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Brazil can’t get by Panama in 1-1 friendly draw

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Brazil boasted Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Casemiro in the starting lineup, but it wasn’t enough to get past Panama in a 1-1 friendly draw in Portugal.

Lucas Paqueta scored just past the half-hour mark to put Brazil in front, but they were pegged back just four minutes later and never recovered, managing just four shots on target despite an enormous 78% possession.

The AC Milan youngster opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, meeting Casemiro’s deep cross at the far post after having snuck behind Michael Murillo. His shot was slowed by goalkeeper Luis Mejia but he couldn’t keep it out, instead deflecting it into the back of the net. It marks the first international goal for the 21-year-old at the senior level, a moment to savor.

That could have sent Brazil on their way as Panama could hardly find a touch, but set-pieces proved their undoing. On a free-kick from the middle-third, Eric Davis floated in a deep delivery down the middle that met the head of Adolfo Machado who lept to barely meet the ball. His contact was perfection, looping the ball over the head of Ederson and into the top-left corner.

The match is Brazil’s first since they fell to Belgium in the knockout round of the World Cup, and it was used in part as an experiment, especially at the back. Regular defensive starters Thiago Silva and Marquinhos were on the bench as Tite chose to start 21-year-old Porto center-back Eder Militao in his club’s home stadium alongside 34-year-old Miranda. World Cup goalkeeper Alisson also saw the bench in favor of Manchester City starter Ederson, who was troubled by just two shots on target the entirety of the match.

Most notably, Neymar was absent from the squad as he recovers from a broken metatarsal that has kept him out since late January.

Mane to Real Madrid; Manolas to Man United?

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Now that you’ve all recovered from the January transfer window, it is time to focus on the summer transfer window.

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After all, the transfer window opens in just a few months time for Premier League clubs. With that in mind, here are couple of juicy rumors doing the rounds…

A report from France Football claims that Zinedine Zidane wants to make Liverpool’s Sadio Mane one of his first big signings back at Real Madrid.

Mane, 26, only signed a new contract with Liverpool in November but the Senegalese flyer has been in sensational form in recent months and is carrying their hopes of winning the Premier League and UEFA Champions League. Per the report, Zidane is a huge fan of Mane and wanted to sign him in the summer of 2018 before he abruptly left Real.

Mane has scored 20 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool this season, and has scored 11 times in his last 11 games. And besides his improving goalscoring record he has the one thing modern teams want: blistering pace.

Whether or not Mane could be tempted to leave Liverpool this summer remains to be seen, but if they do win either the PL title or the UCL, is that a good time for Mane to move on?

He may believe it won’t get any better than that, but leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah and breaking up that partnership would certainly upset Liverpool fans and neutrals alike. Zizou plans to rebuild this ageing Real team and it is quite right that he wants Mane to be the future of their attack alongside the likes of Vinicius Junior.


Man United’s plans to sign a new center back haven’t been a secret for some time now. We just weren’t sure if that was a priority since Jose Mourinho left and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived as the new caretaker manager.

It appears getting in a new commanding center half is still a top priority for the Red Devils.

A report from Calciomercato in Italy has linked United with a move for Roma and Greece defender Kostas Manolas, with the 27-year-old said to have a $39.8 million release clause in his contract if Roma do not qualify for the Champions League. They are currently four points off the top four with 10 games left in Serie A.

The powerful Greek defender has been a regular at Roma over the past five seasons and was influential in their run to the Champions League semifinals last season. With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling handed new contracts recently, United’s policy when it comes to retaining their current center backs is strange.

Victor Lindelof has improved drastically under Solskjaer, but it seems like both Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo will be sold this summer. Toby Alderweireld and Kalidou Koulibaly have both been linked with moves to United, and having Manolas and Alderweireld as center backs, with one of Lindelof, Smalling and Jones alongside them in a 3-4-3 formation could work very well.

Late penalty puts Liverpool atop table (video)

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  • Mane opens scoring in 26th
  • Ex-Reds striker Babel stars in loss
  • Mane wins late penalty, Milner converts

James Milner‘s 81st minute penalty saved Liverpool blushes in a 2-1 defeat of Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The Reds had a Sadio Mane-inspired lead, but had given it back through a comedy of errors Ryan Babel equalizer.

Liverpool goes atop the Premier League on 76 points, having played one more match than Man City (74 points).

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Some lively dribbling from ex-Liverpool man Ryan Babel cued up Jean-Michael Seri for a shot that sailed over the goal.

Andrew Robertson hit a cross too close to Fulham keeper Rico after some fancy dribbling of his own.

