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Int’l friendlies: Sweden fall to Chile; Canada win Herdman’s debut

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A roundup of Saturday’s (less-than-stellar) slate of international friendlies…

[ MORE: France blow a lead, lose to Colombia; England top Holland ]

Sweden 1-2 Chile

Sweden, who’ll be at the 2018 World Cup, fell 1-0 behind Chile, who won’t be joining them in Russia, when Arturo Vidal hit a simply stunning, off-balance volley into the upper-90 from the edge of the box in the 22nd minute. Ola Toivonen brought Sweden back to 1-1 just a minute later, but Marcos Bolados broke Blagult hearts in the 90th minute, when he pounced on a bouncing rebound and hammered the ball into an open net.

[ MORE: New USMNT kits for 2018 World Cup ]

Northern Ireland 2-1 South Korea

Speaking of World Cup-bound sides falling to those who failed to qualify themselves, South Korea went ahead away to Northern Ireland after just seven minutes, but watched helplessly as Kwon Chang-Hoon’s opening goal slipped away from the Taeguk Warriors.

Min-Jae Kim scored a mostly unavoidable own goal in the 20th minute, and Paul Smyth slipped through a sea of South Korean defenders to fire home a wonderful winner in the 86th minute.

Canada 1-0 New Zealand

Among the national teams not currently preparing for this summer’s tournament, but instead building toward qualification in 2022, there’s Canada, who knocked off New Zealand in Murcia, Spain, to begin the John Herdman era with a victory on Saturday.

Tosaint Ricketts scored the game’s only goal, a 54th-minute volley from the Toronto FC forward, courtesy of a long, searching ball out of the back from defender Dejan Jakovic.

Herdman took over the Canadian men’s post in January, when he stepped down as head coach of the women’s team, which he led to two straight appearances in each the World Cup and Olympics during eight years on the job.

Come September, the Canucks will be competing in the CONCACAF Nations League, a 34-team tournament featuring all but the six nations to have competed in the Hexagonal of World Cup qualifying. The top 10 finishing sides will qualify for the 2019 Gold Cup, alongside the Hex combatants. Canada will face the U.S. Virgin Islands in September, followed by Dominica in October, Saint Kitts and Nevis in November, and finally French Guiana in March 2019.

Elsewhere in int’l friendlies

Israel 1-2 Romania
Togo 2-2 Ivory Coast
Georgia 4-0 Lithuania
Zambia 0-2 South Africa
Kenya 2-2 Comoros
Kosovo 1-0 Madagascar
Armenia 0-0 Estonia

Transfer Talk: Ronaldo to Chelsea? Hazard to MCFC?

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Sunday’s transfer rumors are coming in hot, so you better buckle up.

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Perhaps Real Madrid’s inconsistency this season could bring good fortunes to the defending Premier League champions.

The Sun is reporting that Cristiano Ronaldo is considering a move to Chelsea this summer, with the Portuguese international content on leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

While London may seem a bit strange as a choice of destination for Ronaldo, especially given his past at Manchester United, the Red Devils likely cancelled out any chance of bringing back the star forward when they recently acquired Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal.

However, any move to bring Ronaldo to Stamford Bridge is likely contingent on Chelsea losing Eden Hazard over the summer.

Although the Belgian star is under contract with the Blues until 2020, Hazard has been linked time and time again with Real and Paris Saint-Germain, so if the 27-year-old does leave then Ronaldo would clearly be a suitable replacement.


Hazard could very well stay in the PL though, whether that be with Chelsea or another top English side.

One report states that Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are preparing to launch an astonishing $212 million bid for the Chelsea attacker.

Hazard, who has scored 12 goals this season for the Blues, nearly joined the Citizens back in 2012 when he first came to Stamford Bridge.

Complications in the deal with Man City stopped the move from going through, and allowed the Blues to acquire the Belgian.


Arturo Vidal could be on his way to the PL this summer, with Bayern Munich reportedly interested in selling the Chilean international.

Chelsea have been linked with the veteran midfielder for some time now, however, the Manchester Evening News is reporting that Manchester United could make a play for the 30-year-old.

A move to Stamford Bridge makes a bit more sense given Conte’s track record having coached Vidal at Juventus, but Jose Mourinho seems intent on adding more to his Red Devils squad, too.

Bundesliga wrap: Bayern’s walking away with it (again)

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Remember when the Bundesliga threatened to give us a title race? Those were the days.

[ MORE: Premier League roundup ]

Bayern Munich won again on the road, improving its goal differential to 24 and stretching its table lead thanks to draws for RB Leipzig, Schalke, and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Maybe next year.

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Werder Bremen

Soon-to-be 21-year-old Maximilian Eggestein saw his early goal canceled out by — who else? — Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Czech defender Theodor Gebre Selassie restored the visitors’ lead in the 65th minute and BVB wouldn’t find an answer.

Eintracht Frankfurt 0-1 Bayern Munich

The hosts had been rather stingy, but Arturo Vidal found a break through to give Jupp Heynckes’ men another win. Bayern is now eight points clear of the pack after another win.

Borussia Monchengladbach 1-1 Schalke

Christoph Kramer’s 24th minute lead was canceled out by a second half own goal, but Schalke couldn’t find the goal to keep pace with Bayern.

