Leicester City needed a comeback, but they prevailed in their first preseason friendly, a 2-1 victory over League One side Oxford United at Kassam Stadium in Oxford.
The hosts got on the board first with Chris Maguire burying a free kick 14 minutes in. But Leicester City took control from there, and goals from Jeffrey Schlupp and 20-year-old Demarai Gray put the Foxes into a winning position. Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth, Danny Drinkwater and Wes Morgan all featured for Leicester, while new signing Ahmed Musa also logged minutes. 18-year-old hometown kid Hamza Choudhury started next Drinkwater in N'Golo Kante‘s old position.
The Foxes weren’t the only Premier League side on a winning end today as Hull City brushed aside League Two side Mansfield Town 1-0 at One Call Stadium. 20-year old Jarrod Bowen scored the game’s only goal, but there were two other talking points. On the positive side, Peter Odemwingie featured for the Tigers on trial, as the experienced striker looks for a new club. Unfortunately for Hull, captain Michael Dawson was injured, picking up damage to his MCL.
West Ham went to Austria to take on Czech side FC Slovacko, and put in a positive performance before two late goals pegged them back to a 2-2 draw. Mark Noble bagged a long-range goal and Ashley Fletcher added a header just after halftime to put the Hammers up 2-0, but with Slaven Bilic having taken out most of the regulars as the game wound down, the Slovacko scored twice in the final five minutes.
Middlesbrough is gearing up for a return to the Premier League, but they have some work to do after a 2-1 loss to La Liga club Real Betis in Marbella, Spain. Jordan Rhodes scored his third goal of the preseason in the second half, but it was too little too late after Dani Ceballos and Ruben Castro had put the Spaniards comfortably ahead. The match was quite the step up in quality for Aitor Karanka’s side, having beaten lower-division sides York City and Doncaster so far.
Burnley came from behind, needing a late goal to draw level with League Two minnows Morecamb, finishing with a 1-1 scoreline. There was plenty of squad rotation, but Morecambe took the lead midway through the second half before Andre Gray brought it back level 10 minutes later.
Finally, Watford downed 2.Bundesliga club Union Berlin 3-1 in Austria behind goals from Etienne Capoue, Troy Deeney and Steven Berghuis. Capoue needed just 13 minutes to put the Hornets ahead, and Deeney bagged one from the penalty spot just before halftime. Odion Ighalo was also bright, assisting Capoue’s opener and nearly scoring soon after.
The Toffees beat fellow Premier League side Stoke City on penalty kicks, while Arsenal thrashed Singapore Select XI 4-0.
All four teams will be back in action on Saturday, with Stoke playing Singapore in the third-place match and Everton and Arsenal battling it out for the Barclays Asia Trophy. Remember, you can stream both of those games live online via NBC Sports Live Extra by clicking on the link above.
A slightly nervy encounter between two PL sides to kick things off, but as the game wore on Everton looked the more likely to score and deserved to prevail on penalty kicks. Stoke looked lively early on as Peter Odemwingie could have scored but side-footed wide, then Marko Arnautovic was thwarted by a superb sliding tackle from Phil Jagielka. Romelu Lukaku caused Stoke’s defense plenty of problems but new Danish goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard saved well from Steven Naismith and Gerard Deulofeu., while U.S. international Geoff Cameron made several key interceptions at center back for Stoke. Plus, Tim Howard looked steady and assured in goal for Everton.
The sides couldn’t be separated in normal time so penalty kicks were needed and Stoke’s on-loan winger Marco van Ginkel was the only player to fail from the spot as Howard saved his PK to hand Everton a place in Saturday’s final.
Arsenal 4-0 Singapore
Chuba Akpom scored a hat trick to lead Arsenal to a routine 4-0 win over a Singapore Select XI in Wednesday’s other semifinal. Akpom finished off a lighting-fast counter attack in the first half to put the Gunners 1-0 up and despite a well-organized Singapore frustrating the PL side, the floodgates opened after half time. First Jack Wilshere made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Matheiu Debuchy was clipped in the box, then Akpom grabbed his second and Arsenal’s third with another penalty kick. Late on the young striker scored his hat trick as Hector Bellerin clipped in a perfect ball from the right which Akpom headed home. 4-0 to the Gunners, as U.S. national team youngster Gedion Zelalem got a 30 minute run out at the end alongside plenty of Arsenal’s other youngsters.
On Saturday, Bosnia and Herzegovina were eliminated from their first World Cup, thanks to a 1-0 loss to Nigeria. The Dragons are going home, but they’re not about to do so quietly. They first want to speak about the injustice they felt was doled out by New Zealand referee Peter O’Leary.
In the 21st minute, Edin Džeko latched on to a through ball from Zvjezdan Misimović, lashing the ball past Vincent Enyeama and into the back of the net. The flag was raised and the goal ruled offside. Unfairly, thought the Bosnia team, as did almost everyone watching the replay at home.
Less than ten minutes later, Peter Odemwingie scored what would ultimately be Nigeria’s winner. But defender Emir Spahić appeared to have been fouled in the build-up to the goal, and Bosnia were upset that it had been allowed to stand.
The referee was shameful. We are going home and we are sad because of that but this referee should be going home too. He changed the result and he changed the game. That’s why we lost. It was obviously a foul on our captain. And before when I scored the goal, it was never offside. We fought till the end but we didn’t have luck today.
