Everton 1-1 Crystal Palace: Post, crossbar very unkind to Toffees

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Everton and Crystal Palace traded haymakers for 90 straight minutes at Goodison Park on Monday, with the two sides ultimately splitting the points after a 1-1 draw. Roberto Martinez’s Toffees will feel hard done by, though, having hit the frame of the goal not one, not twice, but three times on the night.

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In a bit of perfect symmetry, Romelu Lukaku marked his 100th appearance for Everton by scoring his 50th goal for the club (above video), rescuing a point for the home side after Palace so nearly completed another classic smash-and-grab away from home.

Palace’s best chance of the first half came and went in the 16th minute, when U.S. national team goalkeeper Tim Howard made a reaction save of Connor Wickham‘s header at point-blank range. Yannick Bolasie whipped the cross in from the left wing, and Wickham flicked the ball on, but Howard was positioned perfectly at the near post and made the save with his chest.

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Lukaku went so close to putting Everton into the lead in the 21st minute, but the big Belgian striker’s shot found only the front side of the far post. After a quick one-two with Ross Barkley put him into space, Lukaku made a quick turn and cut inside to put the ball on his favored left foot. His shot from the top of the 18-yard box had beaten Wayne Hennessey but found only the woodwork.

It was Wickham who nearly gave the Toffees the game’s first goal when his wayward headed clearance went horribly wrong and nearly found the back of his own net. Barkley whipped in a low, flat free kick from the left wing and Wickham rose as the first defender in the penalty area for Palace, the ball skipping off the top of his head and making its way to the far post where it hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced downward, missing the goal line by mere inches.

Lukaku combined with Tom Cleverley to create another very-nearly chance in the 66th minute. Barkley played the ball to Lukaku at the top of the Palace box, where he backheeled the ball to Cleverley in a bit of space. Cleverley hit a first-time volley with his right foot that was always dipping away from Hennessey, but the Welsh ‘keeper did well to spring across the face of goal and get fingertips to the ball to tip it over the bar.

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Palace found themselves on the back foot for much of the second half, but eventually broke through against the run of play in the 76th minute, when Scott Dann rose above the crowd to head in Jason Puncheon‘s corner kick.

Lukaku unleashed a brilliant strike only to hit the crossbar two minutes later. The 22-year-old fired a dipping, swerving volley, which had Hennessey beaten all the way, from just outside the penalty area with that same left foot. Alas, it was the Toffees’ third time clanging the ball off the frame of the goal.

On 80 minutes, Everton — and Lukaku — got their very deserved goal to equalize. Gerard Deulofeu broke down the left wing and hit a low, stinging cross to the far post, where Lukaku was waiting, shielding the nearest defenders with the full frame of his body, making the finish a simple tap-in from three yards out.

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Left back Leighton Baines made his return to first-team action as a 62nd-minute substitute after more than 10 months out injured (last appearance for Everton was Jan. 13, 2015).

With the draw on Monday, the Toffees climb two spots, up ninth in the Premier League table, a point behind Palace, West Ham and Liverpool who are all level on 23 points at sixth, seventh and eighth in the league respectively.

UCL, Live: Chelsea v. Bayern; Napoli v. Barcelona

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is back and the Round of 16 games continue this week as Chelsea host Bayern Munich and Barcelona head to Napoli in what should be two epic battles.

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This is arguably the biggest test yet for Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea youngsters as they face the German giants Bayern who are in imperious form in Europe and have Robert Lewandowski leading their charge. What Chelsea lack in experience they make up for in talent and despite some attacking injuries, Lampard will be keen to take the game to Bayern at Stamford Bridge. Given Chelsea’s defensive flaws so far this season, their best form of defense is attack.

Lampard knows Chelsea must lock down Lewandowski and his battle with Antonio Rudiger is one, among many, we are really looking forward to.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

Elsewhere, Barcelona warmed up for their big trip to Napoli in fine style as Lionel Messi scored four times in a thumping win against Eibar in La Liga on Saturday. Messi, 32, will be Barca’s main men in the cauldron that is the Estadio San Paolo and despite their patchy form in Serie A, Gennaro Gatusso’s Napoli are a dangerous proposition in the Champions League. Especially at home in Naples.

Below is the full schedule for the two UCL last 16 first leg games on Tuesday, with bothgames kicking off at 3 p.m. ET. You can follow the action live by clicking on the link above.

Tuesday Champions League action

Chelsea v. Bayern Munich
Napoli v. Barcelona

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings are here and there are new faces pushing their way into the upper echelons.

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Stars from Premier League giants Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal, Man City and Wolves dominate our power rankings after some impressive performances and there are plenty of new entries and plenty of players from the same teams.

