Chelsea 0-0 West Ham United: Blues slip up in the title race (video)

Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines at full time, as Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw by London rivals West Ham United on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.

For vast swathes of the game it was like watching an attack vs. defense training session, with the Hammers withstanding immense pressure in both halves as Chelsea looked to climb above Arsenal in the Premier League standings.

But it wasn’t to be.

Chelsea came closest in the first half when Oscar saw his curling effort tipped onto the bar and late on West Ham ‘keeper Adrian pulled off some stunning saves from Frank Lampard, John Terry and Samuel Eto’o as Chelsea missed a glorious chance to close the gap on those above them ahead of their clash with league leaders Manchester City next Monday.

To their credit West Ham defended tremendously and only created a few half chances throughout a rain-soaked 90 minutes.

Chelsea had 39 shots as West Ham blocked 24 of them, with one way traffic flooding toward the Hammers goal for almost the entire game. West Ham had just one shot the entire game, as Allardyce’s men grabbed a valuable point in their fight against relegation.

With the draw Chelsea are now three points off Man City in top spot as the Blues have 50 points, while West Ham move up to 18th and are now just two points from safety.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

It was an even start at a rain soaked Stamford Bridge, as West Ham looked at ease in the treacherous conditions.

But Oscar almost gave Chelsea the lead in the 8th minute, as the Brazilian’s curling effort was tipped onto the crossbar by West Ham’s ‘keeper Adrian.

Chelsea continued to probe in front of West Ham’s defense but the visitors were easily thwarting any advances as Mourinho didn’t look pleased with this sides display.

source: Getty Images
Samuel Eto’o and his Chelsea teammates came up against a stubborn West Ham defense.

In the 25th minute West Ham’s Diame had a nasty injury as he was sent tumbling into the stands following a slip on the sidelines. With the nasty fall, that knocked over some cups of tea and a hot dog, Diame injured his ankle and had to be replaced by Matt Jarvis. Samuel Eto’o went close to giving Chelsea the lead in the 45th minute, as the Cameroonian striker saw his snapshot palmed away by Adrian in the pouring rain in West London.

Try as they might Chelsea couldn’t break down West Ham before the break, as Allardyce’s side set their stall out to defend resolutely and were doing a marvelous job as half time came and the score remained 0-0.

After the break Chelsea kept flooding forward but the pitch conditions at Stamford Bridge were hampering their usual free-flowing style of play.

In the 59th minute West Ham had a glorious chance to score as Jarvis’ left wing cross was tipped away by Chelsea ‘keeper Petr Cech but only as far as Andy Carroll. However the big man had a rush of blood to the head and took a wild swipe at the ball as he completely missed his kick. A real let off for Chelsea.

That miss spurred Chelsea into life as Lampard came off the bench and smashed plenty of efforts in on goal that the Hammers blocked heroically on multiple occasions.

As the game went on West Ham dropped deeper and deeper towards their own goal and they kept inviting pressure from Chelsea as a sea of Blue shirts poured towards the Hammers goal. Eto’o thought he had scored when he cheekily tapped home following Adrian putting the ball down in the incorrect position for a West Ham free kick, but the Blues found Adrian in inspired form as he saved tremendously with his feet late on from Lampard.

Not such a special performance from the “Special One’s” team, as Chelsea now have some work to do to catch Man City at the summit.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta (Lampard, 63); Ramires, Mikel (Matic, 63); Willian, Oscar (Ba, 83), Hazard; Eto’o

West Ham: Adrian, Demel, Tomkins, Collins, O’Brien, Noble, Taylor, Nolan (Nocerino, 80), Downing, Diame (Jarvis, 30), Carroll (Cole, 64)

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

Pete Christopher/The Oregonian via AP
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

[ MORE: San Jose fire Kinnear after 2.5 seasons ]

Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

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

Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images
Leave a comment

They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

Photo by Mike Kireev/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.