Leicester hammer 10-man Newcastle

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“We’re all going on a European tour” sang the Leicester City fans at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, and they could well be right.

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Brendan Rodgers‘ side won 5-0 against 10-man Newcastle United as they moved up to third in the Premier League table.

Jamie Vardy scored twice, while Ricardo Pereira and Wilfried Ndidi were also on target as Dennis Praet‘s effort later went down as a Paul Dummett own goal.

Issac Hayden was shown a straight red card just before half time to make it a tough outing in an even tougher season for Steve Bruce‘s Newcastle.

Leicester have 14 points from seven games, while Newcastle have five points.


3 things we learned

1. Leicester ready for the top six: Fans of the Foxes were singing about Europe on Sunday and you can see why. Rodgers’ young side have so many attacking options, and even without James Maddison they ripped Newcastle apart. They are balanced, defend well, win the midfield battle and have class on the ball to hurt teams in attack. As long as the majority of their squad stays fit, they will be in the top six all season long. The blend between youth and experience is spot on and Leicester, on paper, have players Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United will want. They could finish above those three aforementioned teams this season with Ndidi and Tielemans the unsung heroes in midfield. Next up: Liverpool away. That will be a true test as to how good this team is.

2. Newcastle in a whole lot of bother: Just one win from the first seven games of the season doesn’t tell the whole story. Newcastle have been totally devoid of attacking intent in most of their games (Joelinton and Miguel Almiron struggled again) and Steve Bruce has a huge job on his hands to turn this ship around. Despite talk of a new takeover bid led by Peter Kenyon, optimism levels among Newcastle’s fans are not high for this season. The red card didn’t help them at all, but it didn’t alter the likely outcome of this game. Newcastle will be in a relegation scrap all season long and their brilliant fans will have to suffer once again. Next up: Games against Man United and Chelsea. Ouch.

3. Vardy is having a party: Vardy has scored 14 goals in 17 Premier League games under Brendan Rodgers and the veteran striker is leading the line superbly. He sets the tone for this squad and with so many young attackers around him, Vardy looks reborn. Rodgers allows him to operate in areas where he’s at his best and the Englishman, now 32, is key to this European push. If he stays fit and in form, Leicester will finish in the top six. If he is injured or runs out of steam, Leicester’s European dream will be in tatters because Rodgers doesn’t have a direct replacement.

Man of the Match: Jamie Vardy – Two goals and a constant menace, Vardy gave the Newcastle defense a torrid time. His runs stretch opposition defenses and his finishing is lethal. He will get plenty of service this season and he is allowed to play his natural game. With five goals in his first seven games of the campaign, Vardy is well on track for another 20-goal season in the PL.


Leicester started well as Harvey Barnes cut in from the left and crossed for Perez but the former Newcastle striker saw his instinctive effort saved by Martin Dubravka.

At the other end Newcastle had a few chances on the break and Issac Hayden’s shot across goal could have been diverted goalwards by Yoshinori Muto but the Japanese striker just couldn’t quite sort his feet out.

The Foxes took the lead via a wonderful solo goal as Pereira started the move and then ran almost 30 yards with the ball before rifling home a low shot.

Moments later Leicester’s full back on the other side of the pitch, Ben Chilwell, surged forward and almost scored as Martin Dubravka smothered his effort.

Right on half time Newcastle were reduced to 10 men as Issac Hayden slid in to win a tackle but caught Dennis Praet high with his follow through, and VAR confirmed Hayden was off.

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At the start of the second half Leicester doubled their lead as a long ball played over the top found Barnes who then played in Vardy to slam home at the near post.

Moments later it was 3-0 as Praet was played in on the right and his cross deflected off Paul Dummett and in.

Vardy popped up in the box but missed his kick, while Pereira almost looped in an effort after fine work from sub Marc Albrighton as Newcastle were run ragged in the closing stages of the game.

