Neymar Dedicates PSG Goal To Kobe Bryant

 

Neymar dedicated his second goal at Lille to basketball legend Kobe Bryant, whose death on Sunday in a helicopter crash shocked the world.

The Brazilian slotted home the 52nd-minute penalty that put PSG two goals up in the French Ligue 1 clash and went over to the television cameras by the side of the Stade Pierre Mauro pitch to make the number 24 with his fingers in honour of Bryant’s shirt number.

Bryant, who had been nominated for the NBA Hall of Fame in December, was confirmed dead at 41 years old on Sunday after a helicopter crashed and burst into flames in foggy conditions in suburban Los Angeles, leaving five people dead.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said there were no survivors from the morning crash on a rugged hillside in Calabasas, west of LA.

In an email to AFP, Mayor of Calabasas Alicia Weintraub confirmed Bryant was among the victims.

“Yes, it is confirmed,” Weintraub wrote.

‘We Made Children’s Mistakes’, Says Messi After Barca Stunned By Atletico

 

Lionel Messi said Barcelona were guilty of playing like children on Thursday after Atletico Madrid staged a thrilling comeback to beat them 3-2 and set up a Spanish Super Cup final against Real Madrid.

Barca looked on course for a Sunday showdown against Real when they led 2-1 with nine minutes left but instead, it will be a Madrid derby in Saudi Arabia to decide who lifts the trophy.

“It’s a shame because we switched off for a few moments and made children’s mistakes,” Messi said. “We should have closed out the match.

“It’s a blow for us, especially as we were the better team. Our mistakes cost us dearly.”

All five goals were scored during a wild second half in Jeddah that began with Koke putting Atletico in front, just 21 seconds after coming on as a substitute at the interval.

Goals from Messi and Antoine Griezmann turned the game on its head, only for Atletico to hit back with a late double, Alvaro Morata converting a penalty in the 81st minute before Angel Correa found a winner in the 86th.

In between, Barcelona also had two goals ruled out after VAR spotted tight offsides while Atleti were denied what looked a clear penalty at 2-2, after the ball clipped the hand of Gerard Pique.

“They had more legs than us and in the end it cost us,” said Griezmann.

“We made mistakes in everything, in passes – I think I missed a pass to Sam (Umtiti) before they scored – and the little things can lose you a match, a league, a Champions League.”

A pulsating contest will have delighted the Spanish Football Federation, who have faced heavy criticism for taking the competition away from Spain to a different continent, and a country that has a long-condemned record on human rights.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Wednesday he preferred the old format but his strong team selection, that included Messi, Griezmann and Luis Suarez, suggested this was a tournament he was eager to win.

“The goal for 2-2 came at a time when we didn’t know how to get a hold of the game,” said Valverde, whose position will come under renewed scrutiny.

‘Instability’

“There is always instability when you lose,” he added.

It remains to be seen how this defeat might affect the La Liga title race, with Real Madrid and Atletico now enjoying the opportunity not only to claim a trophy but score a psychological boost too.

“It is important for the club, we beat the best-attacking team in the world,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “You saw our bite, our belief, our desire. It’s what this club is all about.”

Atletico survived a frantic first half and frustration spilled over at the break as Jordi Alba poked a finger in the face of Joao Felix, who then went head-to-head with Messi. Suarez also had to be pulled away by Stefan Savic.

A spikey end to the first period was trumped by an explosive start to the second as Koke, on for less than a minute, gave Atletico the lead by stabbing into the bottom corner.

Simeone chose not to celebrate and if he was worried about the amount of time left, he was right, as Barcelona scored twice in 11 minutes.

First, Messi equalised after muscling his way through Koke and Savic on the edge of the area and then he fired in again after steering a high ball around Koke. This time, however, VAR showed his elbow had served as a cushion.

The disappointment was brief as Alba crossed for Suarez and while his header was brilliant pawed away by Jan Oblak, Griezmann nodded in the rebound.

Pique thought he had a third after Arturo Vidal half-volleyed Messi’s free-kick across the box but again VAR intervened.

Atletico came again. Correa should have pulled them level but appeared keener to find Felix than shoot himself and when the rebound did fall to the Felix, Sergi Roberto made a last-ditch block.

But the floodgates had opened in the Barca defence. Vitolo was next to go clear and this time he was brought down by Neto. Morata converted the penalty.

