Dennis Praet

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Early Euro qualifiers: Belgium, Netherlands, Russia all win

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In the early slate of Sunday’s Euro 2020 qualifiers, there were little surprises as Belgium, Russia, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Scotland all found the winner’s column.

Liverpool midfielder Giorginio Wijnaldum bagged a first-half brace, including an absolute rocket, as the Netherlands held on for a 2-1 win over Belarus. BATE Borisov midfielder Stanislav Dragun grabbed one back for Belarus soon after halftime, but the visitors held on in Minsk.

[ WATCH: Wijnaldum scores ripper for Netherlands ]

Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt partnered in defense yet again, as they have for 17 of the last 19 Netherlands games, conceding just 17 goals in those 17 matches. Thanks in part to that stellar partnership, Jasper Cillessen had little to do, with Dragun’s headed goal the only shot on target for Belarus in the match, while the Netherlands put seven of their 21 shots on frame.

Michy Batshuayi and Thomas Meunier both found the back of the net as Belgium topped Kazakhstan 2-0 in Astana to remain perfect in qualifying action and keep pace with Russia in Group I. Batshuayi was filling in for an injured Romelu Lukaku, and he latched onto a low back-post cross from Dennis Praet for the opener 21 minutes in. Meunier’s 53rd minute poke came off an absolutely stunning long delivery from Eden Hazard to the far post placed perfectly over the head of the defender. Belgium held 66% possession throughout the match, and while they were only able to put three shots on target, they scored on two of them and held the hosts to just one. Belgium has now scored 30 goals in Euro qualification while conceding just one.

Russia also continued to surge ahead in Group I play one game back of Belgium with a 5-0 demolition of Cyprus in Nicosia. Denis Cheryshev struck nine minutes in to put Russia ahead as he pilfered the ball off the Cyprus back line. The hosts lost Standard Liege defender Konstantinos Laifis to a straight red card, and the rest was elementary. Magomed Ozdoev, Artem Dzyuba, and Aleksandr Golovin all found the back of the net before Cheryshev finished it off with his second of the game in stoppage time. Russia and Belgium have both qualified for the finals, with Russia sitting in second three points behind the perfect group leaders.

Hungary scored 10 minutes in and hung on for a 1-0 victory at home over Azerbaijan. 30-year-old Mihaly Korhut struck a long-distance ripper from well outside the box that appeared to catch goalkeeper Emil Balayev off guard, and the Hungary defense did the rest. RB Leipzig captain Willi Orban and Sporting Kansas City defender Botond Barath held Azerbaijan to just four total shots, including two on target. Meanwhile, despite splitting the possession nearly halfway, Hungary ripped off 23 shots, putting six on target.

Scotland hammered San Marino at home 6-0 behind a first-half hat-trick from Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn. In the pouring rain in Glasgow, McGinn opened the scoring 12 minutes in for his second international goal on a simple cutback and shot from Ryan Christie which clipped McGinn on its way inside the far post. He hit for a second just before the half-hour mark as he poked home a cross by Scott McTominay that was saved into no-man’s land by a diving San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Junior Simoncini. The third featured the highest degree of difficulty as a set-piece delivery into the box was headed by Stuart Findlay towards the far post and McGinn ripped it home on the doorstep under pressure. Lawrence Shankland, Findlay, and Stuart Armstrong finished off the scoreline in the second half, although Scotland has still long been eliminated from qualification in the top-heavy Group I.

Liverpool stay perfect, beat Leicester in stoppage time

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Liverpool kept their 100 percent record intact, as James Milner‘s last-gasp penalty kick secured a 2-1 victory against Leicester City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

After Sadio Mane gave Liverpool the lead, James Maddison equalized late on at Anfield as Brendan Rodgers‘ men looked to have grabbed a point.

But then Milner scored from the penalty spot to stretch Liverpool’s club-record winning streak to 17 league games and eight from eight this season.

Liverpool stay top of the table on 24 points, while Leicester have 14 points.


