Chelsea 4-2 Stoke City: Blues win 13-straight to equal PL record

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  • Willian scores twice
  • Stoke level things twice
  • Chelsea equal PL record of 13-straight wins

Chelsea won their 13th game in a row in the Premier League on Saturday but it was hard work for Antonio Conte‘s side.

The Blues won 4-2 as two goals from Willian and a goal each from Diego Costa and Gary Cahill did the damage but Stoke had twice equalized through Martins Indi and Peter Crouch in the second half.

The win now means Chelsea have equaled Arsenal’s record of most consecutive wins in a single season and they can set a new record by beating Tottenham Hotspur on Jan. 4. The Blues are top on 47 points, while Stoke remain on 22 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea started slowly and their first big chance of the game arrived when Costa was found at the back post and he took one touch and rifled a shot on goal which Lee Grant saved and then a deflection saw the ball come straight back to him.

Gary Cahill’s header then forced Grant into a save as Stoke continued to frustrate Chelsea with the half time whistle fast approaching. Charlie Adam flicked a header just wide as Stoke’s high-press made Chelsea uncomfortable.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Grant then denied both Costa and Eden Hazard with a brilliant double save but from the resulting corner Chelsea took the lead. Cesc Fabregas’ corner was headed home powerfully by Cahill as he beat Ryan Shawcross to the ball.

1-0 to the Blues at half time.

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57 seconds into the second half Stoke were level as a free kick was nodded down by Peter Crouch and the Dutch center back prodded home to make it 1-1. Game on.

Willian then drilled a shot just wide as Chelsea tried to get going and the Brazilian winger soon put the back ahead.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

Victor Moses dazzled his marker and played the ball into Hazard and he teed up Willian to drill home via a slight deflection. 2-1 to Chelsea. Stoke leveled things up with 26 minutes to go as Bojan and Mame Diouf combined to see the latter cross and Crouch finished. 2-2.

A minute later Chelsea were back ahead as Fabregas set up Willian and he sent a high shot into the net. 3-2 to Chelsea after a pulsating few minutes.

The game calmed down in the closing stages but Stoke continued to threaten and Costa should’ve done better when clean through on the break. However, Costa did finish things off as he shrugged of Martins Indi and rifled home an unstoppable shot to make it 4-2.

Chelsea looks unstoppable as Conte’s juggernaut continues to win.

Totti’s loyalty one of the great soccer accomplishments ever

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During the prematch ceremony to celebrate the retirement of Roma legend Francesco Totti, there were fans crying. There were mascots crying. There were family members crying. There were players crying. The man himself was crying.

When 25 years with one club, no celebration can keep back the tears that naturally follow such a glorious career. Instead, an entire stadium paid tribute in one massive outpouring of emotion.

He was never flashy, he was never self-concerned, he never attracted the spotlight. All Francesco Totti did was give and give and give to his club. As the Italian’s career progressed, the game changed around him, with more and more money flowing through a landscape that gave players every reason to change teams as often as possible.

Through it all, Totti stayed put.

Roma’s Francesco Totti enters the field for his final salute to his fans after an Italian Serie A soccer match between Roma and Genoa at the Olympic stadium in Rome (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino).

At the end of it all, 25 years produced 618 league appearances, and 782 appearances overall. He scored 250 Serie A goals on the nose, and another 66 amid all other competitions. Those are just numbers, and Totti gave Roma far more than a laundry list of big numbers.

But for now, we focus on the bookkeeping, because even those are staggering. 250 league goals leaves Totti 2nd all-time in Italy, behind just Silvio Piola, but even the great 1938 World Cup champion never scored more than 143 league goals for a single club. Only three active players have over 100 league goals.

Totti racked up 618 Serie A appearances, his final one a 3-2 win over Genoa that earned Roma a Champions League group stage spot. That total is good for third all-time, one (for now) behind the great Gianluigi Buffon and 29 back of all-time leader Paolo Maldini. Maldini, who retired in 2009, also spent his entire career with one club in AC Milan, an equally commendable accomplishment. But in the modern game, 8 years adrift of Maldini’s playing days, the overwhelming temptations to move clubs make what Totti has done even more remarkable. Plus, he out-lasted Maldini’s career by a year (24 vs. 25 years active).

A note: only two players in the top 30 list in Serie A appearances are still active: Buffon, and 34-year-old Alberto Gilardino, who has played for 11 clubs in his career and is still 104 appearances back of Totti.

Past all the numbers stands a humble man who served one fanbase as loyally as humanly possible. Totti’s accomplishments are not only among the greatest in the history of the game, but it also may never be surpassed by anyone as long as we live.

Mascherano out 6 weeks, will miss Argentina vs. Brazil

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano will be out of action for six weeks to recover from a right knee injury.

[ MORE: Luis Enrique leaves Barca with feeling of accomplishment ]

Barcelona’s season is over, but the injury will rule out Mascherano from Argentina’s friendly against Brazil on June 9.

Mascherano injured his leg early in Saturday’s final of the Copa del Rey, when Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 to defend its title for a third straight season.

He also cut his head during the collision with an Alaves player that produced the leg injury. He returned on crutches to join the team celebration.

Argentina doesn’t play its next World Cup qualifier until it plays Uruguay on Aug. 28.

Courtois aiming at new Chelsea contract after strong season

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There’s a wide range of players that were integral in Chelsea’s Premier League-winning season in 2016/17, but one of the most underrated was arguably goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

[ MORE: PL clubs may miss on Celtic’s Dembele and more transfer news ]

The Blues shot-stopper started all but two PL matches this past campaign, and now the Belgian international is seeking an extension with the London club.

“Contract talks haven’t opened but I am happy at Chelsea,” Courtois told Sky Sports after Chelsea’s loss to Arsenal at Wembley.

“I hope they reward me with a good contract, then there will be no doubt I will sign it.”

The 25-year-old keeper has been in at Stamford Bridge since arriving from Genk in 2011, but Courtois spent three seasons in Spain on a loan spell.

Courtois likened this PL campaign to his time on loan at Atletico Madrid, stating that while his side’s achievements in the league were everything Chelsea could have hoped for that there was still more the Blues could have done.

“It’s not a good feeling now,” Courtois told Chelsea’s official website. “I had the same thing in Spain when I won the league and then lost the Champions League.

“We wanted to end on a high, now we feel sad. Winning is everything so this is hard to face but we have to try to forget it.”

Francesco Totti on bench for final Roma match

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Sunday marks Francesco Totti’s final match with Roma after a stellar 24-year career, but the striker won’t be starting at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Reus could miss at least six months after suffering knee damage ]

The 40-year-old was named to the bench for his club’s 2016/17 Serie A finale against Cagliari, with Roma needing a victory to capture second position in Italy’s top flight.

Napoli currently sits just one point behind the Giallorossi and hold a slight two-goal edge in goal differential, which could be a decisive factor in which side finishes second.

It would be quite odd for Roma to not give Totti playing time in his final outing, after a career that featured over 300 goals across all competitions for his hometown club.