Geoffrey Kondogbia

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Preseason Roundup: Chelsea falls, Arsenal storms, Liverpool impresses

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The preseason is soon coming to a close, and clubs are taking one final swing at getting ready for the upcoming Premier League season that begins on August 11th.

All over the world, clubs are completing tours of countries in all different time zones. First up was Chelsea, who took on Inter Milan in Singapore as part of the International Champions Cup. The Italian side handed Chelsea its second defeat of the preseason with a 2-1 win thanks to a converted penalty by former Manchester City winger Stevan Jovetic and a second-half winner from Manchester United target Ivan Perisic.

[ MORE: Saturday Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

However, the spotlight in the match was stolen by a dazzling own-goal by Inter midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, who chipped his own goalkeeper from a good 40 yards out with 16 minutes remaining. Walled off by a high Chelsea press near the mid-line, Kondogbia took a pass from Cristian Ansaldi and, facing his own net, lofted a pass meant for goalkeeper Daniele Padelli. Instead, the pass sailed, and with Padelli well out of net, he was helpless as the ball fluttered into the top-left corner.

New Blues signing Alvaro Morata started up front next to Michy Batshuyai, while fellow newcomer Antonio Rudiger came on in the second half for his Chelsea debut.


Elsewhere, Arsenal topped Benfica 5-2 thanks to a pair of goals from Theo Walcott. The Gunners took on their Portuguese opponents in London on their home turf, and saw out a topsy-turvey game. Benfica winger Franco Cervi got a brace himself, although both goals came off deflections.

Olivier Giroud also got a 63rd minute goal, with the assist coming from 17-year-old Arsenal youth product Reiss Nelson, who had a fantastic game. Alex Iwobi joined the scoring in the 70th minute The fifth Gunners score came on an own-goal by Lisandro Lopez.

New signing Sead Kolasinac was in the starting lineup and also played quite well down the left, playing a significant role in Walcott’s second. Meanwhile, the big-money buy Alexandre Lacazette began the game on the bench but came on with 15 minutes to go.


Late replacement Dominic Solanke came on the field and scored just a few minutes in as Liverpool topped Hertha Berlin 3-0 in Germany. Philippe Coutinho, despite rumors linking him to Barcelona, started the match. Divock Origi was also slated to start, but picked up an injury in warmups and was yanked for Solanke before kickoff.

The Reds new boy, who moved from Chelsea on a free transfer, looped a header over Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein in the 15th minute. Giorginio Wijnaldum doubled the Reds lead with a calm, easy finish past the half-hour mark.

Mass substitutions at halftime included new signing Mohamed Salah, who continued his stellar preseason with the game’s best goal, coming in the 61st minute. Coutinho delivered a stunning long-ball from Liverpool’s own half over the top of the defense, and Salah latched on, finishing expertly with a wonderful chip.


Leicester City was downed by Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 on a goal by former Benfica and Monaco attacker Ivan Cavaleiro just a tick before the hour mark. The Foxes trotted out a strong side that featured all the regulars, including Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, Kasper Schmeichel, and Danny Drinkwater, but were nonetheless held scoreless.


Bournemouth topped Championship side Queens Park Rangers 1-0 thanks to a goal from Jordon Ibe in the 41st minute. The former Liverpool man struggled mightily last season, but has clearly begun his preparations for the new campaign in style.

Neither new Bourmemouth signings Nathan Ake or Asmir Begovic were in the squad for the friendly.


Newcastle lost to FC Mainz 2-1 thanks to a late goal from Viktor Fisher just six minutes before the final whistle. Newcastle’s 65th minute oddity had cancelled out a 5th minute opener by Levin Oztunali. The Magpies’ goal was a weird one that came after a failed Mainz clearance and a massive deflection after Jesus Gamez’s 20-yard shot.


Later tonight, Manchester City will take on Tottenham in the International Champions Cup in Nashville, Tennessee.

