Chelsea

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool: Blues earn important win with first-half comeback (Video)

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Martin Skrtel put the visitors up on just three minutes but Chelsea earned the points with goals from Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o.

An entertaining first half gave way to a steady second period but Chelsea’s defense held after the early leak.

It was a frantic opening to the match, with Liverpool capitalizing on an early opportunity. With Eto’o fouling Jordan Henderson early, Chelsea would concede on a set-piece yet again.

Philippe Coutinho sent in the long free kick, and Luis Suarez latched his head onto the back end before Skrtel cleaned it up with a tap-in for a shock lead on three minutes.

The goal didn’t phase the home side, as Chelsea worked for the equalizer forcing Glen Johnson to clear off the line after a Hazard shot from well out squirted through towards the goal mouth.

On 12 minutes Frank Lampard forced Simon Mignolet into action for the first time with a thunderbolt of a shot, causing the Liverpool keeper to dive to his left and get his fingertips on the ball to touch over.

They would get that equalizer in the 17th minute as they continued to ask questions of the Liverpool defense, and it would be the in-form Eden Hazard who would spring Stamford Bridge to life.

Oscar surged down the middle with the ball, and with Eto’o streaking to his right, Oscar looked to find him.  Instead, the pass was blocked by Mamadou Sakho and fell right to Hazard who curled past Mignolet for a level score.

Jose Mourinho has struggled all year to find fluidity up front at the striker position, but Eto’o rewarded him for his selection in the 34th minute.

source: AP
John Terry, on his 600th Chelsea appearance, kept Luis Suarez at bay and led a strong team defensive effort.

Again it was the Brazilian Oscar in the build-up, and as he scythed his way into the box, he cut the ball across the face and a sliding Eto’o finished by beating Sakho.

Chelsea were asked immediately to protect their lead, as Cech palmed away an effort from Joe Allen, giving the home side the advantage at halftime.

Having already brought off Branislav Ivanovic due to injury in the first half, Mourinho elected to substitute John Obi Mikel for Frank Lampard on the second half.

The first chance of the second period fell to Liverpool in the 51st, as a quick free kick went to Jordan Henderson, and his chip found Sakho in the penalty area, but the defender headed off the corner post. Chelsea then went right down and forced a fantastic save from Mignolet as Eto’o found space and rifled on goal.

Suarez got his first chance in the 58th minute on a beautiful cut-back cross from Henderson but the Uruguayan’s volley couldn’t avoid the waiting grasp of Petr Cech.

Liverpool found it hard to press through Chelsea’s defense, although Johnson popped off a bounding shot from distance in the 74th minute that Cech could only parry away.

Suarez protested mightily when Eto’o brought him down on the edge of the box, but it was off the ball and Howard Webb wasn’t biting.

The three points for Chelsea means the top three in the Premier League table all keep pace with wins, with Liverpool falling below Everton thanks to their second-straight 2-1 loss to a title contender.

GOALS:

Chelsea – Hazard 17′; Eto’o 34′
Liverpool – Skrtel 3′

LINEUPS:

Chelsea – Cech; Ivanovic (Cole 30′), Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; D Luiz, Lampard (Mikel 45′); Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Eto’o (Torres 87′).

Liverpool – Mignolet; Johnson (Aspas 84′), Agger, Skrtel, Sakho (Toure 90′); Lucas, Allen (Smith 60′), Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho; Suarez.

VIDEO: Should Marcos Rojo have been sent off for two-footed challenge?

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The box score only shows a yellow card for Marcos Rojo in the 16th minute, but the game tells a much different tale.

Early on in a physical battle, minutes after Gareth Barry seemed to have been let off without punishment for a hard foul on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rojo left his feet and flew in with both studs up on Idrissa Gueye. Referee Michael Oliver showed him only a caution, but replays showed that Rojo was airborne for a moment, and his crunching challenge landed directly on Gueye’s right leg.

[ MORE: Zlatan Ibrahimovic puts Manchester United 1-0 up on Everton ]

Looking at the moment of impact, it seems a miracle that Gueye was able to pop straight up from the challenge without so much as a scratch, as it could have been much, much worse had Rojo’s feet landed in a vulnerable spot on the Everton midfielder’s leg. Referees never like to condemn a team to such a disadvantage in the early stages of a game, but this seemed to be an incredibly dangerous moment.

Everton ended up with a 1-1 draw in the match after former Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini conceded a late penalty just two minutes after coming off the bench, but the Toffees likely would have benefitted even greater from playing 74 minutes with a man advantage.

Did Rojo deserve a red card? Or did Michael Oliver get the decision right? The guys in studio at halftime seemed to agree that Rojo should have been sent to the showers.

Everton 1-1 Manchester United: Fellaini concedes late penalty

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Jose Mourinho has complained all month that Manchester United is the unluckiest team in the Premier League, and he will have more fodder for his rant – deserved or not – as the Red Devils conceded a late penalty as they drop points at Everton in a 1-1 draw.

It appeared that Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s goal in the final minutes of the first half would be enough, but Everton was gifted a way back as a lumbering Marouane Fellaini conceded a penalty just two minutes after coming off the bench, and the game finished level despite a flurry of activity down the stretch.

