Peter Crouch

Stoke City 3-2 Chelsea: Assaidi’s screamer hands Potters massive win (video)

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Stoke City pulled off a huge shock at the Britannia, as they beat high-flying Chelsea 3-2 on Saturday thank to Oussama Assaidi’s late winner.

The winger, on-loan from Liverpool, smashed home a beauty in stoppage time to seal a magnificent win for the Potters and send them comfortably into mid-table. In a topsy-turvy affair, Chelsea went ahead through Andre Schurrle but Peter Crouch leveled just before the break. After half time Stephen Ireland put Stoke back ahead, but that man Schurrle bagged his and Chelsea’s second to make it 2-2.

It looked as though the game would end in a draw but Assaidi’s stunning strike was enough to hand Stoke just their second win in 12 PL games. Stoke rise to 12th with the win, while Chelsea missed out on the perfect opportunity to close the gap on Arsenal to just one point as they drop to third.

A bright start from Chelsea saw German international Schurrle burst into the box in the 9th minute but his pull back to Ramires saw the Brazilian forced to hit it first time and he smashed it over the bar.

Moments late Schurrle himself put Chelsea ahead as he cut in from the left, jinxed to his left and right before smashing an effort across goal and into the far corner to put the visitors 1-0 up. Stoke had the stuffing knocked out of them with that goal but they kept lobbing the ball forward and put Chelsea under pressure.

source: Getty Images
Two fantastic goals from Schurrle wasn’t enough for Chelsea as they lost to Stoke.

In the 24th minute Juan Mata released Eden Hazard on the left who sent a terrific cross into the danger area that Fernando Torres couldn’t quite connect with as Chelsea pushed for a second goal. Stoke battled hard for a way back in the game as Johnathan Walters and Crouch battled hard up front to feed off the scraps.

The remainder of the first half played out evenly and just before the break Stoke got the goal that craved. Marko Arnautovic set up Crouch to score and lift the roof off the Britannia, as the teams went in level 1-1 at the break.

After the break the home side were buoyed by their equalizer and were soon 2-1 up as substitute Ireland curled a beauty into the far corner to send the Britannia into delirium. However that lead did not last for long as Chelsea instantly equalized to make it 2-2, as German international Schurrle smashed home from the edge of the box.

It was a pulsating end-to-end the game, as both teams looked to go ahead and Schurrle thought he’d grabbed his and Chelsea’s third goal when he smashed an effort past Asmir Begovic in Stoke’s goal but his effort rattled the crossbar.

In the 66th minute Ireland went close to putting Stoke 3-2 up but he blasted his effort miles over the bar when he was found in the box. A huge battle ensued in the closing stages as both teams pushed hard to go ahead, but the closest Chelsea came to taking all three points arrived when Frank Lampard hit a low free-kick under the wall but Begovic saved easily.

But the killer blow for Chelsea arrived in the final minute, as Stoke won the game thanks to Assaidi’s terrific strike. Jose Mourinho was left shaking his head after the final whistle, as his team have conceded six goals in two games away from home in the last four days.

Full credit to Stoke, who never gave up and their fighting spirit shone through to bag them all three points.

LINEUPS

Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Muniesa; Walters (Assaidi, 84), Nzonzi, Whelan (Palacios, 86), Adam (Ireland, 17), Arnautovic; Crouch

Goals: Crouch (42), Ireland (50), Assaidi (90)

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Mikel (Lampard, 70); Hazard, Mata, Schurrle (Eto’o, 70); Torres (Ba, 59)

Goals: Schurrle (9 & 53)

MLS Preview: Conference leaders meet as Philly head west to Colorado

COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO - APRIL 02:  Dillon Powers #8 of Colorado Rapids controls the ball against the Toronto FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on April 2, 2016 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Rapids defeated Toronto FC 1-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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The weekend is nearing, which means another full slate of ten matches across Major League Soccer.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

With Sporting KC and D.C. United kicking things off on Friday night, Saturday is jam-packed with eight matches before the league’s youngest clubs NYCFC and Orlando wrap up the action on Sunday.

Colorado Rapids vs. Philadelphia Union — Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET

There’s not a misprint on the table, Colorado and Philadelphia are both at the top of their conferences. After sitting near the bottom of MLS for the past two seasons, Colorado has shocked everyone, currently leading the league in points (27) with the fewest goals conceded (9). On Saturday, the Rapids put their perfect 6-0 home record on the line when they host the Union, who currently lead the East by two points.

