All-square between the master and his apprentice after Chelsea fight back for draw at Tottenham

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LONDON — There was a slightly forced, if not warm handshake between Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho before Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

But with over 30 photographers ready for that moment pregame, AVB duly obliged by walking over to the Chelsea bench and offering his hand to his countrymen, as the two Portuguese coaches embraced.

And in Saturday’s blood and thunder clash in North London, both managers shared the spoils with the home side dominating the first period before Chelsea came roaring back into the game in the second half.

(MORE: Jose Mourinho fuming at Jan Vertonghen after Fernando Torres sent off)

Spurs manager Villas-Boas believes the draw was a fair result, but had Paulinho’s shot that hit the post just before half time gone in, Tottenham’s boss could’ve got one over his old boss in their first ever encounter.

“I think the moment of the game came when Paulinho hit the post just before half time,” Villas-Boas said. “Had that gone in, it could have put us in a very good position, I think we deserved that for the first half that we played, the second half wasn’t really played by both teams but I think Chelsea had the upper hand on the counter-attack. They looked very, very strong and deserved to get the equalizer in the end from a set play.”

(MORE: Juan Mata Chelsea’s hero, as Spaniard sparks second half comeback)

Many may argue that Chelsea’s strong second half showing came courtesy of Jose Mourinho’s shrewd tactical substitutions at half time. Mourinho brought on Juan Mata for John Obi Mikel at the break, and the brave decision from the 50-year-old manager changed the entire complex of the game.

Mourinho believed his side deserved to win.

“I think they were better than us in the first half but not much better,” Mourinho said. “They were better but they didn’t create so many chances but enough to be deserving of the advantage of one nil. In the second half, only one team. One team. And that team was very, very strong until the moment the referee made the mistake. A big mistake. But a mistake that has a big influence in the result. And at that moment, we were much better. They were in big trouble, they were really in big trouble.”

And the “Special One” is right.

source: ReutersThe introduction of Juan Mata sparked Chelsea into life, with the Spanish attacker creating plenty from a central area and allowing Oscar, Ramires and Frank Lampard to roam forward in support. Oscar looked better on the left and Fernando Torres burst into life. But the controversial decision from Mike Dean to send off Torres with 10 minutes left to play halted Chelsea’s momentum, and if it wasn’t for that, Mourinho could have pulled of a spectacular comeback win against his old understudy.

(MORE: Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea: Lively derby ends in a draw)

After the game, Villas-Boas spoke about his relationship with Jose and revealed what they spoke about post-game.

“We had a brief chat just now, because I explained to him that I would invite him up but I have to leave [AVB was attending a celebration dinner in Porto],” Villas-Boas said. “But I think the attention should not be drawn to the managers. It should be drawn to the game. It was a difficult hard battle, between two teams who wanted to win this game. We had a very good first half, not a good second. I think it’s a fair result. The league won’t be decided by games like this, it will be against other teams where you can’t drop points. Great, great battle.”

Yet Mourinho, as is often the case, had the last word on his relationship with AVB.

“I’m 50-years-old, I’m not a child,” Mourinho said. “I think when I was 15 or 20, I was not a child. I was very mature. And if you have a problem with somebody, you don’t go to your mom or your dad or the press. If you have a problem with somebody you go face to face to resolve your situation. So for me, this story is a book without pages. I don’t care of it. I think what people want is a very good game of football. Tottenham did that, we did that and the ref tried to do that.”

Benitez happy to stay at Newcastle if he “has the tools to compete”

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Rafa Benitez is approaching something vaguely resembling sainthood in the northeast of England — with the Newcastle United-supporting portion, at least — but his future remains in doubt as the end of the current Premier League season draws nearer and the next one approaches.

[ MORE: Salah beats De Bruyne to win PFA Player of the year award ]

Benitez and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley have endured an unhappy working relationship for much of Benitez’s 25 months at the club. The Spaniard was true to his word, though, when he stuck around another season after being relegated from the PL in 2016, then again after winning promotion on the Magpies’ first attempt, but he’ll be faced with the same dilemma again this summer, even after guiding Newcastle to a mid-table finish (they currently sit 10th with five games left to play).

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

If he’s not given assurances that he’ll be handed the necessary funds to properly strengthen his squad during the upcoming summer transfer window, the 58-year-old could very well walk away and leave Ashley to play the part of all-too-familiar villain. Or, as Benitez put it this weekend, Ashley could fork over “the tools to be capable of competing” and make everyone, from the manager to the fans, happy — quotes form the Guardian:

“If they [Ashley’s representatives] want to talk to my people [about a new contract,] they can talk. The main thing is to be sure we share the same ambition.

“I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time, I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.

“We have to be sure to have all the tools to compete and achieve what we want to achieve because Newcastle is a massive football club and we want it to reach its potential.”

Of course, the perfect scenario for everyone involved would have been for any one of the numerous takeover bids to have gone through during the last two years, but as was most recently evidenced earlier this year, Ashley and the Toon can’t seem to quit each other just yet.

