Chelsea 3-1 Southampton: Stirring comeback sends Blues second (video)

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LONDON — Chelsea mounted a surging second half comeback to down Southampton 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as Jose Mourinho’s men moved into second spot.

Second half headers from central defenders Gary Cahill and John Terry and a late strike from Demba Ba sealed the win for Chelsea, after Jay Rodriguez had stunned the home fans after putting Southampton ahead after just 13 seconds.

The Saints were comfortable during the first half and looked in real danger of ending Jose Mourinho’s 66 PL unbeaten record at home but, inevitably, Chelsea came out rejuvenated in the second half as two goals in seven minutes swung the game in their favor.

With the victory they move up to second on 27 points and four points behind leaders Arsenal, while Southampton are seventh with 22 points.

The visitors stunned the home fans as both sets of fans had hardly taken to their seats when Southampton went 1-0 up in West London.

It took just 13 seconds for the Saints to break the deadlocked as Chelsea’s home supporters sat in stunned silence as Rodriguez wheeled away in jubilation. A long ball down Southampton’s right saw Michael Essien give the ball away which found Rodriguez who slotted home when clean through on Petr Cech, a fantastic start for the Saints.

Saints’ fans were in dreamland as they taunted Chelsea boss Mourinho with chants of “You’re not special anymore” and “Who needs Mourinho? We’ve got Mauricio.”

It was the third time this season in the PL that a player has scored after 13 seconds, with Asmir Begovic’s goal vs. Southampton and Jesus Navas’ strike for Man City against Spurs the other two times it happened.

After that early goal Chelsea tried to get on the front foot and had the majority of possession as they aimed to get back on level terms. However Saints looked dangerous on the break.

On 19 minutes Oscar found some space and hit a rasping shot which Southampton ‘keeper Artur Boruc could only parry into a whole host of bodies as Branislav Ivanovic hooked his acrobatic effort over the bar.

The game settled down after the initial frantic opening as Victor Wanyama broke up play in midfield and stopped Chelsea getting any rhythm going.

Saints went close to doubling their lead midway through the first half but James Ward-Prowse’s free kick flew just wide of the post.

As the home fans started to grow restless at Stamford Bridge, Saints surged forward with England internationals Adam Lallana and Rodriguez looking incredibly dangerous with pace, skill and direct running at Chelsea’s defense.

Just before half time Lallana wriggled free of his marker but dragged on effort wide as the away side looked more likely to add to their tally rather then Chelsea equalizing.

That said Oscar did put a free header straight at Boruc in the 40th minute as the Brazilian went off injured soon after as Frank Lampard replaced him.

Moments later Chelsea thought they’d leveled things up as Torres’ header looked destined for the far corner of the net, but Southampton ‘keeper Boruc somehow made a sprawling stop to deny the Spanish striker and Saints then hooked the ball away to safety.

Southampton went in ahead as Chelsea were 45 minutes away from losing their incredible unbeaten home record.

At the interval Demba Ba came on for Michael Essien as Chelsea put two up front to try and force their way back into the game.

source: Getty Images
Rodriguez gave Saints a shock early lead as he netted after just 13 seconds.

But it was Southampton who continued to be in ascendancy as they hunted in packs to stifle any creative influence Chelsea tried to get going. In the 54th minute Lampard sent a free kick toward goal as Boruc tipped it over and out for a corner.

From that resulting set piece Chelsea equalized as Ba’s effort hit the post and Gary Cahill somehow steered the ball over the line with his head to make it 1-1.

In the goalmouth scramble surrounding the goal, Saints ‘keeper Boruc was injured and had to be replaced by young Argentine ‘keeper Paolo Gazzaniga.

Soon after the substitute was picking the ball out of the back of the net, as Chelsea captain Terry scored a wonderful header in the 62nd minute as his glancing effort flew into top corner to turn the game on its head.

Buoyed by their comeback, Chelsea poured forward with renewed vigor as the home fans cranked up the noise volumes as Southampton struggled to cope with the pace and verve of Chelsea’s attack. Ba beat the offside trap in the 71st minute but put his effort wide after going clean through on goal.

Rickie Lambert came off the bench for Saints as they scrapped to get back into the game and grab an equalizer in the closing stages. Daniel Osvaldo came close with a swiveling volley from the edge of the box but the Italian internationals effort flew just over the bar.

