Chelsea on Thursday claimed a 2-1 victory at Malmo FF in the Europa League last-32 first leg to ease some of the pressure on beleaguered coach Maurizio Sarri, while Arsenal suffered a shock loss to BATE Borisov.
Visitors Chelsea desperately needed a response after back-to-back humiliating away losses, with last Sunday’s 6-0 thrashing by Manchester City following a 4-0 reverse at AFC Bournemouth.
Ross Barkley took advantage of a defensive lapse by the home team to put Chelsea ahead on the half-hour mark, with Olivier Giroud adding a 58th-minute second before Malmo’s late goal gave them a glimmer of hope ahead of next week’s return match at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea face Manchester United in the FA Cup on Monday, before facing City again in the League Cup final on Feb. 24.
“I am happy because we played with confidence and it wasn’t really very easy after the last match [the defeat by City],” Sarri told BT Sport. “I think I am always confident, but sometimes we had the wrong approach with matches, so we need to be careful in every match.”
Sarri named a strong team, although he left Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard on the bench.
Meanwhile, Arsenal face an uphill battle to progress after a 1-0 defeat by BATE in a game that saw Alexandre Lacazette sent off for elbowing Aleksandar Filipovic with five minutes remaining.
Stanislav Dragun put BATE ahead just before the break in Barysaw and Arsenal never threatened an equalizer, with Lacazette’s late dismissal also ruling him out of next week’s second leg in London.
Unai Emery’s side have now won just two of their past nine away matches — last weekend’s victory over the Premier League’s bottom club Huddersfield Town and an FA Cup win against third-tier Blackpool.
Elsewhere, SSC Napoli began life without record goalscorer Marek Hamsik with a 3-1 win in a fiery atmosphere at FC Zurich.
Lorenzo Insigne, who has replaced Hamsik as captain after the Slovakian’s move to China, scored the opening goal, with Jose Callejon and Piotr Zielinski also on target.
Celtic’s European adventures appear to be over for another season after being outclassed 2-0 by Valencia at Parkhead.
Denis Cheryshev and Ruben Sobrino got the goals as the Spaniards extended their unbeaten run to six matches.
Inter claimed a 1-0 win at Rapid Vienna despite Mauro Icardi snubbing the trip after being stripped of the captaincy over a contract row, with Lautaro Martinez scoring the winner from the penalty spot.
Wissam Ben Yedder’s 22nd-minute strike helped record five-time winners Sevilla take a large step toward the last 16 with a 1-0 victory over Lazio in Rome, while Benfica backed up their 10-0 weekend thumping of Nacional by winning 2-1 at Galatasaray.
Salzburg, semi-finalists last season, lost 2-1 at Club Brugge, while 10-man Sporting Lisbon were beaten 1-0 by Villarreal in the Portuguese capital.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational