Bayern Munich 2-2 (5-4, PKs) Chelsea: Late Javi Martínez goal, penalty kicks give Germans UEFA Super Cup

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In a match reminiscent of the last time Chelsea faced Pep Guardiola, Chelsea came within seconds of claiming the club’s third piece of European trophy in 15 months. But with a last gasp goal from Javi Martínez and a win in Friday’s penalty shootout, Bayern Munich dramatically claimed the first trophy of their Guardiola era, scoring on the last kick of the game to take a 2-2 (5-4) and their first UEFA Super Cup.

Bayern controlled play throughout the night, maintaining 73 percent possession while outshooting the Blues 31-14 in Prague. But employing a blueprint that’s found success in Guardiola’s clubs, Chelsea ceded possession in favor of defensive organization, their counter attack giving them the advantage by the end of regulation time. Eventually, however, Bayern took advantage of Chelsea’s bend-don’t-break approach, getting a goal with the last kick of the match ahead of their shootout triumph.

Chelsea opened the scoring early, with Fernando Torres converting on the match’s first major chance in the eighth minute. A Franck Ribéry goal two minutes after half time seemed to put Bayern on the road to victory, their possession plus the eventual dismissal of Ramires leaving everything in the European champions’ favor. But with their counterattack come alive, Chelsea generated a goal two minutes into extra time through Eden Hazard.

That goal looked set to give Chelsea their second Super Cup, but in the 122nd minute, a ball fell to an unmarked Martínez eight yards from goal. Petr Cech couldn’t get across in time to prevent an easy finish inside his right post, improbably sending the match to penalty kicks.

The first nine kicks of the shootout were converted, with Bayern making it through the entire run of takers without a miss. But with the last shot before the clubs were forced to find more kickers, Romelu Lukaku rolled a shot just to the right of Manuel Neuer, the Bayern keeper having no trouble securing Germany’s first UEFA Super Cup.

CHELSEA CONVERT EARLY; BAYERN TAKE CONTROL

Today’s match had been anticipated less as a meeting of last year’s Champions and Europa League winners than as a battle between former coaching rivals. For two years, Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola and Chelsea manager José Mourinho were on opposite sides of the Barcelona-Real Madrid divide, the two bosses splitting Spanish titles during Mourinho’s two years in the Santiago Bernabeu. The pre-match attention to the rivals, who had a contentious relationship in Spain, overshadowed the issues on the field, like three Bayern’s best midfielders being unable to start (Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martínez, and Thiago Alcantera).

The absences forced Guardiola into a strange XI. Captain Philipp Lahm was forced from his typical right back position into midfield, starting with Thomas Müller above Toni Kroos as Rafinha started at right back.

source: APThat midfield proved lacking in the eighth minute, with Bayern unable to ride Eden Hazard off the ball as the Chelsea attack carved his way through the European champions. Carrying the ball just inside the attacking third, Hazard put André Schurrle behind the defense on the right flank, the German international quickly playing a ball for Fernando Torres near the spot. A classy one-time finish half-volleyed the bouncing ball into the right of net, giving Manuel Neuer little chance to stop the opener.

Bayern went on to monopolize possession throughout the remainder of the half, eventually figuring out tenacious high pressing from Chelsea that troubled them through the match’s opening minutes. At intermission, they’d held 72 percent of the ball, though that dominance of possession only translated to three shots on goal. While Bayern created some moments of danger playing balls from wide into the six-yard box, Petr Cech’s half ended an unblemished one. The Blues, outshot 10-4 over 45 minutes, were up 1-0 at Jonas Eriksson’s whistle.

Two minutes into the second half, Franck Ribéry provided Chelsea’s first blemish, with Cech failing at a try he’d normally stop. Cutting in from the right, Ribéry let go of a shot from near 22 yards out. Neither struck especially hard nor brilliantly placed, the ball still found its way past Cech, whose slightly delayed response meant the Chelsea keeper could only get a fingertip on the early second half equalizer.

