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Canada eye World Cup dream as Mexico freeze

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Canada took a giant stride towards their first World Cup finals appearance in 36 years on Tuesday after beating Mexico 2-1 to vault to the top of the CONCACAF qualifying standings.

Two goals either side of half-time from Turkey-based forward Cyle Larin fired the Canadians to a victory, which leaves them one point clear of the United States with 16 points from eight games.

Hector Herrera’s 90th-minute goal for Mexico set up a frenzied finish at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, where snow had been cleared from the pitch shortly before kick-off as temperatures plunged to minus 9 degrees Celsius (15.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

The final whistle was met with a mass confrontation involving players from both sides as tempers flared.

The result means Canada are now firmly on course to qualify for next year’s finals in Qatar. Canada’s only other World Cup appearance came at the Mexico finals in 1986.

Canada’s win saw them leapfrog over the United States for top spot in CONCACAF’s eight-team final round of qualifying.

The USA were held to a 1-1 draw against Jamaica earlier Tuesday after a spectacular equaliser from West Ham striker Michail Antonio secured a share of the points for the Reggae Boyz.

Antonio’s 22nd-minute long-range effort cancelled out a superb individual goal by US forward Timothy Weah at Kingston’s Independence Park.

Weah, the 21-year-old son of former Liberia legend George Weah, fired the US ahead after 11 minutes.

The Lille forward played a clever one-two with striker Ricardo Pepi before surging into the Jamaican penalty area.

Jamaica’s Bobby Reid looked to have the danger covered, but Weah showed great strength to win possession before angling a deft shot across goal and in off the far post.

It was a fitting reward for a bright start by the US, who also went close on 16 minutes when Pepi’s shot was blocked before Brenden Aaronson’s follow-up effort was well-saved by Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake.

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But the complexion of the game changed in Jamaica’s favour on 22 minutes when Antonio conjured a goal out of nowhere.

Nothing appeared to be on when Antonio picked up the ball in midfield.

But the striker cut inside the covering Tyler Adams and then unleashed a ferocious 30-yard effort which flew past US goalkeeper Zack Steffen and into the top corner.

The goal infused Jamaica with confidence, although the Reggae Boyz were fortunate to finish the first half with 11 men on the pitch after some rugged defending.

Je-Vaughn Watson was booked as early as the eighth minute for a foul on the USA’s Gianluca Busio.

Javain Brown was also lucky to stay on the pitch for a wild challenge on Adams in the 40th minute that the US midfielder did well to hurdle.

The second half followed a similar pattern, with neither side managing to take control of the contest.

The US received a huge let-off in the 53rd minute when a deflected cross fell into the path of Jamaica forward Reid just three yards out.

Somehow, however, the Fulham player scooped his shot over the bar and the US survived.

US coach Berhalter introduced Christian Pulisic after 66 minutes, but the Chelsea star was unable to break the deadlock.

Read Also:  WCQ: Ekambi takes Cameroon to play-offs at expense of Ivory Coast

The US received a let-off in the 84th minute when Damion Lowe headed into the net from a corner, only to see the goal disallowed for a shove on US defender Walker Zimmerman.

With Canada and the US occupying the top two places in the CONCACAF table, Mexico dropped to third with 14 points from eight games.

Panama moved into fourth spot with a 2-1 win over El Salvador, while Costa Rica are fifth after a 2-1 win over Honduras.

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Ligue 1: Marseille stunned by in-form Brest

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Marseille missed the chance to cement their grip on second place in the Ligue 1 table on Saturday as Jorge Sampaoli’s side threw away the lead to lose 2-1 at home to a Brest team on a record winning run.

Brazilian international Gerson gave Marseille a first-half lead at the Velodrome with his second goal in as many games after playing a one-two with captain Dimitri Payet.

However, Brest drew level early in the second half as Romain Faivre scored a penalty awarded for a handball by Boubacar Kamara.

Franck Honorat then crashed a superb winner in off the underside of the crossbar as the side from Brittany made it six successive league wins, the best run in their history in the top flight.

Read Also: EPL: Masuaku fluke helps West Ham beat Chelsea in London derby

They are up to sixth, while Marseille remain second, 12 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain who are in action later on Saturday at Lens.

Kylian Mbappe could be rested for a PSG side already missing the injured Neymar, but Lionel Messi — who won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time on Monday — should start.

Marseille could drop down the table depending on results elsewhere this weekend, with Rennes and Nice both sitting within two points of the former Champions League winners.

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Bernardo stars again as Man City move to top of EPL with Watford win

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Bernardo Silva continued his scintillating form as Manchester City surged to the top of the Premier League table with a comfortable 3-1 victory at struggling Watford.

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a simple header on four minutes as the visitors threatened to run riot against the home side’s porous defence.

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Jack Grealish had several chances to double the advantage before the in-form Bernardo fizzed in a rebound from a narrow angle just past the half hour.

 

City continued to pose all of the questions following the restart and Bernardo grabbed his seventh goal of the season with a wonderful curler that flew into the top corner on 63 minutes.

For long spells it looked like a case of how many for the visitors but Watford did give the home support some cheer when substitute Cucho Hernandez acrobatically volleyed in a rebound 16 minutes from time.

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The result means City take advantage of former leaders Chelsea’s defeat at West Ham earlier in the day to move a point clear of second-placed Liverpool at the summit. Watford remain three points above the drop zone in 17th spot.

Pep Guardiola’s men will now turn their focus to Tuesday’s Champions League clash at RB Leipzig having already guaranteed top spot in Group A before hosting Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday. Watford travel to Brentford on Friday evening.

 

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EPL: Origi nets in stoppage time as Liverpool take advantage of Chelsea slip

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