De Futebol Leicester City West Brom a one all Draw

Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez nailed one in the 80th minute to save the Foxes asses. Leicester City and West Brom tied one all.

EPL Match Report:” Riyad Mahrez rescued a point for Leicester City after a Nacer Chadli wonder goal had put West Bromwich Albion on course for victory at King Power Stadium.

The Algerian scored his first goal of the season on 80 minutes as Leicester earned a draw in a Midlands derby that sparked into life late on.

Nacer Chadli put the Baggies ahead with a stunning free-kick from 30 yards in his first appearance of 2017/18.

But Leicester sensed an equaliser when stand-in West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill, starting in place of the injured Ben Foster, picked up a knock and was unable to properly kick the ball.

And the Foxes were rewarded for piling on the pressure when Ben Chilwell crossed for fellow substitute Islam Slimani, who headed down for Mahrez to slam home. “

https://www.premierleague.com/match/22415

De Futebol Draws were the word of the Day in the EPL

Everton tied with Brighton Hove and Albion one all.

EPL Match Report:” Wayne Rooney’s late penalty gave Everton an important point at Brighton & Hove Albion.

The home side looked to have sealed the win when Anthony Knockaert fired home from a Pascal Gross pass on 82 minutes.

Izzy Brown then forced a great save from Everton’s Jordan Pickford before Bruno caught Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the area and Rooney kept his cool from the spot.

Brighton’s Mat Ryan, who saved well from Idrissa Gueye in the first half, then made a superb double stop to keep Everton at bay in the closing moments.

Brighton remain in 14th place, with eight points from their eight matches, while Everton are in 16th on the same total.”

https://www.premierleague.com/match/22412

Southampton and Newcastle tied two all.

EPL Match Report:” Manolo Gabbiadini’s double helped Southampton come from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Newcastle United at St Mary’s Stadium.

Isaac Hayden wrong-footed Fraser Forster with a strike from the edge of the penalty area to put the Magpies 1-0 up at half time.

And moments after Gabbiadini scored a fine equaliser after Nathan Redmond’s long ball, Ayoze Perez beat Forster at his near post to put Newcastle 2-1 up in a frantic few minutes after the break.

But Gabbiadini moved Saints up to 10th in the table with the second leveller from the penalty spot, after Florian Lejeune tripped Shane Long.

Newcastle are two points and a place above Southampton after Sunday’s match.

https://www.premierleague.com/match/22418

De Futebol- Man U Liverpool Tied. Man Shitty wins big time. Shitty at the top of the table with 22 points. The Red Devils are second with 20

Man U played for the point and the clean sheet. This is what the guys got. A nil-nil draw against Liverpool at the Reds house Anfield.

We will see how this strategy plays out as the season plays out.

Up next for Man U is Huddersfield at the Terriers house.

Man U has 20 points and a plus 19.

The Daily Mail:” Jose did what Jose does. And Jose got what Jose wanted.

Neither spectacle nor occasion will move Mourinho from a preordained strategy. Rumours that he would start with nine forwards and just one defender proved surprisingly unfounded. A point was what he needed and a point was what he took home.

It was Liverpool, with one win in eight game now, who badly needed a victory. Yet football’s oldest law says that it’s easier to contain than create. Mourinho knows it. Perhaps not to the extent that his fiercest critics would contend. Lest we forget – and he certainly won’t allow us to – his Real Madrid team were record goal-scorers in La Liga and his Chelsea side magnificent at times.

But right now, he doesn’t need the show. The flair associated with this club of old can be saved for the goal festivals against the likes of West Ham, Swansea, Everton and Crystal Palace. Liverpool away requires a different plan. And, as Mourinho famously claimed at this ground once before, he’s not about to play the part of the clown at the circus. The hoopla and excitement of the game, you suspect, moved him not a jot. His eye is on a bigger prizes.

