Oliver Burke

Associated Press

Euro 2020 qualifying: Turkey stuns France, Finland earns upset, Croatia tops Wales

Leave a comment

A few landmark results have begun to shape Euro 2020 qualifying in round three of the cycle.

Here is a rundown of all the results:

Turkey 2-0 France

The shock of the day came from Konya as first-half goals by Kaan Ayhan and Cengiz Under thwarted the reigning World Cup champs and put Turkey alone atop Group H. The France lineup that featured Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and Olivier Giroud fell completely flat, somehow held without a single shot on target on just four total efforts in a massively disappointing performance, although France remained in a solid position sitting second in the group.

Finland 2-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina

Another surprising result came in Tammerfors as Finland got a brace from Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki to pull into a solid position near the top of Group J. Bosnia will rue missed opportunities, only able to put one of its 11 shots on target, with Edin Dzeko missing a glorious opportunity with 13 minutes to go, heading over the bar on a chance he normally puts away. Bosnia & Herzegovina felt the absence of creative force Miralem Pjanic as he was suspended for a straight red card against Greece.

Croatia 2-1 Wales

The visitors put up a solid fight in Osijek, but Croatia was clinical where Wales was not as Ivan Perisic scored the decider after a Jamie Lawrence own-goal put the hosts in front. Bournemouth attacker David Brooks came off the bench to pull Wales a goal back and give them a chance, but otherwise the visitors were wasteful with six shots on target.

Belarus 0-2 Germany

Leroy Sane put Germany in front 12 minutes in and they never looked back, confirming the victory on a Marco Reus strike past the hour mark to keep pace with Northern Ireland in Group C. Sane bagged his fourth goal in his last five international appearances, while Reus finished off a beautiful ball into the box by Matthias Ginter that evaded a host of defenders on its way to the goalscorer. While the scoreline may not have reflected it, Germany dominated the game with 75% possession and a 783-214 passing advantage.

Belgium 3-0 Kazakhstan

Dries Mertens and Timothy Castagne both scored inside the opening 15 minutes, while Romelu Lukaku capped things off just after halftime as Belgium rolled in Brussels. The strong Belgian lineup was far too much at home, holding 70% possession and competing a massive 829 passes to Kazakhstan’s 311, racking up 13 corners and an enormous 12 shots on target out of 27 total efforts.

Greece 0-3 Italy

The visitors bagged a quickfire trio of goals through the middle of the first-half as Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Insigne, and Leonardo Bonucci all found the back of the net before the break to stun Greece in Athens. Insigne’s was silky as the Napoli attacker skipped past a defender down the left flank, carrying the ball into the top corner of the box and unleashing a pinpoint curler that found the inside of the side netting.

It was a dominating performance by Italy, holding 70% possession and out-passing Greece a whopping 685-253, out-shooting the hosts 16-5 and cruising through the second half under little pressure.

Scotland 2-1 Cyprus

Scotland survived a scare in Glasgow, requiring an 89th minute Oliver Burke winner to take down island nation Cyprus. The 22-year-old scored his first international goal at the most opportune time, breaking the deadlock late to keep pace with Belgium and Russia near the top of Group I. Andy Robertson, fresh off his Champions League title, scored the opener on an absolute thunderbolt from outside the box, but he was cancelled out by Giannis Kousoulos in the 87th minute.

Iceland 1-0 Albania

Johann Berg Gudmundsson scored the game’s only goal 22 minutes in as Iceland downed a pesky Albania side in Reykjavik. Albania earned seven corners to Iceland’s 1, but couldn’t find the back of the net as they forced Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson into just two saves the whole way.

Russia 9-0 San Marino

Zenit St. Petersburg striker Artem Dyzuba scored four as Russia blasted hapless San Marino in Saransk, with two more from Fedor Smolov. The win jumps Russia past Belgium into first in Group I with two wins out of its first three qualifiers.

