MLS

MLS: Chicharito nets as Galaxy snap winless run to boost playoffs hopes, leaders New England stumble

By Sports Desk October 17, 2021

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez got on the scoresheet as LA Galaxy breathed life in their MLS playoffs aspirations with a 2-1 home win over Portland Timbers on Saturday.

Sacha Kljestan netted a stoppage-time penalty to clinch all three points for Galaxy, who had been in a freefall with a winless nine-game span.

Chicharito poked in at the back post for the opening goal in the 62nd minute, pouncing on Larrys Mabiala's defensive error from Victor Vazquez's ball into the box.

The Timbers equalized 10 minutes later when Sebastian Blanco's cross-cum-shot drifted over Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond and in off the post.

Blanco hit the upright from a long-range effort, before LA won a penalty when substitute Efrain Alvarez was brought down inside the box by Josecarlos Van Rankin.

Kljestan fired low to Timbers keeper Steve Clark's right for the winner which moves Galaxy up to 42 points, retaining their grip on sixth spot in the Western Conference.

Supporters Shield-leading New England Revolution conceded late as they drew 2-2 at home with Chicago Fire.

The sides traded four goals in the second half, with Wilfred Kaptoum drilling in a low opener in the 47th minute before Alvaro Medran equalized instantly with a classy volley.

Gustavo Bou netted his 13th goal of the season to restore Revolution's lead with a deft lob from Carles Gil's lofted pass in behind the defence in the 76th minute.

Bou was denied by Chicago keeper Gabriel Slonina before Brian Gutierrez danced forward for the visitors, finding Ignacio Aliseda who fired home an angled 88th minute leveller.

Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders missed the chance to close on New England after going down 2-1 at Houston Dynamo.

Maxi Urruti scored a spectacular volley to put Houston ahead on the quarter hour, with Darwin Quintero doubling their lead with a fine solo left-foot strike in the 20th minute.

Jimmy Medranda halved the deficit with a rifled 41st minute shot after recycling an over-hit corner, although Houston came closest to a second-half goal, hitting the woodwork four times, before Seattle's Joao Paulo had a stoppage-time free-kick cannon into the crossbar.

Real Salt Lake solidified their grip on a playoffs spot with a 3-1 home victory over Colorado Rapids, who are third in the Western Conference.

Minnesota United remained ahead of RSL by two points with a 1-0 triumph at lowly Austin thanks to Franco Frangapane's 16th-minute strike.

US international Gyasi Zardes netted a double as Columbus Crew thrashed Inter Miami 4-0, condemning them to their sixth straight defeat, during which they have scored one goal and conceded 16 times.

Luiz Araujo and Marcelino Moreno both netted late in each half as 10-man Atlanta United triumphed 2-0 at Toronto.

Junior Urso netted early as Orlando City eased past struggling Cincinnati 1-0, while DC United and Nashville drew 0-0 with the visitors recorded a draw for the fourth successive game.

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  • Cameroon 1-0 Brazil: Indomitable Lions bow out despite last-gasp Aboubakar strike Cameroon 1-0 Brazil: Indomitable Lions bow out despite last-gasp Aboubakar strike

    Vincent Aboubakar fired Cameroon to a last-gasp 1-0 win over Brazil before being sent off on Friday, but it was not enough to save the Indomitable Lions from an early World Cup exit – or to prevent the Selecao from topping Group G.

    Having seen Brazil secure a place in the round of 16 by beating Switzerland last time out, Tite made nine changes to his side, which resulted in a disjointed Selecao showing at the Lusail Stadium.

    Devis Epassy kept Cameroon in the contest with several fine saves before Aboubakar nodded home a stoppage-time winner for Rigobert Song's men – and was promptly shown a second yellow card for removing his shirt.

    However, the result was ultimately immaterial as Switzerland clung on to beat Serbia 3-2 in the group's other game, ensuring Brazil topped the pool and sealing Cameroon's elimination. 

  • Serbia 2-3 Switzerland: Shaqiri silences the jeers Serbia 2-3 Switzerland: Shaqiri silences the jeers

    Switzerland playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri proved Serbia's nemesis once more by helping knock Dragan Stojkovic's men out of the World Cup on a tumultuous night at Stadium 974.

    Shaqiri netted a last-minute winner against Serbia at the 2018 tournament in Russia and celebrated by making an eagle shape with his hands to show his support for Kosovo, the country of his birth and a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. That independence is not recognised by Serbia. 

    The Chicago Fire man was booed and jeered throughout while at least one Serbia fan was thrown out for anti-Kosovo chanting.

    Shaqiri had the last laugh with the opening goal as Switzerland, who came into the game knowing a draw would most likely be enough, advanced from Group G with a dramatic 3-2 win, alongside Brazil despite their surprise 1-0 defeat to Cameroon.

    Switzerland nearly went ahead inside the first minute when Granit Xhaka's partially blocked shot fell beautifully for Breel Embolo but Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic made a smart block before parrying Xhaka's follow up.

    Andrija Zivkovic struck the post from 20 yards in response for Serbia but Murat Yakin's men deservedly led after 20 minutes.

