Michy Batshuayi

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Chelsea draws Valencia despite Pulisic goal

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The Chelsea defense was shambolic, but Valencia’s finishing was worse, and it seemed that Christian Pulisic‘s goal and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s penalty save would be enough. Then Daniel Wass produced a moment of sheer brilliance good enough to keep the Spanish side’s Champions League hopes alive.

Valencia missed a host of big chances that should have won them the game, but in the 80th minute Wass arrived to deliver a goal worthy of points from acres away to secure a 2-2 draw.

Valencia were on the front foot the first 30 minutes, but they were left empty-handed as Maxi Gomez missed a blinding chance on 20 minutes that left the home fans stunned. A wonderful cross form Rodrigo on the break fell right to the feet of Gomez, but the Uruguayan completely whiffed while sliding in awkwardly at the far post, a surefire miss of the season candidate.

Gomez again was left begging on the half-hour mark as the cross from Dani Parejo was too far for Ferran Torres but reached Gomez at the far post where his effort was saved by a charging Kepa Arrizabalaga despite the goal gaping.

Chelsea began to push after that, and worked a pair of chances with N’Golo Kante firing over the bar and Tammy Abraham forcing an exceptional save from Man of the Match Jasper Cillessen who tipped his poke over the bar. Just as the Blues were getting going, Valencia finally found the back of the net. From the right flank Rodrigo delivered a fabulous lofted cross into the middle of the box and Carlos Soler volleyed it home past Arrizabalaga.

The Blues responded right away, with Mateo Kovacic delivering a speculative turn-and-shoot from the top of the box that squirted inside the left post past a diving Cillessen for the Croatian’s first Chelsea goal. He nearly had a second before halftime as he rifled in a silky Pulisic delivery from the far post and Cillessen saved. Chelsea suffered a blow just before the break as Tammy Abraham landed awkwardly and was in serious pain, holding his left hip. Abraham was replaced by Michy Batshuayi upon the second-half restart.

Just moments after the whistle blew, Pulisic put Chelsea in front 2-1 as he nodded home Kurt Zouma‘s header with a toe poke. It was initially ruled out for offside, but after an extremely long VAR review, the goal was given as technology proved Pulisic was just level with the defender. Ezequiel Garay was booked for dissent after the goal was given, appearing to argue that he was fouled by Zouma on the aerial challenge.

Yet again the Chelsea defense was let off as Valencia should have scored, but Torres missed over the goal with a chip attempt as the Blues scrambled and Arrizabalaga was out of his net. Chelsea again allowed Valencia through as Jorginho was harshly whistled for a penalty in a clash with Jose Gaya, but after VAR allowed the call to stand, Arrizabalaga made a spectacular save to maintain the lead.

The game remained wide open as Chelsea nearly doubled the lead through Willian whose feed from Batshuayi left him alone with a charging Cillessen who saved well. Valencia began to pour on the pressure, and ultimately it bore fruit. A feed to the right by Parejo was dummied and left to Wass whose cross (it was absolutely a cross) stunningly found the top corner and into the back of the net off the woodwork.

Chelsea nearly found a winner thanks to a massive deflection on a Batshuayi shot, but Cillessen somehow managed to make a kick save despite already having gone to ground to meet the initial hit. For good measure, Valencia missed a sure winner at the death, with Rodrigo mishitting at the far post from a Gaya cross along the face of goal.

The two points lost for Chelsea were valuable ones in a crowded Group H, with the trio of Chelsea, Valencia, and Ajax all coming into the day level on seven points. With the Blues still to play Lille while Valencia has to take on Ajax, they will still believe to be holding the upper hand, but it will all come down to the final match day.

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham suffers potentially serious injury

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In-form Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has suffered what looks to be a potentially serious injury as the Blues play a huge Champions League game at Valencia.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard put forth a strong lineup with the Blues level on points with both Ajax and Valencia in Group H, needing a win to take an advantage with one game still remaining. Abraham, who has enjoyed a breakout year, was part of that starting lineup and forced a fabulous save of Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen about five minutes before halftime.

Just minutes later, with 60 seconds to go before the break, Abraham rose high to meet a corner delivery by Willian but came crashing down on top of Ezequiel Garay, undercut by the Valencia midfielder, landing awkwardly on Garay’s leg. He received treatment and walked off under his own power, but was shown on television wincing in severe pain while walking gingerly with trainer help down the touchline back to the tunnel, his left hip or ribs appearing to be the troublesome spot. He was in clear discomfort, closing his eyes and yelling on multiple occasions.