It was Jurgen Klopp’s turn, two years into his Liverpool tenure and facing questions as to how much progress has been made, to show us what he’s got. The onus was on him; or rather, that is how Mourinho wanted the game to be defined. And so that is largely how it played out.

Not that it didn’t have all the ingredients of England’s most formidable football clash. Crowds thronged outside from breakfast time in anticipation of something special. When the time came, Anfield roared for Kenny Dalglish, celebrating the stand named after him on Friday and the knot of United fans in the corner shouted defiance. This remodelled stadium is now a fitting stage and at times that din was intoxicating.

Yet, frankly, the game itself, at present struggles to match the atmosphere, which is becoming the star of these ultimately-disappointing encounters.

At times, Liverpool threatened to break the leash with which had subdued them. Principally there was a moment on 36 minutes when Roberto Firmino produced a dummy which left Nemanja Matic bewildered. The Brazilian’s cross found Joel Matip six yards out: he shot and David de Gea saved brilliantly and instinctively while Mohamed Salah fired the rebound wastefully wide.

In those moments you could question Mourinho and wonder whether he placed too much faith in his own ability to contain and control a contest. . With Frimino, Salah and Philippe Coutinho, was always have a chance and as the defensive side, you always run that risk of being undone by a moment of genius. But those moments were few and far between.

Undoubtedly Liverpool were the better side in that they seized the initiative, as you might have expected at Anfield, and attempted to wrest the game from Mourinho’s grasp. And Salah, fresh from his Egyptian heroics, was incisive, cutting inside United’s defence with his pace, though his penalty claim in the 16th was rightly waved away.

But in general, Mourinho looked as though this was all in the plan and that nothing would disturb it. He has faced down more fearsome side that this Liverpool outfit in his time. There is pretty much a formula from getting away a high-profile contest with what he requires.

Starting with Ashley Young at right wing rather than left back was a clear indication of where the game was heading even before kick off. On those occasions when Romelu Lukaku did receive the ball and set off on a customary charge goalwards, neither Young nor Anthony Martial rushed to join him; their defensive duties clearly as much in their mind as their attacking role.

That said, United, with little more than a wayward Nemanja Matic shot to show for their first half, still almost went into the break head. Henrikh Mkhitaryan played in Lukaku and the Belgian forced hit it first time, forcing a fine save from his compatriot in goal, Simon Mignolet, on 44 minutes.

As time wore on, Murinho’s strategy received a more thorough interrogation Firmino’s strike on 49 minutes set both the side netting and Liveroool hearts fluttering; Joe Gomez lifted a ball into the box for Emre Can on 52 minutes which the German directed high over the bar. Still, these were chances and United, though hardly rocking, were at least a little shaky.

Liverpool continued to probe. On 71 minutes Salah was the breadth of stud away from connecting with a Firmino cross. By now Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford had joined the fray but more to reinforce the shape rather than throw caution to the wind. Liverpool introduced Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain on 79 minutes. To no avail. What had been preordained by Mourinho came to pass. It wasn’t pretty but you couldn’t help but admire the predictability.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4980148/Liverpool-0-0-Manchester-United-Stalemate-Anfield.html#ixzz4vUQfdGgo

Man Shitty blows out Stoke City 7-2. Shitty is at the head of class with 22 points and a plus 25.

Tottenham gets by Bournemouth 1-0.

Spurs are third place with 17 points.

Crystal Palace scored their first two goals of the season. The Eagles shocked Chelsea 2-1 for Crystal Palace’s first win of the season.

Burnley and West Ham tied one.

Swansea City doubled up on Huddersfield 2-0.

Man Shitty is in the catbird seat 22 points. Man U is second with 20 points. Spurs are third 17 points.

Arsenal had a chance to jump into fourth place. The guys stunk the joint out in the dying embers of match up when Watford’s Tom Cleverley nailed the match winner in the 90th minute plus two to give the Hornets a 2-1 win over my Gunners.

Arsenal took a 1-0 lead at the break on a rocket header by Per Mertesacker from close range off a corner kick in the 39th minute.

