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Chelsea FC: Why heroic Real Madrid defeat could signal start of a brave new era

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He produced a Champions League comeback for the ages, a show of courage that will live long in the memory of the supporters who made it here to the Bernabeu and Chelsea fans watching around the world.

Even if their reign as European champions was ended by Real Madrid, this was a night that pointed to the promise of an even brighter future under their manager.

This was Chelsea at full throttle, with the shackles off — and it was thrilling. Maybe it will convince Tuchel to try it a bit more often.

For all of his remarkable success in little over a year at Stamford Bridge, it has been a case of control over the type of white-knuckle rides served up by his countryman Jurgen Klopp, or the purity of Pep Guardiola’s attacks.

They are the benchmark for Tuchel — and the distance between Manchester City and Liverpool to Chelsea is too great. Getting his team into Premier League title contention is his priority next season — and if the era of Guardiola and Klopp has taught us anything, it is that risk-and-reward football is king.

It is why Jose Mourinho was made to look like a man out of his time at Manchester United and Tottenham; Louis van Gaal, too.

While it would be unfair to describe Tuchel as a negative coach, there is an emphasis on caution in a way that is not evident in the make-up of Guardiola or Klopp.

That is why the heroic effort here was so refreshing. The relentlessness of Chelsea’s attacks made it feel more like watching Liverpool.

The visitors scored four times — three of them stood — and should have had much more to show for their dominance over the first 90 minutes.

Chelsea showed amazing spirit and fight in their Champions League clash with Real Madrid

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Christian Pulisic should have scored twice right at the death, but failed to hit the target from point-blank range on both occasions.

Madrid were overwhelmed by Chelsea’s energy in midfield — no need for Tuchel’s favoured ‘double six’ to anchor his team on this occasion. The power of Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante as box-to-box midfielders almost felt like a throwback. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was full of guile to skip around his man at will to break Madrid’s press, while the link-up play of Kai Havertz and Mason Mount added a fluidity to Chelsea’s forward line rarely seen under Tuchel.

This was, arguably, Timo Werner’s finest performance for the club, capped off with a wonderful goal and laced with nuisance as he played on the shoulders of Madrid’s defenders.

To a man, Chelsea’s starting XI were magnificent, following Tuchel’s game-plan to perfection. And it was only the magic in Luka Modric’s feet that sent the tie into extra time.

So, a standard has been set. Tuchel has proved he can do it — and that he has the players to do it. The question is whether Chelsea can maintain those sorts of levels through the entirety of a campaign?

That is what sets City and Liverpool apart from just about any other team in Europe, let alone England. That is the next step for Chelsea.

It is the end of Chelsea’s reign as kings of Europe, but it feels like it could be the start of so much more

Defeat will be a bitter pill for Tuchel, especially after getting it so right on the night. But it was a moment of personal triumph for him — and it should be remembered that this was a victory in both regulation and extra time at one of the most daunting arenas in world sport.

Tuchel out-thought Carlo Ancelotti tactically, with his counterpart relying on that age-old get-out-of-jail-free card that almost feels exclusive to Madrid managers: it is the power of the game-changers, who refuse to know when they are beaten.

Modric turns 37 this year, yet can turn a match in an instant with his vision — as was the case when he curled the ball with the outside of his right boot for Rodrygo to score the goal that put Real back on level terms on aggregate. And the tie-winning goal just had to come from Karim Benzema, who at 34 scored his fourth of the tie and his 43rd of the season.

Chelsea had managed to keep him quiet for most of the night, but one moment is all it takes for the iconic France striker. As for Chelsea, it is the end of their reign as kings of Europe, but it feels like it could be the start of so much more.



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Mark Cavendish: Two men jailed over knifepoint robbery of cycling star and wife Peta at their home | News News

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Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta were victims of a knifepoint robbery at their home in November 2021

Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta were victims of a knifepoint robbery at their home in November 2021

Two men have been jailed for robbing Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta of their high-value watches in a knifepoint raid at their home.

