Czech Republic Soccer Super Cup

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′).

MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 0-2 New York City FC (video)

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: David Villa #7 of New York City FC celebrates his first half goal with teamate Andrea Pirlo #21 againd the Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium on March 13, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): With one goal already accomplished for New York City FC this season, Patrick Vieira’s group made positive strides in capturing another on Friday night in Houston. David Villa’s 20th and 21st tallies of the season gave the visitors the lead after halftime and NYCFC managed to hold onto the points from there. With just two matches remaining following the win over the Dynamo, NYCFC currently sits atop the Eastern Conference on 51 points. Meanwhile, the Dynamo remain nine points out of the final spot in the West with four matches to play.

[ MORE: NYCFC’s Vieira gets big praise from Dynamo counterpart ]

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Harrison tests Willis from distance — Chances were at a minimum in the opening stanza, but Joe Willis had to get down quickly here to deny Jack Harrison on this blast.

52′ — Villa hits his 20th on the season — The Dynamo defense won’t be pleased when they watch this one again, but in his typical fashion, David Villa found his way in on goal.

73′ — Saunders watches as Rodriguez hits post — It can be a game of inches at times and the Dynamo were certainly on the wrong end of this one as Raul Rodriguez’s effort struck the post and stayed out.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: David Villa (52′, 90′)

SKorean soccer club loses points over corruption scandal

JEONJU, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 24:  Besart Berisha action during the AFC Champions League Round Of 16 match between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Melbourne Victory at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on May 24, 2016 in Jeonju, South Korea.  (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The South Korean soccer league deducted nine points from league leader Jeonbuk Hyundai on Friday after one of the club’s employees was convicted of bribing referees in 2013.

The K-League also fined Jeonbuk 100 million won ($90,600). The club, which saw its 14-point lead over second-place FC Seoul reduced to a five-point margin, issued an apology and vowed to take measures to prevent it from happening again.

A court in Busan on Wednesday sentenced a Jeonbuk scout to a suspended prison term of two years for paying referees in exchange for favorable decisions in several league matches in 2013.

An official from Jeonbuk said the scout has been suspended by the team and it will soon make a decision whether to terminate his employment. He refused to be named, citing office rules.

The K-League had vowed reforms after being rocked by a massive match-fixing scandal in 2011, when 52 players were indicted for taking bribes in return for trying to manipulate the outcome of matches or betting their own money on the games.

Mangala replaces Mathieu in France squad

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03:  Kolbeinn Sigthorsson of Iceland and Eliaquim Mangala of France compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter final match between France and Iceland at Stade de France on July 3, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu has been removed from the France squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers for an unspecified reason.

[ MORE: What’s Arsenal’s best XI in the Arsene Wenger era? ]

The French football federation gave no explanation for coach Didier Deschamps’s decision to replace Mathieu with Eliaquim Mangala, only saying he made the move “following a discussion” with the Barcelona player. Mangala is currently on a season-long loan at Valencia from Manchester City.

France takes on Bulgaria on Oct. 7 at the Stade de France before traveling to Amsterdam to play the Netherlands three days later in Group A.

EXCLUSIVE: Michael Bradley on Toronto FC’s long-awaited renaissance

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Michael Bradley #4 of Toronto FC heads over to take a corner kick during the first half of an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Times have changed in Toronto for the local football club. The Reds are no longer, to put it bluntly, the bad club that failed to deliver results to a passionate fan base expecting so much more.

A club that missed the playoffs in each of its first eight seasons has clinched a postseason berth for a second-straight season. And this year, for the first time ever, TFC will finish this season with more wins than losses.

You read that right. For the first time ever. Yes, it was that bad.

[ MORE: JPW talks with USMNT prospect Gooch ]

It would overstate things to say Bradley showed up and fixed things for the Reds, turning them from a bad big club to a big, bad one overnight; For one thing, TFC missed the playoffs during his first season and Bradley only netted twice in a return to MLS which was expected to be dominant (though he was, per 90, one of the best possession players in the league that season).

Yet as time as gone on, in an organization that frankly had not seen much winning at all, Bradley has not just led the way as a battler emerged from BMO Field; The 29-year-old TFC and USMNT captain now leads a winner, one he’s quick to point out comes from an organization, not any single personality.

“I’ve tried every day since I got here to spill my heart and soul into it and to try to help in every way that I can,” Bradley told ProSoccerTalk.

“For a lot of people who have been here for the last years to see the way that things have continued to move forward and progress, there’s a big sense of pride. We’re by no means where we want to be. There are big goals around here in terms of continuing to turn this into a team and a club that can compete and win on a regular basis.”

Yep, times have changed for the better. And at the center of it all, whether he admits it or not, is the steely reserve of an American in Canada.


[ MORE: Wisconsin sophomore set to face Mexico, USMNT ]


Michael Bradley is deliberate in his choice of words, and pauses several times to make sure his point is clearly made.

The train powers along once he finds the right track, however.

It’s fitting, because Greg Vanney’s defensive system with Bradley works in a similar way. Patiently wait for the right time to take the ball, then surge forward and take no prisoners. Find Sebastian Giovinco. Find Jozy Altidore. Find Jonathan Osorio, or another attacker… or just fire away.

“On our best days, we have a team that plays in a real good way,” Bradley says. “When we have our best group on the field, our football is good, the ball moves quickly, we’re a team that is able to put the game on our terms with the ball but not do it in a way that’s not just needless possession.

“We circulate the ball, but also do it with an eye toward playing forward and make sure we get it to our dangerous attacking players quickly and in good moments. Defensively we’re able to tighten things up and found a way to make it very hard on other teams to play against us.”

Heading into Saturday night’s home match with DC United, TFC has won seven of its last 12 MLS matches. That stretch has seen Toronto lose just once, and the Reds have weathered an injury to reigning MLS MVP Giovinco with a win and three draws.

TORONTO, ON - MAY 10: Michael Bradley #4 of Toronto FC during an MLS soccer game against the Houston Dynamo at BMO Field on May 10, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Bradley’s deliberate expression of feeling comes into play again when he considers the challenges of TFC’s summer, injuries not withstanding. The captain is thrilled with how the Reds have found contributions from all over the field, but would love to see their best XI for a sustained stretch of action.

Finding chemistry with a team during the MLS season, where a club can lose its best players for weeks at a time thanks to the unorthodox calendar, is a massive challenge. Bradley knows it’s not just Toronto who’s troubled by it, but he also senses how good the team could be with a season’s worth of build-up.

The excitement ratchets higher and higher in his voice as he contemplates the complementary pieces in a healthy, non-international break hampered Greg Vanney lineup. TFC went 1-2 during the Copa America, losing to the Red Bulls and Orlando City. Those points loom with Toronto in a three-way battle for the top of the East.

“We feel like we’re on a very good team, and I mention the other stuff because it’s a shame that over the course of a 34-game season there are so many other things that go into it,” Bradley said. “Which means you are not able to play your best team on as consistent a basis as you’d like.”


[ MORE: LA’s Dos Santos gets Mexico call-up ]


The conversation turns, briefly, to the United States men’s national team.

The leader of the unit, Bradley has been through the highs and lows of wearing the stars and stripes since a very young age.

KANSAS CITY, KS - MAY 28: Michael Bradley #4 of USA directs a header away from the Bolivia forwards in the first half of an international friendly match between Bolivia and the United States on May 28, 2016 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

The captain has 121 caps and 15 goals, a journey that began when he was capped at age 18. He’s seen the improbable Confederations Cup comeback run, the thrills of the 2010 World Cup, and several Dos a Ceros. He’s also seen the 2015 Gold Cup failure, the disheartening loss to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup, and more positional banter than any player in U.S. history.

Given his lofty status within the federation, and his early start, he’s the right person to ask about the USMNT’s teenage sensation Christian Pulisic. And he’s happy to talk about the kid, though not about the big picture, and mentorship. Yeah, he talks to the kid about soccer. No, that’s not for media consumption. So stop asking.

“Christian is a really good kid,” Bradley said. “He’s smart, he’s into it, he’s talented, motivated.