    Djibril Sow recovered Ricardo Rodriguez's left-wing cross and nudged it into the path of Shaqiri, who fired home via a deflection off Strahinja Pavlovic before running off to celebrate by putting a finger to his lips in front of the s

    Serbia responded superbly six minutes later when Dusan Tadic's left-wing cross was guided brilliantly past Gregor Kobel by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

    Shaqiri arrowed wide when clean through, before Tadic impressed again to find Vlahovic, who turned smartly to fire past Kobel despite Remo Freuler almost taking the ball away from the Juventus striker.

    It was Switzerland’s turn to dig deep and they did so admirably, Embolo turning in Silvan Widmer’s cross at the far post to make it the first time since England v Argentina in 1998 that both teams had scored at least twice in a World Cup game before half-time.

    Switzerland completed the turnaround three minutes into the second half. Shaqiri chipped the ball in for Ruben Vargas, who flicked the ball beautifully on for Freuler to finish expertly.

    Tempers frayed as Serbia sensed their time in Qatar was coming to an end - substitute goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic was booked for encroaching on to the pitch to confront the referee while a public address announcement asked for Serbian fans to stop making discriminatory chants and gestures.

    There was one final flashpoint deep into stoppage time when Nikola Milenkovic and Xhaka clashed with several players looking to get involved. Both Milenkovic and Xhaka - another man with ethnic Albanian heritage linked to Kosovo - were booked.
     

    What does it mean? Ronaldo and Portugal await

    While Switzerland go on to a meeting with Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday, Serbia will head home.

    On the balance of play it was the right outcome. Switzerland wobbled towards the end of the first half but, for the most part, played with a composure that Serbia lacked.

    Shaqiri joins illustrious duo

    Shaqiri may be the man the Serbian fans love to hate but he showed his endearing quality once more with Switzerland's opening goal.

    It meant he became just one of three players to score at each of the last three World Cup tournaments. The other two? Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

    Evergreen Tadic shows his class

    Tadic may be 34 but he remains Serbia's creative hub. He supplied the opener with a delicious cross from the left and was also instrumental in the second, although Freuler should have done better with his attempted clearance.

    Whether he continues to play international football remains to be seen but he will leave a sizeable hole should he opt to stand down.

    What's next?

    Switzerland finish as runners-up to Brazil in Group G, and go on to face Portugal in four days' time.

    Serbia go home having taken just one point from their three games, against Cameroon.

  • Sorry Suarez aims FIFA jibe as Uruguay are left stunned by World Cup exit Sorry Suarez aims FIFA jibe as Uruguay are left stunned by World Cup exit

    Luis Suarez claimed FIFA "is always against Uruguay" as his World Cup career ended in tears and a group-stage exit in Qatar.

    The former Barcelona, Liverpool and Atletico Madrid striker played in Friday's 2-0 win against Ghana, which came thanks to a double from Giorgian de Arrascaeta.

    Veteran Suarez was substituted before the end and was a helpless observer when Edinson Cavani was denied a late penalty after going over in the Ghana 18-yard box.

    Suarez felt that was a reasonable claim, and he also considered Uruguay should have had a spot-kick early in the second half after Darwin Nunez went down.

    Despite referee Daniel Siebert assessing the Nunez incident on a pitchside monitor, the match official ruled it should not be a penalty.

    Suarez had tears streaming as Uruguay's exit was confirmed, with South Korea pipping them to a last-16 spot after a 2-1 win over Portugal. Another Uruguay goal would have seen them pip the South Koreans to second spot.

    Suarez pointed to group winners Portugal being awarded a disputed penalty against Uruguay in Monday's game between the teams, saying that "hurt" in terms of goal difference. Relating it to incidents in the Ghana game, Suarez added: "The penalty against Darwin is very clear. Edi's also has contact."

    Calling on FIFA, the world governing body, to "give an explanation" about the rationale for penalty decisions, Suarez added: "They are not excuses, but incredible things are taking place in the World Cup."

    He claimed to have been prevented from going across to his family following the final whistle against Ghana, too.

    "After the game I want to go hug my family, and people from FIFA come to tell me no," Suarez said, "when you see a Frenchman with his children on the substitute bench.

    "It seems that Uruguay has to have more power. FIFA is always against Uruguay."

    Suarez, at the age of 35, is winding down his playing career but hoped for a flourish on the world stage. Instead, his tournament ended in a pot shot at tournament chiefs.

    He had to settle for a small consolation, but even winning in front of his little boy left a sorry taste.

    "I was lucky to play my fourth World Cup. And what I thought about before the match was my four-year-old son, who hadn't seen me win a World Cup match," Suarez said.

    "Today, he saw me win, but he sees this image of sadness and I think that's it. For a father, for a player it is very difficult, but we are going to face the situation and encourage our team-mates for what lies ahead."

    Team-mate Federico Valverde underlined the dismay in the Uruguay ranks, with South Korea's late winner from Hwang Hee-chan against Portugal having snatched away second place.

    "There is much sadness and disappointment," Valverde said. "This is a very good group, of players and the coaching staff. Everyone's family was always there to help us.

    "People supported us and encouraged us in difficult times, and it's a great sadness. We are sad for not having given the country the joy it deserves."

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