Nicholas Mendola

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Lampard “pleased for Pulisic,” praises subs in Chelsea win

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Frank Lampard‘s fired up on-field response to Chelsea’s resilient 1-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday carried over to the post-match press conference.

The manager’s subs enabled the Blues to claim all three points, as Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic changed the midfield and helped prod Marcos Alonso‘s second-half winner.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 1-0 Newcastle ]

“Saw a spirit and energy of the team, keep picking up the wins and take nothing for granted,” he said.

“We had a problem in the game, but solved it. Kovacic was outstanding and Christian got at people. I am pleased, we have to play like that. We got our way.”

Lampard was asked specifically about Pulisic, and said the atmosphere around the American star needs to calm down a little bit.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch ]

“I am really pleased for him,” Lampard said. “He is a hot topic. Everyone has got a little carried away. To see him play that way (was good).”

Chelsea will finish the weekend in the Top Five and its favorable run of fixtures continue after the Champions League midweek. The Blues next see Burnley, Watford, and Crystal Palace before its next top-end tilt with Man City.

LIVE — MLS Cup Playoffs begin; Atlanta, Seattle at home

Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Reigning champs Atlanta United kick off a four-match docket as the MLS Cup Playoffs begin Saturday around North America.

[ FOLLOW: MLS Cup Playoffs live, box scores, stats ]

Pity Martinez starts on the bench for the Five Stripes, who are without injured USMNT back Miles Robinson.

Two other recent cup champions, Toronto and Seattle, are home later in the day, while Utah is the scene for the final match of the night.

Schedule

Atlanta United v. New England Revolution — 1 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders v. FC Dallas — 3:30 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. DC United — 6 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake v. Portland Timbers — 10 p.m. ET

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Grealish leads Villa past 10-man Brighton

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Jack Grealish‘s star turn helped Aston Villa take advantage of 10-man Brighton and Hove Albion in a 2-1 comeback win at Villa Park on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Adam Webster‘s early goal gave Brighton a lead but Aaron Mooy‘s twin first half yellow cards put them under the knife.

Aston Villa moves 11th with 11 points. Brighton’s nine points seat them 16th.


Three things we learned

1. Touchy red helps undo Brighton: Aaron Mooy’s first yellow card was silly, so he know there was a need to play careful the rest of the way. He didn’t, and a soft yellow doomed the Seagulls to more than a half without the full complement of players.

2. Villa finally catching breaks: Dean Smith‘s men have had their fair share of bad luck come from good performances, so it was nice for them to follow up a blowout defeat of Norwich City with a little nudge from the Seagulls. Matty Targett’s winner came after plenty of time playing 11v10, and Villa’s standing of 11th now reflects its performances.

3. Grealish a monster: A sliding finish to make it 1-0 and clever feed to Targett for the winner. The Peaky Blinders’ haired man turned in a performance worthy of a BAFTA, with five dribbles and plenty of good moments in keeping possession moving for the victors.

Man of the Match:


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Brighton was knocking on the door early, but you’d be forgiven if you failed to predict the man to break it down.

Promising center back Webster’s stock continues to rise as he did to nod Pascal Gross‘ free kick into the goal.

A silly first yellow card for Mooy’s blocking of a free kick became egregious when he was shown another for knocking down Grealish, who would then score a sliding goal — they all count — to bring Villa level before halftime.

Solly March saw a shot through traffic go wide in the 51st as the Seagulls worked to overcome their disadvantage.

But Villa got the win through Targett at the death, a deserved-enough win although Brighton will feel hard done by.

Fortunate Spurs take point from woeful day v. winless Watford

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Watford can’t buy a break, drawing lackluster Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 in North London on Saturday.

Abdoulaye Doucoure’s first half goal looked like it would be all Watford needed to collect its first win of the year, but Dele Alli poked home after a late Watford mix-up.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs’ 12 points have them seventh, while Watford stays winless in taking its fourth point.


Three things we learned

1. Rudderless Spurs get gift for Dele: Take away Heung-Min Son‘s early second half rip off the bar, and Tottenham did nothing. However, a massive 86th minute mix-up for Watford’s back line opened the gates for Dele Alli to poke home an equalizer. VAR said he didn’t handle the ball, and Spurs had their path to a point. Can the fortunate finish help Dele refind his form?

