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.

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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.

LINEUPS

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

UEFA says Europa League trophy not damaged after being stolen

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA says the Europa League trophy was not damaged after being stolen in Mexico.

The silverware was at a promotional event in the central city of Leon when it was reported by authorities to have been taken from a vehicle.

The theft came ahead of the semifinals of Europe’s second-tier club competition.

UEFA says the “Europa League trophy was in Mexico for a partner event and got briefly stolen. It was quickly recovered and has suffered no damages.”

In the semifinal first legs next week, Arsenal plays Atletico Madrid and Marseille takes on Salzburg.

Serie A: Roma prep for Liverpool by beating SPAL; Benevento win at Milan

Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP
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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Premier League preview ]

SPAL 2013 0-3 Roma

A few hours after a reserves-heavy Liverpool side played last-place West Bromwich Albion to a 2-2 draw in the Premier League, Roma, the Reds’ UEFA Champions League semifinal foes beginning Tuesday, hammered 17th-place SPAL on the back of goals scored by Radja Nainggolan and Patrik Schick.

Roma shocked the world — and Barcelona — to reach the semifinals, but still have a battle on their hands to finish inside Serie A’s top-four and qualify for next season’s Champions League. Following Saturday’s victory, Eusebio Di Francesco’s side is three and four points clear of fourth- and fifth-place Lazio and Inter Milan, respectively, though both of the chasing sides play on Sunday.

AC Milan 0-1 Benevento

The 2017-18 season has treated AC Milan, who spent massively last summer, far worse than Roma. Following Sunday’s home defeat to first-year top-flight (and last-place) side Benevento, Gennaro Gattuso’s side sits sixth (final automatic Europa League place) and lead seventh-place Atalanta, who play on Sunday, by just two points.

Pietro Iemmello scored the game’s only goal in the 29th minute.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 1-0 Fiorentina

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Cagliari vs. Bologna — 6:30 a.m. ET
Lazio vs. Sampdoria — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Inter Milan — 9 a.m. ET
Atalanta vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese vs. Crotone — 9 a.m. ET
Juventus vs. Napoli — 2:45 p.m. ET

Barcelona cruise past Sevilla, lift historic 4th straight Copa del Rey

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
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MADRID (AP) Barcelona became the first team in 85 years to win four straight Copa del Rey titles after blowing away Sevilla 5-0 in the final on Saturday.

Luis Suarez scored twice, and Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Philippe Coutinho also made the scoresheet for Barcelona’s record-extending 30th Copa triumph, and sixth in the last decade.

Sevilla was trying to win a sixth Copa and save a season which will end without any trophies and maybe not even a place in the Europa League next season.

The final took place at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in the capital amid the ongoing political turmoil involving Catalonia’s bid for independence.

There were jeers by part of the Barcelona crowd when the national anthem was played, but the boos were largely subdued by the reaction of the numerous Sevilla fans in the crowd. Spain’s King Felipe VI smiled and saluted the fans after the anthem.

No other team had won four Copa titles in a row since Athletic Bilbao from 1930-33. The only other team to do it was Real Madrid from 1905-08.

Barcelona lost a chance to win the treble when it was eliminated by Roma in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, but it is three points away from winning the Spanish league.

PL Sunday preview: Man City’s title trot; Wenger’s farewell tour

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Manchester City will play as the confirmed champions of the Premier League, though they won’t celebrate as such for a couple more weeks, on Sunday. Meanwhile, the only manager Arsenal have known for more than two decades begins saying goodbye

[ MORE: Man United come back to beat Spurs, reach FA Cup final ]

Arsenal vs. West Ham United — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

So begins the Arsene Wenger farewell tour, and with a London derby at that. Wenger announced on Friday that he’ll leave Arsenal at the end of the current season, which has little to no chance of seeing the Gunners finish in the PL’s top-five, let alone the top-four. Sunday’s clash with West Ham will be the first of Wenger’s three remaining games at the Emirates Stadium, including the Europa League semifinal against Atletico Madrid on Thursday. Unfortunately for Wenger, three of his final five PL games (four of seven in all competitions) will be played away from home, where his side has lost five straight in league play.

Speaking of lost and wayward seasons, 14th-place West Ham are almost mathematically clear of relegation (there’s currently three places and six points between themselves and 18th-place Southampton). It’s hardly the future they imagined upon moving to the London Stadium at the start of last season. Andy Carroll scored the late equalizer in the Hammers’ 1-1 draw with Stoke City on Monday, which rescued perhaps a perfectly timed point with all five remaining games to be played against sides currently in the top-nine (Arsenal, Man City, Leicester, Man United and Everton).

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (knee), Santi Cazorla (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Jack Wilshere (ankle) | West Ham — OUT: James Collins (hamstring), Sam Byram (ankle), Winston Reid (knee), Michail Antonio (hamstring), Pedro Obiang (knee)


Stoke City vs. Burnley — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Here’s what’s at stake at the bet365 Stadium on Sunday:

Stoke sit two places and five points adrift of safety from relegation, with four games left to play (17th-place Swansea City have a game in hand, to boot). After 10 seasons in the PL, it’s looking more and more likely that Paul Lambert (with a tip of the cap to Mark Hughes earlier in the season) will take the Potters back to the Championship for the first time since they won promotion in 2008.

Burnley trail Arsenal by just two points (though the Clarets have played one more game than the Gunners) in the race for sixth place. A sixth-place finish would be the club’s highest top-flight finish since 1966 (3rd).

INJURIES: Stoke — QUESTIONABLE: Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (groin) | Burnley — OUT: Steven Defour (knee), Scott Arfield (calf), Robbie Brady (knee), Jonathan Walters (fitness); QUESTIONABLE: Ben Mee (knock), Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (hamstring)


Manchester City vs. Swansea City — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

While Man City won’t lift the PL trophy until their May 6 clash with Huddersfield Town, Sunday’s visit from Swansea will be Pep Guardiola‘s side’s first outing since clinching the title courtesy of Man United’s defeat to West Bromwich Albion last weekend. Guardiola’s focus has turned to breaking the all-time PL points record (95 — they currently have 87 with five games still to play).

“In the past, I won the league at Bayern and at Barca with five, six or seven games (left) but the next games were not good,” he said this week. “We have to think about how many points we can get, it can be a good argument. What we need to do is already done, the points record is not the most important thing, but maybe it can help us to be focused. It would be uncomfortable to finish in a bad way, there always has to be a target and maybe scoring the most goals and winning the most points will be a good focus.”

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Sergio Aguero (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee); QUESTIONABLE: John Stones (thigh) | Swansea — OUT: Wilfried Bony (knee), Leroy Fer (achilles), Renato Sanches (hamstring)