Marcus Bettinelli

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change as Timothy Fosu-Mensah went down holding his right arm, in lots of pain, and the Manchester United loanee was withdrawn for Cyrus Christie just seven minutes in.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.

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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.

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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.

Could Joe Hart return to the England squad?

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Gareth Southgate is planning a trip to Turf Moor this Saturday, and that could mean big things for 31-year-old goalkeeper Joe Hart.

The former Manchester City starter and longtime England #1 has fallen out of the setup after a dip in form that led to not only his fall down the England depth chart, but also his exit from the Etihad. After losing his starting spot at City in 2016, a loan move to Italian club Torino was the beginning of the end for Hart’s international job.

Or was it?

Jordan Pickford, who was one of the best goalkeepers at the World Cup this summer, is firmly entrenched in the starting spot. However, there are murky waters surrounding the backup job, and that’s where Hart could find himself back in the mix.

England boss Gareth Southgate has insisted publicly that the position is open for the taking. Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is expected to be the man Southgate calls upon during the October international break, but that’s nowhere near set in stone. Burnely’s Nick Pope, who served as backup at the World Cup without seeing game action, is out injured for a significant amount of time with a dislocated shoulder. Jack Butland‘s stock has dropped after Stoke City was relegated, and now the Potters toil in the bottom third of the Championship standings. Fulham shot-stopper Marcus Bettinelli was called up in early September, but he did not feature, and the 26-year-old hardly even has the confidence of his own club manager.

So, could Hart earn himself a spot in the rotation? With Pope injured, the 31-year-old has stepped in at Burnley and performed at a decent level despite just a single point for the club through the first five Premier League matches. With few concrete options, it’s possible a familiar face could be back in the England squad.

Reports: Fulham signs goalkeeper Sergio Rico from Sevilla

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Craven Cottage continues to be a hub of activity this summer as the wheeling and dealing from the Khan family continues.

Already with seven signings this transfer window, Fulham has gone out and reportedly grabbed another. According to reports in both Spain and England, the Whites have grabbed Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico on loan. Upon completion, Rico would be Fulham’s eighth signing of the summer and second goalkeeper inked this window. The signing is being reported by both AS in Spain and Sky Sports in England, among others.

The move is a slightly odd one. Fulham shelled out $5 million to sign Besiktas netminder Fabri, but the 30-year-old Spaniard has been shaky in his preseason appearances.

[ MORE: Chelsea announces Courtois move to Real Madrid ]

Considering Fabri’s weak start in White, this move seems to suggest that the club was pushed by one of two possible factors: either Fabri’s poor start was so alarming to the club that they felt obligated to make immediate amends, or incumbent starter Marcus Bettinelli is either injured or on his way out. 26-year-old Bettinelli, a former England U-21 international, was spectacular last season for Fulham in the Championship, snatching the starting job from David Button midway through the season and lost just two games of the 26 he started.

One would think, based on resumes, that Rico would come in and immediately become the starter. While Bettinelli is a local hero and a fan favorite, he doesn’t have the track record that Rico does despite his young age. The Spaniard has made 170 total appearances for Sevilla since joining the senior team from the youth squad as a 20-year-old in 2014. In addition, it’s possible Bettinelli is hurt, which may have triggered the transfer in the first place.

No matter the circumstances, the signing is a quality one for the Whites. Goalkeeper was one position that still felt shaky heading into the season, in part due to Fabri’s unconvincing preseason. Now, it becomes yet another squad strength. The Whites have had a busy summer, signing the likes of midfielder Jean-Michael Seri, winger Andre Schurrle, and defenders Alfie Mawson and Calum Chambers.

On the other side of things, the departure of Rico is an odd one for Sevilla. Rico lost his starting spot late last season to 25-year-old David Soria, but he has since left for Getafe. If Rico does indeed head out as well, it would leave just 29-year-old Thomas Vaclik as the only goalkeeper left on the senior team.