2. Deulofeu active, defied by VAR: The ex-Barcelona prodigy was everywhere for Watford and should’ve earned a penalty in the first half, where we learned that VAR is not going to overrule a referee anything unless there’s blood or a visible broken bone in the box. There would’ve been no chance of an overturning had it been ruled a penalty on the field.

3. Son important for Spurs: While much of Tottenham’s team has looked out of sorts this season, South Korea’s Heung-min Son continues to produce (sometimes in solo fashion). He rattled a second half shot off the bar to help shake the cobwebs from Spurs, and his dribbles showed an energy not present in many of his teammates. It’d be fair to say he kept his team alive long enough for a moment like Dele’s fortunate finish.

Man of the Match: Dele Alli — It was a day for a bit of redemption, as the struggling playmaker got his goal and was dangerous despite very little help. Son was good, but Harry Kane and Lucas Moura were among those to toss up the shoulder shrug emoji for most of the day.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

An early injury to Danny Welbeck could’ve lowered the morale for the visitors, but the defiant Hornets went ahead in too easy fashion.

Spurs back Danny Rose lost his way tracking a long diagonal ball, and Doucoure waltzed behind the back line to collect a Daryl Janmaat cross that swept around no less than three Tottenham players. Nice looking goal, pitiful defending.

Jan Vertonghen‘s sloppy slide then clipped Gerard Deulofeu, but VAR would not deem the decision a clear and obvious error.

Heung-min Son struck and inspired move out of halftime, working Craig Cathcart to rip a shot that Ben Foster just touched onto the cross bar in the 49th.

At the other end, Deulofeu found Roberto Pereyra, but the Serge Aurier made a supreme intervention to block the shot.

Spurs had so few answers on the day, with Deulofeu remaining a menace, but that mix-up at the back allowed Dele to pounce for a point.

Chelsea breaks through late to top Newcastle United

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Marcos Alonso‘s second half goal helped Chelsea break through well-drilled Newcastle United in a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

American sub Christian Pulisic stole the ball to help set up the opener, turning in a fine performance over the final 20 minutes.

Chelsea moves third on 17 points, while Newcastle slips into 18th with eight points.


Three things we learned

1. Magpies haven’t forgotten Rafa rationale: Newcastle couldn’t take its chances on the counter, but proved a headache for another would-be contender with tight marking and tighter spacing in its own third. Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark were sure to punish Chelsea forwards with physical play, clean and dirty, and the Blues had all kinds of trouble finding ways to trouble Martin Dubravka, who was strong himself until Alonso’s winner.

2. Chelsea wings get points for industry, creativity: Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian were very active and productive on the day, particularly the former. One of the reasons Christian Pulisic was deployed was Mason Mount‘s inability to make something happen in the No. 10 (ish) role, and the American would make a decisive play to help Hudson-Odoi get his deserved assist.

3. Lampard’s sub makes the difference: Credit Frank Lampard for seeing that Mount wasn’t firing well and deploying a new man in the middle. That was American star Pulisic, who stole the ball in the final third and fed Hudson-Odoi, who in turn found Alonso for a blast across goal. Dubravka should’ve done better, but the break through arrived in London. For a full look at his 25 minutes, head here.

Man of the Match: Hudson-Odoi.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin was again a menace for the Magpies, winning a pair of early free kicks and setting up Joelinton for chances that ultimately were wasted.

The hosts finally got a chance from a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross to the back post, but Willian powered his header across goal and wide.

Jorginho‘s incisive pass to Hudson-Odoi led to another chance for Mount, but the Englishman’s rip was pushed off the bar by Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka.

Marcos Alonso was shown a yellow for chopping down DeAndre Yedlin.

Newcastle produced a good move that ended with a Joelinton nod wide before the 25th minute.

The second half brought better from the hosts, as Tammy Abraham thumped a 56th minute header off the cross bar.

Chelsea would look to change its fortunes in the 64th minute via Christian Pulisic, who arrived on the scene for Mason Mount.

Abraham headed over the bar soon after Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi helped earn a corner for the Blues.

Pulisic was robbed by Dubravka when he turned a deflected pass into a prime chance.

That’s when Newcastle brought on Andy Carroll for Miguel Almiron, moving a twin tower approach to the forefront.

But Chelsea found the heroics, with Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi teaming up to put Alonso on the score sheet.

Newcastle nearly found an equalizer when Christian Atsu‘s cross to the back post was popped over the bar by a leaping Clark.