La Liga & Serie A: Madrid fall from top spot; insane table in Italy

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s¬†action in Spain and Italy‚Äôs top flights:

Barcelona 3-0 Villarreal

Neymar, Neymar, Neymar, can’t you see‚Ķ sometimes your goals just hypnotize me. Not sure what this is all¬†about, have a look for yourself. Since Lionel Messi went out injured on Oct. 3, the Brailian superstar has bagged 10 goals and notched six assists in six games (all competitions). Those are Messi-like numbers. Neymar scored twice more, either side of Luis Suarez’s ninth league goal of the season (13 all competitions) to push¬†Barca all alone on top of the league, with plenty of thanks to Real Madrid.

Sevilla 3-2 Real Madrid

Sergio Ramos gave Real Madrid an early lead with a stunning bicycle kick (below video), but Sevilla hit back not once, not twice, but three times through Ciro Immobile (WATCH HERE), Ever Banega (WATCH HERE) and Fernando Llorente (WATCH HERE) to knock Los Blancos off the top spot with their first league defeat of the 2015-16 season. James Rodriguez scored in the 92nd minute upon returning to action for the first time since late August, but it was nothing more than a late consolation goal.

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Sporting Gijon

Antoine Griezmann ‚ÄĒ who else could it be, though? ‚ÄĒ scored the game’s only goal, a 92nd-minute header, to give Atleti all three points and keep Diego Simeone’s side (23 points)¬†within touching distance of Barca and the “other” Madrid side at the top of the table. How much longer can Los Rojiblancos¬† hold onto Griezmann, who scored 15 times in his first season with the club¬†and already has seven goals and three assists this season?

Elsewhere in La Liga action

Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Espanyol


Sampdoria 0-2 Fiorentina

Josip Ilicic and Nikola Kalinic scored either side of halftime to give Fiorentina all three points away to Sampdoria and keep the Viola top of the league through a vastly superior goal differential. Through 12 rounds, the Serie A table sees four teams within three points of the league lead, five within five, and AC Milan and Juventus the two lurking in sixth in seventh.

Serie A table

Torino 0-1 Inter Milan

Inter stayed joint-top of the league¬†with a 1-0 victory away to Torino, courtesy of Geoffrey Kondogbia’s opportunistic side-volley (below video) in the 31st minute. It’s three wins in a row for Roberto Mancini’s side, which is back to competing for the Scudetto perhaps a year or two sooner than¬†most would have expected.

Roma 2-0 Lazio

The Derby della Capitale (derby of the capital) went Roma’s way on Sunday, keeping Rudi Garcia’s side (26 points) within a point of the league leaders. Edin Dzeko opened the scoring from the penalty spot and Gervinho provided the necessary insurance (below video) when he blew by the Lazio defense for 2-0 just after the hour mark. After a disappointing 2014-15 season in which they finished a stunning 17 points behind Juventus and only held off their neighbors in the capital by a single point for second, the¬†Giallorossi¬†look genuine title contenders once again.

Empoli 1-3 Juventus

Don’t look now, but here come Juve making their charge past mid-table and into the top-third of the league, all the way up to seventh. Mario Mandzukic, Patrice Evra and Paulo Dybala scored for the four-time defending Serie A champions, canceling out¬†Massimo Maccarone’s earlier opener to give the Bianconeri¬†(18 points) their second-straight victory.

Elsewhere in Serie A action

Napoli 1-0 Udinese
Palermo 1-0 Chievo
Frosinone 2-2 Genoa
Sassuolo 1-0 Carpi

Report: Inter agree to five-year deal with coveted transfer target Kondogbia

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According to Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia – a heavily targeted player this transfer window – has agreed to a five-year contract with Inter Milan.

The two sides have reportedly set a medical for Monday contingent on the two clubs agreeing to a fee, which they will discuss in the coming days.

The 22-year-old has been a reported target for clubs across Europe this summer, with the rapidly increasing importance on defensive midfielders in the modern game evident in his reported price, apparently in the range of $40 million. According to Duncan Castles, a clause in his contract allows Kondogbia to move to Real Madrid for a cheaper fee, but so far they have not been among those reportedly interested.

