Marcos Alonso

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Alonso, Pedro have Morata’s back despite Spain omission

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Alvaro Morata having his troubles keeping his spot in the Chelsea lineup, and his omission from the Spain squad has a couple of his teammates speaking up on his behalf.

Marcos Alonso, himself called up to Spain, and Pedro (not called up) have Morata’s back after the big striker scored at the weekend in FA Cup action.

[ MORE: Rojo’s hilarious Alexis signing reaction ]

Alonso admitted that Morata was less than pleased to miss the call-up so close to the World Cup.

“Alvaro wasn’t happy,” Alonso said. “He has gone through a difficult few months with a back injury. He is now 100 per cent and the other day he scored.He is a very important player for us. I hope he will do well from here until the end of the season and he gets to go to the World Cup.”

It’s not like Morata hasn’t performed for Spain; The 25-year-old has 13 goals in 23 caps for La Furia Roja.

But Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has opted for just four traditional strikers, with Chelsea outcast Diego Costa leading the way in caps (16) and goals (6). Also in the squad: Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas (7 and 3), Valencia’s Rodrigo (3 and 1), and Real Madrid’s Lucas Vasquez (3 and 0).

Pedro pointed to Morata’s goal against Leicester City as a milemarker, via

“I’m very happy for Alvaro to score again and hopefully that will give him the confidence to score more. Alvaro is a very good player and an important part of our team. It’s important for him to score and to help the side and hopefully he can continue to do that until the end of the season.He had a back injury but now he’s in a very good condition and it’s a good time for him. I think his back is perfect now and hopefully he can keep scoring, because we all know just how good he is.’

Morata has been on the rise for several seasons, but hasn’t performed at a consistent level in his last three seasons at Juventus, Real Madrid, and Chelsea.

He had more of a playmaking streak at Juve, but has been a straight-up target man for both Real and Chelsea. His 13 goals and five assists certainly aren’t poor, but Antonio Conte clearly expected more from the Spaniard. Will his confidence be boosted before the end of the season?

Leicester 1-2 Chelsea: Blues battle to victory

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  • Morata scores first goal of 2018
  • Vardy nets, score 17th of season
  • Pedro scores in extra time

Chelsea beat Leicester City 2-1 after extra time to seal their spot in the FA Cup semifinal.

Alvaro Morata gave Antonio Conte’s men the lead, but Jamie Vardy equalized to take it to extra time.

Pedro then struck to send Chelsea into the semifinal for the second-straight season.

Leicester started well and went close when Marc Albrighton‘s effort from the edge of the box squirmed just wide.

However the longer the first half well, the more dangerous Chelsea looked.

The West London club threatened on the break through Morata with Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses having plenty of space out wide.

Morata then made the breakthrough right on half time as Willian nicked the ball, surged forward and released the Spaniard who finished calmly for his first goal in 2018.

After the break Leicester finally came to life as Wilfred Ndidi picked out Vardy with a wonderful pass but the Leicester forward looped his header over the bar.

Albrighton whipped in plenty of inviting crosses as Leicester pushed hard for an equalizerand eventually broke through.

Vicente Iborra got on the end of Riyad Mahrez‘s cross and he was denied twice by heroic blocks but Vardy was on hand to tap home. Game on.

Substitute Shinji Okazaki almost got on the end of a cross soon after and at the other end Morata hit the post with an acrobatic finish… but he was in an offside position.

Morata was then denied twice by Kasper Schmeichel at the end of normal time as the game went to extra time.

Pedro was the hero for Chelsea as he headed home the winner in extra time to send Chelsea to Wembley.

Conte, Courtois, Alonso know why Barca beat Chelsea: Messi

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Marcos Alonso gave a lot of answers in his post-match comments following Chelsea’s ouster at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

Turns out he only really needed the first four words.

[ MORE: Match recap | Quarterfinal field set ]

“They have Lionel Messi and I think they were the better team even though we competed well in both games. If we concede easy goals and miss the chances, then it is very difficult against this team,” Alonso said.

Messi had two goals and an assist in the 3-0 second leg win, and scored in the first leg after entering the tie goal-free in his career versus Chelsea.

In a word, he was incredible.

Italian defender Alonso was one of several players, with Willian and N'Golo Kante sure to be mentioned by many, to put in industrious efforts in the loss, but the critical focus will be on a near invisible Eden Hazard and off-balance goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Both of Wednesday’s goals were put between the legs of Courtois. He wasn’t pleased.

“I don’t think we deserve to be out, but individual mistakes cost us in both legs. The first goal, I did not expect Lionel Messi to shoot from that angle and I was too late in closing my legs. It was a mistake on my part.

