Nigel French/PA via AP

League Cup wrap: Burton Albion, Bournemouth advance

Leave a comment

Burton Albion is a League Cup quarterfinalist for the first time.

Relegated from the Championship last season and a Conference team as recently as 2009, the Brewers built a lead and held on Tuesday to make the final eight of the EFL Cup.

[ MORE: To Real Madrid from the NCAA ]

It was one of two matches played Tuesday, as Leicester City and Southampton was postponed following the tragic death of their owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium last Saturday.

Bournemouth 2-1 Norwich City

Junior Stanislas gave the Cherries a first half lead, and the Canaries’ equalizer was answered by Steve Cook within two minutes when the defender restored Bournemouth’s advantage at the Vitality Stadium.

The Cherries avoided the fate of Cardiff City, depriving Norwich City a second Premier League upset of the tournament.

Burton Albion 3-2 Nottingham Forest

Saidy Janko and Scott Fraser helped the hosts build a 2-0 lead after a scoreless first half, and Jake Hesketh answered Lewis Grabban‘s goal to restore to two-goal lead with eight minutes to play. Andrew Appiah scored in the first minute of stoppage time, but it wasn’t a prelude to an equalizer.

The two sides had a moment of silence for Srivaddhanaprabha before the match.

Clinical Portugal tops Scotland in friendly

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alex McLeish is in a world of hurt as manager of Scotland as they fell at home to Portugal 3-1 after a host of missed opportunities and defensive errors. The visitors were at less than full strength, without Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva.

Scotland started the game in Hampden brightly and nearly had the opener as Beto was forced to make a save on his own man Sergio Oliveira. Portugal found its way into the game and missed a few chances before they bagged the first just before halftime as Wolverhampton winger Helder Costa beat Andrew Robertson to the far post where he cut inside and met Kévin Rodrigues’ cross for a sliding finish.

The hosts had chances, as Scott McKenna missed a header after the break. That would prove costly, as Portugal struck again with 19 minutes remaining through Eder. Stephen O’Donnell was the culprit as Eder beat him to the far post on a Renato Sanchez free-kick, earning an open header.

Finally, in the 84th minute, Portugal found a third as a giveaway in the midfield allowed the visitors to break. Bruma took the ball down the left flank and turned Graeme Shinnie completely around before unleashing a powerful shot into the top corner. Steven Naismith grabbed a consolation in stoppage time but the damage had been done.

The loss is the sixth in the last eight for McLeish, who admitted he was at fault for the recent struggles. “It’s never easy to lose and that was a tough weekend,” said McLeish after the match. “I have to stand up and be brave and take it forward. There’s other examples of managers being under the cosh – Michael O’Neil and the Russian camp and Stanislav Cherchesov persevered. I’ll always retain that determination.”

“It’s basic errors that we made and that is the disappointing aspect of it,” said McLeish of the mistakes at the back. “You expect the top teams to cut you open with majestic skills, but we were the perpetrators of our own mistakes. I thought there was a lot of good football. We had a good game plan, we were compact, we pressed when we had a chance to press. I know there was a few Portugal players rested but there was a still a hell of a lot of money out on that pitch.”

Waston, Kamara upset by Vancouver coaching change

Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Vancouver Whitecaps parted ways with one of the longer tenured managers in Major League Soccer, and two of its stars are not happy with the move.

Carl Robinson was fired Tuesday after nearly five years in charge of the Caps, when Vancouver elected to hire him over Bob Bradley and other candidates.

[ MORE: Pulisic shines in BVB blowout ]

But things turned sour this season, and Vancouver president Bob Lenarduzzi is hoping a late coaching change can propel the Caps back into the playoffs. Vancouver is four points back of the final spot with five matches to play.

Kendall Waston joined Vancouver at the end of Robinson’s first season, and was twice named to the MLS Best XI in addition to making the All Star Team in 2016. From MLSSoccer.com:

“It’s a difficult moment. I’m not happy at all. But as a player, you have bosses, and even if you don’t like the things that happen, you have to respect what those bosses say. … I was thinking, with five games to go, was this the right moment? Personally, I don’t think it was the right moment, but I’m not in charge of the club.”

The Costa Rican captains Vancouver, so his feelings certainly matter when it comes to how they rebound from the decision.

And star striker Kei Kamara admits he feels the firing in his bones.

“He believed in me, he believed in how I could play, he believed that I can fit the system, and I respect him so much as a coach and for everything he’s done here,” Kamara said. “So when I heard the news, I took it personally too because I feel that we did that to him as players. … I feel responsible for part of it.”

The Caps have a rough run into the end of the season, with a visit to the desperate LA Galaxy before heading across the continent to meet Toronto FC at BMO Field. They finish home to Sporting KC, away to LAFC, and home to Portland.

Gerrard: “Big result” to come back twice at Villarreal

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Steven Gerrard remains unbeaten as a manager in Europe after his toughest test yet.

The Rangers boss watched his team go down 1-0 to Villarreal after less than a minute of their Europa League group stage debut, but ended up collecting a pair of equalizers and an impressive 2-2 draw in Spain.

[ MORE: PAOK 0-1 Chelsea ]

“It’s a big result and that’s always the way, my experience in Europe, you have to come away and get something,” Gerrard said on BT Sport.

“Obviously we came here to try and win the game and we nearly did through Scott Arfield at the end. We nearly lost it as well. They pushed, which is understandable but it’s a big point for us. Now we’ve got a home game and if we can take maximum points it’s a terrific start to the group.”

Adversity was there for Rangers, from Carlos Bacca’s first minute marker to conceding a second goal two minutes after Scott Arfield made it 1-1. But the Glaswegian side answered the ball through Kyle Lafferty.

Playmaker Daniel Candeias has plenty of praise for Gerrard. From Rangers.co.uk:

“When we finished the first half, the gaffer said in the dressing room to believe in ourselves and get a great result,” Candeias said. “I know we didn’t win, but a draw is a good result for us.”

Rangers will host Rapid Vienna on Oct. 4 in their second Group G match. Rapid beat Spartak Moscow 2-0 on Thursday.

Celtic sells $23m Dembele to Lyon ahead of Old Firm match

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Old Firm Derby will have a new feel on Sunday, relatively speaking, after Celtic announced it will not keep hold of Moussa Dembele, the electric attacker who scored seven goals in eight matches against Rangers.

The 22-year-old is off to Lyon, netting Brendan Rodgers‘ side $23 million. Celtic signed Dembele on a free transfer.

[ PL PREVIEW: Leicester vs. Liverpool ]

Dembele left Fulham for Celtic in 2016, helping the Bhoys to a pair of Scottish crowns while scoring 46 goals with 18 assists.

Rodgers was not excited to announce the sale. From CelticFC.net:

“It is vital to make clear that we have never promised any player that he can leave the Club at a particular time. It has never happened. In fact, we have said all along that we did not wish to sell Moussa, given the circumstances within the transfer window and that is why we rejected a significant offer yesterday.

“However, this particular decision to accept this offer has been taken in order to serve the best interests of the first-team squad, my coaching team and the culture and environment we have created in these last two seasons.

Celtic will enter the derby one point ahead of Rangers and three behind leaders Aberdeen. They signed former West Brom man Youssouf Mulumbu and Leicester City’s Filip Benkovic on loan.

Rangers have flipped their roster under Steven Gerrard, with Roma’s Umar Sadiq and Liverpool’s Ovie Ejaria and Ryan Kent on loan. Rangers also bought Hearts’ Kyle Lafferty.