Then, Morata skipped free down the right and his cross struck the dangling hand of Pique but despite damning replays, the referee decided against giving another spot-kick.

Yet moments later, Atletico were in again. Correa this time sprinted in behind and while Neto made a block, the ball had just enough power to cross the line. Now, Simeone could celebrate.

Iheanacho Denies Villa As Leicester Earn League Cup Semi-Final Draw

 

 

 

Brendan Rodgers warned Leicester will have to suffer to reach the League Cup final after Kelechi Iheanacho’s late goal earned a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Rodgers’ side fell behind to Frederic Guilbert’s first half goal in the semi-final first leg at the King Power Stadium.

But Iheanacho came off the bench to equalise with his sixth goal in eight appearances this season.

Leicester will feel they should have won after dominating for long periods, but the team in second place in the Premier League will have to finish the job at Villa Park in the second leg on January 28.

“Overall I thought we dominated the game. Villa made some blocks and the keeper made some good saves,” Rodgers said.

“Over two ties it was always going to be tough and to get to a final you have to suffer, but the boys are confident.”

Rodgers has a remarkable record of advancing from his last 30 domestic cup ties with Liverpool, Celtic, and Leicester.

But the last team to beat Rodgers in a domestic knockout competition were Villa in the FA Cup semi-finals in 2014-15 when he was Liverpool manager.

And Villa, whose last major trophy was the 1996 League Cup, will feel they are in pole position to reach the final after surviving a stern examination.

“I thought Leicester were the better team. We have given away a farcical goal. Ezri Konsa has got brain dazzled,” Villa manager Dean Smith said.

“But we defended brilliantly at times and it will be a raucous crowd at Villa Park. I’m looking forward to it. It’s all to play for.”

The second leg winner will play Manchester City or Manchester United in the final at Wembley, with City leading 3-1 after their first leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Leicester last won the competition in 2000, beating Villa in the semi-finals that year, and they were well on top at the start.

Jamie Vardy was back after missing three games due to the birth of his daughter and a calf injury and took the fight to Villa.

He seized Marvelous Nakamba’s wayward header before testing Orjan Nyland, then saw his low drive blocked by Villa’s keeper moments later.

But, having soaked up Leicester’s early blitz on a rain-drenched evening in the east midlands, it was Villa who snatched the lead against the run of play in the 28th minute.

Infused with confidence

Anwar El Ghazi was playing in an unfamiliar role up front due to Wesley’s injury and Jonathan Kodjia’s illness.

The winger drifted back out to the left flank to deliver a cross that landed perfectly for Guilbert, who got in front of Ben Chilwell and stabbed his volley in from close-range.

The French defender’s first goal since August was Villa’s first shot on target in the match.

Infused with confidence after that bolt from the blue, Smith’s team were inches away from doubling their lead before half-time.

Jack Grealish’s inswinging free-kick found Ezri Konsa and the Villa defender headed against the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Leicester wrestled back the initiative after the interval and Nyland alertly smothered the danger when Vardy tried to latch onto a through ball.

Tyrone Mings won header after header as Villa tried to weather the storm and when James Maddison did get past the defender with a bold burst, Nyland was on hand to make another good save.

Maddison tried again with a run onto Ricardo Pereira’s pass, but the Norwegian saved at the near post.

Leicester’s pressure finally told in the 74th minute.

Luiz, put in trouble by Konsa’s sloppy free-kick, lost possession to Hamza Choudhury and Vardy found Iheanacho, who shot high past Nyland from 15 yards.

Vardy nearly won it in the closing minutes, but his shot rippled into the side-netting just as Leicester fans were anticipating a dramatic finale.

Arteta’s Arsenal Off To A Slow Start As Chelsea Falter Again At Home

 

Mikel Arteta got off to an underwhelming start as Arsenal manager with a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth as Chelsea slumped to another shock home reverse, losing 2-0 to Southampton, on Boxing Day.

Carlo Ancelotti had a more positive impact on his Everton bow as Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s brilliant diving header earned a 1-0 win over Burnley.

Chelsea’s defeat allowed Tottenham to move back to within three points of the top four as they came from behind to beat Brighton 2-1 thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

The top two clash later when Leicester host Liverpool hoping to close the gap on the runaway league leaders to seven points.