The Hornets didn’t quit in the second half. Watford came back to score two second half goals to send my Gunners home with a ton questions and their third loss of the season.

Watford is now in fourth place with 15 points.

Chelsea is fifth with 13 points and Arsenal is sixth with 13 points.

De Futebol- USA out of 2018 World after Humiliating 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago

USA is out of the 2018 World Cup after a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago.

The Daily Mail: “The US men’s soccer team has failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

But should a referee have disallowed a goal that helped doom their chances?

Bruce Arena’s men were eliminated after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night.

A string of results from other games that didn’t go their way sealed their exit.

Panama beat Costa Rica 2-1 to secure their place in the 2018 tournament. However there questions over whether their first goal crossed the line.

Videos seem to show the ball never made it all the way across the whitewash, but the referee allowed it anyway.

The controversial goal was scored in the 52nd minute, and Panama went on to score once more, but the decision may have impacted the US’ fate.

Panama had to win their game to qualify. A draw would have seen the US through.

According to CBS, who reached out to U.S. Soccer inquiring about their options at appealing Panama’s victory, officials appeared pessimistic.

‘As far as I know there is no recourse,’  Press Officer Michael Kammarman said in an email.

‘Decisions of the referee are final,’ he added.

Still, according to the Confederation of North, Central and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), an appeal can be filed for ‘parties directly affected by a decision’ and with a three weeks window to file a claim.

 

It remains unclear how CONCACAF rules affect World Cup tournament rules.

Meanwhile, 28 years after a stunning victory at Trinidad put the Americans back in the World Cup after a four-decade absence, their chances for next year’s tournament in Russia ended on this island nation off the coast of Venezuela.

Trinidad and Tobago scored a pair of first-half goals, and the United States was eliminated with a 2-1 defeat Tuesday night – the first time missing the World Cup since 1986.

The U.S. entered its final qualifier with a berth uncertain for the first time since 1989. Home losses to Mexico last November and Costa Rica left the Americans little margin for error.

The 28th-ranked Americans needed merely a tie against 99th-ranked Trinidad, which lost its sixth straight qualifier last week.

But the defeat – coupled with Honduras’ come-from-behind 3-2 win over Mexico and Panama’s 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on Ramon Torres’ 88th-minute goal – dropped the Americans from third place into fifth in the six-nation final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4968510/US-World-Cup-contention-2-1-loss-Trinidad.html#ixzz4vCVTCNol

De Futebol Brasil wins and Chile is out of the 2018 World Cup

Brasil blows out Chile 3-0. The loss killed Chile’s shot a 2018 World Cup spot. The loss drops the Chileans into sixth place with 26 points. Peru has 26 points tambem. Peru is a plus one while Chile is a minus one.

Chile is out and Peru is on to the playoff round of the 2018 World Cup.

The Daily Mail:” Alexis Sanchez and Chile will have to watch the World Cup from home after being dumped out of qualifying on a night of high drama in South America.

With all eyes on Lionel Messi and Argentina, who faced the real prospect of missing out on the tournament but ultimately made it through after coming from behind to beat Ecuador, Paulinho and Gabriel Jesus struck for a Brazil side long assured of their place to ensure Chile were the major casualties as they missed out on a play-off on goal difference as they were pipped by Peru.

Paulinho profited from an error by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to poke home the first before Manchester City man Jesus found an open net just two minutes later following a stunning piece of skill from Neymar.

Chile could find no answer as they desperately searched for a route to Russia, with Bravo sent up in search of a goal, but as play broke down Brazil cleared to Jesus who beat the Chilean goalkeeper in a foot race to find an empty net.

The back-to-back Copa America winners sunk to their knees and lay flat out on the turf at the final whistle, with the team ranked ninth in the world facing up to the prospect of having to watch next summer’s football festival from home.

