Chelsea stretched their unbeaten start to the season to a club record-equaling 16 games with a 1-1 UEFA Champions League draw against NK Maribor on Wednesday, but the 2011-2012 winners were given a mighty scare.
The Slovenian upstarts, destroyed 6-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London two weeks ago, took the lead in the 50th minute when Macedonia winger Agim Ibraimi curled in a spectacular left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Maribor, buoyed by a noisy crowd, swarmed all over Jose Mourinho’s side and had a great chance to make it 2-0 on the hour when unmarked teenager Luka Zahovic blazed the ball over the bar from close range with an open goal at his mercy.
Chelsea then upped the tempo and Nemanja Matic equalized with a tap-in at the far post after captain John Terry had headed on a right-wing corner from Cesc Fabregas in the 73rd minute.
The Londoners spurned an excellent opportunity to grab all three points when Eden Hazard was tripped in the area with four minutes to go. The Belgian picked himself up to take the penalty, but his effort was saved by Jasmin Handanovic.
A grim-faced Mourinho, who brought on Diego Costa and Oscar for Andre Schuerrle and Willian at halftime, and also replaced Filipe Luis with Ramires 11 minutes into the second half, was clearly unhappy with his side.
Chelsea started the game on the front foot with the unmarked Kurt Zouma heading over from close range and Didier Drogba, making his 100th career appearance in a UEFA competition, forcing Handanovic into a sprawling stop.
The longer the half went on, though, the more pedestrian the passing became from the visitors.
Ibraimi’s stunning left-foot drive sent the crowd wild and Maribor, back in the Champions League group stages after a 15-year absence, sensed victory, but Hazard, Oscar and Fabregas suddenly took hold of proceedings.
The Londoners continued to drive forward after Matic’s equalizer and Handanovic performed heroics when he went full length to deny Hazard after the Belgian burst clean through.
Hazard then saw his spot-kick saved by Handanovic.
At the final whistle Chelsea had equaled their best-ever start to a campaign set in 2005-2006.
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
WOLFSBURG BEATEN: Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski scored from a penalty, his 34th league goal this season, finishing as the top Bundesliga scorer for the fifth time Werder Bremen gave themselves hope of avoiding relegation from the Bundesliga by thrashing Cologne 6-1 to grab a playoff place on the last day of the season, while champions Bayern Munich routed VfL Wolfsburg before lifting the trophy on Saturday. Japan striker Yuya Osako scored twice as Bremen stole the lifeline of the relegation/promotion playoff place from Fortuna Duesseldorf, who lost 3-0 against Union Berlin and were relegated with SC Paderborn, finishing one point behind Bremen. “We put in a great performance under pressure, but we are aware that we haven’t achieved anything — in the relegation playoff, the emotions will be
Dustin Poirier won a thrilling unanimous decision over Dan Hooker on Saturday, surviving a brutal second round and persevering to finish a well-rounded performance in the main event at the UFC’s corporate gym. Mike Perry also ended his two-fight skid with a one-sided unanimous decision over Mickey Gall in the penultimate fight of the UFC’s fifth consecutive fan-free event in its hometown. The main event was a barn-burner from the opening round, with both lightweights trading wicked strikes and displaying minimal regard for defense. The second round was a particular spectacle, with each fighter badly hurting the other while throwing punches and
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is already in Florida with the rest of his Toronto teammates, and he knows the time to take a stand and counter the NBA plan to restart the season has passed, but his opinion on the matter has not changed. “It sucks,” VanVleet said on Monday in a videoconference of his choice to return to the court during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter campaign. “It’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense, but