VAR awards late penalty as Brighton tops Everton

Leave a comment

VAR awarded a penalty for the first time in Premier League play as Brighton and Hove Albion twice struck late to defeat Everton 3-2 in a back-and-forth affair at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

The referee hadn’t spotted Michael Keane‘s foul against Aaron Connolly but the eye in the sky did, and Neal Maupay finished from the spot. Then Lucas Digne couldn’t prod a stoppage time cross over his goal, recording an own goal with Glenn Murray lurking behind him.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pascal Gross also scored Brighton’s first PL free kick goal in a game of firsts, as the Seagulls leapfrog Everton and move 12th with 12 points.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and a Richarlison-inspired own goal accounted for the Toffees’ offense, as Everton again failed to build league momentum and sits 16th with 10 points.


Three things we learned

1. Gross, point blank: We pointed out in the club power rankings that Pascal Gross is top five in big chances created and key passes despite Brighton’s status as a relegation scrapper. The German playmaker was given a chance by an Andre Gomes foul, and buried his free kick. Jordan Pickford should’ve done better but that doesn’t make the strike any less easy on the eyes. Brilliant, deserved stuff.

2. VAR does its job: The commentary team on the broadcast laid out the reasons to award a penalty to Brighton in a way the referee clearly couldn’t explain to Everton’s players. Michael Keane fouled Aaron Connolly in the box, and replays showed how difficult it would be to spot the foul from field level. Moments after Brighton went down, it was level through Maupay.

3. Everton’s inconsistent season continues with more bad Fortune: Don’t get us wrong — The Toffees bear the brunt of the blame for the loss, but had the better of the play. That means absolutely nothing when there are four big mistakes contributing to three conceded goals. Andre Gomes committed a needless foul and Jordan Pickford flubbed his chance to stop a free kick goal, then VAR awarded a penalty for a Keane foul, and Digne had no choice but to try and improbable clearance than turned into an own goal since poached Murray was running free behind him. A solid team goal from Brighton, but this feels more like an Everton loss than a Seagulls win (and Graham Potter won’t care one bit. A fine win).

Man of the Match: Either Dan Burn or Dale Stephens, and we’ll use the former’s hockey assist on the winner to nod to Burn.


 [ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Brighton needed less than a quarter of an hour to take the lead, a needless Andre Gomes foul setting up Gross for a free kick.

The German midfielder drove his shot over the wall, and Jordan Pickford as slow to react. The goal looked great, but the keep will want it back.

Zonal marking did little for Brighton on a poorly-defended corner kick, and VAR upheld Richarlison’s near post header in the 20th minute as it went off Webster for an own goal.

Richarlison made a terrific move down the right to set up two players for a cutback, but flubbed his pass.

Gross had the ball in the goal off a Davy Propper cross, but was offside.

Calvert-Lewin put Everton back in front off an inch-perfect through ball from Mason Holgate, but VAR quickly gave Brighton a chance to level from the spot.

Michael Keane fouled Aaron Connolly, who left the match for Murray before the spot kick. Maupay slotted past Pickford for 2-2 in the 80th minute.

That wasn’t the end of it, as Burn played Leandro Trossard into the box and the Belgian’s cross was pushed behind an equal parts stranded and indecisive Pickford for an o.g.

Cruzeiro relegated from Brazilian top flight for first time

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brazilian side Cruzeiro was relegated from the top flight for the first time in the club’s 98-year history following a 2-0 defeat to Palmeiras on the final day of the season.

Cruzeiro required victory and a loss by Ceara at Botafogo to stay safely in the Brazilian Serie A, but neither came to pass.

Palmeiras midfielder Ze Rafael scored in the 58th minute to send the visitors on their way, with fellow midfielder Dudu finished things off in the 84th minute. Referees ushered the players off the field immediately after the conclusion of the match as Cruzeiro fans rioted in the Mineirao stadium, ripping out seats, setting off smoke bombs, and clashing with police.

Cruzeiro finished 17th in the 20-team table, three points back of Ceara in 16th. In the Brazilian top flight, the bottom four teams are relegated. CSA, Chapecoense, and Avai were also relegated. Cruzeiro had won the Brazilian Serie A as recently as 2013 and 2014, winning four titles in its history. They also have six Copa do Brasil titles, most recently winning the league cup in 2017 and 2018.

Flamengo ran away with the championship, finishing on 90 points, 16 points clear of second-placed Santos and third-placed Palmeiras who both finished level on 74 points. Palmeiras had challenged for the title, but fell off at the end of the season with a five-match winless run through November.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United v. Arsenal

Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two struggling London sides meet Monday when West Ham United hosts Arsenal (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The sides might’ve expected they’d be within close proximity at this point on the fixture list, but two wildly disappointing seasons means the three points between the Gunners and Irons comes with the former in 11th and the latter 16th.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s been nine matches since Arsenal beat someone, 11 since it happened in the Premier League. West Ham hasn’t been much better, winning once in its last 10.

Freddie Ljungberg has yet to win as Arsenal interim boss, while West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini could see his current stint in London end without more results like the Nov. 30 win at Chelsea.

