Frank Lampard moves toward more Chelsea milestones

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Chelsea could probably have done without Sunday’s FA Cup contest, another match to clutter up the West London side’s ongoing ambition in league and tournament play.

But it did, at least, provide the stage for Frank Lampard’s latest bit of history building around Stamford Bridge.

The longtime England international and virtual institution around Chelsea recorded goal No. 199 during his team’s FA Cup romp Sunday over tiny Brentford, a West London neighbor of the far more decorated Premier League outfit.

Juan Mata ran the show for Chelsea, but much of the talk will be about Lampard, who is about to become the second player in club history to round the 200-goal milepost.

Only Bobby Tambling has more with the club, striking 202 times in his days with the Blues from 1959-70. Obviously, that leaves Lampard will within striking distance of ensconcing himself as the club’s all-time scoring leader, something particularly impressive for a midfielder.

In fact, only four other Chelsea man scored as many as 150 with the club. The list of Chelsea all-time leading goal scorers:

  • Bobby Tambling, 202
  • Frank Lampard, 199
  • Kerry Dixon, 193
  • Didier Drogba, 157
  • Roy Bentley, 150
  • Peter Osgood, 150

What are Lampard’s chances of gaining the club’s all-time scoring leadership? Quite good, you’d have to say. First, he still takes penalty kicks for the club. Plus Lampard finds himself in absolutely wonderful form, hitting five goals in the Blues’ last six matches.

He has at least one more FA Cup contest plus 12 league matches. Rafa Benitez’s club looks good to go through in Europa League action, which means three more contests there.

His future with the club remains highly in doubt – but Lampard’s place in history around Stamford Bridge is clearly secure.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia