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England downs emotional Cameroon 3-0 amid VAR decisions

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Cameroon had the opportunity to become the first African side to advance in the Women’s World Cup knockout stages, but were pegged back by VAR decisions on numerous occasions and fell to England 3-0. The Cameroon players were emotionally effected by the multiple VAR decisions, and it spilled out onto the field on a number of occasions.

Cameroon got away with one just four minutes in as Yvonne Leuko landed a brutal elbow to the face of Nikita Parris down the right flank but the referee showed Leuko just a yellow card for the incident which absolutely could have deserved more, but VAR did not intervene. It was a harbinger of what would come for the African nation as they looked bright at times on the ball but also proved childish when faced with adversity.

England bagged its early opener on a controversial decision as Cameroon defender Augustine Ejangue intercepted an England cross and goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom collected. That caused the referee to award an indirect free-kick for an intentional back-pass about five yards from goal, and while there was no question Ejangue intentionally played the ball, there was uncertainty whether her touch was intended as a pass to the goalkeeper.

Much of the focus of this game concerned the reaction of the Cameroon players to their on-field adversity. During the immediate aftermath as Cameroon protested the decision, replay showed Ejangue spitting on the forearm of England attacker Toni Duggan, and Duggan efforted to make the referee aware of the situation, to no avail. It was unclear whether the spit was intentional as Ejangue was not looking at Duggan but at very close range, and VAR yet again did not play a part.

Eventually, England stepped up for the attempt and Cameroon put every player on the goal line, but that would not stop captain Steph Houghton from blasting the indirect attempt inside the far post for the game’s first goal just 14 minutes in.

After the goal, England remained dominant in possession but Cameroon proved dangerous in spurts on the counter. England was the team in charge, however, and they would double the lead through Ellen White deep in first half stoppage time as she took a feed from Lucy Bronze through the back line and rifled a blistering finish into the top corner for a 2-0 lead. The goal was initially flagged for offside but VAR confirmed it was a good goal as White was level with her defender on the feed. The referee struggled to get the game restarted after Cameroon insisted on holding a team meeting at midfield before finally returning to their positions after multiple pleas. The referee had a high level of tolerance not to show any cautions, and the halftime whistle came soon after the eventual restart.

After the break, Cameroon seemed to have redirected their petulance into purpose, taking advantage of a sloppy giveaway by England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Ajara Nchout blasted a powerful finish. However, VAR struck again and its Hawkeye technology determined that Nchout was just a hair offside on the turnover, nullifying the goal and providing the game with its most controversial moment. The Cameroon players were an emotional wreck at the decision, with a number of them crying and head coach Alain Djeumfa was reduced to plead with his squad to continue the match. Even England head coach Phil Neville came over to lend an emotional hand before play finally restarted.

Another mistake at the back by England’s Alex Greenwood let Alexandra Takounda have a free path at goal but Bardsley saved well in the one-on-one. Greenwood made amends and picked up England’s third in the 58th minute off a set-piece and the game was for all intents and purposes over with Cameroon all over the place. England continued to pour on the attack and came close to a fourth on multiple occasions. In the 82nd minute England broke but a shot was cleared off the line by Estelle Johnson who raced back to save Cameroon from  conceding again. Cameroon pushed for a consolation strike late but could not find the moment.

Deep into stoppage time, VAR again was consulted to show Cameroon substitute Alexandra Takounda a yellow card for a studs-up tackle on Houghton on a decision that could have again resulted in a red. Cameroon players again reacted petulantly to Houghton’s injury, screaming at her and the referee during the VAR check.

Mercifully, the final whistle came and England moved on to the quarterfinals where they will take on Norway, a rematch of a knockout stage match four years ago. Cameroon bows out and it remains that no African team has won a World Cup knockout stage game.

Exactly who is Newcastle’s new $50M striker?

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Newcastle United’s club record signing of Joelinton is raising plenty of eyebrows, as fans try to grasp what they have in the $50 million Brazilian.

Suffice it to say that there isn’t an easy comparison.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old scored seven goals with five assists in Bundesliga play for Hoffenheim last season, adding four and two from Champions League and German Cup play.

[ MORE: Man Utd chase Pepe, Fernandes ]

He’s a unit, to be sure, at 6-foot-1 with tremendous leaping ability and a powerful stride. Joelinton certainly has the ability to dominate in the air and hold the ball up like Newcastle’s loan star Salomon Rondon in 2018-19, but he brings better passing than most center forwards.

There’s a temptation to compare him to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, another Premier League import from Brazil via Hoffenheim, as Joe Prince-Wright wrote in his morning post about the impending deal.

Firmino was on another level in 2014-15, coming off a remarkably complete seasons for a center forward. He also shoots more often than Joelinton.

What Newcastle supporters will like from Joelinton, what makes him unique for his size, is that he’s a tremendous dribbler. He has trickery to go with his pace, not strictly a locomotive.