Arteta got an early lesson in the flaws that have blighted Arsenal’s season as they were caught out trying to play from the back to concede the opening goal when Dan Gosling put Bournemouth in front.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang again rode to the Gunners’ rescue to equalise just after the hour mark and Arteta will be frustrated not to have won all three points as Alexandre Lacazette was denied a winner by a last-ditch challenge from Steve Cook.

– No home comfort for Chelsea –
After the highs of victory at Spurs as Frank Lampard got one over on his former manager Jose Mourinho, Chelsea again struggled when faced with breaking down stubborn defensive opponents in Southampton.

The Blues have now lost to West Ham, Bournemouth and the Saints in their last four home league games.

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl rested in-form talisman Danny Ings, but that decision paid off as his replacement Michael Obafemi scored just his second Premier League goal with a calm finish into the top corner on the counter-attack.

The visitors struck again to seal all three points 17 minutes from time when Nathan Redmond prodded past the onrushing Kepa Arrizabalaga at the end of a fine team move.

– Spurs strike back –
Mourinho’s Tottenham fell behind again at home to Brighton as Adam Webster headed in midway through the first half.

Spurs were shorn of the suspended Son Heung-min after his appeal against a three-match ban for a kick out at Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger was dismissed.

But two of their other star men stood up to be counted as Kane swept home at the second attempt after his first shot was saved by Mat Ryan.

Alli then delivered all three points with a delightful chipped finish from an acute angle.

“It’s hard after a defeat to have confidence and we started poorly, it affects the confidence,” said Mourinho.

“Brighton have monsters in the air and it affected the self-esteem of our team.

“In the second half the players put all the negative aside and were very strong in their performance.”

Sheffield United are behind Tottenham only on goal difference as they missed the chance to close to within a point of Chelsea in a 1-1 draw with bottom-of-the-table Watford.

Gerard Deulofeu gave the Hornets an early lead as they looked to build on a 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.

However, Oliver Norwood’s penalty quickly brought the Blades level and only the brilliance of Ben Foster to deny John Fleck from point-blank range denied Chris Wilder’s men a fourth consecutive win.

Crystal Palace climbed up to eighth and within six points of the top four themselves as they came from behind to beat West Ham 2-1 and hand manager Roy Hodgson his first ever Premier League win on Boxing Day.

Robert Snodgrass put the Hammers in front early in the second half at Selhurst Park, but Palace roared back as Cheikhou Kouyate smashed home the equaliser against his old club.

Jordan Ayew then produced a sublime individual run and finish in the final minute to snatch victory for the Eagles.

Aston Villa won the battle of two of the bottom three as Conor Hourihane’s fine strike was enough to beat Norwich 1-0.

Mourinho Appointed Tottenham Manager After Pochettino’s Sack

 

Jose Mourinho was on Wednesday appointed new Tottenham Hotspur head coach to replace sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

The Portuguese former Chelsea and Manchester United manager signed a contract until the end of the 2022/23 season, the north London club said in a statement.

Pochettino, 47, transformed Spurs’ fortunes since arriving from Southampton in 2014 and although he failed to win a trophy he took the club to the Champions League final for the first time in their history just six months ago.

READ ALSO: Tottenham Sack Mauricio Pochettino

But the Argentine was sacked on Tuesday with Tottenham languishing 14th in England’s Premier League after picking up just three wins from their opening 12 games.

This season they were knocked out of the League Cup by fourth-tier Colchester United and suffered an embarrassing 7-2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

“I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters,” said Mourinho, who has won domestic titles in a record four different countries.

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy said: “In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

How Messi’s Dead-Ball Hat-Trick Put Barca Back On Top

 

Lionel Messi delivered an incredible dead-ball hat-trick on Saturday to steer Barcelona to a 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo and ease the pressure on his coach Ernesto Valverde.

Messi scored with a penalty and then a pair of sumptuous free-kicks either side of half-time after Lucas Olaza had briefly pulled Celta level with a free-kick of his own at Camp Nou. Sergio Busquets drove home to make sure of the win late on.

A 34th treble in La Liga puts Messi equal with Cristiano Ronaldo, while a much-needed win sends Barca above Real Madrid on goal difference and back to the top of the table at the end of a testing week.

“It is impossible not to depend on Messi, he illuminates everything,” said Valverde. “We depend on him like any team would depend on him. He unlocked the game.”

READ ALSO: France Crush Australian Dreams To Win Fed Cup Final

Madrid had briefly claimed first place after continuing their own goal-surge by hammering Eibar 4-0, a game in which Karim Benzema scored twice and Eden Hazard exploded into life.

