Tottenham Hotspur's manager Villas-Boas and Chelsea's Mourinho react during their English Premier League soccer match at White Hart Lane in London

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Chelsea: Lively derby ultimately ends in a draw

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It was scrappy at times, it was lively at times, but very rarely did one lose sight of the fact that the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea was a derby being played out between two tacticians who had very little love for one another. Both Andre Villas Boas and Jose Mourinho came to White Hart Lane on Saturday with a point to prove. The result? A 1-1 draw.

Spurs took the lead early on, scoring the opener in the 19th minute. Christian Eriksen turned, shook off his man and flew up the left, slipping the ball through two Chelsea defenders and across to Roberto Soldado. Soldado set up Gylfi Sigurdsson, who dodged John Terry and, making use of a fortuitous bounce, sent his shot low past Petr Cech.

The goal should’ve pulled Chelsea away from their defensive tactics, but it took until nearly the end of the half for the Blues to exert any real threat. Instead Spurs kept pressuring, very nearly doubling their lead after less than five minutes. Andros Townsend slipped the ball to Soldado, who sent it across for Paulinho, who might have been in with a chance had Branislav Ivanovic not slid in with a crucial tackle.

Jose Mourinho is smart enough to know when he needs to make a change, even if many would argue that his halftime substitute should have been on from the start. The Chelsea manager put on the out-of-favor Juan Mata to replace John Obi Mikel, with Ramires dropping back into a deeper midfield position. The Blues were firing right from the restart, with Fernando Torres looking particularly lively, sprinting down the right and very nearly setting up Oscar for a goal.

In fact, Torres was so lively that he found himself booked a couple minutes later, after a tussle with Jan Vertonghen during which it appeared the Spaniard scraped his fingernails across the Spurs player’s face. Torres continued to threaten, forcing Hugo Lloris into a save before setting up Juan Mata, whose ensuing goal was disallowed for offside.

But Chelsea, who are by far the better of the two sides for the majority of the second half, were able to find their equalizer in the 64th minute. Mata stepped up to take a free kick from distance, floating his shot into the penalty area. Terry was there to dart forward past Mousa Dembele and flick the ball into the back of the net.

Chelsea may have managed to find the equalizer had it not been for a strange sending off from referee Mike Dean. Again Torres and Vertonghen clashed — literally this time, with their heads coming together on what looked to be a 50-50 challenge. But Dean, perhaps mindful of not sending Torres off earlier, showed a second yellow, and Chelsea finished the final ten minutes down a man.

Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen; Paulinho, Dembele, Townsend (Chadli 61), Eriksen (Holtby 70), Sigurdsson; Soldado (Defoe 77)

Subs not used: Friedel, Chirches, Lamela, Sandro

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, D Luiz, Terry, Cole; Mikel (Mata 46), Lampard; Ramires, Oscar (Azpilicueta 83), Hazard (Schurrle 69); Torres.

Subs not used: Schwarzer, Cahill, Essien, Eto’o

Europa League qualifying roundup: West Ham falls in Slovenia

NYON, SWITZERLAND - AUGUST 08:  The UEFA Europa League trophy is displayed during the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League Play-off round draw at the UEFA headquarters, The House of European Football on August 8, 2014 in Nyon, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In what is often described as more of a distraction than anything for English teams, the Europa League third qualification round is under way, and a Premier League club is in danger of crashing out of the competition prior to the group stage for the third straight season.

West Ham fell 2-1 at NK Domzale, the third-placed finishers in the Slovenian league last season. Mark Noble grabbed an 18th-minute penalty, the only takeaway from an otherwise depressing road result. On the other side, 24-year-old Matic Crnic scored twice to put Domzale through.

Last season, the Hammers also dropped out of the competition in the third qualification round, to Romanian club Astra Giurgiu, although they had wins in the first and second rounds after entering the competition via fair play. In addition, Southampton also crashed out of last year’s Europa League in the playoff round to Danish side FC Mitdjylland. Hull City dropped out of the tournament two seasons ago in the playoff round.

West Ham has the opportunity to turn things around at home in a week as they host Domzale at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday, August 4 in what will be West Ham’s first competitive in their new home.

Other notable scores from Europa League qualification include:

  • Lille 1-1 Gabala FC
  • Panathinaikos 1-0 AIK
  • Genk 1-0 Cork
  • Pandurii Targu Jiu 0-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv
  • Videoton 0-1 Midtjylland
  • Hertha BSC 1-0 Bronby
  • AZ Alkmaar 1-0 Giannina

Napoli chief calls Gonzalo Higuain a “traitor,” striker hits back

Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain shows the Juventus' jersey as he arrives in the team headquarters in Turin, Italy, Wednesday July 27, 2016. Italian champion Juventus said Tuesday it has signed  Higuain from Serie A rival Napoli for 90 million euros ($99 million). (Alessandro Di Marco/Ansa via Ap)
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Gonzalo Higuain’s summer move to Juventus has not come without bad blood.

