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′).

Is NYCFC showing Mix Diskerud the door? (Photo)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01:  Mikkel 'Mix' Diskerud #8 of the USA looks on during the singing of the national anthem prior to their international friendly match against the Korea Republic at StubHub Center on February 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The USA defeated the Korea Republic 2-0.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
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Since arriving on the New York City scene two years ago it’s fair to summarize Mix Diskerud’s tenure with New York City FC as a disappointment.

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While the expectations of a quick transition from life in Europe to MLS were surely massive, the 26-year-old midfielder has failed to live up to the billing of not only being one of the NYCFC’s highest-paid players but also as a potential U.S. Men’s National Team candidate.

Diskerud saw his playing time dwindle down from 23 starts in 2015 to nine this past season under new manager Patrick Vieira, and it doesn’t appear that the Norwegian-American will see an influx of opportunities during the upcoming 2017 season.

Rumors have surfaced throughout the offseason about NYCFC potentially buying out Diskerud’s contract, however, the midfielder’s cryptic post to social media on Sunday afternoon suggests that he may not be in New York for much longer.

Somebody told me I'm not part of a plan and if he was I – he'd run like the others ran 'cause the budget is tight and binding contracts might be broken, to improve 5-6 positions – in exchange for only one man. – He went on to say; "the message is clear – unless you're clueless – 'cause you've lived it all'year since the budget is tight and binding contracts might not need to be broken if…. you crack, kneel or leave the hemisphere" – Who could tell so straight and clearly tales of destiny I fight sincerely when mental games are attempting aims to make me rage severely? – On and on the conversation went about money spent and special rules and mgt's tools and something about allocation being different cent – I wish I had right there – my pad 'cause then my favorite line fused by Robin Williams spine would play dead poets – real bad

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It has been suggested that Diskerud would possibly consider a return to Europe in the event that his contract was in fact bought out, however, the difference in salaries would likely be drastic.

According to figures released by the MLS Players’ Union, Diskerud made $761,250 in 2016, which was the fourth-highest salary on NYCFC books behind only David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, each of whom were classified as Designated Players.

Report: Aguero seeking Real Madrid move at season’s end

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21:  Sergio Aguero of manchester City in action during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium on January 21, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Gabriel Jesus was a revelation for Manchester City before suffering an injury, but even with a spot in the lineup for the time being Sergio Aguero may not be coming back to Manchester City next season.

[ MORE: Lucky Man United, Mourinho begin trophy haul ]

According to the Sun, Spanish giants Real Madrid are eyeing up a move for Aguero in the hopes that the Argentine striker will join the club at the conclusion of the Premier League season.

Prior to joining City back in 2011, Aguero played five seasons in La Liga with Atletico Madrid, where he scored 101 goals in all competitions for the Rojiblancos.

While Aguero is likely to hold his starting spot for some time due to Jesus’ injured metatarsal, manager Pep Guardiola had heavily favored the young forward over Aguero since officially joining the club in January.

U.S. U-20s paired with Mexico, El Salvador in CONCACAF knockout round

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Tab Ramos’ side completed their first task, but now the U.S. Under-20 national team has its next challenge lying in front of them.

[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea from Orlando City in trade ]

The U.S. U-20s finished second in Group B at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship after winning two of its three group stage matches.

Now, Mexico and El Salvador await the U-20s in the classification stage with a spot at May’s Under-20 World Cup in South Korea on the line.

During the classification round there will be two groups of three teams, with the top two teams advancing to the World Cup. Each group winner will meet in the CONCACAF Championship final.

Classification stage schedule

Group D

Feb. 27 — U.S. U-20s vs. Mexico

Mar. 1 — Mexico vs. El Salvador

Mar. 3 — U.S. U-20s vs. El Salvador

Group E

Feb. 27 — Panama vs. Honduras

Mar. 1 — Honduras vs. Costa Rica

Mar. 3 — Panama vs. Costa Rica

Claude Puel calls for video replay after Gabbiadini goal called off

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26:  Manolo Gabbiadini of Southampton takes on Eric Bailly of Manchester United during the EFL Cup Final match between Manchester United and Southampton at Wembley Stadium on February 26, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Manolo Gabbiadini performed brilliantly in Sunday’s EFL Cup final, but was the Southampton striker unfairly gipped of a hat-trick?

[ MORE: Lucky Man United, Mourinho begin trophy haul ]

Saints manager Claude Puel certainly believes so.

[ MORE: Three things from Man United’s win vs. Southampton ]

While the back-and-forth final between Southampton and Manchester United presented a tremendous matchup, the Saints had every right to be furious with the officiating in the early going after Gabbiadini’s 11th minute finish was called off for offsides.

“I would like, of course, video in the future for these situations,” said Puel. “It’s very hard when we see this game to lose. It was cruel.”

Gabbiadini went on to score a pair of goals at the tail end of the first half and early in the second stanza, but Puel was pleased with his side’s resilience after going down 2-0 inside the opening 38 minutes.

“We kept the good attitude and spirit to stay in the game after going 2-0 down,” said the Southampton boss. “We played since the beginning of the season every two or three days. We played to a strong and fantastic level. It’s important now to continue this work, to put away this disappointment and come back in the Premier League with this strength and this quality.”

Video replay has been a common discussion for some time now, but more leagues are beginning to examine the possibility. FIFA is prepared to introduce new experimental trials over the coming months and could present a form of replay at next summer’s World Cup in Russia.