At halftime, journalists and television cameras caught Abraham eventually succumbing to his injury enough to require a stretcher to carry him down the tunnel.

Abraham has been a critical piece of Chelsea’s youth revolution this season, scoring 10 goals in 13 Premier League appearances this season. The 22-year-old Chelsea youth product has appeared in every league goal for Chelsea this season so far, as well as all four Champions League matches to date.

Chelsea was level 1-1 with Valencia at halftime, when Abraham was replaced by Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian could be in line for a serious increase in playing time should Abraham be out of action for the near future.

Pulisic watch: USMNT star performs at Palace

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Christian Pulisic put in a Man of the Match display as Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

[ MORE: Pulisic injury update ]

Pulisic, 21, scored his fifth goal in his last three Premier League games as he terrified Palace’s defense all game long.

[ MORE: Pulisic reacts to Chelsea’s sixth-straight win ]

Here’s a look at how Pulisic fared as he scored his first goal at Stamford Bridge.


1st minute: Involved after just 20 seconds, as he cuts in from the left after a ball from Willian. Pulisic takes it past three players before setting up a shot for a teammate, which is blocked. Bright start.

7th minute: Mount breaks clear and Pulisic cuts in from the left but drags his shot harmlessly wide.

12th minute: Willian finds Pulisic on the break and he cuts inside brilliantly, completely fooling Joel Ward, but Vicente Guaita does superbly to stand tall and saved his dinked effort. Wonderful skill from the USMNT star.

17th minute: Lovely dummy which finds Emerson and his cross is deflected out for a corner.

20th minute: Some wonderful touches inside the box to evade three Crystal Palace players before eventually being overcrowded. Confidence is flowing for Pulisic.

25th minute: The ball is taken off him in his own defensive third but he does well to put Ward off, as he shanks the cross.

27th minute: Wriggles free in the box much to the delight of the home fans and sets up N’Golo Kante who has a goalbound shot which is blocked. Superb from Pulisic, once again.

37th minute: Wins the ball back in his own half, gets away from his marker and plays the ball back to his defense. A ripple of applause from the home fans, then moments later he cuts inside and starts another attack. His cross to the back post is too deep for Willian.

44th minute: Climbs above the Palace defense to meet Kante’s cross but he heads over.

46th minute: Gets the ball in the box and after a poor touch it bounces up and appears to hit the hand of Palace sub Martin Kelly. Despite the calls for a penalty kick, nothing is given.

56th minute: Springs a Chelsea counter down the left but his ball across the pitch to Willian is cut out by Cahill.

59th minute: After a sensational pass from Kovacic he takes a wonderful first touch and then smashes a shot on goal with Guaita tips over. Palace can’t cope with Pulisic.

67th minute: Cuts in from the left and smashes a wild shot off target. His worst effort of the day.

75th minute: Wriggled free and almost set up Batshuayi but his through ball was cut out.

76th minute: Works back hard to win the ball from Kouyate, as Emerson then fires just wide of the far post.

79th minute: With his final touch of the game he reacts quickly to Michy Batshuayi‘s shot being deflected and heads home bravely. Pulisic is then given a standing ovation off the pitch as the Chelsea fans chant “USA, USA!” A superb outing for Pulisic.

Tuesday Champions League preview: Chelsea v. Ajax, Liverpool v. Genk

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The Champions League group stage is halfway complete, and while the groups are taking shape, there’s still plenty to sort out as teams look for openings through to the knockout stage.

Two Premier League teams are in action – both at home – as Chelsea hosts Ajax at Stamford Bridge while Liverpool gets set to host Genk at Anfield.

[ MORE: Liverpool to rotate squad in Champions League? ]

The Reds will be watched closely as this could be a potential trap game for Liverpool, knowing the massive tilt against Manchester City looms over the weekend. Jurgen Klopp as refused to answer questions about Man City, saying he is “not in the mood” to talk about the weekend’s game knowing they still must traverse the 90 minutes against the Belgian side.

The match is a critical one for Liverpool, who sits second in Group E, a point behind leaders Napoli and three ahead of third-placed Red Bull Salzburg. Dropped points against Genk could see Liverpool placed in a perilous position, especially should Salzburg shock the Italian side in Naples. The Reds have looked vulnerable at times in Europe this season, losing at Napoli for the second straight season while staving off a Salzburg comeback at home in a wild 4-3 win. Klopp may rotate the squad with the Man City game looming, but he will almost surely not take this game for granted.

