Manchester City won’t retain their Premier League title, but they might just end the season with a trophy.
Roberto Mancini’s side defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley today and will be hotter-than-hell-in-July favorites to beat Wigan Athletic in next month’s final.
After yesterday’s easy win for Wigan over Millwall in the other semi-final, this match lived up to the hype as Chelsea mounted a stirring second-half comeback from an 0-2 hole.
Samir Nasri opened the scoring after 35 minutes, bundling the ball in after a strong run from Yaya Toure and a touch from Sergio Aguero (pictured). It was a messy finish, but no wonder Nasri was delighted: it was his first goal since October 24. The contest looked over when Aguero added another two minutes into the second period, expertly looping a header in off Petr Cech’s far post.
But Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez summoned Fernando Torres from the bench after 66 minutes and adding another forward to help Demba Ba made a potent impact, stretching City’s defense and changing the pattern of play. Straight after Torres’ arrival, Ba superbly hooked the ball beyond City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon. It was the first goal the Romanian has conceded in the FA Cup this season – he has played in every round, with Mancini opting to give first-choice Joe Hart a rest.
City were indebted to Pantilimon for twice making excellent saves, from Juan Mata and Demba Ba, as Chelsea pressed for an equalizer that never quite came. Aguero, though, could face retrospective disciplinary action for appearing to trample on David Luiz with both feet. Since the referee, Chris Foy, did not even hand the striker a yellow card, he presumably failed to notice the seriousness of the foul.
Chelsea still have a Europa League semi-final against Basel to come, while City can hope for an exciting and successful end to their campaign. It won’t quite live up to last year’s climax, but it would be some compensation for a disappointing year.
Three Premier League newcomers remain in close contention with one another after 12 weeks, one of which picked up another positive result today.
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Brighton & Hove Albion earned a 2-2 draw against Stoke City at the Amex Stadium on Monday after Jose Izquierdo’s persistence gave the home side the leveler in the 60th minute from Glenn Murray‘s clever pass inside the box.
The result made for Brighton’s sixth consecutive match unbeaten at home this season.
A back-and-forth first half saw the on-loan Chelsea defender give Stoke the lead heading into the halftime break after a disappointing spell of defending by Brighton allowed Zouma to finish of a corner kick.
Pascal Gross gave Brighton an equalizer one minute from halftime after Davy Propper had done superbly to create space for himself down the right wing.
The visitors struck in the 28th minute after Shaqiri delivered a perfect long ball into the path of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
The Cameroonian proceeded to control the pass beautifully from his Stoke teammate, before tucking his shot from close range into the near corner past Brighton goalkeeper Maty Ryan.
Brighton thought they had the chance to level the score prior to the equalizer when the hosts appeared to have a penalty appeal after Murray went down inside the Stoke area. However, referee Lee Mason opted against spot kick.
The two sides will both be in action on Saturday when Brighton travels to Old Trafford to face Manchester United and Stoke takes on Crystal Palace.
It’s been a wild one thus far at the Amex Stadium, and we’ve still got 45 minutes left to play.
Stoke City holds a 2-1 advantage against newcomer Brighton & Hove Albion after Kurt Zouma gave the visitors the lead on the stroke of halftime.
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Zouma headed home close range in first-half stoppage time to restore the Potters’ advantage, after Pascal Gross had equalized in the 44th minute for Brighton.
Stoke opened the scoring just prior to the half hour mark when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting finished off a stellar move that originated from a Xherdan Shaqiri long ball over the Brighton back line.
Brighton were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men after Glenn Murray went in late on a challenge against Stoke defender Kevin Wimmer.
Murray thought he had won himself a penalty kick minutes prior, but referee Lee Mason decided to continue play.
Unsurprisingly, one of Atlanta United’s biggest stars took home some hardware on Monday after a stellar first season in Major League Soccer.
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Atlanta attacker Miguel Almiron was named MLS Newcomer of the Year today, beating out Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic and teammate Josef Martinez for the honor.
Almiron, who joined Atlanta from Argentine side Lanus, netted nine goals and added 14 assists for the Eastern Conference squad in 2017 and helped guide the club to the MLS Cup Playoffs after finishing fifth in the East.
The 23-year-old received an 37.38% average of the vote for the award, which was compiled based on votes from a combination of media members, MLS players and executives. Nikolic finished second with 24.92 percent, while Martinez checked in at number three.
Chris Hughton looks to lead his Brighton and Hove Albion to a fifth-straight result as the Gulls welcome Stoke City to the Amex Stadium on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
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The Gulls have won two and drawn two, powered by goals from Glenn Murray and the playmaking of Pascal Gross.
Stoke’s 3-4-1-2 has Ramadan Sobhi, Eric Choupo-Moting, and Xherdan Shaqiri attacking the final third.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Ryan, Bruno, Dunk, Duffy, Bong, Stephens, Propper, Knockaert, Izquierdo, Gross, Murray. Subs: Krul, Hemed, Goldson, Schelotto, Suttner, Brown.
Stoke City: Grant; Zouma, Shawcross, Wimmer; Diouf, Fletcher, Allen, Pieters; Shaqiri, Ramadan; Choupo-Moting. Subs: Haugaard; Berahino, Jese, Afellay, Martins Indi, Adam, Crouch.