Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Spurs overturn 3-0 deficit to reach UCL final (video)

4 Comments

Another day, another unbelievable, three-goal comeback in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinals.

Tottenham Hotspur went from 1-0 down after the first leg against Ajax, to 3-0 down at halftime of the second leg, to level at 3-3 and through to the the final on June 1 in Madrid on away goals. Lucas Moura scored all three of Tottenham’s goals, including the tie-winner as the literal final second on the clock ticked away to read 95:00.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will face the Liverpool side that overturned a 3-0 deficit to Barcelona at Anfield on Tuesday.

It’s the first time Tottenham Hotspur have ever reached the final of Europe’s premier competition.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Ajax began the second leg exactly as they started — and finished — the first leg: on the front foot and causing Tottenham problems. Dusan Tadic forced Hugo Lloris into a stellar, full-stretch save in the 4th minute. It was the ensuing corner kick, however, that broke Spurs’ back. Matthijs de Ligt was lost in the shuffle of Spurs’ marking assignments and flicked a perfectly placed header inside Lloris’ right-hand post to make it 1-0 on the day and 2-0 on aggregate.

Spurs went close to pulling a goal back with two chances in the 23rd minute. First, Dele Alli slipped a pass past three defenders to send Son Heung-min through on goal, but Spurs’ star man couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to produce a stronger, better placed effort. Seconds later, Spurs connected a series of passes and got the ball into the box, where it fell to Christian Eriksen at the edge of the box. His left-footed shot had more behind it, but was hit into the waiting arms of Andre Onana.

Ajax’s second goal came in the 35th minute, they won the ball near midfield and broke out in a three-on-three counter-attack. Hakim Ziyech began left of Tadic, and that’s the option he chose. Tadic ran at Toby Aldeweireld until he hit the ground near the six-yard box, and Ziyech unleashed a missile into the side netting that Lloris had no chance of saving.

[ MORE: Where does Liverpool’s amazing UCL comeback rank all-time? ]

Ajax welcomed Spurs to take the initiative and enjoy plenty of possession in the second half. That’s when things got really interesting, and Spurs’ Lucas Moura’s desperate comeback began.

Alli slipped another one of those through balls in behind to make an even better one-on-one chance for Moura in the 55th minute. The Brazilian finished with a cool head for 3-1. Four minutes later, Fernando Llorente couldn’t convert from point-blank range, but fortunately for him, Moura wasn’t far away and ready to curl the ball home… after a bit of chaos and close-control dribbling.

Ziyech had Ajax’s best chance to restore the two-goal lead they so desperately needed in the 79th minute, but his left-footed strike from the edge of the box crashed off the front side of Lloris’ left-hand post.

Eight minutes later, two more chance(s) came for Spurs… and went in heartbreaking, soul-crushing fashion. Jan Vertonghen, completely unmarked at the top of the six, put his head on the ball and had Onana beaten, if only his header was a couple inches lower. Crossbar. The rebound fell to Vertonghen, though, with Onana scrambling. His follow-up effort was kept out by a sea of bodies on the goal line.

With 94:54 on the clock, Moussa Sissoko booted the ball forward from midfield. With 94:58 on the clock, the ball fell to Dele Alli atop the box, courtesy of Llorente. As the clock struck 95:00, Moura latched onto a pass from Alli and placed it ever so precisely in the corner to break more than 50,000 hearts inside the Amsterdam Arena.

Mane: Feud with Salah is over

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are friends again.

Sort of.

Following Mane’s angry reaction to not being passed the ball by Salah in their win at Burnley before the international break, there were concerns that the relationship between the two star forwards would impact their play on the pitch.

But speaking to French outlet Canal+ after their 3-1 win against Newcastle United on Saturday, Mane put a lid on the matter.

“With Salah? It’s forgotten,” Mane said. “Sometimes you have to say things face to face. These are things that happen in football, sometimes it happens that I am not given the pass. But we have reconciled and become the good friends we were before.”

That’s that then.

Salah posted the following video ahead of the weekend, which says it all.

Mane scored twice on Saturday to continue his stunning start to the season, so it hasn’t impacted his form. But Salah, the Egyptian King and darling of Anfield, has come out of this worse.

Liverpool fans, generally, were on Mane’s side in this disagreement and the Senegalese attacker has been applauded for his response.

Will this impact Salah’s confidence and the fluidity of Liverpool front three? Probably not.

As Mane said, these things happen in football but it does prove that despite all of the success something has been brewing behind-the-scenes at Liverpool.

Arsenal “too scared” of Watford in collapse

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka admitted the Gunners were “too scared” of Watford as they collapsed in the second half.

Leading 2-0 at half time thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal were totally outplayed in the second half as Watford roared back to draw 2-2 at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

Speaking after the game, Xhaka said the Arsenal players were not confident enough to see out the game.

“No-one wanted the ball. In the end we are happy to take a point,” Xhaka said. “We didn’t show our game in the second half, we were too scared… Every team in the Premier League is strong enough to score but you have to keep calm, to show good character, to be mentally strong. We weren’t today.”

If only this was a rare occurrence for Arsenal.

Under Unai Emery their defensive collapses have been frequent, and this issue even dates back to Arsene Wenger‘s final few seasons in charge.

