QPR 0-1 Chelsea: Blues weather storm and Fabregas wins it late (video)

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The home side held firm for 88 minutes against the league leaders, but eventually gave way to precision and technique as a masked Cesc Fabregas scored with two minutes in regulation to restore Chelsea’s big lead in the Premier League title battle.

Fabregas wore a protective mask to cover his broken nose suffered last week, but it didn’t keep him from scoring Chelsea’s winner on their only shot on target as QPR proved spirited but just fell short of pulling themselves from the relegation zone.

It took Chelsea a few minutes to get themselves going but they eventually maintained solid possession. The first chance of the game was a cross of all things, one from Willian on the right wing that clanged the post on seven minutes gone.

The first half progressed with few landmark events, as the game turned into a chess match. As expected beforehand, QPR looked to use its physicality to peg back Chelsea, while the visitors used its technical ability to keep QPR off the ball for long spells. Chelsea always looked the more threatening side, as the home side had little to offer up front with their strikers cut off from the rest of the squad.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

However, Chelsea struggled to produce any serious chance in front of goal without Diego Costa and Loic Remy, and the half-hour mark passed with little for either fans to cling to. The best hope for the home side was corner count, which racked up in their favor, but there was little challenge in the box when they were flung in.

The first shot on target appeared just before halftime as Charlie Austin ripped an effort from distance, and a good one, that forced Thibaut Courtois into an acrobatic save. QPR carried that momentum into the second half, as Matt Phillips whipped in a scything cross but it just eluded Bobby Zamora at the far post minutes after the break. Clint Hill then tried a curling effort but it settled into the arms of Courtois.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Lacking any type of attacking threat in the second half, Jose Mourinho brought on Oscar just before the hour mark and Chelsea immediately responded, getting forward with greater intent. But QPR didn’t give up. Phillips got a ball from Zamora in the box, and with his back to goal he spun Nemanja Matic around and ripped a point-blank shot, but it went right at Courtois who parried well.

Austin remained a threat as both teams rung changes with 10 minutes to go, but he still could not get a ball past Courtois, and QPR would eventually pay for not taking chances. A horrible punt from Rob Green fell back to Chelsea, and they charged down the left flank. Oscar and Eden Hazard combined and and laid off to Fabregas charging into the box, and the masked man beat Phillips to the ball and thundered in a drive for the lead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

That was it for QPR, who held firm for 87 minutes before finally capitulating to the league leaders and the air came out of the previously rambunctious Loftus Road. The three points for Chelsea restore a seven point lead at the top of the table, still with a game in hand. QPR, meanwhile, fail to pounce on losses by those around them and remain in the relegation zone, two points from safety.

The result caps off a perfect day for the Blues, who also escape without a yellow card for either Fabregas or Nemanja Matic, who would have received a suspension against both Arsenal and Manchester United had they been cautioned. Instead, the yellow card record is wiped clean for the stretch run per Premier League rules.

LINEUPS:

QPR: Green, Isla, Caulker, Onuoha, Hill, Phillips, Sandro (Kranjcar 81′), Barton, Henry, Zamora, Austin.

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Ramires (Oscar 56′), Willian (Cuadrado 80′), Hazard; Drogba.

Goals – Fabregas 88′

Champions League qualifying: How to watch, start times, odds

UEFA Champions League qualifying
Photo by Raddad Jebarah/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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The 12 clubs remaining in the race for the final UEFA Champions League group stage slots will be pared down to six in the next eight days.

There are American connections to two of the six ties.

Former USMNT midfielder Jesse Marsch manages Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg toward the next round, while Molde right back Henry Wingo came up with the Seattle Sounders.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Salzburg are significant favorites to advance over two legs, odds accentuated by Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s seven players absent due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Marsch had previously said he did not want to go to Israel due to COVID-19 concerns, calling it “dangerous,” but has accepted the task at hand.

From Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung:

“The moment UEFA said we were going to play in Tel Aviv, it wasn’t a problem for me. Maccabi has a great team. We are not naive. We understand that we have to fight tomorrow.”

At 3:10 in some sportsbooks, Marsch’s men are the only club favored to win the first leg away. Salzburg is led by Dominik Szoboszlai and Patson Daka, who’ve helped the team thrive despite the sales of several stars including Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino.

Molde has a much tougher test with Hungarian side Ferencvaros, who knocked off Celtic. That tie could go either way, while Slavia Prague and Olympiakos are respectively noticeable favorites to beat Midtjylland and Omonia Nicosia.

Dynamo Kiev will be expected to outlast Gent over two legs, while it would be a minor upset if PAOK takes down Krasnodar.


UEFA Champions League playoff round matches

All 12 legs will kickoff at 3 pm ET between Tuesday and Sept. 30.

Tuesday

Maccabi Tel-Aviv v. Red Bull Salzburg
Slavia Prague v Midtjylland
Krasnodar v PAOK

Wednesday

Gent v Dynamo Kiev
Molde v Ferencvaros
Olympiakos v Omonia

Sept. 29

Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Sept. 30

Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv

Bundesliga: Takeaways from Week 1

Bundesliga Week 1
Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images)
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With all due (and perhaps a bit) biased respect to Giovanni Reyna and Borussia Dortmund’s decisive beating of fellow title hopeful Borussia Monchengladbach, the Bundesliga’s top story came Friday with the champions.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season preview ]

Bayern Munich thumped Schalke 8-0, running its win streak in all competitions to 22. That’s just two behind the world record set by Brazil’s Coritiba in 2011.

It’s not just about the extension of the streak, but about the pure domination from the champs.

Hat trick hero Serge Gnabry and midfield prototype Joshua Kimmich continued to play as well as any midfielder in the world. New pal Leroy Sane played a role in three goals while Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, and Leon Goretzka all scored before German-English teenager Jamal Musiala scored to make it eight.

As a domestic bonus, American defender Chris Richards played the final 17 minutes and completed 95 percent of his passes while making an interception.

[ MORE: Bundesliga odds 2020-21 ]

As for the record, Bayern will have to work for it. The Bavarians need to beat Sevilla in Thursday’s UEFA Super Cup before visiting a decent Hoffenheim side.

If they win both, Bayern will have a chance to set a Guinness Book record by beating… Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup on Sept. 30.

Now let’s talk about Schalke. While sold midfielder Weston McKennie was starring for Juventus, the remaining players had little to like about their day.

A team that failed to win its final 16 league matches of the 2019-20 season, losing 10, was again oh-so-poor.

If manager David Wagner wanted to get some heat off his back after holding onto his position, this wouldn’t have helped things.


Americans Abroad

— Tyler Adams went the distance at midfield in RB Leipzig’s 3-1 win over Mainz. He was typically tidy at 78-of-82 passing including a perfect 4-for-4 on long balls. Adams had four tackles and won 4-of-9 duels.

— Werder Bremen’s Josh Sargent was deployed as more of a left-sided attacking midfielder in a lopsided loss to Hertha, making one key pass and putting a matching shot on target in an uneven performance.

— John Brooks helped Wolfsburg keep a clean sheet and posted three clearances, three interceptions, and a tackle at center back. He wasn’t as clean passing as usual, but connected on 7-of-13 long balls.

— There were just a few minutes for 88th-minute Eintracht Frankfurt sub Timothy Chandler. He won his only duel and completed his only dribble in the waning moments of a 1-1 draw with Arminia Bielefeld.

— Reyna scored his first Bundesliga goal and won a penalty in 78 strong minutes that featured a perfect 29-for-29 in passes.

— Bayern’s Richards, 20, went 17 minutes and completed 19-of-20 passes while making an interception.

