Andros Townsend

Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

League Cup: Norwich City, Palace bounced

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There were extremes in the fortunes of Premier League teams who opened their League Cup runs on Tuesday.

[ MORE: What we’ve learned from PL so far ]

Aston Villa rang up six goals and struggling Watford posted a 3-0 blowout win, while Norwich City was expelled from the tournament by a League Two side and was Crystal Palace in penalty kicks.

Brighton was taken to the brink as well, but an old friend saved the Seagulls.

Watford 3-0 Coventry City

Ismalia Sarr and Daryl Janmaat scored on either side of half time as the Hornets finally got in the win column following a 0-3 start to the PL season. Adalberto Peñarnda of Venezuela added the third goal.

Crawley Town 1-0 Norwich City

Congolese striker Bez Lubala scored the goal that knocked down the Canaries. Lubala has five goals in six matches for the League Two outfit and is enjoying a new lease on life after failing to make an impact with Birmingham City in the Championship.

The win was the first against top flight opposition in the club’s 120-plus years.

Lubala scores (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Newport County 0-2 West Ham United

Jack Wilshere scored right before the break and Pablo Fornais added one off a Felipe Anderson feed soon after halftime as the Irons overcame a stiff challenge from the side that knocked Leicester City out of the FA Cup last season en route to a fifth round exit.

Fulham 0-1 Southampton

Michael Obafemi‘s 57th minute goal was the difference as Saints were ready for the tricky test at Craven Cottage.

Crewe Alexandra 1-6 Aston Villa

The hosts were up to the challenge, but Villa quite clinical as Ezri Konza scored in the fourth minute and Conor Hourihane added two to give the Villans a three-goal halftime lead. Keinan Davis, Frederic Guilbert, and Jack Grealish scored late to heap misery on the hosts.

Sheffield United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers

Chris Wilder‘s top flight men only managed two shots in the first half, but put them both in the goal.

Bristol Rovers 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion

The Seagulls had all of the ball and a first half lead through Aaron Connolly before allowing an equalizer in the second. Glenn Murray — who else? — scored in stoppage time to save Graham Potter‘s men the upset.

Crystal Palace 0-0 (4-5 pens) Colchester United

Roy Hodgson‘s men had a good crew on the pitch, but couldn’t manage much of anything in attack even after inserting Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew.

Penalties started poorly, with U’s goalkeeper Dean Gerken saving Andros Townsend, and the Eagles never recovered.

Oxford United 2-2 (4-2 pens) Millwall

Iceland national team winger Jón Daði Böðvarsson scored both of the visitors goals to put Oxford down 2-0, but Mark Sykes’ 87th minute marker joined James Henry’s stoppage time penalty to make for a remarkable comeback.

Plymouth Argyle 2-4 Reading

Posting this to show how far American striker Andrija Novakovich is from the plans of Reading, who is reportedly open to sanctioning another Eredivisie loan for him. PEC Zwolle is the clubhouse leader according to football-oranje.com.

Elsewhere
Southend United 1-4 MK Dons
Burton 4-0 Morecambe
Grimsby Town v. Macclesfield (abandoned)
Leeds United 2-2 (4-5 pens) Stoke City
Nottingham Forest 3-0 Derby County
Preston North End 2-2 (5-4 pens) Hull City
Rochdale 2-1 Carlisle
Cardiff City 0-3 Luton Town
Southend United 1-2 Coventry City

Puskas Award nominees include Zlatan, Messi, Townsend

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The insane Andros Townsend volley against Manchester City last season has been nominated for the annual FIFA Puskas Award for best goal of the year, alongside a Zlatan Ibramhimovic scissor kick, a ridiculous Lionel Messi plink off the underside of the crossbar, a blistering run by USWNT veteran Amy Rodriguez, and six other fabulous efforts from throughout the past calendar year.

The stinging Townsend blast set the Premier League on fire last season as it saw Crystal Palace stun Manchester City for the eventual champions’ second defeat in three matches and provided social media with some fabulous video content. The goal won the official Premier League Goal of the Season award and swept just about every other media outlet’s version as well, although it was challenged on the penultimate day of the season by Vincent Kompany‘s similarly blistering effort that helped Man City nail down the league title. Kompany’s effort was not included int he Puskas Award list.

Zlatan was nominated for his scissor strike against Toronto FC last September, a strike that saw him catch a delivery from Jonathan dos Santos with a spinning 360-degree karate kick that whipped the ball into the back of the net. The Swedish international won the 2013 Puskas Award for his outrageous bicycle kick from miles out on international duty against England.