Intruders wearing balaclavas broke into their home in Ongar, Essex at about 2.30am on November 27, 2021 and threatened to stab the athlete, a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

They took items including two Richard Mille watches with a combined value of £700,000.

Romario Henry, 31, of Bell Green, Lewisham, south-east London, denied two counts of robbery but was found guilty following a trial and sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in prison.

Ali Sesay, 28, of Holding Street, Rainham, Kent, admitted two counts of robbery and was jailed for 12 years.

“This was serious organised crime,” Judge David Turner KC told the defendants as he sentenced them. “This was no run-of-the-mill domestic burglary by opportunist amateurs.

“This was planned, targeted, orchestrated, ruthless offending aimed at an internationally known sportsman and his wife who happened to be brand ambassadors for exceptionally valuable Richard Mille watches.”

The trial was told that Sesay’s DNA was found on Mrs Cavendish’s phone, which was taken and found outside the property.

The charges were that the accused men robbed Cavendish of a watch, phone and safe, and robbed his wife of a watch, phone and suitcase.

Mrs Cavendish, who like her husband was naked during the robbery, had told jurors she had heard a noise that woke her in the night and went downstairs to investigate.

She said she could see “men’s figures in balaclavas, and they were running towards the bottom of the stairs”, and that she believed there were “between three and five” people.

Court artist sketch of Peta Cavendish giving evidence, watched by Judge David Turner, at Chelmsford Crown Court

Court artist sketch of Peta Cavendish giving evidence, watched by Judge David Turner, at Chelmsford Crown Court

She told the court she ran back to the bedroom shouting “get back” or “get in” to her husband, who was unable to activate a panic alarm.

Mrs Cavendish said one of the intruders “dragged” Cavendish “from his feet and started punching him”.

One had her husband in a headlock, she said, adding: “One of them held a large black knife to his throat and they said ‘where’s the watches?’ and ‘do you want me to stab you?”‘. She agreed with a suggestion that it was a Rambo-style knife.

Mrs Cavendish said that at the time her husband had been “out of hospital for four days, maybe” after a cycling crash which left him with three broken ribs and a tear to his left lung.

She said that when she went downstairs after the intruders had left, she saw that a patio door was smashed, and Cavendish cut his feet on the broken glass.

Edward Renvoize, prosecuting, said Henry had a previous conviction for supplying drugs in 2012, and for perverting the course of justice in 2013 by “assisting in burning out a vehicle that had been used in a murder as part of a gang enterprise”.

Archangelo Power, for Henry, said the defendant’s brother had been murdered three and a half months before the robbery and that had a “significant bearing on the psychological make-up of the defendant”. Mr Power said Henry had been “on the verge of committing suicide”.

Mark Cavendish and his wife had high-value watches stolen in the robbery

Mark Cavendish and his wife had high-value watches stolen in the robbery

Mr Renvoize said that Sesay had admitted at an earlier hearing to six unrelated firearms offences over the possession of two guns and ammunition, when he had been prohibited by a previous sentence from possessing such items.

The prosecutor said Sesay was arrested at an address in Thornton Heath, south London, on December 16 2021 and officers “had to use a chainsaw to gain access” and saw items, later found to be firearms, being thrown from a window to a neighbouring garden.

The judge jailed Sesay for eight years for the firearms offences, consecutive to the 12-year prison sentence for the robbery, making a total of 20 years. The judge said Sesay had previous convictions including for supply of cocaine and heroin in 2017.

Graeme Molloy, for Sesay, said the defendant was “truly sorry for his role” in the robbery and had admitted his involvement.

Speaking about the firearms offences, Mr Molloy said Sesay claimed the guns were not his but that he had thrown them from the window. Mr Molloy said the guns “were loaded but the cartridge wasn’t in the firing chamber”.

Jurors were told that two other men, Jo Jobson, from Plaistow, east London, and George Goddard, from Loughton in Essex, have been named as suspects in the robbery but have not been apprehended. Jobson was 25 and Goddard 26 at the time of a police appeal last March.

