Chelsea, Leicester losses open up Champions League chase

West Ham United’s Andriy Yarmolenko scores their third goal in West Ham’s 3-2 Premier League victory over Chelsea on Wednesday. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Chelsea, Leicester losses open up Champions League chase

  • Man United and Wolverhampton are only 2 points behind Chelsea with 6 games remaining

LONDON: With Leicester and Chelsea both losing, the race for European spots is heating up in the Premier League.

Leicester once looked certain of returning to the Champions League, but is now winless in four games after a 2-1 loss to Everton on Wednesday. Only Chelsea’s 3-2 loss at West Ham kept Leicester in third place — ahead of Frank Lampard’s side by one point.

Manchester United and Wolverhampton are only two points behind Chelsea with six games remaining of a season that resumed two weeks ago after the three-month pandemic-enforced break.

Even north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham will have renewed — if fainter — hopes of returning to Europe’s
elite competition.

After beating last-place Norwich 4-0, Arsenal moved within six points of United in fifth place, which will secure a Champions League spot if Manchester City’s two-season European ban
is upheld.

 

Leicester slump

Four years after its shock run to the title, Leicester had been enjoying another standout season. Until January at least.

When the Foxes beat Newcastle on New Year’s Day, they were 15 points clear of sixth place. Now they are only three in front of Wolverhampton.

Leicester has only won two of its 11 league games since Jan. 1, with five losses.

The latest came after Richarlison struck 10 minutes in and Gylfi Sigurdsson doubled Everton’s lead six minutes later with a penalty. Kelechi Iheanacho’s second half-goal couldn’t spark a Leicester recovery.

“How we have performed for the best part of this season has got us into a strong position,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said. “Our form hasn’t been the best for a period now but we still have it in our hands to achieve what would be a dream for us, getting into the top four. But we can only get that if the performance is right.”

 

West Ham boost

West Ham turned around a night of frustration against Chelsea to seal a victory that moved the side three points clear of the relegation zone.

Tomas Soucek was denied an opener for offside after a lengthy VAR review. But his goal from another corner did stand in first half stoppage time to cancel out a penalty converted by Willian after Christian Pulisic was tripped.

Michail Antonio put the hosts in front at the start of the second half and Willian looked like recovering a point for Chelsea when he netted for a second time in the
72nd minute.

But Andriy Yarmolenko completed a counterattack to end a run of three successive losses since before the season was suspended.

It ended Chelsea’s three-match winning run in the league.

“We had an opportunity to move third,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. “If there’s moments when you switch off you are going to encourage teams on. It’s been there. I’m very aware of it. The players then have to show that extra mentality, that extra bit.”

 

Aubameyang double

Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was gifted two goals by Norwich to end a four-game run without scoring. The captain also set up Granit Xhaka’s first goal of the campaign and Cedric Soares grabbed Arsenal’s fourth on his injury-delayed debut from the bench.

With 50 Premier League goals in 79 appearances, Aubameyang is the fastest Arsenal player to reach a half-century.

Now manager Mikel Arteta hopes he will sign a new contract beyond next season.

“A player that is able to score as many goals as he’s done in that short space of time tells you everything about the importance he has for us,” Arteta said.

Bournemouth missed a chance to climb out of the relegation zone after a 4-1 loss to Newcastle extended the winless run to seven games.

A club-record 19th loss in a top-division season was inflicted by goals from Dwight Gayle and Sean Longstaff in the first half and substitutes Miguel Almiron and Valentino Lazaro after the break.

Bournemouth remains a point from safety in next-to-last place.

 


Team UAE rider Pogacar claims maiden Tour de France title

Updated 16 min ago

Team UAE rider Pogacar claims maiden Tour de France title

  • Tadej Pogacar youngest man to win the race since Henri Cornet in 1904
  • Pogacar also won three stages in one of the most brilliant individual performances in recent Tour history

PARIS: Tadej Pogacar became the first Slovenian to win the Tour de France after he retained the yellow jersey in the 21st stage on Sunday, a day after he pulled off a major coup to take the overall lead.
While Sam Bennett won the final stage, the day belonged to Team UAE Emirates rider Pogacar, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Monday and is the youngest man to win the race since Henri Cornet in 1904.
Pogacar, who claimed the yellow jersey from a stunned Primoz Roglic with a monumental performance in Saturday’s time trial, also won the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider and the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification.
Roglic ended up second, 59 seconds behind, with Australian Richie Porte taking third place, 3:30 off the pace.
“This is an incredible feeling, standing here in Paris on the top of the podium. It was an amazing three weeks, an incredible journey,” said Pogacar after the first one-two for one country since Bradley Wiggins finished ahead of fellow Briton Chris Froome in 2012.
“I want to thank all those who made it happen. It was three memorable weeks on the French roads, with incredible crowds. I won’t find the words to express my feelings.”
Pogacar also won three stages in one of the most brilliant individual performances in recent Tour history, leaving Roglic’s dominant Jumbo-Visma team wondering what went wrong.
“We didn’t see it coming,” said Roglic’s team mate and former Tour runner-up Tom Dumoulin.
Bennett became the first Irishman since Sean Kelly in 1989 to win the green jersey for the points classification, ahead of Peter Sagan who was looking to claim it for a record-extending eighth time.
Bennett was the strongest at the end of the 122-km ride from Mantes-la Jolie on Sunday, beating world champion Mads Pedersen, with Sagan coming home third.
Swiss Marc Hirschi, the former Under-23 world champion was voted the most aggressive on the race after notably taking a brilliant win in the longest stage of the 107th edition.
Ineos-Grenadiers had a Tour to forget as defending champion Egan Bernal dropped out of contention in the Jura stage to the Grand Colombier, pulling out a few days later with back pains.
They recovered some pride later on, however, as Michal Kwiatkowski, their unsung hero for five years, claimed an emotional stage win — although that was certainly not enough for a team who had won seven of the previous eight editions.
It was an anti-climatic finale on the Champs-Elysees as only 5,000 fans were allowed on the famous avenue as a precaution against the coronavirus.
France reported 13,498 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the previous 24 hours on Saturday, setting another record in daily additional infections since the start of the epidemic.
Reaching the Champs-Elysees was, however, a relief for organizers, who had imposed strict sanitary rules to protect the race ‘bubble’.
The bubble did not burst as only four team staff members tested positive and were removed from the race, preventing a spread that could have stopped the Tour.
No rider tested positive.