(Watch Highlights on Video) Hakim Ziyech saves Chelsea’s blushes with late winner against Crystal Palace

February 19th, 2022 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Hakim Ziyech’s late goal earned Chelsea a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Early chances went begging for both teams, as Christian Pulisic couldn’t control his volley on the stretch from Hakim Ziyech’s teasing cross and N’Golo Kante fired straight at the keeper after being found brilliantly by Malang Sarr, while Wilfried Zaha was the culprit on two occasions for the home team.

The visitors soon settled and began creating chances of their own. Hakim Ziyech’s cross evaded Romelu Lukaku but fell for Christian Pulisic, who was unbalanced as he volleyed over with the goal gaping.

Vicente Guaita was forced into action shortly after, producing two excellent saves to keep the scores level. The first was superb, scrambling across to tip Antonio Rüdiger’s thumping drive past the post – it would have been a stunning goal from almost 40 yards.

The second was from close range, as N’Golo Kanté was suddenly found through on goal, but Guaita got down well to push it away.

But Palace were more than a match for the European champions, and will have felt hard done by not to go in at half-time 1-0 up – particularly after Zaha raced through on goal in added time, only for his shot from the angle to curl just past the post with Edouard Mendy beaten.

Far from being cowed by their frustration, the Eagles came out after the break by far the better side. McArthur in particular was a constant thorn in the sides of the visitors’ midfield, roared on by an increasingly febrile home crowd as a series of decisions went Chelsea’s way.

Olise was pulling the strings from the No 10 position, trying to set-up first Zaha and then Ayew. Schlupp fired over the top from just outside the area, after his headed effort was scrambled away.

Such was Palace’s dominance that Thomas Tuchel made a triple change, including replacing both central midfielders with 15 minutes to go.

It almost paid immediate dividends, with Lukaku slipped in behind; his shot was parried by Butland, but Ziyech tapped in the rebound. However, after a long VAR wait the goal was ruled out for offside, and the stands were bouncing once again.

It set up a grandstand conclusion to the game, as Palace pushed forwards in search of a winner.

However the goal would come at the other end, a late suckerpunch that saw Chelsea snatch all three points when it looked like they were clinging on. Marcos Alonso’s deep cross evaded Tyrick Mitchell and found Ziyech, who was perfectly placed to volley home.

The frustration was palpable from the home side, but you could feel the tension evaporate from an away end that had been stunned into long periods of silence before then.

Palace pushed in vain for the equaliser but it was not forthcoming, and in the end it was Chelsea to take a victory back to Stamford Bridge.

Crystal Palace: Guaita (Butland, HT), Clyne, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell, Kouyaté, McArthur, Ayew (Eze, 85), Olise, Schlupp, Zaha.

Subs not used: Kelly, Adaramola, Milivojevic, Hughes, Mateta, Edouard, Benteke.

Chelsea: Mendy, Rüdiger, Christiensen, Jorginho (Loftus-Cheek, 74), Silva, Kanté (Kovacic, 74), Lukaku, Pulisic, Ziyech, Havertz, Sarr (Alonso, 74).

Subs not used: Kepa, Werner, Chalobah, Niguez, Kenedy, Vale.

Photo Credit: ChelseaFC/Twitter

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(Watch Highlights on Video) Harry Kane’s brace ensures Manchester City’s home defeat at the death

February 19th, 2022 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Harry Kane scored twice, including a header deep into second-half stoppage time, as Tottenham Hotspur overcame Manchester 3-2 in a dramatic encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

Dejan Kulusevski broke the deadlock just four minutes into his first Spurs start, finishing through Joao Cancelo’s legs.

Having hit the post 10 minutes earlier Ilkay Gundogan levelled shortly after the half-hour, capitalising on the loose ball after Hugo Lloris had spilled it.

City controlled possession at the start of the second half but Spurs took the lead for a second time through Kane, who converted Son Heung-min’s cross on the half-volley just before the hour.

Riyad Mahrez’s stoppage-time penalty had looked like stealing City a point but Kane, who also had a goal ruled out by VAR, had other ideas, heading home an even later winner in the fifth minute of time added on.

While Antonio Conte had been fighting fires after appearing to question Spurs’ transfer policy in an Italian TV interview, City boss Pep Guardiola was complimentary about them in the build-up.

It is easy to see why as he has been stung by Spurs enough in recent seasons, as the north London team have had the knack of being able to exploit them with Son Heung-min running in behind.

And they needed just four minutes to execute that plan again as they took the lead.

Kane dropped deep and set Son racing through with a delightful pass and the South Korean unselfishly played in Kulusevski who converted into an empty net.

It was a classic Spurs goal against City, but the home response was typically strong.

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Joao Cancelo drifted an effort just wide after cutting inside and then Gundogan rattled the post with an effort from just inside the area.

On an evening when Spurs needed their goalkeeper to be at his very best if they were to stand a chance, Hugo Lloris produced a costly error that allowed City to equalise just after the half-hour.

The Frenchman, who cost Spurs two goals in last week’s 2-0 defeat to Wolves, spilled Raheem Sterling’s cross and Gundogan was on hand to convert into an empty net.

Spurs survived to half-time and were also able to snuff out City after the restart with some strong defending.

They continued to look dangerous on the break and Son tested Ederson from distance after being played in by Kane.

There was nothing Ederson could do about Kane’s brilliant goal that saw Spurs regain their lead just before the hour.

After Ryan Sessegnon picked up a loose ball, he fed Son and the South Korean took his time to pick out his mate Kane, who was arriving late in the box to produce a sublime finish into the top corner.

The 28-year-old was the man of the moment and should have made it 3-1 moments later after being played in again by Son, but Ederson produced a fine save with his feet.

Lloris went some way to redeeming himself soon after with a spectacular save, tipping Gundogan’s goalbound shot around the post.

Kane did have the ball in the net in the 73rd minute with another clinical finish, sparking mad scenes of celebration, but they were ruined by VAR as Kulusevski was offside in the build-up.

City had not really threatened a leveller but were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute when Cristian Romero handled at close range, with referee Anthony Taylor changing his decision after seeing the replay on the pitchside monitor.

But Kane was not done and there was one more twist in stoppage time.

Kulusevski got the ball out on the right, cut inside and delivered a perfect cross for Kane to power a header home.

Photo Credit: SpursOfficial/Twitter

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