“I played against Messi a lot of time. I have already conceded goals like that before. The weakest point is between the legs or a goalkeeper, it is annoying, I cannot hide inside, I have to be a man and come out. I made some good saves too but we go out with conceding four goals from four mistakes.”

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte pointed to a possible penalty when Alonso was taken down in the box, but mostly lavished praise on the Argentine wonder.

“Tonight (and) in the two legs, Lionel Messi made the difference,” Conte said. “We are talking about the best player in the world.”

“Over the two legs we were a bit unlucky,” he continued. “We hit the post four times. In our best moment today they scored. They were very clinical. We created many chances. We are talking about a player (Messi) that every season he scores 60 goals. We are talking not about a top player but a super top player. He made the difference. We have no regrets. I must be pleased for the commitment. They gave everything tonight. We didn’t deserve to lose 3-0.”

In the film “Billy Madison,” Billy forces an awkward noise out of his instrument and points to his rival Eric after the latter’s virtuoso violin performance and just says, “He’s good.”
Something like that.

Messi roasts Chelsea with virtuoso performance

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  • Messi scores in 2nd minute (video)
  • Then assists Dembele, 20
  • Alonso hits post
  • Messi completes brace, records 100th UCL goal

Lionel Messi put a pair of goals through the legs of Thibaut Courtois and Ousmane Dembele also scored as Barcelona worked Chelsea 3-0 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to advance to UEFA Champions League quarterfinals by a 4-1 aggregate score line.

The tie was 1-1 after the first leg at Stamford Bridge, but Messi scored the fastest goal of his career to put the reigning Premier League champions on the back foot.

Messi scored his 100th Champions League, and only Cristiano Ronaldo is in front of him on the all-time table with 117 goals. Ronaldo is two years and four months older than Messi.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The Barcelona mega star started a combination play and deposited a deflected pass between the legs of Thibaut Courtois from a very tight angle.

Chelsea didn’t go away, and Barca showed it can counter just as well as it possesses when Messi took advantage of a turnover from former teammate Cesc Fabregas.

Messi danced down the left and cut across the 18 to find Dembele. The teenager took a touch and blasted past Courtois for 2-0.

Luis Suarez was denied by Courtois in the 28th as Barcelona threatened to turn the second leg into a runaway.

The Blues nearly found a goal in the 45th minute when Marcos Alonso whipped a free kick off the post, but Chelsea would need to find a pair in the second half in order to reach the quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

A giveaway forced Courtois to deny Suarez in the 48th minute, as Barcelona aimed for the third goal which would make a quarterfinal berth a virtual certainty.

Olivier Giroud drew a yellow card in protest when the referee denied Marcos Alonso’s shouts for a penalty kick.

Messi then did his thing again, beating Courtois through the legs in the 64th minute.

Chelsea 2-1 Palace: More Willian electricity

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  • Willian scores 13th of season
  • Blues off to Barcelona at midweek
  • Van Aanholt scores 90′

Willian was the danger man and his goal was joined by a Martin Kelly own goal as Chelsea cruised past Crystal Palace 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Patrick Van Aanholt scored a 90th minute goal to pull one back for Palace.

The Blues remain comfortably fifth with 56 points while injury-hit Palace remains 18th but did get a Wilfried Zaha substitute appearance.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea was in control early, and Wayne Hennessey answered the bell when Giroud redirected N'Golo Kante‘s shot on target.

Willian then hit a low shot toward the near post that Hennessey collected with a dive.

The Brazilian got it over the line in the 25th minute, cutting into the center of the park and seeing a slightly-deflected offering beat Hennessey to the near post.

A well-worked Chelsea move saw Willian allow a Marcos Alonso cross through his leg to Hazard, who cued Zappacosta for a shot that turned off two Crystal Palace players and into the goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Chelsea opened the second half with a poor giveaway, and Alexander Sorloth cranked a shot off the near post as Palace failed to pull back a goal.

Willian worked a 1-2 with Giroud, but took an extra touch on the return ball and saw his shot blocked by James Tomkins.

Hennessey denied Hazard in the 55th minute, as Chelsea looked to keep its form firing on all cylinders ahead of the midweek match with Barcelona.

Wilfried Zaha won a free kick on the left edge of the 18, and his blocked shot found Patrick van Aanholt. His shot was caught by Thibaut Courtois.

A Willian free kick at the other end beat the wall but not the flying parry of Hennessey. And Giroud hit the post in the 67th.

Sorloth had an 85th minute goal pulled back for undisclosed reasons, as Palace probably should’ve had 2-1 with five minutes to play. It got its goal when Van Aanholt prodded a shot through Courtois’ legs in the 90th minute.