Archive for the ‘Ligue 1’ Category

Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-4 Chelsea: Blues one point from knockout round [VIDEO]

Photo credit: AFP.
Photo credit: AFP.

Chelsea cruised to an easy 4-0 Champions League victory over 10-man Maccabi Tel Aviv in Haifa on Tuesday to close in on the last 16. The victory, coupled with Dynamo Kiev’s 2-0 win at Porto, means Chelsea need only a draw at home to the Portuguese in two weeks to guarantee their passage to the knockout stage.

Gary Cahill gave the English Premier League champions a first-half lead before former Blues center half Tal Ben Haim was sent off just before the break. Chelsea turned the screw in the last 17 minutes as Brazilians Willian and Oscar, and French center back Kurt Zouma all found the net.

“Very important, especially with what happened in Porto, we really needed to win this match, and also important to get two victories in a few days,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told BT Sport.

SEE MORE: Arsenal keeps knockout round hopes alive.

The London club have been struggling for form all season but this victory follows a 1-0 home win over Norwich City in the Premier League at the weekend and Mourinho added: “I hope morale comes, tranquility comes, confidence comes.”

The Israeli champions got off to a promising start as midfielder Dor Peretz sent a header just wide on three minutes. In the fifth minute, Maccabi defender Eli Dasa had another opportunity to give the hosts, who had lost all their previous group games, a surprising lead, but he was way off target with his shot.

Chelsea controlled possession and had created several dangerous chances before taking a deserved lead in the 20th minute when center back Cahill tapped in a rebound following a wonderful save from goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic. But perhaps the most pivotal moment came in the 40th minute when the referee controversially gave Ben Haim a straight red card for kicking out at Diego Costa. The home crowd jeered and Ben Haim looked shocked but television replays suggested the referee’s decision was fair.

Despite being down to 10 men, Maccabi got off to a determined start in the second half, but they couldn’t threaten Asmir Begovic’s goal.

In the 73rd minute, Brazil international Willian scored a spectacular free kick that left Rajkovic rooted to his line. Willian is now Chelsea’s leading scorer in this Champions League campaign with four goals.

SEE MORE: Bayern rout Olympiakos to claim Group F.

Three minutes later fellow Brazil international Oscar headed in a perfect cross from left back Baba Rahman to give Chelsea a commanding 3-0 lead.

Some Maccabi supporters began heading for the exi,t but there was worse still to come for the hosts, as Zouma headed home deep into injury time.

Chelsea had also defeated Maccabi 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in the opening group match.

The result meant the Israelis can no longer even finish third and qualify for the Europa League.

Chelsea are level on 10 points with Porto while Dynamo Kiev are two points further back. All three could finish level on points at the end if the Ukrainians win at home to Maccabi and the other two sides draw in west London. In that case, Dynamo would win the group and Porto would drop into the Europa League.

Arsene Wenger refines Francis Coquelin timeline, says midfielder out 12 weeks

Photo credit: AFP.
Photo credit: AFP.

Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin has been ruled out for 12 weeks, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger confirmed on Tuesday. Coquelin suffered a knee ligament injury during Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and scans have now revealed the extent of the problem.

Speaking after Arsenal’s vital 3-0 win against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League, Wenger said he doesn’t expect the Frenchman back until the new year:

“Coquelin’s injury is what we feared basically.

“We had the scan. Lets be realistic and say 12 weeks.

“He doesn’t need a surgery. It is a medial knee ligament.”

Coquelin will miss vital Premier League matches against Manchester City on Dec. 21 and at Liverpool on Jan. 13, but Wenger can take heart from the return of Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey as a second half substitute against Dinamo. Ramsey had been out for a month with a hamstring injury.

Bayern Munich 4-0 Olympiakos: German champions clinch first in Group F [VIDEO]

Photo credit: AFP.
Photo credit: AFP.

Germany defender Holger Badstuber marked his return from injury with a red card as10-man Bayern Munich reached the Champions League’s knockout stages with a 4-0 win over Olympiakos on Tuesday.

Badstuber, 26, making his first start in the famous red Bayern shirt for seven months after tearing a thigh muscle, lasted just 53 minutes before being sent off. The German champions were already 3-0 up by that stage thanks to goals from Douglas Costa, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller. Even the numerical disadvantage failed to slow the Bayern goal-machine as France Under-21 winger Kingsley Coman added a fourth after Badstuber’s dismissal.

The victory confirmed Bayern will advance to the last 16 as Group F winners, regardless of their final group match at Dinamo Zagreb in a fortnight, for which Badstuber will be suspended.

Having beaten 3-0 Olympiakos in Greece in their opening European match of the season back in September, Bayern completed the double in emphatic style. The hosts hit top gear in the opening 20 minutes at Munich’s Allianz Arena as Olympiakos’ Spanish goalkeeper Roberto endured a torrid time in conceding three goals.

Just eight minutes had gone when Jerome Boateng’s long-range shot was blocked, but Costa won the foot race and slotted the loose ball into the far corner. Lewandowski doubled the lead on 16 minutes when he converted Coman’s cross before Bayern’s star-studded squad combined for the third. Lahm’s cross was volleyed across goal to Arjen Robben who headed down and Mueller stabbed home on 20 minutes.

The floodgates threatened to open when Lewandowski fired wide on 24 minutes with Roberto beaten, but the Poland star fired wide of the post.

Robben went off with a leg injury on 33 minutes and Bayern’s fortunes took another turn for the worst on 52 minutes when Badstuber was shown a straight red. Nigeria international Brown Ideye was through on goal when he was brought down just outside the area, and Germany center back Badstuber was on his way for an early bath.

Bayern barely broke stride, and Coman scored with a perfect header that floated over the keeper and into the back of the net on 72 minutes. He suffered for his art after a heavy clash with Roberto with both players going for the ball.

SEE MORE: Arsenal keep knockout round hopes alive.

Both teenager Coman and Joshua Kimmich, 20, who was on for Robben, had late chances as Bayern dropped the tempo, but kept up the pressure while Olympiakos offered little. Mueller hit the post in the dying stages as the hosts chased the elusive fifth goal.

The defeat means the second-placed Greeks face possible elimination from the competition against Arsenal at home in a fortnight.