Kondogbia made 22 starts and 26 appearances in Ligue 1 this past season, scoring one goal as Moncao finished third in the French top flight and qualified for the Champions League playoff round. He also made eight Champions League appearances this past season and scored the winner as Monaco knocked out Arsenal from the competition.

Inter’s apparent capture is a big blow to AC Milan, who appear to be losing their grip on a number of targets this summer. Having already been turned down by former employees Carlo Ancelotti and Zlatan Ibrahimovic this summer, AC Milan were also heavily interested in Kondogbia and reportedly were in a bidding war with Inter for the Monaco star. There are also reports that AC Milan are losing their grip on Jackson Martinez, who is apparently interested in joining Atletico Madrid.

Monaco 0-0 (0-1 agg.) Juventus: Strong defensive display sees Juve through

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Monaco always faced a tall, tall task in trailing Juventus, 1-0, ahead of the two sides’ UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg on Wednesday, as the French hosts’ only hope of advancing to the semifinal round was to break down one of Europe’s stingiest, most organized defenses.

[ Tuesday’s UCL roundup: Bayern 6-1 (7-4 agg.) Porto | Barcelona 2-0 (5-1 agg.) PSG ]

Geoffrey Kondogbia nearly put¬†Monaco ahead on the day and level on aggregate in the 6th minute, but the French midfielder’s volleyed effort rose and swerved just over the crossbar of Gianluigi Buffon, who had no chance of making the save if the shot was on target. Kondogbia’a early effort¬†would prove to be the game’s best chance.

Monaco remained the side on the front foot for much of the first half, with Juventus happy to sit deeper and soak up the pressure, making their way inside Monaco’s defensive half of the field on only a handful of occasions.

[ MORE: Real Madrid 1-0 (1-0 agg.) Atletico Madrid: Chicharito plays the role of hero ]

Despite holding over 58 percent of the game’s possession, Monaco could manage only one shot on target through 80 minutes. The game’s final 10 minutes saw the Ligue 1 side throw everything they had at Juventus, but the Italian giants held firm and secured their passage into the semifinals.

Juve will face one of Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the semifinals, where they’ll likely be heavy underdogs no matter the opponent they draw.

LINEUPS

Monaco:¬†Subasic, Raggi, Fabinho, Abdennour, Kurzawa, Kondogbia, Toulalan (Berbatov 46′), Silva, Moutinho, Carrasco (Carvalho 87′), Martial (Germain 76′)

Juventus:¬†Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Lichtsteiner, Vidal (Pereyra 77′), Pirlo, Marchisio, Evra (Padoin 90′), Tevez, Morata (Llorente 69′)

UEFA Champions League roundup: Abysmal Arsenal, remarkable Monaco and a bullet from Bayer

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The first legs are in the books after Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matches in London and Leverkusen, and they couldn’t have been much different.

While Monaco went into the Emirates Stadium and punished hosts Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen eeked out a victory against stingy Atletico Madrid.

One included the death of a shutout streak while the other saw a pall cast over a nation’s capital.

Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Atletico MadridRECAP

This could’ve easily been a draw had Fernando Torres’ late goal not been disallowed due to a corner kick going out of bounds before it got to him, but that matters not.

Bayer won its first Round of 16 match in eight tries, and set itself up well for the March 17 return leg at the Vicente Calderon thanks to Hakan Calhanoglu’s powerfully-struck second-half goal.

The goal ended Atleti’s six-match UCL run without conceding a goal.

Arsenal 1-3 MonacoRECAP

source: Getty ImagesOh, dear, Arsenal supporters. The Gunners were either out-of-whack or, as Arsene Wenger speculated, complacent headed into the match, and Monaco was ready to attack.

First-half goals from Geoffrey Kondogbia and Dimitar Berbatov set the tone, and Monaco looked set to keep up its remarkable defensive mark of one goal allowed in six UEFA Champions League matches before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain curled a nice shot home in the first minute of stoppage time.

Moments later, however, Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco beat Gunners keeper David Ospina to cap off a frenetic finish in London. Monaco has three road goals and Arsenal looks destined for a fifth-straight exit in the Round of 16.