Romelu Lukaku inspires Manchester United fightback to beat Chelsea

Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku applauds the fans after the match. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Romelu Lukaku inspires Manchester United fightback to beat Chelsea

MANCHESTER: Romelu Lukaku broke his barren run against top six Premier League opposition and provided the winner for Jesse Lingard as Manchester United came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Victory against his former club was particularly sweet for Jose Mourinho as he got one over on Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, but more importantly moves United back above Liverpool into second place in the Premier League.
Defeat allied to Tottenham Hotspur’s late win earlier in the day at Crystal Palace sees Chelsea slip to fifth.
The visitors enjoyed the better of the first period but failed to build on Willian’s 32nd minute opener.
Lukaku levelled seven minutes later from close range and then crossed for substitute Lingard to head home as a ruthless United took full advantage of their limited chances.
The spectre of another fiery clash between Mourinho and Conte, who have publicly bickered in recent months, hogged the headlines before kick-off, but there was a peace offering when the pair shook hands before the action got underway.
Mourinho recalled Paul Pogba to his starting XI after dropping the £89 million ($124 million) midfielder for Wednesday’s stalemate at Sevilla in the Champions League.
But it was one of Conte’s two changes from his side’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona in midweek who nearly made an immediate impact.
Alvaro Morata started for the first time in six weeks, but saw his side-footed volley from Marcos Alonso’s driven cross come back off the bar just four minutes in.
Chelsea dominated possession in the opening quarter, but much like they did to Barcelona on Tuesday with limited time on the ball, United restricted them to few other clear-cut chances.
United had offered little going forward themselves until Anthony Martial’s low cross picked out Alexis Sanchez inside the area.
However, the Chilean is still waiting for his first big moment since joining United last month as he poked the ball tamely into the arms of Thibaut Courtois.
Moments later, the hosts were caught by a blistering Chelsea counter-attack to open the scoring.
Willian picked up the ball just outside his own area and drove through the United midfield before exchanging passes with Eden Hazard.
The Brazilian then unleashed a shot too powerful even for David de Gea to register his fourth goal in three games.
The lead lasted just seven minutes, though, as for the first time in a United shirt, Lukaku netted against one of their top six rivals — at the seventh time of asking.
Sanchez fed Martial and his clever reverse pass was slotted home by Lukaku to muted celebrations against his former club.
Lukaku nearly had a spectacular second 22 minutes from time when he caught a Sanchez cross flush with an acrobatic volley, only to be denied by a finger tip save from Courtois.
However, the Belgian did make a decisive contribution when he dropped deep and his in-swinging cross was met by a perfectly timed run by Lingard.
Conte had surprisingly removed Hazard just before conceding and that decision looked all the more puzzling as Chelsea searched in vain for an equalizer.
Willian saw another effort smothered by De Gea at the second attempt at his near post as United held out for just a second win over Chelsea in 15 meetings.


Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

Updated 22 June 2018
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Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

  • Saudi Arabia's 1996 Asian Cup-winning coach Nelo Vingada backs Pizzi to lead side into next year's Asian Cup.
  • Green Falcons face Egypt on Monday with both looking to land their first point in Russia.

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s 1996 Asian Cup-winning boss Nelo Vingada has called on the country’s football authorities to keep faith with head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi despite a disappointing showing in Russia.
The Green Falcons still have to face Egypt in the final match of Group A, but have already been eliminated following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia in the opening game on June 14 in Moscow and a 1-0 loss to Uruguay five days later in Rostov.
 “I was expecting a little more from Saudi Arabia to be honest,” Vingada told Arab News.
“In the first game they were disappointing but a first game of the World Cup is always hard and especially when it is the first game and everyone is watching. Plenty of teams at the World Cup did not play well in the first game.
“But playing Russia in Russia and to lose is what you would normally expect from Saudi Arabia and while it was far from positive, people should not get carried away.
“The game with Uruguay was much improved in terms of organization and defense and it showed more of the character of the Saudi Arabia team.”
In the past, coaches have been axed following disappointing World Cup campaigns but with the 2019 Asian Cup just seven months away, the Portuguese tactician would prefer to see some stability rather than yet another new man in the dugout.
 “The Asian Cup is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be one of the contenders,” Vingada said. “It is better to stay with the same coach. He has a vision of how he wants the team to play and he now knows the players and the players know him.”
Constant changing has not helped Saudi Arabia in the past and Pizzi himself has been in the job just seven months.
“The problem is not the coach. He should not be changed, that has happened before but results did not improve, but the mentality has to change.”
Despite that Vingada, who has coached 
Egyptian club giants Zamalek and the country’s Under-23 team, believes that the Pharaohs, also eliminated, will prevail when the two regional rivals meet on Monday in Volgograd.
 “This is an important game for pride, the players and the countries. It is still the World Cup. Egypt have a little more quality I think and have Mohamed Salah too.” 
The Liverpool striker has been recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in late May and missed the opening game 1-0 loss to Uruguay. He played in the second game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Russia, scoring from the spot late in the match to earn a consolation.
“Any coach would take Salah because he can win you games but overall Egypt have been a little disappointing and a little unlucky.”
The bad luck came when conceding a last-minute goal to Uruguay and a fluke own goal to get Russia off the mark. “Uruguay are a tough team and it is no shame to lose 3-1 to a Russia team at home who are playing to qualify for the next round. It showed that European and South American teams still have a little more quality.”
 “Egypt just made some mistakes at the wrong time but this is football and without mistakes there are no goals.”
Ahead of the clash against Egypt Pizzi confirmed his intention to stay as Saudi Arabia boss, looking to build on the seven months he has had to imprint his ideas on the team ahead of the Asian Cup.