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Chelsea 3-0 West Brom: Conte Gets to Live Another Day After Strong Response From Desperate Blues



The Chelsea squad may just have saved Antonio Conte’s job – at least for the time being – after putting in quite the spirited performance to beat Premier League bottom-feeders West Brom 3-0 at Stamford Bridge on Monday.

The Blues started the match under some real pressure, with Conte’s future hanging in the balance off of the back of two consecutive losses to ​Bournemouth and Watford.

But the Italian must have been happy to welcome Alvaro Morata back to the squad. The former ​Real Madrid forward hadn’t played since getting sent off against ​Norwich on January 17th and his presence certainly seemed a breath of fresh air.

January acquisition Olivier Giroud would get to make his first start for the club since his sensational switch from rivals Arsenal, while Andreas Christensen returned to the lineup after injuring his hamstring in the Bournemouth match.

Alan Pardew came into the match needing a result as well, with the Baggies winning just one match in their last 24. But with loan signing, Daniel Sturridge, lurking about, there was always a huge chance.

The ​Liverpool man’s tenure was short-lived, though. He would be off after just three minutes following an unfortunate and untimely injury, and Jay Rodriguez came on to replace.

The loss did very little to upset ​West Brom, and they did well to keep the Blues on the back foot during the opening minutes.

A mistake from Victor Moses nearly gifted Pardew’s men a goal, when the full-back miscued a backpass that fell to an unmarked Rodriguez at the top of the box. Not realising that there was time to take a few touches, the forward shot at the soonest of opportunities, failing to even hit the target.

The home side, however, got the match’s first shot on target. Cesar Azpilicueta found Giroud with a cross from deep and the Frenchman’s touch resulted in Davide Zappacosta getting a shot off from point-blank range. Ben Foster proved the better man on that occasion, making a remarkable save to keep scores level.

Giroud got an opportunity of his own just a few moments later after Eden Hazard found him unmarked in the box. Foster came up with another save, which was mostly down to the forward going for placement instead of power.

The Frenchman made his mark in the 25th minute, playing Hazard in with a neat pass in the box following some impressive one-two movement between themselves. Giroud’s layoff left the Belgian with just Foster to beat, and he did so with vicious aplomb, smashing the ball past the hapless stopper.

Hazard’s strike put him on 14 for the season, with 10 of them in the ​Premier League and three coming against West Brom, following a brace in the first encounter at the Hawthorns in November.

The Blues headed into the half with a 1-0 lead, obviously feeling much better about themselves than they did in their last two matches, but also needing to add to their lead.

Pardew began the second half without Chris Brunt, having replaced the winger with Oliver Burke in an effort to inject a bit of pace.

A bandaged and banged-up Giroud was taken off in the 60th minute and replaced by Morata, much to the delight of the Stamford Bridge crowd.

The Blues would double their lead in the 63rd through Moses, who got on the end of Cesc Fabregas’s deflected pass to slot past Foster from close range. The Nigerian nearly put ​Chelseaup 3-0 moments later after cutting in on his left from the right flank to blast a low shot goalwards.

Foster was up to the task this time around but was not able to stop Hazard’s strike following similar circumstances to what led to Moses’s shot about a minute later.

The diminutive magician beat the Baggies keeper with another forceful shot, giving his side a 3-0 lead against a crestfallen West Brom side seemingly headed for the drop after winning just three games all season.

Conte’s men cruised to the finish line, quite happy to finally get both a win and a clean sheet after a turbulent period. The Londoners also climbed back into the top four with the victory, having dropped out when ​Tottenham beat ​Arsenal on the weekend.

Conte lives to fight another day!


Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Zappacosta; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.

Bench: Caballero, Cahill, Ampadu, Emerson, Drinkwater, Willian, Morata.

West Brom: Foster, Dawson, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs, Phillips, Krychowiak, Barry, Brunt, Sturridge, Rondon

Bench: Nyom, Yacob, Myhill, McClean, Burke, Rodriguez, McAuley


Source: 90min

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How the GFA intervened to avoid a CAF Champions League disaster for Aduana



Libyan side Al Tahidi have finally agreed to play Ghanaian champions Aduana Stars in the second-leg of their CAF Champions League clash after rejecting Dormaa Ahenkro as Wednesday’s venue for the game.

An intervention by the Ghana FA with full assurances of a police motorcade on their journey from Kumasi to Dormaa and back ensured the Libyan reversed their threat of not playing the match.

The Libyan had threatened not to play the match in the Brong Ahafo region citing the road travelling distance from Kumasi to Dormaa Ahenkro of more than 200km violating CAF rules.