His season didn’t have the goals, the Toon will hope, because he was supplying wingers Andrej Kramaric (17 goals) and Ishak Belfodil (16). That could be music to the ears of Miguel Almiron and… whoever else Steve Bruce has to deploy (Yoshinori Muto? Jacob Murphy?).

Joelinton also played less than minutes than the following three comparables: West Ham import Sebastien Haller, Watford target Ismalia Sarr, and Wolves star Raul Jimenez.

Will he be worth the spend? The six-year deal promises profit potential — something Mike Ashley and chief scout Graham Carr are clearly targeting — if he explodes and earns the admiration of bigger sides. As for now, he should be able to provide what Rondon did in 2018-19.

Filipe Luis signs for Flamengo after leaving Atletico

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Brazilian veteran left-back Filipe Luis has signed for boyhood club Flamengo after leaving Atletico Madrid on a free transfer.

The Rio de Janeiro club and the player confirmed the move Tuesday on social media.

Flamengo said the 33-year-old Luis has signed a deal until 2021.

Luis has played in Europe for 14 years but left Atletico on Sunday after his contract expired.

The left-back was a starter for Brazil during its recent run to the Copa America title.

With Atletico, Luis won the Copa del Rey in 2013, the Spanish league in 2014, and the Europa League in 2012 and 2018. He also had a brief spell with Chelsea in between, winning the Premier League in 2015.

Flamengo is third in the Brazilian championship after 11 matches, five points behind leader and defending champion Palmeiras.

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

MLS expansion side Austin FC name Wolff as first-ever head coach

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Former USMNT forward  Josh Wolff has become the first-ever head coach of Austin FC, as the MLS expansion franchise crack on with their expected entry into North America’s top-flight in 2021.

Wolff, 42, was the assistant coach for D.C. United before moving to the Columbus Crew were he worked as Gregg Berhalter’s assistant for the past five years. Wolff was then hired as Berhalter’s assistant when he took charge of the USMNT.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

Austin FC say that Wolff will start his new job after the international window in November as he will continue with his current job with U.S. Soccer until then.

“I know that Austin has a true love of soccer, and it is the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of the first ever major league team of any kind in the Capital of Texas,” Wolff said. “Our stated ambition is to establish ourselves quickly within MLS as a vibrant, attacking side and we want to reflect the diverse, competitive, and passionate makeup of our club’s home, both on and off the field.”

This move makes total sense as former Columbus Crew owner, Anthony Precourt, knows Wolff from their time together in Ohio. Precourt excercized his option to move his MLS franchise from Columbus to Austin which was confirmed in January 2019.

The Crew have since been kept in Columbus and Precourt is now the chairman and CEO of Two Oak Ventures, the entity which owns the rights to operate Austin FC and its stadium, while also holding the title of chairman and CEO of Austin FC. Austin FC’s new stadium at McKalla Place (the stadium and the complex around it looks pretty incredible) is privately funded and will hold 20,500 fans when it is completed.

Hiring a former MLS and USMNT star to lead the team makes a lot of sense and Wolff’s name has been mentioned plenty when MLS jobs have become available in recent years. He was on both the 2002 and 2006 USMNT World Cup squads and his experience across MLS and in Europe have given him a unique coaching style.

There is a lot of respect for Wolff among the American soccer community and his playing philosophy is very similar to Berhalter’s. Wolff becoming a head coach is good news for young domestic players.

Live, UCL: PSV v. Basel headlines second qualifying round

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The UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds continue to roll on, and there are some mouthwatering clashes across Europe on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

That’s right, the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons pretty much rolled into one.

The pick of the second qualifying round first leg ties on Tuesday sees Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven host FC Basel in the Netherlands, with Mexican national team stars Hirving Lozano and Erick Guttierez hopeful of playing in the UCL group stage this season.

Welsh champions The New Saints host Danish champs FC Copenhagen, with TNS the heavy underdogs but their illustrious opponents will not relish their trip to Wales amid sweltering conditions in the UK.

Dinamo Zagreb will fancy their chances of advancing past Georgian minnows Saburtalo, while Olympiacos head to Czech giants Viktoria Plzen in another tasty encounter.

The third qualifying round sees the likes of Ajax, FC Porto and Dynamo Kiev enter the competition, so things will continue to get tougher for any minnows who sneak through this round.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, with the second legs played next week. Click on the link to follow all of the action live.

UCL second qualifying round, first leg – Tuesday, July 23

Plzen v. Olympiacos – 1 p.m. ET
Saburtalo v. Dinamo Zagreb – 1:30 p.m. ET
The New Saints v. Copenhagen – 2 p.m. ET
PSV Eindhoven v. FC Basel – 2 p.m. ET
FK Sutjeska v. APOEL Nicosia – 2:15 p.m. ET