Estonia 1-2 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland needed a late comeback to top Estonia on the road as Sheffield United striker Connor Washington leveled the score in the 77th minute and Josh Magennis provided the winner three minutes later. Both players came off the bench to score, with Bolton striker Magennis skillfully turning a Jordan Jones cross in under heavy pressure in front of net. Estonia was up for the task for much of the game, with Konstantin Vassiljev’s 25th minute goal providing the tally that Northern Ireland just inched around to climb atop Group C with three wins from three.

Azerbaijan 1-3 Hungary

Hungary moved to the top of Group E after a dominating performance in Baku led by a brace from RB Leipzig defender Willi Orban.

Moldova 1-0 Andorra

Moldova survived nearly half the match a man down as the hosts earned their first points of Euro 2020 qualification behind an eighth-minute goal from 31-year-old defender Igor Armas which they protected the rest of the way. Despite just 35% possession, Andorra ripped off 12 shots, but only found the target with one in the loss.

Armenia 3-0 Lichtenstein

Celtic announces loan deal for PSG, USMNT teen Weah

Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images for ICC
Leave a comment

Might Jermain Defoe and Tim Weah define the Scottish Premiership title fight?

Okay, okay, maybe that’s a bit rich, but Celtic and Rangers have both added exciting new loan strikers this week.

[ MORE: 100 most valuable players ]

Rangers announced a 18-month loan deal with Bournemouth’s Defoe on Sunday, and Celtic confirmed their capture of Paris Saint-Germain and USMNT youngster Tim Weah on Monday.

Weah turns 19 on Feb. 22, and has two goals in six appearances for PSG but is stuck behind Edinson Cavani, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe on the depth chart. He’s eight-times capped with one goal for the United States.

Here’s what Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers had to say about his new forward:

“Timothy’s a young talent who is full international player. He has a long career ahead of him but he has those natural attributes in terms of his pace and technique. He’s hungry too. …

“He has really good qualities technically, and tactically is always improving his game. Physically he’s very good, very fast and is a strong player. He’ll add competition to the squad.”

Celtic is also taking Oliver Burke on loan from West Brom in its bid to win its eighth-straight Scottish top-flight title, and 50th all-time.

West Brom CEO on woes: “I’ll be honest, I’m shocked”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Good news is hard to find at the Hawthorns these days.

West Bromwich Albion has three wins from 31 Premier League matches and sits 10 points back of safety, and presumed life in the Championship will begin with the club in unusual financial territory.

[ MORE: USMNT-Paraguay preview ]

Club chief executive Mark Jenkins says he can hardly believe what’s become of the Baggies, who didn’t sell any significant pieces this summer and invested more than $65 million in Oliver Burke, Jay Rodriguez, Ahmed Hegazi and others under Tony Pulis (who was fired this winter and replaced by Alan Pardew).

From the BBC:

“We have wages, transfer and loan fees at record levels and yet find ourselves in this position,” said Jenkins.

“Clearly, it has not been as successful a season. There is going to be a significant loss in next year’s accounts, not to the level of profit recorded in these accounts of course, but it demonstrates how the board have used the resources – and a little bit more besides – investing in the squad and the infrastructure of the stadium. I’ll be honest, I’ve come back and I’m shocked at what I have found in some of the decisions that have been made.”

Sunderland is showing us how quickly a club can fall from grace, in danger of relegation for a second-straight season. Parachute payments should make that an anomaly, but as Newcastle showed last season, preparing for the battle ahead in the desperate world of the Championship is paramount. It looks like West Brom knows that.

West Brom 1-4 Leicester City: Foxes demolish Baggies

Leave a comment
  • Vardy has scored on all four of his PL visits to West Brom
  • West Brom have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team this season 
  • Baggies have been in PL for seven seasons

Leicester City beat West Bromwich Albion 4-1 at the Hawthorns on Saturday to hammer in one of the final nails in West Brom’s Premier League coffin as they remain eight points off safety with eight games to go.

Bottom club West Brom went ahead through Salomon Rondon to give them hope of sparking a miraculous bid against relegation, but Leicester fought back with four unanswered goals.

Riyad Mahrez set up Jamie Vardy for the equalizer, then substitute Kelechi Iheanacho set up Mahrez to make it 2-1 moments after coming on. Soon after Iheanacho made it 3-1, then Vicente Iborra got in on the act to wrap up the win.

