Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal: Ruthless Blues continue title charge

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  • Chelsea 12 points clear of Arsenal
  • Alonso, Hazard, Fabregas score
  • Gunners lose second-straight PL game
  • 16 wins in last 18 PL games for Chelsea

Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as Antonio Conte‘s side took another massive step towards clinching the Premier League title.

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Marcos Alonso‘s controversial first half header put them ahead, then a superb solo goal from Eden Hazard made it 2-0 and Chelsea eased to victory when Cesc Fabregas jumped off the bench and lobbed home. Olivier Giroud scored a stoppage time header which was nothing more than a consolation.

With the win the Blues remain top of the table and now have 59 points, while Arsenal has 47 and are embroiled in a battle to finish in the top four with their title chances all but over.

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Arsenal started brightly with a high-press pushing Chelsea back and that forced a mistake between Thibaut Courtois and David Luiz. The loose ball fell to Alex Iwobi but his shot deflected just wide. A let off for Chelsea.

The Blues looked dangerous on the break and from one of those counters Victor Moses won a free kick. From that set piece situation Gary Cahill headed into the ground and over the bar.

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Chelsea didn’t have to wait much longer for the opening goal as Diego Costa‘ header hit the bar, looped up in the air and the onrushing Alonso clattered into Hector Bellerin and headed home. 1-0 to Chelsea. A dazed looking Bellerin was forced off after Alonso’s elbow struck him in the face and Gabriel come on in his place.

Before half time Costa went close as he slammed a shot into the side-netting at the near post, while Shkodran Mustafi was booked for cynically hauling down Hazard on a breakaway. Chelsea went close through Pedro who forced Petr Cech into a save and then the Gunners went close agonizingly to equalizing. A corner was half cleared and then a cross from the right was met by Gabriel. The Brazilian defender sent a towering header towards goal but Courtois denied him with a sprawling one-handed save. Magnificent.

Despite that chance, and Mesut Ozil going close with a low effort, Arsenal failed to regain much of their early momentum but the Gunners only trailed 1-0 at the break.

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Koscielny made a perfect last-ditch tackle on Hazard as he threatened to race through and N'Golo Kante was at his destructive best early in the second half as Chelsea won the ball back time and time again in midfield to break up any of Arsenal’s flow.

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Then came a moment of magic which all but wrapped up the victory for Chelsea.

Hazard picked up the ball on the halfway line with nothing on. He surged past Francis Coquelin with the Arsenal midfielder all over him, then cut inside Koscielny and another Arsenal defender before tucking him past Cech. 2-0 to Chelsea a Stamford Bridge erupted.

Arsenal came close to grabbing a goal back as a cross from the left almost found Theo Walcott but Cahill snuffed out the danger to clear for a corner.

Late on Arsenal pushed to get back in the game with Giroud and Danny Welbeck coming on, and the latter had a glancing header brilliantly pushed wide by Courtois.

In the end Chelsea eased to victory as Fabregas made the most of Cech’s mistake and lobbed home to rub salt in Arsenal’s wounds, and Giroud’s late header was nothing more than a consolation for the Gunners.

Chelsea’s procession towards the title continues.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

Photo credit: NYCFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

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Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

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Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)

Watford signs Will Hughes from Derby County

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Watford has completed the capture of 22-year-old central midfielder Will Hughes, a fantastic transfer for one of England’s younger talents.

Hughes, despite his young age, racked up 189 appearances for Derby County (despite missing significant time in 2015 for an ACL tear) and now gets his first shot at the Premier League, and with it potentially a chance to push his way into the England fold. Hughes has been a staple for the England youth system, making 22 appearances for the country’s U-21 side but is yet to feature for the senior team.

The fee for the transfer was undisclosed but reports have tabbed the amount at around $10 million.

Hughes came close to making the Premier League with Derby County on multiple occasions, reaching the Championship playoffs in both 2014 and 2016. Now, he’ll battle the likes of Valon Behrami, Tom Cleverley, Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure for a spot in Watford’s midfield.