A lovely cross from Albrighton found Vardy to head home his second and Leiceser’s fourth as the final minutes consisted of Leicester keeping the ball and Newcastle sat deep and hoping for the whistle to blow.

Ndidi scored in the 90th minute to rub extra salt in Newcastle’s wounds as the Foxes flexed their top six credentials.

Scott Parker’s first season as a manager ends in Fulham promotion

Fulham promotion
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Fulham are headed back to the Premier League after just one season in the EFL Championship, and that means Scott Parker has worked something of a minor miracle in west London.

[ MORE: Promoted! Fulham back in PL after 1 season in Championship ]

Parker took on a hefty challenge when he accepted his first senior managerial job last year. Fulham were a virtual lock to be relegated from the Premier League when he was named interim boss in February, and their place in the second division had long since been confirmed by the time he was named Claudio Ranieri’s permanent successor in May. The squad was expensive, bloated and full of players who had no intention of sticking around after relegation.

Given the club’s wealth of resources relative to the rest of the Championship, promotion at the first time of asking was more an expectation than a hope at Craven Cottage. Fast-forward 15 months, and the 39-year-old has quickly proven himself the right man for the job after doing just that — taking Fulham back to the PL by way of Tuesday’s Championship promotion playoff final.

Promotion may have been sealed on Tuesday, but Parker believes it was earned over a long period of transition and self-reflection by the players, beginning when he first took the job — quotes from the BBC:

“We’ve done what we’ve done tonight, but there’s still improvement, and that’s what makes me so proud and happy.

“For all of the good players and everything you see, what makes me so happy is I see a group of players who only a year ago were struggling psychologically, didn’t have a mindset or mentality.

“I’ve driven this team every single day and what makes me proud is I stood on the touchline tonight and seen a team that represents what I’ve been saying over the last 12 months.”

Now comes the the truly difficult challenge for Parker: after winning Fulham promotion he must assemble a squad of players not only good enough to stay in the PL, but also one full of individuals who want to be at his club and not simply any club that just so happens to be in England’s top division.

Promoted! Fulham back in PL after 1 season in Championship

Championship promotion playoff final
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Fulham are headed back to the Premier League after claiming west London derby delight at the expense of local rivals Brentford in Tuesday’s Championship promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium.

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It was an incredibly cagey affair — as the Championship promotion playoff final tends to be — that saw the two sides combine for just 17 shots (four on target) through 90 minutes of regular time. In the end, it was the most unlikely of restarts halfway through extra time that sent the Cottagers on their way.

Brentford were nearly the architects of their own downfall early in the first half. FirstIt was a poor back pass from Henrik Dalsgaard that left David Raya in worlds of trouble in the 10th minute, though Fulham were unable to find a proper chance amid the chaos inside Brentford’s box.

Fulham were perhaps fortunate not to go a man down in the 29th minute, when Harrison Reed slid through Christian Norgaard and put studs into the Dane’s ankle. Reed came over top of the ball in a 50-50 challenge and, despite first making contact with the ball, came in with borderline excessive force and in a reckless fashion. Nonetheless, only a yellow card for the on-loan Southampton youngster.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic issues injury update ]

The start of the second half looked like more of the same from the first half: Fulham with an early chance and Brentford scrambling to stay level. Neeskens Kebano curled a free kick around the wall in the 48th minute, likely beating Raya if it was on frame, but only managed to rippled the outside netting.

Championship Golden Boot runner-up (25 goals) Ollie Watkins had the final scoring chance of regular time in the 70th minute as he fired from the edge of Fulham’s penalty area, but Marek Rodak was able to comfortably palm the ball over the crossbar. Still, the first threatening signs of life from the Bees.

[ MORE: Man United, Dortmund in talks over $140 million Sancho transfer ]

The decisive moment finally arrived in the 105th minute, and it came from absolutely nothing — less than nothing, one might credibly argue. Joe Bryan was tasked with restarting play following a foul roughly 50 yards from goal. Rather than lofting the ball high and to the back post, as Raya so clearly expected him to do, Bryan wrapped his left foot around the ball and whipped it toward the near post — as “near” as it can be from 50-plus yards. Raya was painfully slow to recognize the shot and tried to scramble across the face of goal, but never had a chance of getting anywhere near the ball.

