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Soccer PIX: Chelsea edge Palace; Leicester hold Arsenal

July 08, 2020 09:28 IST
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IMAGES from soccer matches played in the EPL, La Liga and Serie A on Tuesday.

Chelsea's Christian Pulisic celebrates after scoring the second goal against Crystal Palace during their English Premier League match at Selhurst Park in London on Tuesday.

IMAGE: Chelsea's Christian Pulisic celebrates after scoring the second goal against Crystal Palace during their English Premier League match at Selhurst Park in London. Photograph: Justin Tallis/Pool via Getty Images

Chelsea kept up their push for a top-four finish in the Premier League and Champions League football next season with a 3-2 victory at London rivals Crystal Palace on Tuesday thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham.

The visitors took a two-goal lead inside half an hour through Giroud and Pulisic but Palace responded with a Wilfried Zaha goal before the break. Abraham made it 3-1 after 71 minutes only for Christian Benteke to strike back a minute later.

Palace then piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and in added time defender Scott Dann hit the post while only a last-ditch tackle by Kurt Zouma denied Benteke.

The win took Chelsea up to third, leapfrogging Leicester City who held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday, to stand five points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United, who visit Aston Villa on Thursday. Palace stay 15 points clear of the relegation zone.

 

Frank Lampard's Chelsea side went ahead in the seventh minute when former Blues defender Gary Cahill pulled up with an injury, giving Willian all the time he needed to cut the ball back for an easy finish by French striker Giroud.

The visitors doubled their lead 20 minutes later as Willian fed Pulisic on the edge of the box and the American shrugged off his marker Joel Ward to fire a fierce angled shot past goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Chelsea looked in complete control and only a fine save by Guaita prevented Willian from adding a third goal after Pulisic burst through the Palace lines.

But the visitors, who threw away a lead to lose at West Ham United last week, allowed Palace back into the game in the 34th minute when defender Reece James misplaced a pass and Zaha fired a powerful shot past surprised keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Abraham seemed to have wrapped up the win for Chelsea late on when he fired a low shot in off the post after being set up by fellow substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

But Palace hit back within a minute when Patrick Van Aanholt got to the byline and squared for Benteke to tap the ball in. The hosts then almost snatched a draw when Dann hit the woodwork but Chelsea held on to secure three vital points.

Vardy's late strike earns Leicester point at Arsenal

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy scores the equaliser against Arsenal during their English Premier League match at Emirates Stadium in London

IMAGE: Leicester City's Jamie Vardy scores the equaliser against Arsenal during their English Premier League match at Emirates Stadium in London. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy pounced to score a crucial late equaliser as they hit back against Arsenal to draw 1-1 in the Premier League on Tuesday after the London side's substitute Eddie Nketiah was sent off late on.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 20th league goal of the season looked like handing the hosts a fourth successive win to maintain their late push for a top-four finish.

Visiting keeper Kasper Schmeichel made several fine saves to keep Leicester in the game after Aubameyang's 21st-minute goal, but the visitors came back strongly in the second half.

Arsenal had Nketiah sent off in the 75th minute for a reckless tackle on James Justin -- a decision made after referee Chris Kavanagh viewed a pitch-side monitor.

Leicester then levelled in the 84th minute as Premier League top scorer Vardy found space at the far post to tap home Demarai Gray's low cross for his 22nd goal of the season.

Vardy had an anxious wait as the decision was checked by VAR for a possible offside but the goal stood and the Foxes looked favourites to grab a late winner and claim their first league win at Arsenal since 1973.

They had to make do with a point, however, although that will be a relief for manager Brendan Rodgers whose side had earlier been leapfrogged in the table by Chelsea. Leicester, who have won only twice in 10 league games, are four points above fifth-placed Manchester United who have a game in hand.

Arsenal would have closed the gap on Leicester to six points had they managed to hold on but remained nine back in seventh spot with four games remaining.

"We should have been three or four nil up in the first half," Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said.

"We lost two points, we lost Eddie and we will see now for how many games. But we go to Spurs (on Sunday) now and try to win three points."

