Luciano Vietto

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Europa League: Wolves through to Round of 16, Portuguese sides stunned

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Arsenal and Manchester United are still set to take the field, but there was an early round of Europa League matches that saw nearly half the Round of 16 field set.

Wolverhampton Wanderers knew it had room to breathe, and they made use of that, advancing cooly to the Round of 16 despite a 3-2 loss at Espanyol that saw them advance 6-3 on aggregate. The 4-0 first-leg win set Wolves up nicely, and they held firm behind equalizers from red-hot winger Adama Traore and Matthew Doherty.

 

Jonathan Calleri picked up a hat-trick for the hosts, including the winner in the 91st minute, but it wasn’t nearly enough to see the Spanish side truly challenge the massive deficit.

Elsewhere, Justin Kluivert gave Roma a spot in the Round of 16 with his 29th minute goal that saw the Italian side through via a 2-1 aggregate win over KAA Gent. The 20-year-old got a sumptuous through ball from Henrikh Mkhitaryan who laid it on a platter for Kluivert’s calm finish. The goal answered Jonathan David’s opener four minutes prior and set Roma up for a 1-1 draw that followed their 1-0 home win in the first leg.

USMNT veteran John Brooks started and played the whole 90 minutes as Wolfsburg rode a 3-0 second leg win to a 5-1 aggregate victory over Norwegian side Malmo. 21-year-old Croatian youth international Josip Brekalo was the lone goalscorer in the second leg, finding the net just minutes before halftime to seal advancement to the next round. Yannick Gerhardt and Joao Victor added second-half cherries on top with his 65th minute to put Wolfsburg into the next stage.

Bayer Leverkusen passed a tough test with a 3-1 aggregate victory over Champions League dropouts FC Porto. After a 2-1 home win in the first leg, the German side got an early 10th minute goal from Argentine international Lucas Alario, initially flagged for offside but corrected by VAR. Porto was awful, managing just one shot through the entire first half and conceding twice more after halftime to Kai Havertz and Kerem Demirbay. Mali international Moussa Marega got 65th minute goal for Porto but it was little more than a consolation.

The other Portuguese club in the competition, Sporting CP, suffered an equally disappointing result as they coughed up a 3-1 first-leg lead and to Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey, falling 4-1 in extra time to complete a 5-4 aggregate defeat. After the hosts brought the aggregate back level, it seemed Luciano Vietto had saved Sporting’s lives, but Edin Visca scored in the 92nd minute to send the match to extra time on a 4-4 aggregate draw. Visca then played hero as he blasted a wonderful penalty in the 119th minute to win the matchup.

Former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel scored the opener just after the half-hour mark via a corner, nutmegging the goalkeeper with a header on the doorstep. Danijel Aleksic bagged Basaksehir’s second just before halftime with an absolutely incredible free-kick from miles away to put the hosts 2-0 up and level the aggregate at 3-3, with Basaksehir holding the away goal advantage from the first leg. Sporting CP was saved, however, by Vietto who scored with 22 minutes remaining 

Dutch side AZ Alkmaar slumped out of the competition to LASK, losing 2-0 in Austria which sealed a 3-1 aggregate defeat. 21-year-old Austrian youth international Marko Raguz hit for a quickfire double just before halftime, including one from the penalty spot, to send LASK through to the Round of 16.

Full Europa League results (bolded team advances)

Espanyol 3-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
FC Porto 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen
KAA Gent 1-1 AS Roma
Malmo FF 0-3 Wolfsburg
LASK 2-0 AZ Alkmaar
Istanbul Basaksehir 4-1 Sporting CP (AET)
FC Basel 1-0 Apoel Nicosia

Fulham hires Scott Parker as full-time head coach

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Fulham has taken its first step towards next season in the Championship by locking down a boss, hiring interim boss Scott Parker as full-time head coach, the club announced on Friday, signing a two-year deal.

Parker spent the final four years of his playing career at Fulham, making 128 appearances for the club before retiring in 2017 and joining the backroom staff. He remained part of the coaching staff through multiple managerial changes in the Premier League this season, finally being tabbed as caretaker manager after the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri in late February.

Under Parker’s guidance, Fulham finished the season strong despite being strapped with relegation. They lost their first five matches under Parker, but three of those came against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. They then won three in a row against Everton, Bournemouth, and Cardiff City in mid-April despite having won just four matches all season previously.

