Manchester City 0–1 Chelsea: Jose Mourinho gets the tactics right as Blues pull into a tie for second (video)

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Jose Mourinho’s visitors from Stamford Bridge claimed three huge points Monday, dealing a big blow to hosts Manchester City in a 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea’s victory leaves Mourinho’s men level with City in second place, two points behind Arsenal.

City had won all 11 previous Premier League matches at the Etihad this year and had scored in 61 consecutive matches at their ground. Mourinho’s Blues were the first team to blank Manchester City at home since Birmingham City did so in 2010.

Mourinho may have felt some pressure to attack following last week’s disparaging comments about overly defensive, “19th century” soccer. Whatever the reason, Chelsea players did impose themselves, making for a terrific evening with chances arriving plentifully on either side.

(MORE: Three things we learned in Chelsea’s massive win over Manchester City)

Most of the early momentum was City’s, with Yaya Toure commanding the midfield and driving his side. Toure came close twice in the first 15 minutes, once from point blank range as he just failed to find Aleksandar Kolarov’s whipped cross at the far post and once missing just high from 20 yards.

Two minutes after firing high, Toure used his strength in brilliantly setting up David Silva in front of goal only to see the Spanish attacker push his tricky shot from five yards just wide.

But City’s defense looked atypically chaotic, and Manuel Pellegrini’s side paid a big price when Branislav Ivanovic cracked a wonderful half-volley past goalkeeper Joe Hart from 20 yards. That came just past the half hour mark.

Chelsea kept pressing as Eden Hazard, fabulous all afternoon, dribbled in to arrange for Samuel Eto’o, who pinged one off the far post just before the break. Nemanja Matic tore into one after the break that beat Hart but banged off the post, and Gary Cahill later hit the bottom of the post on the header as City just could not solve its defensive issues.

City got something going here and there, but Matic and David Luiz, deployed as the holding pair in Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1, were beasts in their screening roles as Mourinho’s tactics proved picture perfect.

LINEUPS:

Manchester City – Hart; Kolarov, Nastasic, Kompany, Zabaleta; Silva, Demichelis, Toure, Navas; Dzeko, Negredo (Jovetic 57).

Chelsea – Cech; Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Matic, Luiz; Hazard (Ba 93), Willian (Mikel 91), Ramires; Eto’o (Oscar 82).

Goal: Ivanovic 32

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE