Captain John Terry has been sublime all season, as Chelsea have the best defensive record in the PL.

Chelsea 1-0 Everton: Late goal seals crucial win to keep Blues top (video)

2 Comments

LONDON — Chelsea beat Everton 1-0 at a sunny Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as a stoppage time strike sealed a crucial three points for the Blues.

For large swathes of the game Chelsea looked sluggish as Everton played well on the counter-attack but succumbed to a late, late goal, as Frank Lampard’s free kick saw John Terry dive in just in front of U.S. international ‘keeper Tim Howard and the ball somehow found the back of the net.

Later the goal was credited as a Howard own-goal, as Chelsea rallied to seal a fantastic win deep into stoppage time.

Everton twice went close through Leon Osman in both halves and Chelsea’s other chances fell to Ramires, Samuel Eto’o and Branislav Ivanovic, but  Howard pulled off some superb stops as Everton frustrated Chelsea for much of the game.

Chelsea tried hard to break Everton down, and the clinching moment came right at the death to break Everton’s hearts.

With the win Chelsea remain top of the PL standings on 60 points and now sit four points ahead of Arsenal in second. As for Everton, they remain in sixth spot on 45 points.

Premier League Roundup: Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United grab wins

Early in the game Chelsea started off on the front foot, as Brazilian winger Willian cut in from the left but dragged his shot wide in the 3rd minute. But Everton had a great chance of their own in the 7th minute, as Leighton Baines whipped in a great cross that Chelsea skipper John Terry did well to clear.

The match was even for most of the first half, and Everton grew into things. Osman almost put the Toffees 1-0 up after 11 minutes, as the midfielder rifled in an effort on goal that Petr Cech did well to tip over. Everton kept pressing, as Kevin Mirallas went close but his shot was superbly blocked by Chelsea defender Gary Cahill.

(MORE: Mourinho lauds Chelsea’s defensive solidity, as title charge will come from the back)

Everton were certainly forcing the issue throughout the first half, as Chelsea’s midfield were losing the battle as Barry, Osman and McCarthy bossed the game. Chelsea tried to get going before the break but a tame effort from Cesar Azpilicueta and a Samuel Eto’o snap shot was all they had to show for their efforts.

At the break Chelsea made one change, as Oscar was replaced by Ramires, with the Blues eager to go at Everton in the second half.

The home side had plenty of half chances, as Terry’s header from a corner was cleared and Eto’o and Hazard started to come into the game more, but Everton contained Chelsea’s advances. Everton rallied after withholding that pressure and in the 58th minute Osman’s curling low effort was tipped wide by Cech as the Toffees came close to taking the lead.

Latest Premier League Standings

For the rest of the second half Chelsea pushed forward in search of the game-winner and brought on Fernando Torres and Andre Schurrle to try and bring their offense to life. But it was Everton who looked the more likely to grab a winner on the break.

However Chelsea’s late goal sealed the win deep into stoppage time, as Stamford Bridge erupted.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Lampard, Matic; Willian (Torres, 62), Oscar (Ramires, 45), Hazard, Eto’o (Schurrle, 69)

Goal: Own goal – Tim Howard (90)

Everton: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Barry, McCarthy, Pienaar (McGeady, 80), Osman (Barkley, 63), Mirallas (Deulofeu, 75) Naismith

Ranieri returns to Leicester to say final goodbyes

SWANSEA, WALES - FEBRUARY 12:  Claudio Ranieri manager of Leicester City looks on prior to the Premier League match between Swansea City and Leicester City at Liberty Stadium on February 12, 2017 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Claudio Ranieri was at Leicester City’s training ground one final time on Saturday morning as he said goodbye to members of his former staff and his former players.

Let that sink in.

[ MORE: Ranieri – “My dream died”

Ranieri, 65, was sacked by Leicester on Thursday, just nine months after delivering the Premier League title (the first top-flight title in their 132-year history) for the Foxes.

Leicester are currently languishing just two points off the bottom of the PL table, one point and one place above the relegation zone, and have lost five-straight PL games as well as failing to score in six-straight games.

[ MORE: Latest news on Ranieri

It has been widely reported that the players met with the owners to state they were unhappy with Ranieri following the 2-1 defeat in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg at Sevilla on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours he was fired by Leicester’s owners.

Speaking briefly to the media as he left the training ground on Saturday, Ranieri remained classy until the very end.

“I feel good now, because of what we achieved at Leicester,” Ranieri said. “I hope it happens again but it will be very difficult.”

He was then asked by reporters outside the training ground if it was emotional saying goodbye to his former players.

“No it was normal,” Ranieri said, before driving off.

Shortly after he departed the training ground Leicester’s Thai owners then arrived in a helicopter as they flew in for talks with the players and caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare.

His firing has sparked outrage across the soccer world as the beloved Italian manager who led the 5000-1 shots from relegation fodder to title glory last season was ruthlessly cast aside. Yes, Ranieri’s Leicester are in a relegation scrap, but surely he deserved a chance to turn it around in the final 13 games of the season?

Now, the Leicester job is a poisoned chalice with Roberto Mancini, Alan Pardew and even former boss Nigel Pearson being touted as Ranieri’s successor. Nobody seems to want to take the job.

With the players under heavy scrutiny for their role in Ranieri’s sacking they’ll be under more pressure to perform against Liverpool on Monday at the King Power Stadium (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Ranieri’s name is sure to be sung loud and proud by the Leicester fans as they make their feelings known to the players and the owners about what has happened over the past few days.

US advances in qualifying for Under-20 World Cup

LEIGH, GREATER MANCHESTER - OCTOBER 05: Tab Ramos, Head Coach of USA looks on prior to the Under 20s Four Nations Tournament match between Germany and the United States at Leigh Sports Village Stadium on October 5, 2016 in Leigh, Greater Manchester.  (Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The United States advanced to the second round of qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup as Sebastian Saucedo scored twice Friday in a 4-1 win over St. Kitts and Nevis at Tibas, Costa Rica.

Brooks Lennon and Jonathan Lewis also scored for the U.S., which plays Mexico on Monday and El Salvador on March 3 in the second round. The top two teams in each second-round group of the North and Central American and Caribbean region qualify for the Under-20 World Cup, to be played in South Korea from May 20 to June 11.

Lennon, loaned this month from Liverpool to Real Salt Lake, put the Americans ahead in the 16th minute with his fourth goal of the tournament, poking in Jeremy Ebobisse’s cross from 7 yards. Lewis, who is with New York City FC, doubled the lead four minutes later after Lennon’s corner kick to the top of the penalty area was volleyed toward goal by Eryk Williamson. Justen Glad missed an attempted shot from near the penalty spot, and the ball rolled to an unmarked Lewis.

Salt Lake’s Saucedo added goals in the 35th and 41st minute on a 25-yard shot and a 27-yard free kick.

Romario Martin beat U.S. goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski in the 77th after a poor American backpass. Jonathan Klinsmann, the son of former U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, started the first two games for the U.S.

The U.S. (2-1) and Group B winner Panama (3-0), which beat the Americans 1-0 last weekend, both advanced.

Bremen beats Wolfsburg to leave Bundesliga relegation zone

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Serge Gnabry of Germany reacts during the Men's First Round Football Group C match between Germany and Fiji at Mineirao Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.

Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.

It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.

Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.

Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.

Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.

Mancini reportedly not interested in Leicester City, De Boer says no

GENOA, ITALY - APRIL 20:  Head Coach of FC Internazionale Roberto Mancini looks during the Serie A match between Genoa CFC and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on April 20, 2016 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.

Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”

However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.

That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.

“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”

Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.