Burnley 1-3 Chelsea: Blues cruise, go top after season opening win (video)

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Chelsea fell behind early to Premier League newcomers Burnley at Turf Moor on Monday but Jose Mourinho’s men rallied impressively to seal a 3-1 win in their opening game of the season.

Scott Arfield stunned the Blues early on as the Scotman controlled and volleyed home to put Burnley in front. However within 10 minutes Chelsea were ahead as Diego Costa finished clinically on his debut and Andre Schurrle scored a beautiful team goal after Cesc Fabregas’ sumptuous through ball.

[Mourinho: “Courtois my number one”]

Chelsea went 3-1 up before the break, as Branislav Ivanovic tapped home from close range. Burnley tried to get back in to the game but Chelsea kept the ball expertly and bagged all three points on a rainy evening up in Lancashire. Mourinho has now won five out of five on the opening day as Chelsea boss.

Mourinho’s men sit top of the standings after week one, will the bookmakers favorites remain their for the rest of the season?

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

source:
Chelsea celebrate Andre Schurrle’s stunning goals after a sumptous move.

Early on Costa buzzed around and collected the ball on the edge of the box, laid it off to Fabregas and Schurrle’s deflected shot almost crept in after wrong-footing Heaton. Burnley managed to clear the danger.

Inside the first 10 minutes Burnley broke free down the left and Lukas Jutkiewicz wriggled free but sent a tame effort into the side-netting. In the 14th minute Burnley took the lead as a corner from the left wasn’t cleared properly and Matthew Taylor chipped the ball towards the back post where Arfield controlled superbly before volleying an unstoppable effort past Thibaut Courtois to send the home fans wild.

Chelsea didn’t panic after going behind and in the 17th minute there were level thanks to Costa’s first goal in a blue shirt. The Spaniard reacted first as Branislav Ivanovic’s cross from the right evaded everyone, following Fabregas’ beautiful back heel set up, and cannoned back off the post. Costa finished clinically to make it 1-1 as Mourinho punched the air in delight.  Less then five minutes later Chelsea were ahead as Ivanovic again got the ball on the right and dinked it inside to Fabregas on the edge of the box and the Spanish midfielder caressed an exquisite ball into Schurrle who tapped home to make it 2-1 following a perfectly timed run. Majestic flowing football from the away side.

Burnley tried to get going but a calamitous backpass played in Costa who rounded Burnley’s ‘keeper Tom Heaton and went down but referee Michael Oliver booked the Spaniard for simulation. On second viewing there was definite contact and the Clarets were lucky to escape without conceding a penalty and having a player sent off. In the 34th minute Chelsea went 3-1 up as Ivanovic tapped home from a corner after some schoolboy defending from the home side. Some good build up play down the left saw Danny Ings direct an effort wide of the target as the home side tried to pull a goal back but it was 3-1 at the break.

[RELATED: Premier League stats]

source: AP
Arfield celebrates his opening goals after Burnley took the lead vs. Chelsea.

After the break a long ball over the top saw Ings get free but he dragged a low shot wide but the home side were buoyed by the effort. Arfield came so close to grabbing a second spectacular goal of the game as the Scotsman brought ball down on the right, cut inside and curled an effort towards the top corner which Courtois tipped wide superbly. Burnley were in the ascendancy. Chelsea knocked the ball about and kept possession for large chunks of the second half but Burnley looked dangerous on the break and Jutkiewicz drilled an effort just wide in the 60th minute.

Late on both teams made a raft of substitutions, including a second Blues debut for Didier Drogba who almost scored with an audacious volley, as Chelsea saw the game out with minimum fuss and get their campaign off and running in the perfect fashion with a comfortable win.

LINEUPS

Burnley: Heaton; Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Mee; Arfield, Jones, Marney, Taylor (Kightly, 70′); Ings (Sordell 82′), Jutkiewicz  (Barnes, 70′)

Goal: Arfield (14′)

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Schurrle (Willian, 78′), Oscar (Mikel, 82′), Hazard (Drogba, 83′); Costa

Goals: Costa (17′), Schurrle (21′), Ivanovic (34′)

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

AP Photo/Felipe Dana
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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.