Chelsea stun Paris Saint-Germain, late goal sends Blues into Champions League semifinals

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LONDON, England — Chelsea beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge as they qualified for the UEFA Champions League semi finals in dramatic fashion.

Demba Ba’s late goal tied the score at 3-3 on aggregate, as Chelsea saw off the French champions pm away goals, after an incredible comeback from the Premier League side.

Andre Schurrle opened the scoring in the first half, but Chelsea struggled to break down PSG throughout a nervy second half. Then the crucial moment arrived, as Ba stabbed home to send Stamford Bridge into raptures with his 87th minute strike. PSG pushed to take things to extra-time, but the Blues held on as Jose Mourinho celebrated with his side during the goal celebration, then again at the final whistle.

(MORE: Three things we learned in Chelsea’s win vs. PSG)

Both teams started the game tentatively, as they knew the opening goal would be extremely important as to which way this quarterfinal would swing. The reigning French champions took the game to Chelsea but were wasteful in and around the box, as the Blues lost star attacker Eden Hazard early on through injury.

Chelsea pressed PSG as the half wore on, with Frank Lampard having his free kick wonderfully kept out by Sirigu at the near post.

In the 32nd minute Chelsea took the lead, as substitute Schurrle cleaned up inside the box following David Luiz’ flick on from Branislav Ivanovic’s long-throw, to send Stamford Bridge wild.

The comeback was well and truly on, as Chelsea surged forward in search of their second goal that would square the tie up.

In the 36th minute Gary Cahill squandered a glorious chance to get that all-important second, as the central defender wildly sliced his effort over the bar after getting control of the ball in the box. Before half time things got fiery, as PSG dug in to try and stay ahead on aggregate with yellow cards dished out to Lampard, Edinson Cavani and Verratti.

In the 51st minute Schurrle rattled the crossbar as Willian teed up the German to smash an effort off the woodwork and away. Chelsea then hit the bar for a second time in as many minutes, as Oscar curled a free kick against the crossbar from 25-yards out. That crossbar didn’t want Chesea to advance to the last four of the Champions League.

(MORE: Mourinho recreates corner flag run, as Chelsea boss hails his UCL heroes)

PSG hit back, as the French champions won a free kick wide on the left. Argentine attacker Ezequiel Lavezzi whipped in a vicious effort towards the back post that Petr Cech clawed away to safety. Chelsea huffed and puffed to try and get the second goal that would seal their spot in the UCL semifinals, with Schurrle going close in the 67th minute but Sirigu saved well after substitute Demba Ba flicked the ball on.

In the 71st minute Matuidi played the ball over the top to Cavani, but El Matador hammered his volley over the crossbar as Chelsea’s fans breathed a sigh of relief before the final onslaught. Instead it was PSG who should have scored on two occasions as Cavani controlled superbly but fired his left-footed volley over from close range, then Moura hit a shot straight at Cech after an incisive counter-attack from Les Parisiens.

Chelsea chucked on Fernando Torres in the closing stages, as Jose Mourinho threw the kitchen sink at PSG and it worked. Substitute Ba came up with the goods to send Chelsea into the final four of Europe’a elite club competition.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; David Luiz, Lampard (Ba, 66′); Willian, Oscar (Torres, 81′), Hazard (Schurrle, 18′); Eto’o.

Goals: Schurrle (32′), Ba (87′)

Paris Saint-Germain: Sirigu, Jallet, Maxwell, Motta, Alex, Thiago Silva, Verratti (Cabaye, 55′ ), Matuidi, Cavani, Lucas Moura, Lavezzi

“First-choice” Emery reveals his plans for Arsenal

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Unai Emery spoke to the media for the first time as Arsenal manager on Wednesday, with the Spanish coach detailing his vision for the Gunners as more details emerged about the managerial search.

Emery, 48, was named as Arsenal’s new “head coach” with the former PSG coach replacing Arsene Wenger and edging ahead of Mikel Arteta in the battle to take charge at the Emirates Stadium.

Sat alongside Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis, Emery spoke to reporters at Arsenal’s home stadium on Wednesday and although his English is limited he seemed excited by the challenge ahead.

“My English is not very best now and I want to make sure, to the supporters to explain my idea, my ambition, to explain that I am very excited for this opportunity at a big club, a great city and a grand stadium. Also, great players for this work,” Emery said.

Before adding that “it’s a great challenge but in my career, every year I grow up with new challenge and for me this challenge is a dream.”

Asked about changes to his current squad and which players may stay or leave this summer, Emery wanted to focus on speaking about the club as a whole rather than individuals but hinted at change.

“We think we need change, little things, a little players, today I want to work and want to speak globally for the squad,” Emery said.

Gazidis revealed that he led a three-man team in the managerial search which involved Raul Sanllehi, the head of football relations, and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat.

The keys for Gazidis and Co. were to bring in “progressive, entertaining football, a personality and a record of developing players, particularly young players through detailed tactical instructions and cultural demands.”

Arsenal’s CEO also revealed that there was an eight-man shortlist and all eight were interviewed in-person and none of the candidates withdrew their interest.

Gazidis confirmed that Emery was their “first-choice” after meeting him on May 10, and the Spaniard was then recommended “unanimously” on May 18 to the board.

Emery, Gazidis and Sanllehi then flew to Atlanta, Georgia to meet majority owner Stan Kroenke and his son Josh on Tuesday before arriving back in London to meet the media on Wednesday.