CHELSEA’S PLAN COMES TO FRUITION

As the second half went on, Bayern’s dominance increased, the nature of the game reminiscent of the last time Chelsea faced Guardiola: The semifinals of the 2011-12 Champions League. Then, Barcelona dominated play over two legs only to be eliminated by Roberto Di Matteo’s Blues, whose counterattack eventually saw the Blues past the reigning European champions. Chelsea went on to claim the European title, beating Bayern in the Munich final.

As Javi Martínez came on for Rafinha (pushed Lahm to right back) and Mario Götze replaced Thomas Muller, Bayern’s dominance persisted. Though Chelsea were able to cause the Germans a couple of moments’ pause — including a David Luiz header off the crossbar in the 79th minute — the game maintained it’s Barça versus Chelsea feel. The Blues’ defense continued to bend, willing to collapse deep into their own box, with Bayern’s passing around the edges pushing eight or nine players within 22 yards of goal. Still, as Chelsea found it easier to pass through Bayern’s midfield coming out of their own end, the Blues looked just as likely to find a winner as Bayern.

source: APThen in the 85th minute, shortly after Luiz forced a sprawling stop from Neuer, Chelsea lost a man, with a clumsy foul on Mario Götze that could have warranted a straight red earning Ramires a second yellow. Though the Blues were proving increasingly dangerous in transition, with a number of mistakes by Dante giving Chelsea hope of snatching victory, Chelsea would go into extra time with only 10, the match ending regulation time tied, 1-1.

But that disadvantage wasn’t enough to stop Chelsea’s building momentum, the Blues’ finally seeing their counterattacking pay off two minutes into extra time. A beautiful ball out of the back from David Luiz found  Hazard wide left, the Belgian international able to cut inside past Lahm and Jerome Boateng to get a right-footed shot off from 16 yards out. The day’s second goalkeeping mistake saw the try get through Manuel Neuer, giving Chelsea a 92nd minute lead.

After the extra time’s break, Bayern’s desperation started to show through, producing two standout saves from Cech in the 109th minute. In the 113th minute, a ball headed down for Xherdan Shaqiri looked set to produce an equalizer before a sprawling block from Gary Cahill kept Chelsea in front. In the 118th minute, Cech produced his finest save of the match, denying Ribéry’s free kick equalizer on a diving stop at his right post.

But in extra time’s extra time, Chelsea’s bend finally broke, with a ball falling to Martinez in the 122nd minute sending the match to penalty kicks. To the left of a crowd of people just outside Cech’s six-yard box, Martínez, having been pushed to a striker’s position,, slotted an easy left-footed finish inside Cech’s right post. With one of the last touches of the match, Bayern made it 2-2.

PENALTY KICKS

David Alaba opened the penalty kick shootout by sending Cech the wrong way before finishing into the left of goal. Luiz, Chelsea’s first kicker, slammed an unstoppable shot inside the right post, making it 1-1.

Kroos put Bayern’s second try into the lower right hand corner as Cech drove the opposite direction, while Oscar restored the tie with the next kick, finishing high into the left of Neuer’s goal.

Lahm went the same direction, sneaking his shot past Cech into the lower left corner to make it 3-2. Then, Frank Lampard, who had a penalty kick saved in Premier League action in the Blues’ opener against Hull City, converted his shot, finishing high into the right of goal.

source: Getty ImagesRibéry’s choppy run-up on Bayern’s fourth try finished with a conversion inside the right post, while Ashley Cole’s follow-up brought gasps from the crowd as it went off the right post and into the left side-netting.

Xherdan Shaqiri barely pushed Bayern’s fifth attempt past a diving Cech, who’d guessed correctly on the try to his left.  That conversation paved the way for the night’s decisive moment, with Lukaku’s try just to the right of Neuer saved, giving Bayern their first Super Cup.

Lineups

Bayern Munich: Manuel Neuer; Rafinha (Javi Martínez 56′), Jerome Boateng, Dante, David Alaba; Toni Kroos; Arjen Robben (Xherdan Shaqiri 95′), Philipp Lahm, Thomas Müller (Mario Götze 71′), Franck Ribéry; Mario Mandzukic.

