Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea: Blues held in gripping clash

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  • Luiz catches Mignolet napping to open scoring
  • Wijnaldum equalizes
  • Mignolet redeems himself, saves Costa’s PK

Liverpool battled back and held on for a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Anfield on Tuesday in a gripping encounter in the pouring rain on Merseyside.

Chelsea took the lead through David Luiz‘s sumptuous free kick which caught Simon Mignolet off guard, but Liverpool equalized in the second half as Georginio Wijnaldum headed home to make it 1-1.

Late on Diego Costa won a penalty kick but his spot kick was then saved by Mignolet as the Blues missed a good chance to grab yet another win but this point keeps them ahead of the chasing pack in the title race.

Chelsea now has 56 points, extending their lead at the top of the table to nine points. Liverpool now has 46 points.

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Liverpool had all the play early on as Georginio Wijnaldum hammered an effort in on goal which Thibaut Courtois saved well.

Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino linked up well in the final third early on but then Chelsea grew into the game.

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First Eden Hazard raced clear and set up Victor Moses but his shot was blocked and then came a moment of magic to put the Blues 1-0 up.

Chelsea won a free kick 25 yards out and Luiz strode up to the ball and hammered home a free kick in off the post. 1-0 to Chelsea but replays showed that Liverpool’s goalkeeper Mignolet was looking the wrong way and wasn’t ready for the effort.

After that Luiz almost got on the end of a Willian free kick at the back post to make it 2-0 and Chelsea looked far more dangerous as the first half came to a close.

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Liverpool looked brighter in the second half and Firmino missed a sitter in the 49th minute. A surge forward from Liverpool saw Marcos Alonso slid in to make a challenge but the ball inadvertently played in Firmino but he panicked and shanked an effort over from eight yards out.

At the other end Moses then bundled his way through and his shot hit the near post before going wide. A let off for Liverpool after yet another sloppy defensive mistake.

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Just before the hour mark Liverpool were level as Jordan Henderson‘s cross found James Milner at the back post and he nodded the ball back across goal and Wijnladum reacted first to a deflection to head home. 1-1. Game on.

Drama ensued late on as Joel Matip brought down Costa in the box but Chelsea’s striker saw his spot kick saved brilliantly by Mignolet in front of the Kop.

Late on Pedro went close twice as Henderson blocked his first effort and then the Spaniard curled another just wide, while at the other end Firmino headed straight at Courtois as he spurned another golden chance.

Chelsea were the happier team with the draw as Conte punched the air with delight at the final whistle. Combined with Arsenal and Tottenham both slipping up on Tuesday, this was another big point for the Blues.

New York Red Bulls introduce space at RBA for autistic families

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls
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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) The Red Bulls have announced plans for a permanent sensory-friendly space at their stadium for families impacted by autism.

Formerly executive offices, the space overlooking midfield is a calm area that is free from the crowds and the noise of Red Bull Arena during matches. Families can use it for free.

The team announced the new space on Saturday before the Red Bulls were set to host the Chicago Fire. It was Autism Awareness Night at the stadium.

“Families deserve to feel welcome and comfortable each time they step foot into Red Bull Arena, not just one night a year,” Red Bulls GM Marc de Grandpre said in a statement released by the club. “We hope all sports teams and entertainment venues are inspired to take similar action to provide comfort for families with loved ones on the autism spectrum.”

League Two game restarted in empty stadium after fans storm field

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LONDON (AP) An English soccer game restarted in an empty stadium after a pitch invasion led to the crowd being told the fixture had been abandoned.

There were five minutes remaining in Leyton Orient’s fourth-tier game against Colchester on Saturday when a sit-down protest was staged on the pitch by Orient fans against Italian owner Francesco Becchetti.

It forced the referee to take the players off the field. The protests lasted for more than an hour before the crowd was told the game had been abandoned and the stadium eventually cleared. The teams came out and finished the game.

Leyton Orient lost 3-1 a week after its relegation from the English Football League was confirmed after 112 years.

“A decision was taken with the police to announce that the game had been abandoned as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct,” the EFL said in a statement. “However, it was deemed appropriate that the game needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition.”

La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid hold serve in tight title race

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Super-duper Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of top 7 ]

Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona are doing all they can do — win — in their bid to usurp Real Madrid in the race for the title. While they entered the weekend — and still are — ahead of their El Clasico rivals based on head-to-head results this season, Los Blancos still have a game in hand which will surely decide whether Madrid claim their 33rd top-division title, or a 25th for Barca.

On Saturday, Luis Enrique’s side had more than just the title at stake — also at stake: the Derbi Barceloni, against fellow Catalan side Espanyol.

For 45 minutes, the home side held firm and refused to break, but once Luis Suarez put the Blaugrana ahead in the 50th minute, that was all she wrote. Ivan Rakitic doubled the advantage in the 76th minute, and Suarez completed the scoring 11 minutes later.

Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia

By the time the derby kicked off, Madrid had already applied the pressure and gone three points clear with a 2-1 victory that was a whole lot closer than the final score indicates.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, and Zinedine Zidane’s side was well on its way to victory. Ronaldo followed up his opening goal with a missed penalty kick 10 minutes into the second half, and Daniel Parejo pulled the visitors level with a sensational free kick just eight minutes before the end of regular time. Points looked sure to be dropped, and the door opened wider for Barca, but Marcelo was prepared to play the part of hero on the day, and the Brazilian left back bagged one of the season’s more improbable goals, a right-footed strike from the top of the box, in the 86th minute.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid
Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Osasuna vs. Deportivo La Coruña — 6 a.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Alaves — 10:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Leganes — 12:30 p.m. ET
Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:45 p.m. ET

Monday’s La Liga schedule

Malaga vs. Sevilla — 3 p.m. ET

Championship Focus: It’s all about the playoff places now

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With Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United having already clinched the Championship’s two automatic promotion places, all eyes turn to the four teams behind them still jockeying for playoff positioning…

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3rd — Reading — 82 points, +2 GD
4th — Sheffield Wednesday — 81 points, +16 GD
5th — Huddersfield Town — 81 points, +1 GD
6th — Fulham — 77 points, +27 GD

First of all, the Championship remains the least sensible league in the world. Disagree? Just try to explain the above wildly varying points totals and the corresponding goal differentials. Go ahead, I’ll wait

As for the weekend’s results, Reading and Wednesday did themselves major favors in the race for third with victories over Wigan Athletic (1-0) and Ipswich Town (1-0), respectively, while Huddersfield, who entered the weekend in that top playoff place, played 67 minutes with a man advantage against Birmingham City, and lost 2-0. All three of Reading, Wednesday and Huddersfield have clinched their place in the promotion playoffs, which begin two weeks from Saturday, on May 13.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of the top 7 play ]

Given Leeds United’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City, a win would have clinched the fourth and final playoff place for Fulham, but the Cottagers dropped a pair of points themselves in a 1-1 draw with Brentford at Craven Cottage. Still, Fulham are all but into the playoffs with a three-point lead on Leeds, and a goal differential that’s 13 goals better.