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)

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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.

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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

After fan protests Liverpool’s American owners apologize, halt ticket price hike

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Following thousands of Liverpool fans walking out in protest in the 77th minute of their 2-2 draw with Sunderland at Anfield last weekend, owners Fenway Sports Group have halted plans to increase ticket prices for next season.

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Owner John W. Henry, Chairman Tom Werner and President Mike Gordon have issued a detailed and apologetic open letter to fans of Liverpool, in which they “apologize for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016-17 season” and also confirm prices will be frozen for the next two campaigns.

Henry and FSG stated they felt “troubled by the perception we don’t care about our supporters, that we are greedy, and that we are attempting to extract personal profits at the club’s expense.”

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

They pointed to the fact that FSG has put up the $170 million needed to build the new Main Stand at Anfield which will be completed for the 2016-17 season, while they also admit they got parts of the ticket pricing wrong.

Admitting to their mistake has left a warm feeling with most Liverpool fans as their numerous protests over the fact that some tickets would cost £77 ($111) next season were heard loud and clear by the owners.

Here is a link to the letter from FSG in full, while below is a detailed outline of the new pricing policy put in place by the owners under the heading “Message Received.”

It certainly has been.


After an intense period of consultation with LFC management we have decided to make major revisions to our ticketing structure for 2016-17:

  • Removal of game categorisation – regardless of the opposition fans will pay the same price for matchday tickets.
  • The pricing of tickets will be readjusted to result in zero revenue growth from GA ticketing on a like-for-like basis.
  • Though individual ticket prices may move marginally from this season, we are freezing our 2016-17 GA ticket revenue at the 2015-16 level exclusive of newly-added seats in the new Main Stand.
  • The price of our highest general admission ticket will be frozen at the 2015-16 level – £59.
  • The price of our highest season ticket will be frozen at the 2015-16 level – £869. The lowest price reducing a further £25 from the 2015-16 level to £685, as well as all other tiers being frozen or reduced.
  • £9 GA seats will be offered for each and every Premier League match, an allocation of more than 10,000 tickets across the season.

We would hasten to add that the other initiatives announced last week in the 2016-17 plan will remain:

  • 17-21 young adult concession – 20,000 tickets across the Premier League season available at a 50 per cent reduction for young people.

  • 1,000 tickets to Premier League matches across the season will be given away free of charge to Liverpool schoolchildren based on merit, as recommended by their teachers.

Spanish playmaker Bojan signs new long-term contract at Stoke City

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Bojan Krkic will be a Potter for plenty of years to come.

On Thursday Stoke City announced that Bojan, 25, has signed a contract extension keeping him at the Britannia Stadium for another four-and-a-half years.

[ MORE: New-look Stoke to progress

Since arriving from Spanish giants Barcelona at the start of the 2014-15 season the playmaker has been a revelation in the Premier League.

Despite suffering a serious knee injury midway through his debut season in England, Bojan has battled back this campaign and has scored five times in 23 outings for the Potters.

Speaking to the club website, Bojan revealed his delight in signing the contract extension that will see him stay with Stoke until the summer of 2020.

“I am very happy and motivated. Stoke City gave me the opportunity to play in the most competitive league in the world, the Premier League, and I have only words of gratitude for their trust and for the way they have treated me since the first day I arrived to England,” Bojan said. “Mark Hughes convinced me to come to Stoke, he has helped me and showed his trust in me from the beginning, he followed closely the recovery process from my injury and there is no doubt I have signed an extension of my contract thanks to him.”

With Mark Hughes’ side battling for a top six finish, being knocked out agonizingly on penalty kicks by Liverpool in the League Cup semifinal and still in the FA Cup, it’s been another stellar season for Stoke as their progress continues.

Bojan’s presence has been central to attracting top names to join him at Stoke, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Mark Arnautovic all part of a new-look attack which in-turn has provided a much more attractive team to watch on the pitch.

Amid interest from plenty of other teams around the Premier League and Europe, Stoke have kept hold of their main creative hub and fans will be delighted to see the Barca academy product progress with the Potters over an extended period of time.

VIDEO: USWNT’s Press scores stunning goal after amazing spin move

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What a first touch.

The U.S. women’s national team beat Costa Rica 5-0 in the opening game of their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying campaign on Wednesday and USWNT forward Christen Press scored the pick of the bunch after she teed herself up with a superb first touch.

[ MORE: NBC to stream every Olympic qualifier

Click play on the video above to watch the World Cup winner control the ball with a deft outside-of-the-foot touch before spinning and striking home in a mesmerizing movement.

Majestic.

Press and the USWNT face Mexico on Saturday in their second Group A game (Watch live, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

On the up, off the pitch: Manchester United’s revenue continues to rise

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Manchester United have announced that revenue levels for the three months leading up to December 31 rose by 26.6 percent.

The Red Devils released the figures on Thursday which show revenue of $192.4 million, with commercial revenue up a massive 42.5 percent but matchday revenue was down 1.6 percent.

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The overall profit for the quarter was $26.7 million and over that period club debt fell by 6 percent but still stands at an eye-watering $463.6 million. That said, in a recent review of the finances of the top clubs on the planet Deloitte believes United will top the rich-list next season.

Despite Louis Van Gaal‘s future being questioned, United being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stage in December and being six points off the top four with just 13 games of the current Premier League season to go, the strength of their results off the pitch continue to show just how successful a business they’ve become.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told investors that: “Our solid results off the pitch help contribute to what remains our number one priority – success on the pitch.”

Woodward has also vowed to continue United’s “strong commitment to investing in our squad, youth academy.”

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

Van Gaal, 64, will need a strong finish to the season on the pitch to help United to success and in turn improve those financial figures for next season. Failure to finish in the PL’s top four and qualify for the UCL will substantially impact United’s financial results next season, and the pressure remains on him and his players to claw back the deficit.

With speculation mounting that Jose Mourinho could be appointed as United’s new boss there also seems to be a surplus of cash which Rob Harris from the Associated Press speculates could be used for a new manager…