Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League

Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland: Blues’ title dreams in ruins, as Black Cats grab shock win (video)

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Sunderland recorded a stunning 2-1 win away at Chelsea on Saturday, as the Black Cats came from behind to secure a crucial three points in their fight against relegation.

As for Chelsea, their title dreams now lie in tatters as Jose Mourinho saw his unbeaten Premier League record at home ended after 77 games without defeat.

It all started so well for the Blues, who went 1-0 up thanks to Samuel Eto’o’s early volley but then Connor Wickham equalized after 18 minutes as stand-in ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer could only parry a shot into the path of Wickham who cleaned up.

(VIDEO: Mourinho’s sensational swipe at officials after Chelsea suffer shock defeat)

Chelsea huffed and puffed throughout the remainder of the game but couldn’t break down a stubborn Sunderland and the pivotal moment of the game arrived in the 82nd minute. U.S. international striker Jozy Altidore came off the bench and won a penalty kick after being brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta with the linesman flagging and Mike Dean pointing to the spot. Fabio Borini, on loan from Liverpool, struck the spot kick straight down the middle to hand his parent club the initiative in the title race and leave Mourinho and Chelsea stunned.

With the win Sunderland are still bottom of the PL standings but are just three points from safety, while Chelsea are in second but are two points behind leaders Liverpool after playing a game more. Incredible drama in West London.

(Premier League Roundup: Chelsea blow it, Swansea, Spurs and Palace win)

Chelsea started brightly at Stamford Bridge, yet the first real chance of the game fell to one of their former strikers, Borini, but the Italian forward on-loan from Liverpool smashed his effort wide of the far post from distance. Despite an even start to the match, Chelsea went 1-0 up after 12 minutes when Willian’s corner found Eto’o in the six-yard box and the Cameroonian striker volleyed the ball home to put the Blues in front.

Yet despite that perfect start for the title-chasers, Sunderland were level six minutes later. A corner kick routine found Marcos Alonso on the edge of the box and his low drive could only be parried by Chelsea’s stand-in ‘keeper Schwarzer, as Wickham cleaned up to net his third goal in two games.

source: Getty Images
Borini and Sunderland stunned Chelsea, as the bottom club beat the title chasers.

Chelsea bossed the rest of the first half in terms of possession, as Sunderland sat back and were happy to stay level. Oscar curled a shot straight at Vito Mannone midway through the half as the Blues struggled to break down the Red and White wall before them. A long free kick to the back post saw Nemanja Matic head the ball back across goal for John Terry to volley home, but the linesman raised his flag for a foul on Jack Colback by Matic, which looked extremely harsh.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

In the 36th minute Chelsea almost went back in front as another left wing corner found Branislav Ivanovic in the six-yard box but the Serbian’s downward header was tipped onto the bar by Mannone who gathered the ball at the second attempt. As half time approached Chelsea continued to press as Matic saw his long-range effort saved by Mannone, who then saved Mohamed  Salah’s follow up as Chelsea piled on the pressure. Moments later Manonne missed a cross but Ramires failed to direct his header on goal when under pressure from Sebastian Larsson.

After the break Chelsea showed off their sublime counter-attacking nous as Willian set up Eto’o on the left hand side of the box but the Blues striker sent his effort just wide of the far post. Sunderland were content to sit back and hold on to the point they had, as Chelsea chucked the kitchen sink at their opponents. With 30 minutes to go Demba Ba arrived on the pitch, as the superb sub was tasked with digging Chelsea out of the hole they’d got themselves in.

Sunderland were holding firm and stopping the Blues from creating any clear cut chances as Ba slipped when latching onto a pull back and skewed his effort horribly wide. With 25 minutes to go U.S. national team striker Altidore came on to try and nick an invaluable winner for Sunderland in their battle against relegation.

Altidore played a pivotal role in proceedings as he picked up the ball on the edge of the box, ran towards goal and was brought down by  Azpilicueta for a penalty. Both players seemed to slip, but Dean pointed to the spot and Borini slammed home the penalty to seal a vital win for Sunderland which leaves Chelsea’s title hopes in ruins.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Schwarzer; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Matic; Willian, Oscar (Ba, 59′), Salah (Schurrle, 66′); Eto’o (Torres, 74′)

Goal: Eto’o (12′)

Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, Alonso, Brown, O’Shea, Cattermole, Colback, Larsson, Johnson (Giaccherini, 66′), Borini, Wickham (Altidore, 66′)

Goals: Wickham (18′), Borini (82′)

MLS Snapshots: Impact 5-1 Union | Toronto FC 4-1 DC United (video)

Didier Drogba
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The game in 100 words (or less): Look out, America, for the Canadians of Major League Soccer are here, and they mean business. Saturday night saw the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC thrash the Philadelphia Union (5-1) and D.C. United (4-1), two playoff-caliber teams in their own right, each at home, to move to within four and six points, respectively, of New York City FC, the current leaders of the Eastern Conference. The stars for the two sides? Would you believe me if I told you Sebastian Giovinco and Didier Drogba each scored a hat trick on the night? Of course you would, because they’re Giovinco and Drogba. At their best, it’s hard to argue any team in the East is better than either Montreal or Toronto. Here’s to 180 minutes of Drogba vs. Giovinco in the Eastern Conference finals.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

Three moments that mattered

19′ — Silky smooth build-up ends with a Drogba tap-in — If you’re allowing Drogba chances that are this easy, good luck to you. The real story here, though, is the backheel by Piatti. A moment like this is enough to flip me into a second-assist advocate.

