Swansea City 2-2 Chelsea: Costa bicycle kick rescues error-prone Blues

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  • Chelsea drops first points of the season
  • Swansea scored 2 goals in 3 minutes to take the lead
  • Costa struck acrobatic equalizer with 9 minutes to go

Some things change, some stay the same. Chelsea may have a new manager, but Diego Costa will always be in the spotlight.

The Brazilian striker hit twice at the Liberty Stadium, the second an acrobatic bicycle kick that drew Chelsea level and rescued an error-prone Blues defense after two goals in three minutes had put Swansea stunningly ahead.

Chelsea had a nervous start to the match, but claimed the first dangerous moment 10 minutes in as Willian delivered a low cross into the box that Lukas Fabianski had to lay out to smother. The Blues would build as the game progressed, and took their lead 18 minutes in. The home side failed to clear as the ball pinged around the air in Swansea’s penalty area, and Oscar cut the ball across the top of the box to Costa who buried the opener.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Swans had their best chance as Gylfi Sigurdsson whipped a long effort just wide. With the game lively only in little spurts, Swansea made a first-half change that appeared nothing more than tactical, bringing on Modou Barrow in favor of Neil Taylor. The Welsh international was visibly angry about being removed so early, rejecting a handshake from manager Francesco Guidolin in the bench and appearing quite heated.

Chelsea should have had a second but Costa registered a horrific miss. John Terry put in a beautiful flick across the face of goal, and Costa found himself unmarked on the far post for an easy tap-in, but somehow he missed the wide-open net, instead redirecting the ball back across the box.

[ MORE: Premier League standings

Into the second half, yellow cards began to accumulate and the game started to boil over, forcing referee Anthony Taylor to have a chat with a number of players. Following a few uneasy moments, Swansea completed a stunning charge to take the lead.

A long ball by Barrow over the top sprung Gylfi Sigurdsson, and with nobody back, Thibaut Courtois came off his line to contest. As the ball swung along the edge of the box, Courtois realized he couldn’t use his hands to prevent the chance, so he attempted a tackle and brought down the Iceland international. With the foul just inside the box, the referee pointed to the spot, and Sigurdsson buried the spot-kick.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Just moments later, Swansea had the lead, although not without controversy. Gary Cahill sat on the ball just a few moments too long, and Leroy Fer charged him down and dispossed the defender. Fer then beat Courtois one-on-one, trickling the ball into the back of the net. On replay, it appeared Fer’s thievery of Cahill was nothing more than a clear foul, hacking at the defender’s calves without contact on the ball, but the referee was unmoved.

The game exploded from that moment. Chelsea charged down the other end looking to right the ship, and Fabianski brought down Costa at the edge of the box, but no call was made. The Brazilian then fired an ambitious effort from a fair distance away that nearly found the top corner, but weaved just high.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

The Blues continued to bomb forward, and they would earn an equalizer. Branislav Ivanovic weaved his way into the box, and his cross deflected high into the air, handing Costa the opportunity to bury a bicycle kick, which he did emphatically in the 81st minute. Both teams searched brightly for a winner in a wild end-to-end finish, but neither goalkeeper would relent. The draw marks the first dropped points of the season for Chelsea, but a point for Swansea doubles their season total thus far.

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.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

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.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

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).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

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 ]