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Thomas Tuchel got everything but the result, Reece James puts in ginormous performance – Champions League hits and misses | Football News

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Terrific Tuchel, ginormous James

Star man: Reece James
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Reece James starred as Chelsea came close to creating a classic Champions League comeback

We don’t do managerial ratings here at Sky Sports – just ones for players – but if we did, Thomas Tuchel will have been close to a 10/10 for almost staging one of the greatest Champions League comebacks.

Chelsea had Real Madrid on the ropes, outplaying them for large parts and outthinking them for almost the majority. In their own back yard. That stemmed from Tuchel’s plan to play with bravery to hurt the La Liga leaders in the search for goals but to also keep Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema quiet at the other end after the pair had completely destroyed them at Stamford Bridge in the first half. It worked a charm.

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Thomas Tuchel says he was disappointed in seeing the referee smiling and laughing with Carlo Ancelotti after the game and feels it was bad timing.

A great manager needs great players to carry out such instructions though.

And, Tuchel has plenty of those at his disposal.

His side played with amazing discipline but also mixed that in with a pulsating energy all across the pitch that didn’t allow Real Madrid’s key players time to lift their heads and work their magic. OK, maybe they allowed such occasions twice.

It was just unfortunate that Luca Modric, Vinicius Jr and Benzema carry such quality that they are gifted enough to take those half chances. Modric’s ball for Rodrygo’s crucial goal to level the tie can takes you to football heaven every time you watch it.

Reece James epitomised Chelsea’s tactically astute performance in the way he coped with Vinicius Jr.

There were other Chelsea heroes, too. Mason Mount ran until his legs couldn’t run no more and scored a fantastic goal, Ruben Loftus-Cheek adapted his game very skilfully to play in a diamond midfield and supported James when he needed to whilst Marcus Alonso provided his usual quality but backed it up with an error-free performance.

But it was James that stole the show.

Reece
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Reece James was Chelsea’s star man against Real Madrid

His defensive prowess to suffocate the Brazilian despite being booked after just 10 minutes was bordering on ridiculous at times. He made eight tackles on the night – no other Chelsea player made more than four. That showed just how much defending the academy graduate was asked to deal with. Even when Benzema ventured into James’ area of the pitch, he was there to stop him, flicking the ball away from the striker with his toe to deny the Frenchman a clean strike at goal from eight yards out.

After the game, Benzema asked for James’ shirt, which said it all.
Lewis Jones

Emery’s magic touch in Europe

Samuel Chukwueze scored the decisive goal against Bayern Munich
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Samuel Chukwueze scored the decisive goal against Bayern Munich

Arsenal fans may not have the fondest memories of Unai Emery but Villarreal’s latest European giant-killing serves as a reminder of his extraordinary pedigree in continental competition.

Emery, who guided serial overachievers Villarreal to Europa League glory against Manchester United last season, has now steered the club to only its second-ever Champions League semi-final.

Villarreal’s Europe League triumph last May was the fourth of Emery’s managerial career and the 50-year-old deserves acclaim for transferring that success to the Champions League this season.

Villarreal pulled off a stunning 3-0 win away to Juventus to secure their spot in the last eight but their elimination of Bayern, a side sat nine points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, was even better.

Emery outmanoeuvred Julian Nagelsmann in the first leg and Tuesday’s second-leg performance, in the cauldron of the Allianz Arena, where Bayern had smashed 20 goals in their previous six games in all competitions, was even more impressive.

They defended impeccably, shutting off the spaces Bayern like to operate in and instead forcing them to resort to a succession of hopeful crosses from wide areas. Then, when they had chances to spring forward, they did so with confidence and conviction.

The word masterclass is bandied around too readily in modern football but Emery’s managerial performance over the two legs, against one of Europe’s strongest sides, must go down as one.

Bayern dominated possession and territory across the 180 minutes but Villarreal controlled and contained them in Spain and, save for a period of around 20 minutes after half-time on Tuesday night, they did the same in Germany.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are likely to be next, but they will hold no fear for Villarreal – not when they have a European specialist like Emery guiding the way.
Nick Wright

Lewandowski’s last European act for Bayern?

Robert Lewandowski shows his dejection after the Villarreal game
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Robert Lewandowski shows his dejection after the Villarreal game

Bayern Munich’s tie with Villarreal ended in heartbreak for the German giants but not before Robert Lewandowski had shown once again why he is one of the world’s deadliest strikers – if not the deadliest.

The Pole had endured a frustrating first half up against Villarreal centre-backs Raul Albiol and Pau Torres, struggling to exert himself on the game, but when his chance arrived soon after half-time, he seized it in typically clinical style.

His goal, a low shot taken early which bounced into the net off the post, was his 13th in the Champions League this season, a remarkable total which may yet earn him the golden boot despite Bayern’s quarter-final exit.

It was also his 30th in the knockout stage of the competition, making him only the third player to reach that milestone behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The question now, though, is whether he will continue his quest for Champions League glory at Bayern or elsewhere next season. Barcelona are strongly interested in signing him and they are unlikely to be his only suitors this summer.

Bayern’s early elimination from the competition he covets most won’t help them keep hold of him as he ponders his next step.
Nick Wright





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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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