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Vieira: NYCFC “paid the price” for lackluster finishing in the final third

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Tuesday night’s defeat at MAPFRE Stadium brought up a lot of the same issues that New York City FC has faced for the better part of its first three seasons in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: Crew blast NYCFC in first leg of East semifinals ]

Manager Patrick Vieira and his side conceded four goals in Columbus against the surging Crew in NYCFC’s 4-1 loss, which now puts the Eastern Conference regular season runners’ up at a distinct disadvantage heading into leg 2 on Sunday.

It’s not only a similar situation to that of a season ago — when NYCFC trailed Toronto FC by a scoreline of 2-0 heading into the home leg in the East semifinals — but actually worse considering the number of chances the Crew garnered in front of their home fans.

[ MORE: Zack Steffen spoke to PST ahead of Columbus’ first leg vs. NYCFC ]

Meanwhile, Vieira’s side simply wasn’t clinical enough when it came down to the critical moments of the match.

“We paid the price heavily tonight,” Vieira said following Tuesday’s defeat. “When you concede four goals away from home, you make things very difficult for yourselves.

“Of course, it is going to be a tough challenge, but it is a challenge that we are going to try to prepare ourselves for, and get ready for it.

“We’re gonna try. It will be really important to internalize the game tonight and come away with a plan of how to create chances and try not to concede.

“We’re going to give ourselves a good chance. Every time that we play them, we have the opportunity to score goals — not just one, but a few goals.”

NYCFC boasted one of the top attacks at times during the MLS regular season — led by captain David Villa and his 22 goals. However, the Spanish international has had little support in the attacking third for much of the second half of 2017, leaving Vieira’s squad vulnerable when they don’t cash in on goalscoring chances.

The team’s second-leading scorer, Jack Harrison, has scored just twice since the end of June, while the trio of Rodney Wallace, Maxi Moralez and Tommy McNamara have combined for four goals since May 21.

Over the last 10 games, including Tuesday’s loss, the Bronx side has scored just 10 goals — which by their standards is quite low. In comparison, Villa and Co. registered 47 finishes through their first 25 MLS matches this season.

With attacking players not named Villa struggling to find finishing opportunities as of late, NYCFC’s uphill climb just became that much more difficult when the club travels back home to host the Crew.

“In the last seven or eight games, when we were struggling to win games a little bit, the content of our game was there,” Vieira explained.

“It’s just, we don’t score goals. When you look at the number of chances we created in the first half, we didn’t take our chances.

“They took their chances and we didn’t take them. When you create so many chances and you only score once, it’s not good enough.”

Defensively, NYCFC didn’t make things easier for themselves after Alexander Callens was sent off seven minutes into the second half after raising an elbow to Crew attacker Justin Meram’s face prior to a corner kick.

Without Callens — who has previously started every match this season for NYCFC — Vieira’s group is left with a thin set of options at the back. First-choice center back Maxime Chanot remains sidelined with an injury, potentially leaving Fredrick Brillant, Ethan White and 16-year-old James Sands up for selection on Sunday.

VIDEO: 10 red cards in abandoned Brazilian game

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This is utterly bonkers.

There are plenty of derbies around the globe which put fans and players on edge, but this was different.

Vitoria and Bahia squared off in the Bahia State derby in Salvador, Brazil and the match was abandoned amid violent scenes on the pitch which saw 10 players sent off.

The first half saw eight yellows dished out, but it all kicked off in the 50th minute after Vinicius scored a penalty kick for Bahia and shall we say danced before appearing to hump mid-air in front of the Vitoria fans. Predictably, that didn’t go down well.

Chaos ensued (see the video clip below) as punches flew in and the referee ended up sending off eight players, which included substitutes nearby, as all hell broke loose behind the Vitoria goal.

After a lengthy break, eventually three Vitoria players were sent off and five from Bahia, but there was to be more drama as two more Vitoria players were sent off in the 79th minute to take their tally of players on the pitch to seven.

That meant the game was abandoned and Bahia will likely be awarded a 3-0 victory.

The next time someone tells you a derby game is particularly “feisty” just show them the video below…


Arsenal sign record-breaking deal with Emirates

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Arsenal have announced a new sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines which will run until 2024 and is said to be worth over $56 million per season.

