Brighton Deny Chelsea Vital Win In New Year Fixture

Brighton’s Iranian midfielder Alireza Jahanbakhsh celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 1, 2020.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s spectacular overhead kick earned Brighton a share of the points against Chelsea and dampened Frank Lampard’s New Year celebrations on Wednesday as Aston Villa secured a vital win against Burnley.

Kicking off a packed day of top-flight action, Chelsea’s 1-1 draw on England’s south coast meant they missed out on the chance to pull seven points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United in the race to secure Champions League football for next season.

Cesar Azpilicueta gave the visitors an early lead, tapping in from close range following a corner in the 10th minute but Brighton were never out of it and pulled level in the 84th minute courtesy of Jahanbakhsh’s moment of magic.

Chelsea were quickly on top from the start of the match but Brighton came into the contest as it wore on, enjoying a spell of possession towards the end of the first half.

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Leandro Trossard tested Kepa Arrizabalaga with a powerful strike but the Chelsea goalkeeper parried the shot with his right hand.

Lampard’s team were again dominant after the break. Christian Pulisic came close to doubling Chelsea’s lead at Brighton after 55 minutes while N’Golo Kante and Reece James were denied.

But Brighton kept battling and Kepa was forced to produce an outstanding save from Aaron Connolly in the 80th minute as the home side pushed for an equaliser.

Their persistence paid off minutes later. Lewis Dunk kept the ball alive from a corner-kick and Iranian midfielder Jahanbakhsh acrobatically found the bottom-left corner to give his team share of the points.

In the other early kick-off, Villa beat Burnley 2-1 despite seeing Jack Grealish’s opening goal controversially chalked off by VAR.

Wesley put Villa ahead in the 27th minute and captain Grealish doubled his side’s advantage four minutes before the break as his powerful effort found the top corner.

Chris Wood pulled a goal back for Burnley with 10 minutes to go.

Second-placed Leicester take on Newcastle later on Wednesday, with Tottenham and Wolves, also chasing Champions League football next season, also in action.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are hosting Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton in one of the early evening matches before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United kick off against Arsenal in the late match.

Runaway leaders Liverpool face Sheffield United on Thursday.

AFP

Chelsea Edge Past Lille, Qualify For Champions League Last 16

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (R) celebrates after scoring their second goal during the UEFA Champion’s League Group H football match between Chelsea and Lille at Stamford Bridge in London on December 10, 2019.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Chelsea booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League as first-half goals from Tammy Abraham and Cesar Azpilicueta sealed a 2-1 win over a much-changed Lille at Stamford Bridge.

Victory for Valencia over Ajax in the other game in Group H means Frank Lampard’s men go through behind the Spaniards with last season’s semi-finalists relegated to the Europa League.

Chelsea knew victory would take them into the knockout stages no matter what the outcome was in Amsterdam and did their job early on against a Lille side with just one point to show for their return to the Champions League for the first time in seven years.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Survive Salzburg Test To Reach Champions League Last 16

Simple finishes from Abraham and Azpilicueta were just reward for a dominant first-half display, but Chelsea were forced to hold on in the final stages after Loic Remy halved Lille’s deficit against his old club 12 minutes from time.

The visitors were already sure to finish bottom of the group and coach Christophe Galtier showed his priority is trying to secure a return to the Champions League next season by finishing in the top three of Ligue 1 as he made seven changes to the side that beat Brest on Friday.

Chelsea had won just one of their previous five games after a great start to life under Lampard and the Blues boss responded by adding a little more experience to what has been a very young side so far this season.

Antonio Rudiger returned from injury to make just his second start of the campaign at centre-back, while Jorginho was restored in midfield to the side that lost 3-1 to Everton on Saturday.

Up front, Abraham was again flanked by Christian Pulisic and Willian, and all three combined to open the scoring on 19 minutes.

Pulisic unselfishly played in Willian on the right instead of opting to go for goal himself and the Brazilian’s driven cross was tapped in by Abraham for his 13th goal of the season.

Lille have been the whipping boys in a three-way shootout for two places in the last 16 and showed why 10 minutes before half-time when Azpilicueta was left completely unmarked to head home Emerson’s corner from close range.

Mike Maignan in the Lille goal kept his side in the game with a fine double save from Pulisic and Willian at the start of the second half.

However, Chelsea took their foot off the gas as Lampard replaced Pulisic and Abraham ahead of a busy festive period in the Premier League.

And the hosts had to suffer a nervy final dozen minutes when Remy fired in off the underside of the bar.

Remy was a peripheral figure during three seasons at Chelsea between 2014 and 2017, but nearly came back to haunt his old employers only to fire weakly into the arms of Kepa Arrizabalaga in stoppage time.

Instead, Chelsea saw the game out to mark another impressive milestone in Lampard’s first season in charge.

AFP

Lampard Proud Of ‘Best Win’ As Chelsea Manager

 

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard hailed his side’s 1-0 victory at Ajax in the Champions League as his best yet in charge of the Blues.

Lampard made a telling impact with his substitutions at the Johan Cruyff Arena as Christian Pulisic set up Michy Batshuayi to score the winner four minutes from time.

After a difficult start to his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, Lampard has now masterminded six straight wins in all competitions.

“It is (the best win),” the former England midfielder told BT Sport. “I’m so happy, I knew how tough this game would be.

“To play and beat them and deserve to beat them means we are absolutely top all over the pitch. I was so, so proud of the performance.”

READ ALSO: Batshuayi Fires Chelsea To Late Ajax Win

Victory in Amsterdam puts Chelsea level with last season’s Champions League semi-finalists on six points at the top of Group H and back on track to make the last 16 after a home defeat to Valencia on matchday one.

“It was very important after losing the first game against Valencia,” said Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta.

“We showed a great ability to control the game after the first 15-20 minutes.

“We had a lot of chances to win the game, we were brave, we pressed high and very happy to get a late goal from Michy.”

Batshuayi has had to be patient for his chance to shine under Lampard with Tammy Abraham’s fine form keeping the Belgian international on the sidelines.

Lampard introduced Batshuayi ahead of French international Olivier Giroud for the final 20 minutes and he had the desired effect by smashing in off the underside of the bar from Pulisic’s cut-back.

“The other two (Giroud and Batshuayi) stay patient, work hard, support the group and have talent. He’s waited for his moment and fully deserved it,” added Lampard.

Chelsea Extend EPL Lead With Crystal Palace Win

Chelsea, Liverpool, EPLChelsea are sitting confidently at the top of the English Premier League (EPL) table as they move nine points clear.

The Blues also equalled a club record on Saturday as they beat Crystal Palace 1-0 to secure their 11th successive win at the Selhurst Park.

Diego Costa netted the lone goal with the visitors’ first attempt on target as he headed in from Azpilicueta’s drifted cross.

Jason Puncheon would have levelled the score for Palace but headed wide and fired a free-kick narrowly over.

Chelsea had earlier won 11 matches between April and September 2009.

Third-placed Arsenal will host Manchester City on Sunday, before Liverpool visit Everton in the Merseyside derby on Monday.