“Scott was brave to accept a very difficult challenge in February when appointed as our Caretaker Manager,” said club chairman Shahid Khan in the official team announcement . “Since that time, day by day, whether in training or on matchday, we’ve undeniably become a better football club. Scott will now have another challenge to face, and that is to return Fulham to the Premier League. I fully believe Scott is more than up to the task.”

The 38-year-old former Fulham captain feels he is ready for his first managerial gig, having previously played nearly 600 career matches for Charlton, Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham.

“Now, the challenge lies with me to move things forward,” said Parker in the official team release. “Ultimately, success comes from a culture and a desire – that needs to be our foundation. We’ll drive a culture here that our fans will recognize.”

A big focus for Parker is the atmosphere in the dressing room, which Parker believes he can influence as a recent player. “I’ve got 20 years of playing experience and 20 years of being in changing rooms,” Parker said. “I want to use that experience to help the club be successful and move things forward.”

The job ahead is a tough one moving forward given the Fulham squad is in a state of horrible flux. Young winger Ryan Sessegnon is out of contract next summer and therefore likely to be sold unless he changes course and signs and extension with the club. Striker Aleksandr Mitrovic and midfielder Jean-Michel Seri could also be out the door given their level of talent, potentially avoiding dropping down a league with the club. Sergio Rico, Calum Chambers, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Havard Nordveit, Andre Schurrle, and Luciano Vietto are all loanees scheduled to return to parent clubs after the season ends. Denis Odoi, Floyd Ayite, and Neeskins Kebano are all out of contract this summer and could depart as well.

Pogba dazzles as Man United batter Fulham (video)

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  • United remain unbeaten under Solskjaer
  • Pogba, Martial score first half goals
  • Fulham remain seven points from safety
  • 10 wins from 11 for United in all comps under Solskjaer
  • United move into top four

Manchester United eased past Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage on Saturday, with a clinical first half leading the Red Devils to victory.

Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial both scored superb goals in the first half, as Fulham just couldn’t cope with United’s rapid counter attacks. Pogba then scored a penalty kick in the second half to cap off his Man of the Match display.

Ahead of their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash against Paris Saint-Germain, United made six changes to their lineup and the players who did appear on the pitch didn’t skip a beat.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains unbeaten as United’s caretaker manager (winning 10 of 11 games in all competitions) and they’ve now moved into the top four and have 51 points. Fulham remain second from bottom and seven points from safety on 17 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

After an even start which saw Fulham go close through Luciano Vietto and Aleksandar Mitrovic, United struck twice with their first two efforts at goal.

Pogba smashed home the opener after Martial’s delicate pass into the box, as the Frenchman dominated early proceedings from central midfield.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Martial then picked the ball up in his own half, danced away from Fulham’s defense and finished off calmly for United’s second, as the Red Devils were 2-0 up early in the game.

Romelu Lukaku almost nodded home at the far post to score a third, and moments later Phil Jones saw a superb shot from outside the box tipped over.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Fulham had plenty of the ball in the first half but barely threatened, as United were lethal on the counter attack.

Ander Herrera went close after the break but Sergio Rico saved, then United sealed their win as Juan Mata won a penalty kick after he was fouled clearly by Denis Odoi.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Pogba slammed home the penalty kick with minimum fuss to make it 3-0, as Solskajer continues to work wonders at Old Trafford.

Late chances at both ends saw David De Gea deny Mitrovic’s header, then substitute Alexis Sanchez raced free but his shot was straight at Sergio Rico.

Fulham stun Brighton with wild comeback (video)

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  • Brighton led 2-0 at half time
  • Fulham score four times in second half
  • First win in 4 PL games for Fulham

Fulham launched an amazing second half comeback to beat Brighton 4-2 at a snowy Craven Cottage.

Brighton scored twice early on through Glenn Murray, but Fulham came roaring back in the second half as Calum Chambers and Luciano Vietto scored one each and Aleksandar Mitrovic grabbed a double.

With the win Fulham and Claudio Ranieri are now just four points from safety, while Brighton’s slump down the table continues.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brighton got off to the best possible start as Murray swept home Martin Montoya’s cross wonderfully to make it 1-0.

At the other end Maxime Le Marchand went close for the hosts, but Fulham just couldn’t get going.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Brighton doubled their lead before half time as a cross from the right was only half cleared and Pascal Gross flicked the ball towards goal where the wily fox Murray was waiting to flick home. 2-0.

Ryan Babel drilled a wonderful low shot from distance which Mat Ryan pushed away as Fulham pushed hard to get back in the game. Murray almost bagged his hat trick but Sergio Rico saved well and at the other end Andre Schurrle had a shot brilliantly cleared by Shane Duffy. Davy Propper then smashed the crossbar as Brighton almost put the game to bed.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

At the start of the second half Fulham got the goal they craved, as Mitrovic nodded down and Chambers smashed home to make it 2-1. Game on.

