Stoke loses, sacks man­ager

Sunday Sports - - SPORTS - SOC­CER ROUNDUP — Post­media Net­work wires

Stoke fired man­ager Mark Hughes on Satur­day fol­low­ing a 2-1 loss to fourth-tier Coven­try in FA Cup play that heaped more em­bar­rass­ment on a team fight­ing against rel­e­ga­tion from the Pre­mier League.

Hughes was in charge for 4½ years, guid­ing the club from cen­tral Eng­land to three straight ninth-place fin­ishes in his first three sea­sons.

This sea­son, how­ever, Stoke has been un­der­mined by de­fen­sive prob­lems — it has con­ceded 47 goals in 22 games in the league, more than any other team — and has lost eight of its last 11 games.

Bournemouth avoided be­com­ing an­other Pre­mier League team to be elim­i­nated by lower-league op­po­si­tion, scor­ing an equal­izer in the sec­ond minute of in­jury time to draw 2-2 at home to third-tier Wi­gan. Chelsea and Le­ices­ter were also taken to re­plays.

BARCA ADDS COUTINHO

Philippe Coutinho is join­ing Barcelona af­ter Liverpool agreed Satur­day to sell the Brazil­ian in a deal that makes him one of the most ex­pen­sive play­ers in soc­cer his­tory.

Barcelona did not re­veal the cost of the deal for the 25-year-old play­maker but a per­son fa­mil­iar with the de­tails told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the trans­fer is worth $192 mil­lion US.

BRIEFLY

Napoli will go into the win­ter break top of Serie A af­ter beat­ing rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Hel­las Verona 2-0. Napoli stayed one point clear of sec­ond-place Ju­ven­tus, which won 1-0 at Cagliari ... Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa scored, then was sent off af­ter cel­e­brat­ing his goal in a 2-0 win over Getafe.

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