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Everton 3-6 Chelsea: Blues prevail in sensational nine-goal thriller (video)

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Chelsea went to the top of the Premier League table after beating Everton 6-3 in a stunning advert for the Premier League at Goodison Park on Saturday.

This match will go down as a classic.

Jose Mourinho’s side raced into a 2-0 lead after less than three minutes of the match as Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic stunned the home fans. Just before half time Everton were back in it as Kevin Mirallas headed home to make it 2-1. Then the game exploded into life in the second half, as a crazy nine minute spell saw five more goals arrive.

[RELATED: Watch the full match replay]

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First, Chelsea went 3-1 up as Seamus Coleman turned into his own net, then Everton made it 3-2 thanks to Steven Naismith’s cool finish. Two minutes later Nemanja Matic made it 4-2 with a superb drilled effort, but the Toffees weren’t going down without a fight as debutant Samuel Eto’o headed home to make it 4-3 against his former club.

Chelsea sealed the win as Ramires strolled through and slotted home in the 77th minute, then Costa grabbed his second and the Blues’ sixth of the game in the 90th minute. One of the most incredible matches in the Premier League era finished 6-3 to Chelsea, as the Blues made it three wins from three in the most dramatic fashion possible.

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

The game got off to a flying start as after 2 minutes and 49 seconds, Chelsea were 2-0 up. Most fans weren’t even in their seats as the Toffees imploded in the most dramatic fashion.In a blistering start to the match, Chelsea went ahead after 34 seconds when Cesc Fabregas played in Costa who slotted home his third Premier League in just his third game for Chelsea. The Spanish striker broke the offside trap and slotted home past Tim Howard and Costa made it three goals from just three shots in the PL. Goodison Park was stunned. Chelsea were then 2-0 up after less than three minutes as Ramires played in Ivanovic who beat the offside trap again and slotted home coolly.

Everton’s defense was in shambles, Chelsea were in dreamland after a phenomenal opening.

U.S. international Howard was then involved in a moment of real controversy, as he looked to have handled a through ball outside the box with Eden Hazard bearing down on the Everton goal but the officials missed his misdemeanor and play carried on. Everton nearly pulled one back after 15 minutes when former Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku rose high but hammered a header against the crossbar and Sylvain Distin tapped home the rebound… but the French defender was offside.

[RELATED: Premier League stats]

Chelsea bossed the rest of the first half as Fabregas almost made it 3-0 with 30 minutes on the clock, however Everton began to grow into the game and hit back right on the stroke of half time to make the game interesting. A great ball from Aiden McGeady found Coleman on the right and his pin-point cross was headed home by Mirallas to make it 2-1 at half time and give the Goodison faithful hope.

source: AP
Costa scored twice, as USA’s Howard let in six on Saturday.

After the break a rejuvenated Everton pinned Chelsea back but the away side weathered the storm and then sprung a few attacks of their own. Costa broke the offside trap once again and was clean through on goal but Howard saved superbly with his feet to keep the Brazilian striker at bay. The match ebbed and flowed at Goodison as the gripping encounter entered the final 30 minutes.

Chelsea took a 3-1 lead in the 67th minute as Hazard went on a marauding run then his cross was put into his own net by Coleman. In the celebrations Costa had a few things to say to Coleman, which Howard heard and the American goalkeeper was booked for confronting the Chelsea forward. The game was getting increasingly chippy but as soon as Everton went two goals behind, Naismith reduced the deficit as he finished with aplomb following McGeady’s excellent through ball. Goodison Park was rocking.

No sooner had Everton made it 3-2, Chelsea restored their two-goal lead as Matic drilled a left-footed effort in from the edge of the box in the 74th minute. Then Everton went straight up the other end as debutant, and former Chelsea forward, Eto’o, headed home in style to make it 4-3. Remarkable.

Then, of course, Chelsea went straight back up the other end and Ramires slotted home in the 77th minute to make it 5-3 to Chelsea after some shocking Everton defending. Courtois then kept Chelsea 5-3 up as he tipped Mirallas’ shot onto the post after some more sloppy defending from the visitors.

