Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United: Eto’o hat trick extends Moyes misery (video)

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Manchester United continue to struggle against top of the table teams this season as a trio of goals from Samuel Eto’o extended Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten Premier League run at Stamford Bridge.

The storied striker couldn’t miss on the day, as everything went his way to give Chelsea a deserved victory.  United got one back late but it’s little to hang their hat on as Nemanja Vidic was needlessly sent off late, adding insult to injury.

Eto’o struck with a deflected shot under 20 minutes in, and again just before halftime to give David Moyes no way back.  There was a clear gap in quality between the sides, as the new United manager will now find it nearly impossible to maintain his outspoken title hopes.

The visitors wasted no time getting their feet under them, as Ashley Young tested Petr Cech under two minutes from kickoff.  The Red Devils pressured every single Chelsea ball handler, and the home fans were vocally frustrated early.

The tough luck for Manchester United would continue though, as a very tough break would lead to a Chelsea goal against the opening run of play.

With Chelsea on the break in the 17th minute, the ball bounced around and fell to Samuel Eto’o.  A brilliant bit of individual play saw him send Phil Jones tumbling to the ground with a one-two move, and fire on goal from distance. The shot immediately deflected off Michael Carrick’s outstretched foot, and the carom looped the ball up and into the top corner.

While the deflection serves as a tough-luck finish on the visitors, the move by Eto’o to get past Jones and give himself space for the shot deserves plenty of credit.

source: AP
Adnan Januzaj impressed for Manchester United, but with no support it was Samuel Eto’o’s day at Stamford Bridge.

Adnan Januzaj, playing with free rein behind Danny Welbeck was fabulous for United in the first half, but had little support. A number of times he cut a ball across the face of goal with nobody there to connect.

The young Belgian found Welbeck in the 37th minute, but with the 23-year-old in on goal, Cesar Azpilicueta made a last-ditch tackle to force the striker into shooting straight at Cech. United fans may rue the lack of a penalty given by referee Phil Dowd, as Azpilicueta lashed through Welbeck’s feet from the back without contact on the ball.

With Manchester United failing to finish their chances in front of goal, Eto’o would make them pay with his second just before halftime.  Ramires found Gary Cahill on the right flank, and the defender crossed perfectly to Eto’o who lashed home from close range. Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea could have done better, but given little time to react the ball deflected off his feet and into the net behind him.

After the break, Eto’o would complete his hat-trick thanks to the hard work of Cahill yet again.  Off a corner Cahill slotted himself into a bit of space in the box, and the defender leaped above all else for the header.  De Gea’s reaction save was on point, but Eto’o was waiting to pounce on the rebound and he did just that for the tap-in.

Manchester United made a few changes to personnel and tactics, looking to claw their way back into the match, but with time running out and Chelsea bringing on defensive reinforcements, they could only muster one consolation goal from substitute Javier Hernandez with 12 minutes remaining.

That was little consolation for Manchester United, who had to finish out the final three minutes of stoppage time with 10 men and will be without Nemanja Vidic for the forseeable future after the United defender hacked down Hazard in frustration and was sent off.  They were lucky not to receive another as just after Rafael went into Gary Cahill with two feet elevated but only received yellow from Phil Dowd.

The victory for Chelsea keeps them on pace with Arsenal and Manchester City, just two points off the lead in third place as Mourinho looks to make his case for the Premier League title.

For David Moyes though, his continued inability to get results against top clubs will allow Manchester United fans to continue to ask questions about his ability to take the club back to its former heights.  They remain back in seventh position, four back of Moyes’ old club Everton and just one above Newcastle in eighth.

GOALS:

Chelsea – Eto’o 17′, 45′, 48′
Manchester United – Hernandez 78′

DISCIPLINE:

Manchester United – Vidic (straight red) 90+1′

LINEUPS:

Chelsea – Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Luiz; Willian (Matic 86′), Oscar (Mikel 68′), Hazard; Eto’o (Torres 79′).

Manchester United – De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Vidic, Evra (Smalling 51′); Valencia, Carrick, Jones, Young (Hernandez 56′), Januzaj; Welbeck.

Zidane praises Ronaldo, says Real, Liverpool UCL experience “irrelevant”

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As Real Madrid prepares its bid to become the first three-peat winner of the European Cup since the mid-1970s, the Spanish giants still carrying the spirit of an outside, almost like an underdog.

[ MORE: Kane named England captain ]

You can hear it in Zinedine Zidane’s comments on himself, as he casually mentions that he’s not a great tactician.

