Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea: Villa benefit from Blues’ loss of composure (video)

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Aston Villa ended Chelsea’s 14 match unbeaten run thanks to a late goal from Fabian Delph. By the end of the match, the Blues were down to nine men, José Mourinho was sent to the stands and Villa had finally recorded back-to-back home wins. The win put them into tenth, nine points from the drop, while Chelsea are now just six points clear at the top, with both Arsenal and Liverpool seeking wins from Sunday’s matches.

Even in a match that, at times, was more boring than watching paint dry, there will almost always be a couple defining moments. This match certainly provided them. Provided quite a few, in fact.

The first half threw up very few thrills, although it was, perhaps, surprising how up for the match the hosts looked. Christian Benteke looked set to score, provided he could just get a piece of the ball, while Villa Park was buzzing. Chelsea were on the attack, but had very little space to work with.

With forty minutes left to play Christian Benteke tried his hand (his boot?) at a scissor-kick volley on the edge of the area, but it went just wide of Petr Cech’s goal.

Perhaps that sent a spark up the Blues’ spine, because a minute later, Nemanja Matić had the ball in the back of the net. However, the Serb was judged to have controlled John Terry’s flick with his arm, and Chris Foy had the goal disallowed.

But that wasn’t the most controversial decision from the referee in this match. In the 67th minute, Mourinho was about to pull off Willian, already on a yellow card. But the manager changed his mind, subbing off Fernando Torres for Demba Ba and putting André Schürrle on in place of Oscar instead.

Just one minute later, Willian was sent off with his second yellow. The Brazilian tugged Fabian Delph’s shirt as they jostled, and although the sending off looked to be a bit harsh, Chelsea were stuck playing the remaining 20+ minutes with just ten men.

The Brazilian, booked in the first half for a foul on Karim El Ahmadi, tugs back Fabian Delph to earn a second yellow and his marching orders.

It looked like Chelsea might still come out on top, particularly when, in the 80th minute, the visitors set up a very tricky little free kick routine. But Ba wasn’t able to connect to Eden Hazard’s threaded ball, and the Blues were looking increasingly out of ideas.

That’s when Villa struck – in the form of a gorgeous goal from Delph. The Englishman sent the ball out wide for Marc Albrighton and, when the perfect pass came back into the area, Delph used a cheeky backheel to get past the Chelsea defense and put the ball into the back of the net.

After that, Chelsea came apart at the seams. Delph nearly scored a second in stoppage time, but his shot hit the woodwork instead.

Immediately after, Ramires lost his cool completely, coming down with both feet on Karim El Ahmadi. Foy sent him off with a straight red – and when Mourinho tried to protest, the Chelsea manager was sent to the stands as well.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett (Clark 78), Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor (Albrighton 75)

Goals: Delph 82′

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Matic; Willian, Oscar (Schürrle 67), Hazard, Torres (Ba 67)

Red Cards: Willian 68′; Ramires 94′

Red-hot Rebić scores again as AC Milan tops Torino

AC Milan
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MILAN (AP) Ante Rebić kept up his scoring form to lead AC Milan to a 1-0 win over struggling Torino in Serie A on Monday.

The Croatia international beat his marker to redirect a cross from the center of the area midway through the first half at the San Siro.

The score raised Rebić’s tally to six goals and an assist in eight matches since he earned his starting spot – a move that coincided with Zlatan Ibrahimović’s return to the Rossoneri.

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Bouncing back from a derby loss, Milan moved up to eighth and just beyond the Europa League places. The seven-time European champion is hoping to return to continental competition after voluntary withdrawing from this season’s Europa League to pay for UEFA financial fair play breaches.

Torino, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight, with new coach Moreno Longo still unable to turn things around in his second match in charge.

Ibrahimović narrowly missed a curling shot shortly after the break.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Simeone: Liverpool intensity “makes me admire it as a rival”

UEFA Champions League
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The UEFA Champions League returns at long last on Tuesday, and two of the greatest managers in the game will match wits for the first time.

No we’re not talking about Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel, the meeting of the minds in Tuesday’s other kickoff between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in Germany.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in Spain, and the fiery German thinks it will be “absolutely interesting.”

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People say I emotional on the sideline,” Klopp said. “I am only on level 4, Diego is level 12. Really I am the kindergarten cop against him. He is so impressive after all these years, after so many years at the club – eight years. That is really long and having still this emotional level, still, wow. So impressive. I say, his teams are always organized world class.”

The admiration is mutual.

Simeone expects a huge challenge from a Liverpool team he regards on a historic plane.

“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” he said, via The Independent. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams that we have admired. This team is much more intense, more adaptable, and it makes me admire it as a rival.”

The bettors say Liverpool is the heavy favorite in the first leg despite the match’s location at the Wanda Metropolitano. With football geniuses like Klopp and Simeone, however, either could have a plan to throw the other for a loop.

CONCACAF Champions League preview: Five MLS sides eye history

CONCACAF Champions League preview
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Once the Premier League and La Liga had taken their final bows of the day on Saturday, there felt was a particular absence, one soon-to-be filled by domestic soccer.

Yes, MLS is coming soon, and the CONCACAF Champions League is even closer.

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Five MLS sides begin their Round of 16 ties over the next three evenings, some with easier paths than others to elusive CCL glory.

The competition may not have burned itself onto the mainstream, lagging behind continental competitions in Europe and South America, but those who’ve embraced it (hint: this guy) love the thing.

For all the progress Major League Soccer has made in its quarter-century, it’s yet to find much success in dealing with Liga MX powers in the fight to qualify for the Club World Cup.

MLS sides have not won the competition since it was rebranded the CCL. Only three MLS sides have made the CCL final this decade, with Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal Impact (2015), and Toronto FC (2017) all coming up short at the last step.

The CCL provides everything you love and hate about World Cup qualifying, and those dicey pitches with sometimes worse lighting mean the favorites aren’t guaranteed much.

The top half of the bracket sees three MLS teams — Montreal, Seattle, and NYCFC — and just one Liga MX side, while the bottom half gives us a Liga MX v. MLS match-up straight away.

That’s Leon v. LAFC, and it begins Tuesday night in Mexico. That tie carries the added intrigue of MLS superstar Carlos Vela bringing his act back to his home country for the first time… ever.

Bracket

Saprissa (Costa Rica) v. Montreal — 8 p.m. ET Weds.
Olimpia (Honduras) v. Seattle — 10 p.m. ET Thurs.

San Carlos (Costa Rica) v. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Thurs.
Alianza (El Salvador) v. UANL Tigres — 8 p.m. ET Weds.

Leon v. LAFC — 10 p.m. ET Tues.
Portmore United (Jamaica) v. Cruz Azul — 8 p.m. ET Tues.

Comunicaciones (Guatemala) v. Club America — 10 p.m. ET Weds.
Montagua (Honduras) v. Atlanta United — 10 p.m. ET Tues.

The 2 Robbies podcast: VAR carnage at Stamford Bridge

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle dissect a crazy game at Stamford Bridge that saw Chelsea on the wrong side of several VAR decisions (00:45).

The gents also recap the big moments from the weekend; Liverpool beat Norwich (18:30), Son’s late winner against Aston Villa (24:45) and Arteta‘s attackers thrash Newcastle United (30:15).

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To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]