Premier League friendly roundup: Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool all in action

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Three of the big six sides in the Premier League were in action on Sunday as preseason preparation progresses ahead of the start of the season.

Here’s a closer look at how the Premier League clubs fared.

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Chelsea top Reading in seven-goal thriller

A trio of Americans hit the field as Chelsea held off a pair of Reading comebacks to win at the Madejski Stadium, 4-3, in Frank Lampard‘s first (unofficial) match on English soil.

Christian Pulisic got the start for the Blues as it took a 2-1 lead into the halftime break. Joshua Barrett gave the hosts an early lead in the 13th minute with a sweet finish off the half-volley, looping the ball over Wily Caballero’s head in goal for Chelsea. Ross Barkley equalized just eight minutes later with a sweet free kick into the top left corner, before Kenedy put Chelsea ahead with a strike from outside the box that was re-directed and left Reading’s goalkeeper Joao Virginia flat footed.

While Pulisic departed the match at halftime, Reading brought on centerback Matt Miazga and striker Andrija Novakovich among other subs to play the second half. The pair were involved as Reading tied the score through Michael Morrison in just the 49th minute.

Yet it was the former Derby County midfielder and Chelsea youngster Mason Mount that made the difference in the match. Mount’s two second half goals gave Chelsea the distance it needed to close out the win. The first goal was a cracking shot in the box but the second was an absolute gift from Virginia, who turned the ball over to Tammy Abraham in the box, who centered to Mount who couldn’t miss from five yards out.

Sam Baldock slipped one home in the 71th minute for Reading but it couldn’t find another equalizer as Chelsea held on for the win.

Arsenal fall to Lyon at Emirates Cup

It was a new-look Emirates Cup with a double-header including the men’s and women’s teams for Arsenal. However, on the men’s side, it was a disappointing result for Unai Emery‘s squad.

Arsenal was defeated, 2-1 by Lyon with two second-half goals coming from former Fulham and Celtic striker Moussa Dembele. Arsenal completely dominated the first half of the match in terms of chances created, and arguably should have been up by more than the 1-0 scoreline it earned at the break. A cross from Henrikh Mkhitaryan was re-directed with lightning-speed into the net by none-other-than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to put Arsenal in front in the first half.

Later, even though Dembele had tied the score at 1-1 with a header, it appeared new Arsenal signing, 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli had given the Gunners the lead, poking home off a rebound in the box. However, the goal was ruled off for offside on Martinelli.

Seconds later, Dembele beat the offside trap and then scored on Bernd Leno who was way off his line. To make matters worse for Arsenal, striker Alexandre Lacazette was forced off in the 12th minute due to an apparent sprained ankle, per Arsenal. The club stated postgame, via Unai Emery, that it didn’t think the injury was serious, but he was taken off as a precaution. Still, it’s never good to see a star player go down with an injury, especially during preseason.

Liverpool trounced by Napoli in Scotland

In terms of just wins and losses results on the field, it hasn’t been a very successful preseason so far for Liverpool. The Reds continued their traveling preseason tour with a match in Edinburgh, Scotland against Napoli, and the Italian side came away with a 3-0 victory.

Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik scored for Carlo Ancelotti’s side in the first half before Amin Younes put Liverpool away with a goal in the second half.

It’s been a tough preseason for the Reds, but of course, they’re missing a large chunk of their squad due to international tournaments this summer. Jurgen Klopp started a pretty-strong backline in Andrew Robertson, Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold. However, Divock Origi started on his own up top and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is still recovering from a serious knee injury, also got a start as he builds back his fitness after missing almost all of last season. Starters Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Alisson and Roberto Firmino are all either on international break rest or working their way back to fitness.

Liverpool did get some time to play some of it’s potential stars of the future. Sepp van den Berg played the final 11 minutes of the match, as did new Liverpool signing Harvey Elliot, the 16-year-old recently acquired from Fulham.

La Liga Roundup: Messi, Barcelona stunned by inspired Granada (video)

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Granada’s shocking 2-0 win over Barcelona and subsequent rise to the top of the table headlines Saturday’s La Liga action.

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Granada 2-0 Barcelona

Not even Lionel Messi, who made his season debut on Saturday, was able to save Barcelona against a red-hot Granada.

Granada, who are off to their best start in their 88 years of existence, had a perfect night in front of their supporters, convincingly getting past a Barcelona that dominated possession, but lacked the offensive ingenuity needed to score.

Barcelona’s defense wasn’t noteworthily robust, either.

Two minutes in, the newly promoted side scored through a headed goal from Ramon Azeez, following a defensive turnover from Junior Firpo.

