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Americans Abroad Review: Guzan blanks Chelsea, Cameron steady again

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The Yanks went unbeaten in the Premier League, while there was an assist in the Bundesliga, an own goal in the Championship and plenty of bench time for Americans in Europe this weekend.

Brad Guzan is going to be extra popular this week in Birmingham after he kept a clean sheet in Aston Villa’s 1-0 upset of Chelsea at Villa Park. Guzan was saved from a not-so-good goal that hit him twice on the way in when it was adjudged that Nemanja Matic handled the ball before shooting.

Geoff Cameron made it 22-straight Premier League matches playing all 90 minutes for Stoke City as the Potters made it three in a row with points in a 3-1 win over West Ham. Stoke’s 34 points give them a lot of room for exhalation with a 9-point cushion above No. 18 Sunderland.

There were only two saves required of Tim Howard as Everton held the play against Cardiff City en route to a 2-1 win. With Spurs stumbling, the Toffees are in the driver’s seat for fifth place in the PL. Everton is two points back of No. 5 Tottenham, but have played two less matches.

Jozy Altidore subbed on at half for Sunderland, as an effective Steven Fletcher was forced to leave with an injury. The Black Cats controlled the ball in the second half and Altidore was a part of that, but he — and they — couldn’t finish one off as Sunderland stayed in the drop zone with a 0-0 draw (though admittedly their path out is rather favorable for a relegation-scrapping squad).

There was plenty of American excitement down a division in the Championship, where all matches were played on Saturday. All three Yanks featuring in Sheffield Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Birmingham Cityplayed 90 minutes, with Oguchi Onyewu coming out on the winning end. Jonathan Spector played the entire match for Birmingham, while Will Packwood had an own goal for the visitors.

Yeovil Town fell to QPR 3-0 and Duane Holmes was pulled off after 29 minutes due to injury and a “lack of impact.” Tim Ream watched as Bolton fell 2-0 to Brighton despite his full game’s work, while Danny Williams was left off the team sheet entirely for Reading’s 0-0 draw with Derby County. Reading remains a point out of the playoffs, while Yeovil Town is three points away from safety and Bolton is a comfortable 11 points ahead of the drop.

Nearly a half-dozen Americans played in the Liga MX match between Cruz Azul and Tijuana, won by the home team 2-1. Herculez Gomez subbed off, while Paul Arriola picked up a yellow card and an assist in the loss. Edgar Castillo played the entire loss, while Alejandro Guido started fed Arriola before the assist. points out that 17-year-old Fernando Arce Jr. was born in the States, and he made his debut for Tijuana.

Jose Torres‘ Tigres club beat the Puebla side of DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco by a 1-0 score.

Juan Agudelo has now gone five matches without a shot on goal after his hot start at FC Utrecht, though by some accounts he was steady in playing the duration of a 2-2 draw with lower-table NEC. Also in the Netherlands, Aron Johannsson subbed off after 60 minutes in AZ Alkmaar’s 2-1 loss at FC Twente. Johannsson had played 90 minutes just three days prior with a goal in the Europa League win over Anzhi.

Anderlecht unloaded a 4-0 decision on KV Oostende, as Sacha Kljestan played the whole match for the winners, while former DC United player Andy Najar (Honduras) scored. Terrence Boyd went 90 in SK Rapid Wien’s 1-0 win over SV Josko Ried. Vienna is now a point back of second place but 18 back of first place FC Red Bull Salzburg.

Ale Bedoya found himself on the bench for all of Nantes’ impressive 0-0 away draw to Lille, while Jermaine Jones didn’t play for Besiktas in its disappointing 2-2 draw against Caykur Rizespor.

Fabian Johnson picked up an assist for Hoffenheim in a 4-2 loss to Mainz, though his assist put them in front 2-1. John Anthony Brooks didn’t play as Hertha Berlin were embarrassed 3-0 at home by Hannover 96.

How can Chelsea qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

HAIFA, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 24: Willian of Chelsea celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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With one match left in UEFA Champions League group play, Chelsea control their own destiny.

After beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv 4-0, the Blues sit tied with FC Porto on ten points at the top of Group G.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

However, with Dynamo Kyiv earning a big win over Porto on Tuesday, Chelsea must wait until the final matchday to qualify for the knockout round, as there is a possibility of a three-way tie for the top spot in Group G.

With Chelsea hosting Porto on December 9, here are the scenarios for Jose Mourinho’s men to assure advancement.

  • A win over Porto will clinch Chelsea the top spot and a place in the last 16.
  • A draw against Porto will see Chelsea advance.
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo win: Chelsea win group, Dynamo finish second
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo draw or loss: Porto win group, Chelsea finish second
  • A loss to Porto and a Dynamo Kyiv draw/loss to Maccabi Tel-Aviv will see Chelsea finish second in the group and advance to the last 16.
  • The Blues have secured at least a berth in the Europa League, regardless of the result in their final match.

Simply put, get a point at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea advance.

Mourinho says bad pitch in Tel-Aviv injured Ramires, John Terry

during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.
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Chelsea left Israel with a 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, but also left with some injuries.

Ramires was hurt in training the day before the match, and John Terry was forced off in the second half.

