MLS

MLS: Galaxy's Chicharito goes from zero to hero, NY City stumble again

By Sports Desk May 16, 2021

Javier Hernandez went from zero to hero as the Los Angeles Galaxy continued their strong start to the 2021 MLS season with a 2-0 home triumph over newcomers Austin.

Hernandez had won a 26th minute penalty but spurned the early chance, with Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver saving to his left.

Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget got in behind the Austin defence and calmly put them ahead 10 minutes later.

Former Manchester United man Hernandez earned redemption for his missed penalty when he scored the Galaxy's second goal in the 77th minute to seal the points.

The Galaxy have four wins from five games and move into second spot in the Western Conference, while it is back-to-back losses for Austin.

Eastern Conference leaders New York City stumbled to a second consecutive draw with Toronto's Jacob Shaffelburg equalizing with a quarter of an hour to go to finish 1-1.

City, who drew at Orlando City last weekend, had gone ahead through Jess Medina in the 54th minute but could not claim the three points.

Last season's Supporters' Shield winners Philadelphia Union maintained their uplift in form with a 1-0 home victory over the New York Red Bulls.

Philadelphia have now gone three games unbeaten, with Jamaican striker Cory Burke netting a ninth minute winner.

The Red Bulls suffer their third loss of the campaign and had substitute Dru Yearwood given his marching orders late on to rub salt into their wounds.

Logan Ketterer made a penalty save as the Portland Timbers recorded a 2-0 away win over the San Jose Earthquakes.

Ketterer dived low to his left to deny veteran Chris Wondolowski from the spot in the 62nd minute with Portland up 1-0 at the time.

Yimmi Chara had earlier chipped in the opener in the fifth minute, with Marvin Loria heading home his first goal of the season in the 74th minute, condemning San Jose to a second straight home defeat.

Colorado Rapids climbed up to third in the West with a 3-1 home win over Houston Dynamo after a thrilling four-goal first-half.

Michael Barrios provided two assists while Cole Barrett scored on the stroke of half-time after an explicable error from Houston keeper Marko Maric.

Marcelino Moreno scored a 94th minute header to help Atlanta United leapfrog Montreal into second in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 win.

Finnish midfielder Robin Lod scored a last-gasp winner, forcing the ball home from close range from a corner, as last season's MLS Cup semi-finalists Minnesota United edged Dallas 1-0.

Nashville SC remain unbeaten after their fourth draw of the campaign, holding Real Salt Lake 0-0.

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    Cristiano Ronaldo is now the all-time leading goalscorer in European Championship history after netting in Portugal's Euro 2020 opener against Hungary.

    Ronaldo went into the tournament level with France great Michel Platini but his penalty late on in Budapest to move his side 2-0 ahead put him out in front.

    The Juventus star was making his 22nd European Championship appearance. Platini needed just five games to reach his nine-goal haul, all of which came at Euro 84.

    Ronaldo has other records in his sights at this tournament as well.

    His spot-kick against Hungary has taken him to within two of Miroslav Klose's record (19) for the most goals scored by a European player at the World Cup and Euros.

    Though arguably even greater than that is the fact Ronaldo is now just four behind Ali Daei's world record of 109 international goals, the Iranian scoring those in a 13-year period from 1993.

     

  • Italy v Switzerland: Can Petkovic end 28-year wait to beat the Azzurri? Italy v Switzerland: Can Petkovic end 28-year wait to beat the Azzurri?

    Switzerland will aim to defeat Italy for the first time in 28 years on Wednesday and breathe new life into their Euro 2020 campaign.

    The Azzurri were in impressive form as they opened the tournament with a 3-0 defeat of Turkey, extending their recent run to nine consecutive victories without conceding a goal.

    Switzerland dominated much of their Group A opener against Wales but saw a Kieffer Moore header cancel out Breel Embolo's opener in Baku.

    That result means Vladimir Petkovic's side could become the first team in European Championship history to draw five consecutive matches should they fail to beat Italy.

    History is not on their side – Switzerland last defeated Italy in Bern in World Cup qualifying in 1993.

    Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini was playing that day and is wary of underestimating their opponents at Stadio Olimpico, particularly with Petkovic having had two years experience at this very venue while in charge of Lazio from 2012 to 2014.

    "We know Switzerland are a team who have always caused problems for Italy," said Mancini. "They're in the top 10 or 12 of the rankings and have been for a number of years, and they have a coach in Vladimir Petkovic who knows Italian football inside out.