Chelsea wrapped up the win as Costa latched onto a loose ball from Everton substitute Mohamed Besic, rounded Howard and finished clinically to make it 6-3. The Brazilian now has four goals in his first three PL games for Chelsea, and is turning out to be one of the signings of the summer. Costa’s goal capped off what was truly an amazing game, as the West Londoners go top of the PL standings with three wins from their first three games.

Everton played their part in this classic, which will be etched into the history books as one of the most entertaining matches the PL has ever seen.

LINEUPS 

Everton: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Barry, McCarthy, McGeady (Eto’o, 70′), Naismith, Mirallas, Lukaku (Besic, 89′)

Goals: Mirallas (45′), Naismith (69′), Eto’o (76′)

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic, Matic, Fabregas (Drogba, 89′), Ramires, Willian (Mikel, 75′), Hazard (Filipe Luis, 83′), Costa

Goals: Costa (1 & 90”), Ivanovic (3′), Coleman (OG – 67′), Matic (74′), Ramires (77′)

Blatter says he will accept verdict as CAS appeal begins

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter arrived for his appeal hearing against a six-year ban from football on Thursday, pledging to accept the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport

“I do hope it will be positive for me,” Blatter, sporting a light gray beard, told reporters at around 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) ahead of a hearing expected to last several hours.

The court’s verdict is expected within several weeks, and could be challenged in a further appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court.

The 80-year-old Blatter denies wrongdoing in authorizing a $2 million payment to former FIFA vice president Michel Platini in 2011. They claimed it was for backdated and uncontracted salary for work Platini did in advising Blatter from 1999 to 2002.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The so-called “disloyal payment” led Blatter to be put under investigation for criminal mismanagement by Swiss federal prosecutors last September. That investigation is ongoing.

FIFA’s ethics committee judged the $2 million deal was a conflict of interest and initially banned Blatter and Platini for eight years last December. FIFA’s appeal committee cut both bans to six years.

Platini’s appeal to CAS was already judged in May, when Blatter appeared in person as a witness. Platini promised a further appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal after his ban was only cut from six to four years.

Platini arrived at the hearing around midday local time to be a witness. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Blatter’s comments Thursday suggest he would not pursue a federal case. Federal judges can intervene only if legal process is abused.

“We are football players, we learned to win but also we learned to lose and it will not be the end of the world,” Blatter said outside CAS.

The three-member panel for Blatter’s case is expected to respect the verdict of a separate panel which judged Platini.

A failure to overturn the ban for Blatter would likely end his hope to one day be named FIFA honorary president by its 211 member federations.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The case already ended Platini’s chance to replace Blatter as FIFA president, and also forced him out of European governing body UEFA.

On Sept. 14, UEFA members will elect a successor to replace Platini who had a mandate through March 2019. By imposing a four-year ban, the CAS panel ensured UEFA had to replace Platini, rather than wait for him to return.

The “disloyal payment” emerged last year when Platini was strongly favored to win the election to replace Blatter, who had announced his departure plans after 17 years as president amid pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating senior FIFA officials.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Both men were questioned at FIFA headquarters last September by Swiss investigators who were waiting for them outside an executive committee meeting.

During the turmoil in world football, Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, submitted an election candidacy on the entry deadline day and won the vote in February.

Arriving at the hearing with his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni, Blatter said he hoped the CAS panel “will understand that the payment made to Platini was really a debt that we had against him.”

“This is a principle, if you have debts you pay them,” Blatter said.

NASL weekend preview: Miami, Minnesota meet playoff fortunes head on

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There are still two full months of soccer to go in the NASL’s Fall Season, but this weekend could be a major day for the title fortunes of one squad in particular.

Miami FC and Minnesota United are level on points with 15 heading into Saturday’s match at FIU Stadium.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

If you’re unfamiliar, the NASL Playoffs involve four teams: the Spring champion (Indy Eleven), the Fall champion, and two other teams with the best combined record between seasons.

Miami’s played one fewer game, and both it and Minnesota — fresh off the news it’s headed to MLS in 2017 — are seven points shy of first-place FC Edmonton.