Mitrovic almost bundled home a second Fulham goal moments later as the Cottagers built up a head of steam. Gross almost got on the end of a Brighton break, then Fulham substitute Luciano Vietto went close as his shot was deflected. From the resulting corner Fulham were level.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

After the corner was cleared, another ball looped into the box and Mitrovic pounced to head home and make it 2-2.

Fulham were flying late on and Jean Michel Seri went so close to putting them ahead but his low curled hit the post and came back out. Murray was then denied a hat trick goal by Rico with a wonderful stop, and a key moment arrived soon after.

Mitrovic put home another header to make it 3-2 to Fulham to spark wild scenes of celebration at Craven Cottage, and late on it got even better as Vietto made it 4-2.

What a comeback from the Cottagers to breath new life into their relegation scrap.

Everton 3-0 Fulham: Toffees dominate second half

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  • Everton wins its 2nd of the year
  • Fulham concedes two again
  • The Whites remain without a win at Goodison Park

The two sides traded small blows in the first 45 minutes, but a dominating second half saw Everton skate past a missed penalty and defend home field against Fulham for a 2-0 win on goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Cenk Tosun.

Sigurdsson missed a spot-kick soon after the break, but he would atone with the game’s first goal minutes later, while the Fulham defense broke down to allow Everton in for a second.

As both teams looked to feel out the game, Fulham was forced into a very early change as Timothy Fosu-Mensah went down holding his right arm, in lots of pain, and the Manchester United loanee was withdrawn for Cyrus Christie just seven minutes in.

Despite the early change, Fulham had the game’s first half-chance with Alexander Mitrovic blazing over from long-range. Everton responded with a set-piece opportunity on 15 minutes, but Marcus Bettinelli was there to parry a short-range pop and the offside flag went up. Theo Walcott had a long-range effort deflected on 19 minutes but Bettinelli ranged to his right to make the stop.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Fulham struggled to produce its usual brand of possessional play early on, and the frustration manifested in persistent fouling. The home fans at Goodison Park begged for a yellow card to be shown, and it eventually came for substitute Christie in the 29th minute.

The visitors finally began to build onto the ball as halftime neared, and they had a monstrous chance on 41 minutes. Jean-Michael Seri found an opening through the middle and poked it left for young Ryan Sessegnon with the Whites suddenly seeing three attackers free on net. Sessegnon took the shot from a tight angle, and it rang off the crossbar and deflected back out to the other side of the pitch.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

After the break, Everton came close to its first goal of the season from a corner, but with Richarlison at the far post, the ball bounced a bit high in front of him, and the Brazilian missed with his awkwardly acrobatic attempt to make contact. Everton’s chance came minutes later on a breakaway for Sigurdsson, and despite Bettinelli coming to collect under little pressure, a penalty was given by the assistant referee for a slight shove in the back from Denis Odoi chasing. The referee had initially waved away the penalty claims, but sheepishly gave it once the assistant waved his flag. Unfortunately for the Toffees, the Icelandic playmaker looped a poor penalty effort off the crossbar and the scoreline remained unblemished.

Sigurdsson would atone minutes later, however, as he unlocked the back line with a ball for Jonjoe Kenny, and while his cross was blocked out by Odoi, Sigurdsson was there to collect the loose ball and curl a fabulous effort into the far corner past a helpless Bettinelli.

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Fulham had a glorious chance to get back level on a three-on-one break, but a horrid first touch from Luciano Vietto ruined the opportunity, allowing Jordan Pickford to collect despite acres of space. That would loom large as the home side doubled its lead on 65 minutes, all too easily. Theo Walcott whipped in a cross past Americand defender Tim Ream, and Cenk Tosun somehow managed to earn 10 yards of separation from the rest of the Fulham defense for the easiest backdoor header of his life.

Sigurdsson added his second and Everton’s third with just a minute left in regulation as substitute Bernard had no trouble marauding down the left, and he cut back for Sigurdsson in all kinds of space at the top of the box for a powerful low finish.

All told, Everton finished with 19 shots, six of them on target, while Fulham failed to register even a single effort on net to trouble Pickford. The win pushes Everton up to 11th with nine points, while Fulham drops to 16th in a crowd with five points. Fulham also sports the league’s worst goals conceded total, up to 16 now with the trio from Everton.