First-half West Brom salvo leaves Sunderland rooted to bottom

(Reuters)- - Two spectacular first-half goals earned West Bromwich Albion a 2-0 victory to maintain their excellent start to the season and keep Sunderland rooted to the foot of the Premier League on Saturday.

Albion scored twice in six minutes to effectively kill off bottom club Sunderland's hopes.

Darren Fletcher gave the home side the lead after half an hour with a left-foot volley, and Chris Brunt followed up with a superb strike on 36 minutes after Nacer Chadli had hit the bar from close range.

Afobe on target as Bournemouth battle back to draw 2-2 with Watford

LONDON Bournemouth's soft centre at set pieces looked like costing them dearly until substitute Benik Afobe poppped up with a late goal to snatch a 2-2 draw at home to Watford on Saturday.

The Hornets took the lead in the 24th minute as the home side failed to clear with a corner, allowing Christian Kabasele to head home from close range.

Norway international Joshua King fired home Adam Smith's pass to equalise early in the second half, but just as Bournemouth looked like taking over, up popped Deeney to bury Tom Cleverley's corner past Artur Boruc.

Two-goal Carroll is Hammers hero again at Boro

- Andy Carroll continued his barnstorming form for West Ham, netting the first-half double that consigned Middlesbrough to another dispiriting Premier League defeat at the Riverside on Saturday.

Carroll, fresh from his brilliant strike against Crystal Palace, once again made Hammers fans forget the controversy over their absent former hero Dimitri Payet as he delivered more delight for his under-pressure manager Slaven Bilic with a bullet header from a corner after nine minutes.

Rooney breaks United scoring record in draw at Stoke

Wayne Rooney curled home a superb free kick deep into injury time to become Manchester United's all time leading goalscorer and give his side a 1-1 draw against Stoke City in their Premier League clash on Saturday.

Stoke went ahead in the 19th minute following a quick counter-attack when Manchester United's Juan Mata steered Erik Pieters' cross-shot from a tight angle into his own goal.

Jose Mourinho's side squandered plenty of chances to equalise, with Mata spurning a superb chance to redeem himself by sending Zlatan Ibrahimovic's pass over with the goal at his mercy.

Injury threatens Fofana's Six Nations role for France

PARIS France centre Wesley Fofana's participation in next month's Six Nations looks in doubt after the Clermont player suffered a possible Achilles injury in a Champions Cup game against Exeter on Saturday.

"We'll have to see after the medical checks but it does not look good at all," Clermont coach Franck Azema told BeIN Sport after his team's 48-26 win in their final Pool 5 game.

Fofana, one of France's most highly rated players, sustained the injury on his own at the end of the first half.

He was unable to put his left foot on the ground as he left the pitch.

Patriots and Steelers in royal clash for shot at Super Bowl

By Larry Fine

In a match-up of NFL royalty, the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady host the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday's AFC title clash with the winner earning a record ninth trip to the Super Bowl.

Both teams have been on a tear, with the Patriots riding an eight-game winning streak, while the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have claimed nine straight.

"It's a big challenge for us," Brady told reporters. "We have to play our best game of the year."

Packers, Falcons set to give Georgia Dome explosive sendoff

By Steve Keating

The Georgia Dome's final game could fittingly be an explosive one with the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers poised to blow the roof off the place when the NFL's most potent offences clash on Sunday for a berth in the Super Bowl.

With Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers leading supercharged offences against leaky defences, Las Vegas bookmakers have set a record high "over-under" -- or the total combined points scored -- for a playoff contest at 60 points.

Former referee Collina among committee chairmen named by FIFA

ZURICH Former World Cup referee Pierluigi Collina is among nine new committee chairmen who have been named by football's governing body FIFA.

FIFA has reduced its number of standing committees from 26 to nine under reforms which were passed by its Congress last February in response to the worst corruption scandal in its history.

Forty individuals and two sports marketing companies were indicted in the United States while other officials, including former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, have been banned by FIFA's own ethics committee.

Frequent Iniesta injuries a problem for Barca coach Luis Enrique

By Richard Martin
| BARCELONA

BARCELONA Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said on Saturday that his team are never quite the same without midfield maestro Andres Iniesta who will again be missing when they visit Eibar on Sunday, needing a win to keep up the pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid.

The Barca captain strained a calf muscle in the first half of Barca's 1-0 win at Real Sociedad in the King's Cup on Thursday, the third injury he has sustained in a season in which he has only started six league games.

Dimitrov easily tames Gasquet to reach last 16

MELBOURNE Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov produced a brilliant display to end Richard Gasquet's promising Australian Open campaign with a 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory in the third round on Saturday.

Dimitrov, who ended a 2-1/2 year trophy drought by winning the Brisbane International title in the run up to the season's opening grand slam, appeared to be in a hurry to get off court after the players were kept waiting until almost midnight to start the match.

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