But while Madrid appear to be hitting their stride, Barcelona’s momentum had stalled. After losing to Levante and failing to break down Slavia Prague in the Champions League, scrutiny had again turned on Valverde and his future as Barcelona coach.

Barcelona’s disgruntled fans had whistled their team against Slavia in midweek and when Olaza equalised for Celta, that tension and restlessness threatened to return.

Instead, Messi took command, this hat-trick taking his tally to nine goals in seven games, 612 in total for his club.

“Obviously when it’s tight we have the advantage of having the best player in the world and the best free-kick taker in the world,” said Busquets.

Yet his precision from free-kicks is a skill the 32-year-old has worked on and improved in recent years, his conversion rate currently at four goals from his last seven attempts in the league.

The last time a player scored a hat-trick from set-pieces in La Liga was when Messi himself achieved the same feat in 2012 against Espanyol, albeit with two penalties and one free-kick.

There was good news for Barcelona too in the return of Luis Suarez, who came off the bench after recovering from a calf strain.

Messi scored his penalty in the 23rd minute after Joseph Aidoo had blocked Nelson Semedo’s cross with his hand.

It was Messi that conceded the foul for Olaza’s curling free-kick that was well-hit enough to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen, even if the goalkeeper might have been disappointed not to be able to get across.

There was little Celta keeper Ruben Blanco could do about Messi’s efforts, the first in stoppage time before the interval and the second three minutes after the restart.

They were almost carbon copies of each other, bending over the wall and nestling in the top right-hand corner.

Celta, under their new coach Oscar Garcia, never looked like mounting a comeback and Busquets put the result beyond doubt with a low shot five minutes from the finish.

Real’s players might have been watching on their way home from Ipurua, where they went three up inside 29 minutes, Sergio Ramos scoring a penalty between two Benzema strikes, the second also a spot-kick after Ramos delegated to his teammate. Fede Valverde added a fourth in the second half.

Benzema’s double takes him to 157 goals for Real Madrid, above Ferenc Puskas into sixth in the club’s all-time list, but his excellent display was trumped by a creative masterclass from Hazard.

“His first half was very impressive,” said coach Zinedine Zidane. “We are happy and he will be a huge player for Madrid, for sure.”

Hazard’s vintage performance

Benzema latched onto Hazard’s pass in the 17th minute and after Valverde and Luka Modric missed, the ball spilled back to the Frenchman, who found the corner from an acute angle.

Three minutes later it was two, Hazard the creator again, his feet too quick for Pablo De Blasis, who caught his opponent’s right leg. Ramos slid the penalty home.

Hazard sparkled, with a brilliant nutmeg, a ‘rabona’ cross and too many glides past defenders to count.

Ramos passed on the second Madrid penalty, awarded for a foul on Lucas Vazquez, to allow Benzema to make it three before Valverde had added a fourth, cracking in Modric’s pass for his first goal in La Liga.

Algerian Football Supporter Runs Over Family In France, Woman Killed

 

An Algerian football supporter celebrating his team’s win lost control of his car and ran over a family in southern France overnight, killing a woman and seriously injuring her baby, a security official said.

The 21-year-old man was driving at high speed in the Mosson neighbourhood of southern city Montpellier on Thursday night, the official said, adding the driver had been taken into police custody.

The woman was walking with her one-year-old baby and 17-year-old daughter when the accident happened.

READ ALSO: Regime Air Strikes Kill 10 Civilians In Northwest Syria

The baby suffered traumatic injuries and was rushed to hospital, said the official.

The 17-year-old had a slight ankle injury, the spokesman said.

“At the moment we are trying to determine the circumstances of this tragedy,” the spokesman said, adding there were “lots of people in the streets” following Algeria’s win over Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations which sent the team through to the semi-final.

AFP

Antoine Griezmann Signs For Barcelona

 

Barcelona announced the signing of Antoine Griezmann on Friday after the Spanish champions paid La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid the 120 million euro ($135 million) release clause required to sign the World Cup winner.

“The player will sign a contract with his new club for the next five seasons, through to 30 June 2024, with a buyout clause of 800 million euros,” Barca said in a statement.

Friday’s announcement brings to an end a dispute between the two clubs and Griezmann, who had long aimed to move to the Catalan giants.

