UEFA Women’s Champions League roundup: Tyresö edges PSG in day’s headliner

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As a testament to how far UEFA Women’s Champions League has come, there was a savory tie at this early stage of the competition. Had they not been drawn together, both Swedish champions Tyresö and French runners up Paris Saint-Germain would be considered threats to make the final. But with one team seeded (PSG) and the other unseeded, they ended up drawn against each other in this, the Round of 32.

A few years ago (which seems like an eternity, in current, women’s club soccer time), this type of matchup wouldn’t have happened. There just weren’t this many quality teams in Europe. The odds of (a.) a strong team like Tyresö being in the second pot, and (b.) them “hitting” another talented team like PSG in the draw created a mathematical improbability. Now, with the quality of the continent’s best teams improving, it was always possible (if unlikely) that Tyresö could draw a Lyon, Turbine, Arsenal, or Wolfsburg. Or, PSG.

For Americans, this was an ideal matchup. PSG’s two U.S. products (Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan) are most among any of the seeded teams, with Heath’s acquisition reflecting the Parisians’ concerted effort to start laying tracks in the U.S. market. Tyresö appears to be doing the same, having added Whitney Engen (from Liverpool), Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris (both Washington Spirit) to a team that already had Christen Press and Meghan Klingenberg.

Ahead of the Champions League showdown, the acquisitions hadn’t exactly gone as planned for Tyresö. Strong leaders in the Damallsvenskan before their U.S. influx, Tyresö’s fallen to second in Sweden since the end of the NWSL season. Paris Saint-Germain, on the other hand, keep asserting themselves as the second-best team in France, even though they were rudely reminded of that stature in a recent 3-0 loss to Lyon.

Tyresö sold out their venue for PSG’s Wednesday visit (3,327) and got on the board first through Press, who gave the Swedes a lead 22 minutes in. But the U.S. international played a part in giving the lead away when she brought down Swedish star Kosovare Asllani in the Tyresö penalty area. Sabrina Dellanoy’s conversion sent the teams into halftime tied at one.

source: AP
Christen Press, seen here while on U.S. Women’s National team duty, scored both of Tyresö’s goals in today’s 2-1 win over visiting Paris Saint-Germain. Here 21 goals in 20 Damallsvenkan games this season are six more than the next-highest goal-scorer in Sweden. (Photo: AP Photo.)

The teams traded near-misses early in the second. Brazilian icon Marta nearly put he team ahead at one end while former North Carolina standout Klingenberg was called on to save a ball off the line at the other. Eventually, however, Press was allowed to make amends, her second goal of the game giving Tyresö a 2-1 lead just after the hour mark.

It was an obligatory win for Tyresö, if they truly have designs on going far in this competition. Unfortunately, haven given up an away goal, they’ve created a problem for themselves ahead of next week’s leg in Paris. Win, and of course they’re through, and same thing with a tie. But if Paris Saint-Germain reverses today’s result, Tyresö’s going to have to solve their away goals problem. And keep it within one.

(Note: The follow recaps are compiled from reports around the internet. Feel free to add your own spin in the comments, hopefully filling in the gaps left by their brief synopses.)

OTHER RESULTS

Tavagnacco (Italy) 3-2 Fortuna (Austria) – The result looks like trouble for Tavagnacco, having to hit the road after allowing two at home, but given the depths from which they climbed, it could have been worse. Florentina Spanu Olar and Janni Arnth had the hosts down two after 28 minutes only for the Italians to comeback to take a slim lead out of their home leg.

Pärnu (Estonia) 0-14 Wolfsburg (Germany) – Pärnu finished the game without a goalkeeper, their starting number one having been sent off after all the team’s substitutions were used. By that time, though, the damage was already done. Nineteen-year-old Lina Magull had scored four times. Martina Müller had three. The Washington Spirit’s Conny Pohlers had a hat trick off the bench (extending her goal-scoring record in this competition to 45 goals). By the time Elis Meetua was dismissed, Wolfsburg was already up 12-0.

CSHVSM-Kairat (Kazakstan) 1-7 Arsenal (England) – Arsenal’s fresh off the relative indignity of having finished third in England, a disappointing finish in a circuit they used to dominate. That means next year, the Gunners won’t be in this competition, perhaps explaining why they elected to take out their frustrations on one of the competition’s true minnows. Scottish attacker Kim Little was the only Arsenal player to score more than once.