3 things we learned

1. Liverpool’s luck continues: The Reds haven’t got going this season, and they’ve won all of their opening eight games. It looked like Klopp’s side were finally going to run out of luck on Saturday, as Leicester caught them cold late on but Mane then won a penalty kick. In wins against Southampton, Sheffield United, Chelsea and now Leicester they were lucky to get over the line. In truth, Liverpool haven’t got out of second gear this season. Klopp won’t care. They’re top.

2. Leicester prove top four credentials: It was far from a great display from the Foxes but they were resilient and showed they can grab points against the big boys. They will need to do that if they’re going to finish in the top four, not least the top six. Brendan Rodgers’ side put in a mature display and did him proud on his return to Anfield. This wasn’t a swashbuckling Leicester display, but it was steady and solid, and they were unlucky not to grab a point.

3. Matip missed: Dejan Lovren came into the starting lineup and he looked shaky and Liverpool really missed Joel Matip. The towering center back is out injured and has Joe Gomez struggled recently, meaning Lovren will have to get up to speed quickly for Liverpool. In the end Matip’s absence didn’t cost Liverpool, but they did look a little less solid.

Man of the Match: Sadio Mane – Took his goal really well and dug deep to do plenty of defensive work on both flanks. He continues to stand tall for Liverpool and won the late penalty kick.


Early on Liverpool did all the pressing as Leicester’s Caglar Soyuncu held things together for the Foxes at the back.

A cross from the right caused Liverpool’s defense some issues as Dejan Lovren tried to clear but sent a looping header towards his own goal.

As the first half wore on Leicester batled their way into the game as Ben Chilwell was causing Sadio Mane plenty of problems down the Foxes left flank.

Firmino then missed a great chance as Trent Alexander-Arnold whipped in a lovely ball from the right. At the other end Adrian produced a fine save from Soyuncu’s header after James Maddison whipped in a superb free kick.

Then Liverpool took the lead right on half time. James Milner’s superb long ball found Mane on the break and the Senegalese winger raced clear and finished calmly to make it 1-0.

Just after the goal Firmino pulled the ball back to Mane and his effort was straight at Kasper Schmeichel when he should have doubled Liverpool’s lead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Schmeichel produced a fine save at the start of the second half as Alexander-Arnold’s cross found Salah and his flick was pushed away by Leicester’s goalkeeper.

Jonny Evans then cleared but the ball hit Mane and almost rebounded in as Liverpool kicked on in the second half. Leicester steadied themselves and started to cause a few problems in attack with half time sub Marc Albrighton a box of tricks. Ricardo Pereira‘s cross from the right was cleared by Alexander-Arnold as that sprung the game into life.

Firmino’s effort squirmed just wide and then Albrighton set Jamie Vardy free but he squandered a great chance at the Kop end. Andrew Robertson then had a great chance but Schmeichel saved well. Dennis Praet then flashed a shot just wide for Leicester as the game finished in an end-to-end fashion, and the Foxes grabbed a late equalizer.

Substitute Ayoze Perez wriggled free and played in Maddison, who had been quiet all game long, and the Englishman finished low past Adrian.

Virgil Van Dijk could have won it for Liverpool late on but he fluffed his lines as he nodded Robertson’s cross over, but just when it looked like the Reds would drop their first points of the season the winner arrived.

Mane was brought down by Albrighton in the box and Milner kept his cool to make it eight wins from eight as Liverpool remain perfect.

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.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

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.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

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.

Watch Live: Leicester City v. Newcastle United

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Leicester City host Newcastle United at the King Power Stadium on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Foxes could climb to third in the Premier League table with a win.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Brendan Rodgers‘ side have lost just once so far this season and are well positioned to push for at least a top six finish with their young, dynamic squad impressing.

As for Newcastle and new manager Steve Bruce, the Magpies have just one win on the board and looked primed for a relegation scrap.

In team news Leicester are without influential playmaker James Maddison who failed a late fitness test. Dennis Praet comes into the team for Maddison, while former Newcastle striker Ayoze Perez starts against his old club.

Newcastle have Andy Carroll on the bench once again, while Sean Longstaff, Emil Krafth and Yoshinori Muto all start.


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