    "It was their opening game, it was very hot, so I think they struggled because of that. We also have them in our group for World Cup qualifying so we know they're a good team, full of talented, skilful players, so we need to produce a flawless performance and make sure we don't make any mistakes."

    Marco Verratti could be fit enough for a place on the bench after missing the win over Turkey, although full-back Alessandro Florenzi is expected to miss out after sustaining a knock.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Italy – Leonardo Spinazzola

    Among defenders, only Denzel Dumfries (six) attempted more dribbles than Spinazzola (five) before Tuesday's matches, while only three players in his position completed more final-third passes than the Roma full-back (20).

    Supporting Lorenzo Insigne down the left, Spinazzola offers a substantial threat against a Switzerland side with just three clean sheets in their past 10 Euros matches.

    Switzerland – Breel Embolo

    Any hope of penetrating the Italy defence is likely to come through Embolo, who scored Switzerland's opener in the 1-1 draw with Wales.

    No player had more shots (six) or more on target (three) in that game in Azerbaijan. He also had 10 touches in the opposition box, more than any player in the first four days of action – except, once again, for Dumfries (11).

     

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - This is the first encounter between Italy and Switzerland in the European Championship. However, they have met in two previous major tournaments: in the 1954 World Cup (as hosts, Switzerland won both games: a group stage match and a play-off) and the 1962 World Cup (Italy won 3-0 in Chile, also in the group stages).
    - Italy have lost only one of their 24 games against Switzerland on Italian soil (W18 D5): it was a friendly in October 1982 at Rome's Stadio Olimpico (0-1), in what was Italy's first game after being crowned world champions three months previously.
    - Victory will see Italy become the first team to reach the knockout stages of Euro 2020. However, the Azzurri have won both of their opening two matches in just two of their nine previous appearances at the finals, doing so in 2000 and 2016.
    - Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is looking to become the second-youngest goalkeeper in the history of the European Championship to keep a clean sheet in consecutive appearances (22y 111d on the day of this game), after Russia's Igor Akinfeev in June 2008 (22y 71d).
    - Switzerland's Haris Seferovic has had 13 shots in five appearances at the European Championship, including four in the first half of their 1-1 draw with Wales. However, he is yet to score in the competition.

  • Pedri trusts Morata to find scoring form after Spain striker misfires Pedri trusts Morata to find scoring form after Spain striker misfires

    Pedri has backed Alvaro Morata to prove he can be a leader in the Spain team after the striker had an off night in the goalless draw with Sweden.

    Morata missed one particularly golden opportunity late in the first half when he fired wide from a clear chance inside the penalty area.

    His ambitious attempt to curl the ball into the bottom-right corner suggested Morata was perhaps overthinking a straightforward task, and another squandered opening early in the second half did not reflect well on the experienced frontman.

    "He's feeling good. He is very strong mentally," Pedri said on Tuesday in a Spain news conference. "He is a great player and gives us a lot. I am convinced that from now on the goals will come."

    Morata, who spent last season on loan to Juventus from Atletico Madrid, had three goal attempts against Sweden but did not hit the target with any.

    The stalemate in Seville was a blow to Spain's hopes of making a strong start to their Euro 2020 campaign, and Pedri, the 18-year-old Barcelona midfielder who was an assured presence in Luis Enrique's team, hopes the public stand by the team. There were jeers on Monday night for Morata.

    "It is much better to play when people applaud you than when they whistle at you," he said. "I want to keep the applause, which helps us more.

    "For me it was a game that we dominated from start to finish. They also had two chances, that's true, but we played a great game and if we continue to create chances in the end the goal will go in."

    Spain had a staggering 85.1 per cent of possession and led the attempted passes count by 917 to 162.

    Six different Spain players, including Pedri, each completed more passes than the entire Sweden team.

    Pedri, on the night he became Spain's youngest player in a major championship, matched Jordi Alba for a game-high 90 attempted passes inside Sweden's half.

    There were complaints in the Spain camp about the state of the pitch at La Cartuja, with Luis Enrique unhappy it was too dry a surface to be ideal for his team's slick style of play.

    The stadium is where Spain will play Poland in their second group game on Saturday, and they also face Slovakia there four days later.

    Pedri agreed with his coach but said Spain should have been able to cope.

    "The grass is no excuse," he said. "We did not draw because of the grass, but it was not in the best condition. We hope that for the next game it will be better to be able to play our football."

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