Try as they might Saints couldn’t find an equalizer and Chelsea capped off the win as Ba prodded home from close range in the final minute to make it 3-1.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Essien (Ba, 45), Ramires; Mata, Oscar (Lampard, 41), Hazard; Torres (Mikel, 82)

Goals: Cahill (55), Terry (62), Ba (90)

Southampton: Boruc (Gazaaniga, 58) Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama, Schneiderlin (Lambert, 67), Ward-Prowse (S. Davis, 63), Lallana, Rodriguez, Osvaldo.

Goal: Rodriguez (1)

Europa League: Arsenal, Marseille host semifinal 1st legs

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Arsenal’s Champions League dreams could be in for a rude awakening against tournament-tested Atletico Madrid.

The Premier League vs. La Liga match-up is one of two Europa League semifinal first legs set to be served up Sunday, with Marseille and Red Bull Salzburg meeting in the other.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

There’s something romantic about Arsene Wenger closing out his time at Arsenal against French opposition in Lyon, but Atleti and Salzburg won’t step aside for poetics.

Both matches kickoff ay 3:05 p.m. ET

Arsenal vs. Atletico Madrid

It’s a bit stunning that this tie has no history considering both club’s statures in their leagues and Europe, but that’s what we’ll se when Arsenal welcomes Atleti for the first leg.

Arsenal boasts two of the top 10 performers in the UEL this season — it would be three had the Gunners not sold Theo Walcott — and are paced by Aaron Ramsey, who has four goals and an assist. Mesut Ozil, who’s ready to return to the pitch, has the reverse with a goal and four helpers.

The Gunners have outscored UEL opposition 29-10 this season.

It’s no surprise that Antoine Griezmann has been Atleti’s best attacker since the Madrid side dropped out of the UCL to run rampant through the UEL knockout rounds. Atleti beat Copenhagen 5-1, Lokomotiv Moscow 8-1, and Sporting Lisbon 2-1 for an aggregate score line of 15-3.

Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg

Don’t expect this to be a simple case of Ligue 1 bossing inferior opposition: This pair met in the group stage, with the Austrian side winning at home and drawing 0-0 in France.

Salzburg has shown its mettle in various ways during the UEL. After allowing just one goal in an unbeaten group stage, they’ve won 4-3 over Real Sociedad, 2-1 against Borussia Dortmund, and 6-5 versus Lazio. That’s no easy road, and Marseille represents another big challenge.

Marseille is bidding to make its first European final since 2004, and has been led by Dimitri Payet‘s three goals and four assists, and Lucas Ocampos’ four goals and one assist. Marseille has knocked off RB Leipzig, Athletic Bilbao, and Braga after the group stage.

Names you’ll need to know from Salzburg: defenders Stefan Lainer and Paulo Miranda have been spectacular, and Munas Dabbur and Valon Berisha have each scored five times in the tournament.

Mourinho on longtime nemesis Wenger: ‘We can be friends in future’

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Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger have had a poor relationship, but the former thinks he’s soon to get along with the latter.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

Manchester United boss Mourinho, 55, heaped praise on the departing Arsenal manager ahead of the two sides’ Sunday meeting at Old Trafford (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), saying the Frenchman has earned much respect.

Branding Wenger “iconic,” Mourinho says his fiery rivalry with Wenger stemmed from Arsenal’s stature in the Premier League when the Portuguese took over Chelsea.

“If he respects me even 50 percent of what I respect him we can even be friends in the future,” Mourinho told Sky Sports News. “I have lots of respect for him. But the reality is that he was at Arsenal, he was the champion and I came to the country in 2004 and wanted to steal his title. That’s football.”

Mourinho said he’s tried to show his respect for Wenger, 68, over the past few seasons. It may become a passable relationship, but we find it hard to believe the pair will be dining together on a regular basis as the sun sets on their managerial careers (Mou has a while to go, we think).

Real’s Modric on Bayern feeling unlucky: “That’s their problem”

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Bayern Munich produced far more chances than visiting Real Madrid in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg in Germany, but lost 2-1 at the Allianz Arena.

Franck Ribery butchered an open shot at goal, Robert Lewandowski beat Keylor Navas but didn’t score late, and Thomas Mueller missed getting contact on a shot inside the six.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

It was that kind of day, and Mueller is baffled that his team did not finish more than Joshua Kimmich’s opener.