[ MORE: Club Power Rankings

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.

1. Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
2. Diogo Jota (Wolves) – New entry
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – Up 16
4. Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) – New entry
5. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Up 6
6. Richarlison (Everton) – Up 1
7. Dwight McNeil (Burnley) – New entry
8. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 2
9. Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) – New entry
10. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) – Down 5
11. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – New entry
12. Bruno Fernandes (Man United) – Up 4
13. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) – Down 9
14. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Even
15. Martin Dubravka (Newcastle) – New entry
16. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Down 4
17. Harry Maguire (Man United) – Down 9
18. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man United) – Down 12
19. Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) – New entry
20. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) – Down 7

Key battles: Chelsea v. Bayern; Real Madrid v. Man City

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Two Premier League teams play in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 this week as Chelsea host Bayern Munich and Man City head to Real Madrid in the first legs.

Which battles will determine the outcome of these games?

[ MORE: Predicting the UCL last 16 encounters ]

Below we take a look at three crucial head-to-head clashes which will be pivotal in deciding which teams will reach the quarterfinals.

Chelsea v. Bayern Munich

Antonio Rudiger v. Robert Lewandowski: The former has become a real threat from set pieces for Chelsea but his main role will be to stop the most lethal striker in Europe this season in Lewandowski’s. Bayern’s target man is ageing like a fine French win and has 40 goals to his name in all competitions for club and country. Chelsea’s defense has struggled at times this season and Lewa must be licking his chops in anticipation as he tries to win his first-ever Champions League title.

Jorginho v. Thiago Alcantara: Two pass-masters in central midfield will be a joy to watch. Jorginho has a more defensive role to play with N’Golo Kante out and the Italian will look to deliver perfectly weighted passes to get Chelsea’s attack going. As for Thiago, his vision works really well alongside some of Bayern’s more defensive midfielders and he is so assured in possession. The Spanish international has class on the ball and he and Jorginho are very similar. What a battle this should be.

Reece James v. Alphonso Davies: This is a battle we should all look forward to. Canadian star Davies has been a revelation at left back for Bayern and is encouraged to steam ahead and join in attacks whenever he can. James does exactly the same for Chelsea and has made the position his own in his debut season in the Premier League. These two players will be around at the top level and playing in the Champions League for a very long time and you can expect incisive runs up and down as they go head-to-head.

Real Madrid v. Man City

Casemiro v. Kevin De Bruyne: This will be one heck of a job for Real’s Brazilian destroyer. Of course, Casemiro can play too but his main role will be to shut down Kevin de Bruyne who has been in imperious form for Man City in recent weeks. When KDB is fit and firing on all cylinders he is almost unstoppable and he is a player who continues to be linked with a move to Real this summer amid the uncertainty over Man City’s two-season European ban.

Sergio Ramos v. Sergio Aguero: The master of the dark arts against the master of finishing will be fascinating viewing. The Sergio’s will put on a show and Aguero will fancy his chances of wriggling past Ramos and being the hero. That said, how many times have we written off Ramos in the past? The Real Madrid and Spain skipper seems to always find a way of coming out on top but he will be stretched to his limits as his Real defense try to put out fires all over the place with Aguero, KDB and Raheem Sterling or Gabriel Jesus popping up.

Karim Benzema v. Aymeric Laporte: The latter has been influential since his return from injury and his absence is the main reason Man City are so far behind Liverpool in the Premier League title race. Benzema’s physicality could cause Laporte some issues and like Ramos, he is underrated for a player who has been pivotal in winning four Champions League titles with Real Madrid. Laporte is good on the ball and Benzema’s clever turns and flicks means this battle will be more about brains than brawn.

Lyon-Juventus gets green light despite virus concerns

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LYON, France (AP) French club Lyon says its sold-out Champions League home game against Juventus will go ahead as planned on Wednesday despite the coronavirus outbreak in nearby Italy.

Lyon said in a statement on Tuesday it received the go-ahead from French authorities for the match to take place “in its initial configuration.”

Up to 3,000 Juventus fans coming from different regions of Italy are expected to attend Groupama Stadium for the last-16, first-leg match.

The fast-spreading virus from China has led to the postponement of Serie A games in northern Italy, where a cluster of the COVID-19 disease has caused seven deaths and towns to be locked down.

Health Minister Olivier Veran told RTL radio on Tuesday that France is not considering closing its border with Italy, nor banning big gatherings of people because it would not make sense.

Asked specifically about the Lyon-Juventus match, Veran said: “Should we ban gatherings? Should we stop the (Paris) Fashion Week? Should we stop matches? Should we close universities? The answer is no.”

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