The hosts went into the game as the only South American side to have punched their ticket and had the better of the opening exchanges in Sao Paulo and spent the majority of the half on the front foot, but only really tested Claudio Bravo in the Chile goal when Neymar scrambled through and forced the Manchester City goalkeeper to get down well to save at his near post.

Lionel Messi’s first-half rescue act for Argentina, which saw the Barcelona man strike twice to turn things around and give them the lead in Ecuador after conceding early, left Chile in a precarious position as they slipped to fourth, knowing falling behind would see them down to fifth and facing the prospect of a play-off against New Zealand.

But they stood firm heading into half-time and managed some late pressure on the Brazil back-line without ever forcing Ederson into action in the Brazil goal.

Chile, though were in serious trouble as the hour mark approached, with Brazil scoring twice to cast major doubts over their place in Russia. First, Paulinho profited after Claudio Bravo spilled a Dani Alves free-kick into his path, before Gabriel Jesus found an open goal when slotted in by Neymar just minutes later.

As it stood Chile were missing out completely, but the picture changed again when Colombia took the lead against Peru, which saw Sanchez and Co jump back into the play-off place.

That place was again lost with 10 minutes to play as Peru grabbed an equaliser against Colombia and, with Chile desperately looking for a leveler, Jesus slotted the second as he beat Bravo in a foot race after the visiting goalkeeper had been sent forward for a corner.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4968360/Brazil-3-0-Chile-Alexis-Sanchez-dumped-World-Cup.html#ixzz4vAADL0jE

De Futebol Messi’s hat trick leads Argentina to a berth in the 2018 World Cup

Lionel Messi led the way with a hat trick to lead Argentina’s destruction of Ecuador 3-1. Couple this win with Brasil’s shut out 3-0 win over Chile and Peru and Colombia tied one all gave Argentinos third place and a spot in the 2018 World Cup.

Peru earns a playoff spot with their one all tie against Colombia.

Brasil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Colombia have their tickets punched for the World Cup.

The Guardian wrote on the Argentina win:” Argentina conceded after just 37 seconds in their must-win game against Ecuador, but Lionel Messi came to the rescue as his side booked their place at next summer’s World Cup.

The No10 hit a brace in the first half in Quito and capped off a stellar performance as he completed his hat-trick with a stunning chip over keeper Maximo Banguera just after the hour mark.

Romario Ibarra stunned the away fans – and perhaps all of South America – as he nodded on a ball lofted high into the danger area and sloppy defence from Argentina allowed the Ecuadorian space to slot it in past Sergio Romero in the opening minute.

But Messi, who is now the all-time leading goalscorer in South American qualifying, played a deft one-two with Angel di Maria to level things up after 12 minutes and then put his side in front eight minutes later with a strike from just inside the box.

Ecuador continued to press in search of an equaliser as Argentina failed to kill the game off, allowing the home side to attack well into the second half.

It was a moment of brilliance which proved to be the difference. The Argentina talisman took the ball in space about 40 yards out from goal, weaved his way to the edge of the box and was able to lob Banguera – six yards off his line – as he lost his balance and fell to the floor.

Argentina were looking in danger of not making the 2018 World Cup in Russia going into the final group games, following a torrid campaign in which they had only scored 16 goals in 17 games.

Low points were numerous, and a 2-0 loss to Bolivia in March saw the end of Edgardo Bauza’s short stint as boss as Jorge Sampaoli took the reins.

Since then, three draws put Argentina on the brink of not making the World Cup for the first time since 1970. They then travelled to Quito – a place where they have not won since 2001 – but bagged all three points to guarantee a trip to Russia.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/11/lionel-messi-hat-trick-secures-argentinas-passage-to-world-cup

De Futebol Flamengo stinks the joint out.

Flamengo  lost to Ponte Preta 1-0. Globo Esportes :” Após bola esticada por Renê na esquerda, Paquetá chutou em cima do goleiro Aranha. Esse lance, aos 22 do primeiro tempo, marcou a única finalização do Flamengo na direção do gol na derrota por 1 a 0 diante da Ponte Preta. Durante os 90 minutos, a equipe de Reinaldo Rueda pecou sobretudo por não conseguir transformar sua posse de bola (64%) em oportunidades tão claras e perigosas.