Napoli, meanwhile, hosts Salzburg in the other Group E fixture, with an opportunity to bounce back from the weekend’s loss to Roma in Serie A play. The Napoli defense, anchored by Kalidou Koulibaly, gave up 17 shots to the home side in the nation’s capital despite a 57% possessional advantage. That defense will now deal with a Red Bull Salzburg side that leads the Austrian Bundesliga table and has scored an astonishing 53 goals in 13 league matches.

Chelsea hosts a quality Ajax side in London with the two teams level on points atop Group H in a game that could put any winner on the brink of qualification should other results go their way. The Blues won the reverse fixture in the Netherlands two weeks ago thanks to a late Michy Batshuayi winner, but Chelsea is in even better form now than they were at that point.

American Christian Pulisic has risen to a contributing role at the club in Premier League play, and therefore could be rested should manager Frank Lampard wish to save him for the domestic match against Crystal Palace over the weekend, potentially giving Calum Hudson-Odoi a chance to shine. Should Pulisic find the field, he could once again match up with international teammate Sergino Dest, who recently committed to the United States long-term. He beat Dest to assist Batshuayi’s winner last time these teams matched up.

A fascinating match in Germany sees Borussia Dortmund host Inter Milan at Westfalenstadion with both teams in good form. Inter has lost just twice all year in all competitions – to Barcelona and Juventus – sitting second in the Serie A table. They also knocked off Dortmund at home in the reverse fixture behind bookend goals from Lautaro Martinez and Antonio Candreva, with the former in incredible form having scored in five of his seven October matches. Dortmund, meanwhile, has lost just once in league play and is on a seven-match unbeaten run, but only three of those produced wins and a poor result to Inter would leave them vulnerable in Group F, currently level with Inter on four points behind leaders Barcelona on seven.

Barcelona welcomes Slavia Prague to the Camp Nou looking to put the Catalan giants on the brink of qualification to the knockout stage. A win plus a Dortmund or Inter victory in Germany would mean the La Liga side’s magic number decreases to just one. The reverse fixture in the Czech Republic saw a 56th minute own-goal prove decisive in a 2-1 Barcelona win, but they were poor on the ball and gave up a whopping 24 shots – nine on target – on the road. A repeat of that performance could see Group F thrown into deepening chaos.

RB Leipzig travels to Zenit St. Petersburg in a matchup of the two top teams in Group G in a critical game for both sides as the group remains logjammed, with just three points separating top from bottom. The trailing two sides Lyon and Benfica meet in France as they both look to pounce on any potential slips of the aforementioned squads leading the pack. Finally, Valencia hosts Lille as the Spanish side hopes to capitalize on any potential Group H loser in London.

Rashford, Man Utd advance past Chelsea in League Cup

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Manchester United ended Chelsea’s seven-match losing streak behind a pair of Marcus Rashford goals at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in a 2-1 win that put the Red Devils in the draw for the League Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Michy Batshuayi scored Chelsea’s goal, as Frank Lampard‘s men tasted defeat for the first time since a home loss to Liverpool by the same score line on Sept. 22.

Christian Pulisic went 70 minutes in the loss, his first match since scoring a hat trick versus Burnley.


Three things we learned

1. Rashford delivers the goods: His penalty problems a memory after stroking the opener from the spot, Marcus Rashford turned to other avenues to break a 1-1 deadlock late. Shortly after American star Christian Pulisic subbed out of the match, Rashford flummoxed Willy Caballero with a free kick from way downtown to give the visitors a place in the final 18.

What. A. Hit!

2. What about the American star? Pulisic didn’t have any heroics in his bag this time around, having plenty of trouble finding room to operate against blossoming Man Utd hard man Scott McTominay. He had some quality bids to combine with teammates terminated by said teammates, but his 70 minutes saw a shot off target and another blocked, 1-of-5 dribble success, 1 key pass, 2 tackles, and several rough moments in possession. There will be better days, but Scott McTominay had a monster day stifling Chelsea’s attackers.

3. Batsman scores a beauty: The dribble with four men around him is pretty good on its own, but the low drive from Batshuayi to level the score in the 61st minute is pure. If Tammy Abraham falters, Chelsea fans have a very good second choice (and third).

Man of the Match: Credit to McTominay, Jorginho, and Mateo Kovacic for a fine midfield battle, but Rashford was the man at Stamford Bridge.


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