Chelsea boss Antonio Conte calls for more of the same after thrashing

Antonio Conte oversaw an impressive Chelsea performance at Brighton. (AP)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte calls for more of the same after thrashing

LONDON: Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has called on his players to maintain the form they showed during their 4-0 thrashing of Brighton until the end of the season to ensure a top-four finish.
The Blues were brilliant as they eased past the hosts going 2-0 up after just six minutes through an Eden Hazard strike and a wonder goal by Willian. They then doubled their lead in the second-half thanks to another Hazard strike and a Victor Moses goal.
It was an impressive display from the defending Premier League champions who looked close their best at the Amex Stadium and underlined just what they can do when on song.
And Conte was very happy with the performance.
“It was an important performance. We started very well and scored quickly, with good combinations,” the Blues boss said.
“We started with a lot of worries, for injuries and suspensions, but the response of the team was incredible. I am very happy for this. Another clean sheet.
“Today it was a really good performance of the team. We moved the ball quickly, we tried to find the players between the lines, to have good combinations.
“I saw important things. Now we have to continue.”
It has been a tough season both for Conte and Chelsea. Although they lie in third spot in the table performances this season have, at times, been patchy with rumors rife that Conte is looking to leave Stamford Bridge come the summer. But from the opening seconds against Brighton the visitors looked every inch like defending champions. Hazard thumped the ball home from close range to net his 100th career league goal in the third minute.
Hazard was also involved in the second goal only three minutes later as some intricate link play ended with Brazil midfielder Willian producing a venomous right-footed shot that gave Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan no chance.
Brighton’s Ezequiel Schelotto had two penalty appeals turned down and Davy Propper headed against the post for the home team before Chelsea struck again with late goals from Hazard and Moses.
Hazard ran the game and showed exactly why Real Madrid are rumored to be interesting in taking the Belgian to the Bernabeu at the end of the season.
“It’s my job (scoring goals), that’s why I like to play football,” said Hazard.


Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

Updated 23 January 2019
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Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

  • Can the mighty minnows continue impressive run in the UAE?
  • Or will the big guns start to fire in quarterfinals?

LONDON: Asia’s biggest sporting spectacle has reached its quarterfinal stage — and it’s time for teams to find their A-game. While there are few surprises in the last-eight lineup, the form of some of the big-name sides has been less than impressive. Here we deliver our verdict on the second round.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT — Saudi Arabia’s attack

The Green Falcons started the tournament at top speed. They came in as one of the cup favorites and in their opening two matches illustrated why. A 4-0 thrashing of North Korea was backed up with a relatively simple 2-0 victory over Lebanon. Understandably, that raised hopes that Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men could go all the way in the UAE. Alas, it was not to be as a 2-0 defeat to Qatar in their last group clash left them with a tricky tie against Japan. For all their efforts Saudi Arabia were unable to find the back of the net, the lack of firepower upfront costing Pizzi’s team yet again.



BIGGEST SHOCK — South Korean sloppiness

Boosted by the arrival of Tottenham star Son Heung-Min, South Korea were rightly declared the pre-tournament favorites. They had firepower up front, intelligence and creativity in midfield, and experience at the back. In the four matches in the UAE so far, however, they have looked anything but potential champions. They labored to beat Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and China in the group stage before almost being shocked by part-timers Bahrain in the second round. South Korea now face Qatar in the last eight and, as Son said after their extra-time win over Bahrain, they need to significantly improve if they are to avoid a shock exit before the semis.



UNDER PRESSURE — Alberto Zaccheroni and the UAE



The Whites owe their place in the last eight to luck more than skill. In some ways that is not a surprise — the hosts came into the tournament without their talisman, the injured Omar Abdulrahman, and on the back of a patchy run of form. But, still, the performances on home soil have been underwhelming to say the least. That was summed up with their extra-time win over Kyrgyzstan, who were playing in their first Asian Cup. It was a far-from-convincing performance and Central Asians were unlucky not to beat Zaccheroni’s side. The UAE will have to deliver their best performance for some time if they are to progress further. Their opponents, Australia, have also performed poorly, which may offer them some encouragement.



BEST HIGHLIGHT — The mighty minnows

The big guns have not had it all their own way. That may annoy their fans, but it does show that Asian football is improving. Only a few years ago the idea that Kyrgyzstan, Bahrain and Jordan would look the equals of Australia and Co. would have seemed fanciful. But in the past two weeks the standard shown by the so-called lesser lights has been impressive — and great to watch. Last summer five Asian teams appeared at the World Cup for the first time and it was hoped that showing would act as a springboard for further progress across the continent. On the evidence of the action in the UAE that wish could be coming true.

 

PREDICTIONS