Jorginho

Abraham leads Chelsea past Watford; Pulisic scores again

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Tammy Abraham had a goal and an assist as Chelsea won its fifth-straight Premier League outing, getting another goal from Christian Pulisic in a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea will finish the weekend with a six-point cushion on fifth place, now sitting third with 23 points.

Watford got a late penalty from Gerard Deulofeu, awarded by VAR, to score its goal. The Hornets remain dead last with five points through 11 matches.


Three things we learned

1. Abraham the genuine article: The Championship loan high-flyer might’ve entered this season with five Premier League goals from a Swansea City loan, but his bonafides are undoubtable now. Abraham calmly converted Jorginho‘s amazing early cross before setting up Pulisic for a goal in the second half. The 22-year-old now has nine goals and two assists in just over 800 league minutes this season.

2. Watford a one-man show: Maybe a long-awaited return for Troy Deeney can do the trick for winless Watford, but every single promising moment of Saturday’s match came from Gerard Deulofeu. There are other players with promise, including Will Hughes, but Roberto Pereyra, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and Andre Gray were absent. That had a lot to do with trying to meet Chelsea’s attacking energy, but it doesn’t make it any easier to be a Watford supporter.

3. Pulisic keeps league run going: The American winger was charged with being very active in the wide areas and took a satisfactory first half to another level when he doubled Chelsea’s lead. Pulisic adjusts his back post to cut in front of Christian Kabasele and add a fourth goal to his Premier League collection.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch ]

Man of the Match: This one is tough. Mateo Kovacic was a beast, and Abraham weighed in on both goals. But Pulisic’s stat line was also complete, and he honestly was as important as any Blue. Ben Foster really was the reason this match wasn’t a blowout. We’re going to give it to Abraham.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Too easy.

That’s the only way to describe Chelsea’s opener, with Jorginho sweeping a cross around the back of Watford’s back four and Abraham timing his run to pop the ball over a charging Ben Foster for 1-0.

Chalobah fired a shot to Kepa Arrizabalaga after Kurt Zouma mishit a cross in the 16th minute.

Pulisic headed Willian‘s corner toward the back post in the 19th minute, but Ben Foster leapt backward to make a fantastic fingertip save.

Gerard Deulofeu drove a shot wide of the far post in the 39th.

Foster made another fine save when Mason Mount tore into an effort from distance just before halftime.

Deulofeu led another break after halftime, but it ended with a superb block from Kurt Zouma.

Willian cued up a Chelsea chance, but Foster made a good stop on a Mount rip.

If anyone was going to get Watford on the board, it was Deulofeu. VAR said he was caught by Jorginho, sending the Spaniard to the spot in the 80th. He rolled it in.

Kepa Arrizabalaga made a diving save on a flying Foster header — yes, you read that right — on the final play of the night.

Rashford, Man Utd advance past Chelsea in League Cup

Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
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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.


 [ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Italy qualifies for EURO 2020 with win over Greece

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After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Italy returned to one of international soccer’s grand stages on Saturday, qualifying for the 2020 European Championship with a 2-0 victory over Greece at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

[ MORE: Bayern Munich reportedly contacts Eriksen eyeing January move ]

Roberto Mancini’s side joined Belgium as the second nation to qualify for next summer’s tournament which will be played across 12 different countries. The Azzurri did so having not yet dropped a single point in Group J play, putting together a 7W-0D-0L record with a +21 goal differential thus far. With three games still to play in qualifying, this marks the earliest Italy has ever achieved qualification.

Chelsea midfielder Jorginho scored what turned out to be the winner from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute before Juventus forward Federico Bernardeschi added some insurance in the 78th.

Mancini recently stated that Italy’s 23-man squad for EURO 2020 is “more or less decided” already.

EURO 2020 qualifying: Spain rout Faroe Islands, Italy hold off Finland

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The paths of Spain and France to victory were contrasting, however, both teams continued their winning ways in Sunday’s EURO 2020 qualifying.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]


Spain 4-0 Faroe Islands

Who knows if it was planned, but Spain put on a lively celebration for Sergio Ramos, who equalled Iker Casillas’ international caps on Sunday night in Gijon, in their 4-0 drubbing of Faroe Islands.

Even then, the scoreline isn’t a clear reflection of Spain’s dominance over a vastly inferior visiting side, who registered less than 30 percent possession and took two shots throughout 90 minutes.

La Roja, comfortable as ever, had time to experiment and put together well-orchestrated attacks.

Rodrigo started the scoring frenzy in the 13th minute with a tap-in, before adding a second in the second half after his left-footed strike wad deflected into the back of the net.

Substituted in the 61st minute for Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, Paco Alcacer added his own brace over the span of three minutes to seal the night for Spain, who stay unbeaten after six qualifying matches and atop of Group F.

Finland 1-2 Italy

Italy’s victory in Finland was controversial, to the say very the least.

Norwhich City’s man of the hour, Teemu Pukki, scored a penalty in the 72nd minute, only to be nulled by Chelsea’s Jorginho, who converted one of his own, which turned out to be the Italian’s match-winning goal.

The call that led to the penalty, however, was worthy of video review.

Finland’s Sauli Väisänen, with his arm attached to his torso as he turned away, made contact with Nicolò Barella’s shot. The official, who was on the opposite of the box, instantly deemed it a penalty and showed a yellow to the defender, despite the heavy petitioning from the Finish players.

With the victory, Italy, who like Spain have yet to lose, remains ahead of second-place Finland in Group H by six points.

VAR is not used in the qualifying process, but will be implemented in the 2020 European Championship, according to UEFA.

Elsewhere

Switzerland 4-0 Gibraltar
Georgia 0-0 Denmark
Sweden 1-1 Norway
Greece 1-1 Liechtenstein

Hot Hazard runs Chelsea past Watford

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  • Kabasele stretchered out of stadium
  • Hazard scores in each half
  • Pereyra nets terrific equalizer (video)

Eden Hazard scored a pair of goals to lead Chelsea back up the table in a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Wednesday.

Roberto Pereyra scored a beautiful volley for Watford, but the Hornets will be more concerned with Christian Kabasele. The defender needed to be stretchered from the stadium after sliding into the goal post in a bid to block Hazard’s opener.

Chelsea is back into fourth, two points ahead of Arsenal and four back of Man City, while Watford finishes Boxing Day in the table’s ninth position.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Willian came near to making it 1-0 when Cesc Fabregas slotted him into the left of the box, and he beat Ben Foster but not the goal post.

Christian Kabasele slid hard into the post and needed plenty of help from the trainers. He tried to gut out a performance, but Adrian Mariappa needed to take his place.

Hazard missed a chance to open the scoring earlier in the half, but made no mistake in stoppage time. The Belgian squared his hips to shoot to the right, then kept dribbling and shot left after Ben Foster committed his body to the feint. Mateo Kovacic set up the goal.

Watford leveled the score within moments, a training ground play when saw Pereyra sneak atop the 18 for a volleyed finish inside the near post.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

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Gerard Deulofeu thought he’d won a penalty off David Luiz in the 54th minute, but no whistle came for what appeared to be shoulder-to-shoulder.

Hazard won a penalty off Foster in the 57th, and left no doubt with his conversion.

N'Golo Kante and Troy Deeney missed chances at each end as the game reached its final 10 minutes.

Foster stopped a Willian chance cued up by Marcos Alonso in the 89th, the ensuing corner kick nearly serving the same purpose of a third goal.