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CHELSEA CLAIMED A WIN AGAINST SWANSEA TO STAY AT TOP


Cesc Fabregas marked his 300th Premier League appearance by firing the Blues ahead, poking the ball through the legs of Jack Cork and into the net. The hosts were stunned when Swansea equalised from their first serious attempt on target on the stroke of half-time - Fernando Llorente heading in Gylfi Sigurdsson's free-kick. Fabregas hit the bar before Pedro's curling effort restored the lead and Diego Costa netted the third from close range. Swansea were denied a penalty when Cesar Azpilicueta handled inside the area at 1-1. This was far from straightforward for Antonio Conte's side and had referee Neil Swarbrick awarded Swansea a penalty shortly before Pedro made it 2-1 then the outcome might have been different. However, in the end Chelsea's sweeping forward play earned them a 10th straight home Premier League win as they took another significant step towards a second title in three seasons.

On a weekend when the first major silverware of the season - the EFL Cup - is handed out at Wembley, the Blues look unstoppable. They have 63 points from 26 games - three more than at the same stage in 2014-15 when last crowned champions of England. Fabregas could have ended the game with four goals on his return to the side. The Spain midfielder had a goal-bound shot deflected behind shortly before he opened the scoring, was denied by former Arsenal team-mate Lukasz Fabianski and also rattled the bar. With former Blues midfielder Frank Lampard watching on, Chelsea turned on the style. While it required an error from Fabianski to restore the lead, Eden Hazard's exquisite timing and pass for Costa to make it 3-1 was a delight. Chelsea were forced to work hard for three points thanks to a well organised and energetic Swansea side and the Swans looked a shadow of the team that was bottom of the Premier League table five weeks ago. Their four-point safety cushion at the start of the day is down to three, but boss Paul Clement will have been pleased with the way his side frustrated the runaway leaders for long spells. Llorente's equaliser shook Chelsea who were showing signs of frustration before Pedro made it 2-1. Swansea's next four games - Burnley (home), Hull City (away), Bournemouth (away) and Middlesbrough (home) - give them a chance to stay clear of the bottom three before they entertain Tottenham on 4 April.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said: "We played very well, it was a good performance, and we created many chances to score. We conceded at the end of the first half, after the time was finished, so in this case there was a bit of luck, but we showed great character in the second half. "We deserved a lot to win the game, now it's important to continue in this way."

Swansea City boss Paul Clement said: "Any game we play and don't win we are disappointed. Chelsea are a very good side, they have fantastic quality and that was the difference. We didn't have a lot of chances but we came in at 1-1 for half-time and for long periods we defended really well. "There was a big moment with the handball, I thought Cesar Azpilicueta handled it at 1-1, it's a clear handball. That gives you a chance to go 2-1 up but three minutes later you're 2-1 down with a soft goal. Based on chances they deserved to win, but there was big moment that didn't go our way, and who knows what might have happened."

25 February, 2017  tobi   Sport News |

Shaw's Manchester United career has been disappointing, says Scholes


Paul Scholes has told Goal his is disappointed by Luke Shaw’s lack of progression at Manchester United, claiming that if he was “fit and firing he would definitely be first choice”.
The left-back has played just once in three months for United, with his exclusion from the midweek trip to Saint-Etienne in the Europa League the latest in a series of snubs by manager Jose Mourinho.
And Mourinho’s insistence this week that it is up to Shaw to work his way back into the reckoning means it his highly unlikely the former Southampton star will line up against his old club in Sunday’s EFL Cup final at Wembley.
“He did not make the trip because I’m playing with Daley Blind, with Marcos Rojo, with Darmian, and all of them are playing a way I like a full-back to play,” Mourinho said in Saint-Etienne on Tuesday. “Luke has to wait for his chance, working better and better, knowing that I give nothing away for free.”
And Scholes admits that he has also been left unimpressed by the 21-year-old’s form since signing for United in 2014.
“Luke Shaw’s a disappointing one actually. From Southampton and playing for England, you’ve got a potential to be one of the best left-backs in the world, but for some reason, whether Mourinho’s handling him the way he did with Henrikh Mkhitaryan or whether he’s not playing him to try to give him a bit of hunger, a bit of desire to come into the team and prove how good he is, I don’t know.”
Asked if the full-back’s 2015 leg break, which kept him out for 10 months, had left mental scarring, Scholes added: “He’s had a few injuries, hasn’t he?
“It’s difficult to tell since we don’t know what's going on at the training ground but he’s been fit for a few weeks now and whether his focus is totally on football or on something else I don’t know, but for one reason or another the manager’s not playing him.
“If he was fit and flying and playing the way he should be, and training the way he should be, he would definitely be the first-choice left back.”
Mourinho’s treatment of Shaw comes after the Portuguese handled Armenian forward Mkhitaryan similarly earlier this season, while Anthony Martial has also been left out at times amid questions from the manager over his form.
And Scholes says it is the manager’s prerogative to do that based on what he sees at close quarters.
“It’s his right to do that, isn’t it? He sees them every day in training, he knows if they’re doing well enough day-in, day-out to be in his team on a Saturday.
“It was a puzzle about Mkhitaryan, we just didn’t know what was happening with the player we’d seen for so long but there was obviously something that wasn’t quite right in his performance when he did play, or in his training performances. But now he looks like a totally different player.
“Martial I think he’s done similar things with. I think he’s left him out for long spells, he brought him in against Watford and he did really well. He’s a young player as well, people forget how young he is. He’s going to make mistakes a lot but I think it’s clear to see the potential he has. He could be one of the real top players in the world.”

Simeone seeks first LaLiga win over Barca in his 300th game


The toughness and guile that made Diego Simeone a great player has been there for all to see in his time as manager of Atletico Madrid, and the Argentinian marks his 300th game at the club with a major challenge on Sunday against Barcelona.
Simeone's team has yet to beat Barca in domestic competition, but they broke the 10-year duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga in the 2013-14 campaign - the club's first league crown for 18 years.
Atletico had won only two trophies in the 15 years before Simeone's arrival and since he became manager in 2011 the outfit has won five.
He has also steered the club to titles in the Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, King's Cup and Spanish Super Cup, and has presided over two home victories over Barcelona in the last three seasons to reach the Champions League semifinals.
But Barca has lost all 16 domestic matches.
The club did however win La Liga with a 1-1 draw against Barca, arguably Simeone's greatest accomplishment, and they have won 187, drawn 61 and lost 51 of 299 games with him in charge.
Barcelona, yet to get over losing 4-0 at Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League last week, were not convincing in the game that followed, a 2-1 home victory over Leganes following a 90th minute Lionel Messi penalty.
Atletico have, meanwhile, hit their stride, winning 4-1 at Sporting Gijon and then going on a scoring rampage at Bayer Leverkusen to win 4-2 this week.
Atletico fans - now with 100,000 members for the first time in their 113-year history - will be rooting for Simeone at the Vincente Calderon stadium because this is likely to be his last chance to do so at the venue with the club moving next season.
"The family doesn't stop growing, congratulations," Simeone said on Twitter, referring to the membership milestone.


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