Palace, Man Utd go to extra time in FA Cup final

London (AFP) – The FA Cup final between Crystal Palace and Manchester United went to extra time after the match finished 1-1 following normal time at Wembley on Saturday.

Substitute Jason Puncheon gave underdogs Palace a 78th-minute lead by slamming a shot past David de Gea at the near post, but United equalised within three minutes as Marouane Fellaini chested down Wayne Rooney’s right-sided cross for Juan Mata to volley home.

If the score is still level after the extra 30 minutes, the match will be decided by penalty kicks.

United, who beat Palace after a replay in the 1990 final, are bidding to win a record-equalling 12th FA Cup, while Palace have never previously lifted a major trophy.

The post Palace, Man Utd go to extra time in FA Cup final appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

Violence mars Hibs’ first Scottish Cup in 114 years

Glasgow (AFP) – Hibernian ended their 114-year wait for the Scottish Cup with a last-minute 3-2 win over Rangers on Saturday but the final was marred as rival fans fought on the Hampden Park pitch.

Rangers claimed their players and staff were assaulted and they were so fearful for their safety that they were unable to collect their losers medals at the presentation.

Hibs had taken a third-minute lead through Anthony Stokes but Rangers went into the break level following Kenny Miller’s 27th minute headed equaliser.

Andy Halliday fired Rangers in front for the first time in the 64th minute with a superb strike before Stokes headed Hibs level in the 80th minute.

The game appeared to be heading to extra time before captain David Gray headed home in stoppage time to spark wild scenes amongst the Hibernian support, who flooded on to the pitch at full-time to celebrate.

But ugly scenes then followed as rival supporters clashed on the pitch with mounted police called in to separate them.

Rangers condemned the violence.

“Rangers Football Club is shocked at the disgraceful behaviour of Hibs fans at full-time,” said a club statement.

“Rangers players and staff were assaulted by these fans who invaded the pitch, and in the interests of their own safety could not return to the pitch for the medal presentation.

“There can be no place for the violent behaviour witnessed at the end of the final and Rangers fully expect the Scottish Football Association and Police Scotland to launch an investigation to find out where security measures failed and why.

“The club would like to commend Rangers fans for the restraint they showed under severe provocation.”

The trophy presentation was delayed by over 30 minutes in order to clear the pitch but this was of little concern to a Hibs side who claimed a European spot for the first time since 2012.

Hibs manager Alan Stubbs said he wouldn’t let the scenes at the end take the shine off his side’s victory after they made up for the disappointment of missing out on promotion to the Scottish Premiership.

– Disappointing –

“It’s not going to take away the satisfaction of what we’ve just achieved,” Stubbs said.

“It’s disappointing and we don’t want to see it, but from our point of view it was a fantastic game and we managed to do  it and show a little bit of bottle.”

Rangers, who pipped Hibs to the Championship title, were handed a boost with the return of top-scorer Martyn Waghorn to the starting line-up following a lengthy injury lay-off.

Stubbs left James Keating on the bench in favour of on-loan Celtic striker Stokes. 

The Irish international soon repaid his manager’s faith in him as he fired home the opener. 

Strike partner Jason Cummings played Stokes down the left wing and the striker raced at the retreating Rob Kiernan and James Tavernier in the Rangers rearguard before slotting an angled shot beyond Wes Foderingham.

Rangers, without a competitive game for three weeks, looked off the pace in the early exchanges as Hibs threatened to add another with Stokes, Cummings and John McGinn all coming close.

However, the Gers conjured up an equaliser with their first meaningful attack of the game through veteran Miller. 

James Tavernier sent a teasing cross in to the Hibs box and the 36-year-old outmuscled the Hibs defence to bullet a header beyond Conrad Logam.

Their lead was almost short-lived as Stokes saw his effort from 30 yards out smack the base of the post a minute later.

Hibs bombarded the Rangers goal in the run up to the break with Foderingham pulling off saves to deny Stokes and Cummings before the former sent a header wide of the target from close range with the goal gaping.

Stokes forced Foderingham in to another save shortly after the break and Liam Fontaine headed wide as Hibs looked to pick up where they had left off.

However, Rangers began to slowly get a foothold in the game and a stunning strike from Halliday put them in front for the first time in the 64th minute. 

The former Bradford midfielder took a touch before rifling an unstoppable strike in to the bottom left hand corner from 20 yards out.

Hibs looked to Stokes for a response and after twice firing off target the striker headed the Easter Road side level as he got in front of Tavernier to nod Liam Henderson’s corner in from close range.