Oludewa Okorosobo, 28, of Flaxman Road, Camberwell, south London, denied two counts of robbery and was cleared by jurors after a trial.





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Eagles’ Nick Sirianni asked if Super Bowl is a ‘must win’ game

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Gotta be a gag, right?

Gotta be a gag, right?
Image: Getty Images

In the Eagles’ Nick Sirianni’s first Super Bowl as a head coach, he experienced one of the true jewels of Super Bowl week: Being asked one of the most ridiculous questions that he will ever hear.

One of the best things that the NFL does is credential almost any and everybody for the artist formerly known as Super Bowl Media Day. Of course no dollar can be left on the table, so since 2016 it has been a Monday primetime event known as Super Bowl Opening Night.

Fortunately, even though the day and name has changed, the spirit of the event remains the same. Some head-shaking questions are asked out of ignorance. Others are from someone trying to be the class clown in a large group.

There has been no Opening Night for the previous two Super Bowls due to the pandemic. The evening was back in full effect on Monday night, and somebody came out swinging. From somewhere in the scrum of people on the floor at the Footprint Center, someone asked the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles if the Super Bowl was a must-win game.

Someone asked what?

The championship game. The final game of the season. The highest rated broadcast on the American television calendar. The game that Rihanna has decided to take her jersey down from rafters and — while worth a billion dollars and also a new mom — spend time rehearsing to perform at.

Sirianni was able to keep a straight face and quickly move past might either the most asinine or possibly the most hilarious question that will be asked all evening

If the person who asked this is mocking the event, then by all means continue. Ask Jalen Hurts if he is happy that the Eagles won the NFC. Maybe ask Travis Kelce if he knows how to spell his last name. Or even better, ask Patrick Mahomes if State Farm truly is the best choice for car insurance.

Either make an artistic display with silly questions, or be escorted out by security. If you’re going to waste peoples’ time at least do it with a sense of humor.



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Chelsea FC: Brilliant Badiashile leading way for new signings as Thiago Silva partnership blossoms

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C

helsea have not conceded a goal in the first 270 minutes that Benoit Badiashile has been on the pitch since his £35million move from Monaco.

His promising early form at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope, hint at better times to come through their new signings.

The arrival of French centre-back Badiashile at the start of last month kick-started a record January spending spree of more than £300m.

After Chelsea were sent spiralling into crisis with defeats by Manchester City and Fulham, Badiashile made his debut in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

After the Blues claimed a further two clean sheets in 0-0 draws away at Liverpool and at home to Fulham, he is building an impressive partnership with Thiago Silva.

Impressive start: Benoit Badiashile has formed a promising partnership with Thiago Silva

/ Getty Images

Badiashile was one of five new signings to feature in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. He started alongside £106.8m Enzo Fernandez, who started well but faded over 90 minutes, £89.5m Mykhailo Mudryk, who struggled over 45 minutes while carrying a cold, and £30m Noni Madueke, who was bright after being brought on at half-time.

“What a waste of money” was the regular chant from the Fulham fans in the away end.

That felt harsh in Badiashile’s case. With his size and speed, he looks like a perfect partner for 38-year-old veteran Silva.

In addition, he showed the ability to play brilliantly out of Fulham’s well-drilled press and he coped in his duels against Aleksandar Mitrovic.

There is still adaption to be done, as Graham Potter barked instructions about his positioning in relation to Silva.

However, using French to communicate with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain, Badiashile has helped steady the ship in the absence of the injured Wesley Fofana, and with Kalidou Koulibaly out of form.

While still only averaging just 1.05 goals per game in the Premier League, Chelsea will draw more than they win unless their new midfielders and forwards step up.

Arriving in the weeks after Badiashile, the likes of Fernandez, Joao Felix, Mudryk and Madueke have not had as much time to adapt to their surroundings.

With Chelsea still in 10th place and increasingly falling behind in the race to qualify for Europe, they must follow Badiashile’s lead and hit the ground running before time runs out.



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