— Stuttgart manager Pellegrino Matarazzo, a New Jersey-born Columbia University product, saw his promoted side lose at home to Freiburg.

— U.S. eligible Norwegian youth international Julian Ryerson was an unused sub for Union Berlin.

Bundesliga Week 1
John Anthony Brooks (Photo by Peter Niedung/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Player of the Week

Serge Gnabry was absolutely marvelous. Even considering the lack of, well, everything from Schalke, Bayern’s hat trick man had as many key passes as goals.

Gnabry hit 30-of-35 passes in doing all of his damage on 57 touches over 72 minutes.

The German made three tackles and two interceptions to edge opposite wing Leroy Sane’s 1-goal, 2-assist, 5-key pass day and the hat trick produced by Hoffenheim’s Andrei Kramaric in giving his team three leads and the win.


Team of the Week

Casteels (Wolfsburg)

Framberger (Augsburg) — Lacroix (Wolfsburg) — Pieper (Bielefeld)

Kimmich (Bayern)

Kramaric (Hoffenheim) — Reyna (Dortmund) — Cunha (Hertha)

Sane (Bayern) — Haaland (Dortmund) — Gnabry (Bayern)

  • All three of Koen Casteels’ saves in Wolfsburg’s 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen came inside the box, while Lacroix put together a gaudy stat line in front of him: 10 clearances, four interceptions, three tackles.
  • No one completed more dribbles than Matheus Cunha’s five. The Brazilian also scored as Hertha hung four on Werder Bremen.
Bundesliga results
Bremen’s Josh Sargent and Maximilian Eggestein couldn’t stop Hertha’s Matheus Cunha (Photo by PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Week 1 results

Bayern Munich 8-0 Schalke
Union Berlin 1-3 Augsburg
Stuttgart 2-3 Freiburg
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Arminia Bielefeld
Werder Bremen 1-4 Hertha Berlin
Koln 2-3 Hoffenheim
Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
RB Leipzig 3-1 Mainz
Wolfsburg 0-0 Bayer Leverkusen


 

Week 2 fixtures

Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt — 2:30 pm ET Sept. 25
Bayer Leverkusen v RB Leipzig — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Borussia Monchengladbach v Union Berlin — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Arminia v Koln — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Mainz v Stuttgart — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Schalke v Werder Bremen — 12:30 pm ET Sept. 26
Hoffenheim v Bayern Munich — 9:30 am ET Sept. 27
Freiburg v Wolfsburg — Noon ET Sept. 27


Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 1 1 0 0 8 0 8 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Hertha BSC 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Borussia Dortmund 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Augsburg 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 RB Leipzig 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Freiburg 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Hoffenheim 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Arminia Bielefeld 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Eintracht Frankfurt 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 Bayer Leverkusen 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Wolfsburg 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 1. FC Köln 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Stuttgart 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Mainz 05 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Union Berlin 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Werder Bremen 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Mönchengladbach 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Schalke 04 1 0 0 1 0 8 -8 0-0-0 0-0-1 0

Guardiola expected Man City rust in ‘good win’ over Wolves

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola got what he expected from a 3-1 season-opening win over Wolves at the Molineux.

Kevin De Bruyne won and converted a penalty before playing a role in goals from Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

City was very good early but Wolves took hold of the game for part of the second half and had the scoreline at 2-1 before Jesus put the result to bed.

Guardiola expected periods like that given Wolves had played more matches. Neighbors Manchester United had that problem for almost all 90 minutes of a loss to Crystal Palace.

“It’s a good win,” Guardiola said, later saying, “In the period that we are and the situation that we had these last two weeks, I expected that in some moments we’d suffer but in general we did well.”

Guardiola was asked about Foden, who was very good.

The English youngster made headlines off the pitch earlier this month but was very good back on it.

He passed at 94 percent, completed 4-of-5 dribbles, and won 8-of-13 duels.

The goal and the second half he played incredibly well,” Guardiola said. “He helped us keep the ball. We could not run much because we’re tired in our legs.”