[ RECAP: Tel-Aviv 0-4 Chelsea ]

Jose Mourinho talked about the condition of the pitch before the match, and was even more upset after it as two of his players are now hurt, although the extent of those injuries is not yet known.

Terry was stretchered off and looked to be in quite a bit of pain after going up for a challenge, as his ankle twisted awkwardly when he landed.

The pitch in Tel-Aviv was in poor condition, as large chunks of turf could be seen flying up when players planted or went in for tackles. Mourinho himself was seen on the field trying to fill in divots before the match.

While Mourinho said he didn’t want to jump to conclusions before getting test results, he believes John Terry will be unable to play this weekend, a huge Premier League match away at Tottenham.

[ MORE: Arsenal ready to “play for our lives” in match vs. Olympiacos ]

Other than his issues with the conditions, Mourinho was relatively happy with the team’s play and believes they are getting some confidence back, now with consecutive wins after beating Norwich City over the weekend.

UCL roundup: Barcelona, Bayern clinch spots in the knockout round

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24:  Gerard Pique (C) of Barcelona celebrates scoring his teams fourth goal with Luis Suarez (L) and Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between FC Barcelona and AS Roma at Camp Nou on November 24, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Two more teams booked spots in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, as perennial powerhouses Barcelona and Bayern Munich earned big wins to advance out of their groups.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Barcelona 6-1 Roma

Barcelona fared well without Lionel Messi, and now with him back in the lineup, they look unbeatable. The Catalans advance to the last 16 with an absolutely dominating performance, thrashing Roma 6-1. Messi and Luis Suarez scored two goals each, with Gerard Pique and Adriano adding the others. Edin Dzeko would ruin the clean sheet with a goal for Roma in stoppage time, but it was another Barcelona masterclass at Camp Nou.

Bayern Munich 4-0 Olympiacos

Continuing with the trend of dominating performances, Bayern Munich eased past Olympiacos 4-0 to clinch a spot in the knockout round. Bayern scored early and often, going three goals ahead in the opening 20 minutes through Douglas Costa, Robert Lewanowski and Thomas Muller. Despite going down to ten-men in the second half after Holger Badstuber was sent off, Bayern continued to dominate as the young Kingsley Coman scored the fourth and final goal.

Arsenal 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Arsenal is clinging on to hope of advancing out of Group F with a 3-0 win at home over Dinamo Zagreb. Mesut Ozil opened the scoring and Alexis Sanchez added two more as the Gunners now head into the final matchday in need of a win over Olympiacos.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 0-4 Chelsea

Chelsea got a big win away from home in Group G, beating a ten-man Maccabi side 4-0. Willian scored another free kick for the Blues, as the Brazilian has now scored from a set piece in four of Chelsea’s five Champions League matches. Tied with Porto atop the group, Chelsea needs just one point from their final match to advance.

Elsewhere in the Champions League

Group E

BATE Borisov 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Group G

Porto 0-2 Dynamo Kyiv

Group H

Zenit St. Petersburg 2-0 Valencia (Zenit clinch top spot)
Lyon 1-2 Gent (Lyon eliminated)

Arsenal ready to “play for our lives” vs. Olympiakos to remain in UCL

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Following their 3-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday, Arsenal know what they must do in two weeks time at Olympiakos.

Win by two goals or more — or by a margin of one if they score three goals — and they’re in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the 16th straight.

[ MORE: How can Arsenal make last 16? ]

Anything less means Arsene Wenger‘s side will crash out of the UCL at the group stage and will be competing in the last 32 of the Europa League when European play restarts in 2016.

Hope remains. Just.

It’s a simple equation but don’t underestimate how hard the Gunners have battled to put themselves in this situation. After losing both of their opening Group F games at Zagreb and then at home against Olympiakos, they looked dead and buried.

Now, they have a chance to advance.

“The team knew it was a very important day today – everyone had to turn up and they did. Now we’re going to play for our lives [against Olympiakos],” Arsenal right back Hector Bellerin said. “This was an important test for us, to be alive in the Champions League. The team responded very well. The team is showing we have got a lot of quality, a lot of creativity. When we have all our players back, we’re going to be up there.”

Wenger’s men have been in these kind of situations in the UCL before, but usually in the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: Chelsea hammer Tel Aviv, face tricky final day ]

In each of the past five seasons they’ve fallen at the last 16 hurdle but often that exit has come after after putting themselves in perilous situations from dreadful displays in the first legs and then nearly clawing things back in the second legs. Last season they lost to AS Monaco 3-1 at home in the first leg and won 2-0 away, going out on away goals. The season before that they lost 2-0 at home to Bayern Munich in the first leg but drew 1-1 away from home in the second leg and battled hard in Bavaria.

Simply put, Wenger’s men have been in this kind of “do or die” situation many times in the UCL over the past few seasons. It’s all about one game in Greece in two weeks. Wenger knows it as he spoke following their win over Zagreb which set up the tantalizing encounter in Athens on Dec. 9.

“It promises to be a very interesting game [against Olympiakos], but at least we have a chance,” Wenger said. “I think Mesut Ozil had an outstanding first half, he has got the taste for scoring now. I have never seen Ozil in the box so many times as in the last five or six games. The Europa League is not the target – let us give everything to remain in the Champions League.”