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World Cup qualifying - how it works

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The long road home for Sydney Leroux

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Arsenal's FA Cup victory should lead to a credible Premier League challenge

Aston Villa were no match for Arsenal at Wembley as the Gunners successfully defended their FA Cup title.
ESPN FC's Steve Nicol feels its time Arsenal look beyond the FA Cup for their silverware.

LONDON -- This was the kind of football that Arsene Wenger has been promising for years. This was the kind of flawless 4-0 display that wins hearts, minds and silverware. Granted, it might have been more impressive had Aston Villa not frozen in the opening exchanges and forgotten their game plan, but it was still a pleasure to watch.

"We were at it from the first minute to the last," glowed Arsene Wenger afterward. "I never felt that the focus dropped or the quality dropped. It became comfortable...

Ozil leads Arsenal to classy FA Cup final victory

Aston Villa were no match for Arsenal at Wembley as the Gunners successfully defended their FA Cup title.
ESPN FC's Steve Nicol feels its time Arsenal look beyond the FA Cup for their silverware.

Arsenal are FA Cup champions once again, and this time they did it in considerably more style than 12 months ago. Anyone hoping for an upset will have been left disappointed by a superb Arsenal display. Aston Villa may have been underwhelming, but it's difficult to imagine many teams living with the Gunners in this kind of form.

Ultimately, this was one of the most one-sided finals in recent memory. Only a strong performance from Villa goalkeeper Shay Given prevented the scoreline from becoming...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

World Cup qualifying - how it works

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup began on March 12, 2015 with preliminary ties between the 12 lowest-ranked nations in Asia.

Chiquito Do Carmo of Timor-Leste had the honour of scoring the very first goal on the road to Russia in a 4-1 victory at home to Mongolia.

There are 31 places up for grabs, joining hosts Russia. FIFA has yet to ratify the final 2 places which for recent World Cups have been filled via intercontinental playoffs, to which four confederations are allocated 0.5 places.

EUROPE:...

Arsenal dominate Aston Villa to defend their FA Cup trophy

Aston Villa were no match for Arsenal at Wembley as the Gunners successfully defended their FA Cup title.
ESPN FC's Steve Nicol feels its time Arsenal look beyond the FA Cup for their silverware.

LONDON -- Three observations from Arsenal's 4-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. 

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Aston VillaAston Villa
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1. Arsenal overwhelm Aston Villa

Now Arsenal are out on their own in the history books. They have won football's oldest honour, the FA Cup trophy, more often than anyone else -- their 12th FA Cup means they have overtaken Manchester United in the all-time standings. It was also Arsene Wenger's sixth, and no manager has tasted glory more often in the competition's 144-year existence.

But...

 By Tim Vickery

Guarani fairy tale continues after surviving Racing gut check

After taking down Racing, Paraguay's Guarani will now face Argentine giants River Plate in the Copa Libertadores semifinals.
After taking down Racing, Paraguay's Guarani will now face Argentine giants River Plate in the Copa Libertadores semifinals.

As the FIFA scandal rolls on, the mind-boggling sums alleged to have changed hands in bribes might be seen as a perverse tribute to the power of the game. The heart of the matter appears to lie in the transaction of TV rights and marketing. If companies can afford to pay out on the level stated and still make a profit, it is surely an indication that the product has a huge appeal.

Last Thursday night gave a hint as to why that might be the case. The final place was being filled in the semifinals...