“(But) Everybody needs to stop asking what kind of advice to give him. The most important thing for him is, and I said this to somebody last week, is to continue to find the most joy every day in playing, in training, in improving, in stepping on the field on Saturday and competing and trying to be as good as possible. As long as he never loses the joy of what it means to step on the field and play football, then he’s going to continue to improve and take himself to great places.”

You get the sense that, consciously or not, Michael Bradley has ushered these thoughts from personal experience.


The captain of America loves his adopted hometown north of the border.

And Bradley isn’t exactly measuring Toronto against a one-light city in the sticks. After leaving New Jersey as a teenager in 2005, Bradley has lived amongst the abbey and villages of Monchengladbach, the Dutch windmills of Friesland, and the many wonders of the Eternal City, Rome.

But there’s something in the fourth biggest North American city that works for Bradley.

“It’s a city that is so incredibly diverse,” Bradley begins. “When you get around different parts of the city, the types of people you meet and see who come from all over the world, that part is special. Since the first day that my family and I got here, this has felt like home.

“Our daughter was born here. Our son goes to kindergarten here now and comes home; He’s an American, he was born in Rome, but goes to kindergarten in Toronto and comes home every day singing, “O Canada”, because at the beginning the day that’s what they do. It’s an amazing city, and a place we’re proud to call home.”

Bradley is signed through the end of 2019, and Toronto has turned down several overseas pleas for the midfielder.

Orlando City's Kaka, center, battles with Toronto FC's Michael Bradley, right, as Amando Cooper looks on during the first half of a soccer game, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

And TFC should be good for a long time. Only two rostered players are over 30: outstanding back Drew Moor and Benoit Cheyrou. This on a team that has won the joint-most road games in MLS, allowed the second-fewest goals, and ranks third in goal differential (plus-12).

“We’ve in some ways have such a high standard for ourselves that when you get home and you have a few games at home and you’re not able to find the winner, you’re not able to make that final play to win the games and take all three points, when you’re only able to come away with a tie, that people — and we include ourselves in this — are disappointed,” Bradley said.

“The feeling inside our group on certain days, lately even when we’ve tied a few of these games at home has been disappointment and frustration, and feeling like there was more there for us. That’s a positive thing. We’ve gotten ourselves to the point where we expect to step on the field every weekend and compete to win. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, and where we’re playing. That’s the mentality that we have.”


[ MORE: MLS Playoff picture — Who can clinch? ]


To sum it all up, a personal angle that might underscore the impressive turnaround in Canada’s largest city.

Living in Buffalo and loving the sport the way I do, my friends and I got in on TFC season tickets in 2008, Toronto’s second season. We’d make the 90-minute or 3-hour drive, depending on the city’s unholy, construction-driven traffic, and revel in the soccer paradise created by the Red Patch Boys.

Visits by River Plate, Pachuca, and Real Madrid sustained interest in the team, but in a way we became numb to names: Amado Guevera, Torsten Frings, and Danny Koevermans were trotted out and left without a playoff run. Taking a dozen or so day trips to watch losses that made the average at-best Maple Leafs look like 1980’s Oilers became too much to justify the cost.

Oddly enough, TFC went from hot new Toronto property to one that started to feel like just another entity. When Jermain Defoe and Julio Cesar didn’t spur a playoff run, morale seemed at an all-time low. As a soccer writer now with no true allegiance, it was more with a sigh of “Wouldn’t it be cool if they were good?” when Altidore, Vanney, and Giovinco joined Bradley. When Clint Irwin, Will Johnson, and Drew Moor joined mainstays Justin Morrow and Jonathan Osorio, there was even more legitimate reason for hope.

But hope is different from getting the job done, and that’s something for which Bradley and Vanney deserve a ton of credit. There are more Toronto demons to overcome — there’s little doubt a sports teams’ playoff stench can linger over a town once the postseason hits (Again, I’m from Buffalo) — but for now it’s worth lauding a club which has found its forward-thinking despite the skeletons in their Ontarian closet.

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: Michael Bradley #4 and Jozy Altidore #17 of Toronto FC celebrate a goal by teammate Tsubasa Endoh #9 during the first half of an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)