USA beat Netherlands, win back-to-back World Cups (video)

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  • 4th World Cup win for USWNT
  • Second-straight WC win
  • Ellis first coach to win successive WWCs
  • Rapinoe, Lavelle score for USA

The U.S. women’s national team won the World Cup for the fourth time in their history, as they beat the Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon on Sunday.

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Second half goals from Megan Rapinoe (from the penalty spot) and Rose Lavelle did the job for Jill Ellis’ side, as they became just the second team to complete back-to-back World Cup wins. Ellis is also the first women’s coach in history to win consecutive titles.

[ MORE: Twitter reacts to victory

Although the Dutch, led by their brilliant captain and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, sat back and frustrated the USWNT, the Americans always seemed likely to break through in the end.

[ VIDEO: USA lift World Cup trophy ] 

A quiet start to the game saw the Netherlands sit back and they were tough for the USWNT to break down as their customary early blitz didn’t arrive.

A yellow card for Sherida Spitse did arrive, as the Dutch midfielder terrier slid in late towards Rose Lavelle. Even though there was no contact on Lavelle, Spitse was still cautioned.

[ MORE: Latest 2019 World Cup news ]

Alyssa Naeher had to be quick off her line to thwart a rare Dutch attack with Lineth Beerensteyn in on goal, as the USWNT had plenty of the ball but their best chance came from a set piece situations.

Julie Ertz’s volley on target was pushed away by Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, and as half time approach the U.S. poured forward in search of an opener.

Van Veenendaal made a fine stop from Alex Morgan to push her effort from Megan Rapinoe’s cross onto the spot, and did her best to put Sam Mewis off as another cross flew in. Van Veenendaal then tipped Morgan’s effort away as their personal battle continued, with the Dutch a threat on the counter.

At the start of the second half a corner towards Ertz at the near post came off her shoulder instead of her head, as the USWNT continued to dominate the play as the Dutch sat deep.

The game was gritty and tackles flew in as the Dutch did their best to thwart the rhythm of the USWNT, but then Morgan went down in the box under a challenge from Stefanie van der Gragt and VAR was used to award the USA a penalty kick.

Rapinoe stepped up to slot home the penalty kick for her sixth goal of the tournament amid wild scenes of celebration with 30 minutes to go.

Lavelle then added a second as the Dutch team pushed forward in search of an equalizer. The young midfielder surged forward and then cut inside before slamming home to make it 2-0.

Heath was denied a third late on as the USWNT totally dominate the final stages of the final, with van Veenendaal denying Morgan and Crystal Dunn to cap her incredible performance in the final.

In the end the U.S. secured their second-straight World Cup title in comfortable fashion.

Lacazette gives Arsenal first leg at Olympiacos

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Alexandre Lacazette scored the lone goal as Arsenal beat hosts Olympiacos 1-0 in the first leg of a Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday.

The second leg is Feb. 27 at the Emirates Stadium, four days after the Gunners host Carlo Ancelotti and Everton in Premier League play.

Lacazette now has eight goals in 24 appearances for Arsenal this season.

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Lacazette missed a big early chance from close range, Gabriel Martinelli deprived of a near-certain assist.

Fortunately for Lacazette, he got a second bite at the apple and smashed it home with a vengeance. Bukayo Saka continued his impressive debut season by assisting the goal.

It was an even match, as Olympiacos continued its habit of steady defense but was unable to produce any attack. The Greeks weren’t credited with the creation of any big chances.

Bernd Leno made three saves and was very good in distribution on the day, with Saka, David Luiz, Shkrodan Mustafi, and Sokratis Papastathopoulus continuing steady defense under Mikel Arteta.

Wolves clobber Espanyol, Neves scores another magnificent volley

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Diogo Jota had a hat trick and Ruben Neves scored a very Ruben Neves goal as Wolves took a 4-0 lead over Espanyol on Thursday after one leg of Europa League Round of 32 action.

Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho, and Matt Doherty recorded assists for Wolves, who will visit the Portuguese side on Feb. 27.

Espanyol had 57 percent of the ball and put four shots on target to Wolves’ five.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Wolves came out of the gates with a show of strength, taking six shots to Espanyol’s zero over the first 25 minutes.

The goal came off an Adama Traore-won corner, Raul Jimenez flicking on to Jota.

Neves’ goal came straight from his area of expertise, a beautiful bit of control with his chest before smashing home from distance.

The 23-year-old Jota scored the first, third, and fourth goals of the contest to give him two Europa League hat tricks this season. He has 12 goals and five assists in 33 appearances across all competitions this season.

Solskjaer, Mata react to Man Utd draw: ‘We can play better’

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Manchester United got an away goal in a 1-1 first leg draw with Europa League foes Club Brugge in Belgium on Thursday.

The goals were pretty individual, a big chip of Sergio Romero followed by Anthony Martial’s powerful dribble to equalize for the Red Devils.

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United outshot the hosts 16-10, but fell short in big chances created by a 3-1 margin.

Here’s Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, via the BBC:

“It was a game with difficult conditions out there. It was almost like an astroturf. The ball was very quick and lively,” Solskjaer said. “We got the away goal. It was a very good individual goal, worked hard to win the ball and finish so we are happy with that but we know we can play better.”

The second leg is Feb. 27 at Old Trafford, four days after a Premier League encounter with Watford in the same building.

United midfielder Juan Mata had a busy day, winning the majority of his tackles and creating one key pass. He expected better from his team but sees the game for what it is.

Here is Mata, from The Manchester Evening News:

“They scored a goal we shouldn’t concede. We scored a goal from their mistake. we wanted to win, obviously, 1-1 is not a very bad result, but we always want to win,” Mata said. “We just couldn’t find spaces, they defended very well with five plus four. We tried to play a few times through the middle, which we didn’t succeed to do that. Then we scored that goal and from then we played a bit better.”

Solskjaer kept Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Daniel James, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the bench to start the match. Fernandes and Fred came on late.

FC Cincinnati adds Ajax midfielder Siem de Jong

Siem de Jong
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FC Cincinnati got a much-needed bit of good news toward the end of a rough week in Southern Ohio.

Longtime Ajax attacker Siem De Jong has joined a talented FCC attack ahead of the club’s second MLS season.

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De Jong, 31, came up through Ajax’s vaunted academy before transferring to Newcastle United, where he suffered through a series of miserable injuries including two collapsed lungs in 18 months.

He’s been capped six times with two goals for the Netherlands in his career and will join a revitalized Cincinnati attack with Jurgen Locadia and Yuya Kubo.

“The system they want to play is quite similar to the Dutch system, and yeah, Ajax is probably one of the team’s that perfected it,” de Jong said. “Over the years I played there, I’ve learned a lot about this similar philosophy and trying to build up from the back in the Dutch style of play. That was one of the reasons why FC Cincinnati was a good fit for me. Hopefully I can help with the experience I’ve had over the years playing this style of football.”

De Jong scored three times in nine matches this season for Ajax, all of the goals coming in a cup match against third-tier Spakenburg. His other eight matches combined for just 118 minutes.

He may not be with FCC when the season starts as he waits on visa approval.