With the win Leicester remain in eighth and are in a legitimate battle to finish sixth with Burnley and Arsenal, while West Brom remain bottom after their sixth defeat on the spin and they still have to play Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham in their final eight games of the season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

An entertaining first half played out at the Hawthorns as West Brom took the lead to give themselves renewed hope they would stay in the PL.

Oliver Burke‘s cross was flicked home by Rondon as the Venezuelan proved there is still plenty of fight left in Pardew’s side as they also hit the woodwork through Krychowiak.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Yet Leicester came roaring back as Vardy pulled out another special goal with an assist from Mahrez with the star duo combining once again.

The English striker hooked home a fantastic volley to keep up his fine form at West Brom in the PL and get the Foxes back on level terms at half time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the second half Leicester brought on Kelechi Iheanacho for Shinji Okazaki to try and unsettle the West Brom defense and he did just that.

The Nigerian found Mahrez over the top and the Algerian lobbed Ben Foster to put the Foxes 2-1 up.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Iheanacho then got in on the act himself to make it 3-1 with a header and in stoppage time Iborra added another with a header from a corner to rub further salt into West Brom’s festering wounds.

Surely this is the end for Pardew and for the Baggies.

West Brom 2-3 Southampton: Relegation scrap delivers drama

Leave a comment
  • First win in 13 PL games for Saints
  • West Brom slip to 20th place
  • Stephens scores for third-straight game

Southampton edged past West Bromwich Albion 3-2 in a classic relegation battle at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

On an emotional day for West Bromas they paid their respects to the late Cyrille Regis before the game, the home side took the lead early on as Ahmed Hegazi headed home. Yet Saints came roaring back as they scored twice in quick succession just before half time with a stunner from Mario Lemina and then Jack Stephens headed home.

James Ward-Prowse‘s free kick proved to be the pivotal goal as Salomon Rondon pulled a goal back late on but West Brom couldn’t draw level.

With the win, their first since November 26, Saints moved on to 26 points and up to 14th place, while West Brom slip to 20th.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

West Brom had the perfect start as a corner from the right found Hegazi and he towered about Jack Stephens to head home the opener.

Saints responded well to going behind as Sofiane Boufal flashed a shot just wide of the post. Guido Carrillo then scuffed an effort wide for the visitors. Carrillo then nodded wide from Lemina’s cross and Saints continued to press with a bad mistake letting in Dusan Tadic but his deflected shot looped onto the top of the net.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

At the other end Daniel Sturridge smashed an effort across goal which just flew wide of the far post. Then, the game swung in Saints’ favor.

Ben Foster denied Guido Carrillo with a magnificent save but from the resulting corner the ball found Lemina over 25 yards out and the Gabonese midfielder drilled an unstoppable effort into the top corner to level things up.

Two minutes later James Ward-Prowse’s corner was flicked into the far corner by Stephens with the center back scoring for the third time this week after previously not netting in his first 37 games for Saints. What a turnaround at half time as Saints led 2-1.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Chris Brunt went close from a free kick for West Brom as he played the ball under the wall from the edge of the box but it clipped someone on the way through and went out from a corner.

Tadic went close to wrapping the game up for Saints as a long ball forward was misjudged but West Brom cleared.

Wesley Hoedt then strode forward and won a free kick on the edge of the box and after a slight disagreement between Boufal and his teammates, Ward-Prowse stepped up and put the free kick into the bottom corner and past Foster to make it 3-1 to Saints.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jay Rodriguez and Oliver Burke came on for Sturridge and Claudio Yacob to try and get West Brom back in the game but Saints should have extended their lead with Tadic not getting enough on his cross for Carrillo.

Rondon headed home 18 minutes from time to make it 2-3 and set up a tight finish. Jay Rodriguez went down in the box under a challenge from Bertrand as West Brom thought they should have a penalty, while at the other end Shane Long should have made it 4-2 but headed wide.

Saints held on, just, for their first win since November to breath new life into their season.