Chelsea: Petr Cech; Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Ashley Cole; Frank Lampard, Ramires; Andre Schurrle (John Obi Mikel 87′), Oscar, Eden Hazard (John Terry 113′); Fernando Torres (Romelu Lukaku 98′).

War of egos weakens Cavani at Paris Saint-Germain

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PARIS (AP) With eight wins in as many matches this season, Paris Saint-Germain should be bursting with confidence ahead of Bayern Munich’s visit next week in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Pulisic stars with a goal in another BVB win ]

A war of egos between the club’s biggest stars, however, is tarnishing PSG’s perfect start to the season, as well as the club’s slick image that the Qatari owners want to promote in their ambition to build a great club in the French capital.

[ MORE: Atletico Madrid to host 2018/19 Champions League final ]

When Qatar Sports Investments splashed 222 million euros ($262 million) – double the previous world-record transfer of 105 million euros (then $116 million) – to acquire Neymar, the general mood at the club and in the French media was upbeat.

To sum it up, the Brazil striker was the player PSG needed in its quest for Champions League glory.

But some voices immediately rose, noting that Neymar’s technical relationship with forward Edinson Cavani could be problematic, especially if the former Barcelona player was used in a central position. PSG coach Unai Emery, however, made the clever choice of keeping Cavani in a center-forward role, with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe deployed on the wings.

PSG’s new attacking trident was clinical in its first two matches, scoring 10 goals, but proved less efficient in a 2-0 win over Lyon last weekend at the Parc des Princes, where tensions between Cavani and Neymar were obvious.

The two argued over who should take a penalty kick that Cavani finally missed. The dispute happened just minutes after the Uruguay international had tried to take a free kick, but Neymar’s good friend and Brazil teammate Dani Alves took the ball and gave it to the former Barcelona star.

Visibly angered, Cavani went back to the dressing room straight after the final whistle while his teammates celebrated on the field.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, a dressing room bust-up followed and the duo had to be separated by teammates.

For now, PSG seems to be willing to ease tensions between its stars.

“There needs to be a gentlemen’s agreement between them when it comes to taking spot kicks,” Emery said. “Apart from that, we will have to arrange things internally for when we get penalties because I believe that both are capable of converting them.”

The altercation, however, spoke volumes about how fast Cavani is losing his influence in the team. After years in the shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the long-haired forward finally got the chance to impose himself as a true leader last season. He did it in style, finishing as the French league’s top scorer and netting 49 goals in 50 games across all competitions.

Neymar’s arrival has taken the spotlight away from him, and the good relationship between the Brazil captain and Mbappe is making things ever more difficult for Cavani. In a team where five Brazilians are now playing together, Neymar is clearly the new boss and Cavani’s days at the club might be numbered.

[ MORE: Mourinho questions worth of the League Cup ]

Speaking to an Uruguayan radio program, Cavani has nonetheless denied tensions exist between the pair.

“These things are created. The truth is that these are normal things, things that happen in football,” he said. “The truth is that there’s no problem.”

L’Equipe reported that Dani Alves invited all his teammates to a reconciliation dinner on Wednesday, but it remains to be seen how long the new “MCN” trident of Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar will stay in place at PSG.

Breaking: Chelsea sells Diego Costa to Atleti, will re-join club in January

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We all suspected this would happen, and it finally occurred on Thursday.

[ MORE: Tammy Abraham expected to call Nigeria his national team ]

Chelsea has announced the transfer of Diego Costa to Atletico Madrid for roughly $77 million after spending  seasons with the Premier League side.

The 28-year-old will re-join Atleti in January during the winter transfer window. Atletico was banned from making transfers over the summer, which kept the move on hold.

Costa played for the La Liga side on two separate stints, first from 2007-2009 and then 2010-2014 after a brief move to Real Valladolid in between.

In his time with the Blues, the Spanish international scored 59 goals in all competitions for the Londoners, and helped the club to two Premier League titles.

