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Euro qualifiers: Spain rolls, Ukraine blasts Serbia, Poland hangs on

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The third round of Euro 2020 qualification began Friday as 12 games all took place around the continent with teams looking to reach the multi-national final next summer.

Here’s a rundown of each game that took place:

Faroe Islands 1-4 Spain

The visitors will be miffed to concede a goal, but the result was never really in doubt as Spain went ahead just five minutes in on Sergio Ramos’s header and never looked back. Jesus Navas made it 2-0 inside 20 minutes from a very tight angle, and while the tiny nation crawled back within one on the half-hour mark with a well-worked corner, Spain wrestled control back three minutes later with an own-goal by Faroe Islands goalkeeper Teitur Matras Gestsson, and killed off the game with 19 minutes to go as delicious through-ball from Marco Asensio fed Valencia winger Jose Gaya through on goal for a calm finish.

Ukraine 5-0 Serbia

A shocking scoreline saw Serbia lay an egg on the road in L’viv as Yevhen Konoplyanka’s brace led Ukraine to a massive win to take control of Group B. 21-year-old Dynamo Kiev winger Viktor Tsyhankov also bagged a pair, scoring two minutes apart just before the half-hour mark – the second of which was a screamer from well outside the box – while Konoplyanka tacked on to the lead with his stellar second half.

Serbia was well and truly thumped, managing just one shot on target the whole match despite a strong lineup that featured Dusan Tadic, Adem Ljajic, Aleksandar Kolarov, and new Real Madrid signing Luka Jovic.

Czech Republic 2-1 Bulgaria

Ismail Isa put Bulgaria in front just three minutes into the game on just his second international cap, but the hosts rallied in Praha behind a brace from 23-year-old Roma striker Patrik Schick to earn its first points of the qualifying cycle. Schick’s first leveled the score 19 minutes in, and the winner came just after halftime thanks to some silky moves in the box that turned Vasil Bozhikov around like a top.

Denmark 1-1 Republic of Ireland

Denmark appeared to have won a sloppy and physical match in the 76th minute on a thumping header by Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but the Republic of Ireland stayed the course and earned a late draw as Shane Duffy pumped in a header of his own five minutes from time. Denmark was sloppy up front for much of the game, ripping off 18 shots but finding the target with just three, and they would rue their wastefulness in the end, drawing for the second time in two games while Republic of Ireland stayed top of Group D on seven points.

Macedonia 0-1 Poland

Halftime substitute Krzysztof Piatek carried his hot club form into the summer, with his 47th minute winner the difference as Poland earned a more difficult than anticipated win. The goal came in gloriously sloppy fashion, with Macedonia somehow unable to clear a corner and the ball pinged around to Piatek at point blank range with bodies all around. That was Poland’s only shot on target the entire match in an otherwise uninspiring performance despite the presence of Robert Lewandowski and Piotr Zielinski in the lineup.

Norway 2-2 Romania

Martin Odegaard scored his first international goal, but Romania came from 2-0 down to grab a last-gasp draw in the 92nd minute to secure a share of the spoils in Oslo. Alexandru Maxim’s initial shot was blocked, but it fell right to the feet of Claudiu Keseru who had snuck behind Kristoffer Ajer to poke home the late equalizing goal. All four goals came in the second half, with Keseru bagging a brace after his first in the 76th minute gave Romania life.

Sweden 3-0 Malta

Robin Quaison opened the scoring just two minutes in, Viktor Claesson struck just after halftime, and Alexander Isak finished it off five minutes from full-time as Sweden completed a wire-to-wire victory over Malta to stay within striking distance of Spain in Group F. The second was the best of the bunch as Claesson scored thanks to a simply stunning back-heel assist from Marcus Berg who popped the ball up and over the defense right at the feet of the Krasnodar frontman for the finish.

Austria 1-0 Slovenia

Schalke striker Guido Burgstaller earned Austria all three points with his 74th minute winner for the country’s first points in Group G play. Coming on in the 71st minute, he scored after just three minutes on the pitch after great work from stars David Alaba and Marko Arnautovic. Alaba’s ball into the box fell to the feet of Arnautovic right on the doorstep, and the West Ham attacker held off his defender to deliver a shot, and his saved effort rebounded right to Burgstaller.

Latvia 0-3 Israel

Lithuania 1-1 Luxembourg

Montenegro 1-1 Kosovo

Georgia 3-0 Gibraltar

Season Review: Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff, Brighton, Southampton

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As the 2018/19 Premier League season has come to a close, it’s time to take a very brief look back at each club’s campaign and review how they did. First, we look back at the bottom five sides and work our way up the table.