MLS: Timbers end NYCFC’s unbeaten start; Seattle get 1st win

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Sunday was a very good day for a pair of green-clad Cascadia rivals, the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders, as the former put to end the unbeaten start of the best team in MLS, while the latter picked up their first win of 2018…

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS roundupOther MLS Things — The Archive ]

Portland Timbers 3-0 New York City FC

Through their first seven games, NYCFC were almost inarguably the best team in MLS (aside: how much better is their opening-day walkover of Sporting KC looking these days?), but Patrick Vieira’s side might as well have not even shown up to Providence Park on Sunday. Chalk it up to “it’s only one game,” or “these things happen in MLS,” or “NYC to Portland is a long trip for Russian clubs,” or any other credible rationale you prefer, but they were nothing more than 11 passengers for the whole of 90 minutes.

A quick look at the defending on all three of Portland’s goals…

Vieira was right at halftime, when he said his side was lacking intensity and aggression, and that it’d be nigh impossible to get back into the game in the second half if they continued to play that way. Spoiler: it was, because they did.

Just as I’ll not be rushing to judgment over NYCFC’s no-show performance, I’m not yet buying into the idea that Portland have figured things out defensively on the back of one clean sheet (their first of the season).

Seattle Sounders 3-1 Minnesota United

Speaking of firsts, Seattle are the proud owners of points — as in, more than one point — after putting three past Minnesota but almost fatally failing to kill the game off after going 2-0 up. I’m not sure what any defender in black is doing on this sequence…

Alas, Gustav Svensson, Will Bruin and Jordy Delem were far more clinical with their chances than the Loons…

Still, though, Seattle were completely helpless when it came time to grab control of the game while in a commanding position. Osvaldo Alonso is nowhere near the player he once was, which is a massive problem against teams that set up to counter-attack, as Minnesota did on Sunday. It doesn’t help that Roman Torres and Chad Marshall are the plodding center backs behind him.

The obvious answer to the midfield problem is to play Cristian Roldan deeper, alongside Alonso as they did en route to winning MLS Cup in 2016, but injuries to a number of key attackers have forced him into a de facto no. 10 role for the time being. These things will work themselves out with a bit of time, I suppose.

Full MLS scoreboard

Sporting Kansas City 6-0 Vancouver Whitecaps (Friday) — FULL RECAP
Montreal Impact 3-5 Los Angeles FC — FULL RECAP
Houston Dynamo 5-1 Toronto FC
New York Red Bulls 1-2 Chicago Fire
Columbus Crew SC 2-2 New England Revolution
Orlando City SC 3-2 San Jose Earthquakes
FC Dallas 2-0 Philadelphia Union
Real Salt Lake 3-0 Colorado Rapids
LA Galaxy 0-2 Atlanta United

Salah beats De Bruyne to win PFA Player of the Year award

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LONDON (AP) Mohamed Salah has been voted Player of the Year by his fellow professionals in English football in recognition of an incredible scoring return to the Premier League with Liverpool.

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

The Egypt forward collected the Professional Footballers’ Association award at a ceremony in London on Sunday, two days before Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal first leg against Roma.

It is a reunion with the Italian club he left in the offseason for 42 million euros (then $47 million). The hefty fee appeared to be a gamble for Liverpool but now represents a real bargain.

The former Chelsea player has scored 41 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool – enabling him to beat Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne in second place to the PFA award.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane was third.

[ MORE: Man City thrash Swansea in pursuit of points record ]

“It’s a big honor,” Salah said. “I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it.”

Salah is preparing to lead Egypt into its first World Cup in 28 years and he is the first player from the North African nation to win English football’s top individual prize.

“Hopefully I’m not the last one,” he said. “I’m very proud to win and I’ve worked very hard.”

Salah’s impact has been more remarkable given his underwhelming 2014-15 season at Chelsea before being offloaded by then-manager Jose Mourinho. He went on loan to Fiorentina in early 2015 and Roma in 2016, and then on a permanent basis to Roma in August 2016.

Scoring 15 goals and setting up 11 more for Roma convinced Liverpool to bring Salah back to a second spell in England.

[ MORE: Liverpool draw West Brom in final tune-up before UCL semis ]

His goal at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday was his 31st in the league this season, tying the scoring record in a 38-game campaign held by Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Shearer and Luis Suarez.

Suarez was the last Liverpool player to be crowned player of the year by the PFA in 2014 before moving to Barcelona.

It’s a sign of his remarkable impact that Salah secured the award with third-place Liverpool and that none of Manchester City’s newly crowned champions won the accolade.

But City winger Leroy Sane was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.

The PFA women’s player award went to Chelsea forward Fran Kirby, while Lauren Hemp of Bristol City secured the young player prize.

CONCACAF cancels women’s U-17 tournament due to violence

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) CONCACAF has canceled the rest of its 2018 Women’s Under-17 Championship following violence in Managua, Nicaragua, where the tournament began Thursday.

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football made the announcement Sunday. The tournament was to have determined the region’s qualifiers for the Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay, which starts Nov. 13.

More than two dozen people have been killed since Wednesday according to the independent Nicaraguan Human Rights Center, though the government had acknowledged only nine dead. Dozens of shops in Managua were looted during protests and disturbances sparked by government social security reforms.

The U.S. opened Friday with a 4-0 win over Costa Rica and had been scheduled to play Bermuda on Sunday and Canada on Tuesday.