Unable to record a shot on target in the first half and looking to wakeup a dormant attack, Barcelona brought on wonderkid Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi at halftime. Despite the duo connecting on several occasion and generating a shot on target, it wasn’t enough to get past Rui Silva.

In the 66th minute, following video review, substitute Alvaro Badillo converted from the spot, handing Granada their third win of the season.

Atop of La Liga, Granada set their sights on Real Valladolid, while Barcelona, who are off to their worst league start in 25 years, host Villarreal at Camp Nou.

Atletico Madrid  0-0 Celta Vigo

For a second consecutive week, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid dropped points, drawing with Celta Vigo 0-0 at Wanda Metropolitano.

Tied with league leaders Granada and Sevilla with 10 points, the alarm bells are far from going off in Madrid. However, as Saturday’s performance showed, los Colchoneros are having trouble finishing chances this season, despite fielding an attack with the likes of Joao Felix, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata.

In five games, Atletico have managed to score only five goals, six fewer than leaders Granada. Against Celta, Atletico registered 20 shots, five on target, but were unable to crack a stellar Ruben Blanco, who registered five saves.

Leveled with Granada and Sevilla, Atletico Madrid look to get back into winning ways as they take on RCD Mallorca. Elsewhere, Celta Vigo, who have won win after five games, host Espanyol next.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Villarreal 2-0 Real Valladolid

Levante 0-0 Eibar

Almeyda, Wondolowski sent off in Quakes’ fall against Atlanta (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Melodrama took center stage in Atlanta United’s 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, as Matias Almeyda, Chris Wondolowski and Cristian Espinoza were all sent off on Saturday. Josef Martinez, six games away from tying Lionel Messi’s world record for most consecutive goals, left the field in 79th minute following an injury, ending his MLS-record run at 15 games. Playing with 10 players from the 34th minute onwards, the Quakes held on to the draw up until the 90th minute. Unmarked inside the box, Emerson Hyndman rocketed the ball past Daniel Vega, who recorded nine saves throughout the night. In stoppage time, Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez was rewarded for his stellar performance with a goal of his own. With a game at hand, Eastern Conference leaders, NYCFC, are three points ahead Frank De Boer‘s side. The Quakes, on the other hand, have internal fires to put out as they have lost six of their last eight, and are only a point above the red line with three games to play.

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Great run by Espinoza, greater ball by Vega  — Daniel Vega and Cristian Espinoza were players that San Jose were desperately missing last season. This sequence says it all.

 

90′ — Emerson Hyndman wins it for the Five Stripes   — Hyndman, with no one near him, seals three points for the home side.

 

90′ + 2 — Martinez takes advantage of broken San Jose  — Martinez’s goal was only salt in San Jose’s fresh wound.

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Man of the match: Gonzalo “Pity”  Martinez

Goalscorers: Meram (4′), Guzan (27′ – OG), Hyndman (90′), Martinez (90′ + 2)

FIFA sees no obstacles for women to attend games in Iran

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ZURICH — Soccer’s governing body FIFA says an inspection visit to Iran has shown “no noteworthy operational obstacles” to lifting the country’s 40-year ban and letting women attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

After meeting government and soccer officials in Tehran this week, FIFA says it will work with Iran’s soccer body to also open domestic league games to female fans.

FIFA wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums which breaches international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a soccer stadium in Tehran and faced six months in prison.

Ahead of Iran hosting Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10, FIFA says the visit on Thursday focused on “international relations, security and ticketing matters.”

Iranian officials were told of FIFA’s “firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely” with tickets sold to as many who wanted to attend.

FOLLOW LIVE: Atlanta v. Quakes, Galaxy v. Impact on a busy MLS Saturday

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Eight games in seven hours, now that’s a jam-packed MLS Saturday.

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Things kickoff with Matias Almeyda’s San Jose Earthquakes visiting red-hot Josef Martinez’s Atlanta United, and comes to a close in Los Angeles, where league leaders LAFC host Toronto FC and LA Galaxy, who look to continue moving up in the Western Conference standings, host Montreal Impact.

In between, the New England Revolution look to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they welcome Kyle Beckerman and Real Salt Lake, while the Chicago Fire hope to jump level with the Revs in the standings as they take on FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium.

Saturday’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United v. San Jose Earthquakes — 3:30 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps v. Columbus Crew — 5 p.m. ET

New England Revolution v. Real Salt Lake — 7:30 p.m. ET

FC Cincinnati v. Chicago Fire — 7:30 p.m. ET

Sporting Kansas City v. Colorado Rapids — 8:30 p.m. ET

Houston Dynamo v. Orlando City — 8:30 p.m. ET

LAFC v. Toronto FC — 10:30 p.m. ET

LA Galaxy v. Montreal Impact — 10:30 p.m. ET