Joe Lago

  • Lionel Messi sets Champions League career scoring record with hat trick in Barcelona win

    Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    Another game, another hat trick, another all-time scoring record for Lionel Messi.

    Three days after becoming La Liga's top career scorer, the Barcelona magician produced a hat trick in a 4-0 win over APOEL Nicosia to give him 74 goals in the UEFA Champions League and eclipse Real Madrid legend Raul's old mark of 71.

    [More Lionel Messi: If he actually left Barcelona, where would he go?]

    Messi broke Raul's record in the 38th minute by redirecting Rafinha's shot into the low left corner, then added a second goal 20 minutes later with another right-footed finish. He completed the hat trick in the 87th minute.

    Here is Messi's history-making moment of career goal No. 72 in club soccer's top competition:

    Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has 70 Champions League goals and will be looking to add to his career total against Basel on Wednesday.

    Your move, Ronaldo.

  • When will Jurgen Klinsmann take the U.S. men's national team forward?

    Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    Another World Cup year has come and gone for the United States men's national team. The determined underdog side stuck to a defensive mindset to advance to the tournament's last 16 despite being overwhelmed at times by superior talent, while millions back home got swept up in the every-four-years futbol fever like a true soccer-mad nation.

    Those words applied to Bob Bradley's American squad four years ago after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The same could be said about Jurgen Klinsmann's USMNT after this summer's World Cup in Brazil. Therein lies the problem with the state of the U.S. men's national team.

    Under Klinsmann, the U.S. has made very little progress.

    That was it – less than one half's worth of attacking soccer. The rest of the time the U.S. fell back into a defensive shell, absorbing wave after wave of opponents' attacks and relying on goalkeeper Tim Howard to save the day – or the same blueprint for success under Bradley in South Africa.

  • Flare-throwing fans halt Italy-Croatia qualifier, referee orders players to leave field

    Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    A perfectly riveting Euro 2016 qualifier between Italy and Croatia was abruptly (and somewhat predictably) interrupted in the 75th minute when Croatian fans began throwing flares onto the San Siro pitch on Sunday.

    Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was the apparent target of the Croatian supporters' madness, which halted play for roughly 11 minutes before order could be restored. The Vine below captures the beginning of the flare-fest.

    As the stadium became engulfed in smoke, referee Bjorn Kuipers had no choice but to order the players to leave the field to ensure their safety. Things got so out of hand in the stands that riot police had to disperse the flare-tossing throng and, out of nowhere, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt began pleading with the traveling supporters to keep the peace (actually, it was Gordon-Levitt's doppleganger, Croatia coach Niko Kovac).

    Eventually, the teams returned to the field to earn a much-deserved point in a 1-1 draw. Antonio Candreva's 11th-minute strike gave Italy the lead but Ivan Perisic equalized for Croatia four minutes later.

  • Goals by Van Persie, James, Zlatan chosen as finalists for FIFA Puskas Award

    Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    FIFA announced on Wednesday its 10 finalists for World Goal of the Year – aka the Puskas Award named after the great Hungarian striker Ferenc Puskas, who starred for Real Madrid in the 1950s and 60s. It's an eclectic collection of goals that favors skill over power and even ventures as far as a women's league in Ireland to find a worthy top-10 candidate.

    Fans will decide the winner and, as is often the case with such awards, star power will be a huge factor. So don't be surprised if Robin van Persie, James Rodriguez or Zlatan Ibrahimovic finish first (Ibra won it last year with this memorable goal for Sweden in a friendly against England).

    Only goals scored between Oct. 3, 2013 and Sept. 26, 2014 were considered. The winning goal will be announced on December 1.

    Here are the 10 finalists:

    Tim Cahill, Australia

    Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid

    Marco Fabian, Cruz Azul

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain

    Pajtim Kasami, Fulham

    Steph Roche, Peamount United

    James Rodriguez, Colombia

    Camilo Sanvezzo, Vancouver Whitecaps

    Hisato Sato, Sanfrecce Hiroshima

  • Apolo Ohno wants to do something even crazier than short-track speed skating

    Joe Lago at Fourth-Place Medal 3 mths ago

    Apolo Ohno became the most decorated American winter athlete by winning eight Olympic medals – two of them gold – in short-track speed skating, a high-speed, collision-filled sport compared to NASCAR on ice.

    So it's no surprise that Ohno, who retired from speed skating after the 2010 Vancouver Games, would pursue something even crazier than racing around an oval on skates with extremely sharp, 16-to-18-inch blades for his latest post-Olympics athletic endeavor.

    On Oct. 11, Ohno will take part in a triathlon, but it won't be just any triathlon. It'll be the Ironman World Championship, the world's most grueling endurance race, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

    "Why the most coveted race in all of endurance races on the planet in the most brutal conditions? For that exact reason," Ohno told Yahoo Sports while promoting his Built With Chocolate Milk campaign.

    "Because it is the most difficult race, because the conditions are so brutal and because it's so far of a departure from what I'm normally used to as a sprint short-track athlete."

  • 2014 World Cup winners and losers

    Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports 4 mths ago

    RIO DE JANEIRO – After 32 days of competition, Germany was hands down the best of the 32 teams and a fitting World Cup champion, and as the confetti rained down after Sunday's 1-0 extra-time victory over Argentina, coach Joachim Loew finally stood with his national team legacy intact and a decade-long mission complete after returning German football to the top of the sport.

    Brazil fans joined the celebration at Maracana Stadium, too. Their national nightmare – rival Argentina raising the trophy on the most sacred of Brazilian soccer grounds – had been averted, and they let their South American adversaries to the southwest know about their satisfaction with full-throated songs of derision.

    But when it comes to the World Cup, there is never a bigger winner than FIFA.

    Yes, in many ways the 2014 World Cup can be considered a success. But it can also be regarded as a failure – a failure to recognize and prioritize what matters most.

    As for the events on the pitch, here is how the big-picture win-loss column stacked up.

    Loser: Lionel Messi

  • Missed opportunities doom Argentina in World Cup final loss to Germany

    Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports 4 mths ago

    RIO DE JANEIRO – Head coach Alejandro Sabella believed Argentina had to play a perfect game in order to beat a dominant Germany team in the World Cup final Sunday at Maracana Stadium.

    The Argentines had to be gritty defensively, and they were, as midfield general Javier Mascherano willed his teammates to a scoreless 90 minutes. They had to expose the German defense, and they did, using a game plan that France employed in the quarterfinals – lofting balls over the top of the defense – and executing it better than the French as Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lionel Messi timed their runs to latch onto the passes.

    But Argentina wasn't perfect in front of goal, where Sabella and his players will regretfully say the opportunity at Argentina's third World Cup title was lost.

    "To be perfect," Sabella said, "we needed to be more efficient."

    The missed chances ranged from unlucky to incomprehensible.

    [Related: Germany wins World Cup on Mario Goetze's brilliance]

    "That was very dangerous for us," Loew said.

    More World Cup coverage:

  • Germany coach's special message to Mario Goetze helped inspire winning goal

    Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports 4 mths ago

    For complete World Cup 2014 coverage, visit Yahoo Sports and follow @YahooSoccer.

    RIO DE JANEIRO – Before replacing starting striker Miroslav Klose in the 88th minute of a tense and scoreless World Cup final against Argentina, Germany coach Joachim Loew gave instructions to the substitute. But this wasn't your ordinary marching orders of late-game tactics.

    "I said to Mario Goetze, 'OK, show to the world that you're better than [Lionel] Messi, show that you can decide the World Cup,' " Loew recalled.

    Show you're better than Messi? Is that all?

    Loew's words were half-dare, half-inspirational speech. And, luckily for the Germans, Goetze took every syllable to heart.

    The forward from Bayern Munich did what Messi couldn't do – score the winning goal – as he showed off his world-class skill to the millions watching around the globe to secure Germany's fourth World Cup title Sunday night at Maracana Stadium.

    For Goetze, the moment was "a dream come true." For Loew, it was just one more stroke of genius.

    More World Cup coverage:

  • Germany must give Jurgen Klinsmann credit if it wins World Cup

    Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports 4 mths ago

    For complete World Cup 2014 coverage visit Yahoo Sports and follow @YahooSoccer

    RIO DE JANEIRO – Only the magical feet of Lionel Messi stand between Germany and a fourth World Cup title now. The Germans have been so efficient and so dominant over the past four weeks here in Brazil that only the brilliance of Argentina's talisman could shatter their championship dreams.

    Jurgen Klinsmann's master plan.

    The United States head coach was the inspiration behind the complete overhaul of German soccer when he took over as manager of the national team in 2004. The flamboyant world-class striker who shunned the emotionless German mindset injected passion and brought new ideas to a rigid soccer system that had grown stagnant. The tectonic shift in soccer philosophy not only changed the way Germany played but also the way its players ate, drank, slept football by famously introducing nutrition, psychology and yoga to training regimens.

    [Photos: Test your World Cup knowledge]

  • Netherlands goalkeepers stick together after controversial late sub against Costa Rica

    Joe Lago at Yahoo Sports 4 mths ago

    For complete World Cup 2014 coverage visit Yahoo Sports and follow @YahooSoccer

    RIO DE JANEIRO – Tim Krul was informed of the plan before he stepped on the team bus for the stadium. Jasper Cillessen wished he would've known the plan so he didn't have to wonder what in the world was going on when he saw Krul warming up in the corner of his eye late in extra time.

    The plan, both genius and devious, was to replace first-choice goalkeeper Cillessen with penalty-saving specialist Krul if head coach Louis van Gaal had one last substitution seconds before a penalty shootout in Saturday's quarterfinal against Costa Rica. Only Krul, Van Gaal and goalkeeper coach Frans Hoek knew about the switch.

    The controversial decision worked beautifully. Krul turned away two shots, including Costa Rica's final kick from the spot, to send the Netherlands to its second straight World Cup semifinal. The shrewd move also could've ripped apart the Dutch team right then and there, inviting jealousy and, in the extreme, creating division among the ranks.