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World Cup Group G Preview: England, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia

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Belgium: Another European power in a top-heavy group, Roberto Martinez has one of the toughest jobs at the World Cup. Despite a roster exploding with world-class talent, a host of managers have tried and failed to get Belgium to play to its potential. Is this the year the country’s “Golden Generation” pans out, or will they disappoint yet again? READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Panama: An aging squad has struggled mightily in the run-up to this summer’s big dance, and Panama heads to Russia with a monumental task of making it out of a very difficult group. Can they score enough goals to topple the giants? READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

Tunisia: The Eagles have some bright talent ready to represent the flag, but some of the bigger names on Tunisia’s side are either injured or struggling to prove their fitness. It will be difficult for them to make any noise in Group G. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


Who’s going through: England and Belgium

 [ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Who’s going home: Panama and Tunisia

Marquee match: England vs. Belgium, June 28 in Kalinigrad

Top 5 players to watch
1) Harry Kane — England
2) Eden Hazard — Belgium
3) Raheem Sterling — England
4) Wahbi Khazri — Tunisia
5) Romelu Lukaku — Belgium

Chelsea 1-0 Man United: Conte’s boys earn FA Cup triumph

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Last season’s Premier League champions looked very far from that level of play in 2017/18, but Antonio Conte‘s men rallied on Saturday to pick up a piece of major silverware.

[ MORE: Vincent Kompany talks third PL title, more with PST ]

Chelsea topped Manchester United, 1-0, in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, behind Eden Hazard‘s first-half penalty kick.

The victory for the Blues marks the club’s eighth FA Cup triumph, which is tied for third all-time in England with Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea only trails Arsenal (13) and United (12).

Hazard proved to be Chelsea’s biggest threat from the opening kick off, and it was the Belgium international that got the Blues on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute from the penalty spot.

The 27-year-old did well to glide through the United defense prior to the goal, forcing Phil Jones to drag down Hazard in the penalty area, while earning himself a yellow card in the process.

United’s pressure mounted through the latter stages, but even Paul Pogba‘s free header with seven minutes remaining couldn’t find its way on frame.

Alexis Sanchez thought he had an equalizer in the 63rd minute, but the Chilean was ruled offside after Jones’ saved header found the United attacker just a yard from goal.

The Red Devils came out with a fury in the second half, with Marcus Rashford coming close early after the halftime break with a powerful, dipping effort that tested goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

United struggled mightily to get anything going in the opening stanza, however, Pogba’s tremendous run down the center of the park nearly gave the Red Devils a late equalizer on the stroke of halftime.

Referee Michael Oliver had his first big decision to make at a quarter of an hour, after Nemanja Matic collided with Tiemoue Bakayoko inside the United area.

However, the head official opted to allow play to go, which appeared to be the proper decision, as Bakayoko’s feet got tangled despite the encounter with Matic.

The Blues started well, and nearly found an early break in the ninth minute when Hazard’s close-range blast tested David De Gea at the near post.

Video: Hazard’s penalty conversion has Chelsea ahead at Wembley

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Jose Mourinho appeared to have a plan in place to keep Eden Hazard and Chelsea at bay, but it isn’t working at the moment.

Chelsea leads 1-0 over Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in Saturday’s FA Cup final as Hazard converted from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute.

The Belgium international did brilliantly to glide his way through the Red Devils defense, before drawing a penalty on Phil Jones, who took down Hazard just yards away from goal.

Ander Herrera appeared to be man-marking Hazard early on in the match, however, the United midfielder wasn’t able to keep track of the Chelsea attacker on the sequence.

Chelsea beats Liverpool, keeping Top Four hopes alive

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  • Chelsea creeping on Top Four
  • Giroud scores winner
  • Nothing settled til Championship Sunday

Olivier Giroud‘s first half goal was enough for Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea to top Liverpool 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Chelsea moves to within three points of third-place Liverpool and sits two points behind Spurs. Both London sides have two matches to play while the Reds have one.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

James Milner was fortunate to avoid discipline after a scissor challenge on Eden Hazard hobbled the Belgian in the 10th minute.

Chelsea was better money for an opening goal, and Marcos Alonso stung a shot that Loris Karius caught in the 17th.

Thibaut Courtois made a fine parry on a 30th minute Sadio Mane rip, then collected a weaker second effort from the Senegalese striker.

Giroud put Chelsea ahead in the 32nd minute, and ran into the stands to give David Luiz a hug following the marker. Tiemoue Bakayoko spotted Victor Moses on the right flank, and his cross was turned home by the meaty French forehead (Do I owe Arlo White money now?).

Fabregas’ cross was absent receiver in the 36th minute, as a back post run would’ve had Chelsea ahead by two.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Hazard worked through a hassle to set-up an early second half chance, but Moses’ cross zipped past a herd of Blues attackers.

Chelsea had a second goal ruled offside when Antonio Rudiger was clearly off to head home Giroud’s header off a corner.

Chelsea stayed stout over the final 15 minutes, and Dominic Solanke nodded a late chance wide of the goal.

If Martial asks to leave Man Utd, Chelsea to come calling

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Anthony Martial hasn’t had the easiest of seasons at Manchester United — his third in the Premier League following his $55-million transfer in 2015 — thus speculation over the 22 year-old’s future has already begun, with Chelsea the latest top-six PL side said to be monitoring the situation closely, according to a report from the Guardian.

[ MORE: Salah, De Bruyne finish 1-2 (again) for Player of the Year award ]

Having made just 17 starts (29 total appearances) in league play this season, with nine goals (second-most behind Romelu Lukaku) to show for his efforts, Martial now has just 14 months remaining on his current contract. An option for a fifth season at Old Trafford reportedly exists within the pact.

Even so, given the way transfer fees for comparable players have ballooned since Martial moved to Man United three summers ago, it’s not at all unrealistic to expect they could recoup most, if not all, of their initial investment.

Of course, there would undoubtedly be a “domestic premium” to be paid by another English club, as United would hesitate to sell Martial within the PL. Tottenham Hotspur have been loosely linked as having interest in the former Monaco wonderkid, though Juventus — another rumored destination — could be United’s preferred buyer, just to ensure the deal doesn’t come back to bite them too quickly.

[ MORE: Prospective Wembley buyer Khan has ideas ]

The first domino which could fall and set off a chain reaction of transfers revolves around the future of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. With just two years remaining on his current deal, and longtime interest from Real Madrid, the Belgian could see now, with a season in the Europa League on the horizon, as the perfect time to leave Stamford Bridge. Discussions over a new long-term contract have been going on for months, but no deal has been struck.

Similarly to Martial, fellow potential attacking stars of the future, Marcus Rashford (15 starts, 32 appearances) and Jesse Lingard (19 starts, 31 appearances), haven’t exactly been afforded every opportunity as first-team regulars this season, lending further credence to the longtime idea that Jose Mourinho has little interest in developing the best and brightest of young talent.