“Thank you to all the chairman and the board,” Emery said. “They feel with their heart Arsenal and the conversation with the chairman and the board is very important for me to know better Arsenal. Also, thank you Ivan, Raul and Sven, the first meeting with Arsenal’s board, after three hours I felt a very good feeling and we will work together and we will create a new present and future at Arsenal. Thank you Arsene Wenger for your legacy. For all the coaches in all of the world he is a reference. A learned from him all of the things in football.”

Emery will have a strong Arsenal squad to work with but fans and the board will no doubt expect him to challenge for the top four, at least, and that’s before any big-name arrivals this summer.

Reports: Rooney flying to DC to finalize MLS move

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Wayne Rooney is edging closer to his move to Major League Soccer.

Multiple reports state that Rooney will fly to Washington D.C. on Thursday for a 48-hour trip to check out D.C. United and meet with club executives as he moves towards finalizing his move to MLS.

[ MORE: Rooney to DCU “done deal” ]

Rooney, 32, is already said to have agreed a “deal in principle” with DCU but with Everton without a manager following Sam Allardyce‘s departure last week, there is no real rush for him to push through the move ahead of the MLS’ transfer window reopening in July.

It is also believed that Rooney still has plenty of negotiating to do with Everton about the remaining year of his contract.

Per a report from the BBC, Rooney’s trip to D.C. is more about him getting a feel for the club, the city and what will be on offer as DCU’s coaching staff and players will not be around as they’re currently out on the West Coast and will face LAFC on Saturday.

It does seem like Rooney is moving closer to a surprise move to MLS just 12 months after he agreed to move back to his boyhood club Everton after a 13-year stay at Manchester United.

The potential for the all-time leading goalscorer for England and Man United joining DCU has split opinion in American soccer circles.

Many would rather see D.C. United think outside the box and spend big Designated Player money on younger attacking talents from South America (a la Atlanta United), but some suggest Rooney’s star name will attract plenty of interest towards DCU as they prepare to move into their new home at Audi Field in July.

There will be plenty of eyes on Rooney in the coming days as he nears his move to MLS.

Arsenal announce Emery as new head coach

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Unai Emery has been unveiled as Arsenal’s new head coach.

The Spanish coach, 46, left Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the 2017/18 season after winning the domestic treble in France but after two years with Les Parisiens he failed to take them beyond the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

So, maybe he is very well suited to Arsenal…

Emery was handed the two most-expensive signings on the planet in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and although they dazzled domestically, they were knocked out by Real Madrid in the UCL this season after their dramatic collapse to Barcelona in 2016/17.

Following a near 22-year spell in charge of the Gunners for Arsene Wenger, Emery becomes Arsenal’s first managerial appointment since 1996 as the north London club seemed set to appoint Mikel Arteta as their new coach but moved instead for the former Valencia, Sevilla and PSG boss who has won eight major trophies in Europe over the past five years.

In a statement released on the club website, Emery is delighted to have landed at the Emirates Stadium.

“I am thrilled to be joining one of the great clubs in the game. Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium, the way the club is run,” Emery said. “I’m very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal’s history. I have met Stan and Josh Kroenke and it’s clear they have great ambitions for the club and are committed to bringing future success. I’m excited about what we can do together and I look forward to giving everyone who loves Arsenal some special moments and memories.”

Arsenal’s CEO Ivan Gazidis added that Emery “plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly” while majority owner Stan Kroenke hailed the Spaniard as “a proven winner” who can “build on the platform created by Arsene Wenger and help this club enjoy greater success.”

Emery will speak to the media for the first time as Arsenal’s head coach on Wednesday.

And that title as the new “head coach” is telling, especially with so many new roles added within the club in recent months in terms of recruitment and a technical director.

Like Antonio Conte at Chelsea, Emery’s role at Arsenal will be clear: coach the players and make them better. That’s it.

That’s in stark contrast to Wenger’s overarching role over the past two decades and many will see the Gunners have found something of a “yes man” who will simply work with the players he is handed by the board.

Emery’s appointment has raised plenty of eyebrows but given his pedigree of leading Sevilla to three-straight Europa League titles, managing in the Champions League and winning everything in France last season with PSG, his resume speaks for itself.

Yet his reputation as a manager who is solid defensively and loves to set his teams up to counter and react to weaknesses opponents show during a game may see the Gunners add a little more stability to their fluid, passing play.

Surely that’s a good thing, but only time will tell if Emery will shine at the Emirates.

Report: Toronto to send Giovinco to Tigres for Valencia, cash

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An Mexican site reports that Tigres UANL is ready to send Enner Valencia and cash to Toronto FC to land Sebastian Giovinco.

Normally that’s seem a bit wild for TFC to send their perennial MLS MVP candidate packing, but the club has been hesitant to meet Giovinco’s terms on a new contract.

[ MORE: PL Manager Power Rankings ]

And Valencia is nearly three years younger and a bit bigger than Giovinco.

Valencia scored in bunches for Tigres after arriving from West Ham, scoring nine goals with an assist in 16 Apertura matches including three multi-goal games. He then saw his numbers dip to two goals and three assists in 11 Clausura appearances.

Giovinco, meanwhile, has six goals and six assists in 15 matches between MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League.

It would be a significant risk for TFC, though the idea of pairing up Enner Valencia and Jozy Altidore is a physical nightmare for MLS defenses.