New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC — Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET

Coming off of a massive 7-0 win in the Hudson River Derby against NYCFC, the Red Bulls will look to continue trending upwards when they host Toronto FC. Two of the preseason favorites to top the Eastern Conference, both sides are currently tied on points, although the Red Bulls have a game in hand. For Toronto, Sebastian Giovinco will be keen to prove Antonio Conte wrong after being left out of the Italy squad for EURO 2016 after the Italian boss talked down upon MLS.

[ MLS: Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Montreal Impact vs. Los Angeles Galaxy — Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET

Didier Drogba has scored in each of his last three starts, a streak he will look to keep alive against the Los Angeles Galaxy this weekend. While Drogba will be looking to score, Montreal must make sure their defense is in top form as the Galaxy have scored a league-high 25 goals through 11 matches.

Elsewhere around MLS

Sporting KC vs. D.C. United — Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo — Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew SC vs. Real Salt Lake — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
New England Revolution vs. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers — Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC — Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET

Cantona claims ethnicity played role in Benzema, Ben Arfa France snubs

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 14:  Former Footballer Eric Cantona of France speaks during a press conference at the Shanghai Grand Theatre prior to the  Laureus World Sports Awards  on April 14, 2015 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images for Laureus)
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Eric Cantona has made the headlines again, this time making some bold claims against France national team manager Didier Deschamps.

Cantona, a former Manchester United legend and French international, questioned whether Deschamps excluded Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa from the team due to their North African origins.

[ MORE: Skrtel set to leave Liverpool ]

Speaking to The Guardian, Cantona calls Benzema and Ben Arfa two of France’s best footballers, both of whom will not be playing for the national team this summer.

Benzema is a great player. Ben Arfa is a great player. But Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know.

So I’m not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him. Especially after [French Prime Minister Manuel Valls] said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that.

One thing is for sure – Benzema and Ben Arfa are two of the best players in France and will not play the European Championship. And for sure, Benzema and Ben Arfa, their origins are north African. So, the debate is open.

Cantona’s view doesn’t hold much merit as Deschamps did not even have the option of selecting Benzema, the country’s active leading goalscorer. The Real Madrid striker is suspended by the federation, embroiled in a blackmail sex-tape scandal involving French teammate Mathieu Valbuena, who was also left off the EURO roster.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determine the Champions League final ]

France is an extremely diverse nation with a large North African population, Benzema of Algerian descent and Ben Arfa’s father a former Tunisian international. Both players were born in France and have received prior call-ups under Deschamps, with Cantona’s quite ridiculous comments likely to cause a stir before the EURO.

FA Cup will no longer have quarterfinal replays

HALIFAX, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  The FA Cup is seen prior to the FA Cup First Round match between FC Halifax and Bradford City  on November 9, 2014 in Halifax, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Starting in 2017, the FA Cup will no longer have replays in the quarterfinal round.

The decision was made in an effort to combat the congested English fixture list, which has been a topic of debate for years now.

[ MORE: Lukaku wants out at Everton ]

This season, Manchester United defeated West Ham in a quarterfinal replay before going on to win the competition.

In a statement released by the FA, these changes aim to add drama to the matches while eliminating an extra matchday needed for replays.

The revamped competition will see eight clubs battle it out over one weekend with each tie to be played to a finish on the day, adding to the drama and impact the competition has enjoyed in recent years.

Other new initiatives will be explored to ensure The FA Cup retains its status and appeal. These plans also form part of The FA’s commitment to help ease English football’s congested fixture schedule.

There will still be replays in the earlier rounds of the tournament, which allows lower level clubs the opportunity to earn a nice financial boost should they force a second match at a Premier League ground.

The Premier League is the only top league in Europe that does not take a winter break, a schedule that has been criticized by multiple managers, including Jurgen Klopp.

Judge hears arguments on US women’s team strike rights

HARRISON, NJ - MAY 30:  The United States team poses for a team picture before the match against the South Korea during an international friendly match at Red Bull Arena on May 30, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO — A federal judge in Chicago has heard arguments whether the world champion U.S. women’s soccer team has the right to strike for improved conditions and wages before this year’s Olympics.

Lawyers for the U.S. Soccer Federation told Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman at a Thursday hearing that a no-strike clause is implied in a still-valid 2013 memorandum with players.

[ MORE: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]

But a lawyer for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association balked at that claim. Jeffrey Kessler said the federation had “screwed up” by not securing a no-strike clause in writing and can’t argue three years later that such a provision is implied.

The union wants the option to strike before the Olympics start in August, but hasn’t said it will. Many players have voiced concern over gender equity in soccer.