Stefan Jovetic

AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap: Hat tricks for Jovetic, Wagner, Lewandowski

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UEFA World Cup qualifying’s sixth set of matches continued Saturday, with goals pouring into nets around Europe.

A trio of players netted hat tricks, while three road teams scooped up wins in the race for Russia 2018.

[ MORE: Giroud scores outrageous volley ]

Poland 3-1 Romania

Robert Lewandowski scored thrice, twice from the spot, as Poland remains in pole position for an automatic World Cup spot. The Eagles lead Denmark and Montenegro by six points, and next travels to the former.

Montenegro 4-1 Armenia

A day of hat tricks continued in Podgorica, where Stevan Jovetic scored in the 28th, 54th, and 82nd minutes.

Germany 7-0 San Marino

Sandro Wagner is making up for lost time. Hoffenheim’s big 29-year-old center forward nabbed a hat trick to give him three goals in three caps as the Germans ran rout over San Marino. Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi was also among the scorers.

Norway 1-1 Czech Republic

An Alexander Soderlund penalty gave the hosts an equalizer, but Norway knew a win was a must in this home encounter. The Czechs are now four points back of second place Northern Ireland in Group C.

 

Lithuania 1-2 Slovakia

Vladimir Weiss and Marek Hamisk scored for a narrow road win, and Slovakia is within two points of leaders England.

 

Azerbaijan 0-1 Northern Ireland

Milli is a challenge, especially at home, and Northern Ireland needed 90-plus to find a winner. Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas did the trick in the second minute of stoppage time to keep NI in control of its second place destiny.

Kazakhstan 1-3 Denmark

Ajax teenage star Kasper Dolberg scored his first senior goal in stoppage time, and Spurs’ Christian Eriksen also scored as the visitors took all three points.

Scotland 2-2 EnglandRECAP

A pair of Leigh Griffiths’ free kicks gave the Scots a late 2-1 lead, but Harry Kane scored an equalizer to keep England unbeaten in qualifying. England still hosts Slovenia and Slovakia, each of whom are within a win of the Three Lions.

Slovenia 2-0 Malta

Fiorentina veteran Josip Ilicic scored the opener, and 38-year-old Milivoje Novaković closed out the keep Slovenia within sight of England in Group F.

VIDEO — Manuel Pellegrini: Manchester City “may be without three strikers for at least one month”

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The injuries are beginning to pile up for Manchester City, causing manager Manuel Pellegrini one or two problems each week once it’s time to fill out his teamsheet.

Pellegrini, speaking after his side’s 1-0 victory over Leicester City on Saturday,  revealed that he may be without each of Sergio Aguero, Stefan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko, the latter of which was a late scratch after picking up a calf injury during Saturday’s warmups, for “at least one month.”

Aguero suffered knee ligament damage last weekend that will sideline him for four to six weeks, while Jovetic has yet another hamstring injury. Pellegrini expects none of the three will be back before the new year, meaning City may be forced to dip into the transfer market come Jan. 1.

Premier League Saturday highlights: Manchester United skirts by Arsenal, Newcastle gets fifth straight win

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Another Saturday round of Premier League matches has come to a close, and here we have the main highlights.

Manchester City edged Swansea City, 2-1, thanks in part to an excellent run and close-range finish by Yaya Toure to provide the Sky Blues with the winner. Stefan Jovetic cancelled out Wilfred Bony’s ninth-minute goal with a score of his own ten minutes later. Manchester United also snagged three points against Arsenal due to a Kieran Gibbs’ own goal and Wayne Rooney’s late tap-in conversion on the counterattack.

[RELATED: Premier League standings]

Chelsea defeated West Brom 2-0, with first-half goals from Diego Costa and Eden Hazard sending them seven points clear at the top of the table. Moussa Sissoko propelled Newcastle United to a fifth straight win over Queens Park Rangers, while Leicester City and Sunderland ended their competition in a scoreless draw.

Romelu Lukaku buried a goal off a blocked shot for Everton, and Leo Osman’s sliding effort accounted for both tallies in the Toffees’ 2-1 win over West Ham. Mauro Zarate’s score, though, had the Hammers level at the beginning of the second half.

Danny Ings’ brace gave relegation-threatened Burnley a 2-1 victory over Stoke City.

 

Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Who’s going where?

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This morning we are going to take a quick look around Europe to see which transfer rumors have surfaced.

With plenty of big money deals already flying around, and new managers building their squads hurriedly behind the scenes, this summer is set to see plenty of transfer activity.

Let us begin.

The race for Christian Benteke is heating up as several clubs aim to sign Aston Villa’s 22-year-old Belgian international striker. Tottenham have offered Jermain Defoe plus cash for Villa’s top scorer, while Atletico Madrid have put in a $37.5 million bid. It seems as if these offers may be too good to turn down for Benteke, who has been extremely quite in the press on his future. But should he stay in the EPL or move abroad? A step up to Spurs or maybe even Arsenal would be a good move in my book, Benteke is made for the EPL and with better service, he should score plenty more goals, wherever he plays next season. (The Mirror)

Despite Jose Mourinho returning to Stamford Bridge, John Terry‘s time in West London could be coming to an end. The Chelsea captain is rumored to be subject of a $12 million bid from mega-rich AS Monaco, where former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri is in charge. Many thought Mourinho’s return would see 32-year-old Terry return as a regular for the Blues, but it could be the opposite. And oh yeah, Terry was spotted in Portugal yacht-shopping today, just a coincidence? A luxury yacht would be more at home in Monaco than on the River Thames. Perhaps. (Telegraph)

Meanwhile Mourinho has already angered Arsene Wenger by hijacking Arsenal’s bid to sign Fiorentina’s Stefan Jovetic. The new Chelsea boss has wasted no time identifying targets, and the $35 million rated forward is top of Mourinho’s wanted list. The Montenegro striker has been tracked by Arsenal and Manchester United, but the 23-year-old would be a great signing for Chelsea. Where would he fit into their vast array of attacking talents? Your guess is as good as mine. (The Times)

Elsewhere Argentinian winger Ignacio Scocco has been linked with a moved to Sunderland. The 28-year-old Al-Ain player has been looking to move away from the United Arab Emirates and could get his wish as Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio overhauls his squad this summer. He spent last season on loan at Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, scoring 27 goals in 36 games. Sunderland were woeful in front of goal last year, scoring just 41 in 38 games, so his attacking intent excite fans. The only stumbling block could be his $90,000 weekly wage. (Sunderland Echo)

Edin Dzeko could be joining Mourinho at Chelsea too, as the 27-year-old Manchester City striker is just the type of player Chelsea’s new manager is looking for. Dzeko has found himself often coming off the bench at City, but with his tall powerful frame and impressive hold up play, he could resemble something similar to Didier Drogba in his prime. With Chelsea taking Dzeko they would step aside from the race for Edinson Cavani, to sweeten the deal for City as they’ve been chasing Napoli’s Uruguayan forward intently. (Daily Star)

In Spain, reports this morning have Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain joining Arsenal. Newspaper AS say that Tottenham, Liverpool and Juventus are also interested but Arsenal are in the driving seat for the 25-year-old Argentinian forward. He has recently stated his intent to leave Madrid this summer for a fresh challenge and Arsene Wenger certainly needs a proven goalscorer to help his young Gunners squad push on to challenge for the EPL title next season. Is Higuain the missing piece in the puzzle for Arsenal? (AS)