With time running out Gray became the hero for Hibs as he bulleted home Henderson’s corner to claim the cup for the Edinburgh club.

The post Violence mars Hibs’ first Scottish Cup in 114 years appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

Hibs end 114-year wait for Scottish Cup

Glasgow (AFP) – Hibernian ended their 114-year wait for the Scottish Cup as David Gray’s dramatic stoppage time header handed them a 3-2 win over Rangers which was marred by ugly scenes at the end.

The Easter Road side had taken a third minute lead through Anthony Stokes but Rangers went into the break level following Kenny Miller’s 27th minute headed equaliser.

Andy Halliday fired Rangers in front for the first time in the 64th minute with a superb strike before Stokes headed Hibs level in the 80th minute.

The game appeared to be heading to extra time before captain Gray headed home to spark wild scenes amongst the Hibernian support, who flooded on to the pitch at full-time to celebrate.

Ugly scenes then followed as rival supporters clashed on the pitch with mounted police called in to separate them.

Rangers, who pipped Hibs to the Championship title, were handed a boost with the return of top-scorer Martyn Waghorn to the starting line-up following a lengthy injury lay-off.

Hibs manager Alan Stubbs left James Keating on the bench in favour of on-loan Celtic striker Stokes. 

The Irish international soon repaid his manager’s faith in him as he fired home the opener. 

Strike partner Jason Cummings played Stokes down the left wing and the striker raced at the retreating Rob Kiernan and James Tavernier in the Rangers rearguard before slotting an angled shot beyond Wes Foderingham.

Rangers, without a competitive game for three weeks, looked off the pace in the early exchanges as Hibs threatened to add another with Stokes, Cummings and John McGinn all coming close.

However, the Gers conjured up an equaliser with their first meaningful attack of the game through veteran Miller. 

James Tavernier sent a teasing cross in to the Hibs box and the 36-year-old outmuscled the Hibs defence to bullet a header beyond Conrad Logam.

Their lead was almost short-lived as Stokes saw his effort from 30 yards out smack the base of the post a minute later.

It was Rangers’ turn to hit the woodwork in the 32nd minute as Miller’s thumping header from Barrie McKay’s corner hit the bar.

Hibs bombarded the Rangers goal in the run up to the break with Foderingham pulling off saves to deny Stokes and Cummings before the former sent a header wide of the target from close range with the goal gaping.

Stokes forced Foderingham in to another save shortly after the break and Liam Fontaine headed wide as Hibs looked to pick up where they had left off.

However, Rangers began to slowly get a foothold in the game and a stunning strike from Halliday put them in front for the first time in the 64th minute. 

The former Bradford midfielder took a touch before rifling an unstoppable strike in to the bottom left hand corner from 20 yards out.

Hibs looked to Stokes for a response and after twice firing off target the striker headed the Easter Road side level as he got in front of Tavernier to nod Liam Henderson’s corner in from close range.

With time running out, Gray became the hero for Hibs as he bulleted home Henderson’s corner to claim the cup for the Edinburgh club.

The post Hibs end 114-year wait for Scottish Cup appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

Season comes full circle as Barca, Sevilla seek doubles

Madrid (AFP) – Newly-crowned Spanish champions Barcelona face Sevilla, fresh from winning their third consecutive Europa League, as both seek more glory in the Spanish Cup final on Sunday.

Another successful campaign for both sides will end as it began after Barca edged Sevilla 5-4 after extra-time in a thrilling season-opening European Super Cup final.

Indeed, Barca could end the season with four trophies in total having also claimed the Club World Cup in December.

Barca captain Andres Iniesta laughed off suggestions that a La Liga and Cup double is the minimum requirement for the Catalan giants to ease the pain of their Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid at the quarter-final stage last month.

However, the Spanish international did admit Barca’s success of winning six La Liga titles and three Copas del Rey in the past eight years has provoked a relentless demand for more trophies.

“When you win a league it’s impossible for it to be a bad season. It will always be a good season,” Iniesta said on Saturday.

“This team always has the obligation to win in a final. We fight for all the titles each season, sometimes we win and other times we don’t, but the obligation to win is permanent.

“It is like that in every game we play, so imagine what it is like in a final.

“The club doesn’t allow errors, dips or not winning things and this will not change.”

– ‘Sevilla keep winning titles’ –

Sevilla appear to have the significant disadvantage of having beaten Liverpool in the Europa League final just five days before facing Barca at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon.

By contrast, Luis Enrique’s men have had a free week since Luis Suarez’s hat-trick in a 3-0 win at Granada retained their league title.

Enrique insisted he expects to win, but warned that Sevilla’s experience in finals could pose Barca problems.

