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James says he was not knocked unconscious in Wales draw

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Head injury awareness again rose to the forefront in the 1-1 draw between Wales and Croatia in Cardiff when Daniel James went down after colliding with a pair of opponents.

The Manchester United winger looked to almost sure have been knocked unconscious when Domagoj Vida’s knee appeared to tap the back of his head while challenging for a ball in the air. Vida went toppling over the back of teammate Borna Barisic who ducked out of the way, but it was James who many were concerned for as he lay motionless on his back with his eyes closed.

Yet James was allowed to come back onto the field and completed the full 90 minutes, sparking criticism from injury advocates and fans who were concerned for James’ safety on the field, at potential risk for even more serious consequences should he indeed have suffered a concussion.

After the game however, despite what fans saw as James lie on the turf, the 21-year-old insisted he was not knocked unconscious. “I’m fine,” James claimed after the match, speaking to Sky Sports. “I think he just caught me in the head but I didn’t get knocked out fortunately.”

Wales boss Ryan Giggs backed up the decision as well, calling James’ motionless display “a bit of acting.”

“The medical staff went over, he was compos mentis and we did all the checks at half-time and he was fine,” Giggs said, referring to the latin phrase for “of sound mind.”

If James was indeed faking unconsciousness, it’s natural to wonder if he should face a fine from UEFA for looking to con referees, and in the process possibly confusing the independent neurologists on site assigned to assess head injuries.

ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman, who has been outspoken over the past few years advocating for head injury awareness after his career was cut short by concussions, took to Twitter to criticize Wales for allowing James back into the game. Twellman, who was on the ESPN call of the broadcast with Ian Darke, said more needs to be done to prevent players from being able to force their way back onto the field, lest someone be killed by second impact syndrome.

Former Hull City player Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire after a serious skull fracture saw him fighting for his life, was also seriously concerned about the incident.

Interestingly enough, later in the match just seconds after the second half restart, young Wales midfielder Ethan Ampadu was whalloped from behind by Croatia’s Bruno Petkovic in a wild and reckless aerial challenge. Petkovic’s elbow went clattering into the back of Ampadu’s head, and the was left writhing on the ground holding his head. The Chelsea youngster was taken off the field and immediately replaced by Joe Morrell, while Petkovic was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

Euro qualifying: Gundogan saves 10-man Germany, Bale earns Wales draw

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Germany played for much of its visit to Estonia with 10 men as Emre Can was sent off for a bad last-man tackle just 14 minutes in, but Ilkay Gundogan‘s second-half brace saw Germany slide through with all three points on a 3-0 win to jump back on top of Group C. The all-important first came on a deflected effort from just outside the box to the right of center, while his second came minutes later with a shot from nearly the same place but just inside the area. Timo Werner added the third with under 20 minutes to go.

Wales secured a 1-1 draw at home against Croatia, but both sides will have greivences with the refereeing. Daniel James was taken out by Dejan Lovren on the edge of the box eight minutes in and likely should have been a penalty kick as the Liverpool defender barged James over without playing the ball. After Nikola Vlasic put Croatia ahead moments later, Gareth Bale would equalize just before halftime one a silky play through the Croatian defense, but a foul in the buildup wasn’t called that would have stopped play before the goalscoring moment.

There were also a pair of scary moments that involved nasty-looking head injuries. James came together with a pair of Croatians in the first half, and while it looked initially like Borna Barisic and Domagoj Vida had taken the brunt of the clash, James appeared to lose consciousness thanks to a knee in the back of his head. Despite the appearance of a clear distressing head injury, James was allowed to continue. Just second after the halftime break, Ethan Ampadu settled under the ball for a header until Bruno Petkovic blasted through his torso from behind, sending the Welsh midfielder to the ground awkwardly, holding his head in agony. Petkovic came in so hard that he earned a yellow card and maybe could have even seen red on another day. Ampadu was not allowed to continue, replaced immediately by Joe Morrell. Also notable in the match, Mateo Kovacic was taken off at halftime after appearing to pick up a muscle problem.

Austria held on for a 1-0 victory over Slovenia to temporarily jump into the lead in Group G, ahead of Poland on goal differential. Hoffenheim defender Stefan Posch scored the game’s only goal, a 21st minute effort off a corner. The back line did the rest, holding the hosts to just two shots on target in Ljubljana.