The club release confirmed that Hughes has not yet completed his medical, and will do so when he returns to the U.K. from competing in the U-21 European Championships in Poland.

New Zealand 0-4 Portugal: Ronaldo, Portugal win Group A

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New Zealand gave the 2017 Confederations Cup all they had, but they go home empty-handed as Portugal won the Group A finale 3-0 to advance to the knockout round.

Portugal held much of the possession as expected, but they found little at the end early on. The first true chance fell to Cristiano Ronaldo in the 24th minute, who latched onto a Ricardo Quaresma cross from wide right and produced a powerful header, but it was poorly directed straight to New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic for the easy save.

[ RECAP: Mexico eliminates Russia with 2-1 comeback ]

Ronaldo had another headed chance minutes later, but he rocketed the attempt back off the post. Portugal would eventually find the opener just past the half-hour mark via the penalty spot. Danilo was clearly shoved by a pair of defenders on a set-piece, and Ronaldo easily dispatched the spot-kick for a 1-0 lead.

The favorites would double their lead just a few minutes later as Eliseu on the overlap came down the left flank and cut horizontally into the box. He fed a charging Bernardo Silva, and the in-demand Monaco attacker jumped to meet it and poked home. Silva was unable to celebrate after turning his ankle heavily on the landing, but he would come back onto the field.

[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news

Portugal finished things off with 10 minutes to go in the game as Andre Silva burst through the midfielder, shucked his defender, and fired past Marinovic to seal the game for good. Nani added a fourth The win means Portugal finishes level on points with Mexico at the top of Group A, winning the group on goal differential thanks to Silva’s final goal.

Mexico 2-1 Russia: Comeback seals semifinal place

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Mexico again produced a poor first half, but were saved in the final 45 minutes as Juan Carlos Osorio led the CONCACAF squad to the semifinals of the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Right off the bat, there was a controversial moment. Just five minutes into the game, Yuri Zhirkov burst into the Mexico box and went to ground under a challenge from Hector Moreno. The referee waved play on, but it appeared on replay that Moreno tripped Zhirkov. Nevertheless, no call was made and no word came from the video assistant referee.

[ RECAP: Portugal eases by New Zealand 4-0 ]

The hosts had another huge penalty shout, but the referee again waved play on as Fedor Smolov was sent flying to ground as Nestor Araujo contacted his leg from behind in the 17th minute. After about a minute of play, the VAR called for a review, but even after a look at the monitor, the referee decided there was not obvious reason to reverse the call.

With Russia applying all the pressure, they would find the breakthrough in the 25th minute. A pair of fantastic saves from Memo Ochoa went for naught as Alexandr Erokhin whiffed, but he was able to find Aleksandr Samedov who struck low past Ochoa for the opener.

[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news

The lead wouldn’t last long. Mexico didn’t exactly seem sparked by the deficit, but they would draw back level against the run of play just past the half-hour mark. It appeared that Nestor Araujo’s looping header was meant to set up a teammate at the far post, but it ended up chipping Igor Akinfeev and tucking inside the woodwork for the equalizer.

After halftime, Mexico scored completely out of nowhere. A bombed clearance out of the back by Hector Herrera seemed an easy collect for Akinfeev, but as the ball bounced high up into the air, Hirving Lozano charged it down and headed the ball under feeble pressure from the Russian goalkeeper. The ball bounced unchallenged into the net, and Mexico took a shock 2-1 lead.

Mexico appeared to have a third to pad the lead, but VAR took 34 seconds to correctly reverse the call as replay spotted goalscorer Hector Moreno in an offside position on the delivery. Russia was doomed to defeat when Zhirkov was given a second yellow card for a clear elbow to the face of Miguel Layun. Somehow, the hosts still had one big chance in the 72nd minute despite the disadvantage, but Igor Smolinkov somehow missed the net on what should have been a tap-in.

The win for Mexico sees them into the knockout stage, but they fail to win the group, finishing level with Portugal on 7 points but coming up short on goal differential by one. Mexico will be without Andres Guardado in the semifinals, as he was shown his second yellow card of the tournament in the first half.