Stoke signs goalkeeper Jack Butland to contract extension

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Premier League club Stoke City has locked down one of its brightest young starts until 2019, as 22-year-old goalkeeper Jack Butland has signed on for the next four years, the club announced.

The news of his extension comes on the same day that England manager Roy Hodgson told media that Butland is his third-choice goalkeeper for the upcoming friendlies behind Joe Hart and Fraser Forster.

“He’s a player that Mark Hughes holds in very high regard and Roy Hodgson’s decision underlines his standing in the English game,” Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes said in the club announcement. “Jack is a very ambitious young man and wants to play first team football on a regular basis for Stoke City.  There’s genuine competition for the goalkeeping spot at the Club with Asmir Begovic, Jack and Thomas Sorensen and Jack has made no secret of his desire to be our No. 1.”

Butland has long been touted as a top goalkeeping talent in England, but has never truly broken through into the first team at Stoke since transferring from Birmingham City in 2013. He’s spent much of his time on loan, including at Derby County in the first half of this season, making six appearances in the Championship. The Bristol-born keeper has been back at his parent club since late November and hasn’t appeared in the Premier League since.

He’s been on the cusp of the English first-team as well, owning 27 U-21 appearances (good for eighth all-time on the U-21 team) and a single senior cap coming back in 2012. So far he’s held off Fulham’s Marcus Bettinelli and Watford’s Jonathan Bond to hold down the starting spot for the English U-21 team, and appears to be the first-choice for England’s team in the U-21 European Championships this summer in the Czech Republic.

Premier League Transfer Window Grade: Fulham

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Window Shopping: Heading into January Fulham were in precarious territory in 16th place, two points above the drop. Failing to earn a single league point throughout all of January the Cottagers now find themselves bottom of the table, four points adrift of safety.

The situation required Fulham to boost their striker ranks, add some creative midfielders and provide depth to the back line. And they managed to do so in purchasing Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou and bringing in a number of key loan deals in Clint Dempsey, William Kvist, Lewis Holtby and Johnny Heitinga.

Players In: Kostas Mitroglou (Olympiakos, £12m), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders, Loan), William Kvist (Stuttgart, Loan), Lewis Holtby (Tottenham, Loan), John Heitinga (Everton, Loan), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Manchester United, Undisclosed), Larnell Cole (Manchester United, Undisclosed).

Players Out: Stephen Arthurworrey (Tranmere, Loan), Marcus Bettinelli (Accrington Stanley, Loan), Jack Grimmer (Port Vale, Loan), Bryan Ruiz (PSV Eindhoven, Loan), Aaron Hughes (QPR, Loan), Dimitar Berbatov (Monaco, Loan), Philipe Senderos (Valencia, Undisclosed).

RECAP: All the deals on deadline day

Grade: A-

New manager René Meulensteen had his work cut out for him entering January and arguably did more to change his side’s fate than any other manager in the Premier League. The acquisition of Mitroglou gives the Cottagers a proven, physically-imposing and skillful striker who looks tailor-made for the Premier League.

In Holtby, they’ve acquired a bright-spirited, creative midfielder who’s hungry to prove himself to both his parent club, Spurs, and his national team, Germany. The lanky William Kvist looks a real find as well while Dempsey provides experience and added depth, even if he looks off the pace so far. Heitinga provides depth to the back line although he’s not the kind of game-changing defender fans would’ve hope to bring in.

Meulensteen showed a keen eye for the future as well, signing Manchester United youngsters Ryan Tunnicliffe and Larnell Cole. But perhaps the most important move the Dutch manager made was to rid his side of cancers, Adel Taraabt and Dimitar Berbatov. Both players, while talented, looked completely disinterested at Craven Cottage and had to go. Sending the underpeforming Bryan Ruiz out on loan was also a smart decision.

Talent-wise, there’s little question Fulham should stay up. Now fans have to hope Meulensteen has assembled the right cast of characters to keep the club in England’s top-flight.