Bryan doubled Fulham’s lead in the 117th minute. It was fast and fluid one-two atop Brentford’s penalty area and the left back tucked it away to seal promotion back to the top flight, and it turned out to be hugely necessary after Dalsgaard poked home a late consolation goal for the Bees with virtually the last kick of the game.

Fulham spent the 2018-19 season in the Premier League but finished with just 26 points in 19th place and were relegated back to the Championship after one season. Only time will tell if they’re able to stay in the top division this time, or if they’re a full-time yo-yo club.

Transfer confirmed: Ferran Torres to Man City for $26 million

Ferran Torres to Man City
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Reports sending Valencia youngster Ferran Torres to Man City have been burning red-hot over the last 24 hours.

[ MORE: Ranking the new Premier League kits for 2020-21 ]

Man City confirmed their capture of the 20-year-old — one of the brightest prospects in all of Europe — on Tuesday.

Torres, who came through the Valencia academy, tallied six goals and seven assists in 43 appearances (all competitions), including two of each in the Champions League, for Valencia this season.

He broke into Valencia’s first team back in November of 2017, at the age of 17, before establishing himself as a regular over the last two seasons.

[ MORE: Man United, Dortmund in talks over $140 million Sancho transfer ]

Reports out of the UK claim it will reportedly cost just $26 million to bring Ferran Torres to Man City, plus possible add-ons, as he had just one year remaining on his contact with Valencia. Torres reportedly met with City sporting director Txiki Begiristain earlier on Tuesday, adding further fuel to the fire that a move was imminent.

Torres seems an obvious replacement for recently departed winger Leroy Sane. He’ll join Raheem Sterling as one of only two natural wingers in Pep Guardiola’s squad, offering more tactical flexibility — not to mention, width — after City were fairly limited in the wide areas during the 2019-20 season.

Championship playoff final: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Brentford - Fulham
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Fulham – Brentford: Team news is in with the two West London sides set to do battle for a place in the Premier League in the Football League Championship promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium.

We can hardly wait to find out who’ll claim the 20th berth in the 2020-21 Premier League season in the richest game on earth.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europe ]

Kickoff is at 2:45 pm ET Tuesday at Wembley Stadium.

Team news


Key players

Fulham leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 26 goals were the joint-most in the Championship and more than three times as many as Tom Cairney, second amongst the Cottagers. He’s healthy for the first time after missing the semis with a hamstring injury.

Brentford’s Ollie Watkins scored the same amount of goals as Mitrovic, tying for the league lead, and he’s joined by Said Benrahma’s 17 goals (fifth in the league) and Bryan Mbeumo (eighth). The latter have combined for 16 assists, too. The Bees can sting.

Their seasons

Brentford won a even-straight league games to surge into the mix for automatic promotion but lost their last two, meeting Fulham on 81 points.

As for the Cottagers, Fulham finished the season on a seven-match unbeaten run which included five wins

Their playoffs

Brentford overcame a 1-0 first-leg deficit to oust Swansea City in the semifinal, while Fulham’s first leg win was enough to outlast Cardiff City’s strong second leg in their semi.

Odds and ends

Brentford beat Fulham twice, 1-0 at Griffin Park and 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

The Bees are favored to win the match at +108 odds, while Fulham carries +265 odds of a win.

Prediction

Mitrovic’s availability is huge for a Fulham side hoping to break down the league’s second-stingiest defense. Brentford feels like it’s the superior side but Fulham has been here and Cairney even scored the goal to beat Aston Villa in the 2017-18 playoff final. That experience is an X-factor, but we’ll still call Brentford 2-1 winners.

How to watch Fulham – Brentford

Kickoff: 2:45 pm ET Tuesday
Stream: ESPN+