READ ALSO: AFCON: Dangote, Otedola To Splash $75,000 Per Goal On Super Eagles

The 28-year-old failed to show up for his side’s pre-season gathering on Sunday after he had announced in May he would be leaving the Wanda Metropolitano, even though he could not reveal his destination until his release clause dropped from 200 million euros to 120 million euros at the start of the month.

last week Atletico accused Barcelona and Griezmann of a “lack of respect” after the Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed the two clubs had held talks about the former Real Sociedad forward.

Atletico also claimed that Griezmann had told the club that he had struck a deal with Barcelona in March, just days before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Juventus, which saw them dumped out by a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick after winning the first leg 2-0 in Madrid.

Griezmann joined Atletico in 2014 and has scored 133 goals in 257 appearances, lifting the Europa League in 2018.

He finished top scorer at Euro 2016 when France were beaten in the final on home soil by Portugal before helping to guide his team to World Cup triumph in Russia last year.

AFP

Mexico Defeat USA 1-0 To Win Record Eighth Gold Cup

 

Jonathan dos Santos scored the only goal as Mexico defeated the United States 1-0 to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup for a record eighth time at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder dos Santos rifled home in the 73rd minute to settle a hard-fought encounter between the two arch-rivals of North American football in front of 62,493 fans.

“I am happy because the boys made a great effort and today we played against one of the best teams in the Gold Cup,” said Mexico coach Tata Martino. “They have made a good effort and a good match. It makes me happy because it was also my first international title.”

Mexico have now won the Gold Cup eight times since 1991 when the championship for teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) was rebooted.

It was a disappointing defeat for the American men, who had been hoping to complete a trophy double after the US women had powered to victory over the Netherlands in the World Cup in France earlier on Sunday.

“Over the course of 90 minutes, Mexico was the better team,” US coach Gregg Berhalter said. “Having said that, we started the game really bright.

Pulisic woe

“I think what we lacked was some of the calmness, some of the composure.”

Dos Santos’s winner was the outstanding move of a pulsating duel that saw the United States pay the price for failing to take advantage of several promising early chances.

The decisive goal came after a surging run down the right flank by Mexico’s Rodolfo Pizarro.

The Monterrey playmaker fed Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Raul Jimenez, who produced a delightful back heel into the path of dos Santos who curled his shot into the top corner past USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

But the defeat left Berhalter reflecting on what might have been after his team had started the first half strongly, carving out a string of promising chances as Mexico took their time to get into the game.

“When you talk about a step the team needs to take, we’re close,” Berhalter said. “But we weren’t there tonight.”

Chelsea’s new $72 million signing Christian Pulisic squandered a golden opportunity to fire the Americans ahead after only six minutes, latching on to a deft layoff from striker Jozy Altidore.

Pulisic’s searing pace took him clear of the Mexican defence, with Carlos Salcedo doing his best to unbalance the US attacker without conceding a penalty. But the Mexicans breathed a sigh of relief after Pulisic could only shoot directly at goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

The Mexicans received another huge let-off only two minutes later. A speculative long ball forward from defender Tim Ream caught the Mexico defence off-guard and Altidore was left in a one-on-one with Hector Moreno.

‘Tough way to lose’

Altidore cleverly wrong-footed Moreno to leave himself one-on-one with Ochoa, but could only look on in disgust as he dragged his left foot shot just wide of the post.

“It is disappointing to lose a final,” said American midfielder Michael Bradley. “We had some good chances. Getting the first goal can go a long ways towards winning the game.

“We had a good start to the game and if anything, the beginning of the second half wasn’t what it needed to be. They were able to get some momentum and get their goal. It was a tough way to lose.”

The frenetic start also produced some rugged challenges. Altidore was lucky to escape at least a yellow card for scything down dos Santos while Pulisic was also fortunate not to be booked for a ferocious tackle from behind that sent Edson Alvarez crashing to the turf.

At the other end Mexico also began to test the US defence, with Andres Guardado shooting over on 16 minutes after a desperate late block from Paul Arriola.

Tempers threatened to boil over soon after half-time when Altidore and Moreno tangled on halfway, which saw players from both sides rush to confront each other.

The US almost broke the deadlock in the 51st minute when Jordan Morris’s header from a Pulisic corner was cleared off the line by Guardado.

But that was as good as it got for the US side as Mexico slowly began to dominate midfield, with the lively Pizarro a constant threat.

