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

Pique finds solidarity with criticized NBA players

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There have been a number f outstanding pieces in The Players’ Tribune since its launch, but few as colorful and entertaining as Thursday’s entry from Gerard Pique.

The Barcelona star center back spilled the beans on any number of funny stories in his post, from Roy Keane’s cell phone anger and Sir Alex Ferguson‘s guiding hand to Lionel Messi’s greatness and more.

[ MORE: Zlatan in MLS an auto success ]

But perhaps most interesting was his take on the grief he’s received for supporting the vote for Catalan independence. Pique points out that he’s been proud to represent the Spanish national team, but won’t veer from his democratic beliefs.

And guess what? Even in Spain, athletes rightly bristle at the “Stick to Sports” crowd.

It’s funny, I noticed some people in America have started telling the NBA players to “just shut up and dribble” when they express their opinions on real problems in society.

It’s ridiculous, no?

It’s the same here in Spain. They say, “Just shut up and play football. It’s all you know.”

Sorry, but I will not just shut up and play. It’s not all I know. There’s a lot more depth to footballers than most people realize, and I think it’s important that we express ourselves and our views.

Given relative health, Zlatan’s success MLS is close to automatic

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The only question is his knee at his age.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming to Major League Soccer. Having confirmed his departure from Manchester United, the announcement that the living Swedish legend is joining the LA Galaxy is expecting next week.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

Some have asked whether he’ll cut muster in the league, to which we point to the lead: Few players have arrived to MLS with as dominant a career as Ibrahimovic, and the Swede would need his knee to fall apart in order to fail in California.

The man’s game isn’t based on speed, but it does require his abnormal power and grace. He scored just once for United in very limited time this season, but don’t forget how dangerous he was against Premier League and Europa League defenses last season.

He scored 28 goals with 10 assists last season, with 17 and 5 coming in league play. He was suspended for three matches and injured for seven, meaning this is a 20-goal Premier League scorer arriving in MLS within a calendar year of doing so.

Try putting his resume in perspective: Didier Drogba was extremely good for Montreal but a half-decade removed from his last double-digit goal PL season (Don’t forget that Drogba bagged 11 in 11 to start life on our shores). Robbie Keane was about the same time removed from his run of 10-plus goal seasons in the Premier League. He was good for LA.

The only risk here is that Ibrahimovic never gets healthy and LA takes a bit of a loss on his salary (one which is at least partially negated by the sheer number of Ibrahimovic Galaxy jerseys sold).

Entering this season, Ibrahimovic had failed to score 15 goals once since 2006. He’a also had a fairly religious assist output (10+ most years). With names like Alessandrini, Kamara, and dos Dos Santos, this should be a stand-up double if not a homer for LA and for MLS.

Plus the vicious looks after teammates miss him badly with a pass, let alone the press conferences and paparazzi hits: This should be a lot of fun.

MLS Weekend Preview: Friedel’s Revs get NYCFC test

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It’s an international break, and Major League Soccer is only sorta observing it.

More than half of the league’s clubs will participate on Saturday match days, with several shorthanded by national team duty.

[ MORE: Southgate on racism in football]

Columbus won’t have Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp for a visit from DC United — who is missing Zoltan Steiber, Bruno Miranda, and Oniel Fisher — while the Red Bulls will be without Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence, and Michael Murillo for Minnesota United’s visit.

NYCFC won’t have Alexander Ring, Ronald Matarrita, and Rodney Wallace, Portland’s without David Guzman and Andy Polo, and Sporting KC loses Daniel Salloi.

The Whitecaps won’t have center back Kendall Waston, while opponents LA Galaxt are without Ola Kamara.

New England Revolution vs. New York City FC — 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Brad Friedel‘s New England revolution, purposely lower case, is making believers out of its players. It would take a giant step if it could slow the NYCFC juggernaut. The visitors have allowed just one goal in their 3-0 start.

As for the hosts, Friedel has made his mark in a way that mostly makes you wonder what in the world Jay Heaps was doing:.

(Bunbury) pointed to a fine system in the locker room, increased accountability, how Friedel posts the starting XI on game day, and occasional two-a-day training sessions, which never occurred in the forward’s four years under Heaps.

“I think it unifies the team,” Bunbury said. “The broad sense of professionalism, it’s about having respect for each other and making sure you are held accountable in every part of this club.”

Never occurred under Heaps? Woof.

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers — 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

FCD had an uninspiring ending to their CONCACAF Champions League dreams, but that’s little compared to the Timbers’ 0-2 start under Gio Savarese. A trip down South isn’t a surefire way to right the ship.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LA Galaxy — 10 p.m. ET Saturday

A long trip up North is only made worse by a laundry list of injuries for Sigi Schmid’s Galaxy. We’re only listing it amongst our Top Three because an LA win would be wildly impressive given the ‘Caps strong start.


Columbus Crew vs. DC United — 6 p.m. ET Saturday
New York Red Bulls vs. Minnesota United — 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting KC — 9 p.m. ET Saturday

Mourinho: “People with brains” understand Man Utd in transition

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Jose Mourinho’s been having a little fun on his international break, “managing” a team of superstars including Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt in a charity match.

[ MORE: Southgate talks racism in football ]

Speaking CNN as part of a publicity run, Mourinho was asked about Manchester United’s second place campaign and disappointment after dropping out of the UEFA Champions League.

Mourinho reiterated his position that United is a team in transition, and that the season is going along at an acceptable clip.

“I understand the frustration, I understand the sadness of being knocked out in the Champions League, but I don’t understand anything more than that,” Mourinho said to CNN’s Amanda Davies.

United has scored the third-most goals in the Premier League, and allowed the fourth-fewest. It’s drastically reduced its propensity to draw matches, which hurt its table position last season, and has already surpassed last season’s goal total.

Two more wins, 10 goals better differential, and the list goes on but unfortunately also includes crosstown rivals running away with the league and still alive in the UCL.

“Of course in the future we want to have 19 clubs behind us but this is the reality,” said Mourinho. “And the reality is for people with brain, with sense, with common sense, with knowledge of what sports is, we are in a moment of transition. Being in a moment of transition and still manage to do what he did last season and win trophies and to do what we are trying to do this season, which is still trying to win a trophy, and try to be second, because in this moment it’s the only top position that is possible for us to get. I think we are in a good position.”