominating wire-to-wire performance despite the thin scoreline, as they topped Argentina on the shot count 15-1. England’s Abbie McManus out-passed Argentina by herself, completing 111 distributions to Argentina’s 96.

England secured a place in the knockout stages with the win, while Argentina is still in the mix but need a win against Scotland plus some help from above.

Newcastle takes three points at Sheffield United

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Allan Saint-Maximin and Jonjo Shelvey scored goals and VAR made its presence felt as Newcastle United toppled Sheffield United 2-0 at Bramall Lane on Thursday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Its Newcastle’s fifth result from six following a loss to Chelsea, while Sheffield United sees the end of its seven-match unbeaten run.

The Magpies pull into 11th place with 19 points, two spots below the Blades on goal differential.

Sheffield United meets Norwich City on Sunday, when Newcastle hosts Southampton.


Three things we learned

1. Blades make rookie mistake in VAR era: The linesman’s flag was raised when Andy Carroll flicked a header into the Blades final third, but Shelvey kept running onto the ball and referee Stuart Atwell allowed play to continue into the 1v1 chance between the midfielder and Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson. Shelvey passed around Henderson and into the goal, the backstop apparently spotting the flag and assuming the call. Big mistake, as VAR negated the linesman’s flag.

2. Bruce rewarded for lineup risk, and ASM breaks down the door:聽Manager Steve Bruce pulled the plug on big money striker Joelinton‘s automatic spot in the Starting XI, installing veteran center forward and hometown hero Andy Carroll in that spot. Carroll was solid with Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron on his flanks, and won the pivotal assist in the second half.

Saint-Maximin is either the league’s best dribbler or a fixture in the debate, but he’s been unable to find the back of the goal whether through fine saves or misfired shots. Raise your hand if you had 50-50 header for his first Premier League marker. Didn’t think so. If this busts down the door, look out.

3. Magnificent Martin deserves a rest: Newcastle backstop Martin Dubravka was the biggest factor in the result, as the Slovakian national team goalkeeper was at his shot-stopping best. He was stopping all of the Olivers, with fine stops on McBurnie and Norwood in the first half and a well-controlled box in the second 45.

Man of the Match:聽Dubravka — Respect to Carroll, but the keeper made six saves on the night for a richly-deserved clean sheet.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

A deflection off Miguel Almiron forced Martin Dubravka into a fine reaction stop in the sixth minute.

Newcastle then had the ball for a spell without real threat, as Blades’ Oli McBurnie’s curl wide in the 15th minute was the next moment of danger for either side.

The Magpies scored soon after, Saint-Maximin rising high to thump a header inside the post after Andy Carroll laid off for Javi Manquillo‘s cross.

McBurnie then forced an incredible save out of Dubravka when George Baldock sent a terrific cross into the heart of the box.

Almiron gave away a dangerous free kick in first half stoppage time, but Dubravka was again there for a two-handed parry of Oliver Norwood‘s rip.

VAR made its voice heard in the 71st minute, when it ruled that

Everton must think bigger than retread replacement for Silva

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Marco Silva is out as Everton manager, the Toffees turning the page on a disappointing execution of their ambitious vision.

Despite plenty of investment, Silva’s Everton wasn’t able to do much of anything good and now sits in the Premier League’s Bottom Three after 15 match days.

[ MORE: Everton sacks Silva ]

Silva’s men finished eighth in the league during his first season, but the best he can say about his truncated sophomore campaign is that the club are into the League Cup quarterfinals.

So what will Everton do now? Well, Duncan Ferguson is in charge for the Toffees’ Saturday visit from Chelsea, though the club has vowed to “swiftly” find their next full-time boss.

Frankly, the club could do its next man a favor by taking its time, as the post-Chelsea fixtures are Manchester United, Leicester City in the aforementioned cup fixture, and Arsenal.

Back on topic, what the Toffees should do is appoint a man with vision. While it would be tempting to slide into the comfortable slippers that are David Moyes, appointing him or some Sam Allardyce or Mark Hughes type would be another step in the wrong direction.

That’s because this is truly an opportunity for the right coach to take the club in a tremendous direction. Everton might be in the drop zone, but its talent is a mile ahead of true relegation candidacy.

Whoever is hired — and this is why Big Sam is probably holding aloft a boombox outside Goodison Park — is going to “save the Toffees” and earn another season at the helm. Allowing that to be some retread would be a mistake.

Rafa Benitez isn’t going to come to Goodison Park because of his relationship with Liverpool, but a a manager of his ilk should very much be in play. The Toffees boast a still-improving star forward in Richarlison and two proper fullbacks in Lucas Digne and Djibril Sidibe.

Richarlison is 22, Alex Iwobi is 23, and Moise Kean just 19 and adapting to a new country. Defenders Yerry Mina, Mason Holgate, and Michael Keane are all under 26. A manager who can develop and fine tune talent will have a field day with this roster. Imagine Dominic Calvert-Lewin reaching his potential.

Their 9.1 shots allowed per game is a figure bettered by only Man City and Chelsea. The side has been prone to allowing those shots to be dangerous ones, but there’s every reason to believe that fixing their fourth-worst goals conceded total should happen soon given some adequate goalkeeping performances.

Jordan Pickford is England’s No. 1, but hasn’t been right for the Toffees. Logically, he’ll get back to at least average and start stealing some points. The goals are going to keep coming, and likely increase with the wins; Everton is eighth in the xG table.

The Premier League is better when Everton is a good side. The Toffees are not going to be relegated this season, and need to approach that hiring with that mindset. Get someone worth believing in, not just blind hope and a nod to the past.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Brighton, Sheffield Utd v. Newcastle

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Matchweek 15 of the 2019-20 Premier League season wraps up on Thursday, with two more midweek clashes featuring two mid-table sides, and two more from much nearer to the relegation zone, in action.

[ STREAM:聽Every PL game live here聽]聽

First up, PL new boys (and 9th-place side) Sheffield United will host 14th-place Newcastle United, who sit just two points outside the relegation zone ahead of kickoff. 45 minutes later, 10th-place Arsenal will host 16th-place Brighton & Hove Albion in Freddie Ljungberg’s first home game as Arsenal interim manager.

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The schedule for Thursday’s two games is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


2:30 p.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Newcastle United [STREAM]
3:15 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Brighton & Hove Albion [STREAM]

Marco Silva fired by Everton

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Marco Silva has been fired as manager of Everton, making him the fourth Premier League manager to lose his job in the last 16 days.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Silva reported for a regular day’s work at Everton’s training ground on Thursday, a day after suffering a 5-2 defeat to local rivals Liverpool, all while a conference call was expected to take place involving the relevant figures: owner Farhad Moshiri, chairman Bill Kenright, chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale and director of football Marcel Brands.

15 games into the 2019-20 PL season, the Toffees currently sit 18th in the league table with less than a point per game 鈥 relegation territory 鈥 on the back of three straight losses and just four wins all season. Silva’s only victory since mid-October came against fellow bottom-four side Southampton nearly a month ago.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (now up to nine) on the season thus far, but many of the sides to which they’ve lost (newly promoted Aston Villa, 12th-place Bournemouth, newly promoted Sheffield United, 11th-place Burnley, 16th-place Brighton & Hove Albion and 19th-place Norwich, to name a few) that forced them further and further down the table and made relegation a semi-serious threat, at least for the time being.