Monday versus Arsenal would qualify.


Injuries/suspensions

West Ham United: OUT —  Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid. QUESTIONABLE — Michail Antonio.

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Rob Holding.


Probable lineups

West Ham United: Martin; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Fredericks; Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Snodgrass, Haller.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, Sokratis, Luiz, Bellerin, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s Antonio sees an opportunity: “The only three teams that are really performing are Liverpool, Leicester and Man City. Everyone else is getting beaten, and it means we’ve had a missed opportunity so far this season. We started the season off brightly, the best start we’ve had for four years, but then we’ve had a slump. Everyone’s having a slump and this is our slump. Now it’s time for us to start turning up. We’ve been in this situation before and we know how to dig in and pull ourselves up again.”

Arsenal’s Ljungberg on setting targets: “I don’t think we should stop talking about the top four, but for us it’s about concentrating on what we’re doing here now and not look up, down, sideways. We just need to work on our own game and our own confidence.”


Prediction

Really, you wouldn’t want to predict anything from these sides right now besides goals. We’ll give an edge in desperation to the hosts and a 2-2 draw.

La Liga: Sevilla held at Osasuna, Getafe maintains UCL fight

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sevilla was held to a 1-1 draw at 10-man Osasuna on Sunday, giving both Real Madrid and Barcelona space at the top of the La Liga table.

Munir El Haddadi put the visitors 1-0 up just 11 minutes in, but Ezequiel Avila struck just before halftime to share the points. Sevilla was held to just two total shots through the opening 45 minutes, and despite Osasuna defender Oier Olazabal being shown a second yellow card with 29 minutes to go, Sevilla still managed just 11 total efforts through the 90 minutes, with four on target.

Getafe continued its battle for a top four spot as they won 1-0 on the road at Eibar. Angel Rodriguez bagged his eighth goal of the season to secure the win, cropping up in the 67th minute to finally put Getafe through. They had been turning the screw for some time, forcing Marko Dmitrovic into a pair of big saves just before the opener which came from an absurdly tight angle after Angel had rounded the goalkeeper. The win leaves them fourth, level with Real Sociedad on 27 points.

They were allowed to close the gap after Real Sociedad was held scoreless in a 0-0 draw at 14th placed Real Valladolid. The visitors put just two of their 14 shots on net, and dropped to fifth thanks to Getafe holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Athletic Club also fell back in the race for a top four spot, dropping a 3-2 decision on the road at Real Betis. Joaquin scored a first-half hat-trick, with all three goals coming in the opening 20 minutes to give him five in his last three games. Inaki Williams brought Athletic Bilbao one back before halftime from the spot, and Yuri Berchiche made things interesting with a minute to go, but that was all they could muster as the visitors fell to sixth on 26 points, above Atletico Madrid on goal differential with the two yet to play head-to-head.

Celta Vigo made it interesting as Iago Aspas scored a man-down goal, but Leganes held on for a 3-2 win over the 10-man visitors. Oscar Rodriguez had a first-half brace to help the hosts to a 3-0 lead, but Nestor Araujo and Aspas helped Celta Vigo make things interesting. Still, a 71st minute second yellow card for halftime substitute Gabriel Fernandez hampered the visitors in their efforts for a comeback, leaving Celta Vigo in the relegation zone, a point back of safety, with Leganes is four points behind them in 19th.

Gerrard reacts to Rangers’ Old Firm heartbreak in final

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Steven Gerrard lined his Rangers side up for success, but fate was cruel to the Liverpool legend.

Rangers lost the League Cup Final to their Old Firm rivals on Sunday despite out-shooting the Bhoys by a 16-5 margin, winning a penalty, and playing almost a half-hour up a man.

[ RECAP: Rangers 0-1 Celtic ]

“To a man we were very good … by much the better side,” Gerrard said. “But unfortunately that’s not what gets you a trophy.”

But Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster stopped Alfredo Morelos’ penalty, three minutes after goal scorer Christopher Jullien was offside on the lone goal of the game.

Scotland doesn’t yet use VAR, and Gerrard doesn’t love VAR but he likes it more than he likes Scottish officials.

“There were three Celtic players standing in offside positions but unfortunately we play in a country where there is no VAR,” he said, via the BBC. “I’d be a liar if I said I was 100% in favour of it, but the one thing I do know is that officials up here need support.”

Now he has the task of getting his men to rebound ahead of its biggest non-derby in ages, as Rangers need at least a draw against Young Boys at home on Thursday to advance to the Europa League knockout rounds

“It’s a bit raw right now… It’s up to me to pick the players up. One thing I will say is I’ll stay with these players on the evidence of today because they gave me absolutely everything. We might have to suffer a bit short-term. I need to pick them up a bit physically and mentally for Thursday which is huge but our day will come on the evidence of today.”

Gerrard has done a very good job with Rangers, who are two points back of Celtic in a two-horse race for the Scottish top flight title. Celtic has won eight-straight titles to improve their total to 50, four less than the Rangers.