Primeiro arruma a defesa… e depois?

Assim que chegou ao Flamengo, Rueda priorizou ajustes em sua defesa. Se preocupou em deixar a equipe mais equilibrada atrás e obteve resultados para a meta: seis gols sofridos em 13 jogos. Em contrapartida, o ataque é que precisa de equilíbrio agora.

Em sua intervenção defensiva, o técnico pediu aos laterais uma postura mais defensiva, cobrindo melhor os espaços atrás. Por outro lado, o Flamengo agora ataca com menos homens no setor, sem laterais apoiando com frequência. Restou, sem sucesso, cruzamentos e lançamentos longos, fáceis para o corte dos defensore.

– Creio que é uma coisa que só se encontra nos momentos em que conseguirmos os resultados, conseguirmos fluidez. Não somente na questão das finalizações, mas de a criação das jogadas serem um pouco mais claras também. Penso que isso só se soluciona com futebol e gols – analisou Rueda.

O Flamengo tem 111 gols marcados em 2017. A média, no entanto, caiu. Em 13 partidas, marcou apenas 14 vezes (1,07 por partida). A média anterior ao colombiano era de 1,87 por partida.

Queda de rendimento e desfalques

Os problemas para se acertar ofensivamente também esbarraram em outros fatores. Em queda de rendimento notável, Diego teve outra atuação apagada e sem criatividade. Já Everton Ribeiro prendia muito a bola, demorando para dar passes rumo ao ataque.

Na derrota diante da Ponte Preta, o Flamengo ainda teve desfalques importantes em seu setor ofensivo. Sem Guerrero (com a seleção peruana), ficou mais difícil segurar a bola no ataque e tirar proveito das bolas longas lançadas. Paquetá, por mais que se esforce, não tem as mesmas características. Além disso, Rueda não contou com Everton (não viajou por conta de desgaste) e Berrío (suspenso).

https://globoesporte.globo.com/futebol/times/flamengo/noticia/fla-tem-dificuldades-para-finalizar-e-perde-o-caminho-do-gol-contra-a-ponte.ghtml

De Futebol Chile is a step closer to making the 2018 World Cup

Chile scored a late goal to beat Ecuador 2-1. Alexis Sanchez nailed the match winner in the 86th minute.

The Daily Mail:” Chile survived a late scare to beat Ecuador 2-1 on Thursday and keep alive their hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia as they moved into third-place in the 10-team South American qualifying group.

The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia with the fifth-placed side facing Oceania champions New Zealand in a two-legged play-off.

With just one game remaining, Brazil are the only South American side to have guaranteed their spot, with Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Peru all dependent on results in Tuesday’s final round of matches.

Copa America champions Chile have perhaps the toughest task in their final match, against Brazil in Sao Paulo.

The five-times world champions have never lost a World Cup qualifier at home.

Chile have failed to sparkle this year, losing three of their last four qualifiers before Thursday.

However, Tigres striker Eduardo Vargas helped them back to their winning ways with a goal after 22 minutes.

Alexis Sanchez stole the ball on the edge of the box and fed midfielder Jorge Valdivia and his pass left Vargas in space 12 yards out to crash the ball past keeper Maximo Banguera.

Romario Ibarra equalised for Ecuador with eight minutes remaining but Sanchez was on hand three minutes later when Banguera could only parry a shot on the edge of the six-yard box.

Sanchez then had the simplest of tasks slipping the ball home for the winner.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4954198/Chile-2-1-Ecuador-Alexis-Sanchez-nets-late-winner.html#ixzz4ugpJJTOQ

De Futebol-Argentina in danger of not making the 2018 World Cup

Argentina and Peru tied nil-nil.

