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)

Giovinco strikes twice to lift Toronto FC to Canadian Championship (video)

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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Sebastian Giovinco scored twice including in stoppage time as Toronto FC overcame Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla’s fantastic strike to win 2-1 in the second leg of the Canadian Championship at BMO Field on Tuesday.

TFC held the advantage after a 1-1 first leg in Montreal. The Reds advance to the CONCACAF Champions League.

Tabla, who just turned 18 in March, is an Ivorian-born Canadian youth international who now has four senior goals for the Impact.

Montreal veteran Patrice Bernier saw red in the 89th minute, putting the Impact’s chances behind the 8-ball.

[ MORE: USMNT Gold Cup questions ]

Toronto FC entered the match with a road goal advantage, which was undone in the quick flash of a left-foot, as Tabla dug a ball from underneath him and past a flying Clint Irwin to make it 2-1 on aggregate.

The goal was a double whammy for Toronto, which went to the break knowing it would need to score twice (or win in penalty kicks) to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League.

Yet TFC came back after a horrendous pass from Montreal, as Michael Bradley pinged a gorgeous diagonal ball to Sebastian Giovinco. The Atomic Ant recovered from a tough opening touch to bury his chance. 1-1.

And, oh yeah, watch this man work for his second…

Who is Kenny Saief, and other USMNT Gold Cup personnel questions

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Kenny Saief is an 23-year-old American left-sided player with UEFA Champions League experience.

So why do we know so little about the Miami-born man?

The answer is pretty straight-forward: Saief’s entire career has been under-the-radar. After coming up through a series of Israeli teams, he moved to KAA Gent in Belgium. None of those matches, even adding in his representing the full Israel national team twice, got a ton of play on American soil.

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So when Saief filed his one-time switch to represent the United States, paving the way for a USMNT call-up for this summer’s Gold Cup, even those of us who’d followed his career from afar had put a limited amount of actual observation on match footage.

So here’s the long-and-short:

  • Saief turns 24 in December.
  • He moved to Gent from Israeli second tier side Ramat haSharon in 2014.
  • Played a total of 35 minutes in friendlies versus Serbia and Croatia.
  • Saief has 20 total appearances between the Europa and Champions Leagues.
  • Posted a UCL assist versus Wolfsburg in the 2015-16 Round of 16.
  • Had goal, 2 assists in UEL this season, played 180 mins vs. Spurs.
  • Has 15 goals, 9 assists in 107 apps for Gent.

Saief should get an opportunity to make an impact for Bruce Arena’s USMNT, perhaps as soon as Saturday’s friendly against Ghana in East Hartford.

Who else stands a chance to gain the most from this tournament?

Joe Corona — The 26-year-old made his thirst-inducing name in American soccer circles by scoring a pair of goals in the 2013 Gold Cup, but has just 17 caps to his name. His call-up over veterans like Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan either shows how high he’s risen or how far those veterans have fallen.

Cristian Roldan — Seattle’s hard-nosed midfielder was playing college ball at Washington just three years ago, and it’s not crazy to think strong performances could boost him onto the radar of bigger clubs abroad (let alone make him a mainstay along Kellyn Acosta with the USMNT).

Dom Dwyer — If Roldan’s rise is surprising, Dwyer’s really is astounding. It’s easy to forget that the Sporting KC star forward was playing junior college soccer in 2010 before spending one season of Division I soccer with South Florida. Now he has 57 MLS goals and a look at becoming the clinical finisher the American side has wanted for some time.

Justin Morrow and Eric Lichaj — The 29- and 28-year-old fullbacks would love to prove their mettle is as good if not better than Jorge Villafana, the current front-runner to start at left back should the Yanks complete their revitalized run to the World Cup. Lichaj, a Nottingham Forest veteran, is also adept at right back.

This isn’t to say that Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe won’t benefit from strong tournaments, but the names above have either been rescued from soccer’s scrap heap or at least Jurgen Klinsmann’s prison.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check out the podcast here:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.