Huddersfield Town, Fulham, and Cardiff City were relegated to the Championship, while Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton both managed to stay up, barely. Each team took its own path to where they finished in the table, so here’s a look back at some of the journeys.

Huddersfield Town

Finishing position/points total: 20 / 16pts
High point
: Doing the double over Wolves.
Low point
: Losing 5-0 to Liverpool to cap a stretch of 8 losses.

Our opinion: They struggled to score all season, with just 22 goals in 38 league matches. Shut out in a whopping 19 Premier League matches, they never had the firepower to compete.
Star player
: Aaron Mooy
Most memorable goal
: Isaac Mbenza equalized on an assist from goalkeeper Jonas Lossl to draw Manchester United on the penultimate day of the season.


Manager grade: David Wagner: C- / Jan Siewert: F
Hopes for next season
: Huddersfield needs to stabilize and regroup next season, and a top-10 Championship finish should be the target, building towards a promotion campaign the following year. Siewert wasn’t able to do anything of note in charge during the second half of the Premier League season, and the jury is still out on if he’s the right man to lead them through the Championship.

Fulham

Finishing position/points total: 19 / 26pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight under Scott Parker.
Low point
: A 4-1 loss to Watford to mark 9 straight.

Our opinion: An absolutely woeful defense doomed what was an otherwise entertaining attacking club. With a change of manager came a change of style, but nothing improved at the back. Fulham needs to sort out its back line for next season or a quick return to the Premier League can be thrown out the window.
Star player
: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Most memorable goal
: Jean-Michael Seri blasted an absolute stunner against Burnley early in the season. Andre Schurrle also victimized Burnley with a glorious volley as well.


Manager grade: Slavisa Jokanovic: D- / Claudio Ranieri: F / Scott Parker: C+
Hopes for next season
: The club did well to secure a permanent manager so quickly so they can get to work strengthening the squad for a promotion campaign to come straight back up. The priority this offseason will be looking to secure assets like Mitrovic, Jean-Michael Seri, and Ryan Sessegnon while looking to improve the defense.

Cardiff City

Finishing position/points total: 18 / 34pts
High point
: Beating Manchester United on the last day of the season.
Low point
: Failing to score in 4 straight, confirming relegation.

Our opinion: A club that many through would finish bottom of the league, or close to it, gave it a real fight and came close to staving off relegation a few times. The season clearly wore on Neil Warnock, who said there isn’t “a cat’s chance in hell” he ever manages in the Premier League again.
Star player
: Victor Camarasa
Most memorable goal
: Junior Hoilett‘s wonderful curler to beat Wolves in November pulled the club out of the relegation zone for the time being, but it can’t beat Camarasa’s unbelievable strike to beat Leicester City in stoppage time.


Manager grade: Neil Warnock: C
Hopes for next season
: They will be a real challenger for promotion in the Championship and should do well if they can improve the playmaking abilities up front.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Finishing position/points total: 17 / 36pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight in October, critical to staying up.
Low point
: 8 straight without a win Jan-Feb in a relegation battle.

Our opinion: Brighton was one of the most fun teams this season, with a combination of suffocating defense and an attack that could crop up at any time against any club. While they often fired blanks, when they came alive it was exciting and enjoyable. Still, the attack was too inconsistent and they’ll want to make smart improvements.
Star player
: Shane Duffy
Most memorable goal
: Glenn Murray‘s winner against Wolves capped off a critical 3-game winning streak and ultimately proved vital in keeping the club alive.


Manager grade: Chris Hughton: C-
Hopes for next season
: Sacking Chris Hughton, the man who pulled the club out of the muck and brought them to the promised land, is a bold decision. This is a team with good assets and a solid base, and they should be able to stay up again next season with the right leader.

Southampton

Finishing position/points total: 16 / 39pts
High point
: Beating Arsenal 3-2 in December.
Low point
: 6-1 loss to Man City as part of a 12-match winless run.

Our opinion: Southampton started off the season horribly and was a real candidate to go down until Ralph Hassenhuttl saved them. His management kept this team up and there’s real hope for the future with a young, scrappy squad that needs improvement.
Star player
: Nathan Redmond
Most memorable goal
: It wasn’t the best goal of the season (that would be the Redmond curler to finish off the campaign on Sunday?) but the most memorable is Charlie Austin‘s in the 85th minute to beat Arsenal and end their long unbeaten run. It sparked the turnaround for Southampton, marking their first league win in over three months and beginning a nine-match run where they picked up 15 points.


