Chelsea 4-3 Watford: Changed champions entertain

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  • Terry scores early (video)
  • Gifts equalizer to Capoue
  • Blues make nine changes to XI
  • Batshuayi, Azpilicueta score
  • Fabregas gets classy winner

Stefano Okaka’s 74th minute goal looked to give Watford a surprising draw at much-changed Chelsea on Monday at Stamford Bridge.

But Cesc Fabregas found an 88th minute moment of class to give the Premier League champions a record-tying 29th win of the season in a 4-3 win. A win over Sunderland this weekend would set a new PL standard.

John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Michy Batshuayi posted Chelsea’s goals, as the Premier League champions moved their point total to 90.

Etienne Capoue and Daryl Janmaat also scored for Watford, which trailed 1-0 and 3-1 in the game. Watford remains 16th with 40 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Azpilicueta, N'Golo Kante, and Eden Hazard were the lone regular starters in the XI, with Nathaniel Chalobah, Nathan Ake, and Kenedy handed rare starts in front of second-string keeper Asmir Begovic.

The class of Chelsea’s depth was on display early, with Willian — how is he not a starter? — burning down the right wing.

Willian curled an 11th minute free kick toward Nathan Ake, but Watford backstop Heurelho Gomes collected it.

Michy Batshuayi beat Sebastian Prodl into the box in the 21st minute, but the defender recovered to force a corner that turned into Chelsea’s opener. Terry rose

Watford leveled it within moments, this time victimizing Terry. Capoue nabbed his seventh of the season when Terry’s poor header went into the path of the Watford man, who headed past Asmir Begovic.

Gomes flew to punch a ball away from Hazard on a 29th minute break, calls for a penalty rightfully ignored by referee Lee Mason.

Hazard then came close to cooking the Watford defense when Willian sent a half-field arrow to the Belgian, who cut to the middle and saw his shot deflected just… though a corner was not given.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Defenders were on show, and Azpilicueta made it 2-1 in the 36th minute drilling a low shot through traffic to beat a diving Gomes.

Batshuayi nabbed a goal after the break from a similar spot on the field as his league-clinching winner from Friday. Kenedy’s shot deflected to Ake, who played square for Batshuayi to tap home. 3-1.

Yet another quickfire reply came from Watford, as Daryl Janmaat dribbled into the 18 and turned Ake the wrong way to pull the Hornets back to within one.

Azpilicueta had a chance to score a second off a Janmaat turnover, but Gomes pushed a low shot wide of the far post.

Okaka took advantage of confusion between Kurt Zouma and Terry to belt a Tom Cleverley pass beyond Begovic to make it 3-3 in the 75th minute. Conte responded by taking off Kenedy for Ola Aina.

The only goal remaining went to Fabregas. Kante won the ball, which wound up on the boot of Willian for a square pass that Fabregas snuck inside the post.

Prodl then saw a second yellow card in stoppage time to send Watford down a man.

Daly collapses during match, treated for heat illness

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly collapsed during the final minute of a National Women’s Soccer League match against the Seattle Reign as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The 25-year-old Daly was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, where the team said she was being treated for heat illness.

The temperature at BBVA Compass Stadium was 92 degrees at the 3 p.m. kickoff. The Reign won 2-0.

[ MORE: Perisic talking with Man Utd? ]

The NWSL issued a statement that said the league had worked with the Dash before the season to schedule any afternoon games early in the year to help avoid heat issues. The teams took a hydration break late in the match.

“We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” the statement said.

Reign coach Laura Harvey posted to Twitter: “Proud of the team today. Some of the hottest conditions I’ve seen. Road games are tough but that was crazy.”

MLS roundup: Outrageous dive, posts doom ‘Caps; Ramirez stays red hot

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Six matches are in the books on a busy Saturday in Major League Soccer, and five of them finished 1-0.

How they got there? Much different stories. With the Cali Clasico still to play, let’s dig into the five that followed Seattle 1-0 Portland.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]


Vancouver Whitecaps 0-1 DC United

It’s especially difficult to win on the road in Major League Soccer, unless the hosts fritter away four good chances off the woodwork — including a Cristian Techera PK — and give away a spot kick of their own. Lamar Neagle converted the 61st offering after a sinister dive from Jose Guillermo Ortiz. He was taken off soon after, and is probably going to miss sometime when the DisCo is done with him. Outrageous.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New England Revolution

Not one, not two, nor three, but four New England players saw a low cross slide by them for Daniel Royer to finish as New York came from behind to take all three points at Red Bull Arena. Cody Cropper committed a gaffe that allowed Bradley Wright-Phillips to equalize after a Lee Nguyen PK had put the Revs ahead early.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 Sporting KC

Homegrown defender and University of Denver product Kortne Ford has his first MLS goal, as the Rapids surprised the Western Conference leaders on Saturday. SKC outshot Colorado by nearly 20 attempts (Shoulder shrug emoji).

Minnesota United 1-0 Orlando City

There were questions as to whether NASL superstar Christian Ramirez could translate his game to Major League Soccer.

Yes. The answer is yes.

Ramirez has eight goals in 13 MLS matches, and should be hearing his name from a certain Bruce Arena around Gold Cup time. Those USMNT dreams of last season should come true.

Bobby Shuttleworth made six saves for his third shutout of the season. All have come at home.

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Joao Plata keeps shooting, and the tiny Ecuadorian menace keeps scoring, too. His 36th minute goal was enough for the hosts at Rio Tinto.

Raiola: Zlatan to “100 percent” stay in Europe for two seasons

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 and coming off major knee surgery, but that isn’t stopping suitors from lining up across Europe.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]

Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, says that MLS is not an option for the Swede over the next two seasons. From Sky Sports:

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan. He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”

It would make sense for Ibrahimovic to stay around Manchester United, where he is admired by Jose Mourinho and coming off a season that showed he’s still capable of contributing at a high level.

But he remains beloved in Italy, and would be effective for most clubs in the Top 5 leagues should he return at even 75 percent of the Zlatan we’ve seen regularly.

Report: Manchester United, Inter Milan keen on Perisic deal

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Manchester United wants Ivan Perisic, and both the player and his current club are all about it.

Perisic, 28, is ready to leave Inter Milan, and the Serie A mainstays are happy to accept $46 million for his services according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: No China for Costa ]

Primarily a left winger, Perisic moved to Inter from Wolfsburg at the start of the 2015-16 season. He scored 10 goals and added nine assists in Serie A play this season, and has kept up his production pace since moving from the Bundesliga to Italy.

United needs stars and depth for its Champions League campaign, and Perisic would buttress an attack with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst others. He was a difference maker for Croatia at EURO 2016, and can do the same at Old Trafford.