But Minnesota is on pace to make the playoffs through combined schedule, while Miami had a poor first half and would be better served to win the Fall Season if it wants a shot at the NASL Soccer Bowl Trophy.

Saturday
Carolina Railhawks at New York Cosmos
Rayo OKC at Tampa Bay Rowdies
Minnesota United at Miami FC

Sunday
Indy Eleven at Ottawa Fury
Puerto Rico at FC Edmonton

Arsenal reportedly set for $69 million double Friday buy

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 14:  Lucas Perez of RC Deportivo la Coruna reacts during the La Liga match between Rayo Vallecano and RC Deportivo La Coruna at Estadio Teresa Rivero on September 14, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Arsene Wenger‘s much-maligned transfer business is about to take the “much” off the verb.

Lucas Perez of Deportiva de la Coruna is reportedly going to be joining Arsenal on Friday, and the Gunners are also close to finally landing Valencia center back Shkodran Mustafi.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Perez, 27, broke out for a career-best 17 goals last season, and scored on debut last weekend. He’s set to cost $22.5 million, while Mustafi makes up the other $46.5 million.

The 12-times capped German center back stands 6-foot, and would bring stability to a Gunners unit which has (again) been beset by injuries.

From the BBC:

Spaniard Lucas, 27, scored 17 goals in 37 games last season and Arsenal will meet a 20m euro (£17.1m) buyout clause.

Germany international Mustafi, 24, is set to join for a fee in excess of £35m.

Is this, coupled with the Granit Xhaka buy, enough to help Wenger right the ship? Mustafi, especially, would be a key piece. Perez is a bit of a lesser-known quality.

MLS Weekend Preview: Desperation mounts as rivals meet in Oregon

Portland Timbers defender Vytas Andriuskevicius, second from right, trips up Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, right, in the second half of a MLS soccer match, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, in Seattle. Andriuskevicius was called for a foul on the play, and the Sounders' Clint Dempsey scored a goal on the resulting penalty kick. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Desperation is up-and-down the schedule this weekend in Major League Soccer, as the playoff race really heats up.

The calendar turns to September next week, and teams will end this weekend with a clear view of their runs into the season’s final Sunday: Oct. 23.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

The tumult that is an MLS season means only one team is more than two wins out of a playoff spot right now, and that’s Houston (7 points back of Western No. 6 Portland).

Here’s who is feeling the heat of their matches this weekend:

Portland and Seattle: The Cascadia Cup rivals tangle Sunday in Oregon, with the Timbers holding a one-point edge on the Sounders for the West’s final playoff spot. Seattle has played one fewer games than Portland, and a win on Sunday would be a double-whammy for PDX; The Timbers would be level on points with Seattle and Vancouver in the Cascadia Cup standings with just one match to go (compared to their opponents’ two).

Vancouver: The ‘Caps don’t have a Cup game this weekend, but will face an L.A. team which hasn’t lost at home. Vancouver is in real danger of moving more than one win behind in the fight for a playoff spot. If they lose to L.A. and both San Jose and Portland win, the Whitecaps will be five points back of a playoff spot. Of course, this being MLS, a win and help could see Vancouver in sixth when the smoke clears.

Columbus and New England: No one likes to comment on job status, but Revs’ boss Jay Heaps and his Columbus counterpart (Gregg Berhalter) have to be a bit concerned at this point. New England is a total mess, opening up a goalkeeping controversy, and is pinning its hopes on some Open Cup final karma. The Crew was supposed to contend for a title after last year’s final run, but is currently in the East’s cellar with just three home wins from 13 matches.

Schedule

Friday
Colorado at Real Salt Lake — 8 p.m. EDT

Saturday
Chicago at DC United — 7 p.m. EDT
Sporting KC at Philadelphia — 7 p.m. EDT
San Jose at Columbus — 7:30 p.m. EDT
Montreal at Toronto FC — 7:30 p.m. EDT
FC Dallas at Houston — 9 p.m. EDT
Vancouver at LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. EDT

Sunday
New England at New York Red Bulls — 2:30 p.m. EDT
Seattle at Portland — 5 p.m. EDT
New York City at Orlando City — 7 p.m. EDT