Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace: Blues labor as Ramires’ stunner seals win (video)

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Chelsea hung on to beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday but Jose Mourinho’s men certainly made hard work of things against their London rivals.

Early on it looked to be plain-sailing for Chelsea as Fernando Torres struck to put the home side ahead but in the 29th minute Marouane Chamakh equalized as the Blues wobbled. But just before half time Ramires’ stunning finish from outside the box sealed all three points despite a spirited second half display from Palace.

With the victory Chelsea move up to second and are now just two points behind Arsenal, with a game against the Gunner coming up next Monday.

It was a tentative start at Stamford Bridge as Crystal Palace eased their way into the game and Chelsea did likewise.

However the longer the first half wore on Chelsea continued to push forward and in the 15th minute the Blues went ahead as Torres pounced to tuck the ball home. Brazilian winger Willian drive forward and smashed a terrific effort on goal that Julian Speroni tipped onto the post and Torres reacted first to tuck the ball home and make it 1-0.

In the 20th minute Juan Mata played in Branislav Ivanovic and the right back flashed a shot across the goal and went just wide of the far post as Chelsea pushed for a second.

Palace were looking dangerous on the break and they were soon level, as in-form striker Chamakh scored for the third-game in a row as he swept home Joel Ward’s left-wing cross to make it 1-1.

But the Eagles were soon back behind as Chelsea wne t 2-1 ahead thanks to a screamer from Brazilian midfielder Ramires. The ball was picked up by Eden Hazard on the left and he cut it back to Ramires 20-yards out who curled a magnificent effort into the top corner as Moruinho punched the air in delight.

After the interval Chelsea pushed forward to try and kill the game off but they were leaving themselves exposed at the back and Jason Puncheon almost equalized with a great run and shot that forced Petr Cech to make a smart save.

Try as they might Chelsea couldn’t shrug off a stubborn Palace side who kept pressing high up the pitch in search of an equalizer as the Blues struggled to get out of second gear. In the 76th minute substitute Stuart O’Keefe timed his run into the box perfectly but Petr Cech saved well at point blank range to deny Palace an equalizer.

As the Eagles flooded forward inevitably they left gaps at the back and Chelsea should’ve wrapped up the points but somehow Demba Ba squandered a great chance when clean through on goal as Palace continued to defend for their lives.

In the end Chelsea held on for the win as they set up a clash to decide who will be top of the table at Christmas, when they travel to the Emirates to play Arsenal next Monday.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, D Luiz, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Essien; Willian (Schurrle, 82), Mata (Oscar, 62), Hazard, Torres (Ba, 84)

Goals: Torres (19), Ramires (35)

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Delaney, Gabbidon, Ward, Jedinak, Dikgacoi (O’Keefe, 26), Bannan (Bolasie, 51), Puncheon, Chamakh (Gayle, 88), Jerome

Goal: Chamakh (29)

MLS Snapshot: POR carve up 9-man ORL, keep pace with VAN, SKC

Pete Christopher//The Oregonian via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): All of a sudden, the Western Conference has sprung to life as the 2017 regular season winds down — Vancouver Whitecaps, winners of five of their last seven games (unbeaten); Portland Timbers, winners of four of their last six following Sunday’s 3-0 victory over 10-man nine-man Orlando City SC at Providence Park; Sporting Kansas City, losers of just two of their last 15 games; Seattle Sounders, who had their 13-game unbeaten run snapped on Saturday; and Real Salt Lake, winners of four of their last five. With fewer than a handful of games remaining, Vancouver’s lead on Portland and Sporting KC remains one point after all three sides won this weekend; RSL and Seattle are separated by just three points, three points back of second and third. As for Saturday’s game, Diego Valeri is now a top-two candidate for MVP after scoring two more goals (his 19th and 20th, to go with 9 assists) against 10-man Orlando.

[ MORE: TFC’s Shield celebration delayed | RSL end Seattle’s run at 13 ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Valeri extends his streak, makes it 1-0 — The last time Valeri failed to score in a game, the date was July 23.