Elsewhere
Stuttgart 0-2 Bayer Leverkusen — Friday
RB Leipzig 2-2 Mainz
Hamburg 0-0 Wolfsburg
Koln vs. Freiburg — 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Hannover 96 vs. Hoffenheim — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Augsburg vs. Hertha Berlin — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 15 11 2 2 35 11 24 6-1-0 5-1-2 35
 RB Leipzig 15 8 3 4 24 21 3 5-2-0 3-1-4 27
 FC Schalke 04 15 7 5 3 23 17 6 4-3-1 3-2-2 26
 Mönchengladbach 15 7 4 4 24 26 -2 4-2-2 3-2-2 25
 Bayer Leverkusen 15 6 6 3 29 19 10 3-4-0 3-2-3 24
 1899 Hoffenheim 14 6 5 3 25 18 7 4-3-1 2-2-2 23
 Borussia Dortmund 15 6 4 5 35 23 12 3-1-3 3-3-2 22
 FC Augsburg 14 6 4 4 21 16 5 3-2-2 3-2-2 22
 Eintracht Frankfurt 15 6 4 5 16 15 1 2-1-4 4-3-1 22
 Hannover 96 14 5 4 5 17 19 -2 3-2-1 2-2-4 19
 VfL Wolfsburg 15 3 9 3 20 19 1 2-5-1 1-4-2 18
 Hertha BSC Berlin 14 4 5 5 19 21 -2 3-2-3 1-3-2 17
 VfB Stuttgart 15 5 2 8 13 19 -6 5-1-1 0-1-7 17
 FSV Mainz 05 15 4 4 7 17 24 -7 4-1-3 0-3-4 16
 Hamburger SV 15 4 3 8 13 20 -7 3-2-3 1-1-5 15
 Werder Bremen 15 3 5 7 11 17 -6 2-1-4 1-4-3 14
 SC Freiburg 14 2 6 6 9 25 -16 2-5-1 0-1-5 12
 1. FC Köln 14 0 3 11 6 27 -21 0-1-5 0-2-6 3

Bundesliga: Bayern running away (again) after slow start

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BERLIN (AP) Robert Lewandowski scored twice to help Bayern Munich stretch its lead in the Bundesliga to six points with a 3-0 defeat of Bavarian rival Augsburg on Saturday.

It was the 500th league win for Jupp Heynckes as a player or coach and extends the 72-year-old’s winning start to eight games across all competitions since he returned for his fourth stint.

“That’s a surprise for me. I don’t bother with statistics and numbers,” Heynckes said on being told about his winning landmark. “But it’s an impressive number (500). I had a long career as a player, and now as a coach. It wasn’t planned.”

Heynckes was coaxed out of retirement to take over from the fired Carlo Ancelotti on Oct. 5. Bayern was trailing then-leader Borussia Dortmund by five points at the time. Now the side is nine points ahead of Dortmund, which hasn’t won in the league since Sept. 30, and six ahead of Leipzig, held to a draw at Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern midfielder Arturo Vidal broke the deadlock after half an hour, swiveling to fire home the rebound from a difficult angle after Mats Hummels’s effort was blocked and the ball ricocheted off Niklas Suele.

Vidal turned provider seven minutes later, playing Lewandowski through on a counterattack to shoot past Marwin Hitz.

The Poland striker claimed his league-leading 13th goal of the season early in the second half with a perfectly struck volley to Joshua Kimmich’s precise long cross from the right.

Vidal headed against the crossbar just afterward before Bayern conserved energy for Wednesday’s Champions League game at Anderlecht.

The win stretched the side’s unbeaten record to 28 games at home.

Winless Cologne’s terrible start to the league continued with its 10th defeat in 12 games, while the discussion over video assistance in the league will continue after two mistakes by referee Felix Brych.

Daniel Brosinski’s penalty before the break was enough for a 1-0 win for Mainz against Cologne, but how it came about will ensure the controversy over video assistance goes on.

Brych pointed to the spot when Pablo De Blasis fell under Frederik Sorensen’s challenge. He then consulted the video assistant, who had the benefit of studying replays in Cologne, and stood by the decision – despite television showing that Sorensen made hardly any contact with the Mainz player.

Brych later sent off Mainz’s Giulio Donati for what he perceived as striking Leon Bittencourt after a tussle between the two. However, Bittencourt’s foot struck Donati in the face beforehand. Donati, who was lying on the pitch clutching his face, brushed the Cologne player away when he went to lift him up.

Following controversial decisions in previous games, the German soccer federation said video assistants were only to step in when there was “a clear wrong decision.”

Ten-man Leverkusen came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at home against second-place Leipzig.

Timo Werner’s early penalty put the visitors in front before Leon Bailey equalized before the break.

The home side’s hopes took a blow when Benjamin Henrichs was sent off for handball on the line and Emil Forsberg scored the resulting penalty, but Kevin Volland equalized again with a quarter-hour remaining.

Wolfsburg defeated Freiburg 3-1 at home to give coach Martin Schmidt his first win after he started with seven draws.

On loan from Bayern, Serge Gnabry did brilliantly to set up Mark Uth for Hoffenheim’s injury-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw with visiting Eintracht Frankfurt.

WATCH: Chile’s Vidal gives a clinic on heading… with an own goal

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Maybe Chile’s Arturo Vidal really wants to see Paraguay earn a spot in the 2018 World Cup.

We’ve seen some spectacular own goals this year, from Colorado’s Jared Watts to Young Boys’ Kasim Adams Nuhu, but few ever have the genuine look of a dynamite goal.

[ MORE: PL summer transfer grades ]

Furthermore, we’ve seen Vidal score a lot of great goals, so his clinical finish of a Paraguay free kick beyond his backstop is almost impossible for a brain to process.

If Paraguay holds on to beat Chile — it’s halftime as of this post’s time — Los Guaraníes will be within two points of their Thursday hosts and closer to moving into the all-important Top Five in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.