ANDY Carroll scored a 90th-minute equaliser soon after coming off the bench to earn West Ham a 1-1 draw against Stoke, which was denied a vital win in its bid to escape relegation from the English Premier League.
Carroll’s late strike spared the blushes of teammate Joe Hart, whose mistake allowed Peter Crouch to put Stoke ahead in the 79th and become his club’s record Premier League scorer.
A victory for the visitors would have seen them move to within three points from safety and keep West Ham in real danger of going down. As it turned out, Stoke has five points to make up in its final four games if the team is to preserve its top-flight status.
“The goal was a kick in the teeth,” Crouch said.
Carroll last played for West Ham more than three months ago, with an ankle injury depriving the team of its target man upfront. He was sent on in the 86th in a last-gasp move by manager David Moyes and it paid off, with the striker volleying in a cross from Aaron Cresswell.
No one would have been happier to see the ball hit the back of the net than Hart.
The England goalkeeper has only just got back in the West Ham team after losing his place to Adrian at the end of November. In his first game back, he made a mistake for a goal in a 3-0 loss at Burnley on March 10, and this one against Stoke was almost an exact replica as he fumbled a shot in front of him by Xherdan Shaqiri.
Before Hart had a chance to hack the ball away with his feet, Crouch nipped in to score.
The errors won’t help Hart’s chance of regaining the England jersey off Jordan Pickford ahead of the World Cup in Russia — if he is included in the 23-man squad for the tournament.
The point left West Ham seven points clear of the relegation zone
WORLD CUP winner Mesut Ozil says he will “no longer be playing for Germany” after accusing some German FA officials of racism.
Ozil, 29, was part of the Germany squad at the World Cup in Russia and was fiercely criticised as they crashed out at the group stage.
A photograph he posed for with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the tournament led to his loyalty to Joachim Low’s side being questioned.
Germany team boss Oliver Bierhoff suggested Ozil should have been dropped after his failure to clear up the Erdogan meeting.
Ozil, who is of mixed German and Turkish heritage, defended his actions in a lengthy statement issued through his social media accounts on Sunday, the first time he has publicly addressed the matter, saying he and his family had received hate mail, threatening phone calls and social media abuse.
The Arsenal midfielder says he was called a ‘Turkish s***’ and a ‘Turkish pig’ by his own fans and cited German politician Bernd Holzhauer calling him a ‘goat-f*****’ over the controversy.
“For me, having a picture with President Erdogan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country,” he said in his statement.
“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies.
“The treatment I have received from the DFB (German Football Association) and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt.
“I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.
“People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual-heritage families. Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent.
“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.
“I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. The decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my teammates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany.
“When high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough. That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever be accepted.”
Ozil blamed the German Football Federation (DFB) for failing to defend him against his most strident critics and singled out mistreatment from DFB president Richard Grindel as the most frustrating issue.
“Arguably the issue that has frustrated me the most over the past couple of months has been the mistreatment from the DFB, and in particular the DFB President Richard Grindel,” he said.
“Whilst I attempted to explain to Grindel my heritage, ancestry and therefore reasoning behind the photo, he was far more interested in speaking about his own political views and belittling my opinion.
“I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his (Grindel’s) incompetence and inability to do his job properly.”
Ozil was a member of the Germany side that won the World Cup in 2014 and has been voted Germany’s national team player of the year on five separate occasions.
A dominant Liverpool showing meant little as Christian Pulisic’s double helped Borussia Dortmund to a 3-1 win in North Carolina.
With the number of chances created, the Reds should have begun their International Champions Cup with victory, and led for 40 minutes once Virgil van Dijk headed in Andrew Robertson’s cross from a corner with 25 minutes gone.
But having barely had a kick, Dortmund were level when halftime substitute Pulisic was taken down by James Milner in the Liverpool box, and the American took the ball from Mario Gotze before dispatching the resulting penalty in front of his home fans.
Jurgen Klopp’s team resumed control against his former side but from a late break, Pulisic put the German side ahead in the last minute before he saw a shot palmed straight to Larsen in added time, who added a third to teach Liverpool a harsh lesson in efficiency.
Van Dijk’s header was the only shot Liverpool registered before the break, as they probed without breaking through against a young Dortmund side, who named Jadon Sancho in attack, as well as fellow Englishman Denzil Boadu in midfield.
Dortmund’s one first-half chance fell to Maximilian Philipp when Karius, out of his box to cut out a through-ball, sliced his clearance straight to the forward, but his first-time shot lacked power and precision, ending wide with the goalkeeper ready to cover.
The second half, with both teams making wholesale changes, was a thoroughly different affair. Milner curled an effort no more than a foot over the bar when given space to shoot just outside the area, before Dominic Solanke nodded a golden chance from inside the six-yard wide of the far post from another short corner.
Liverpool continued their assault on the Dortmund goal as Solanke’s wonderful lofted pass from the left was caught on the volley by Alberto Moreno inside the box, but diverted it only straight at Hitz.
The Reds were again punished when Dortmund broke rapidly from a goal kick, and Marcel Schmelzer picked out Pulisic with a low cross. He took a touch before wrong-footing Karius and shooting low into the corner.
The goalkeeper could not be found at fault for that goal – but he was far from blameless as Dortmund added a third in added time. Pulisic was again at the heart of things, turning Moreno inside and out before striking goalwards from the right of the box. Karius palmed his effort straight at Larsen, who had the easiest of finishes from four yards to put Dortmund out of sight.