Standard Liege (Belgium) 2-2 Glasgow City (Scotland) – Glasgow City started strong but ended up chasing two leads, both of which they eventually pulled back. Tassa Wullaert scored twice for the Belgians, but each time was equalized by Suzanne Lappin, with the duo left to continue their showdown next week in Scotland.

Zürich (Switzerland) 2-1 Sparta Parha (Czech Republic) – Not a bat result for the Czechs, who withstood the Swiss champions to take a workable result out of Zürich. According to reports, however, Zürich were the better side and were made deserved winners when Rahel Kiwic gave them their second lead with 24 minutes left.

source:
Megan Rapinoe, now in her second stint with French champions Olympique Lyon, played in her team’s 4-0 win at FC Twente on Wednesday.

Twente (Netherlands) 0-4 Lyon (France) – Tough draw for Twente, but somebody had to get Lyon. Had the Dutch team not been drawn against the competition’s favorites, they may have been able to get into the second round. Today, however, showed just how big the divide is between building clubs and the new big spenders. With U.S. international Megan Rapinoe coming off the bench, Lyon got goals from midfielder Louisa Necib (22′), newly acquired Japanese international Saki Kumagai (31′), former Juvisy standout Leatita Tonazzi (52′), and best player in the world candidate Lotta Schelin (60′). Expect a similar result next week.

Barcelona (Spain) 0-0 Bronby (Denmark) – Unlike on the men’s side, the Danes carry the pedigree amongst these two teams, though Barça have notably improved in recent years. That’s what makes today’s result disappointing from the Catalans’ point of view. A 0-0 result does allow them to swiftly turn the tables should they score next week, but in spite of Bronby’s quality, they would have hoped to make a better statement to start their second Champions League appearance.

Spratzerm (Austria) 2-2 Torres (Italy) – Torres, down to 10 women, got an 88th minute goal from Sabrina Marchese to salvage a road draw. The Italian champions had gone down 2-1 after Nicole Billa’s second goal of the game took advantage of Elisa Bartoli’s mid-second half dismissal, but with Marchese coming off the bench to find an equalizer, last year’s quarterfinalists take an advantage back to Sassari.

Spartak Subotica (Serbia) 2-4 Rossiyanka (Russia) – An early José Mahi goal didn’t phase the Champions League veteran Russians, who got a hat trick from Natalia Shylapina to come back in match they ultimately controlled.

PK-35 Vantaa (Finland) 0-3 Birmingham City (England) – Like Arsenal, Birmingham City won’t be in this competition next year, and like the Gunners, the Blues posted a lopsided, road result to start this year’s tournament. Melissa Lawley, Kirsty Linnett, and Kersy Harrop got the club’s second Champions League season off to a strong one, their three-goal edge likely to expand next week in the West Midlands.

Thor/KA (Iceland) 1-2 Zorkiy (Russia) – Russia to Iceland has to be one of the longest trips possible in European soccer, but Zorkiy handled it admirably thanks to goals from Svenlana Tsydikova and Elena Morozova, both set up by Maria Ruiz. The two clubs combine to have seven Americans on their books, which will leave one cluster of U.S. ex-patriots on the outside of Champions League after next week’s decider.

TOMORROW

The first leg of the tournament’s Round of 32 finishes off tomorrow, with …

  • Turkey’s Konak Belediyesi hosting Poland’s Unia Raciborz;
  • Former champions Turbine Potsdam (Germany) traveling to Hungary to face MTK;
  • Apolllon Limassol’s large U.S. continent leading the Cypriots against visiting Neulengbach (Austria);
  • Norway’s Lillestrøm welcoming Swedish titans Malmö.

PL title & FA Cup in sight, Conte says Chelsea still rebuilding

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Antonio Conte might be just seven games away from guiding Chelsea to a Premier League and FA Cup double this season, but the Blues’ first-year Italian manager insists his squad is nowhere near being a finished product.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking after Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal triumph over Tottenham Hotspur, Conte insisted that the team he inherited last summer, after a disastrous 10th-place finish in the PL, is “in a period of transition” and that “[they] need time” as the club moves on from an accomplished, foundational generation — quotes from Sky Sports:

“I think that now at Chelsea we are in a period of transition. In this season, we have lost (Branislav) Ivanovic, (John Obi) Mikel and next season we lose John Terry.

“We are talking about players who wrote the history of this club. They won a lot. Now we have to find the right substitutes for these players and then work to put these players at the same level.