Leicester began the game in sprightly fashion but were rocked when Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka played a sliderule pass across the greasy surface for Aubameyang to slot home.

The hosts were rampant for a while and Schmeichel made crucial saves to deny Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin and Saka as Leicester wobbled.

Arsenal were less of a threat after the break, however, and Vardy scuffed one effort when he should have scored.

Nketiah's red card paved the way for more late pressure and Arsenal finally cracked as Vardy struck.

"I think this is a really, really important point for us to keep the momentum going," Rodgers said. "My only disappointment is that we didn't go on and win the game."

Celta and Atletico share spoils in insipid draw

Celta Vigo's Joseph Aidoo and Atletico Madrid's Marcos Llorente vie for possession during their La Liga match at Balaidos in Vigo

IMAGE: Celta Vigo's Joseph Aidoo and Atletico Madrid's Marcos Llorente vie for possession during their La Liga match at Balaidos in Vigo. Photograph: Miguel Vidal/Reuters

Atletico Madrid dropped points for the third time since the season resumed after the coronavirus stoppage as they drew 1-1 away to struggling Celta Vigo in an uninspiring match in La Liga on Tuesday.

Striker Alvaro Morata got the visitors off to the perfect start by tapping an Angel Correa cross into an empty net in the opening minute but Celta's Fran Beltran levelled early in the second half on the volley.

Atleti are third in the standings on 63 points after 35 games and the draw edged them closer to securing a top-four finish as they moved nine above fifth-placed Villarreal, who are in action away to Getafe on Wednesday.

Celta meanwhile nudged a step closer towards guaranteeing survival in the top flight as they moved on to 36 points in 15th, seven above the relegation zone.

"It was a very evenly matched game," said goalscorer Morata.

"This is a very difficult ground to go to, Celta play very good football and don't deserve to be where they are in the table. They have a great squad and will get back towards the top in the future."

Once Beltran had equalised, neither side showed enough ambition to go and find a winner and the final whistle signalled a 15th draw of the season for each side, a record only matched in La Liga this season by Real Valladolid.

Atleti were without record signing Joao Felix through injury and in-form winger Yannick Carrasco due to illness while striker Diego Costa was suspended.

Despite making the ideal start, Atletico appeared to lack hunger in attack and began to resemble the timid, conservative style they showed for much of the campaign before the coronavirus disruption.

Their best moment in a flat second half came with a shot from outside the box from Thomas Lemar which was tipped away by Celta's substitute goalkeeper Ivan Villar, who came on late in the game to replace the injured Ruben Blanco.

Juve let slip advantage, lose to Milan 4-2

Juventus FC's Cristiano Ronaldo is dejected as AC Milan score during their during the Serie A match at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan

IMAGE: Juventus FC's Cristiano Ronaldo is dejected as AC Milan score during their during the Serie A match at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan. Photograph: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri says there is no point dwelling on their "total blackout" against AC Milan on Tuesday that saw them go from dominating the game for an hour to conceding three second-half goals in a 4-2 Serie A defeat.

Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo had given Juventus the lead but Milan struck three times in five second-half minutes to stun the league leaders, who dropped their first points since the season restarted last month after the COVID-19 stoppage.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a penalty in the 62nd minute and Franck Kessie equalised four minutes later before Rafael Leao put them ahead one minute after that. Ante Rebic completed the scoring.

"I think our first 60 minutes were world class. We were in total control and had this blackout," Sarri told sports streaming service DAZN.

"There's not even much use thinking too much about it, because we have another game in three days.

"It's usually not even possible to find the reasons for these inexplicable blackouts."

Juventus, who have 75 points and are seven clear at the top with seven matches to play, host Atalanta on Saturday.

"Sitting here trying to over-analyse it or put ourselves on trial could be counter-productive and make us lose all the good work we've done so far," Sarri added.

"It's completely different to the defeats against Verona and Napoli, so we have to focus on the next match. This is a team that has excellent football in its capabilities and that is what we need to build on."

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