“I am an optimist, I think we are going to win,” he said.

“Sevilla have brilliantly won again the Europa League final and they have the chance to do the double too which is very important for a team like Sevilla.

“They keep winning titles. With us they are one of the teams most used to playing finals and that will make tomorrow a very attractive match.”

The action off the field has been dominated by a political row in the build up as Catalan separatist flags were initially banned from the stadium by the Spanish government before Barca successfully appealed that decision through the courts.

“Very few things surprise me in this country,” said Enrique.

“In the end the logical thing has happened and the freedom of expression for everyone has been respected.”

All three previous meetings between the sides this season have been settled by one goal as Sevilla won 2-1 at home in October in La Liga before Barca claimed victory by the same scoreline at the Camp Nou in February.

“We have their respect because we have earned it when we’ve faced them,” said Sevilla coach Unai Emery.

And Emery is keen to pile the pressure on Barca as favourites despite Sevilla’s fantastic cup record in the three years since he took charge.

“They need this title because Barcelona feed off winning titles, but our strength is our desire,” he added.

“These moments come around very rarely for us. How many times have Barca won the Cup? Loads. We haven’t, but for us to play in tomorrow’s final is a gift that we will happily unwrap.”

Barca are expected to name an unchanged team from the side that started at Granada with Enrique afforded the luxury of choosing from a squad free of injuries and suspensions.

Sevilla are without the suspended Steven N’Zonzi and Timothee Kolodziejczak, whilst Benoit Tremoulinas and Michael Krohn-Dehli remain sidelined by injury.

However, Spanish international goalkeeper Sergio Rico and captain Jose Antonio Reyes could return after missing out against Liverpool in midweek.

The post Season comes full circle as Barca, Sevilla seek doubles appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

Griezmann one of the world’s top three – Simeone

Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone hailed star forward Antoine Griezmann as “one of the best three players in the world” as Atletico prepare to face local rivals Real Madrid in next Saturday’s Champions League final.

Griezmann has enjoyed his best ever goal-scoring season with 32 goals in all competitions.

However, the French international has been particularly effective in the Champions League as his double against Barcelona in the quarter-finals and vital away goal at Bayern Munich in the last four allowed Atletico to upset the odds and reach a second final in three seasons.

“He has worked very hard, pushed himself and knows how to listen,” Simeone said on Saturday.

“The best way to improve in any job is to listen. Without doubt he is one of the best three players in the world.”

Griezmann also netted the winner when Atletico last met Real back in February.

However, he insisted Atletico’s run to the final will mean little if they don’t finally land the trophy.

“It’s nice (to hear compliments), but the truth is I try to do my best in every training session and my teammates and the coaching staff help me be at this level,” said Griezmann.

“Just because we have beaten Bayern or Barca doesn’t mean we will win this match.

“It doesn’t guarantee anything. We have to give everything we have.”

Griezmann also played down the impact that a two-week layoff since the end of the Spanish league season could have on both sides.

“To play in the final of the Champions League is a dream.

“Now we have to prepare well, we have had two weeks and we have another week still to prepare.

“I don’t feel the pressure. I know there is a lot of waiting, but that doesn’t bother me. I try not to overthink things and that is one of my strengths.”

The majority of the stars will be on Real’s side as Atletico aim to avenge their defeat in agonising fashion in the final two years ago by winning the competition for the first time in Milan next weekend.

Simeone’s men were on course for victory in Lisbon until Sergio Ramos headed Real level deep into injury time and Los Blancos ran out 4-1 winners after extra-time.

Yet, despite the presence of three-time World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s most expensive player in Gareth Bale and the likes of Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, Simeone expects the Real to play on the counter-attack.

“In the Champions League that is clearly the route they have chosen,” added Simeone.

“I expect an opponent that will wait for their opportunity. The presence of Casemiro in midfield has given them a lot of power defensively and in the Champions League they have played on the counter-attack.”

Real’s route to the final has been a much easier one on paper than Atletico’s treacherous course past Dutch champions PSV before dumping out Barca and Bayern.

Los Blancos brushed aside Roma before squeezing past Wolfsburg and Manchester City.

However, Simeone also reserved praise for how Zinedine Zidane has revived Real’s fortunes since taking over as coach from the sacked Rafael Benitez in January.

“He has recovered the confidence, intensity and the speed of their attack,” added the Argentine.

“He has a more concrete style to make the most of the three strikers.

“To get to a Champions League final is an important demonstration of his work.”

The post Griezmann one of the world’s top three – Simeone appeared first on World Soccer Talk.