The Daily Mail:” Argentina and Lionel Messi are on the verge of missing the World Cup for the first time since 1970, stumbling to a 0-0 draw against Peru before a capacity crowd in Buenos Aires.

Only one round of qualifying remains in South America.

Argentina, the runner-up to Germany in the World Cup three years ago in Brazil, plays on Tuesday against Ecuador in the thin air of Quito in the Andes.

The Argentines are in sixth place, with the top four teams advancing automatically. The fifth-place team can advance by winning a playoff against New Zealand.

Brazil has already qualified, and drew 0-0 against Bolivia on Thursday. Brazil has 38 points, followed by: Uruguay (28), Chile (26), Colombia (26), Peru (25), Argentina (25) and Paraguay (24).

Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia are eliminated.

It’s too close to call. But Uruguay is expected to get through the final round on Tuesday. After that, four teams are chasing the two automatic spots.

That will leave two teams trying to reach the playoff, which looks like Argentina’s only route. It must win at 9,350 feet in Quito and get some help.

Argentine will require all the luck they can get after a disappointing night in front of their home supporters.

Their players, led by Messi, all trudged off the pitch at full-time. Every single of them appeared disappointed with the outcome and know their destiny is now out of their hands heading into next week and the crucial match against Ecuador.

It is a game they really must win if they are to stand any realistic chance of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4954122/Argentina-drop-World-Cup-qualification-contention.html#ixzz4uizvrYcI

De Futebol- USA one win away from the 2018 World Cup

The USA blew out Panama 4-0 to stay in the hunt for a 2018 World Cup berth.

The Guardians Steve Brenner wrote:” And breathe. All those worries and crippling fears of missing out on the World Cup were banished by the brilliance of Christian Pulisic, who produced the kind of stellar performance needed in these types of career-changing games.

Bruce Arena had demanded a big performance ahead of this crucial qualifier and, luckily for him, America’s bright young hope expertly delivered. A superbly-taken opener on eight minutes was just the tonic to ease rampant worries of missing out on the party in Russia next summer before the Borussia Dortmund starlet turned provider for strike partner Jozy Altidore to pick up the first of his two goals.

His second, a cheekily-chipped penalty after Bobby Wood was brought down in the area just before half-time, spoke volumes about the sudden jolt of confidence flowing through Arena’s men. It was a dominant performance when it really mattered and now that ticket to Russia can be rubber-stamped with a win in Trinidad on Tuesday, though a draw should be enough.

Panama, who arrived with such great hope and left totally and utterly deflated, still have a play-off against Australia or Syria to aim for. Honduras, whose match in Costa Rica was put back a day because of adverse weather, also remain in the mix.

Yet this night was all about the preciousness of Pulisic. Kicked here, there and everywhere during the 1-1 draw with Panama in March, he responded by driving a dagger through the visitors’ hearts with pace, vision and skill. Boot him? They could barely lay a finger on him.

Arena said of Pulisic: “Christian’s first goal was a terrific finish and I was pleased for both Jozy and Bobby Wood. Our top three attackers all had a good night. I’ve never built a team around one player, he’s exceptional and he stands out but for him to be more effective he needs better players around him. The better players we have around him the better he will be. He was kicked a few times, he’s been beaten up a few times in this Concacaf qualifying competition so I wanted to protect him.

“It was a good win for our team. We have had a great year despite what people think. We have come a long way, the game in Trinidad won’t be easy but we are in a good position now. It won’t be easy, it will be challenging. We faced challenging conditions in Honduras and Panama so we will be ready. Trinidad are out but will be a handful.”

Pulisic’s unforgettable first 45 minutes produced a stat which proves Arena must build a team around the 19-year-old: the goal and assist here means Pulisic has had a hand in 11 of the 16 goals scored in this Concacaf hexagonal. The Dortmund forward is a game-changer, that precious commodity which separates the best from the rest and with youth firmly on his side, the future, all of a sudden, seems incredibly brighter.

