Offshore drilling, UEFA Champions League final: Chelsea 1 (4-3 on kicks), Bayern Munich 1

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Man of the Match: Didier Drogba was nearly the goat, taking down Franck Ribéry four minutes into extra time, just minutes after his blistering header off Chelsea’s first corner pushed the match to extra time. With the post kick, Arjen Robben blasted the potential winner into Petr Cech’s stomach, setting the stage for Drogba’s second moment of glory. With the final kick of the shootout, Drogba slotted his kick into the lower left-hand corner fo Manuel Neuer’s goal, giving Chelsea their first European Cup.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • The story was so obvious, we mentioned it in our preview. John Terry and Frank Lampard are more readily associated with Chelsea FC, but Drogba has been the Blues’ most important man in the Roman Abramovich era. Playing what might be his last match with the club (his contract up), this game always seemed destined to revolve around Didier Drogba.
  • And once his kick decided it, this match became one of the more compelling individual dramas in recent memory. With his global stature, recent resurgence, contract situation and Moscow antics (getting sent off in the 2008 final when he would have been the fifth penalty kick-taker) as prologue, Drogba was hard-pressed to produce a night that didn’t undermine the plot. But he did it. The 88th minute goal was exactly what you’re expect if you were fabricating the night’s drama. The 94th minute mistake, giving up a penalty kick? Merely raising the stakes. Converting the winning kick in the shootout? The only way it could end.
  • Surely, Drogba must be re-signed at this point, right? He wants a two-year deal. Give it to him. At this point in their history, Chelsea is not Chelsea without Didier Drogba.
  • When it comes to penalty shootouts, each hero has a corresponding goat. That goat is (surprisingly) Bastian Schweinsteiger. With Bayern’s last kick, their all-world midfielder went off the right post, the hesitation he offered in his run up to the ball betraying the moment. The cool he showed in sealing the shootout in Madrid had abandoned him, and unlike John Terry, Schweinsteiger can’t point to the turf as a reason he missed his try.
  • Perhaps somebody less enthralled by the Drogba narrative might have picked Petr Cech as man of the match. A great save on Robben early, the penalty save late, command of his box throughout the match, and diving the right way on all five shootout kicks – if he’s not man of the match, he’s a close second.
  • Of note on the shootout: Neither Arjen Robben nor Fernando Torres took kicks. With Robben’s miss so late in the match, his exclusion was understandable. Torres was caught on camera talking to Roberto Di Matteo, who seemed to ask him if he wanted to be on the sheet. Torres, finally said yes after being asked a couple of times. It seems Di Matteo decided better of it.
  • Despite the result, it doesn’t appear Di Matteo will be back. With this win, however, he can walk into most jobs in the world. Given the distinct tactical changes Di Matteo employed after taking over for André Villas-Boas, the former MK Dons and West Brom boss has reason to feel himself an integral part of Chelsea’s triumph.
  • Though they let Bayern control most of the match, Chelsea’s night was defined by a serious of strong individual performances. Cech’s night was made easier by the stellar shifts from his fullbacks, Ashley Cole and José Bosingwa. John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard were impenetrable in the middle. Juan Mata, when given a chance to turn and run with the ball, often produced at least a half-chance for Chelsea (and delivered a great ball on the first goal). And Ryan Bertrand, making his European debut, gave a relentless performance before being brought off after 74 minutes.
  • Bayern can’t say the same. Manuel Neuer was good in the shootout, scoring a goal and stopping Mata’s try. Still, some will say his hands should have been stronger on Drogba’s goal. Philipp Lahm provided good support for the midfield and, late, tried to push Bayern to a winning goal. Franck Ribery was Bayern’s best player until leaving in the 94th minute. Aside from those three, no Bayern player performed to the best of his abilities.
  • Mario Gomez missed four chances that he might have converted another day. Arjen Robben continuously put 24-yard shots toward goal that had no confidence behind them. Thomas Müller scored in the 82nd minute but also found himself lost on the right for long spans of the match. The double pivot of Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos failed to force holes in the Chelsea defense despite having the freedom to play at the edge of the final third for much of the match.
  • That was a function of Chelsea’s tactics, very similar to what we saw against Barcelona. The team sad very deep, possibly to protect their returning central defenders (David Luiz and Gary Cahill). While you could say the approach paid off, the Blues were down after 82 minutes and may not have won had Bayern not made a very important change.
  • That change: Taking off Müller, moments after scoring (replacing him with Daniel van Buyten), conceding control of the match to Chelsea. It’s not an uncommon approach – bring on an extra defender to see out the match – but the way Bayern was dominating the ball, they could have kept Müller on and bled out the clock. Jupp Heynckes went with the more conservative option, and after Chelsea equalized, he was left to play out the match with his more defensive lineup.
  • Detractors will point to that as yet another break Chelsea got on their way to the title. Those detractors will look at the way Chelsea won their semifinal the final and note all the “luck” the Blues needed to claim their first Champions League. But in a tournament like this one, everybody winner needs some luck to claim the title. There are just too many matches against too many good teams to expect your side to emerge victorious without getting breaks along the way.
  • And when you consider the John Terry red card at Barça, Chelsea’s three other suspensions, Drogba giving up two crucial penalty kicks (over the last two rounds) and having to play the final on the road with two just-returning center halves, it’s unclear Chelsea has received more luck than your average UEFA Champions League winner.
  • Very shortly, people are going to forget about all these ancillary concerns. Even the qualms about the tactics will dissipate in time. All that UEFA will write in their record books is the name of the victor. Chelsea FC are winners of 2011-12’s UEFA Champions League – the crowning achievement for one of the more memorable club teams of our lifetime.