Messi’s strike – his sixth Puskas nomination, with no wins yet – came in March against Real Betis, a left-footed looper that clipped the underside of the crossbar and left goalkeeper Dani Martin with absolutely no chance.

Rodriguez was nominated for a goal scored for her club Utah Royals against fellow NWSL side Sky Blue FC just last month. She burst through the midfield across the halfway line and took aim from well outside the box, a left-footed effort that found the top corner. She joins Nigerian international Ajara Nchout and Cliftonville Ladies’ Billie Simpson as the only females on the list, with Nchout’s technically fabulous goal coming at this summer’s World Cup.

Others on the list are Sampdoria striker and Portuguese international Fabio Quagliarella, River Plate’s Juan Fernando Quintero, RB Leipzig’s Matheus Cunha, and Debrecen FC teenager Daniel Zsori.

You can watch all the goals nominated and vote for the winner here on FIFA’s official website. Fan voting determines the final three goals up for the award, and a FIFA panel of “legends” will determine the winner from those final three.

Sheffield United battle past Crystal Palace

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Sheffield United beat Crystal Palace 1-0 on Sunday, as the Blades’ first home game back in the Premier League ended in victory.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

John Lundstram was the hero at Bramall Lane as his goal just after half time sealed all three points for the Yorkshire club, which was their first PL win since 2007.

Chris Wilder‘s side have now picked up four points from their first two games back in the big time, while Palace have yet to score across their opening two matches.


3 things we learned

1. Bramall Lane can become a fortress: The home fans created a wonderful atmosphere in their first PL home game since 2007, and they dragged their team over the line late on. As hefty challenges flew in and Chris Wilder wound up his players from the sidelines, this will be an intimidating place for teams to play. If the Blades are going to stay up, their home form needs to be very good and it seems like that is going to be the case.

2. Overlapping CBs a joy to watch: Chris Basham and Jack O'Connell marauding down the flanks was a joy to watch, and something we will see a lot from Sheffield United this season. Basham and O’Connell are encouraged to fly down the flanks and join attacks, with the holding midfielders sitting in for them and it certainly gives opponents a very different tactical headache to solve. O’Connell pushed forward down the left wing for United’s opening goal and the overload it created in a dangerous area worked superbly. Pretty soon a lot of other teams will be copying the Blades.

3. Wilfried Zaha not up to speed: In his first start of the season, Zaha spent most of the first half having a row with the home bench and fans. Roy Hodgson was hoping he would be focused after a summer-long saga which saw him state his desire to leave Palace, but moves to Arsenal and Everton both fell through. Zaha’s display on the pitch looked like a player who doesn’t really want to be at Palace. That is very worrying for the Eagles.

Man of the Match: Chris Basham – A dominant force in the air and on the ground, the center back held United’s defensive unit together and he epitomized their gritty display. The Blades’ longest-serving current player stood tall.


After a steady start to the game for both teams, Sheffield United started to cause plenty of problems as David McGoldrick had a shot blocked and Palace managed to scramble clear from a corner as the hosts built up a head of steam in the first half.

Callum Robinson struck an effort over the bar as the Blades dug deep and substitute Luke Freeman (who replaced the injured John Fleck) brought plenty of energy to the midfield battle.

The Blades should have taken the lead just before half time as Lundstram’s perfect cross the back post found McGoldrick but Vicente Guaita saved well.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Sheffield United got off to a perfect start in the second half as Jack O’Connell raced down the left flank and Freeman cut inside and sent a ball across goal which Guaita saved but the ball fell to Lundstram who slammed home to send Bramall Lane wild.

That opening goal sprung the game into life as Andros Townsend‘s deflected shot from distance was pushed out by Dean Henderson and even though Palace tried their best to get into the game, Sheffield United’s defense held firm.

Some meaty challenges flew in late on as substitute Ollie McBurnie made a nuisance of himself, as the home fans roared their team to victory.

Premier League friendly roundup: West Ham, Crystal Palace win; Everton falls twice

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With two weeks to go before the start of the season, there were a number of Premier League teams in preseason friendly action Saturday morning, and almost all of them came out victorious.

Early in the morning, Manchester City topped Yokohama FM in Japan 3-1, with Kevin De Bruyne impressing for the defending Premier League champions.

[ MORE: Man City tops Yokohama FM 3-1 ]

West Ham United visited Craven Cottage and came away with a 1-0 win thanks to Manuel Lanzini‘s 18th minute goal. The defense for the most part kept Fulham in check and the Hammers were in control for the entire first half. The Whites only found one good opportunity with 12 minutes to go as Aboubakar Kamara came close, and Andriy Yarmolenko nearly scored at the death for West Ham.