Džeko, and Bosnia, likely have a legitimate complaint, at least when it comes to the disallowed goal. Had it stood, the match could’ve taken on a much different tone. Instead, Bosnia are left with a sour taste in their mouth, having been unceremoniously ejected from their first World Cup.
After seven months without an international goal, Jozy Altidore has some momentum to take into Brazil. With goals in the 32nd and 68th minutes, the previously slumping United States international scored his first goals since World Cup qualifying in October, helping the U.S. complete a perfect send-off series with a 2-1 win over Nigeria in Jacksonville, Fla.
Altidore opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark with a tap-in after a pass from Fabian Johnson left him with an empty goal. In the second half, a right-footed blast from 14 yards out saw Altidore beat Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama inside his right post, giving the Sunderland striker his 23rd international goal.
A 86th minute penalty conceded by Matt Besler allowed Victor Moses to score from the spot, preventing Tim Howard from keeping a clean sheet in his 100th international appearance. Over the full 90, however, the U.S. put in the most impressive performance of its send-off series, giving the team reason to belief it’s still improving ahead of its June 16th World Cup opener against Ghana.
Tweaking his lineup from last weekend’s win over Turkey, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann brought Kyle Beckerman and Alejandro Bedoya into midfield at the expense of Brad Davis and Graham Zusi. Combined with a switch in Clint Dempsey’s positioning, the U.S. was prepared to commit and extra man to the battle in the midfield. Altidore’s early work also portrayed a team committed to complicating Nigeria’s life in the middle third.
The moves left the visitors controlling possession but only generating corner kicks, with the U.S. playing on the counter. In the 32nd minute, the U.S.’s approach paid off when a quick movement down the right flank allowed Bedoya to find an on-rushing Johnson at the edge of the six-yard box. With a square ball between the goalkeeper and defense, the right back found Altidore running between Nigeria’s central defenders. The pass allowed Altidore to finish into an empty net – his first goal of 2014.
Through halftime, the Nigerians continued to control the ball, but most of the Super Eagles’ possession was mostly passive. The team didn’t register a shot on Howard until a speculative chance from Ogenyi Onazi in the 41st minute. By the 44th minute, however, Nigeria had finally come into the match, nearly scoring an equalizer when Efe Ambrose was left unmarked on a corner. While the U.S. made it to intermission with its one-goal lead, Nigeria reached the locker room with some positives.
Soon after returning to the field, Nigeria resumed its control of the ball, but the pressure the team generated at the end of the first half evaporated. Unchanged in its approach, the United States continued funneling play wide before frustrating its opponents, leaving the Super Eagles’ hopes resting on occasional corner kicks and dead ball chances. Through the hour-mark, Nigeria had generated only one good chance on goal.
In the 65th minute, after the U.S. began seeing more of the ball, a strong read from Enyeama was needed to keep the Nigerians in the match. Fed toward the edge of the penalty area by Bradley, Dempsey’s cut back on a Nigerian defender gave him an open look on goal. At the moment Dempsey shed his opponent, however, Enyeama came off his line, cutting down all of the U.S. captain’s angles.
Three minutes later, the pressure the U.S. had exerted since the 60th minute paid off, giving Altidore a two-goal performance to carry into Brazil. In transition, a diagonal from Bradley left Altidore one-on-one against Ambrose. Allowed to cut back onto his right foot, Altidore beat Enyeama with a shot inside the near post, giving the U.S. a 2-0 lead.
Frustrated, perhaps fatigued, the passive control Nigeria had experienced to wane. The U.S. was winning possession more often, proving more dangerous on the counter when they did. In the 79th minute, a pass rolled behind the defense by Altidore saw Dempsey again denied by Enyeama, who smothered a through ball just inside the penalty box.
Moments later, Howard had to sprint off his own line to scoop up a Nigeria ball. Then, in the 84th minute, a lapse in defense allowed Emmanuel Emenike to get behind Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, forcing Howard to absorb a shot to keep his clean sheet. Though the U.S. proved more dangerous in the match’s final half-hour, the same late uncertainties that emerged against Turkey were present in Jacksonville.
Ultimately, just as they did against the Turks in Harrison, N.J., the U.S. gave up a late penalty kick that halved the score. Sending his fellow Premier League player the wrong way, Victor Moses beat Howard inside his left post, making it 2-1 after Matt Besler conceded the chance from the spot.
Controlling most of the game’s final minutes, the U.S. eventually completed its first perfect send-off series, scoring six times while conceding twice in its three games before Brazil. Now, however, the games start to count. In nine days, the U.S. kicks off its 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where a Ghanaian team that’s eliminated the U.S. from the last two finals will prove a greater challenge.
United States: Tim Howard; Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley (Timothy Chandler 75′); Kyle Beckerman (Mix Diskerud 72′), Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya (Graham Zusi 60′); Clint Dempsey (Chris Wondolowski 88′), Jozy Altidore (Omar Gonzalez 80′)
Goals: Altidore 32′, 68′
Nigeria: Vincent Enyeama; Juwon Oshaniwa, Joseph Yobo, Godfrey Oboabona, Efe Ambrose; Victor Moses, Ogenyi Onazi, John Obi-Mikel (Gabriel Reuben 46′), Ramon Azeez (Michael Uchebo 74′), Peter Odemwingie (Michel Babatunde 46′); Shola Ameobi (Emmanuel Emenike 65′)