Mourinho: Spurs’ Son out ‘a while’; Comments on VAR controversy

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Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was enraged as VAR and FIFA’s odd handball rule conspired with a magnificent performance from Newcastle’s backup goalkeeper to take points away from Spurs in stoppage time on Sunday.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce wasn’t too happy either, calling it “a total nonsense” despite the decision helping his Magpies to a point.

[ RECAP: Spurs 1-1 Newcastle ]

Spurs dominated but only Lucas Moura found a way past Newcastle’s Karl Darlow on an 11-save day at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

That looked like it would be enough until Newcastle’s Andy Carroll nodded a free kick onto the arm of Eric Dier, who was not facing the play, and Callum Wilson smashed home the spot kick.

“I can understand why Spurs are going to go berserk and the way Roy Hodgson reacted yesterday,” Bruce said after the game. “It’s a total nonsense.”

Mourinho tried not to comment too much on the incident except to imply that Spurs get worse calls in their 18 than other teams.

“Every box is 18-yard box but we know that the Tottenham box is a special box so we managed to keep them a-ways away,” he said. “And we had that situation where we lost two points but I’m not going to comment.”

Mourinho refused to be drawn into the handball discussion on television after the game, giving praise to his team and wishing not earn a fine.

“I don’t want to speak about it. If I want to give some money away, I give to charities. I don’t want to give to the FA,” he said.

“I think about my team performance. Very good. First half, amazing. Should be three-, four-nil easy but Darlow was fantastic. We hit the post and they managed to survive. In the second half we kept control and kept them from the box.”

Mourinho also said that star forward Heung-min Son will miss “a while” with a hamstring injury, as the rain is pouring down on North London.

Son has been wonderful this season and was in a particularly rich vein of form after scoring four times last weekend and starring in Thursday’s Europa League win in Macedonia.

Gareth Bale will hope to heal even quicker now.

Newcastle backup GK Darlow, VAR steal point from wasteful Spurs

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Tottenham – Newcastle United: Karl Darlow helped Newcastle United stick around and VAR helped them go level as the Magpies committed larceny in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in North London on Sunday.

Darlow made 11 saves, seven of which came from shots inside the box as Spurs out-attempted Newcastle 23-6.

[ MORE: Mourinho livid | Bruce, too! ]

The visitors got a penalty off an unknowing Eric Dier handball and Callum Wilson beat Hugo Lloris deep in stoppage time to earn a point and move Newcastle and Spurs to 1-1-1 on the season.

Lucas Moura put Spurs ahead but they could not find a second goal following a 10-day span which saw them play in Bulgaria and Macedonia.

Tottenham lost Heung-min Son to a hamstring injury and Jose Mourinho said the South Korean will be “out a while.”

Newcastle beat Spurs 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last season, as Steve Bruce has now taken points from Mauricio Pochettino and Mourinho.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  


Three things we learned: Tottenham – Newcastle United

1. What travel? Spurs have played matches in England, Bulgaria, and Macedonia over the last 10 days, so a sluggish start might’ve been expected in North London. Instead, Jose Mourinho’s men raged out of the gates and could’ve been up 4-0 inside of a half-hour if not for Karl Darlow’s success in limiting the damage to one.

2. Oh, that travel: Spurs’ second half was significantly lackluster and Newcastle stuck around albeit with a distinct lack of threat. Introductions of Jamal Lewis, Jacob Murphy, and Andy Carroll ultimately did affect the game as the big Geordie’s header went off Dier’s arm for the equalizing penalty.

3. VAR has its new storyline: If you thought changes to the handball rule had straightened-out any controversy with VAR, you were sorely mistaken. Eric Dier had an Andy Carroll header hit the back of his splayed arm. VAR asked the head referee to go to the television screen after the play was ruled onside despite challenging visual evidence, and he gave the penalty to Newcastle for 1-1.

Man of the Match

Darlow. Spurs were credited with four big chances (SofaScore) and scored once to go with 11 saves for Martin Dubravka’s backup.


Tottenham – Newcastle United recap

Karl Darlow made two quick stops in a solid defiance of a Tottenham free kick from Giovani Lo Celso and a rebound effort from Harry Kane, then stymying a point-blank Harry Kane header.