None of the 25,303 who packed Orlando City’s stadium will think Arena’s team head to Russia with an eye on the prize, yet this kind of performance in a must-win match will boost confidence levels no end. And, for that, they have that little man Pulisic to thank.

While the Panamanians arrived in Orlando knowing a positive result would help them take them a strident step towards an emotional, debut World Cup appearance, it was hard to escape the feeling that it was the home side feeling all the pressure. The last four matches between the sides have all ended in draws. Coming into this encounter, the US couldn’t afford another one. With Panama to face a Costa Rican side who should be in cruise control, a win was imperative.

For Arena’s side not to participate in next summer’s finals was something the impressively loud American Outlaws dare not envisage let alone Arena and the man who appointed him, Sunil Gulati. This kind of nail-biting scenario wasn’t what the head of US Soccer anticipated when he brought Arena back for his Second Coming as national coach. His reintroduction gave them the spark so badly missing under Jürgen Klinsmann yet the last few results have induced serious panic.

It is as if a run of just one defeat in 16 has somehow been airbrushed from history. That’s what World Cup worries can do to a team. The US should have already qualified by now, sitting on easy street with Mexico and Costa Rica. Nevertheless, the task in hand was simple. Two games, two wins.

Unsurprisingly, Arena had urged his side to come out the blocks firing and heap pressure straight onto a Panama side who’ve been notoriously difficult to break down. And so it emphatically proved. Just five goals conceded in this hexagonal qualification tournament meant the US had no option but to sense blood early on.

Wood, who helped salvaged a draw in Honduras last month, was selected ahead of Clint Dempsey in the hope his pace could help the US get behind the visitors backline. It was a smart move. The atmosphere was raucous. Expectant. And very loud.

Altidore almost helped increase the volume with just two minutes gone when his close-range effort was charged down before Wood poked wide yet this was the kind of high-octane start Arena wanted. Panama, on the other hand, looked nervous. They barely saw any of the ball but on six minutes, Gabriel Torres wriggled free of Matt Besler only to fire high and wide. It was costly miss because just seconds later, Pulisic superbly opened the scoring.

Altidore flicked the ball on and the diminutive midfielder expertly skipped clear of Roman Torres before rounding Jaime Penedo and squeezing the ball home. That was just what Arena ordered. The early goal – it was Pulisic’s sixth of this qualifying campaign – to calm nerves on the pitch and in the stands.

Pulisic was already proving the difference and with 19 minutes on the clock, he brilliantly turned provider for Altidore, his excellent, low cross from the left wing easily steered home by the former Sunderland striker. The US were rampant.

Wood almost made the game safe three minutes later only for Penedo to stand tall and keep him out. Pulisic was irrepressible – every time he ran at the Panama defense, they were firmly on the back foot. He was terrorizing them. It was hugely encouraging stuff from Arena’s side, even if their defending at times was of a quality which better teams than Panama will have field days with.

Wood almost made the game safe three minutes later only for Penedo to stand tall and keep him out. Pulisic was irrepressible – every time he ran at the Panama defense, they were firmly on the back foot. He was terrorizing them. It was hugely encouraging stuff from Arena’s side, even if their defending at times was of a quality which better teams than Panama will have field days with.

Tim Howard kept out Torres well on the half-hour mark though Hernan Dario Gomez – who said his side could have lost 10-0 – must have been furious on the touchline. All that hope had been extinguished as his side spent the first half chasing shadows. When the lively Wood was clipped in the area just before the break by substitute Armando Cooper, the game was done and dusted. Altidore’s chip down the middle was the coup de grace on an emphatic first-half performance.

Pulisic left the field on 56 minutes to a standing ovation which was utterly deserved before Wood capped his workmanlike performance with a well-taken fourth on 62 minutes.

Question marks remain for Arena. His defence needs shoring up and a deeper squad would be handy if serious waves are to be made on the international stage. Yet this was the night Pulisic arrived. And in some style, too.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/06/christian-pulisic-usa-panama-4-0-world-cup-qualifier