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

Video: Goalkeeping error grants Suarez, Uruguay gift

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Luis Suarez was clearly upset with his lack of finishing in Uruguay’s opener last Friday, but the Barcelona man is finally on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup.

The veteran striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute after a close-range finish off of a corner kick.

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais came out to try and collect the cross, however, he was slow in his reaction, allowing the ball to slip through to Suarez for the easy finish.

The Uruguayans will reach the Round of 16 with one match remaining if they hold on to their 1-0 lead.

NZ women’s coach placed on leave after player complaints

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) The coach of New Zealand’s women’s football team has been placed on leave pending an investigation of complaints about his conduct from members of the national team.

[ MORE: Senegal holds off late Poland charge for Group H win ]

The complaints centered around tactics Andreas Heraf used in a recent home international against Japan and his comments to media after that match. Players reportedly objected to the defensive nature of Heraf’s tactics in the 3-1 loss.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said at a news conference on Wednesday that his organization had received a letter from the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association, containing letters of complaint from 13 national team members.

Defending his approach at a news conference after the match, Heraf said the New Zealand players would never have the “quality” to compete with a team of Japan’s ability and might have lost 8-0 if they had not adopted a defensive style.

Further reports have emerged of player concerns about Heraf’s behavior, including allegations of bullying.

Martin was repeatedly questioned at the news conference about when New Zealand Football first had notice of the players’ concerns about Heraf. He insisted he was not aware of any problems until the letter from the NZPFA containing the players’ complaints was released on Monday.

In a statement, New Zealand Football Chairman Deryck Shaw said player welfare was “of utmost importance.”

“We hold player welfare as a matter of utmost importance and that is why we are conducting a thorough, independent review. We want to ensure we better understand these issues in an objective review. There is no place for inappropriate behavior of any kind with New Zealand Football.”

Ronaldo’s early tally gives Portugal win over Morocco

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It was far from a convincing performance, but manager Fernando Santos and Co. came away with their first win at the World Cup and now sit in the drivers’ seat in Group B.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Portugal earned a narrow 1-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s early header proved to be the difference.

Santos’ group now sits atop Group B with four points, while Morocco is eliminated after losing its first two matches.

It took just four minutes for Portugal to break the deadlock, with Ronaldo once again at the center of the Portuguese attack.

The Real Madrid man brilliantly latched onto a header at the near post off of a corner kick, giving Ronaldo his fourth goal at this World Cup (seventh goal overall).

Morocco did well to insert its presence in the match following the early goal, but various chances from Medhi Benatia and Hakim Ziyech weren’t enough to break past Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

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The African side also had a legitimate appeal for a penalty kick in the first stanza, however, referee Mark Geiger opted to play on despite the Moroccan protest.

Morocco continued its pressure in the second half, and Patricio was forced to make an incredible save in the 57th minute when Younes Belhanda headed a cross towards the far corner.

Portugal will close out Group B play on June 25 against Iran, while Morocco takes on Spain

Arena says there’s no reason for Pulisic to leave Dortmund

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Christian Pulisic has been the subject of transfer talks for some time now after becoming an instant star at Borussia Dortmund, but one of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s former coaches says it might be wise for him to stay put; at least for now.

MORE: Ronaldo scores fourth goal in World Cup ]

Former USMNT boss Bruce Arena spoke about Pulisic, who has had rumors of moves to Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United surrounding him recently.

Arena cited consistent playing time as the main reason why Pulisic may want to consider holding off on a transfer for now.

“I think Christian is in a great place. Dortmund has a very good reputation for developing players.

“In his couple years there with the first team, he’s done very well. Hopefully, he can continue to do that, be consistent at the club level, and if he does that, he’s going to be a real plus for the national team program.

“Any move Christian makes in the future, it’s important he goes to a club where he plays on a regular basis. There’s no point in him leaving Dortmund and going to a club where he doesn’t get the kind of minutes he needs to continue to develop.”

Pulisic has spent three seasons at Dortmund, scoring 12 goals in all competitions during that span.