Poland secured qualification to the finals with a 2-0 win over North Macedonia behind goals from Przemyslaw Frankowski and Arkadiusz Milik, both which came in the final 20 minutes. The first was a messy finish from Chicago Fire winger Frankowski, collecting a flubbed Robert Lewandowski shot and poking it through past goakeeper Stole Dimitrievski. The second goal was much prettier, with the referee playing advantage after Lewandowski was fouled, and Milik delivered a delicious looper into the far corner.

Click here to see a roundup of the action from the early slate of games, including wins by Belgium, the Netherlands, and Russia.

Full Sunday Euro 2020 qualification scoreboard:

Kazakhstan 0-2 Belgium
Belarus 1-2 Netherlands
Cyprus 0-5 Russia
Hungary 1-0 Azerbaijan
Scotland 6-0 San Marino
Estonia 0-3 Germany
Poland 2-0 North Macedonia
Slovenia 0-1 Austria
Wales 1-1 Croatia

Teams who have secured guaranteed Euro 2020 qualification:

Italy
Belgium
Russia
Poland

Americans Abroad: Pulisic benched again, Sargent and Holmes assist

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Christian Pulisic‘s struggles at Chelsea continue, but he’s far from the only American to take the field this weekend. It was an up-and-down few days for Americans overseas, as defenders struggled in England.

Still, a few had success as players like Duane Holmes and Josh Sargent contributed to significant results, while Weston McKennie helped Schalke earn a massive road win over the former Bundesliga leaders.

A few Americans are working their way back from injuries, as DeAndre Yedlin made his season debut while Timothy Weah and Matt Miazga remain sidelined. Sergino Dest continues to prove his worth to Ajax, coming off the bench into a scoreless game to help the Dutch giants eventually earn a win.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea – Pulisic once again was left on the bench as the Blues beat Brighton 2-0, his third game in a row without seeing the field. He told our JPW after the game he was “frustrated” with the lack of playing time. We took a look at his direct competition at Stamford Bridge and what he needs to do to break through.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle – The full-back finally made his return to the field, playing 16 minutes off the bench against Leicester City as the Magpies were obliterated 5-0. The Foxes only scored one of their five goals with Yedlin on the field.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan – Played the full 90 minutes as Wigan fell 2-0 to Fulham. He has logged a full 90 minutes in every match but one so far this season. Wigan is in trouble, sitting just outside the relegation zone.

Tim Ream, Fulham – The veteran defender helped Fulham to a 2-0 win over Wigan, with goals from Tom Cairney and Joe Bryan. After missing the season opener due to an injury picked up on international duty, Ream has played every minute of Fulham’s campaign, with this win marking the club’s third clean sheet. The Whites have lost just once with Ream on the field, and sit 10th with a four-point deficit off the top.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — Miazga missed his fourth straight game due to a hamstring injury as Reading drew 1-1 with Swansea. It is the only point Reading has picked up in the absence of Miazga, while they had earned seven points in five matches prior.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — A full 90 minutes at right-back saw Hull City draw with Cardiff City 2-2. The result is a microcosm of Hull’s decidedly mediocre campaign, leaving them in 16th with 10 points through nine matches, having both scored and conceded 13 goals.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — Cameron started as part of a back three and saw his CB mate Yoann Barbet sent off, resigning QPR to a 2-0 defeat at home to West Brom. Cameron himself picked up an early yellow card before the half-hour mark, his third caution in six league appearances this season.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Stoke had a Friday league match and was beaten soundly by Nottingham Forest 3-2, leaving them bottom of the Championship table. This Potters side has conceded 20 goals through nine matches this season, most in the league. It’s a surprising and confounding situation at Stoke, given the decent talent in the squad. Carter-Vickers starts next to Bruno Martins Indi and in front of goalkeeper Jack Butland, so it’s baffling how that defensive unit could be so porous, but here we are. The woes continue for the young Spurs product.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes returned to winning ways with a 3-2 victory over Birmingham, picking up his first three points since returning to the Derby County lineup in late August. He performed quite well, picking up an assist of Chris Martin‘s second-minute opener, a truly hilarious goal that saw Holmes blister past a defender on the flank, deliver a ball to Martin in the middle who collected clumsily – allowing the defense to recover – before producing a classic slow-roller that had the goalkeeper all twisted up, rolling into the back of the net.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – The 23-year-old started and played a full 90 minutes as Sunderland topped MK Dons 2-1. They scored both goals before the half-hour mark and held on from there, with Gooch making way for a substitute in stoppage time. Sunderland sits fifth in League One, with just one loss on the season.

Bundesliga

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  Schalke picked up a big 3-1 road win over RB Leipzig that (of course) allowed Bayern Munich to slide back into the lead. McKennie started and played the full 90 minutes, but it wasn’t as pretty as you’d expect for a midfielder who played a big part of a signature win. He was initially deployed on the wing before being moved centrally.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — A Sunday match saw Fortuna Dusseldorf fall at home to Freiburg 2-1 as the visitors mounted a comeback victory. Steffan was in net and recorded just one save, while Morales did not make the squad for the third straight match, out with a hamstring problem.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  The youngster was in the starting lineup for the second straight game, and bagged an assist as Werder Bremen secured a solid 2-2 draw against Borussia Dortmund. He played 88 minutes and was on hand to help out in Marco Freidl’s 56th minute equalizer off a corner, flicking the ball with his head at the near post to Friedl waiting at the opposite end to score the goal that ultimately shared the points.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Despite returning to training last weekend, Adams has yet to see action with RB Leipzig, again missing out in the loss to Schalke.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach — Johnson missed his third straight match with back problems as Monchengladbach won 3-0 at Hoffenheim.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler came off the bench again, logging 13 minutes in Frankfurt’s 2-1 win over Union Berlin. Coming in for Erik Durm, Chandler saw Frankfurt cough up the clean sheet while he was on the field as Anthony Ujah got a consolation goal for the hosts in the 83rd minute.

2.Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – Green again played the full 90 minutes as Greuther Furth fell to Holstein Kiel 3-0. After a wonderful start to the second division campaign, Greuther has been held scoreless for two straight matches now. Green played alright, logging 81% pass completion and connecting on six of his eight long balls, but that was about it for the Tampa product.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest made a rare bench appearance, sat in favor of Noussair Mazraoui. He came on for the Moroccan and played the final 23 minutes of a 2-0 win over FC Groningen, with both Ajax goals coming after Dest had come on the field.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — VVV-Venlo fell to Heerenveen 3-0 for the club’s fifth defeat in eight league matches this season, and Wright was on the field for all 90 minutes, earning his fourth start of the year. The striker has not scored a goal yet this season in 401 minutes of Eredivisie action.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne was left out of the squad for the third straight week as Emmen beat ADO Den Haag 3-0.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah’s hamstring tear is going to keep him out for a good bit longer. Don’t expect him back for another few weeks at least.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — It seems Siebatcheu has lost his place in the Stade Rennes lineup, playing nine minutes off the bench in the midweek loss to Nantes before missing out on a spot in the squad altogether on Sunday’s game against Marseille, a 1-1 draw. The 23-year-old striker has yet to score a goal this league season.

Honorable Mentions:

Tyler Boyd, Besiktas – The 24-year-old started but was hauled off at halftime as Beskitas lost to Trabzonspor 4-1, deepening the club’s early season woes. The Turkish side was down 2-0 at the break, and it only got worse as the hosts made it 3-0 past the hour mark before the teams traded late goals. The club has just one win in six matches on the young season, and Boyd has been yanked at halftime in both of his last two starts, while finding himself on the bench in the other two most recent games.

Chris Richards, Bayern Munich II – The 19-year-old played another 90 minutes for Bayern’s reserve squad, winning 4-1 over Preussen Munster.

Andrija Novakovich, Frosinone – 30 minutes off the bench for Novakovich couldn’t save Frosinone as they drew 1-1 with Cosenza.  He is in direct competition for a starting striker spot with former Fulham product Marcello Trotta. Neither has scored a league goal yet this season.

Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund U-19 – Claudio Reyna’s son is in good form, following up his goal last weekend with an assist across 90 minutes in a 3-2 win. He won a 41st minute penalty which eventually put Dortmund U-19 up 2-1.

Luca De La Torre, Fulham Reserves – He was not part of the squad as Fulham’s reserve side fell to Middlesbrough 4-2.

