The Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew admitted that his side had been "lucky" to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers, who "deserved a point at the very least." You needed the fingers of both hands to count the saves that the goalkeeper Tim Krul had to make at Molineux, including two impressive stops with his feet that kept Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher from scoring, and only a dubious call from the referee's assistant prevented a last gasp equalizer. It is still far too early in the season for the Premier League table to be much worth looking at, and Toon must navigate a course past Tottenham, both Manchester clubs and Chelsea in upcoming fixtures.
Japan may have won a record fourth Asian Cup -- its fourth success in six tournaments -- but there was a sense throughout the competition that the Japanese were living on the edge. In every game apart from the 5-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia, they flirted with defeat. Against Australia in the final, Japan was for a longtime the poorer side, but it demonstrated the same resilience as it had in finding a late equalizer against Jordan, a late winner against Syria and two late goals against Qatar and then overcoming the concession of a late equalizer to beat South Korea in a shootout in the semifinal. This time, thanks to some good fortune and a brilliant display form its goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, Japan didn't concede and found a way back into the game a smart tactical switch from coach Alberto Zaccheroni.
In the thick of the Anfield soap opera, which has brought to the sports pages of British newspapers the orgy of hairdresser's-chair gossip usually confined to the TV mags, Sunday's Merseyside derby has become a minor subplot. New England Sports Ventures' stop-start and now concluded takeover, Tom Hicks' desperate interventions, anguished supporters' pleas ... the chronic uncertainty of Liverpool's future has left barely a column inch for the soccer.
Wayne Rooney may finally have ended his drought, but his boyhood club can't buy a goal at the moment. Three games into the Premier League season, Everton has scored a single goal and notched a single point. That return amounts to the club's worst start since 1999, but the biggest worry for Everton is that it has been unable to convert possession, often in dangerous areas, into goals.