Perhaps it’s reading too much into it, but Guardiola was short and maybe even a bit testy in his post-match remarks.

“It’s just a 3-1 game so there were 114 points to play for (and) now there are 111.”

De Bruyne involved in 3 goals as Man City outlasts Wolves

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Wolves – Man City: Manchester City started its 2020-21 Premier League season with a 3-1 win over Wolves at the Molineux.

Kevin De Bruyne converted a 20th-minute penalty and helped set up goals from Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus.

[ MORE: Pep reacts to win, praises Foden ]

Daniel Podence was Wolves’ brightest attacker and set up Raul Jimenez for a late goal that made it 2-1 before Jesus scored in stoppage time.

Both teams have midweek League Cup matches before both play Sunday in the league when City hosts Leicester and Wolves go to West Ham.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 


Notes from Wolves – Man City

1. No slow start for this Manchester side: Pep Guardiola’s men may be the final Premier League team to start its season but the blue side of Manchester was firing on all cylinders from Moment No. 1 against a pretty darn good Wolves side. The second half showed a team a bit weary in a first serious match since August, but the start sent a message to the rest of the league that City won’t be going away.

2. Patricio keeps it a ball game: Wolves’ veteran backstop made four of his five saves from inside the box, including a nice recovery to thwart an early De Bruyne free kick and a great stop on Jesus in stoppage time (before the Brazilian found his goal off the ensuing corner).

3. Ake debuts, Stones gets chance: Fernandinho was back in the midfield and Aymeric Laporte is returning to fitness after a positive COVID-19 test, which left City new boy Nathan Ake and out-of-favor John Stones at the heart of Pep Guardiola’s back four.

Ake was perhaps a bit too aggressive at times while Stones saw a couple of lapses go unpunished and would’ve wanted to be closer to Jimenez on Wolves’ goal. Stones was also more ambitious in passing, with Ake playing it safe. The pair went a combined 7-for-8 in duels.

Man of the Match

Kevin De Bruyne — The reigning Premier League Player of the Year might’ve been nutmegged by Podence on Wolves’ goal, but otherwise did nothing to suggest he won’t contend for this year’s honor. The Belgian won and converted the opening penalty before getting the hockey assist with the most important pass of Phil Foden’s goal. His pressure then saw the ball hit him last before Jesus stroked home to finish the scoring.


Wolves – Man City recap

An early injury to Marcal forced Espirito Santo into an eighth-minute sub with Ruben Vinaigre replacing the Brazilian.

City was in control and De Bruyne spun a free kick that Rui Patricio saved well.

Romain Saiss, so good in the opening week win over Sheffield United, chopped down Kevin De Bruyne in the box and the Belgian smashed his spot kick home in the 20th minute.

Sterling forced a good save out of Patricio with a rip just before the half-hour mark.

He’d get an assist moments later, running onto a De Bruyne through ball and squaring to the heart of the box for Foden to slot over the line.

Wolves did nothing with a dangerous free kick and Patricio was soon called upon again as Gabriel Jesus flicked De Bruyne into the box.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Wolves were a little better after the break but sloppiness with the ball gave City chances nonetheless.

Patricio stopped Jesus on a 53rd-minute left-footed effort.

Daniel Podence whipped a shot off the outside of the goal in the 54th, and Ruben Neves rolled a shot that City cleared off the line.

Podence got by John Stones and chipped Ederson but the effort drifted just over the bar. And Raul Jimenez just missed turning an Adama Traore cross inside the far post at the hour mark.

The drama was ratcheted up when Podence nutmegged De Bruyne and sent a perfect cross between Benjamin Mendy and John Stones for Jimenez to head inside the far post for 2-1 with a dozen minutes left in the match.

Patricio stopped Jesus in stoppage time to keep the game 2-1 but the ensuing corner kick more or less ended the affair.