Chelsea's Terry celebrates with Ba after defeating Tottenham Hotspur in their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London

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


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.


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

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.