Liverpool was asking all the questions when Mane put them ahead, beginning the move on the left wing before passing to and receiving from Roberto Firmino for 1-0.

Mane joins three players chasing Sergio Aguero’s league-leading goal total of 18: Mohamed Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Harry Kane.

Mane has nine goals in his last nine PL matches, and 11 in 11 overall.

Liverpool was a bit lucky that a rash foul from Fabinho didn’t earn him as second yellow card and send the Reds down to 10 men at the break.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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Fulham did not quit, and looked the better money for a second half goal. A first break saw Aleksandar Mitrovic nod into the goal only to see an offside flag deny the marker.

Babel was at the center of it all, and led a second break which ended with a Alisson Becker save on Andre Franck Zambo Anguissa.

That’s when calamity occurred in the center of the pitch. James Milner mishit a clearance, and Virgil Van Dijk casually headed back toward Alisson. The goalkeeper lost the ball in his feet, and Babel was on the doorstep to slot home.

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The stalemate lasted just a few minutes, as Milner converted a penalty conceded when Rico impeded Mane in the box.

Mohamed Salah had a chance to put the match to bed following a Mane-led run, but the Egyptian fired right at Rico.

WATCH: Mane, Firmino work beautiful 1-2 to give Liverpool lead

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Pinpoint and nearly perfect.

Those words describe the interplay between Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino as they combined for Liverpool’s opening goal at Fulham on Sunday.

[ MORE: Klopp dismisses Bayern talk ]

Mane collected the ball on the left wing and cut towards the center of the pitch before sliding the ball to Firmino near the touch line.

The Brazilian took a stride or two to the middle and met Mane’s incisive and industrious run with a perfect pass, the Senegalese striker slotting his 17th goal of the Premier League season.

Mane joins three players chasing Sergio Aguero’s league-leading goal total of 18: Mohamed Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Harry Kane.

Mane has nine goals in his last nine PL matches, and 11 in 11 overall.

Premier League Preview: Fulham v. Liverpool

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  • Fulham manager Scott Parker could have forward Andre Schurrle (virus) available, but Alfie Mawson and Marcus Bettinelli (both knee) remain sidelined for Fulham.
  • Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson is ruled out after sustaining an ankle injury in midweek, although Naby Keita (minor injury) could return. 
  • The Reds are unbeaten in their last 11 PL matches against promoted sides (W10 D1), winning the last eight in a row. They have scored 31 goals and conceded just four in that run since a 2-0 loss at Hull City in February 2017.

Liverpool showed in midweek that they have the quality to make another deep run in the UEFA Champions League. Now, back in Premier League action, Liverpool will look to jump-start major pieces of their attack with a trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham on Sunday (Watch live, 10:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Mo Salah has scored 17 Premier League goals this season, but none in the past five games in all competitions. Likewise, outside of a brace last week against Burnley, Roberto Firmino hasn’t scored in six of seven games played since the start of February. Against Fulham’s struggling defense, those two found find their form in front of goal.

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It’s been a rough season meanwhile for Fulham, which looks incredibly likely to be relegated to the Championship. Fulham hasn’t won since January, is on its third manager of the year, and needs 12 points to survive another season in the Premier League. Against Liverpool, it might be a case of just hoping for a draw, or keeping the score close.

What they’re saying

Fulham coach Scott Parker on facing a title contender: “Hopefully we’ll have an influence on the title race. We’ve got some very good footballers at the club and we need to start getting the best out of them. They have a chance at the weekend in front of the cameras to prove how good they are. If we play the way we want to play, we can cause an upset and we can get points. I’ve seen an upturn daily in the players in the way they’re training. Their standards have gone up tenfold.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp on the impact of beating Bayern: “Last year I think when we came through it was always about a sensational, free-flowing kind of football in a specific way: scoring from all areas, stuff like that. This was, from my point of view, the most mature performance we had so far in all European competitions since I am in and I like that a lot. It was really good. I said after the game, in a game like this it’s pretty rare that one team is shining completely and the other team has a bad hair day or whatever. It doesn’t happen a lot, so you have to work for each yard, for each inch, and that’s what the boys did. In the decisive moments you have to be there defensively and offensively. It was really good, I was really happy and it was not to expect in that way. People spoke about ‘Bayern was not really like Bayern usually is’ – I would say all the credit to my boys because we didn’t let them. That’s all we have to do in game like this.”

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Prediction

Liverpool can go top of the league with a win, and even coming off the emotional high of beating Bayern Munich, they should still have more than enough quality to defeat Fulham. Liverpool 3-0 Fulham