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Liverpool wins UEFA Super Cup on penalties over Chelsea

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Tammy Abraham‘s pressure shootout effort was saved by Adrian and Liverpool took home the UEFA Super Cup on penalties after drawing 2-2 with Chelsea in regulation and extra-time.

Christian Pulisic started for Chelsea and was fantastic, picking up his first Blues assist on Olivier Giroud‘s opener in the first half. Sadio Mane got the first of his brace to bring the Champions League winners back level just after the halftime break. With the game 1-1 after regulation, Mane delivered a thumping finish five minutes into the added period, but a Jorginho penalty leveled the match back up minutes later.

Liverpool was the brighter side off the jump, as Kepa Arrizabalaga was required on 16 minutes to keep out Mohamed Salah who got past the Chelsea defense. The Blues then began to attack brightly down the left with Pedro but the Spaniard struck the crossbar, bringing back nightmares of the Old Trafford defeat over the weekend.

As both teams traded first-half blows, Virgil Van Dijk just fired over the bar as he looked to head home a 29th minute corner, and another set-piece brought an open attempt for Mane who forced a save from Kepa. Deputising for the injured Alisson int the Liverpool net, Adrian was on hand to make a superb charging save past the half-hour mark.

The opener came nine minutes before the halftime break as Christian Pulisic picked up his first Chelsea assist, beautifully charging into the attacking third on the ball and feeding a perfectly-timed Olivier Giroud run to get past the back line. The Frenchman finished one-on-one past Adrian from the left edge of the six-yard area, putting the Blues in front.

Pulisic appeared to have his first Chelsea goal as well just minutes later, but Pulisic was judged correctly to be offside on the buildup, nullifying his impressive chopped finish. N’Golo Kante was excellent in midfield, looking rejuvenated under Frank Lampard despite reprising his central midfield role on the right side of a trio as Jorginho continued in a more defensive role.

After the break, Liverpool had exactly the response they required. Roberto Firmino came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and it bore immediate fruit as Fabinho pinged a looping ball over the Chelsea back line, and the Brazilian was on hand to receive the flick. Firmino poked it over to Sadio Mane just next to him, and the Ghanan got it past Kepa on his second attempt to level the scoreline at 1-1.

Chelsea struggled to get a foothold in the second half but past the half-hour mark they were back on the front foot as Pulisic had a volleyed effort from the top of the box go out off van Dijk for a corner.  The game ground to a halt with 20 minutes to go, but Liverpool came so close to going in front again on 75 minutes. A corner swung in and found an unmarked Salah at the far post, but his initial effort was blocked. It came to van Dijk back at the near post and somehow the Dutchman’s effort with the goal gaping was straight at Kepa who produced a fabulous reflex save to deflect the ball up and out off the crossbar.

Mason Mount came on for Pulisic with 15 minutes to go, and he nearly put Chelsea in front with the ball in the back of the net, but it was again ruled out for offside. The game progressed to full-time still level at 1-1, so extra-time was required to help decide a winner.

Mane grabbed his second goal five minutes into the added period with a thumping finish, played in by Firmino who delivered an exquisite cutback into the penalty area, perfectly weighted for Mane to then produce a thunderbolt strike. With Liverpool 2-1 up, Chelsea responded immediately as substitute Tammy Abraham was chopped down by Adrian in the penalty area and history-making referee Frappart – who had a stellar game in charge – pointed to the spot, with VAR confirming the decision. Jorginho made it 2-2 with a cool clipped penalty as Adrian crumbled the wrong way.

Abraham was dangerous in his appearance up front in place of Giroud, nearly giving Chelsea a winner just before the extra-time break, with his finish across the face of goal just beating the far post. Pedro and Mount both came close as well in the second half, but the game went to penalties with no winner produced. In the shootout, every penalty taker scored until the death when Abraham’s must-score effort was saved by Adrian to give Liverpool the victory.

Why Christian Pulisic chose Chelsea over Man United

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Christian Pulisic had plenty of offers on the table when it was clear he was going to leave Borussia Dortmund last fall, but one of them was immediately crossed out for one reason and one reason only.

Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch

Pulisic’s former coach at Brackley Town, Robin Walker, spoke to The Telegraph about how the USMNT player came to sign for Chelsea over United and how his father didn’t want him to sign for Man United. Pulisic spent a year playing for Brackley Town when his parents moved to England as his mother was on a teaching exchange program.

