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CL Wrap: Chelsea pummeled in Rome, Man United eases by Benfica

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Roma 3-0 Chelsea

Stephen El Shaarawy scored a brace, with his first coming 40 seconds into the match, and Chelsea was dropped from the top of Group C. Antonio Rudiger had a brutal match, partly at fault on both goals from El Shaarawy. The second was particularly ugly, with Rudiger almost allowing the ball to reach the Italian like a door swinging open. Diego Perotti scored Roma’s third in the second half to add insult to injury.

Chelsea has now leaked ten goals in its last five matches across all competitions, and drops to second in the Champions League group, three clear of Qarabag with two matches to play. Tuesday’s result is Chelsea’s heaviest Champions League defeat since 2012, when they became the first defending champions to be eliminated in the group stage.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Qarabag

A near-stunner in Spain saw the teams share the points as Azerbaijani club Qarabag took the lead on 40 minutes but conceded early into the second half in a 1-1 draw. Fittingly, Spanish striker Michel scored the opener, delivering a fabulous header directing a corner past Jan Oblak.

Atletico would hit back in the 56th minute on an absolutely stunning goal by midfielder Thomas. Qarabag defended well as Atleti attacked down the right, but the ball fell to the 24-year-old Ghanan at the top of the penalty area and he left fly a vicious, curling effort that spectacularly found the top-right corner.

Pedro Henrique was then shown a straight red minutes later for a karate kick to see the visitors down to 10 men, but the visitors were able to see out the point amid an absolute tidal wave, as Atletico finished with 35 shots, 11 on target. They were helped when Atletico was also reduced to 10 men as Stefan Slavic was given a second yellow card.

Manchester United 2-0 Benfica

Anthony Martial had a penalty saved by Mile Svilar, but the 18-year-old was unlucky to concede an own-goal just before halftime as the Red Devils saw themselves to victory and confirming qualification to the Knockout round as a result.

The goal came in first-half stoppage time as Nemanja Matic rifled a long-range effort on net that clanged off the left post. Svilar had thrown himself unsuccessfully at the shot, leaving him sprawled out on the ground as the ball clattered off the post, came back off Svilar’s hip, and into the back of the net. Daley Blind was on hand to ensure the victory, cooly finishing a penalty with 12 minutes remaining.

The result leaves Manchester United six points clear of both CSKA Moscow and Basel in Group A, all but assuring them qualification with two games to play, and very likely to top the group.

Sporting CP 1-1 Juventus

Bruno Cesar pocketed a rebound to put Sporting CP deservingly in front of Italian giants Juventus in Portugal, but Gonzalo Higuain came to the rescue to share the spoils. The home side went ahead in the 20th minute, but Higuain chipped Sporting goalkeeper from a tight angle in the 79th minute. Still, Juventus failed to capitalize on Barcelona’s slip, leaving the Spaniards still three points adrift at the top of Group D.

Olympiakos 0-0 Barcelona

The Catalans held 69% possession and attempted 19 shots, but couldn’t find a way past Olympiakos as they come to a 0-0 draw in Greece. It’s the first time in five years that Barcelona has been held scoreless in a Champions League group stage match.

Celtic 1-2 Bayern Munich

Javi Martinez gave Bayern Munich the win, scoring with 12 minutes remaining to give the Germans all three points in Scotland.

Kingsley Coman had scored a controversial goal in the first half, beating sleeping defender Dedryck Boyata but handling the ball as he collected and scored. Celtic thought they had served justice as Callum McGregor equalized on a completely broken play, but the visitors struck back just three minutes later to retake the lead. Martinez headed in powerfully on a baseline cross from David Alaba.

Paris Saint-Germain 5-0 Anderlecht

Neymar created PSG’s first and scored their second as the home side blasted Belgian stalwarts Anderlecht in the French capital. The Brazilian found Kylian Mbappe at the top of the box, who immediately fed Marco Verratti completely unguarded on the left flank for PSG’s first right on the half-hour mark. They scored again before the break, with Neymar dribbling all the way in from the corner flag, cutting across the box and firing a simple finish off the hands of Frank Boeckx and into the back of the net.

Layvin Kurzawa then took charge, scoring a 2nd half hat-trick to put the game out of sight.

The win sees PSG qualify for the knockout round, in addition to keeping pace with Bayern. The three points leaves PSG free at the top of Group B by that margin, with the German club sitting just behind them as both look likely to move on.

Basel 1-2 CSKA Moscow

Luca Zuffi and Alan Dzagoev appeared to have cancelled each other out, but Pontus Wernbloom scored a 79th minute winner to muddy up Group A. Manchester United is in control at the top, but the win for the Russians puts CSKA level with Basel in second place, both on six points with two more matches to play.

Pressure builds on Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Bosz

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Borussia Dortmund has fallen to fifth in the Bundesliga table thanks to a trio of consecutive losses in league play, and suddenly there is loads of pressure on manager Peter Bosz.

The Dutchman came to Westfalenstadion after upper management pushed Thomas Tuchel out over the summer, and while he won seven of his first eight league matches in charge by a total goal differential of 21-2, things have come crashing down. The black & yellow have lost three in a row Bundesliga matches and four of their last five across all competitions, with their only win in that span coming over third-tier Magdenburg.

