Lavezzi gave PSG an early lead, as Les Parisiens have a one-goal advantage to take to London with them.

Chelsea on brink of Champions League elimination; are PSG the real deal?

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As Javier Pastore danced past two Chelsea players then slammed into the back of the net in stoppage time, Jose Mourinho’s men knew they were in big trouble.

Throwing their hands onto their heads and looking to the sky in despair, you sensed overturning a two goal deficit against this PSG side is something the Blues aren’t looking forward to.

With virtually the last kick of the game PSG have given themselves a huge chance of advancing to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League for just the second-time in club history, with a 3-1 win coming in deserved fashion at a raucous Parc des Princes.

Chelsea now face a huge uphill battle to turn the tie around in the second leg at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday, as that late hammer blow from Pastore may have taken the tie beyond their reach.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the damaging defeat, Jose Mourinho lambasted his sides defending but insisted the Blues can still make the last four.

“The third goal was ridiculous, you and Gary [Cahill] say sloppy, I say ridiculous,” Mourinho said. “But we played against a great side full of great players, especially the attackers. It’s a difficult job now but not impossible, nothing is impossible in football. But they have players who out of nothing can score goals, we are not a team full of talent who can score lots of goals but you never know. We have to try and go with everything and let’s try.”

(MORE: Paris Saint-Germain crush Chelsea in absorbing Champions League clash)

Mourinho then pointed to the fact that he replaced lone forward Andre Schurrle — the German winger was playing in a false nine role — with Fernando Torres when the game was tied at 1-1 to try and give his team more attacking intent. In hindsight, the ‘Special One’ maybe should have stuck with Schurrle instead of chucking on his prized Spanish striker.

However that is not where this game was won and lost.

Chelsea, to their credit, dug deep to get themselves back in the match after Ezequiel Lavezzi’s stunning opener after four minutes, but Mourinho’s men looked uncharacteristically shaky at the back. What Mourinho alluded to was the plethora of star names PSG have available and even if Zlatan Ibrahimovic does miss next week’s second leg through injury, the reigning French champions still have many attacking delights to inflict pain on Chelsea.

(MORE: Zlatan Ibrahimovic injures hamstring, huge blow for PSG)

Zlatan struggled to impact the game before he limped off in the 67th minute, but Lavezzi scored the first and created the second with his free kick forcing David Luiz to put the ball in his own net. Then Pastore’s brilliance late on showed he’s full of class, as are Edinson Cavani, Lucas Moura and the entire stable of talented attackers PSG possess. That’s what billions of dollars and oil-rich Qatari owners get you, and that is why this PSG are looking more and more likely to go deep in this season’s UCL, and many more to come.

Defensively they looked solid, and in midfield they looked most impressive with Marco Verratti buzzing around and the lively Blaise Matuidi causing all kinds of problems. Laurent Blanc has assembled a hard-working team at PSG, and has molded superstars together to create a side capable of lifting the UCL crown in Lisbon on May 24.

Up until now, we didn’t know how good this Paris Saint-Germain were. After their clinical shellacking of Chelsea, Les Parisiens showed everyone they’re genuine contenders for the Champions League trophy.

Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi has won every individual award imaginable, but now he can add another trophy to his shelf.

For the first time in his career, Messi was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for January.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings, Vol. VIII ]

It’s hard to believe, but somehow the Barcelona superstar had never won this honor before. Despite winning a record five Ballon D’or trophies as the best player in the world, this trophy had eluded Messi since its inception in 2013.

Messi scored six goals in six January matches as Barcelona sit atop the La Liga table, currently holding a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Despite their dominance in La Liga, this is only the second time a Barcelona player has won this monthly award, as Neymar took home the honor in November of 2015.

USWNT-Mexico preview: Energized Yanks look to keep rolling toward Rio

FRISCO, TX - FEBRUARY 10:  Team USA poses for a photo before play against Costa Rica during 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying at Toyota Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The United States women’s national team looks to keep rolling through CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying with a match with Mexico on Saturday.

Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, is again the scene after the Yanks battered Costa Rica 5-0 on Wednesday.

[ MUST WATCH: Christen Press’ dazzling first touch, spin, goal ]

A win over Mexico would move the USWNT into the all-important semifinal, where a win would gain them entry into this Summer’s Olympic Games.

Mexico staged a blowout of its own on Wednesday, cruising past Puerto Rico 6-0 thanks in large part to a hat trick from Maribel Dominguez.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

Mexico has only beaten the USWNT twice in history, and only the 2010 Gold Cup semifinal is considered official.

In recent history, the USWNT beat up Mexico 5-1 last year, and thrice in 2014 by a combined score of 15-0. Expect very little to change with an energized, impressive U.S. side on Saturday.

[ SATURDAY: Watch USWNT vs Mexico live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Big boys to turn up

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Week 26 of the Premier League season is here. This will be a lot of fun with massive games at both ends of the table.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live online ]

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out.

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Arsenal 3-2 Leicester City – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Norwich City 0-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, USA) –  [STREAM]

Man City 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur – (Sunday 11:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United – (Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Everton 2-1 West Brom  – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Swansea 1-1 Southampton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM] 

Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM]

Chelsea 3-2 Newcastle – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM]

Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Ranieri on Leicester City’s dream season: “Nobody wake us up please!”

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.
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There’s plenty to like about Leicester City’s run to the top of the Premier League, but perhaps nothing is more enjoyable that its manager’s musings.

Claudio Ranieri, the Tinkerman himself, has provided some of the best quips of the season.

[ MORE: Top 5 storylines to look for in PL ]

From “I want to be the crazy man in the Premier League” to “It’s like nobody wants to win the league“, the 64-year-old Italian has offered plenty of beauties.

Make way for some more gems, from LCFC.com:

“I think we work so hard to achieve this level. We want to stay at this level. It’s no pressure for us. The pressure was at the beginning to start well, to carry on and maintain the standard of our performance.
“Now we are safe and we want to fight with respect with all our opponents. Face to face, we play with our strength and they play with theirs. If we win, fantastic. If we lose, next match.
“I think the pressure is on the other teams. We have pressure for our little gap. We continue to dream with our fans and we want to continue to dream. Nobody wake us up please!”
We love this man. To go from a short-lived run in Euro qualifying with Greece to this remarkable roll with Leicester has to be a bit dream-like. We get it. And we love that he’s going with it.