Stoke 1-2 Chelsea: Champions elect stand tall

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  • Willian put Chelsea ahead
  • Walters equalized from PK spot
  • Cahill scores late winner
  • Chelsea 13 points clear

Premier League leaders Chelsea grabbed victory late on at Stoke City on Saturday, winning 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium.

They now need seven more wins to guarantee the Premier League title.

Antonio Conte‘s side went 1-0 up through Willian’s clever free kick but a penalty kick just before half time from Jonathan Walters leveled things up and that’s how things remained until Gary Cahill scored a late winner. Phil Bardlsey was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow as Chelsea outlasted Stoke in a brutal battle.

The win stretches Chelsea’s lead atop the PL table to 13 points, while Stoke remain on 36 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

After an even start to the game Chelsea went ahead through a piece of quick thinking from Willian and a blunder from Lee Grant in Stoke’s goal.

Marko Arnautovic gave away a free kick wide on the left and with the box loaded with Chelsea players Willian decided to curl an effort towards the near post. He caught out Grant who couldn’t stop the ball squirming inside the near post. 1-0 to the PL leaders.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Stoke hung in the game despite going behind yet Chelsea had a glorious chance to double their lead with their two wing backs combining. Victor Moses clipped in a ball to Marcos Alonso and he was brilliantly denied by Grant from close range. Big save.

Before the break real controversy arrived. First a corner was headed in by Bruno Martins-Indi but the goal was chalked off by the linesman for a push on Cesar Azpilicueta by Saido Berahino in what looked like the correct call.

Moments later Stoke were awarded a penalty kick as a cross was sent towards Walters and he looked to be tripped and pushed by Gary Cahill at the pivotal moment. Walters dusted himself off to slam home the PK and make it 1-1 but Chelsea had plenty of complaints about the PK being awarded.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the second half tempers continued to flare with Diego Costa the villain for most of the game and he was targeted by Stoke time and time again. The USMNT’s Geoff Cameron had a particularly heated battle with Costa as the U.S. national team star was named as Stoke’s man of the match for his all action display in central midfield to try and keep Chelsea’s attackers at bay.

David Luiz sent in a vicious dipping free kick which troubled Grant as Chelsea turned the screw and Stoke tired as full time edged closer.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

Alonso sent a curling free kick against the crossbar with Grant beaten all ends up and the Spaniard couldn’t believe how close his effort came to putting Chelsea ahead.

Pedro was then denied by Grant who made a superb stop as Chelsea piled on the pressure in the closing stages and eventually it paid off.

Luiz’s header towards goal was half cleared by Erik Pieters and Cahill finished clinically to send the away fans wild. After that there was time for Costa to hit the post, Grant to deny substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Bardsley to get a second yellow card for a foul on Cesc Fabregas.

Can anybody stop Chelsea now?

River Plate to sponsor car in Indy 500

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There will be a soccer presence at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500.

On Thursday, Club Atletico River Plate announced, along with car owner Juncos Racing that Kyle Kaiser’s No. 32 car will feature a River Plate logo on the front of the vehicle. Juncos Racing is named after founder Ricardo Juncos, an Argentine native and clearly a big River fan.

Per a press release from River Plate, it’s the first time a soccer team is sponsoring a car in the Indy 500, which takes place this Sunday, May 26.

[READ: Pochettino hopeful Kane will be ready to make an impact in UCL final]

“As a River fan, I always wanted to have the logo of the Club in the car,” Juncos said in a press release.
“This race is very important for me. I am very happy and I believe that in the goal of River to expand into the Indy 500. From here to there will come positive things for both.”

Kaiser, just 23, is one of the new guys on the main IndyCar scene, especially after winning the IndyCar Lights title in 2017. It’s the racing equivalent of winning the Europa League. Unlike River’s reputation as one of the biggest clubs in South America, Kaiser just barely made it into the field all together, bumping former Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso out of the field by about one hundredth of a second.

While it’s cool to see a soccer team get involved in the Indy 500, a worldwide viewing event that’s also akin to a religious holiday throughout the state of Indiana, it’s another Buenos Aires club that really should have been the first to sponsor a car.

Racing Club, defending Argentine league champs, would have been terrific, Racing in Uruguay, or Racing de Santander in Spain. Perhaps one day in the future the three clubs can combine forces to sponsor an IndyCar event or a car competing in a race.

USSF, Relevant Sports clash in court over international matches

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NEW YORK (AP) A lawyer for a promoter asked a judge to order the U.S. Soccer Federation to sanction international league matches in the United States.

The USSF last month denied an application by Relevent Sports, a company partly owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, to have Ecuador’s Barcelona and Guayaquil clubs play on May 5 at Miami Gardens, Florida. The USSF cited an Oct. 26 announcement by FIFA that its ruling council “emphasized the sporting principle that official league matches must be played within the territory of the respective member association.”

