Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle: Hazard’s hat trick sends Blues top (video)

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Chelsea brushed aside Newcastle 3-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as Belgian superstar Eden Hazard bagged all three goals in a routine win.

Following slip ups for Arsenal and Manchester City, Chelsea now have a one point lead at the PL summit, as Hazard struck twice in the first half and then rounded off his first-ever hat trick for the Blues from the penalty spot after the break.

Chelsea were in cruise control for most of the match, as Newcastle rarely threatened going forward as they tried to stay compact.

But Hazard, who earlier this week spoke of his dream to score more goals to move into the same bracket as World Player’s of the year Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, tore Newcastle apart with his powerful runs from the flank as he proved too much to handle.

With the win Chelsea are top on 56 points, while Newcastle remain in eighth spot and have 37 points.

(MORE: Mourinho plays down Chelsea going top, how long will he keep doing this?)

A bright start from Chelsea saw Frank Lampard smash a free kick just wide of the post, but Newcastle were looking pretty solid as Hatem Ben Arfa was causing some problems with his box of tricks.

Chelsea bossed possession and Hazard tried his best to break down a stubborn Newcastle defense with several enterprising runs but the Magpies held firm in the opening stages in West London.

But in the 27th minute Chelsea broke the deadlock after Hazard played a wonderful one-two with Branislav Ivanoic and the Belgian winger swept the ball home for his 12th goal of the season. 1-0 to Chelsea.

Newcastle had a great chance to equalize just moments later as Moussa Sissoko went clean through but his touch let him down and Petr Cech saved. Then Hazard popped up to grab a second after playing another delicious one-two, this time with Samuel Eto’o, and the youngster bagged his and Chelsea’s second of the match in the 34th minute.

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After the break Chelsea had several good chances to make it 3-0, with the best coming after 57 minutes when Eto’o was found unmarked in the box but his shot was blocked by some heroic defending from Newcastle.

Moments later it was 3-0, and it was that man Hazard who bagged his third goal of the game from the penalty spot, as the winger now has 15 goals this season. The PK was given for a foul on Eto’o by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, as he pulled the Chelsea striker to the ground as corner came in.

Chelsea were on cruise control for the rest of the match and Hazard left the pitch as sub late on to rapturous applause from the home fans. This boy from Belgium is a bit special.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta; Matic, Lampard; Willian (Salah, 78), Oscar, Hazard (Schurrle, 85); Eto’o (Ba, 71)

Goals: Hazard (27, 34, 63)

Newcastle: Krul; Debuchy (Yanga-Mbiwa, 40), Williamson, S.Taylor, Dummett; Anita (Marveaux, 84), Santon; Ben Arfa (Gosling, 64), Sissoko, Sammy Ameobi; de Jong

La Liga Roundup: Messi, Barcelona stunned by inspired Granada (video)

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Granada’s shocking 2-0 win over Barcelona and subsequent rise to the top of the table headlines Saturday’s La Liga action.

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Granada 2-0 Barcelona

Not even Lionel Messi, who made his season debut on Saturday, was able to save Barcelona against a red-hot Granada.

Granada, who are off to their best start in their 88 years of existence, had a perfect night in front of their supporters, convincingly getting past a Barcelona that dominated possession, but lacked the offensive ingenuity needed to score.

Barcelona’s defense wasn’t noteworthily robust, either.

Two minutes in, the newly promoted side scored through a headed goal from Ramon Azeez, following a defensive turnover from Junior Firpo.

Unable to record a shot on target in the first half and looking to wakeup a dormant attack, Barcelona brought on wonderkid Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi at halftime. Despite the duo connecting on several occasion and generating a shot on target, it wasn’t enough to get past Rui Silva.

In the 66th minute, following video review, substitute Alvaro Badillo converted from the spot, handing Granada their third win of the season.

Atop of La Liga, Granada set their sights on Real Valladolid, while Barcelona, who are off to their worst league start in 25 years, host Villarreal at Camp Nou.

Atletico Madrid  0-0 Celta Vigo

For a second consecutive week, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid dropped points, drawing with Celta Vigo 0-0 at Wanda Metropolitano.