When the 28-year-old striker moved from Naples to Turin thanks to Juventus activating his release clause, it left Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis with a sour taste in his mouth. “There are those who say that talk of betrayal is an exaggeration, but I think the opposite,” De Laurentiis told Corierre dello Sport. “Because, in this decision, there is the full sense of betrayal, which also includes ingratitude.”

“We never seriously thought he would leave. Nor that he would have erased in a flash the memories of his three years in Naples.”

That didn’t sit well with Higuain, who fired back that it was de Laurentiis who drove him out of his former club.

“It was my decision to leave, but it was [De Laurentiis] who pushed me into making it,” Higuain told the media at his Juventus unveiling. “I’d like to thank the fans and my teammates, but not De Laurentiis. I no longer had a relationship with him; I couldn’t stand another minute with him.”

Higuain was more celebratory about his time at Stadio San Paulo. “These have been three amazing years,” Higuain said, “and I can only say thanks for all the love I was given, but this was a decision I took for my own reasons. I can understand that they are angry with me and I’ve seen the insults, but it is something I had to do and I’m happy about it.”

Napoli visits Turin in Serie A play on October 30, while Juventus will not travel to Naples for the return fixture until early April of 2017.

Pep Guardiola says he benched Samir Nasri because he’s “a little bit overweight”

BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 24:  Samir Nasri of Manchester City attends the pre-game training ahead of the 2016 International Champions Cup match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Olympic Sports Center Stadium on July 24, 2016 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Samir Nasri‘s soccer career has taken a nosedive since his seven-goal, nine-assist season in 2012/13, both internationally and domestically.

The 29-year-old winger has retired from the French national team after to being frozen out by Didier Deschamps, and has seen a decline in playing time for Manchester City two seasons in a row. Now with a new manager and a fresh start at the Etihad, things aren’t exactly off with flying colors out of the gates.

Nasri hasn’t featured thus far in Manchester City’s preseason, and manager Pep Guardiola said it’s because of his fitness. “Samir arrived a little bit overweight,” Guardiola said following the team’s win over Borrusia Dortmund in International Champions Cup play from China. “He’s much better now, but still there is a little bit of weight. Last season he was injured and we want to avoid that.”

City took down Dortmund on penalties following a 1-1 draw. The squad fell 1-0 to Bayern Munich last week in the team’s first pre-season match. Nasri did not appear in either, and defender Gael Clichy – without naming names – said that Guardiola has forced those with fitness issues to train on their own.

“We have a few players who are not training with the team yet,” Clichy, a former teammate of Nasri’s at Arsenal, said on Wednesday. “If your weight is too high, you’re not training with the team. You have to know that if your weight is 60 kilos and you are on 70 kilos, then you cannot play football.”

Guardiola backed up his policy on Wednesday following Clichy’s comments. “The weight is so important. When you are not fit, danger is coming. You’re not fast enough or quick enough in the head. That’s why you need to be fit.”

Leicester City inks Ben Chilwell to new contract, warding off Liverpool interest

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Liverpool wanted to get younger at the back, but they’ll have to look elsewhere.

Despite reportedly heavy interest from Anfield, 19-year-old defender Ben Chilwell has signed a new five-year deal with Leicester City, tying him down through the summer of 2021.

The Leicester City defense desperately needs Chilwell’s youth as it ages yet another year following their run to the Premier League title. Robert Huth is 31 years old, Wes Morgan – also on a new deal this summer – is 32, and backup Marcin Wasilewski is 36. On the left edge, where Chilwell is most proficient, first-choice left-back Christian Fuchs is 30, while Jeffrey Schlupp provides the only other true bit of youth at 23. On the right, Danny Simpson is 29 and Richie De Laet is 27.

The youngster was reportedly a high-priority target for Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, lodging a number of bids with the news that Brad Smith would move to Bournemouth. According to reports in England, the Reds made one last effort to bid for Chilwell prior to his extension, but it did not bear fruit.

“Ever since I arrived in Leicester, Ben has been a young player that has shown a lot of promise,” Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri told the club’s official website. “He has all the attributes you would want in a defender and shows a lot of maturity for a player of just 19. He has come back for pre-season in very good condition and is already showing that he is ready to push for a place in the team.”

Chilwell, a Leicester City academy product, has yet to make a Premier League appearance, but has featured for the England youth teams at multiple levels.