During a half-hour hearing Thursday before New York Supreme Court Justice W. Franc Perry, a lawyer for the USSF argued the court should not hear the dispute and it should be sent to arbitration.

Blair G. Connelly, the lawyer representing the USSF, said because Relevent’s application included its executive chairman, Charlie Stillitano, as the FIFA-licensed match agent requesting approval to stage the game, Relevent was bound by a provision in FIFA’s match agent regulations requiring any dispute with a national association be submitted to arbitration. FIFA’s rules specify such a case be heard by its player status committee, whose decision could be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

“What they’re trying to do is outsource the court’s authority … to two bodies in Switzerland that don’t follow New York law and have nothing to do with it,” said Marc Litt, a lawyer for Relevent.

Connelly said the USSF’s decision could be overruled only if the court found it to be irrational. He also cited a 2007 decision by U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber in Illinois, who ordered a suit against the USSF by ChampionsWorld, a previous Stillitano-affiliated company, be stayed pending FIFA’s arbitration procedure.

“They are bound by the contracts their agent enters into on their behalf,” Connelly said.

Litt said FIFA never issued a formal regulation against international club matches in different countries and the USSF cited only a news release.

“Was U.S. Soccer irrational when it concluded that something that FIFA itself called a decision by its decision-making body was in fact a decision? We’re we crazy to think that? Was U.S. Soccer just in outer space?” Connelly said.

Litt claimed the USSF made its decision to protect Soccer United Marketing, an affiliate of the USSF and Major League Soccer.

“We believe that the only reason that they don’t want professional league matches that count in the United States is because that would damage Major League Soccer,” Litt said.

Relevent also attempted to stage the first Spanish La Liga match in the U.S., between Barcelona and Girona, at Miami Gardens on Jan. 26. That effort fell through following opposition from the governing body of Spanish soccer, the Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol, and the players’ union, the Asociacion de Futbolistas Espanoles.

Perry did not announce any decision.

Wenger hints he may be retired from management

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It’s been a year since Arsene Wenger‘s Arsenal departure was announced, and the legendary manager remains on the sidelines.

Whether by his choice or not, Wenger has spent the year away from soccer, instead vacationing and being a studio TV pundit in France. In his latest public comments, Wenger hinted that while he still plans to return to a role in soccer, he likely won’t be a club manager anymore.

“I thought I will come back into management very quickly, but I enjoyed taking a little distance,” Wenger told the BBC. Now I’m at a crossroads.”

Per the BBC, Wenger later added: “You will see me again in football. As a manager… I don’t know.”

In the weeks and months after Wenger was effectively forced out of Arsenal after 22 seasons, Wenger repeatedly said that he had many offers to return to management, and it was only a matter of time before he’d accept one of these offers. And yet, it’s been a year and Wenger remains on the outside, perhaps a clear sign that today’s soccer has passed him by, and unless he wants to move to the Middle East or another soccer outpost, he won’t be able to get a top job in Western Europe.

Despite his acrimonious exit, Wenger still supports the Gunners and had some thoughts on the team’s season, as well as the club’s run to the Europa League final.

“I miss competition and I miss Arsenal because I left my heart in there,” Wenger said. “I gave my life to this club for 22 years. Every minute of my life was dedicated to this club and I miss the values we developed inside the club.

“I support Arsenal. It will be forever my club.”

Pochettino hopeful Kane can “give us a hand” in UCL final

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Harry Kane returned to training this week as Tottenham continues preparations for the UEFA Champions League final.

The England and Tottenham captain has been out with yet another ankle injury since April 9. Initially feared he would be out for the rest of the season, Kane now looks set to play in the final match of the season, and his manager Mauricio Pochettino is hopeful he can make an impact.

“He’s training and has entered the final stage of his recovery, Pochettino told a conference in Bilbao, via video link, per AS. “We’re hoping he’ll be able to give us a hand – either from the start, from the bench or if not, then by giving us moral support in the dressing room. But we are optimistic that he’ll be able to help us on the pitch.”

Pochettino completed a magnificent feat guiding Tottenham to the Champions League final, but he may have one of the most difficult decisions he has to make in his managerial career ahead.

Should Kane be available to start, Pochettino has to decide whether he should break from the lineup that came back from a 3-0 deficit to Ajax, and potentially put Lucas Moura on the bench. If Tottenham loses, Pochettino is probably darned if he does, darned if he doesn’t with Kane.

Either Kane wasn’t fit enough to play and make a big impact, or he clearly was and he didn’t have enough time in the match.

Regardless, Pochettino will hope to have a full squad available, with Kane able to make a difference should be needed.