Tied with league leaders Granada and Sevilla with 10 points, the alarm bells are far from going off in Madrid. However, as Saturday’s performance showed, los Colchoneros are having trouble finishing chances this season, despite fielding an attack with the likes of Joao Felix, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata.

In five games, Atletico have managed to score only five goals, six fewer than leaders Granada. Against Celta, Atletico registered 20 shots, five on target, but were unable to crack a stellar Ruben Blanco, who registered five saves.

Leveled with Granada and Sevilla, Atletico Madrid look to get back into winning ways as they take on RCD Mallorca. Elsewhere, Celta Vigo, who have won win after five games, host Espanyol next.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Villarreal 2-0 Real Valladolid

Levante 0-0 Eibar

Almeyda, Wondolowski sent off in Quakes’ fall against Atlanta (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Melodrama took center stage in Atlanta United’s 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, as Matias Almeyda, Chris Wondolowski and Cristian Espinoza were all sent off on Saturday. Josef Martinez, six games away from tying Lionel Messi’s world record for most consecutive goals, left the field in 79th minute following an injury, ending his MLS-record run at 15 games. Playing with 10 players from the 34th minute onwards, the Quakes held on to the draw up until the 90th minute. Unmarked inside the box, Emerson Hyndman rocketed the ball past Daniel Vega, who recorded nine saves throughout the night. In stoppage time, Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez was rewarded for his stellar performance with a goal of his own. With a game at hand, Eastern Conference leaders, NYCFC, are three points ahead Frank De Boer‘s side. The Quakes, on the other hand, have internal fires to put out as they have lost six of their last eight, and are only a point above the red line with three games to play.

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Great run by Espinoza, greater ball by Vega  — Daniel Vega and Cristian Espinoza were players that San Jose were desperately missing last season. This sequence says it all.

 

90′ — Emerson Hyndman wins it for the Five Stripes   — Hyndman, with no one near him, seals three points for the home side.

 

90′ + 2 — Martinez takes advantage of broken San Jose  — Martinez’s goal was only salt in San Jose’s fresh wound.

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Man of the match: Gonzalo “Pity”  Martinez

Goalscorers: Meram (4′), Guzan (27′ – OG), Hyndman (90′), Martinez (90′ + 2)

FIFA sees no obstacles for women to attend games in Iran

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ZURICH — Soccer’s governing body FIFA says an inspection visit to Iran has shown “no noteworthy operational obstacles” to lifting the country’s 40-year ban and letting women attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

After meeting government and soccer officials in Tehran this week, FIFA says it will work with Iran’s soccer body to also open domestic league games to female fans.

FIFA wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums which breaches international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a soccer stadium in Tehran and faced six months in prison.

Ahead of Iran hosting Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10, FIFA says the visit on Thursday focused on “international relations, security and ticketing matters.”

Iranian officials were told of FIFA’s “firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely” with tickets sold to as many who wanted to attend.

FOLLOW LIVE: Atlanta v. Quakes, Galaxy v. Impact on a busy MLS Saturday

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Eight games in seven hours, now that’s a jam-packed MLS Saturday.

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Things kickoff with Matias Almeyda’s San Jose Earthquakes visiting red-hot Josef Martinez’s Atlanta United, and comes to a close in Los Angeles, where league leaders LAFC host Toronto FC and LA Galaxy, who look to continue moving up in the Western Conference standings, host Montreal Impact.

In between, the New England Revolution look to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they welcome Kyle Beckerman and Real Salt Lake, while the Chicago Fire hope to jump level with the Revs in the standings as they take on FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium.

Saturday’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United v. San Jose Earthquakes — 3:30 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps v. Columbus Crew — 5 p.m. ET

New England Revolution v. Real Salt Lake — 7:30 p.m. ET

FC Cincinnati v. Chicago Fire — 7:30 p.m. ET

Sporting Kansas City v. Colorado Rapids — 8:30 p.m. ET

Houston Dynamo v. Orlando City — 8:30 p.m. ET

LAFC v. Toronto FC — 10:30 p.m. ET

LA Galaxy v. Montreal Impact — 10:30 p.m. ET