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Chelsea cruise past Galatasaray, as Blues make UEFA Champions League quarterfinals with 2-0 win (3-1, Agg.)

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Chelsea eased through to the final eight of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, after a professional 2-0 win over Turkish giants Galatasaray at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were in cruise control early on, as Samuel Eto’o finished off a flowing move in typically clinical fashion to set Chelsea on their way. Wave after wave of relentless counter-attacks reigned down on Galatasaray’s goal as the away team never got going, and just before half time Gary Cahill slammed home a close range effort to put the tie beyond doubt and end Didier Drogba’s hopes of causing havoc on his return.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea head into the quarterfinals for the first time since they won the trophy in 2011-12, and the eighth time in the last 11 seasons, as the Premier League leaders will now balance a PL title charge with their quest to bring European success to Stamford Bridge.

(MORE: Three reasons why Chelsea can win the UEFA Champions League)

In the third minute Chelsea were ahead, as Eto’o latched onto a delicate pass on the right from Oscar, took one touch to steady himself and slotted the ball home to send Stamford Bridge barmy with the Blues first attack of the game. The strike was Eto’o’s 30th goal in the Champions League, as the Cameroon striker’s low shot beat the despairing dive of Muslera to give Chelsea a perfect start.

Galatasaray had a good spell after the setback but failed to carve out any clear cut chances, as Chelsea continued to soak up the pressure and pounce on the break. That happened in the 21st minute, as Frank Lampard was found on the edge of the box after another flowing move down the left, but the English midfielder toe poked his effort over the bar.

source: AP
Eto’o’s opener set Chelsea on their way, as the Premier League leaders are in the last eight.

In the 32nd minute John Terry came close to giving the Blues a 2-0 lead, as the center back thumped a left footed volley just over the bar from Frank Lampard’s superb in swinging free kick. Chelsea continued to push for a second, as Galatasaray struggled to get to grips with the home side’s rapid counter-attacking style. Oscar and Hazard combined on the left flank to set up Eto’o in the box, who dinked the ball towards Willian but the Brazilian hit a tame shot which Muslera gathered easily.


Relentless pressure from Chelsea paid off just before the break, as Cahill slammed home an effort from close range to give the home side a dominant 2-0 lead. Terry attacked a corner kick and his powerful header was beaten out by Muslera but Cahill was already following in to finish off and send Cheslea into the interval with one foot already in the Champions League quarterfinals.

After the break Chelsea kept surging forward as Oscar had a shot blocked, then Willian drilled an effort straight at Muslera after yet another breathtaking counter-attack caught Galatasaray flagging. The away side just couldn’t get going, despite their incredible supporters creating a huge din inside Stamford Bridge. In the 65th minute Lampard went close with a header on target following yet another superb move down the left. Then Hazard forced a good save from Muslera, as the Belgian bent in a delicious effort from the edge of the box that was arrowing towards the top corner before the big Uruguayan ‘keeper tipped it wide.

The rest of the game played out with Galatasaray trying to break down a stubborn Blues defense, but Mourinho’s men were in no mood to give anything away as they sealed their spot in the quarterfinals at a canter.


Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Lampard; Willian (Kalas, 93′), Oscar (Oscar, 82′), Hazard; Eto’o (Torres, 85′)

Goals: Eto’o (3′), Cahill (42′)

Galatasaray: Muslera, Eboue (Hajrovic, 77′), Telles, Kurtulus (Balta, 67′), Chedjou, Kaya, Yilmaz (Bulut, 54′), Melo, Inan, Sneijder, Drogba

Klinsmann side-steps blame, calls USA-Mexico one of world’s best rivalries

Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT
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The rivalry between the national soccer teams of the United States and Mexico is one of the fiercest and most unique of its kind in the world of sports. Anyone who’s participated in, or simply attended, a competitive fixture between the two sides will immediately attest to that.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Speaking to ahead of Saturday’s clash against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, it’s quite interesting to hear current USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann describe the rivalry from his point of view, both before and after having coached in it on a number of occasions.

Before we get to that, though, Klinsmann had a bit more blame side step regarding his side’s fourth-place finish at the 2015 Gold Cup, the USMNT’s worst-ever showing at the tournament for CONCACAF nations.

Q: What did you learn from this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where you lost to Jamaica in the semi-finals?