29′ — Mattocks taps it home after Asprilla’s cross — Huge credit to Diego Chara for the through ball to spring Dairon Asprilla into acres of space. The ball to Mattocks was simple, and he got it right.

59′ — Valeri gets no. 20, makes it 3-0 — Joe Bendik managed to deny Mattocks’ initial effort, but Valeri followed up when everyone in white had already quit on the play.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (15′ – PK, 59′), Mattocks (29′)

The 2 Robbies: City Sparkle, Chelsea Shine, Liverpool Hold On

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe take a look at some of the weekend’s biggest storylines, including Liverpool’s thrilling victory over Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur’s frantic win away to West Ham United and Manchester City’s demolition of Crystal Palace.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Ederson harbors no ill will after Mane’s personal apology

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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As far as Ederson is concerned, Sadio Mane‘s studs-to-face assault is a thing of the past — save for, the elongated scar he’ll likely wear on the left side of his face for the rest of his life, of course.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Goals galore on a wild Saturday ]

The Manchester City goalkeeper, who was forced from his side’s 5-0 victory over Liverpool on Sept. 9 after his face was raked by the studs of the Reds’ star attacker, revealed this weekend that he received — and accepted — Mane’s personal apology in the days immediately thereafter — quotes from Goal.com:

“Yes, I had contact with him, he sent me a message. I told him to stay calm, those things happen inside the pitch, it could happen anytime. I told him to not worry and wished him a good season.”

“I ended up having a hard hit in the face, but in the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I felt a strong kick, but I was always conscious. I knew it had been a long cut. I wanted to keep playing but, for medical issues, I couldn’t keep playing.

“But I was always conscious, even if I had my face a little bit swollen. But after a week it was normal again. In the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I faced that game full of confidence again, without any fear and happy for the result we achieved.”

Bundesliga: Leverkusen throttle HSV; Hannover remain unbeaten

Marius Becker/dpa via AP
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BERLIN (AP) Three days after being cleared to play by FIFA, Argentine striker Lucas Alario scored one goal and set up another on his debut for Bayer Leverkusen to beat Hamburger SV 3-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Alario struck midway through the first half, converting a cross from Leon Bailey, who also set up Kevin Volland’s opening goal just three minutes before.

A moment of class from Julian Brandt sent Alario through with less than 10 minutes remaining, and the Argentine had the awareness to spot the better-positioned Volland to seal the win.

Alario went off moments later to warm applause from fans.

“The goal is the cream on top. He played very well, scored the goal and combined with others. He worked well coming back and his first goal wasn’t so easy to score,” Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich said.

Alario’s first appearance for Leverkusen was held up when previous club River Plate objected to his transfer through the Argentine soccer association (AFA), which denied his playing rights.

The Buenos Aires-based club contended that Alario’s transfer was invalid as Leverkusen paid his release clause of $28.6 million on Aug. 31, after the Argentine season began, which it said was against FIFA rules.

Leverkusen then took the case to FIFA, which ruled in its favor on Thursday.

Leverkusen’s second win in six games eased the pressure on new coach Herrlich after a difficult start.

Counterpart Markus Gisdol remains in need of a change in fortune, however, after four straight defeats. Hamburg next faces Werder Bremen, Mainz and Bayern Munich.


Cologne fought its way to its first point in a 0-0 draw at promoted Hannover after starting the Bundesliga with five straight defeats.

Now the last-place side hopes it can build on the point.

“The luck will come back and the chances we had today will go in,” Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn said. “We’ll start winning the games again. But the precondition was this performance that we delivered today.”

Peter Stoeger’s side, which has scored only one goal all season, hasn’t netted in its last four league games. That highlighted the extent to which Cologne relied on French striker Anthony Modeste, sold in the offseason in a big-money move to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.

Modeste scored 25 Bundesliga goals for Cologne last season. His replacement, former Mainz striker Jhon Cordoba, is yet to score in six games.

“We all have to be satisfied with the draw,” said Hannover general manager Horst Heldt, whose fourth-place side remains one of three unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season.

Hannover coach Andre Breitenreiter remained unbeaten in 15 games across two divisions.