Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: Horrific defending mistake by City leaves points with Chelsea (video)

5 Comments

An absolutely disastrous bit of miscommunication left Fernando Torres with an open net, and he finished the deal to give Chelsea a 90th minute winner at Stamford Bridge for a 2-1 win over fellow title hopefuls Manchester City.

Torres put away some early struggles to drive a stake into the early title hopes of City with an assist on the opener and the finish late.

The goal, however, will haunt Manuel Pellegrini’s defensive unit for weeks, as Matija Nastasic didn’t realize Joe Hart had come out to help on a break, and he gifted Torres the winner.

Manchester City sat back with Pellegrini’s conservative lineup and let Chelsea press early, but the visitors confidently dealt with any early problems and began to play themselves into the game.

Samir Nasri proved dangerous on the left-hand side, and the defenders and defensive midfielders which many thought would sit back actually provided some attacking presence.

It forced Chelsea midfielders Frank Lampard and Andre Schurrle to play extra physical in an attempt to peg back the City midfielders, which earned Lampard a 22nd minute yellow card from referee Howard Webb.

Ramires nearly played in Fernando Torres with a wonderful cross from well out, but the ball just evaded Torres’ chest as he went to ground to get his body on the ball.

Torres then missed an absolute sitter in the 29th minute. Another fantastic ball from Ramires this time found Torres all alone with just Hart to beat, but his one-time volley sailed high and clear.

The physicality in the midfield was working, however, and they began to seriously pressure Hart’s goal. Finally Chelsea had their opening goal in the 33rd minute. Torres broke down the right-hand side of the penalty area and found Schurrle for the tap-in, the ball narrowly avoiding a sliding Martin Demichelis.

source: Reuters
Andre Schurrle scored Chelsea’s opener, on a tap-in thanks to Fernando Torres’ hard work.

Chelsea were sparked by the goal, and immediately searched for a follow-up. Torres came oh-so-close to a second, but his turnaround strike minutes after scoring clanged off the corner of the crossbar.

City searched hard for an equalizer before halftime with Yaya Toure firing twice at goal, but they went into the break down a goal.

Sergio Aguero quickly changed that though, as the visitors came out firing on all cylinders after the break. The City striker made a perfectly timed run in the 49th minute, got a great feed from Samir Nasri, and rifled home a laser beam past Petr Cech for the equalizer.

Chelsea responded, and both teams began to take warning shots but nothing more for much of the second half. The home side continued to body check and play physical to keep the City attackers from getting space and making runs.

As the second half dragged on, it seemed the prospect of not losing was much more important to both sides than actually going for the win, and the chances diminished.

Then the dagger.

Willian sprung Torres on a break and Joe Hart came out to claim the ball.  But young Manchester City defender Nastasic was too busy covering Torres and didn’t see Hart come out, and before the goalkeeper could collect, Nastasic headed the ball to where he believed Hart to be – right in front of the mouth of the goal.

This gave Torres an open net, and despite the best efforts of Gael Clichy to close him down, Torres finished for the score.

The defeat is Manchester City’s second 1-goal loss on the road, following their 3-2 loss at Aston Villa.  The Citizens remain in 7th place in the table, just above cross-town rivals Manchester United.

Chelsea climb to second place with 20 points, just behind red-hot Arsenal.

GOALS:

Chelsea – Schurrle 33′, Torres 90′
Manchester City – Aguero 49′

LINEUPS:

Chelsea – Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Lampard (Mikel, 66′); Hazard (Eto’o, 84′), Oscar, Schurrle (Willian, 66′); Torres.

Manchester City – Hart; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Nastasic, Clichy; Garcia (Kolarov, 80′), Toure; Fernandinho, Nasri (Navas, 70′), Silva; Aguero (Negredo, 87′).

CONMEBOL WCQ: Venezuela, Bolivia teetering on elimination

Pedro Vilela/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying is always a challenge, and this World Cup cycle is no different.

With six teams currently separated by a mere five points under leaders Brazil, everything is left to play for as Round 14 hits South America.

[ MORE: Messi could face suspension from CONMEBOL ]

Here’s a look at what’s on the docket for Tuesday:

Bolivia vs. Argentina — 4 p.m. EDT

It wasn’t pretty at all, but La Albiceleste picked up a crucial three points against Chile, which could produce a morale lift for Argentina given their past struggles against the reigning Copa America holders.

Lionel Messi’s actions from the match could harm the Albiceleste though, with the Barcelona man reportedly facing sanctions from CONMEBOL for verbally abusing a linesman.

Meanwhile, Bolivia is in desperate need of a win in La Paz, and anything but three points could potentially end La Verde’s hopes of reaching Russia 2018.

Ecuador vs. Colombia — 5 p.m. EDT

It took a long time for Colombia to crack the Bolivia backline on Thursday but a late run from Juan Cuadrado helped set up the eventual winner from James Rodriguez, and kept Los Cafeteros in the top four.

Ecuador didn’t have the same fortunes though four days ago after falling to a very game Paraguay side. La Tricolor have gone winless in three of its last four World Cup qualifiers, leaving Gustavo Quinteros side with little margin of error against the Colombians.

