Wes Hoolahan

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Republic of Ireland, Sweden draw in entertaining encounter

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The Republic of Ireland and Sweden played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Stade de France in their Group E opener on Monday.

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Wes Hoolahan gave Ireland the lead at the start of the second half after they dominated the opening 45 minutes, but an own goal from Ciaran Clark leveled things up with 19 minutes to go.

The point sets both teams up in Group E play but with Belgium and Italy their other opponents, they both know tougher times are ahead.

Ireland did plenty of the early pressing and they should’ve gone ahead as Robbie Brady‘s corner was flicked on by Clark but John O'Shea couldn’t quite connect three-yards out at the back post with the goal gaping.

The Irish continued to push and Brady drilled a right-footed effort a yard over the bar as Sweden couldn’t get out of their own half. Jeff Hendrick then curled a beautiful shot against the crossbar and out from distance. It was all Ireland.

[ MORE: Spain beat Czech Republic late on ]

Sweden failed to settle down in the first half with Ibrahimovic non-existent and dropping deep to try and get on the ball.

Two minutes into the second half Ireland grabbed a deserved lead as Seamus Coleman charged into the box and clipped over a perfect ball for Hoolahan who smashed home impressively on the turn.

That goal sparked Sweden into life as Ibrahimovic had a shot deflected wide and Emil Forsberg then sent an effort horribly wide after Darren Randolph had made a fine stop from close range.

Ibrahimovic saw more of the ball as the second half wore on and on the hour mark he volleyed just wide as Ireland’s fans held their breath.

The equalizer arrived in the 71st minute as that man Zlatan ran into the box and his teasing cross was headed into his own net by Clark. 1-1.

Ireland almost immediately went back ahead but Hendrick’s shot was pushed out by Andreas Isaksson and then Robbie Keane came on to try and grab a late winner for the Irish.

Late on Martin Olsson drilled a cross into the box and Ibrahimovic just couldn’t get on the end of it as the game finished even without Sweden having a shot on target.

Norwich City 1-2 Chelsea: Blues 12 unbeaten, up to eighth

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  • 3-straight wins for Chelsea
  • Norwich in relegation zone
  • Kenedy scores after 39 seconds

Chelsea held off a battling Norwich City at Carrow Road on Tuesday to seal a 2-1 win and stretch their unbeaten run to 12 games.

The Blues went ahead through Kenedy as the Brazilian score the fastest goal of the PL inside the first 39 seconds, and Diego Costa doubled their lead right on half time in controversial fashion as he appeared to be offside.

Norwich improved in the second half as Cameron Jerome went close on several occasions but Nathan Redmond’s strike proved to be nothing more than a consolation as Chelsea held on for the win.

With yet another three points Guus Hiddink’s side are now in eight place on 39 points and haven’t loss since Jose Mourinho was fired in December. Norwich slip into the drop zone on goal difference as Alex Neil‘s men but in a valiant display but lost for the seventh time in their last eight outings.

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After just 39 seconds Chelsea took the lead with Eden Hazard running at the heart of Norwich’s defense and then feeding the ball to Kenedy who slammed into the bottom corner to score his first PL goal for the club. 1-0, and the Blues had scored the fastest goal in the PL so far this season.

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Norwich did have a decent spell of possession for a while in the first half but failed to create any clear cut chances and Chelsea killed them off in first half stoppage time.

Costa — who was clearly offside when Bertrand Traore played him the ball — raced clear and made it 2-0 as he delicately dinked home over the onrushing Declan Rudd. The cruise control button was ready to be hit.

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Norwich made a go of it in the second half, though. Jerome stretched out at the back post but sent his effort just wide as Norwich looked for a way back into the game and moments later Russell Martin‘s header across goal found Jerome but he somehow hit the crossbar with the goal gaping.

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The Canaries did make it interesting as they pulled a goal back with 20 minutes to go. Wes Hoolahan found Redmond in the box and drilled home past Thibaut Courtois. 2-1. Game on.

Late on Jerome kept plugging away but Courtois saved his redirected effort and then Norwich suffered from a nasty collision between two of their own players. Gary O'Neil and Robbie Brady collided and the latter sent his teeth into O’Neill’s forehead. Ouch.