Everton played a pair of matches, with the Opel Cup featuring two 60 minute games against Sevilla and Mainz. The Toffees dropped both games, falling to Sevilla 1-0 before dropping to Mainz 3-1. A penalty was the difference in the opening game against Sevilla, while Lewis Gibson scored in the losing effort against the German side. Robin Quaison did the damage for Mainz with a pair.

Aston Villa came out on top of Charlton Athletic 4-1 as Scottish international John McGinn scored twice. His second was an absolutely blistering solo effort that came when he stole the ball in the attacking third, skipped around a foul by a defender, rounded the keeper on the end line and scored from a tight angle.

Anwar El Ghazi and Andre Green were also on the scoresheet as Villa heads into its final week of preseason preparations, with one more friendly coming next weekend against RB Leipzig.

Leicester City got a winner from Youri Tielemans in the 84th minute as the Foxes topped Stoke City 2-1. The Belgian finished off a cutback from Ben Chilwell for the winner, which added to Marc Albrighton‘s strike on the hour mark. The two goals were required to wipe off Stoke’s 70th minute goal by Nick Powell. The game was marred by a horrible ankle injury to Ryan Shawcross which had the home fans spooked for quite some time at bet365 Stadium.

Bournemouth got goals from Jordan Ibe and Dominic Solanke as the Cherries topped Brentford 3-1. Ibe was especially bright, opening the scoring just before halftime and assisting the third from 20-year-old Sam Surridge. A pair for Bournemouth against Lyon and Lazio on back-to-back days in early August are the final tuneups before the season.

Burnley drew with Wigan 2-2, throwing away a two-goal lead they built in the opening 10 minutes thanks to goals from Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil. The Clarets were pegged back by a James Tarkowski own-goal just before halftime and Joe Gelhardt’s equalizer past the hour mark. Burnley controlled much of the first half but they were forced to defend for significant stretches after the break.

Brighton clobbered Birmingham City 4-0 as Glenn Murray got on the scoresheet early and a Shane Duffy second-half pair finished things off. It was all seagulls, as Jurgen Locadia also found the back of the net and Martin Montoya struck the crossbar 15 minutes from time. Only the first 15 minutes of the second half saw Birmingham City truly threaten, and Brighton was able to weather the storm. New manager Graham Potter utilized a three-CB defense and it worked wonders in the opening 20 minutes, working a team goal finished off by Murray before Leandro Trossard stole a poor pass by the goalkeeper and fed Locadia for a turn-and-shoot.

Sheffield United also took a four-goal haul to victory, topping nearby Barnsley 4-1. Callum Robinson scored twice and Ben Osborn scored on his debut for the club as the Blades won for the fourth this this preseason. Ravel Morrison also made his club debut, seeing time in the final 15 minutes.

Watford secured a 1-0 victory over QPR as main man Etienne Capoue scored the game’s only goal in a repeat of the same opponent, scoreline, and goalscorer from the FA Cup 5th round last season. QPR had chances and moments throughout the game, but Capoue took charge past the half-hour mark in an otherwise drab first half.

Crystal Palace obliterated Bristol City 5-0 as everything was working for the Eagles in their preseason tuneup. Christian Benteke provided a thumping header while Andros Townsend and Jeffrey Schlupp were also on target in the match. Wilfried Zaha was not in the squad for Palace but they certainly didn’t miss him as Luka Milivojevic controlled the midfield powerfully and the attacking threat was constant.

Transfer rumor roundup: Rabiot to Man United or Everton

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Adrien Rabiot’s prime suitors are both in the Premier League, according to Sky Sports.

The mercurial French midfielder, 24, has won five league titles with Paris Saint-Germain. He’s been consistently outstanding in the center of the park.

Separately, The Mirror claims that United has made a “staggering wage offer” to Rabiot in a bid to seal his services, but a French report says he’s also speaking with Everton.

[ MORE: Pochettino on Spurs loss ]

United is also said to be looking at a $67 million move for AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, with Football Italia saying the Serie A club needs to cut into its deficit via Financial Fair Play.

Portuguese outlet The Record has quotes from Manchester City target Bruno Fernandes saying he’s more of a fan of Liverpool’s style of play.

“I like Liverpool a lot more. It’s a more direct [style of play], more offensive, maybe less organised, but more intense football.”

Fernandes has been linked with Manchester United in addition to City.

Back to The Mirror, for what it’s worth, the outlet says that Brendan Rodgers is interested in bringing Andros Townsend from Crystal Palace to Leicester City with a bid of $18 million.