Manager grade: Mark Hughes: D- / Ralph Hassenhuttl: A-
Hopes for next season
: With Hassenhuttl in charge and improvements to the defense this summer, Southampton should be able to show more consistency next season. On their day, they’re capable of beating any team in the league and that should lead them to a belief in a top 10 finish. This team shouldn’t be battling for Premier League survival again.

Who would make a PFA Team of the Year without Top Six teams?

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The PFA Team of the Year was dominated by Manchester City and Liverpool, to no one’s surprise, though which players comprised the team surprised many.

For example, the team may be without the league’s Golden Boot winner.

[ PL PREVIEW: Brighton v. Newcastle ]

Mohamed Salah was left off the team, likely due to his cold form while the players were voting for the peers, and he’d be an easy part of any “The Best of the Rest” list (along with Christian Eriksen, Roberto Firmino, Harry Kane, and Eden Hazard).

But we’ve added another angle, as we’ll make a “Best Outside The Top Six of the Year.” Here is a team to join the PFA Team of the Year.


“No Top Six” Team of the Year

Fabianski (West Ham)

Wan-Bissaka (Palace) – Tarkowski (Burnley) – Duffy (BHA) – Digne (Everton)

Gana Gueye (Everton) – Ndidi (Leicester City)

Felipe (West Ham)- Doucoure (Watford) – Fraser (Bournemouth)

Raul Jimenez (Wolves)

Aaron Wan-Bissaka‘s 3.8 tackles per game led all backs, full or center; His 2.4 interceptions per match rate isn’t far off from the leader: Cardiff’s Sol Bamba (who just misses).

Shane Duffy and James Tarkowski lead the league in clearances, and are also 1-2 in blocked shots.

Only Hazard has more assists than Fraser’s 12, tied with Eriksen, who also is Top Two in key passes per game.

And even this list leaves out quality like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Joao Moutinho, and Neil Etheridge. Wild.

Eriksen’s late heroics strengthen Spurs hold on third (video)

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  • Spurs out-attempt Brighton 29-6
  • Eriksen scores in 88th minute
  • Spurs regain third place

There were late cries of joy in North London, and surely Cardiff City, as Christian Eriksen finally pushed Tottenham Hotspur past stingy Brighton and Hove Albion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday.

The win boosts Spurs back into third place, with 70 points, while Brighton’s 34 keep it just three ahead of 18th place Cardiff.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs were very much in charge, but a combination of Seagulls goalkeeper Mat Ryan and his center backs helped defy a lively Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son.

Shane Duffy made a goal line clearance on Dele, which may have been partially hit toward the line by a Brighton defender, and Ryan pounced on the rebound to keep it 0-0 heading into halftime.

The game slogged forward at 0-0, Brighton resolute and Spurs unable to cut a path to danger. It took center back Toby Alderweireld dribbling and dragging a shot off the post to snap the game into life.

Ryan saved a Christian Eriksen hit in the final 10 minutes as Spurs desperately pushed for a winner and the Seagulls issued similar defense of their goal.

Mauricio Pochettino turned to Fernando Llorente and even Vincent Janssen off the bench, but it was Eriksen who stroked a beauty through traffic to win three points.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Brighton edge past Huddersfield (video)

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  • Just a 2nd win in 12 for Brighton
  • Sub Andone scores late winner
  • Huddersfield remain bottom of PL table
  • First PL win of 2019 for Brighton 

Brighton nicked a crucial 1-0 home victory against Huddersfield on Saturday, as Florin Andone was the hero.

In a game lacking in real quality throughout, Brighton had the better chances and Andone nodded home late on after jumping off the bench.

With the win Brighton move on to 30 points for the season and boost their survival chances, while Huddersfield remain bottom of the table on 14 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Lewis Dunk missed a glorious chance to head home from a corner, while at the other end Mat Ryan spilled Alex Prtichard’s shot from distance as Brighton managed to clear.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh hit the crossbar with a superb effort after cutting inside from the left, with the home side pushing hard.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Huddersfield’s Bacuna then fired a low effort on target which Ryan saved well, while  Shane Duffy headed over just before the break as Brighton huffed and puffed but couldn’t break through.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

In the second half Glenn Murray was played in but Huddersfield’s Bacuna arrived with a fine last-ditch tackle, and Murray was then hauled off moments later.

His replacement Florin Andone went down on the edge of the box Kongolo as the home side cranked through the gears.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jahanbakhsh forced Jonas Lossl into a save as Brighton continued to pour forward, with Andone also denied by the Danish goalkeeper.

Brighton eventually broke through with just over 10 minutes to go as Andone flicked home a header to send the Amex wild.

Relief for Brighton.