Soccer

USA vs. Thailand highlights: Ranking all 13 World Cup-record goals

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AP

USA vs. Thailand highlights: Ranking all 13 World Cup-record goals

The United States Women's National Team got off to a record start in its World Cup title defense Tuesday.

The United States routed Thailand 13-0 in Reims, France, scoring more goals in a single game than any other team in the tournament's history. Striker Alex Morgan matched a record with five goals in Group F's second game, eclipsing her combined total from the last two World Cups (three). She also added three assists, becoming the first player to put up that stat line.

Before you ask: Yes, the Americans are that good, and no, they're not bad for the sport. The lopsided scoreline speaks far more to the structural disparities that exist between the top and bottom of the soccer world rather than a lack of respect on the USWNT's part.

To put it simply, the United States had better funding and better players playing for better club teams in a better (and better-funded) league than its opponents.

Thailand has appeared in two consecutive World Cups since the tournament expanded to 24 teams; the United States finished no worse than third in each of the first seven women's World Cups. That led to a crooked number on the scoreboard Tuesday, as the USWNT made history.

It probably will be a long time before another team scores as many (or more) goals in a single match. When Tuesday's game is recounted during future World Cups and beyond, which of the 13 goals are going to be worth remembering? We set out to rank all 13, from worst to best.

13. Sam Mewis, 50'


12. Sam Mewis, 54'

No disrespect to the UCLA product, who made her World Cup debut Tuesday. Both of these goals were a result of good fortune -- the first took a deflection off of a Thai defender, and the second purely was a poacher's finish. But the midfielder deserves plenty of credit, having entered the lineup Tuesday while center back Becky Sauerbrunn sat with a quad issue.

Mewis now has four goals in her last four games, and exemplifies the depth that manager Jill Ellis has at her disposal. 

11. Alex Morgan, 81'


10. Alex Morgan, 87'

We firmly remain in the realm of splitting hairs and picking nits with Morgan's final two tallies of the day. Morgan's fifth goal gets the edge in these rankings because of the build-up from the back and her outrageous first touch to create space, but the Cal grad's finish on her fourth marker epitomizes why she is one of the best strikers in the world. 

9. Lindsey Horan, 32'

Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath are the last players opponents want to see line up over the ball on a set piece, and Heath's low, whipped-in cross on USWNT's second goal of the day created a golden opportunity from a dangerous position. The pass was timed just behind Mewis' run in the box, but Horan was there to clean things up.

Once the knockout stages begin, Ellis will be glad she has that card to play. 

8. Mallory Pugh, 85'


7. Carli Lloyd, 92’

These goals were remarkably similar. Two goal-kick turnovers from Thai keeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying, two through balls from Morgan and two tidy finishes.

Lloyd (USWNT's oldest player) gets the edge over Pugh (its youngest) for scoring with the outside of her left foot. Pugh's touch to dribble around Charoenying, however, is worth remembering. 

[RELATED: Best places in Bay Area to watch USWNT at Women's World Cup]

6. Rose Lavelle, 20'

Morgan's first of three assists perhaps was her best. She ran back to retrieve O'Hara's lofted pass, holding up play well and then sending Lavelle in on goal. 

5. Alex Morgan, 12'

The USWNT opened its goal-scoring account in France with a strong team move, winning the ball back in midfield and needing just four passes to set up Morgan's header. Kelley O'Hara was fortunate that Rapinoe's deflected pass fell into her path, but Rapinoe drawing the attention of two defenders gave O'Hara plenty of time and space. 

4. Rose Lavelle, 56'

Crystal Dunn's through ball was exceptional, but Mewis' one-touch pass back to Lavelle might have been better.

Lavelle's goal sealed her first brace with USWNT, and she was one of three players to score at least two goals on the day. Not bad for a World Cup debut. 

3. Alex Morgan, 53'

Heath struck again with an impeccable free kick about 40 yards away from goal, putting the ball in a perfect spot for her teammates to win a header over the smaller Thai defenders. Horan's headed flick to Morgan was pinpoint accurate, too.

The USWNT won't have the same size advantage as the tournament wears on, but its set-piece dominance conceivably could. 

2. Megan Rapinoe, 79'

A rare counter-attacking goal on a day the United States spent most of its time in the attacking third, strong defending won the ball back. Lloyd then made a smart pass to fellow substitute Christen Press, whose deft dribbling ensured Pugh could place a precise pass in Rapinoe's path.

Full marks to Rapinoe for running nearly the entire length of the field, the sliding finish and the ensuing celebration. 

[RELATED: USWNT's Bay Area ties run deep at World Cup]

1. Alex Morgan, 74' 

Morgan's third goal was her best, and a product of escalatingly impressive moves. She controlled Press' pass and got in shooting position with a tight touch and turn, then created enough space to shoot by rolling the ball from her left foot into the path of her right before finishing past an outstretched Charoenying.

On a day when Morgan's teammates showed off plenty of individual skill, hers really stood out. 