Redmond struck a shot into the side-netting late on as Chelsea dropped deep and invited pressure, but the Blues held on to continue their charge up the table.

Watch Live: Norwich City vs. Chelsea (Lineups & Live Stream)

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Chelsea looks to keep the ball rolling as the Blues go for their third straight win, hitting the road to Carrow Road live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Guus Hiddink is unbeaten in league play since he rejoined Chelsea in mid-December, looking for his 12th straight today. Six wins and six draws in that span has lifted the Blues out of the relegation battle and into the middle of the table, with a chance to climb into the top half of the table if they can earn three points.

[ WATCH LIVE: Norwich City vs. Chelsea live online at NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The Blues are keeping Branislav Ivanovic at center-back where he is deputizing for captain John Terry, who misses out with a hamstring injury. Pedro also suffered a knock to his hamstring, leaving Loic Remy on the bench behind Diego Costa. The Brazilian has four goals in his last six games.

Norwich is coming off a sucker-punch loss to Leicester City, and need a win badly to pull off the relegation zone. They are out of the drop only on goal differential. Sebastian Bassong did not pass fit after an undisclosed injury, but Wes Hoolahan did and starts. Patrick Bamford is ineligible to face his parent club, while Andre Wisdom still recovers from his knee injury.

LINEUPS

Norwich City: Ruddy, Bennett, Martin, Klose, Pinto, Tettey, Howson, Brady, Redmond, Hoolahan, Jerome.
Subs: 
Rudd, Olsson, O’Neil, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Jarvis, Mbokani.

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Kenedy, Fabregas, Matic, Hazard, Oscar, Traore, Diego Costa.
Subs: 
Begovic, Baba Rahman, Mikel, Loftus-Cheek, Willian, Pato, Remy.

Premier League roundup: Top Four has separation; Relegation picture much clearer

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A couple of lessons from Saturday in the Premier League:

  1. The reasonable relegation field has slimmed
  2. Thanks to two other sides, so has the Top Four

Manchester United and West Ham United both stumbled in a quest to make up ground on the top four sides in the Premier League, who face off with each other on Sunday.

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And Norwich City’s point coupled with Chelsea’s demolition of Newcastle United has the contestants for the Bottom Three looking pared down to six clubs.

Sunderland 2-1 Manchester UnitedRECAP

United will finish the weekend a minimum of six points outside of the Top Four after allowing a third minute goal and another about the same distance from the final whistle in its first ever loss at the Stadium of Light. Wahbi Khazri looks the part for Sunderland, who moved to within a point of safety with the win. Anthony Martial scored for United

Swansea City 0-1 SouthamptonRECAP

Fraser Forster has six-straight shutouts and Saints are knocking on the door of fifth place after picking up three points in Wales. Shane Long‘s late goal lifted Saints to the win and 40 points on the season, while Swans are three points ahead of 17th place Norwich City and 18th place Newcastle.

during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on February 13, 2016 in London, England.

Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle UnitedRECAP

Newcastle started a makeshift back four with winger Rolando Aarons filling in at fullback, and Chelsea absolutely devoured the Magpies to win its first season series against the Northeast side since 2011. Pedro nabbed a pair of goals, with Bertrand Traore adding his first Premier League goal. Diego Costa and Willian also scored, and Andros Townsend added his first goal since leaving Spurs in the January transfer window. Newcastle is 18th after the blowout loss sunk them beneath Norwich on differential.

Norwich City 2-2 West Ham UnitedRECAP

And that’s because the Canaries tossed away a 2-0 home lead against Dimitri Payet. We should say West Ham, but Payet has been an absolute wizard for the Irons and scored before setting Mark Noble up for a second in erasing the deficit caused by goals from Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan. For the moment, Norwich is 17th and the Hammers failed in a bid to overtake Manchester United for fifth.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13: Giannelli Imbula of Stoke City controls the ball under pressure of Harry Arter of Bournemouth  during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Stoke City at Vitality Stadium on February 13, 2016 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 13: Giannelli Imbula of Stoke City and Harry Arter of Bournemouth  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Bournemouth 1-3 Stoke CityRECAP

Giannlli Imbula, Joselu and Ibrahim Afellay helped the Potters cruise to a win at Vitality Stadium, halting its slide while moving Bournemouth smack dab back in the relegation frame. The Cherries are four points free of the drop zone, and Matt Ritchie‘s goal was part of a game comeback effort from Eddie Howe‘s bunch.