Moura gave Spurs a deserved lead in the 25th as Kane slid a cross through the six and Newcastle’s backs were nowhere to be found.

Matt Ritchie was at the back post for that Spurs goal and was slow to react on what became a 2v1 chance broken up by Jamaal Lascelles.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Son that rattled the bar in the 42nd as Tottenham seemed well on its way to a blowout win but could not find the second marker.

Newcastle’s only real danger came on a Jonjo Shelvey volley that missed the far post in first-half stoppage. Would it be a cakewalk? Kinda-sorta.

Newcastle was wrongly-awarded a corner kick that ended with Joelinton ripping wide of the far post but the Magpies mostly struggled to manufacture danger despite Spurs growing weary in the second 45.

That’s when the late penalty call came via VAR. Dier dodged one late handball in the box but not a second in a call that will increase the attention paid to the handball.

Man City – Leicester: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Man City – Leicester: Pep Guardiola will have just 13 first-team players at his disposal when Manchester City hosts Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 am ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

MAN CITY – LEICESTER STREAM LIVE

With a combination of injuries and confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently ravaging an already-thin squad, City have no choice but to tread water and simply stay afloat in the coming days and weeks as they attempt to reclaim the Premier League title from Liverpool. It’s a difficult position to be in, no doubt about it, and Leicester should present a tricky challenge for Guardiola and Co., without the likes of Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan, among others.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Man City and Leicester spent much of the 2019-20 season second and third — and third and second — in the PL table, each looking up at Liverpool miles and miles ahead, before winding up second and fifth, respectively. City won each of the two meetings last season — 3-1 at home in December, and 1-0 away in February.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Man City – Leicester this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Man City – Leicester (INJURY REPORT)

Aymeric Laporte makes the bench for City and Oleksandr Zinchenko is available but Bernardo Silva (thigh), Gabriel Jesus (undisclosed), Sergio Aguero (knee), and Joao Cancelo (foot) are out.

James Maddison is on the bench for Leicester City.


What they’re saying: Man City – Leicester

Pep Guardiola, on Man City’s injury issues: “With the situation we have right now, we need players from the academy. We have just 13 players fit. With the problems we have up front, he will stay with us. We will use him. We cannot forget, like with Phil, he is only 17 years-old. He has a lot of things to improve. We cannot anticipate the progress of every young player. We’ve had Phil, Eric, Liam and we have Cole Palmer, who will be an exceptional player. We congratulate the academy. I am the last step, but before there are a lot of people in the club working for this and it is a big success for them.”

Brendan Rodgers, on how to improve Leicester: “Firstly, we have a number of young players who can improve. Last season, we showed lots of real potential in the squad. I always felt that two things would help us to improve and continue to develop this process. One of those was time. That means time to work with the players who are here, making them better year on year, particularly the young players. They will have gained from the experiences of last season — good and bad. Time will improve James Maddison. Time will improve Harvey Barnes. Consistency will make us better as well. That will come with the introduction of quality.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Perhaps a bit surprisingly given their ongoing injury issues, City (-350) are heavy betting favorites with Leicester checking in as massive underdogs at +850. The draw (+480) might just make for the perfect speculative wager this weekend.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: Man City – Leicester

City struggled to put away Bournemouth in the League Cup on Thursday, and will have largely the same group of players available on Sunday. Facing Leicester will be a significant increase in quality of opposition. Leicester might just get something out of this one and do Liverpool an early-season favor in the process. Man City 1-1 Leicester.


How to watch Man City – Leicester stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Benfica boss: Man City’s Otamendi “could be involved in Dias transfer”

Dias to Man City
Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Benfica boss Jorge Jesus expects Ruben Dias to skip town, likely to Manchester City, pending a last-minute turn of events.

He’s hoping that Nicolas Otamendi will head back the other way, validating rumors this week that City had been dangling the Argentine in a hope to land Dias or Sevilla back Jules Kounde.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]

Jesus saw academy grad and Portuguese national teamer Dias score in a 2-0 win over Moreirense on Saturday, a goal the defender described as emotional in a nod to a possible departure.

The manager admitted that a Dias sale became likely when Benfica bowed out of the UEFA Champions League and was drawn into a discussion on Otamendi, whose value is being challenged by his lack of import at the Etihad Stadium.

“Otamendi is a Manchester City defender who could be involved in the Ruben [Dias] transfer. He already showed his ability at FC Porto, he plays for Argentina and has been a regular starter most years at Manchester City.

“He has stopped starting now and if it hadn’t been for that, maybe he wouldn’t have been included in this possible transfer.

“Of course, he’s a player we’d like to have. The player who joins us will have to be understand that my ideas are completely different from those at Manchester City.”

So that’s something.

Dias would combine with Aymeric Laporte and/or Nathan Ake to continue City’s center back revolution. John Stones and Eric Garcia are also currently at City with Otamendi and last season’s makeshift center back Fernandinho.