The game had a chippy start, with a number of early thumping challenges. Referee Michael Oliver missed an easy decision, as Marcus Rojo found only yellow for his 16th minute lunge on Idrissa Gueye, clearly deserving red as he lept off both feet and went studs-in on the 50/50 ball, an incredibly dangerous challenge lucky not to leave the Everton man with a lasting impact.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

As tensions rose early, the game opened up. United seemed to have the best chances forward as they launched balls into the box, but struggled to find the final ball as the half-hour mark passed. The visitors came close to threading players through, such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan on 37 minutes, but Ramiro Fuenes Mori – in for the benched captain Phil Jagielka – made a vital sliding tackle to end the chance.

Everton, meanwhile, struggled to get out of its own half as United pressed hard throughout the first half. Finally, just three minutes before the break, Manchester United got the breakthrough. A long ball from Anthony Martial from United’s own half met a streaking Ibrahimovic guarded by Funes Mori. Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg inexplicably came off his line, leaving the goal gaping for Zlatan to karate-kick the ball in. The ball took forever to cross the line, bouncing four times and touching the crossbar and a post before it tricked in. Funes Mori gave it a run, but having given up on Zlatan’s touch, he was just too late to prevent the goal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Everton didn’t seem too incisive until suddenly their best chance of the game came in on 53 minutes. A one-two between Belgians Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku saw the former in on goal, but David De Gea produced a fabulous reflex save with his right leg to keep out the shot. United could have gone 2-0 up as Ander Herrera volleyed a bouncing ball on net on the hour mark, but he clattered the crossbar with his powerful shot.

The Toffees made the first change on 65 minutes with Tom Cleverley coming off to home fan jeers, replaced by Gerard Deulofeu. Neither team had a big moment as time ticked down, and Jose Mourinho looked to bring on fresh legs as he introduced Marouane Fellaini and Anthony Martial.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

As the clock wound down, it was a substitute to make an impact, but not in his own team’s favor. Fellaini, on the pitch just two minutes before he thumped into Gueye in the penalty area, and Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. Leighton Baines slotted home the penalty just past the outstretched gloves of de Gea, and Everton were level.

The home side, awoken by the opportunity for more, lurched forward in huge spurts as the game wound down. Despite the pressure, United held well down the stretch, even producing a counter-attack that nearly produced a winner on the other end if not for a vital interception by substitute Mason Holgate.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The game represents the third 1-1 draw in a row for Manchester United in league play despite good midweek form in the cup. They sit on 21 points in sixth position in the Premier League table, now 13 back of the top of the table. Meanwhile, the point for Everton at home is also somewhat disappointing, as they’ve won just one in their last eight and have 20 points in eighth.

VIDEO: Zlatan Ibrahimovic punishes Stekelenburg mistake with incredible looping goal

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Of course Zlatan would score like this. Of course he would.

With Maarten Stekelenburg deciding to come off his line and challenge Zlatan Ibrahimovic all the way out at the corner of the box, the super Swede poked the ball with his trademark karate kick. His touch sent the ball looping over Stekelenburg and into the net, but not without plenty of fun.

[ RECAP: Manchester United held by Everton on late penalty ]

The ball comes down right on the line, bounces straight up into the crossbar, and comes back down still without having crossed the line. As the ball pin-balled around, Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori realized the goal maybe could be kept out, and began to sprint his way back, but the ball slowly bounces over the line just before Funes Mori got there to clear it out. Unfortunately, replay showed the Toffees defender gave up on Zlatan’s touch; had he sprinted the whole way back, he likely would have reached the ball before it trickled over the line.

The goal is Zlatan’s eighth of the season, and put Manchester United 1-0 up just three minutes before the halftime break.

Scoring off four bounces and two posts is definitely daring to Zlatan.

VIDEO: Jurgen Klopp calls Bournemouth’s comeback a “deserved win”

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Jurgen Klopp clearly struggled to come to terms immediately with their collapse against Bournemouth, as Liverpool fell 4-3 on an injury time winner after leading 3-1.

The Reds were incisive throughtout the opnening hour, but once Ryan Fraser came off the bench the game changed, and Nathan Ake finally scored the winner four minutes into extra time.

“I think I have to say an absolutely deserved win for Bournemouth. Congratulations for this performance and for this big fight, what they delivered today. I think for a long part of the game we were the better side and we would have deserved to win, but in the decisive moment we gave the game away to Bournemouth. We opened them the door and they ran through with all they had, so that’s absolutely deserved because they stayed in the game and scored some wonderful goals.”

[ RECAP: Bournemouth completes stunning 3-goal comeback vs Liverpool ]

Klopp appeared to be collecting his thoughts as he spoke, often trailing off sentences to formulate new thoughts. What could be taken away, however, was that he believes, coming off a down year, that a rebuilt Liverpool squad is still learning how to complete full matches in a winning manner.

“When you’re on the way from…I would say, last year number nine in the league, a kind of average team…to a team which really wants to achieve something…when you have a start like we had, sometimes life and the impressions you can collect leads you in this direction to think ‘oh we are really good’ and we are good, but at the end only when we are 100% [will we be good].”

The German’s body language appeared to show he wasn’t too concerned about the loss, but didn’t hold back about his assessment of the team’s performance.

“First half I said – even when we were in the lead – I said that how we tried to play football was not good, it was kind of static. Then we concede a goal, then we scored a goal, 3-1 now it’s decided if you want. Obviously we gave it again away because we didn’t play football anymore so…and that’s our fault, and credit is to Bournemouth.”

Klopp finished with a chuckle, saying “if we learn from it it’s ok, and we’ll learn from it, but we were really bad.”