Arsenal were their own worst enemies on Sunday.

Instead of playing the ball out of dangerous areas they tried to play short goal kicks time and time again and were caught in possession on several occasions. David Luiz gave away a penalty kick, Xhaka and Mateo Guendouzi were overrun in central midfield in the second half and in the end they were lucky to grab a point.

Trying the same things time and time again and expecting different results is just bonkers, and that is what this Arsenal squad is going.

Luiz, Bernd Leno, Sokratis and Xhaka are players Arsenal have built their defensive core around, and the same issues keep cropping up when they are in the team. Adding Luiz to the mix after losing Laurent Koscielny was a risk and it seems like a move which will backfire for the Gunners.

It is true that defenders Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are all close to returning from injury, so when that happens perhaps we will see a newfound defensive solidity and things will improve.

Then again, it’s likely neutral everywhere will be grabbing their popcorn whenever Arsenal play this season because you’re guaranteed entertainment at both ends of the pitch.

Galaxy hammer Sporting KC; Zlatan: “I’m the best ever in MLS”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LA Galaxy smashed Sporting Kansas City 7-2 on Sunday, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick then called himself the best player in MLS history.

Just a casual Sunday for Zlatan, then…

Ibrahimovic, 37, scored a hat trick as LA raced into a 7-1 lead after falling 1-0 behind early on as Felipe Gutierrez scored both of Sporting’s goals.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Ibrahimovic was typically humble after his hat trick which means he now holds the record for the highest scoring season in Galaxy history with 26 goals.

“I think I am the best ever to play in MLS. And that’s without joking,” Ibrahimovic said. “Scoring goals is easy, you just have to be like Zlatan and it’s coming.”

Zlatan is now two goals behind Carlos Vela in the race for the Golden Boot in MLS with four games remaining, and he’s now scored 48 goals in 52 games since arriving in MLS.

Joe Corona, Uriel Antuna and Sebastian Lletget grabbed the Galaxy’s other goals as they won for the first time in five MLS games to boost their chances of making the playoffs in the congested Western Conference.

With the defeat Sporting KC’s hopes of reaching the playoffs is all but over.

Check out the highlights in full below. It will take quite a while to sort through the nine goals, so set down and soak in Zlatan’s brilliance.

Mexicans Abroad: Weekend Roundup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Taking the field in the 70th minute, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez made his debut with Sevilla, who became La Liga’s leaders following Sunday’s result.

In Portugal, despite transitioning to right back at the start of the season, Jesus “Tecatito” Corona continues flourish with Porto. The 26-year-old has two assists after five league games.

Elsewhere, Carlos Vela, who returned from injury, is on the cusp of trying MLS’ all-time single-season scoring record. To be exact, the 30-year-old needs three goals to tie the record, four to surpass Josef Martinez. LAFC has four regular-season games still to play.

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli — Lozano’s second appearance for Napoli wasn’t as captivating as his first, but he did have his positive moments. On Saturday, Chucky started and played 65 minutes, recording a shot off target, 23 touches, and earning two fouls along the way.

Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers — Jimenez started and played 70 minutes in Wolves’ 5-2 loss to Chelsea. Will Nuno Espirito Santos side’s  struggles start to affect Jimenez productivity?

La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito is officially a Sevillista. The 31-year-old replaced Luuk De Jong in 70th minute in Sevilla’s 1-0 over Alaves on Sunday.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — For a fourth consecutive league game, Herrera was left on the bench. At this rate, it’s difficult to say when the 29-year-old will make his debut with Los Colchoneros, who lost 2-0 to Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Guardado, who recently became a father for a second time, didn’t feature in Betis’ 1-1 draw against Getafe on Saturday.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old make the 18, but didn’t take the field against Getafe.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo took the field in the 15th minute following Jorge Saenz’s red-card challenge. Celta ended up losing 2-0 against Granda.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez is out with a hand injury suffered with the national team. A return date is unknown.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — Alvarez started and played 80 minutes in Ajax’s 4-1 drilling of Heerenveen. The 21-year-old is, slowly but surely, becoming a fixture for  Erik ten Hag.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Things are going great for Tecatito. The right back (yes, you read that right) played 90 minutes and recorded an assist in Porto’s 3-2 win over Portimonense. It’s been a good transition for the 26-year-old, to say the least.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea started, but came off at halftime in Zulte’s 1-1 draw with KAS Eupen on Saturday.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Hector Moreno, Al Gharafa   On Saturday, Moreno started and played all 90 minutes in Al Gharafa’s 3-1 win against Qatar SC.

Juan Gerardo Ramirez Alosno, Roda JC — The 21-year-old fullback was left on the bench in Roda’s 1-1 draw on Friday.

Carlos Fierro, San Jose Earthquakes – Dressed but didn’t play in the Quakes’ 2-1 loss to NYCFC.

Carlos Vela, LAFC – In his return from injury, Vela started and scored in LAFC’s 1-1 . draw against the Philadelphia Union. The Mexican is three goals from tying Josef Martinez’s single-season goal record.

Jonathan Dos Santos, LA Galaxy – Dos Santos started in Galaxy’s game against Sporting Kansan City on Sunday.

Uriel Antuna, LA Galaxy – Antuna started in Galaxy’s game against Sporting Kansan City on Sunday.