“We will stick together in this moment. I am certainly proud of the group. We continue to make progress and we got to keep going,” Bradley said.

Frustrating Night For Sarri As Southampton Hold Chelsea

 

 

Chelsea wasted a chance to cement their place in the Premier League’s top four as a superb display from Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn gave his struggling side a 0-0 draw on Wednesday.

Maurizio Sarri’s team remain in fourth place, but they are now just three points ahead of fifth placed Arsenal in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

It was a frustrating evening for Chelsea, who dominated possession but lacked any cutting edge, maintaining a worrying sequence for Sarri.

His side failed to score for the third time in their last five Premier League games at Stamford Bridge, raising more questions about Chelsea’s need for a top-class striker in the January transfer window.

With Olivier Giroud sidelined after suffering an ankle injury in Sunday’s win at Crystal Palace, Sarri opted to recall misfiring striker Alvaro Morata.

READ ALSO: Guardiola Hopeful De Bruyne Fit For Crucial Liverpool Clash

Morata has played so badly this season that Sarri had used Belgian winger Eden Hazard in the central forward’s role recently rather than turn to the Spaniard, who had managed only seven goals this term and none in the league since November 4.

But, once again, former Real Madrid star Morata looked completely bereft of touch and confidence.

It was no surprise Morata wasted a golden opportunity to open the scoring when he met Cesar Azpilicueta’s long pass with a tame header straight at 22-year-old Gunn — the son of ex-Norwich stopper Bryan Gunn.

Southampton avoided a third consecutive defeat with a well-drilled performance, but they still dropped into the relegation zone.

Having announced the signing of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic earlier in the day, Chelsea are planning ahead following a season of inconsistent displays from Willian and Pedro on the right flank.

United States international Pulisic will return to Dortmund on loan before completing his move to Chelsea in the close-season.

For the moment, Sarri continues to use Willian, but the Brazilian’s bid to prove his worth was ruined when he was forced off with an injury late in the first half.

– Mounting frustration –
Hazard hinted several times that he preferred to play wide rather than up front during Sarri’s experiment with the Belgian as a ‘false nine’.

Looking more vibrant back in his favoured role, Hazard made a fine run that opened up the Southampton defence, yet his fierce drive was well saved by Gunn, making his Premier League debut after his close-season move from Manchester City.

But Hazard couldn’t do it all on his own and, while successive away wins at Watford and Palace made it a happy Christmas for Chelsea, their first home game of the new year was a lot like their last in 2018.

Despite dominating against Leicester, Sarri’s team were beaten 1-0 as they paid the price for lacking the incisive passing and movement needed to break down the visitors’ obdurate defence.

It was exactly the same story against Southampton.

The Blues monopolised the ball but Morata squandered another opportunity when Yan Valery blocked his shot.

Chelsea’s frustration grew at the start of the second half when Stuart Armstrong’s curling effort forced Kepa Arrizabalaga into action for the first time.

Although they controlled the game, chances were few and far between for Chelsea until Hazard burst down the left for a shot that Gunn beat away at his near post.

Morata’s luck was out when he slotted home from a Cesc Fabregas pass, only to see a tight offside decision deny him a goal.

And the hapless Spaniard endured more misery when his took Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s pass and shot straight at Gunn to groans from the crowd.

Capping a forgettable game for Chelsea, Marcos Alonso had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the closing moments.

-English Premier League results on Wednesday-

Bournemouth 3 (Ake 34, Wilson 37, Fraser 40) Watford 3 (Deeney 14, 27, Sema 38)

Chelsea 0 Southampton 0

Huddersfield 1 (Mounie 33) Burnley 2 (Wood 40, Barnes 74)

Newcastle 0 Manchester United 2 (Lukaku 64, Rashford 80)

West Ham 2 (Arnautovic 66, 68) Brighton 2 (Stephens 56, Duffy 58)

Wolverhampton 0 Crystal Palace 2 (Ayew 83, Milivojevic 90+5-pen)

Played Tuesday

Everton 0 Leicester 1 (Vardy 58)

Arsenal 4 (Xhaka 25, Lacazette 55, Ramsey 79, Aubameyang 83) Fulham 1 (Kamara 69)

Cardiff 0 Tottenham 3 (Kane 3, Eriksen 12, Son 26)

Playing Thursday (2000 GMT)

Manchester City v Liverpool