Manchester City Champions League ban overturned by CAS after appeal

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AP

Manchester City Champions League ban overturned by CAS after appeal

Half of Manchester can breathe a sigh of relief, while the other half will curse under their breath: Manchester City will play in the UEFA Champions League next season after all. 

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday morning overturned UEFA's two-year ban on the Abu Dhabi-owned club from playing in the Champions League and the Europa League, ruling that City should pay a fine but that "it was not appropriate to impose a ban on participating in UEFA's club competitions." City's fine was reduced to €10 million.

UEFA barred City from European competition for two years in a February ruling, also fining the club €30 million for "serious breaches" of the governing body's Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. Investigators determined that City deliberately misled regulators and inflated sponsorship revenues, with Abu Dhabi United Group reportedly covering nearly £60 million of a deal with Etihad Airways that was listed as worth £67.5 million.

The CAS determined that City "contravened" FFP regulations, but "most of the alleged breaches ... were either not established or time-barred."

"As the charges with respect to any dishonest concealment of equity funding were clearly more significant violations than obstructing the [UEFA Club Financial Control Body's] investigations," the CAS wrote, "it was not appropriate to impose a ban on participating in UEFA’s club competitions for [City's] failure to cooperate with the CFCB’s investigations alone."

City already had clinched second place and a spot in the Champions League, but they were awaiting the CAS ruling. The club have won every major trophy on offer in England at least once since Sheikh Mansour's group purchased them in 2008, but European glory has proven elusive. The Champions League awaits City following the conclusion of the Premier League campaign, with a spot in the quarter-final on the line in a second-leg tie with La Liga leaders Real Madrid on Aug. 7. Now, City won't necessarily feel an extra urgency to fill out their trophy case with the ban lifted, nor will they worry about manager Pep Guardiola having wandering eyes with just a year left on his contract or any other stars looking for the exit doors. 

Guardiola has maintained he wanted to remain with City, regardless of the club's potential ban from European competition. City's financial might never allow for the club to be anything but a domestic frontrunner, but remaining a fixture in the Champions League -- combined with the coronavirus pandemic's economic impact upon their competitors -- undoubtledy will help City retain stars like Kevin de Bruyne. 

City's overturned ban unquestionably is a blow to their Premier League rivals in the race for European competition. Fifth place won't clinch automatic qualifcation to the group stage of the Champions League, and the financial boost that comes with playing in the continent's premier knockout competition. As the table stands right now, fifth-place Manchester United would've benefitted from Manchester City's absence from Europe. City's cross-town rivals have a game in hand on fourth-place Leicester City, however, and United can jump into third (over Leicester City and Chelsea) with a win against Southampton on Monday.

But no more than two points will separate Leicester City and Manchester United after Monday, and the clubs are set to play on the final day of the Premier League season on July 26. That match likely carries far more importance now. 

Eighth-place Tottenham Hotspur would've, depending on how the FA Cup finishes, been eligible for a spot in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. Now, seventh-place Sheffield United has the inside track to the Premier League's last European spot. Spurs are two points behind the Blades, while ninth-place Arsenal and 10th-place Burnley are both four points back. 

Sheffield United shocks Chelsea with unlikely David McGoldrick goals

Sheffield United shocks Chelsea with unlikely David McGoldrick goals

The Premier League hasn't had many surprises since Leicester City lifted the trophy in 2016, let alone compelling ones.

Sheffield United and David McGoldrick are making up for lost time.

They jumped up to sixth place Saturday, thanks to a 3-0 win over third-place Chelsea at Bramall Lane. McGoldrick scored not once, but twice, ending a 27-game league scoring drought.

The Irish striker opened the scoring in the 18th minute, slotting a rebound past Kepa moments after the Chelsea goalkeeper sprawled to save a deflected shot. McGoldrick sealed Sheffield United's victory in the 77th, giving the Blades a 3-0 advantage after pouncing on the Blues' failed clearance.

Should Sheffield United maintain their place after Wolves' match against Everton on Sunday, the Blades will have the inside track to a UEFA Europa League place and an outside shot at one in the Champions League.

Not bad for a club playing in England's third division just over three years ago.

Sheffield United hadn't been in the Premier League since being relegated in 2007, earning promotion to England's top flight after finishing second in the Championship last year. The Blades have been on an upward trajectory since hiring Chris Wilder in 2016, winning a trophy, earning promotion or both in two of the last three seasons.

Promoted Premier League sides as recently as least season, when Wolves made it to the Europa League. Sheffield United, however, spent far less than Wolves and the rest of their top-flight counterparts. Only Southampton and recently relegated Norwich City have a lower net-spend than Sheffield United over the last five seasons, according to Transfermarkt.

Wilder's innovative 3-5-2 system has done wonders for Sheffield United, and the Blades have done very well against some of the Premier League's best sides. They've now beaten or drawn with each of the league's "Big Six" sides, aside from the last two champions: Liverpool and Manchester City.

With 54 points, Sheffield United already have ensured their best-ever point total in the Premier League. Adding their first-ever appearance in European competition would be quite a way for the Blades to commemorate their return to the English top flight, and McGoldrick is one of many unlikely heroes who could become club legends.