In a statement released on the club website, they call the five-year extension to the current deal “largest sponsorship deal ever signed by the club” as Emirates will continue to appear on the shirts and training gear of all of the teams.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis revealed the reason behind extending the relationship with Emirates.

“Our shirt partnership is the longest running in the Premier League and one of the longest relationships in world sport. This mutual commitment is testimony to the strength and depth of our unique relationship. Emirates are again demonstrating their great belief in our approach and ambition and their significantly increased investment will help us continue to compete for trophies and bring more success to the club and our fans around the world.”

The Gunners also confirmed that their home stadium will be known as the Emirates Stadium until at least 2028, as per the agreement reached in 2012.

Where do Arsenal rank in terms of shirt sponsorship deals?

Manchester United lead the way with their deal with Chevrolet said to be worth over $74.2 million per year, while Chelsea sit in second with a $56 million per year partnership with Yokohama but the Gunners are now alongside their London rivals.

Manchester City and Tottenham are just behind them when it comes to sponsorship deals, while Liverpool’s relationship with Standard Chartered runs until the end of next season.

Money from Wembley replay will ‘support Rochdale for two or three years’

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Worst-case scenario for Tottenham Hotspur: drawing League One side Rochdale in Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash; best-case scenario for the Dale: drawing the Premier League giants and forcing a replay at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

For a club the size of Rochdale — 10,200-seat stadium, and never been above the third tier of English soccer — the financial impact of raking in half of the game’s gate receipts “will support the club for the next two or three years,” according to manager Keith Hill — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t know how much it is worth but a lot of money has gone into the new pitch. That was a heavy investment for us. Hopefully the money we make will support the club for the next two or three years. We will cut our cloth accordingly and we won’t be in debt.”

As for Steve Davies’ 93rd-minute equalizer, Hill was adamant that it was nothing short of what they “deserved”:

“It was a feeling of reward, not relief, because the performance deserved at least the opportunity for us to go to Wembley for a replay. I’ve always wanted to do that against a Premier League team and manager. Why not take them on and try to win? It could have been football suicide but I thought we gained their respect and to score the goal we did was tremendous. The players were magnificent.”

Tottenham Hotspur, soccer philanthropists.

Try, try again: Messi seeks 1st goal vs. Chelsea in 9th attempt

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LONDON (AP) As unlikely as it sounds, Lionel Messi is still waiting to score his first goal against Chelsea after drawing a blank in eight previous Champions League matches.

The five-time World Player of the Year is likely to get another chance to break his duck this week and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the past will count for little when Barcelona visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

“I hope we maintain this tradition but we are speaking about a fantastic player,” Conte said ahead of the last-16, first-leg Champions League game. “The most important thing is the present.

“We must have great respect but at the same time we must be excited to play this type of game and take on this type of challenge. It won’t be easy because we know very well this player, we are talking about one of the best in the world.”

The teams have produced some epic games in the past although they have not met in the Champions League since Chelsea pulled off a remarkable backs-to-the-wall semifinal victory over Barcelona on the way to winning the trophy in 2012.

Messi missed a penalty in the second leg at the Nou Camp as the London club overcame the first-half dismissal of captain John Terry, and a 2-0 deficit, to draw the game 2-2 and secure an unforgettable 3-2 aggregate win.

Bayern Munich hosts Besiktas in Tuesday’s other game while the following day sees Manchester United traveling to Sevilla, and Shakhtar Donetsk playing host to Roma.

Two weeks ago, the prospect of a Chelsea win over Barca would have been unthinkable after Conte’s men had slumped to successive defeats by two of the Premier League’s lesser lights.

The London club was still smarting from a 3-0 home loss against Bournemouth when it traveled to Watford and succumbed to an embarrassing 4-1 reverse.

Chelsea has got back on track since then, though, easing past West Bromwich Albion 3-0 in the league last Monday before swatting aside second-tier Hull 4-0 in the FA Cup four days later.

Conte has several selection dilemmas. He must choose between captain Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger for a place at the back, and between Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud up front.

Cesc Fabregas will also be desperate to play against his former team but may have to settle for a spot on the bench.

Barca has lost only once in 38 matches this season since falling in the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid in August. It has a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga and has reached the final of the Copa del Rey.

Messi is having another stellar campaign, scoring 27 times in all competitions, and he helped set up two goals in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Eibar.

Philippe Coutinho is ineligible for Barca following his move from Liverpool.