With fans feeling helpless over the departure of the wildly successful Tuchel that came as a result of a falling out between the German and his superiors, Bosz would always be on a short leash. He inherited a flawed squad, yet one that had achieved much under his predecessor, and immediate failures would naturally be lumped on the new man.

The most recent defeat, a 2-1 falter at Stuttgart, was a microcosm of Dortmund’s recent failures. The team conceded a comically poor goal five minutes into the match, worked hard to equalize just before the halftime break, and conceded again just after returning to the pitch. They controlled much of the match, but largely failed to capitalize.

The head man summed it up pretty well. “The defeat really hurts,” Bosz proclaimed after the final whistle. “We came here to win, so we’re very disappointed. When you see the goals we conceded, it borders on the ridiculous. It hurts because we actually put in a relatively good performance in the first half. The team performed well after conceding the early goal, only the final ball was lacking. The second half wasn’t as good. We need to keep going, we won’t give up.”

So what do the Dortmund executives do? Does Bosz get the benefit of the doubt based on performances? Or does he get blamed for the sudden dropoff in results? There is plenty of pressure given the team sits not only nine points back of Borussia Dortmund in league play, but is also third in a brutal Champions League group with almost no hope of recovery, and even threatens to miss out on a drop to Europa League play if they slip behind Cypriot club Apoel Nicosia, whom they find themselves level on points with.

Even if the club sticks with the Dutchman for now, his room for error has almost completely evaporated and it’s only mid-November. The next two matches will likely tell the tale, and it’s an uphill battle. Tottenham comes to Westfalenstadion on the backs of a disappointing defeat to North London foes Arsenal, followed by the home end of the Rivierderby against a Schalke side that sits second in the Bundesliga table, three points above Bosz and Dortmund.

Antonio Conte calls Tony Pulis a “really good manager”

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West Brom, after four straight defeats, sits 17th in the Premier League table, most recently suffering a 4-0 dismantling at the hands of Chelsea.

Yet Blues boss Antonio Conte has offered his counterpart an olive branch, supporting his fellow Premier League manager at a time of panic.

With reports that Pulis could be fired this coming week – some say as early as Monday – the Baggies boss is under heaps of pressure, but Conte doesn’t believe he should be. “I must be honest, I think Tony Pulis is a really good manager,” Conte said, hoping those in charge don’t make decisions based on Sunday’s result.

“He has great experience and it’s always very difficult to play against his team. This game became easy because we started very strong, with great concentration and desire to win. We showed from the start our will to win this game. But I repeat: Last season we struggled a lot against them.”

West Brom has lost four in a row in league play, and they haven’t picked up a win since August, and as The Guardian points out, they have the lowest average possession in the Premier League and have the second-lowest shots on target thus far. They registered just two shots on target against Chelsea, and held 39% possession, which is actually slightly above their average for the season.

Sergio Ramos suffers broken nose in Atletico Madrid draw

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Real Madrid trails Barcelona by 10 points in the La Liga title race just 12 matches in, and now they will have to play catch-up without their best defender.

Club captain Sergio Ramos suffered a broken nose after being accidentally kicked in the face by teammate Lucas Hernandez during the first half of Madrid’s 0-0 draw with cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid. He received treatment and remained on the field, but he was withdrawn at halftime.

Manager Zinedine Zidane was unable to give a timetable for Ramos’s return.

Ramos said via Twitter, alongside some graphic images of his bloody nose, “I would bleed a thousand times for this badge and this shirt. Thanks for your support. I’ll be back in no time.”

Up next for Madrid is Champions League group match against Cypriot club Apoel midweek before a league game against Malaga at home. Athletic Bilbao and Borussia Dortmund are also on the horizon. A masked Sergio Ramos could be in our midst soon.

Real Madrid has not lost a league match without Ramos since March of 2015, but they drew their only game this season with Ramos suspended, a 2-2 home split with Valencia.

Moyes roasts West Ham players after loss to Watford

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After his first game in charge of West Ham, David Moyes thought he had a better squad. Apparently he was mistaken.

A 2-0 loss to Watford gave Moyes a rude awakening as he looks to replace Slaven Bilic and pull the Hammers out of the relegation zone. He was not pleased with his players.

“Overall, that level of performance will not be good enough,” Moyes told reporters after the match.

He wasn’t done.

“I thought this was a big job, but there were some players with big reputations who disappointed me. There were some who I thought would show me more, and why they play for the team regularly. They need to show me, ‘If that’s your reputation, show me why you’ve got it.'”

He backtracked slightly, agreeing that the players are in a difficult position changing managers, but ultimately that excuse wasn’t enough for him. “It’s tough for the players – I could sense that – but I didn’t enjoy our performance in the end. I didn’t enjoy us giving the ball away too cheaply, too many times and I expected us to do better.”

Moyes even called out striker Andy Carroll, saying he removed the England international because he feared Carroll would pick up a second yellow card. Carroll could have been carded seven seconds into the match, leaving Marvin Zeegelaar with a bloody nose after an elbow to the face, something Carroll has been sent off for earlier this season. He was eventually given one in the 28th minute.

“I thought we defended OK,” Moyes said, “but then we gave away cheap goals by getting bundled off the ball and we didn’t really deal with it. We didn’t do well enough in all departments at different times.”

That’s about as ruthless as you’ll ever hear the mild-mannered David Moyes, and all West Ham players should beware that their places in the team are in jeopardy.