Benitez targets League Cup glory after Leeds rout

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Updated 21 December 2012
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Benitez targets League Cup glory after Leeds rout

LEEDS, United Kingdom: Rafael Benitez has targeted his first piece of silverware with Chelsea after they routed Leeds 5-1 to book a League Cup semifinal clash with Swansea.
Chelsea interim manager Benitez is desperate to lift the League Cup as he tries to stake a claim to take the job on a permanent basis, but the Spaniard also warned his side they face a tough task to make the Wembley final.
The Blues shook off the effects of jet lag to seal their place in the last four with a stunning five-goal second-half blitz to blow away their Championship hosts in the quarterfinals at Elland Road on Wednesday night.
Benitez’s men will host fellow Premier League side Swansea in the semifinal first-leg in early January, and the former Liverpool boss insists they will have to be at their best to progress.
“Any semifinal of a major competition is going to be difficult,” he said.
“We know we’re up against a team who try to play football, who try to play football on the floor and keep the ball.
“They’re doing well right now so it will be an interesting tie. The motivation is there for both teams to go through.” Benitez is fighting to win over Chelsea supporters who continue to voice their opposition to the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo — and the choice of the former Liverpool manager to replace the departed Italian.
In the circumstances any trophy, even the often ridiculed League Cup, would be a significant boost to Benitez.
“To win trophies is important for any manager, we’re a game closer to the final at Wembley, so we’ll concentrate on that game when it comes,” Benitez said.
“We take every competition we’re in seriously and we’re a step nearer to the final.
Chelsea took the first half to overcome the effects of their grueling 13-hour return flight from the Club World Cup in Japan, falling behind to Luciano Becchio’s 15th goal of the season.
But they stormed back with goals from Juan Mata, Branislav Ivanovic, Victor Moses, Eden Harzard and Fernando Torres’ 13th goal of the campaign to win with something to spare.
The stirring comeback was sparked by a half-time pep-talk between the players, and skipper Frank Lampard said: “We had a word with ourselves at half-time and upped it because in the first half we weren’t at our best.
Lampard refused to use jet-lag as an excuse for Chelsea’s sluggish start as they returned to action just 48 hours after landing back in the country.



“We didn’t make the greatest preparation but there’s no excuse, we had to up it,” he added.
“The early goal after the re-start gave us the impetus, we believed from then on and we didn’t think we could lose the game.
“Some of the football we played, we opened them up and showed what we could do.” Meanwhile Neil Warnock paid tribute to his Leeds players, insisting the final score was harsh on them.
More than 36,000 fans braved a rain swept night to roar on their team and the Leeds manager said: “The score line doesn’t reflect the game, but I’ve no complaints and we can take plenty of positives. It was a great occasion.”


Celtics beat Cavs in Game 5, lead NBA Eastern Conference finals 3-2

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum attempts a layup in front of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James during the third quarter of game five of the Eastern conference finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Celtics beat Cavs in Game 5, lead NBA Eastern Conference finals 3-2

  • Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and the Celtics held LeBron James to two fourth-quarter points.
  • Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary.

BOSTON: LeBron James is tired. The young Boston Celtics seem to be getting stronger.
Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and Boston beat Cleveland 96-83 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
The Celtics held James to two fourth-quarter points, earning their 10th straight victory in Boston to remain perfect at home this postseason and move within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010.
“I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games. That’s when I have the most fun,” said Tatum, who needs one more 20-point game to tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie record of 10 in a postseason.
“I can’t say it enough: We’re one win away from being in the finals,” Tatum said. “The playoffs bring the best out of people.”
Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary. The home team has won every game so far in the series, and none has been closer than nine points.
“We’re looking forward to having an opportunity to force a Game 7,” said James, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds but also had six turnovers. “It’s up to us to see if we can come back here for one more.”
Al Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown had 17 points for Boston. Tatum added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals one day after finishing a single vote shy of a unanimous selection to the NBA’s All-Rookie team.
“The sky’s the limit” for Tatum , Brown said. “He’s going to continue to get better. He’s my workout partner. I expect it in myself and I expect it in him.”
Kevin Love scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who are trying to reach the finals for the fourth consecutive season. James has played to the end in seven straight seasons.
To extend that streak, he’ll need to win two in a row.
One of them will be in Boston.
“Our focus — LeBron’s focus — is to win,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”
The Celtics opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter and nursed it the rest of the way, holding on through a four-minute scoring drought that saw Cleveland score nine straight points to cut the deficit to 83-71. But Terry Rozier hit Horford with an alley-oop to snap the skid, and that was as close as the Cavs would get.
Reserves Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart each scored 13.

FADING STAR
James had one basket on four shots in the fourth quarter, and afterward conceded that he was worn down. He finished 1 for 6 from 3-point range in the game; the Cavaliers made just 9 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc and shot just 42 percent overall.
“I had my moments, but I think everybody at this point is tired, worn down whatever the case may be,” he said. “I was still trying to make plays, put our team in position to win.”

GOONING IT UP
Boston went on a 15-3 run in the first quarter to turn a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead. The Celtics scored nine in a row at the end of the first quarter and into the second to take a 36-19 lead, their biggest of the game.
That’s when the Cavaliers fought back .
After a hard defensive play by Morris sent Larry Nance Jr. into the first row of seats, Morris appeared to wander over and say something. Nance to jump up and body checked him; Morris responded with a one-handed shove to the face.
Aron Baynes and Brown came in to break it up, and Terry Rozier put a body on Nance. After a review, the referees called technicals on Rozier, Nance and Morris. Kyle Korver made the foul shot to make it 36-20 and Cleveland went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to eight points, 36-28.
But Morris made a long 3-pointer to stop the scoring drought, and soon hit another to cap an 8-2 run that made it a double-digit lead.
Smart said the Celtics wanted to more aggressive at home.
“At their place, they were the aggressor,” he said. “That showed and they came up with the victory. We just wanted to be that team tonight.”

TIP-INS
Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time. ... James had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists at the half. Tatum had 13 points, and Horford had 10 points and seven boards at the break. ... Baynes made his first start of the series, subbing for Morris. ... It took until midway through the third quarter for a Cavs starter other than James or Love to make a basket. J.R. Smith sank a floater to make it 63-50, and George Hill followed with a jumper of his own. ... The Celtics were 10-0 in the playoffs at home in 1986. ... Horford had his 7th double-double of the postseason, matching a career high he set in 2015.