“He wouldn’t go to Manchester United because of Jose Mourinho,” Walker said. “His father couldn’t stand Mourinho, because he didn’t promote young players. It was at that point I asked: ‘What about London? That’s where it’s at.’ I was trying to sell the city. His agent agreed, saying: ‘When you make these decisions, it’s all about investment and property.’ I was delighted that he did sign [for Chelsea].”

Walker is a Chelsea fan and was ecstatic that Pulisic, 20, signed for the Blues, and although many people believed heading to Chelsea wasn’t the best move for the USMNT star, it looks like it could be a shrewd decision.

Mourinho obviously left Man United last December, but by then the wheels were already in motion for Pulisic to sign for Chelsea and with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer only a caretaker boss of the Red Devils at that point, he wasn’t going to get $73 million to spend on a January signing.

It is true that Mourinho has been known to stall the careers of several stars, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku to name a few, but it is also true that Chelsea has stockpiled that kind of talent and struggled to develop these mercurial talents.

Since Pulisic signed for Chelsea in January and was then loaned back to Dortmund for the rest of the 2018-19 season, Maurizio Sarri has departed and Frank Lampard arrived with a transfer ban also coming in. That means Pulisic will get more minutes due to new players not being bought and Lampard is also keen on promoting youngsters.

That said, there is one part of this story which may sit a little uneasy with USMNT fans. Pulisic’s agent reportedly saying that ‘when you make these decisions, it’s all about investment and property.’

Shouldn’t it be about being the best place for Pulisic to develop as a player?

The American winger has shown flashes of brilliance in his first few months as a Chelsea player and it will be intriguing to see how often he plays now that Willian is back fully fit, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi are also pushing their way back to full fitness.

Man United players slam “disgusting, pathetic” racist abuse of Pogba

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Manchester United star Paul Pogba was racially abused on social media after having his penalty kick saved in the 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.

United have issued a statement slamming the racist abuse, as Harry Maguire called it “disgusting” and led calls for Twitter and Instagram to take strong stances against those making racist comments on social media.

“Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse aimed at Paul Pogba last night and we utterly condemn it. The individuals who expressed these views do not represent the values of our great club and it is encouraging to see the vast majority of our fans condemn this on social media also.

“Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination and a long-standing commitment to campaigning against it through our #AllRedAllEqual initiative. We will work to identify the few involved in these incidents and take the strongest course of action available to us. We also encourage social media companies to take action in these cases.”

This racist abuse of Pogba follows Chelsea youngster Tammy Abraham also being targeted after his penalty kick was saved in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool last Wednesday, and comes after Chelsea banned one fan for life after the racist abuse of Man City’s Raheem Sterling during a game at Stamford Bridge last season.

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri diagnosed with pneumonia

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus says coach Maurizio Sarri has been diagnosed with pneumonia.

The 60-year-old Sarri was unable to take training with the Italian champion on Monday because he has been struggling with the flu for the past week.

The club said he underwent further tests which confirmed he has pneumonia, for which specific therapy was prescribed.

Sarri left Chelsea in the offseason to take charge of Juventus. His first Serie A game in charge is at Parma on Saturday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

UEFA Champions League qualifying preview

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Six slots remain in the UEFA Champions League’s 2019-20 group stage, and the 12 teams hoping to fill them begin the final round of qualifying on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There are a pair of Americans in the bunch of hopefuls, with Sergino Dest of Ajax and Ethan Horvath of Club Brugge in action on Tuesday.

The fortunes of those players have changed dramatically in recent months.

[ MORE: Julian Green flying high ]

Horvath, 24, was the starter for 34 matches across all competitions last season and the first two matches of this domestic season but has seen nothing but bench since Brugge scooped up Simon Mignolet from Liverpool.

Will Mignolet allowing three goals to Dynamo Kiev have changed anything for manager Philippe Clement? Seems unlikely, but we’ll still keep an eye on the lineup against Austrian side LASK. Ghanaian national teamer Samuel Tetteh is an intriguing player for the hosts, on loan from Red Bull Salzburg.

Dest is still 18 until November and has started Ajax’s last two games at right back. He made his debut at left back in a 2-0 defeat of PSV Eindhoven to start the season, and Ajax is 4-0 with him on the field this season.

While we’re talking Yanks in the UCL, the group stage already has Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Lille’s Timothy Weah, RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams, and Red Bull Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch.

Canadian winger Alphonso Davies is with Bayern Munich.

Full schedule

All matches at 3 p.m. ET

Tuesday
APOEL Nicosia v. Ajax
CFR Cluj v. Slavia Prague
LASK v. Club Brugge

Wednesday
Dinamo Zagreb v. Rosenborg
Olympiacos v. Krasnodar
Young Boys v. Red Star Belgrade