“I think that in the period with Carlo (Ancelotti) — and Carlo is the best Italian coach, I have great respect for him — he arrived at Chelsea when they had a really strong squad. Now we are building. We are building something important. We need time.”

[ MORE: Kante takes home PFA Player of the Year | Dele wins Young Player ]

Conte is doing two things with the above comments: 1) he’s tempering expectations for next season, when Chelsea will be back in the UEFA Champions League and automatically expected to repeat as PL champions — not to mention, taking a bit of pressure off in these final two months of the 2016-17 season; and, 2) pointing out just how impressive his work to date has been, the fact he’s potentially seven games away from lifting two trophies in seven days’ time next month.

Ligue 1: Mbappe, Falcao fire Monaco top again

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PARIS (AP) Strikers Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe continued their fine form with a goal each to help Monaco secure a 2-1 win at Lyon and reclaim top spot in the French league on Sunday.

Monaco moves above defending champion Paris Saint-Germain on goal difference, with Monaco having played a game less. PSG has four games left.

“It wasn’t easy and it was a big win for us tonight,” Monaco center half Andrea Raggi said. “We all play for each other and it’s now or never.”

It has been an astonishing season for Monaco, which has now scored 143 goals in all competitions and remains on course for the treble. Monaco faces PSG in the French Cup semifinals next Wednesday.

Falcao and Mbappe scored in midweek when Monaco beat German side Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the return leg of their Champions League quarterfinal to reach the last four 6-3 on aggregate.

Lyon also did well in Europe, going through on penalty kicks away to Turkish club Besiktas to reach the last four in the Europa League.

Falcao and the 18-year-old Mbappe have combined for 51 goals.

Falcao put Monaco ahead in the 36th minute with a header from close range – his 28th goal of the season – and Mbappe made it 2-0 just before halftime with a trademark surging run and cool finish for his 23rd.

“I just try and give my best whenever I play,” said Mbappe, who has recently been called into the France team. “I wasn’t playing much at the start of the season, so I’m still quite fresh and I hope I can help us win the remaining games.”

PSG beat Montpellier 2-0 at home on Saturday with Edinson Cavani scoring his 31st league goal of the season and 44th overall.

Nice has already guaranteed third place and a spot in the qualifying round for next season’s Champions League.

But with four games remaining, it is six points behind Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain. Nice hosts PSG next Sunday.

Striker Corentin Jean gave mid-table Toulouse the lead in the 57th minute. Midfielder Valentin Eysseric continued his fine form with the equalizer three minutes later.

The game was briefly halted early in the first half after a group of Saint-Etienne supporters forced themselves into the stadium.

The match was supposed to be played behind closed doors as a punishment for unruly supporters during Saint-Etienne’s local derby against Lyon.

After a brief delay for police to remove the fans, Slovakia striker Robert Beric put the home side ahead in the 39th and center half Edson Mexer leveled just before the break.

Saint-Etienne is in seventh place, while Rennes is ninth.

Serie A: Napoli waste chance to go 2nd; Juve win big (again)

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MILAN (AP) Arkadiusz Milik scored his first goal since his lengthy injury layoff but it wasn’t enough to prevent Napoli from drawing 2-2 at Sassuolo on Sunday and missing the chance to move second in Serie A.

Milik scored two minutes after coming off the bench to rescue a point for Napoli and move it to within one point of second-placed Roma, which visits bottom club Pescara on Monday.

Second spot in Serie A secures automatic entry into the Champions League group stage, while the team that finishes third has to go through a playoff.

“The road to second spot has got more difficult, we have to hope our rivals slip up,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. “We have a point more than last season, even though we played in the Champions League, even though we lost (Gonzalo) Higuain at the beginning of the season and Milik for four months, so I think the team has had an extraordinary season until now.”

After an even first half, Napoli broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break thanks to a rare header from Dries Mertens. It was the diminutive Belgian’s 22nd league goal of the season – as many as he had scored in total in his three previous seasons at Napoli.

However, Napoli gifted Sassuolo the equalizer seven minutes later as Marek Hamsik’s terrible headed backpass to Pepe Reina was intercepted by Domenico Berardi, who fired home from close range.

Mertens almost immediately restored his side’s lead but saw his free kick come off the crossbar, while Lorenzo Insigne’s effort also hit the inside of the post for Napoli.

