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CL Wrap: Chelsea pummeled in Rome, Man United eases by Benfica

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Roma 3-0 Chelsea

Stephen El Shaarawy scored a brace, with his first coming 40 seconds into the match, and Chelsea was dropped from the top of Group C. Antonio Rudiger had a brutal match, partly at fault on both goals from El Shaarawy. The second was particularly ugly, with Rudiger almost allowing the ball to reach the Italian like a door swinging open. Diego Perotti scored Roma’s third in the second half to add insult to injury.

Chelsea has now leaked ten goals in its last five matches across all competitions, and drops to second in the Champions League group, three clear of Qarabag with two matches to play. Tuesday’s result is Chelsea’s heaviest Champions League defeat since 2012, when they became the first defending champions to be eliminated in the group stage.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Qarabag

A near-stunner in Spain saw the teams share the points as Azerbaijani club Qarabag took the lead on 40 minutes but conceded early into the second half in a 1-1 draw. Fittingly, Spanish striker Michel scored the opener, delivering a fabulous header directing a corner past Jan Oblak.

Atletico would hit back in the 56th minute on an absolutely stunning goal by midfielder Thomas. Qarabag defended well as Atleti attacked down the right, but the ball fell to the 24-year-old Ghanan at the top of the penalty area and he left fly a vicious, curling effort that spectacularly found the top-right corner.

Pedro Henrique was then shown a straight red minutes later for a karate kick to see the visitors down to 10 men, but the visitors were able to see out the point amid an absolute tidal wave, as Atletico finished with 35 shots, 11 on target. They were helped when Atletico was also reduced to 10 men as Stefan Slavic was given a second yellow card.

Manchester United 2-0 Benfica

Anthony Martial had a penalty saved by Mile Svilar, but the 18-year-old was unlucky to concede an own-goal just before halftime as the Red Devils saw themselves to victory and confirming qualification to the Knockout round as a result.

The goal came in first-half stoppage time as Nemanja Matic rifled a long-range effort on net that clanged off the left post. Svilar had thrown himself unsuccessfully at the shot, leaving him sprawled out on the ground as the ball clattered off the post, came back off Svilar’s hip, and into the back of the net. Daley Blind was on hand to ensure the victory, cooly finishing a penalty with 12 minutes remaining.

The result leaves Manchester United six points clear of both CSKA Moscow and Basel in Group A, all but assuring them qualification with two games to play, and very likely to top the group.

Sporting CP 1-1 Juventus

Bruno Cesar pocketed a rebound to put Sporting CP deservingly in front of Italian giants Juventus in Portugal, but Gonzalo Higuain came to the rescue to share the spoils. The home side went ahead in the 20th minute, but Higuain chipped Sporting goalkeeper from a tight angle in the 79th minute. Still, Juventus failed to capitalize on Barcelona’s slip, leaving the Spaniards still three points adrift at the top of Group D.

Olympiakos 0-0 Barcelona

The Catalans held 69% possession and attempted 19 shots, but couldn’t find a way past Olympiakos as they come to a 0-0 draw in Greece. It’s the first time in five years that Barcelona has been held scoreless in a Champions League group stage match.

Celtic 1-2 Bayern Munich

Javi Martinez gave Bayern Munich the win, scoring with 12 minutes remaining to give the Germans all three points in Scotland.

Kingsley Coman had scored a controversial goal in the first half, beating sleeping defender Dedryck Boyata but handling the ball as he collected and scored. Celtic thought they had served justice as Callum McGregor equalized on a completely broken play, but the visitors struck back just three minutes later to retake the lead. Martinez headed in powerfully on a baseline cross from David Alaba.

Paris Saint-Germain 5-0 Anderlecht

Neymar created PSG’s first and scored their second as the home side blasted Belgian stalwarts Anderlecht in the French capital. The Brazilian found Kylian Mbappe at the top of the box, who immediately fed Marco Verratti completely unguarded on the left flank for PSG’s first right on the half-hour mark. They scored again before the break, with Neymar dribbling all the way in from the corner flag, cutting across the box and firing a simple finish off the hands of Frank Boeckx and into the back of the net.

Layvin Kurzawa then took charge, scoring a 2nd half hat-trick to put the game out of sight.

The win sees PSG qualify for the knockout round, in addition to keeping pace with Bayern. The three points leaves PSG free at the top of Group B by that margin, with the German club sitting just behind them as both look likely to move on.

Basel 1-2 CSKA Moscow

Luca Zuffi and Alan Dzagoev appeared to have cancelled each other out, but Pontus Wernbloom scored a 79th minute winner to muddy up Group A. Manchester United is in control at the top, but the win for the Russians puts CSKA level with Basel in second place, both on six points with two more matches to play.

Pep: Hart’s future uncertain, will play in preseason

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Joe Hart has returned to Manchester City after spending last season on loan at West Ham, and his future is very much up in the air as it stands.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was asked about Hart’s situation at the pre-match press conference prior to City’s International Champions Cup match against Borussia Dortmund. He confirmed they are shopping the English veteran. “We’re going to try and make a solution for Joe,” Guardiola told reporters, “but if not then he is with us. He’s one of the best professionals I’ve ever seen but at this moment he is with us.”

Guardiola also confirmed that Hart would play in the preseason game against Dortmund. Starting goalkeeper Ederson is not on the roster for the US preseason tour, having returned from participation in the 2018 World Cup with Brazil, although he didn’t play as he served as Alisson’s backup.

The former #1 England goalkeeper, Hart has struggled mightily in recent seasons. He last played a full Premier League season back in 2015/16, starting 35 games for Manchester City. However, he lost his place the following year and was loaned to Italian top flight club Torino. He had mixed success during his one year in Italy and was loaned out to West Ham last campaign with Ederson and Claudio Bravo entrenched at his parent club. Hart only made it half the season before losing his starting spot for the Hammers, replaced by Adrian. That saw him lose not just starting job with the England national team but his place in the squad, forcing Gareth Southgate to take a trio of inexperienced goalkeepers to the World Cup, leading to the emergence of Jordan Pickford.

West Ham returned Hart to Manchester City at the end of the season, and here he sits in limbo again. Hart has just one more year left on his contract, but according to the Manchester Evening News, wants to leave this season on a permanent deal anyway.

Tomorrow, Hart will get the opportunity – albeit a small one – to showcase himself to potential suitors. If he gets another chance to play in the ICC (Manchester City plays Liverpool and Bayern Munich before heading home to England), he will have another opportunity to plead his case.

Report: Leicester to pluck Danny Ward from Liverpool

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With the announcement of Alisson’s signing on Thursday, Liverpool has spent over $200 million this summer, but it seems they’ve already begun to trim the squad and even out the net spend by a bit.

According to the Liverpool Echo, the Reds have agreed to sell 25-year-old goalkeeper Danny Ward to Leicester City, with the clubs agreeing to a $16.2 million fee. The report also states the deal includes a 20% sell-on fee, meaning Liverpool will receive 20% of any transfer fee Leicester City receives for Ward during the life of his next contract.

[ MORE: Alisson signs for Liverpool ]

Ward has spent the last six seasons with Liverpool after signing from small non-league club Wrexham in 2012 as a 19-year-old. However, he has played more games for the Welsh international team (4) than he has for Liverpool (3). Previously stuck behind Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius, the arrival of Alisson meant the club needed to make room.

Leicester City already has Kasper Schmeichel firmly entrenched between the sticks. However, especially after a stellar 2018 World Cup with Denmark where he was considered among the top choices for the Golden Glove award, Schmeichel is a wanted man and 31 years old and a contract with three more years remaining, Schmeichel’s time at King Power Stadium could be limited.

The addition of Ward at the very least would allow Schmeichel some time off. The Dane was stretched thin last season as not just the Premier League starter but also used in a few cup games with only Eldin Jakupovic behind him. Now, it’s realistic that Ward could receive time in Cup competitions, leaving Schmeichel to rest up for league games.

Reports: Conte to sue Chelsea over how firing was handled

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According to reports in Italy, and backed up by those in England, Antonio Conte is planning to sue Chelsea over the way the club handled his exit this summer.

Chelsea is reportedly planning to pay Conte the rest of his salary in full, but the reports state that the Italian is unhappy how long it took the club to confirm his exit, leaving him unable to secure a job commiserate with his experience level for this coming season.

The 48-year-old is set to receive nearly $12 million as compensation for the final year of his now-terminated contract, but is looking for additional damages given the timing of his departure. Despite the writing clearly on the wall, Conte had weeks of silence from the club, before being pulled back to London to begin pre-season training with the squad for just four days before he was then let go.

Upon his release, Conte released a relatively benign statement thanking the club, the fans, the staff, and the players, but notably did not thank the board or owner Roman Abramovich.

Things between Chelsea and Conte have been testy for some time now. It was reported earlier last month – before Conte was officially let go – that Chelsea was planning to withhold payment of Conte’s remaining salary and sue the Italian for costing the club money for former striker Diego Costa. Costa told the media he received a text message from Conte while on international duty last summer that he was no longer wanted at the club. If true, the club could have argued that Conte botched the situation and cost the club a significant amount of money. However, it seems the club has – for now – decided not to pursue the lawsuit, with reports stating that Conte is set to receive his salary in full.

WATCH: Jurgen Klopp crashes Alisson’s first Liverpool interview

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Jurgen Klopp has had quite the summer, and it’s just become even better.

Liverpool officially acquired Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson for a world-record transfer fee, and with the former Roma netminder filling his first obligations in Red, things didn’t go exactly as the club’s media staff had planned. While sitting down for his first interview with the club staff to be used in the official release, Jurgen Klopp couldn’t resist crashing the party to say hello.

[ MORE: Alisson to Liverpool official ]

The language barrier made things a bit awkward, as did the rolling cameras, but it’s pretty clear both sides are quite happy with the recent developments, with smiles all around. Take a look:

Klopp asked if Alisson was in the middle of his post-World Cup vacation, which he confirmed as true, but smartly followed up with “But now I am working.”

We’re sure they’ll catch up on a more complete basis privately later, but it was pretty cool to see their first interaction caught on camera.