Manchester City advance, Chelsea bounced in League Cup

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Both Manchester City and Chelsea selected strong teams for today’s League Cup quarterfinals, something that isn’t always a given in this competition, but whereas one set of Blues played to their still overwhelming talent, another fell, crashing out of England’s second cup competition. Defeated 2-1 in extra time, Chelsea were upset at the Stadium of Light by Sunderland, while Manchester City built a three-goal lead before the hour en route to a 3-1 win over second division Leicester City.

The winners move on to the competition’s semifinals, where they’ll be drawn against the survivors of Wednesday’s games: Stoke City versus Manchester City; and Tottenham Hotspur versus West Ham United.

The early exit will be an unaccustomed one for José Mourinho, whose first spell at Chelsea saw his team claim two League Cups, but after an 118th minute goal from Sunderland’s Sung-Yong Ki, the Premier League’s second place side is out, bounced from the competition 2-1 by the first division’s cellar dwellers.

The visiting Blues went up one minute into the second half half through an own goal from Lee Cattermole and were minutes away from advancing to the semifinals before an 88th minute equalizer from former Chelsea prospect Fabio Borini. In extra time, Ki struck two minutes before penalty kicks, moving Guy Poyet’s side one step closer to an unlikely piece of silverware.

For Mourinho, however, the game rang a familiar tune, one in which his seemingly superior side couldn’t find success in front of either goal.

“One team played, one team produced but one team missed chances,” Mourinho said, as relayed by the club’s Twitter account. “Every game we lose is the same story.”

“Maybe the solution is to concede less goals, to be more defensive,” the Chelsea boss mused, speaking to suggestions the team’s defense needs to be protected, “but this is not what I want.”

“In this moment we need to score goals – it is the only thing we need. If we score, we are there.”

The underdogs weren’t as fortunate in the East Midlands, where Manchester City provided a performance you’d expect when one of the Premier League’s most talented teams goes to a  second division club. Aleksandar Kolarov scored after seven minutes and Edin Dzeko added two goals on either side of half time, and while Lloyd Dyer pulled one back for the Foxes in the 77th, the Championship side were bounced from the competition, 3-1.

“It was a very professional win, because it is not easy in one week to play Bayern Munich, Arsenal and then finish here playing in the Capital One Cup away,” Manuel Pellegrini said, as distributed by Manchester City’s website.

“It is important to improve in the way we are playing,” Pellegrini explained, talking about an XI that featured eight changes from the team that beat Arsenal on Saturday. “It doesn’t matter if we are playing in Capital One, if we are playing in the Premier League or Champions League. We try to play in the same way, changing names, but trying to continue with one style.

“It’s also important that all the players of the squad know that they are important. Maybe one is playing more than the other, but we have so many games to play during the year.”

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

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

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

AP Photo/Armando Franca
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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia