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Alexis Sanchez secures win for Chile over Ecuador

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Chile wasn’t exactly at its attacking best they displayed against Japan in the opener, but it got the job done as Alexis Sanchez and Jose Fuenzalida provided the firepower in a 2-1 win over Ecuador. The three points moved Chile into sole possession of the lead in Group C and secured a spot in the knockout stage for the defending champions.

The game had an edge from the opening whistle as Sebastian Mendez, newly installed into the Ecuador midfield after riding the bench for the opening loss to Uruguay, received a third minute yellow card for barging through the back of Charles Aranguiz. That spurred Chile on and they opened the scoring before the 10-minute mark, the second early goal Ecuador has conceded in its two Copa America matches.

Fuenzalida was the man to finish it off as a corner swung in and the ball pinged around the box until it rolled out to the 34-year-old where he fired a shot that found the inside of the far post. It put Ecuador behind early again after they shipped a sixth-minute opener to Nicolas Lodeiro and Uruguay a few days ago.

The game ground to a halt past the 20-minute mark as Chile settled in with the lead, but Ecuador found a moment with Chile a bit too relaxed. With Jefferson Orejuela on the ball in midfield and staring at acres of space down the middle, he burst forward and lofted a ball over the top to Romario Ibarra. The Minnesota United frontman lifted his leg up to tap the ball out of the air and to his teammate Mendez charging into the box. With Gary Medel left in Mendez’s wake, Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias came out of net and looked to smother the chance but instead chopped down Mendez and the referee awarded the clear penalty. Enner Valencia stepped up and blasted the ball through for Ecuador’s first goal of the tournament, leveling the game at 1-1.

In a tournament marred by constant VAR controversies, the problems continued as the referee initially gave nothing for a clear dive by Romario Ibarra under pressure from Arias. In a replay review that took nearly five minutes, the referee decided to change his decision and give a yellow card to Arias instead of carding Ibarra for simulation. All in all, it was the first yellow for Arias after he was not cautioned for the penalty earlier – which he should have been – so the farcical VAR booking thankfully did not see him sent off.

The second half started drab, but Chile bided its time and grabbed the lead in the 51st minute as an Aranguiz cross came in from the end line right of net and sailed the scrum in front of goal, only to fall at the back post where Alexis Sanchez was waiting. The Manchester United attacker delivered a pinpoint volley that chipped Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez and found the top-right corner.

Both sides had chances after Chile went ahead, but the defending champions looked more likely to score. Erick Pulgar nearly put Chile 3-1 up in the 65th minute but his bullet header off a corner was athletically saved by Dominguez with a diving stop to keep the ball from sneaking in under the crossbar. With time winding down, Ecuador’s job became monumental after Gabriel Achilier was sent off with a straight red card after a stray forearm caught Arturo Vidal in the head on an aerial challenge, and the referee immediately had his decision made.

Ecuador had little left to offer as Chile successfully saw out the game and picked up its second win of the group stage, securing a spot in the next round and eliminating Ecuador. Chile will round out the group stage with a match against Uruguay that will mean something for their opponents who have not yet secured a spot in the knockouts after slipping to a draw with Japan.

UEL, LIVE — Arsenal meets Eintracht before Man Utd, Wolves play

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The Europa League group stage begins play on Thursday, with Arsenal in Germany to face Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Bundesliga side is missing a lot of familiar faces after a tumultuous summer saw Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller, and Ante Rebic.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Arsenal will follow suit with some youth, as Emile Smith-Rowe, Bukayo Saka, and Joe Willock drawing starts.

Kickoff is at 12:55 p.m. ET, with Manchester United and Wolves set to kick-off their respective matches against Astana and Braga at 3 p.m. ET.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow

Report: Man City’s David Silva in “likely” Inter Miami move

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Arguably the greatest player in Manchester City history could become the first star player of Inter Miami.

That’s the story coming out of England, where The Independent reports that David Silva will “likely” join Inter Miami CF for its inaugural MLS run in 2020.

It’s well-known that Silva is leaving Man City this summer after one last-go at his first UEFA Champions League title.

[ MORE: Man City bests Shakhtar ]

David Beckham has been recruiting some of the top names in the game, and has been linked with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Silva, 33, checks all the boxes. The Spanish star won two EUROs and a World Cup, and is still playing at a very high level. He has five assists in six matches for City this season.

If healthy, it would be foolish to expect anything but dominance out of Silva, though beware the think pieces out there about how he “might find it tougher than he thinks.” We’re talking about a world beater who posted 10 goals and 14 assists for City last season.

Even at his age, he’d carry one of the top resumes of any player to join Major League Soccer (Beckham, Steven Gerrard, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic would like a word).

He has 71 goals and 134 assists in 402 matches for City, and would eventually line up against fellow City Football Group club NYCFC.

NBC Sports’ Premier League Fan Fest heading to Austin

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Everything is bigger in Texas. And this will be no different.

NBC Sports and the Premier League have announced details for the first Premier League Mornings Live Fan Fest event of the season, and we are heading to Austin, Texas in October.

Just like the events in Washington D.C., New York City and Boston last season, fans will be able to watch all of the PL action together with the live studio show taking place in front of them.

This time it takes place at Scholz Garten in downtown Austin.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live

The two-day celebration of Premier League fandom will take place on Saturday Oct. 26 and Sunday Oct. 27. The Scholz Garten venue is inclusive of a full street closure, courtyard space, and indoor bar.

All sections of the venue will be packed with fun activities and of course plenty of viewing areas for fans to watch all of the action.

The event will feature the NBC Sports studio broadcast live onsite with special appearances throughout the day. We’ll also have free merchandise and giveaways throughout the day, plus food, drink and plenty more.

Premier League Interim Chief Executive, Richard Masters, said: “After a successful season of Premier League Mornings Live, we are delighted to be visiting Austin, Texas, for the first event of 2019-20. Last year we saw how passionate our American fans are, as we brought the Premier League experience to Washington D.C., New York and Boston.

”This season we are once again working with NBC Sports and bringing many of our clubs, partners and some famous faces to unique locations in different cities. Those attending in Austin can expect some great activations and I am sure there will be plenty of entertaining football for them to enjoy as we have some exciting fixtures taking place over the weekend.”

Report: Newcastle United tracking Atlanta United’s Martinez

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A report out of Newcastle says the Magpies may be returning to Atlanta United’s ranks for a January transfer swoop.

MLS record goal scorer Josef Martinez is the name mentioned as among Newcastle’s targets, though journalist Lee Ryder says there may be trepidation given Miguel Almiron’s failure to find goals at St. James’ Park.

[ MORE: Hex watch sees Canada move closer ]

Martinez, 26, scored twice more Wednesday evening for the Five Stripes, including a sensational solo goal. He has scored in 15-straight league matches and is five goals away from matching his MLS single season record set last season.

Atlanta signed Martinez through the 2023 season. Transfermarkt puts his market value around $11 million, comparing him with players like Jurgen Locadia, Yoshinori Muto, and Manolo Gabbiadini.

Newcastle broke its transfer record to land Almiron last season, then smashed it sign Joelinton from Hoffenheim in August. The Magpies have also splashed cash on Allan Saint-Maximin and there’s a clear focus on upgrading the attack.

Maybe the Magpies would view the move as a bargain which could help Almiron get back to his form of last season, but it seems there would be numerous hurdles to clear before a firm bid would be made for Martinez. If Saint-Maximin or Almiron finds form, would there be room for Martinez running underneath Joelinton? Or maybe we’re wrong and Mike Ashley is ready to spend to provide adequate depth?

Lots of questions here.