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LIVE, UCL: Chelsea’s last 16 hopes on the line; Inter, Dortmund need wins

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It is chaos across the UEFA Champions League for as the group stage finales kick off on Tuesday.

Across multiple groups there is plenty on the line going into the final 90 minutes of action, with plenty of giants scrambling to reach the knockout round.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

In Group H Chelsea host Lille and Ajax host Valencia as three of the four teams in the group can still win and qualify for the last 16. One will miss out.

Frank Lampard‘s Blues are the favorites to advance but it won’t be straightforward, even against the team guaranteed to finish bottom of the group, Lille.

Chelsea know they will reach the last 16 with a win at home but Ajax only need a draw to make the last 16, while Valencia need a win at Ajax to advance. Chelsea will also reach the last 16 if they draw against Lille and Ajax beat Valencia.

[ MORE: Who needs what to reach UCL last 16? ]

Elsewhere, Inter Milan host Barcelona knowing a win at the San Siro against the Group F winners will put them through. But Borussia Dortmund know if they beat Slavia Prague at home and Inter lose or draw against Barcelona, they will instead reach the last 16.

In Group G, Leipzig are already through but both Lyon and Zenit can join them in the last 16, while Benfica are out of contention.

Below is the full schedule for the last UCL games on Tuesday, as all games kick off at 3 p.m. ET and you can follow the action live by clicking on the link above.


Tuesday

Group F
Borussia Dortmund v. Slavia Prague
Inter Milan v. Barcelona

Group G
Lyon v. Leipzig
Benfica v. Zenit

Group H
Chelsea v. Lille
Ajax v. Valencia

La Liga: Real Madrid beat Alaves late to leapfrog Barca (for now)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ PL PREVIEW: Arsenal’s post-Emery era begins; Man United host Villa ]

Alaves 1-2 Real Madrid

Without ever hitting their full stride through the season’s first 14 games, Real Madrid have managed to keep pace with Barcelona to set up what should be a thrilling La Liga title race over the next 24 weeks. Zinedine Zidane’s side survived yet another scare on Saturday and came away with a narrow victory away to 14th-place Alaves. With Barca still to play Atletico Madrid on Sunday, Real Madrid sit atop the table with a three-point advantage.

Sergio Ramos headed Los Blancos into the lead in the 52nd minute, but it was quickly erased when Lucas Perez converted from the penalty spot in the 65th.

Madrid’s winner was anything but pretty, but the ball crossed the goal line and that’s the only fact that matters. Luka Modric lofted the ball high into the penalty area and Isco got his head to it barely a yard off the goal line, but Fernando Pacheco made a stellar save only to see the ball roll across the face of goal to Dani Carvajal, who poked it over the line for 2-1 in the 69th minute.

Valencia 2-1 Villarreal

Speaking of surviving, Valencia survived a chaotic derby affair with Villarreal at the Mestalla Stadium to climb back into the top-six.

Jasper Cillessen denied Gerard Moreno from the penalty spot in the 14th minute, but that was just the start of a truly wild affair. Sergio Asenjo made a series of spectacular saves to maintain Villarreal’s clean sheet in the first half. His magic ran out shortly after halftime, though, and in hard-to-swallow fashion. Maxi Gomez played an otherworldly curling ball over the top to find Rodrigo Moreno inside the penalty area, and Moreno got the slightest of touches on the ball and managed to recover the ball on the other side of Asenjo for a quick finish from a tight angle.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who’s on loan from Fulham after the player and club’s disastrous lone season in the Premier League, hammered home from near the penalty spot just five minutes later. 19-year-old Ferran Torres bagged the winner in the 70th minute, rifling a waist-high bouncing ball past Asenjo for his second league goal this season.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Sociedad 4-1 Eibar
Mallorca 1-2 Real Betis

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Sevilla v. Leganes — 6 a.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao v. Granada — 8 a.m. ET
Espanyol v. Osasuna — 10 a.m. ET
Getafe v. Levante — 12:30 p.m. ET
Atletico Madrid v. Barcelona — 3 p.m. ET

Chelsea draws Valencia despite Pulisic goal

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The Chelsea defense was shambolic, but Valencia’s finishing was worse, and it seemed that Christian Pulisic‘s goal and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s penalty save would be enough. Then Daniel Wass produced a moment of sheer brilliance good enough to keep the Spanish side’s Champions League hopes alive.

Valencia missed a host of big chances that should have won them the game, but in the 80th minute Wass arrived to deliver a goal worthy of points from acres away to secure a 2-2 draw.

Valencia were on the front foot the first 30 minutes, but they were left empty-handed as Maxi Gomez missed a blinding chance on 20 minutes that left the home fans stunned. A wonderful cross form Rodrigo on the break fell right to the feet of Gomez, but the Uruguayan completely whiffed while sliding in awkwardly at the far post, a surefire miss of the season candidate.

Gomez again was left begging on the half-hour mark as the cross from Dani Parejo was too far for Ferran Torres but reached Gomez at the far post where his effort was saved by a charging Kepa Arrizabalaga despite the goal gaping.

Chelsea began to push after that, and worked a pair of chances with N’Golo Kante firing over the bar and Tammy Abraham forcing an exceptional save from Man of the Match Jasper Cillessen who tipped his poke over the bar. Just as the Blues were getting going, Valencia finally found the back of the net. From the right flank Rodrigo delivered a fabulous lofted cross into the middle of the box and Carlos Soler volleyed it home past Arrizabalaga.

The Blues responded right away, with Mateo Kovacic delivering a speculative turn-and-shoot from the top of the box that squirted inside the left post past a diving Cillessen for the Croatian’s first Chelsea goal. He nearly had a second before halftime as he rifled in a silky Pulisic delivery from the far post and Cillessen saved. Chelsea suffered a blow just before the break as Tammy Abraham landed awkwardly and was in serious pain, holding his left hip. Abraham was replaced by Michy Batshuayi upon the second-half restart.

Just moments after the whistle blew, Pulisic put Chelsea in front 2-1 as he nodded home Kurt Zouma‘s header with a toe poke. It was initially ruled out for offside, but after an extremely long VAR review, the goal was given as technology proved Pulisic was just level with the defender. Ezequiel Garay was booked for dissent after the goal was given, appearing to argue that he was fouled by Zouma on the aerial challenge.

Yet again the Chelsea defense was let off as Valencia should have scored, but Torres missed over the goal with a chip attempt as the Blues scrambled and Arrizabalaga was out of his net. Chelsea again allowed Valencia through as Jorginho was harshly whistled for a penalty in a clash with Jose Gaya, but after VAR allowed the call to stand, Arrizabalaga made a spectacular save to maintain the lead.

The game remained wide open as Chelsea nearly doubled the lead through Willian whose feed from Batshuayi left him alone with a charging Cillessen who saved well. Valencia began to pour on the pressure, and ultimately it bore fruit. A feed to the right by Parejo was dummied and left to Wass whose cross (it was absolutely a cross) stunningly found the top corner and into the back of the net off the woodwork.

Chelsea nearly found a winner thanks to a massive deflection on a Batshuayi shot, but Cillessen somehow managed to make a kick save despite already having gone to ground to meet the initial hit. For good measure, Valencia missed a sure winner at the death, with Rodrigo mishitting at the far post from a Gaya cross along the face of goal.

The two points lost for Chelsea were valuable ones in a crowded Group H, with the trio of Chelsea, Valencia, and Ajax all coming into the day level on seven points. With the Blues still to play Lille while Valencia has to take on Ajax, they will still believe to be holding the upper hand, but it will all come down to the final match day.

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham suffers potentially serious injury

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In-form Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has suffered what looks to be a potentially serious injury as the Blues play a huge Champions League game at Valencia.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard put forth a strong lineup with the Blues level on points with both Ajax and Valencia in Group H, needing a win to take an advantage with one game still remaining. Abraham, who has enjoyed a breakout year, was part of that starting lineup and forced a fabulous save of Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen about five minutes before halftime.

Just minutes later, with 60 seconds to go before the break, Abraham rose high to meet a corner delivery by Willian but came crashing down on top of Ezequiel Garay, undercut by the Valencia midfielder, landing awkwardly on Garay’s leg. He received treatment and walked off under his own power, but was shown on television wincing in severe pain while walking gingerly with trainer help down the touchline back to the tunnel, his left hip or ribs appearing to be the troublesome spot. He was in clear discomfort, closing his eyes and yelling on multiple occasions.

At halftime, journalists and television cameras caught Abraham eventually succumbing to his injury enough to require a stretcher to carry him down the tunnel.

Abraham has been a critical piece of Chelsea’s youth revolution this season, scoring 10 goals in 13 Premier League appearances this season. The 22-year-old Chelsea youth product has appeared in every league goal for Chelsea this season so far, as well as all four Champions League matches to date.

Chelsea was level 1-1 with Valencia at halftime, when Abraham was replaced by Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian could be in line for a serious increase in playing time should Abraham be out of action for the near future.

David Villa announces retirement

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Legendary Spanish forward David Villa, 37, has announced his retirement.

Villa will end his playing career on Jan. 1, 2019 as his final game will be for current team Vissel Kobe, if they reach the Emperor’s Cup final in Japan.

The former Sporting Gijon, Real Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, New York City FC and Melbourne City star holds the record for being Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer (with 59 goals in 98 appearances) and won the 2010 World Cup and 2008 European Championships as a key part of their golden generation.

He also won two La Liga titles and the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona and another La Liga with Atletico Madrid as he scored 376 goals in 752 appearances and also won Copa del Rey trophies with Barca, Atletico, Zaragoza and Valencia.

“After 19 years as a professional, I have decided to retire from playing football at the end of this season. Thank you to all the teams, coaches and teammates that have allowed me to enjoy this dreamed career,” Villa said. “Thank you to my family, that has always been there to support me. It is my objective to put the cherry on top by winning the Emperor’s Cup with Vissel Kobe on January 1st. From then on, I will continue to enjoy football through all the projects that we’re currently developing with DV7 group. Thank you for all the love.”

Villa announced on Tuesday that he is part of the ownership group which will bring a USL Championship side to Queens, New York City. The plan is for Queensboro FC to start play in 2021 in the second-tier of North American soccer and Villa is expected to be a key part of the organization as he heads back to NYC.

During his four seasons in Major League Soccer he was the shinning light for New York City FC and was a model professional as well as being a great goalscorer in the Bronx.

His legendary status will live on, with his goals and performances so key to some of the biggest moments in Spanish, and world, soccer history.