The sale of Costa isn’t unexpected after the striker’s falling out with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte towards the latter half of the 2016/17 PL season.

The Italian boss revealed to Costa via text at the conclusion of the team’s PL-winning campaign that the goalscorer would no longer be needed at Stamford Bridge, prior to Chelsea acquiring striker Alvaro Morata over the summer.

Red Bulls must rally quickly, turn attention back to MLS playoff race

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For any Red Bulls supporter, Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup final was a grim reminder of how devastating any cup final can be for a team.

[ MORE: Sporting KC claims its fourth U.S. Open Cup title ]

The New York Red Bulls fell short against Sporting KC — who captured its fourth Open Cup victory in its club’s history — but Jesse Marsch’s side cannot dwell on the result because there is another big task at hand over the final weeks of the MLS regular season.

While that may be easier said than done, especially after the “heartbreaking” nature of Wednesday’s loss, Marsch believes that his side exhibits the qualities you’d want in any good team.

“The outcome is obviously heartbreaking, but the performance is what I think we’ll carry with us. In the moment, there’s no consolation prize,” Marsch said when asked about if there would be any hang over from the loss. “But the confidence that this group has, they way that they played and the way that they played for each other, this will continue to make us good.”

The biggest concern for the Red Bulls though isn’t necessarily even their current form, but instead the form of other clubs around them in the Eastern Conference. With six matches remaining, Marsch and Co. sit just three points above the Montreal Impact for the sixth and final playoff spot in the East.

Meanwhile, Atlanta United has surged up the table and still holds at least a game in hand over most of the field, making them quite the danger in addition leaders Toronto FC and second-place New York City FC.

The Red Bulls haven’t won a match since their 3-2 Open Cup semifinal victory against FC Cincinnati, which came over a month ago.

Marsch and his side do have the benefit of facing bottom-dwellers D.C. United twice over the last five weeks of the regular season, but also packed into into the Red Bulls schedule are matches against four current playoff teams, including Toronto and Atlanta.

Goalkeeper Ryan Meara stressed the importance of his side maintaining its focus, particularly after the Impact and Atlanta each picked up three points on Wednesday night.

“Yeah, that’s the thing, (our upcoming games) will make us move on from this,” Meara said. “We’ve got a big game in Columbus, we know the teams around us have been winning, Montreal won tonight and Atlanta won tonight, so I guess feel sorry for ourselves tonight, get up and dust ourselves off tomorrow and start looking forward to Saturday and Wednesday with D.C. United at home. The games are coming thick and fast and we’ve got to be ready for it.”

Tammy Abraham expected to make international switch to Nigeria

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Tammy Abraham has a bright future in the Premier League, but the on-loan Chelsea striker appears that he won’t be playing his international soccer for the country in which he currently plays.

[ MORE: Spurs land Hammers in League Cup draw; Chelsea faces Everton ]

The 19-year-old is expected to announce that he’ll play for Nigeria — the country of his father’s birth — after having represented England at various youth levels since 2014.

Nigerian Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick has made it clear that he believes Abraham will represent the Super Eagles at next summer’s World Cup in Russia, assuming Nigeria qualifies for the competition.

“I had a very honest and productive discussion with Tammy and his father last week,” said Pinnick.

“It’s been a long process but I can tell you authoritatively that he has agreed to play for Nigeria and not England. He and his parents have started the necessary documents to effect the switch.

“Clearly he understands he stands a better chance playing for the Super Eagles. With his talent he has the ability to fight for a place in the Nigeria squad, by God’s grace we make it to Russia, then he would contest for a chance to represent his fatherland.”

Nigeria currently leads its CAF World Cup qualifying group in the final round of African qualification, and a victory over Zambia on October 7 would ensure the country’s place in Russia next summer.

[ MORE: Pulisic stars, scores a goal in BVB’s latest Bundesliga win ]

The Super Eagles have a number of players Abraham is familiar with, given their connection to Chelsea, including Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel, youngster Ola Aina and current Blues wing back Victor Moses.