League Cup: Man Utd survives scare; 3 PL sides lose to lower-tier foes

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Chelsea and Liverpool cruised, but only one other Premier League side one… and it was the one playing another top-flight rival.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 7-1 Grimsby Town ]

A day after Tottenham fell to Colchester United, League One sides Oxford United, Burton Albion, and Sunderland all took down PL foes in the League Cup to book fourth round berths.

Manchester United 1-1 (5-3 penalties) Rochdale

Sergio Romero made a save in the second round of kicks and that’s all Manchester United needed to avoid an embarrassing upset at home to League One’s Rochdale.

The combined age of goal scorers at Old Trafford before penalties was 33, as Paul Pogba returned to the United XI but couldn’t spare his men blushes despite a dominant performance.

Mason Greenwood, 17, scored off a Jesse Lingard assist in the 68th minute, seemingly capping a dominant performance that lacked finish.

But 16-year-old defender Luke Matheson scored eight minutes later to ratchet up the pressure at Old Trafford, and Daniel James and Juan Mata came off the bench for the Red Devils (who also handed a debut to 19-year-old left back Brandon Williams).

Oxford United 4-0 West Ham United

Elliott Moore‘s second half goal gave the League One side a 55th minute lead over Manuel Pellegrini‘s in-form Irons, and well-traveled striker Matt Taylor turned the hopes of a “cupset” up to 11.

By the time Tariqe Fosu made it 3-0 against a very decent West Ham side including Issa Diop, Jack Wilshere, Pablo Fornals, and Pablo Zabaleta, it was academic.

Shandon Baptiste added to the Kassam Stadium jubilation with a stoppage time finish.

Burton Albion 2-0 Bournemouth

Oliver Sarkic delivered the goods for the underdogs, who took an early lead against Eddie Howe‘s in-form Cherries. Nathan Broadhead later scored in a match which was thrice (!!!) stopped by floodlight failure, as the Brewers stunned the Cherries.

MK Dons 0-2 Liverpool

Playing at the back for a very young Liverpool, James Milner gave the Reds a lead they would not toss aside at Stadium MK.

Milner assisted on Ki-Jana Hoever‘s second half goal, as the second-choice Reds XI was given a decent challenge by Paul Tisdale’s side.

 

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-3 Aston Villa

Conor Hourihane and Jota scored in the first 33 minutes, as Villa continued to heap misery on Brighton’s poor run of form in the only all-Premier League match of the day. Hayden Roberts pulled one back in the second half, but that’s all the Seagulls could muster and Jack Grealish restored a two-goal lead for Villa before the match was finished at the Amex Stadium.

Sheffield United 0-1 Sunderland

Max Power — yes, that’s really his name — gave the Black Cats a ninth minute lead over the Premier League’s Blades.

Wolves 1-1 (4-2 pens.) Reading

Bruno Jordao scored his first Wolves goal, as American center back Matt Miazga returned to the Reading lineup after an injury spell cost him four matches and an international break with the USMNT.

But Reading kept pushing for an equalizer and got a deserved one when Lucas Boye scored in the ninth (!!) minute of stoppage time to force penalties.

Miazga was one of only two Reading players to score in the session, as Wolves escaped with their League Cup lives.

Internacional falls 1-0 to Athletico-PR in Copa do Brasil first leg

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21-year-old Bruno Guimaraes scored a ripper as Athletico-PR beat Internacional 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa do Brasil first leg in Curitiba.

The game’s lone goal came off a failed clearance as Internacional center-back Rodrigo Moledo stepped up and didn’t get the ball further than Marco Ruben who fed the ball through for Guimaraes to finish with a thump.

Both sides have seen an up-and-down league campaign, with Internacional sitting sixth and Athletico in ninth, but they have both been stellar in cup action. The two have downed the likes of Gremio (11th in Brazilian Serie A), Palmeiras (3rd), and Flamengo (1st).

The home side held 66% possession throughout the match, but it was far from pretty. Athletico committed 18 fouls to Internacional’s six and were out-shot 11-9 (3-2 on target). Peruvian captain Paolo Guerrero started for Internacional, notable given he has been in and out of the lineup this season, but came up empty just as he did in the Copa Libertadores quarterfinal loss to Flamengo.