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

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

AP Photo/Armando Franca
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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia