Chelsea stay top-four course with win over Watford (video)

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  • Chelsea go 3rd in PL, all but secure top-4 finish
  • Loftus-Cheek, Luiz started 2H with quick-fire double
  • Higuain added the 3rd (75′)

Chelsea hit Watford for three second-half goals and 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, sending themselves to third place in the Premier League in the process.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With one game left to play, the Blues (71 points) have all but secured their place in the top-four and assured themselves of a return to the Champions League.

Sunday’s game didn’t start off so brightly for Chelsea, as Watford were first to threaten, but Kepa Arrizabalaga made one of the best saves of the season to deny Troy Deeney in the 8th minute. Jose Holebas’ cross came in from the left side and Deeney rose highest to get his head to the ball and loop it across the face of goal, but Arrizabalaga was quick to react and palm the ball away at full-stretch.

N'Golo Kante, the engine and master of Chelsea’s midfield, was forced off by an injury immediately thereafter.

Chelsea had an obvious claim for a penalty kick in the 30th minute, when Kiko Femenia wrapped his arms around David Luiz and drove him down to the ground. It was the Blues’ most threatening moment in the first half.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The second half started much better, however, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who came on to replace Kante, broke the deadlock after just three minutes. Eden Hazard whipped a cross into the box and it was Loftus-Cheek who beat everyone else in the air and headed the ball down to beat Ben Foster.

Barely two minutes later, the Blues had their second courtesy of Luiz. Hazard sent the corner kick to the top of the six-yard box where Luiz, who lost his marker with terrifying ease, was completely unmarked and applied the finish.

Chelsea so nearly made it 3-0 with a pair of golden opportunities in the 58th minute. Pedro cut inside onto his left foot and looked to have beaten Foster to the far post, only to be denied at the very last moment. The rebound fell to Loftus-Cheek, but he put his follow-up effort inches wide.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Gonzalo Higuain put the game to bed with a deft chip over Foster in the 75th minute. Pedro slipped a perfectly weighted through ball to Higuain, but there was still so much to be done from there. Foster was rushing out quickly and Higuain had the tightest of angles with which to work. The only path to goal was up and over.

Chelsea will wrap up their campaign with a trip to Leicester City next Sunday, while Watford will host West Ham United at Vicarage Road.

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

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Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

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Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

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Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.