“Everybody is wondering why this game is 1-2 for Madrid,” Mueller reportedly said. “We still cannot believe it.”

The quote comes from BeIN Sport’s Tancredi Palmeri, who has a stinging rebuke from Real Madrid maestro Luka Modric.

Real wasn’t great on Wednesday, but also limited their big mistakes to one: Marcelo’s lapse of judgment which helped Kimmich to open the scoring for Bayern Munich.

The hosts had a huge giveaway from Rafinha on the match-winner, and backup backstop Sven Ulreich didn’t have a phenomenal day on either goal. Throw in Arjen Robben’s injury requiring an 8th minute substitution, and Bayern did not have much good fortune on the day.

This one, though, doesn’t seem over, even with the tie moving to the Bernabeu.

McKennie, Adams, Miazga in top tier of US Soccer player pool

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CHESTER, Pa. (AP) Midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams have played their way onto the top tier of the U.S. player pool along with defender Matt Miazga, according to interim coach Dave Sarachan, who says the trio would receive strong consideration for a World Cup roster if the Americans were headed to Russia in June.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

With the U.S. rebuilding following its failure to qualify for the tournament, Sarachan will continue to rely on youth for upcoming exhibitions against Bolivia, Ireland and France.

Veterans such as Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley could have a role either in friendlies this autumn or when competitive matches resume in the summer of 2019.

“I do think those guys, some of them, will factor in, in terms of the Gold Cup, in terms of the next round of qualifying,” Sarachan said Wednesday. “I think it would be important to bring some of those veterans guys back.”

Dempsey, who turned 35 last month, is tied with Landon Donovan for the U.S. record of 57 international goals.

“The older guys, they’re valuable in the succession of everything, to mentor, to show these young guys what it really takes and what it is to be a part of the national team,” Sarachan said. “But as far as that goes, you know, sometimes a tie is all right, right? Share the spoils.”

Christian Pulisic, the Americans’ 19-year-old star midfielder, will be on the roster for the May 28 match against Bolivia in the Philadelphia suburbs. Pulisic, who is from Hershey, Pennsylvania, has not played for the national team since the 2-1 loss at Trinidad and Tobago in October that eliminated the U.S. from World Cup contention.

While U.S. training starts May 21, Pulisic will report late so he can remain with Borussia Dortmund for a postseason exhibition at LAFC on May 22.

“He was pretty gutted after that game,” Sarachan said of the loss in Trinidad. “There’s a lot of demands of a guy like Christian. He’s being pulled in a lot of different directions. There’s still some speculation – this didn’t come from him directly – but I know that there’s some speculation that maybe he’ll move from Dortmund. So I know there’s a lot going on. And I’m trying to be helpful in the process to allow him a little wiggle room in terms of the national team now.”

Josh Sargent, the 18-year-old forward who joined Werder Bremen this year, also will be on the roster. The U.S. plays at Ireland on June 2 and at France on June 9, and Sarachan said many Europe-based players may skip the Bolivia match.

Sarachan was the top assistant to Bruce Arena, who quit after the U.S. failed to qualify. Sarachan would like to be considered for the job going forward, but new U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro plans to first hire a general manager for the men’s national team, a new position.

“I would only be guessing at this point if it’s someone in place before or after the World Cup,” Sarachan said of the GM.

The 63-year-old Sarachan coached Cornell from 1988-97 and the Chicago Fire from 2002-07. He does not consider himself to be an interim coach.

“I don’t like that term personally. I hate using the word interim,” he said. “I’m the men’s national soccer coach until they tell me I’m not. I’m not naive to think that I’m a slam-dunk candidate or not. I try not to even think through that other than at some point I have to figure out my next move if it’s not going to be this.”

Since World Cup elimination, the U.S. has played a road draw at Portugal and home ties against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Paraguay. Sarachan has given national team debuts to nine players, including Adams, McKennie, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, forward Andrija Novakovich and midfielder Tim Weah – son of former FIFA Player of the Year and current Liberia President George Weah.

“I feel since November, when you could arguably say it was rock bottom in terms of U.S. soccer and the perception of it, I’d like to think that there’s a little more hope, a little more hope with the program, the direction we’re going, with the exciting young talent that’s emerging,” he said. “And that makes me feel proud, because I think the work kind of speaks for itself at this point, meaning young guys are getting great minutes.”