There’s almost a feeling like he’s building up all of Madrid, including his players, to think of beating Liverpool in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League Final in Kiev like an upset.

And it comes off especially true when he discusses any criticism of his serial Ballon d’Or chaser, Cristiano Ronaldo:

“A player can go through some hard times, but when he does not score he does not get wound up. He knows that the next game he could maybe score two or three goals. That is what happened this year. That’s what makes him the best. There are players that do not thrive under pressure but some do thrive. He is one of those that does. The more you criticize him, the more you should beware. I am a quiet person and in the end, it is better to have Cristiano Ronaldo by your side because he shows year in year out that he is top dog. He will be vital, because he is the best there is.”

Zidane also said Real’s status as a two-time reigning champion, and Liverpool’s 11-year break between UCL finals, are “irrelevant.”

“We must prepare for the game, look at our opponent’s flaws and try to hurt them. It is one match and we are both playing away from home. We are ready and experience will not give us any edge at all. It’s a football match and we have to show that we want to win it.”

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Guardiola scouts de Ligt, Chelsea aim for Lewandowski, and more

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Just days after winning his first Premier League title, Pep Guardiola is already on the road, scouting for new signings.

One of these players that Manchester City is reportedly scouting – likely along with many European clubs – is Ajax’s young defensive wiz Matthijs de Ligt. Just 18-years old, de Ligt finished his second full season in the Ajax first team, playing 39 games across all competitions and scoring three goals.

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The youngster was even fast-tracked into the Netherlands National Team, starved of quality defenders as they are, but he made some crucial errors that led to the Oranje missing the World Cup and a second-straight tournament.

Guardiola is eying de Ligt as the eventual replacement for Vincent Kompany, but there’s a chance Guardiola could wait to sign him with Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones ahead of de Ligt in the pecking order. However, considering how well Davinson Sanchez has done in his time in England this season, de Ligt could in theory have a similar performance, assuming he adjusts physically.

Either way, should de Ligt join Man City, they’ll have two of the brightest young defenders in European football.

Here’s a look at some other transfer rumors across the Premier League and Europe:

(more…)

Sources: Patrick Vieira move to Nice finalized

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New York City FC’s fantastic start to 2018 will have to continue without its manager, as Patrick Vieira is set to move overseas.

Multiple sources have told Pro Soccer Talk that Vieira’s move to Ligue 1 side OGC Nice –which was reported by PST over the weekend — has been finalized.

The deal is for a two-year contract with the French club, who finished eighth place in Ligue 1 during the 2017/18 campaign.

French outlet L’Equipe has reported that NYCFC won’t receive a buyout for the remainder of Vieira’s contract, which was set to run through the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season in December.

Vieira was at NYCFC training on Tuesday, and is expected to be once again on Wednesday, per a source familiar with the situation.

Tomorrow’s training session will likely be Vieira’s last though, and he won’t travel to coach NYCFC for the team’s MLS match on Friday night against the Houston Dynamo.

There aren’t any indications to this point as to whether or not NYCFC has an interim manager in mind to replace the outgoing Vieira.

The 41-year-old manager has spent the last two-plus seasons in New York City, guiding NYCFC to back-to-back second-place finishes in the Eastern Conference. He took over at the team in 2016, following the firing of the team’s first-ever manager Jason Kreis (now at Orlando City).

Vieira will be replacing Lucien Favre at Nice, who recently left the club at the conclusion of the Ligue 1 season. Favre has since taken the vacant managerial position at Borussia Dortmund.

Over recent months, Vieira has been linked to several other European jobs, including Saint Etienne (Ligue 1) and Southampton (Premier League), neither of which escalated to a serious level of interest.

FIFA: Insufficient evidence of doping by Russia’s World Cup squad

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says there is insufficient evidence any players in Russia’s World Cup squad have previously doped.

The governing body has been assessing information from the World Anti-Doping Agency, samples recovered from the Moscow lab, and information from its former director Grigory Rodchenkov.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Russia last week named a provisional 28-man squad, plus seven reserves for the World Cup, which kicks off in Moscow on June 14.

After investigating the players, FIFA says “insufficient evidence was found to assert an anti-doping rule violation. FIFA has informed the World Anti-Doping Agency of its conclusions, and WADA in turn has agreed with FIFA’s decision to close the cases.”

FIFA did not provide information on the status of investigations into players who are not in the World Cup squad.