Sassuolo took the lead 10 minutes from time following a superb save from Reina to deny former Napoli hero Paolo Cannavaro, but Antonino Ragusa hooked the ball back in from the byline for Luca Mazzitelli to drive into the bottom right corner.

Milik was brought on in the 82nd and immediately leveled. Jose Callejon’s corner was knocked down by Raul Albiol and the Poland international spun to fire in from close range for his first goal since he was injured on World Cup duty in October.

AC Milan missed a penalty as the new era at the famous Italian club continued without a win.

Milan drew 2-2 at city rival Inter Milan last weekend in the first match since the $800 million takeover of Milan by Chinese-led Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg ended Silvio Berlusconi’s 31-year reign.

Sunday’s defeat saw Milan remain in the last qualifying spot for the Europa League, two points above Inter.

“If we relate everything to the result, it didn’t go well but I shouldn’t do that,” Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. “We created 15 chances, it’s difficult to create more in Serie A.”

Empoli took a surprise lead five minutes from halftime when Levan Mchedlidze headed in a corner.

Milan should have leveled shortly before the hour, after Lukasz Skorupski pushed over Mario Pasalic, but the Empoli goalkeeper made up for his error by keeping out Suso’s penalty and then parrying a follow-up effort from Gianluca Lapadula.

Empoli doubled its lead in the 67th when Massimo Maccarone nodded on the ball for Mame Thiam to score his first goal in Italian football.

Lapadula reduced the deficit five minutes later, curling into the bottom corner and Milan had a good chance to level when it was awarded an indirect free kick six yards out from goal after Skorupski got the ball, put it down and picked it back up again.

However, with all the Empoli players on the line, Milan couldn’t equalize.

Milan’s teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma kept his side in the match with a fantastic one-handed save to deny Maccarone and it almost proved decisive as Lucas Ocampos volleyed off the crossbar at the other end.

Keita Balde Diao notched a five-minute hat trick as Lazio crushed Palermo to move back into fourth in Serie A.

Ciro Immobile scored two in as many minutes to put Lazio 2-0 up inside 10 minutes, before Keita’s quickfire treble – including a penalty – ensured the match was all but over with less than half an hour played.

Lazio relaxed and Palermo threatened an unexpected comeback with two goals from Andrea Rispoli in five minutes at the start of the second half.

But Luca Crecco extended Lazio’s lead in the final minute with his first ever senior goal.

Juventus continued its march to an unprecedented sixth successive Serie A title by routing Genoa 4-0 to move 11 points clear of Roma.

Ezequiel Munoz scored an own-goal in the 17th and magnificent strikes from Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic put the hosts 3-0 up at the break. Leonardo Bonucci scored another stunning goal in the 64th after sprinting forward from inside his own half. Juventus also hit the woodwork three times.

Crotone kept its faint hopes of survival alive with a surprise 2-1 win at Sampdoria.

The result left it five points behind 17th-placed Empoli and safety with five matches remaining.

Elsewhere, Torino won 3-1 at Chievo Verona, while Udinese beat Cagliari 2-1.

MLS Snapshot: Sounders cruise, 3-0, as Galaxy struggles continue

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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy’s midfield remains… nonexistent, to put it very nicely. It was a problem in 2015; it was a major problem in 2016; and it remains a problem early in 2017. On Sunday, Curt Onalfo’s side (as a quick aside, no, his seat isn’t yet getting hot) sat by and watched — almost literally — as the Seattle Sounders found the back of the net three times in the first half at StubHub Center.

Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris scored the goals for Seattle, to go with an own goal from Ashley Cole. It’s LA’s fifth loss in seven games, while Seattle have their second win of the season and put to bed a three-game winless skid.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS roundup — FCD win battle of unbeatens ]

Three moments that mattered

29′ — Dempsey heads into an open net for 1-0 — Nicolas Lodeiro floated the cross toward the back post, and Dempsey made extremely easy work of it with Brian Rowe scrambling through no man’s land.

35′ — Cole applies the finish into his own net — If it happened at the other end of the field, we’d have said it was a cool, calm, composed finish. Alas…

44′ — Morris fires past Rowe for 3-0 — The counter-attack was quick, what with no one stepping to the ball as Seattle covered two-thirds of the field. The finish wasn’t so simple for Morris.

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Man of the match: Clint Dempsey

Goalscorers: Dempsey (29′), Cole (OG – 35′), Morris (44′)