Chelsea stun Paris Saint-Germain, late goal sends Blues into Champions League semifinals

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LONDON, England — Chelsea beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge as they qualified for the UEFA Champions League semi finals in dramatic fashion.

Demba Ba’s late goal tied the score at 3-3 on aggregate, as Chelsea saw off the French champions pm away goals, after an incredible comeback from the Premier League side.

Andre Schurrle opened the scoring in the first half, but Chelsea struggled to break down PSG throughout a nervy second half. Then the crucial moment arrived, as Ba stabbed home to send Stamford Bridge into raptures with his 87th minute strike. PSG pushed to take things to extra-time, but the Blues held on as Jose Mourinho celebrated with his side during the goal celebration, then again at the final whistle.

(MORE: Three things we learned in Chelsea’s win vs. PSG)

Both teams started the game tentatively, as they knew the opening goal would be extremely important as to which way this quarterfinal would swing. The reigning French champions took the game to Chelsea but were wasteful in and around the box, as the Blues lost star attacker Eden Hazard early on through injury.

Chelsea pressed PSG as the half wore on, with Frank Lampard having his free kick wonderfully kept out by Sirigu at the near post.

In the 32nd minute Chelsea took the lead, as substitute Schurrle cleaned up inside the box following David Luiz’ flick on from Branislav Ivanovic’s long-throw, to send Stamford Bridge wild.

The comeback was well and truly on, as Chelsea surged forward in search of their second goal that would square the tie up.

In the 36th minute Gary Cahill squandered a glorious chance to get that all-important second, as the central defender wildly sliced his effort over the bar after getting control of the ball in the box. Before half time things got fiery, as PSG dug in to try and stay ahead on aggregate with yellow cards dished out to Lampard, Edinson Cavani and Verratti.

In the 51st minute Schurrle rattled the crossbar as Willian teed up the German to smash an effort off the woodwork and away. Chelsea then hit the bar for a second time in as many minutes, as Oscar curled a free kick against the crossbar from 25-yards out. That crossbar didn’t want Chesea to advance to the last four of the Champions League.

(MORE: Mourinho recreates corner flag run, as Chelsea boss hails his UCL heroes)

PSG hit back, as the French champions won a free kick wide on the left. Argentine attacker Ezequiel Lavezzi whipped in a vicious effort towards the back post that Petr Cech clawed away to safety. Chelsea huffed and puffed to try and get the second goal that would seal their spot in the UCL semifinals, with Schurrle going close in the 67th minute but Sirigu saved well after substitute Demba Ba flicked the ball on.

In the 71st minute Matuidi played the ball over the top to Cavani, but El Matador hammered his volley over the crossbar as Chelsea’s fans breathed a sigh of relief before the final onslaught. Instead it was PSG who should have scored on two occasions as Cavani controlled superbly but fired his left-footed volley over from close range, then Moura hit a shot straight at Cech after an incisive counter-attack from Les Parisiens.

Chelsea chucked on Fernando Torres in the closing stages, as Jose Mourinho threw the kitchen sink at PSG and it worked. Substitute Ba came up with the goods to send Chelsea into the final four of Europe’a elite club competition.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; David Luiz, Lampard (Ba, 66′); Willian, Oscar (Torres, 81′), Hazard (Schurrle, 18′); Eto’o.

Goals: Schurrle (32′), Ba (87′)

Paris Saint-Germain: Sirigu, Jallet, Maxwell, Motta, Alex, Thiago Silva, Verratti (Cabaye, 55′ ), Matuidi, Cavani, Lucas Moura, Lavezzi

Rashford’s childhood hero played for USMNT (Take one guess)

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But can he grow a beard?

Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford is known for his darting runs and clever finishes, but he grew up begging to get between the sticks with a lot of love for an American.

“Howard was my idol. I used to have a little Tim Howard shirt.”

[ MORE: Dempsey still wants USMNT role ]

Rashford said he’d ask his youth coach to allow him to play goal so he could mimic his hero, who at the time was the Manchester United backstop and now USMNT legend.

The 20-year-old was nine when Howard left Old Trafford, but it hasn’t changed his enjoyment for tending goal. Rashford joked that he’s got to be the choice to replace David De Gea in case of a post-sub emergency.

Watch Live: Watford vs. West Ham United

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David Moyes‘ first match in charge of West Ham United sees a striker change at Vicarage Road against testy Watford (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Andy Carroll will be up top, and Andre Ayew is hurt to boot.

Marco Silva leads Watford’s hosts with Adrian Mariappa, Christian Kabasele, and Miguel Britos at the back of a 3-5-2.

LINEUPS

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenía, Cleverley, Doucouré, Zeegelaar; Hughes, Richarlison; Gray. Subs: Karnezis, Prödl, Holebas, Capoue, Pereyra, Carrillo, Okaka.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Carroll. Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Rice, Fernandes, Quina, Sakho, Martinez.

Dempsey still happy to accept USMNT role (which is good)

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Clint Dempsey is tied with Landon Donovan for the most goals in USMNT history, and seems set to continue with the side in some capacity as he threatens to stand alone in American history.

[ MLS: Steve Bruce to Miami? ]

The 34-year-old striker spoke with Steve Zakuani on the Sounders’ web site (video below) and said he’s happy to accept continued call-ups should they arrive from USSF headquarters.

From SoundersFC.com:

“We’ll see what happens,” Dempsey said.” I mean, in terms of what I’ve been able to accomplish with the national team, I’m at peace with it. It’s not really about me. It’s about a group of guys that want to be moving forward.

“If there’s an opportunity that comes where you get to play a role and try to help and I’m feeling good and I’m playing well, then yeah, you’ll never say no. But you know, if the call never comes I’m still happy, still at peace, and focused on being here and trying to make the most of the time I have left.”

There are a number of players whose national team futures should be in question, but Dempsey is in a different class. No one has debated his motor or fuel, and his engine is still there (to complete the Springsteen-esque car comparisons, he remains one of the only things that qualifiers as chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected, and steppin’ out over the line).

If anything, he plays too close to the edge. That’s not something I see as one of the Yanks’ problems right now, so perhaps Dempsey needs to be viewed like Cuauhtemoc Blanco or Carlos Ruiz as a CONCACAF guy who’s around as long as he wants to be a part of it.

I mean, shoot, if Dempsey wants to keep passing the fire to Christian Pulisic and now Weston McKennie, there are far worse ambassadors for the program. He’s the most accomplished field player in recent history, and will be able to share so much when it comes to balancing club and country.

Heck, maybe he needs to be the late era Ryan Giggs of the 2018-2022 USMNT.

Beckham reportedly wants Steve Bruce in Miami

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He’s got the same initials as South Beach, you know?

Steve Bruce is being tipped to be the first manager of David Beckham’s Miami MLS outfit, according to The Sun.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]

It’s going to be some time before Bruce would have the opportunity. The 56-year-old former Manchester United star has Aston Villa in a Football League Championship promotion push, and Miami does not even have a start date for life on an MLS pitch.

Of course, managerial life tends to be short, so there’s no guarantee Bruce will have a job at any point during the build-up to Miami in MLS. And several expansion clubs have named their coach very early in the team building process (Jason Kreis and Bob Bradley amongst others).

Bruce on MLS’ parity-driven playing field, if not as one of the big spenders, would be intriguing to watch. He’s a terrific man motivator and has the connections to combine with Beckham to make something special happen in terms of personnel.