Chile vs. Venezuela — 6 p.m. EDT

Chile’s qualifying struggles continued on Thursday after falling to La Albiceleste in a closely-contested match. Arturo Vidal’s six goals leave the Bayern Munich midfielder third in all of CONMEBOL this campaign, but the Chileans still sit on the outside looking in at the moment and in sixth place.

Venezuela is teetering on the edge of elimination, and a loss against Chile would all but seal their fate of missing out the World Cup. After reaching the quarterfinals at last summer’s Copa America Centenario, La Vinotinto have failed to replicate that form this qualifying campaign with just one win to show.

Top scorer Josef Martinez is no longer with Venezuela after suffering an injury in Thursday’s 2-2 draw against Peru, creating a major void in the side’s attack.

Brazil vs. Paraguay — 8:45 p.m. EDT

The Selecao continue to score at a lightning pace this qualifying campaign with 32 goals in the first 13 rounds of play. Despite conceding early to Uruguay on Thursday, Brazil responded emphatically with four goals, and most notably Paulinho‘s hat-trick.

Elsewhere, Paraguay kept itself within striking distance of the top five after its 2-1 win over Ecuador. The side is just two points behind fifth place Ecuador.

Peru vs. Uruguay — 10:15 p.m. EDT

Los Incas have not reached a World Cup since 1982, and although the team is just five points behind fifth, they need to pick up victories. Ricardo Gareca will be pleased with his side’s resiliency against Venezuela on Thursday, but more draws simply won’t do with only four rounds remaining after Tuesday.

Uruguay still sits in a solid second position after Thursday’s slip up against Brazil but another defeat could be potentially disastrous for La Celeste, who are just three points above sixth place Chile. However, Edinson Cavani’s nine goals leads all of CONMEBOL and Peru has allowed the third-most goals this campaign (22).

Ugly scene forces Ivory Coast-Senegal match to be abandoned

Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Monday’s international friendly between Ivory Coast and Senegal turned out to be anything but that when the match was interrupted towards the tail end.

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The fixture was abandoned with two minutes remaining in regulation after pitch invaders disrupted the the match by getting past security guards and began chasing after players from both sides.

The score was level at 1-1 in the 88th minute when the disruptions occurred, causing the referee to halt play at the Stade Sebastien Charlety in Paris.

One of the intruders even managed to tackle Senegalese defender Lamine Gassama (as shown in the picture to the right).

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane gave Senegal the lead minutes into the second stanza after he converted from the penalty spot, while Cyriac Gohi Bi leveled the score at one apiece just minutes later.

Messi could face CONMEBOL suspension for verbal abusing official

AP Photo/Eugenio Savio
1 Comment

Already facing some uncertainty with a depleted roster, Argentina could face a significantly greater challenge.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina starting XI vs. Bolivia ]

Barcelona star Lionel Messi could face suspension after reportedly verbally abusing linesman Marcelo Van Gasse during the second half of Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.

UPDATED: Fox Sports Argentina is reporting that Messi will receive a two to four match suspension and will be effective for tomorrow’s match against Bolivia.

Messi was reported to CONMEBOL for yelling, “F*** off, your mother’s c***” at Van Gasse and refused to shake the official’s hand at the end of the match.

The officiating crew from the match didn’t initially include Messi’s rant in the post-match report, however, it was added on Monday and submitted to CONMEBOL.

The South American federation must now decide if and when it will punish Messi for his reported actions, and there is the potential that the world-class attacker could be suspended for Tuesday’s clash against Bolivia if the federation acts quickly.

There are several other scenarios though for CONMEBOL to action, including disregarding Messi’s verbal assault.

La Albiceleste currently sit third in World Cup qualifying on 22 points.

Arena speaks about USMNT turnaround, says “no secret formulas”

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Leave a comment

It’s only been one competitive match since Bruce Arena regained control of the U.S. Men’s National Team and there’s already been a noticeable difference in form.

[ MORE: Three keys for the USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

The former LA Galaxy manager wouldn’t have you believe that though following Friday night’s convincing 6-0 victory over Honduras in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

“It’s nothing I can write a book on,” Arena said about his team’s turnaround in form against Honduras. “You have a sense of your group, and you go about doing your business. There’s no secret formulas to this stuff. Work together, take ownership in what you’re doing, treat them like responsible professional athletes, and you get on with your business.

He added, “They want to be successful. They want to play in a World Cup. Is that a recipe for success? I don’t know. I’m sure Honduras wants to play in a World Cup too.”

Arena, who took over for Jurgen Klinsmann following the U.S.’ collapse during the first two matches of the Hexagonal, is unbeaten in his first three games in charge since getting his job back with the Stars and Stripes.

Although there has been a considerable turnaround in the way the USMNT has performed in the first three matches of 2017, Arena wouldn’t stoop to comparing his style to that of Klinsmann.

“I’m not doing anything differently,” he said. “I’m not taking a survey [of the players]. I know it’s different. We lose tomorrow, there will be articles written that, ‘This a—— is letting these guys run loose.'”

“I have spent no time on the past. There’s nothing I can do about it. I kind of have a sense about things, but there’s no point in me spending time investigating what went on in the past. The idea was to get it going the right way from the start.”

Arena’s next test with the U.S. will be on Tuesday when the Yanks travel to Panama City to take on Panama.