Everton 0-1 West Bromwich Albion — RECAP

The Toffees managed an incredible 34 shots, but couldn’t slip one past a packed-in West Brom side. The Baggies closed up shop after Salomon Rondon scored in the 14th minute, West Brom’s only shot on target of the night. Tony Pulis‘ side is eight points clear of the drop.

Crystal Palace 1-2 WatfordRECAP

Alan Pardew‘s Eagles are all the way down to 13th and winless in 2016 Premier League matches. With just one point from its last seven matches, Palace needs a win soon to avoid being a very real part of the relegation picture. Quique Flores‘ Hornets, however, are essentially safe after moving to within five points of fifth. Troy Deeney scored both of Watford’s goals, while Emmanuel Adebayor netted for Palace.

 

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Leicester City 25 15 8 2 47 27 20 7-4-1 8-4-1 53
Tottenham Hotspur 25 13 9 3 45 19 26 7-4-2 6-5-1 48
Arsenal 25 14 6 5 39 22 17 7-3-2 7-3-3 48
Manchester City 25 14 5 6 47 26 21 9-1-3 5-4-3 47
Manchester United 26 11 8 7 33 24 9 6-4-2 5-4-5 41
Southampton 26 11 7 8 34 24 10 7-2-4 4-5-4 40
West Ham United 26 10 10 6 40 31 9 5-5-2 5-5-4 40
Watford 26 10 6 10 29 28 1 5-3-5 5-3-5 36
Stoke City 26 10 6 10 27 32 -5 5-2-5 5-4-5 36
Everton 26 8 11 7 46 35 11 4-4-6 4-7-1 35
Liverpool 25 9 8 8 32 36 -4 4-5-3 5-3-5 35
Chelsea 26 8 9 9 38 36 2 5-5-4 3-4-5 33
Crystal Palace 26 9 5 12 27 32 -5 4-2-8 5-3-4 32
West Bromwich Albion 26 8 8 10 24 32 -8 4-4-5 4-4-5 32
Bournemouth 26 7 7 12 30 44 -14 3-4-6 4-3-6 28
Swansea City 26 6 9 11 24 34 -10 4-5-5 2-4-6 27
Norwich City 26 6 6 14 30 50 -20 4-4-5 2-2-9 24

Newcastle United 26 6 6 14 27 49 -22 4-5-4 2-1-10 24
Sunderland 26 6 5 15 32 50 -18 4-3-6 2-2-9 23
Aston Villa 25 3 7 15 20 40 -20 2-4-6 1-3-9 16

Norwich City 2-2 West Ham United: Payet drags Irons out of first half hole

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  • Payet shines again with goal, assist
  • Norwich blows 2-0 lead
  • Hammers move into fifth place

West Ham United overcame another sleepy first half, with goals from Dimitri Payet and Mark Noble leading the Irons back for a 2-2 draw versus Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan scored to stake Norwich to a lead that looked set to boost them out of the drop zone, but the draw keeps them behind Newcastle on goal differential.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was Brady who punished West Ham’s lackluster first 45 with a 20-yard laser in the 55th minute.

And after Slaven Bilic made a pair of attacking substitutions, Steven Naismith and Hoolahan made the Irons pay dearly for a partially blocked shot.

Naismith’s shot deflected into the 18, and Hoolahan was within a hair’s length of onside as he buried a low shot past Adrian. 2-0 on two shots on target. Wow.

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

A poor touch or bounce, your call, for Michail Antonio stopped West Ham from getting a breakaway goal as John Ruddy had time to parry Antonio’s rip in the 69th minute.

Payet pulled one back with a rebound goal 17 minutes in scheduled time, after Victor Moses caused a turnover and took a quick shot.

And the newly-extended Payet continued his season wizardry with great vision to spot Noble from the end line. It was 2-2 within minutes after Noble blasted his shot home.