A: There were so many things that happened in the tournament and decisions that were made that affected the outcome. It was difficult for the players to know what to expect. For Mexico and for Panama it was the same thing. The lesson is that you just have to roll with it and try to control the things you can.

What’s the no. 1 thing players can’t control? Who gets called into the team/plays in the games.

What was the no. 1 problem for the USMNT at this summer’s Gold Cup? Who got called up/played game after game despite performing very poorly. Ultimately, it’s what undid them in the semifinals and third-place game.

Just once — once — would it hurt Klinsmann to answer a question with an “I,” or “me,” or even “we?” The question was “What did you learn,” yet the answer always come back to “the players,” or “they,” or “them.” At this point, Klinsmann either believes he’s infallible, or he’s simply trying to see how many ridiculous statements he can get away with.

Q: You’ve been in the top US job for almost five years now and you’ve met Mexico many times. How would you define the rivalry between these countries on the pitch? Can you compare it with others you’ve experienced?

A: The USA-Mexico rivalry is one of the greats in world football. For me, it compares to Germany-Holland in terms of the intensity and emotion it brings out in the fans. As USA coach, it was a learning curve to understand how much this rivalry means to our fans. We had won some games against big nations, but the reaction from everyone to when we went down to [Estadio] Azteca and beat Mexico there for the first time was just amazing.

Q: What makes the rivalry unique?

A: What is unique is that there are so many Mexican-Americans living in the United States, so the rivalry crosses borders. We have seen many times in these last years that younger Mexican-Americans will wear a Mexico jersey to our game, and when we start doing well they take it off and have a U.S. jersey underneath! More and more they’re supporting us, and we hope to continue to win them over.

Klinsmann gets this one absolutely right. With the two countries situated right next to each other, the aforementioned immigration of so many Mexican soccer fans into the U.S., and the classic battles between the two sides over the years, USA-Mexico not only feels amazing to get one over on your rivals, but perhaps more than anything it’s avoiding that feeling of defeat, of embarrassment, of being taunted and haunted for days, weeks, months and sometimes years, that makes beating the old foe so satisfying.

Ozil, Coquelin: Arsenal can win the title this season

Mesut Ozil, Arsenal FC
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I suppose, in theory, that any Premier League club that fields a team could win the league title for a given season, so the above headline could have been written in reference to any one of 20 teams a few short weeks ago.

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Fast forward eight rounds of fixtures to the present day, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer with every passing week that it’s a three-horse race — Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, who currently sit 1-2-3 atop the league — for the 2015-16 Premier League title.

So — and stick with me for just a second — why not Arsenal? [The crowd gasps loudly] Arsenal midfielders Mesut Ozil and Francis Coquelin believe the Gunners have what it takes to win the title this year, so why doesn’t anyone else?

Ozil and Coquelin, on Arsenal’s progression to title contenders — quotes from the Guardian:

Ozil: “We have a great team with many world-class players. Our goal is to win the Premier League and I think that this season it’s possible to do it, if we all stay healthy. But the season is long.”

Ozil: “I didn’t expect [Bayern Munich] to beat Dortmund 5-1. Their recent results show they are simply in great shape … But our victory against Manchester United was a sign: when we play and want it 100 percent, then we can beat Bayern.

“We are playing at home. Although we have respect for them, we don’t have any fear. We know how to score goals against Bayern and we can be successful. It will be difficult – but we have the potential to beat any team.”

Coquelin: “We proved a lot of people wrong. Inside the dressing room we knew we could do good things this season. We knew we could be contenders, but obviously we have to be consistent.

“We are getting stronger against the big teams. We beat City last season, now United. It’s all about consistency. The league is getting tougher, so we need to be getting results every week … We knew we had to put it right after Olympiakos and that’s what we’ve done.”

Coquelin is absolutely right — no one expected Arsenal to throttle Man United the way they did on Sunday. The Gunners acquitted themselves quite well, though it should be mentioned that Louis Van Gaal set up United to fail miserably with the immobile midfield duo of Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger against a quick, dynamic Arsenal unit.

[ MORE: “Super computer” predicts final Premier League standings ]

That’s not meant to take anything away from Arsenal’s scintillating performance, because they did exactly what they should be doing against a poorly planned side — that’s not always been the case for Arsenal against top teams. The Gunners will play hosts to Man City on Dec. 19; perhaps we’ll better be able to dub them contenders or pretenders based their showing that day.