The CAF rules state that home teams must ensure that visiting teams travel by air from the capital of the country if the road journey is more than 200km.

With no airport in Dormaa Ahenkro, it is impossible to fly the team by air from Kumasi.

Al Tahidi insisted on playing the match in Kumasi or Accra where their travel would fall in line with CAF requirements or would refuse to play the match and file a protest.

The threat of not playing the match forced the Ghana FA to dispatch two of its top officials Alex Asante and Osei Tutu from Accra to Kumasi where the Libyans are based to make overtures.

The mediation by the GFA yielded results with the Libyans now agreeing to travel to play the match in Dormaa Ahenko as the home side spent millions in putting their stadium in shape.

Al Tahidi will be driven to Sunyani on Tuesday at 9am by bus in the company of a dispatch rider full with police security.

They will stay at Sunyani and train at Dormaa on Tuesday evening and come back to Sunyani from where they will travel to play the game on Wednesday.

The police dispatch rider and bus will take the Al Tahidi to Kumasi after the game from where they will be flown to Accra by African World Airlines so that they connect to Tripoli on Thursday morning at 11:30am.

This intervention by the GFA ensured that the Libyans changed their minds as the rules were stacked against Aduana. The millions spent by the owner of the club to put the stadium in shape of the match would have gone to waste and most importantly they could have lost the match in the board room.

Aduana will be seeking to overturn their 1-0 deficit from the first leg at the refurbished Nana Agyemang Badu Park with the full support of their teeming fans.

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Asante Kotoko chief increases travelling allowance for players to US$ 400 each ahead CARA Brazzaville clash



Asante Kotoko players have had their travelling allowance upped from US$ 300 to US$ 400 ahead of their CAF Confederation Cup qualifier against CARA Brazzaville on Wednesday.

The team arrived in the Congolese capital on Monday and according to the club’s Twitter handle, Executive Chairman Dr Kwame Kyei paid the allowances after breakfast.

This is huge financial motivation for the players to punch above their weights to advance to the next round.

Kotoko managed a slim 1-0 win in the first leg.

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General News

Sleepless nights for Chelsea coach



Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte, says he had had trouble sleeping as his side prepare for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have won just four of their past 12 games in all competitions.

Barcelona are in contention to win the treble, and are unbeaten in La Liga, which they lead by seven points.

“This team is one of the best in the world – maybe they are favourites to win this competition,” said Conte.

“On the other hand, we must be excited because we have a great opportunity to play a massive game against a really strong team and to show which is our level,” the Italian added. “We have to try to have the perfect game.”

Chelsea lost their EFL Cup semi-final against Arsenal in January, followed by Premier League defeats by Bournemouth and Watford.

They have started to turn their poor form around, with a league win against West Brom on 12 February, followed by Friday’s FA Cup fifth-round win against Hull.

Conte’s future has been the subject of debate this season and following the Barcelona match, his side face a key game against Manchester United in the league on Sunday.

“In these days after the game in the FA Cup, I must be honest… it was a bit difficult to sleep well,” said Conte.

“When you have to play this type of game, you have to prepare. You have to prepare everything. You have to prepare big things, but the smaller details too.”

Chelsea last beat Barcelona in 2012 in the Champions League semi-finals and went on to win the competition for the first time.

Barca’s top scorer this season, Lionel Messi, is yet to score in eight appearances against the Blues.

“We are talking about the best player in the world,” added Conte. “Messi has the capacity to solve situations, create a chance when you are not seeing the chance to score. This means we are talking about a fantastic player.”

Marcos Alonso and Ross Barkley, who have missed Chelsea’s last three games, trained on Monday, but David Luiz and Tiemoue Bakayoko were absent.

Barcelona centre-back, Thomas Vermaelen, has travelled to London, but Philippe Coutinho is cup-tied, after playing for Liverpool in the group stages.

Match stats

. Chelsea and Barcelona are facing each other for the 13th time in the Champions League, the fifth-most played fixture in the competition.

. The London club are unbeaten in their last seven Champions League games against Barcelona (won two, drawn five).

. Barcelona have won only one of their six away games against Chelsea in the Champions League and they have never kept a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge.

. Chelsea will attempt to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2013/14 – they are winless in their last six knockout games.

, Barcelona have reached the Champions League semi-finals only once in the last four seasons.

. Barcelona were one of four teams to remain unbeaten in this season’s Champions League group stages, alongside Besiktas, Liverpool and Tottenham.

. They also have the best defensive record in the Champions League this season, conceding only one goal in six games.

. Luis Suarez has failed to score in the last 791 minutes of play in the Champions League, his longest drought in the competition.

. Eden Hazard has scored three goals and delivered two assists in his last five Champions League games.


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