42′ — Drogba slots home a rebound for 2-0 — Unlucky carom on the rebound, but you’re really not doing a great job of “don’t give Drogba chances that are that easy,” Union defense.

52′ — Drogba gets his hat trick — The Union are really, really not doing a good job of making life even the least bit difficult for Drogba.

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Man of the match: Didier Drogba

Goalscorers: Drogba (19′, 42′, 52′), Pontius (72′), Piatti (87′), Mancosu (90+1′)


Three moments that mattered

21′ — Giovinco ends his skid with a stunning free kick — It had been eight full games since Giovinco last scored a league goal for TFC, by far the longest such streak of his time in MLS. The wait was (almost) worth it. (WATCH HERE)

39′ — Giovinco does it again — What is there to say at this point? The angle is ridiculous. The power is ridiculous. The swerve is ridiculous. Giovinco is a ridiculous player. (WATCH HERE)

90+1′ — A hat trick for Seba — Not to be outdone, Giovinco bags his third of the night.

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

Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Giovinco (21′, 39′, 90+1′), Jeffrey (24′), Delgado (29′)

WATCH: Giovinco’s goal drought is over after a pair of stunning free kicks

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Colorado Rapids during the first half of the MLS soccer game in Toronto on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP)
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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Oh, how we have missed you, Sebastian Giovinco, scorer of amazingly beautiful, video game-like goals.

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If you can believe it, Toronto FC’s tiny superstar entered Saturday’s clash with D.C. United without a goal in any of his last eight league games. Six minutes before halftime, the drought was over after not one, but two “only Giovinco could do that” free kicks (videos below).

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

It was by far the longest such streak of Giovinco’s (brief) time in MLS, and at least he had the decency to make it worth our wait.

Scholes: Pogba “nowhere near worth” rumored Man United transfer fee

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05:  Paul Pogba of Manchester United looks on during Paul Scholes' Testimonial Match between Manchester United and New York Cosmos at Old Trafford on August 5, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
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If a player is only worth what a club is willing to pay them, then aren’t they also worth a price at the top of the pay scale, as long as a club is willing to pay it?

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Manchester United legend Paul Scholes doesn’t think so, at least not in the case of Paul Pogba, the highly-sought Juventus (and former Man United, which he left for free) midfielder. Rumored to be the subject of $113-million bid by the Red Devils, Pogba’s footballing future remains a question, though an answer will have to be realized in the coming days and/or weeks, as the 2016-17 Premier League season kicks off 21 days from today.

That’s a price that, according to Scholes, should be reserved for “someone who is going to score 50 goals a season like Ronaldo or Messi” — quotes from the Guardian:

“He was a very talented young player, I played with him and I knew how good he was. He played for the first team maybe once or twice, but from my understanding he was asking for too much money [when he left in 2012].

“For his age, he was asking for far too much money, for a player who hasn’t played first-team football. OK, he has gone on to great things. I think certainly there has been a lot of improvement. He needed to improve if he is going to be a player worth £86m.”

While United may have to pay closer to [$131 million], Scholes added: “I just don’t think he is worth [$86 million]. For that sort of money, you want someone who is going to score 50 goals a season like Ronaldo or Messi. Pogba is nowhere worth that kind of money yet.

[ PRESEASON: PL clubs in action with opening day three weeks ago ]

On Scholes’ assertion that Pogba was asking “for far too much money”: United have finished 7th, 4th and 5th in the last three PL seasons, while in that same time Pogba has gone on to become on of the top five players in the world; meanwhile, none of the world’s 20 best (or is it 50?) players currently play for United. It would have been a risk to pay a 19-year-old with three first-team appearances like a seasoned veteran, to be sure, but so much of succeeding at the top level of the sport is down to hitting pay dirt on exactly that kind of calculated risk. If everyone plays it by the book, no one’s ever going to get ahead.

On Scholes’ obviously fear he may no longer be United’s greatest “Paul”: It’s OK, Scholesy, it’ll be terribly difficult to top in 10 years what you achieved in 18.

MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 1-2 LA Galaxy (video)

CARSON, CA - MARCH 06:  Robbie Keane #7 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick in the second half of their MLS match against D.C. United at StubHub Center on March 6, 2016 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated United 4-1.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy are firing on all cylinders these days, having extended their winning streak to four games (six games unbeaten) with a 2-1 victory over the defending MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Saturday. The win sees Bruce Arena’s side move to within two and five points of the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield-leading Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas, respectively (the two sides face one another later on Saturday), while the Timbers miss out on their chance to jump two places, up to fourth, in the West. Back to Saturday’s game, Robbie Keane bagged the 80th goal of his time in MLS (to go with 44 assists, bringing the Irishman’s impressive statline up to 124 goals and assists combined in 118 appearances), but it was Gyasi Zardes who scored the winner, just four minutes after Keane’s opener, in the 11th minute. As I’ve opined the last two weeks, the Galaxy are peaking at the right time of year, and the rest of the league should be terrified.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

Three moments that mattered

7′ — Keane taps home at the far post — Keane won’t score many goals easier than this one. Giovani dos Santos teed him up, and fortunately for Keane, Nat Borchers dropped his controller as GdS hit his cross.

11′ — Zardes heads home after another defensive breakdown — Zardes has real striker’s instincts. Let’s let him put those to good use, like he did in making the late run to the back post for the Galaxy’s second goal.

41′ — Valentin rolls one past Rowe for 2-1 — The finish from Valentin is nice, but how about Darlington Nagbe with the skill and the vision inside the penalty area to created the space, time and chance?

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Man of the match: Robbie Keane

Goalscorers: Keane (7′), Zardes (11′), Valentin (41′)