European roundup: Chelsea beat 10-man Arsenal, Real Madrid held by Real Betis, Atletico Madrid miss chance to go top
Arsenal were brought crashing down to earth as Chelsea inflicted a 1-0 home loss on the Gunners at the Emirates on Sunday night. Diego Costa’s first-half strike was enough for the Blues to overcome the hosts who had Per Mertesacker sent off early in the first half.
Real Madrid wasted an opportunity to close the gap at the top of the Liga table as they were held to 1-1 draw by Real Betis. Los Blancos failed to break down a spirited Betis side as Zidane failed to get a win in his first away match in charge of the club.
The Gunners missed the chance to go top of the EPL with the loss as they now drop to third behind leaders Leicester City and Manchester City with the latter having a better goal difference compared to Arsenal.
Swansea made an impressive start to life under new manager Francesco Guidolin as they beat Everton at Goodison Park 2-1. First half goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Ayew helped the Swans take all three points despite an own goal from Jack Cork.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid were held to 0-0 draw at home by a resolute Sevilla side that was reduced to ten men in the second half. With this result, Atletico missed a chance to go top of the league as Barcelona lead the pack with a game in hand.
Everton 1-2 Swansea City
Scorers: Cork(o.g) 26’ – Sigurdsson 18’, 34’
The early kickoff saw Roberto Martinez’ men take on the Swans at Goodison Park. The visitors drew first blood from the penalty spot as Howard was adjudged to have brought down Andre Ayew in the box in the 17th minute. Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up to convert with a well-taken effort.
However, Everton did not take long to level the proceedings as Gareth Barry struck in the 26th minute from a corner kick. The goal was later billed as an own goal as Barry’s flick took a deflection of Jack Cork. But Swansea were back on top after just eight minutes as the impressive Ayew scored past Howard. The Swans held on to survive some late Everton pressure to return home with three vital points.
Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea
Scorers: Costa 23’
Chelsea had striker Diego Costa passed fit to play while Eden Hazard was on the bench after recovering from a groin injury. The visitors made a bright start to the game but Arsenal steadily grew into the game. However, disaster struck the Gunners in the 18th minute as Per Mertesacker was shown a straight red for bringing down Diego Costa. However, replays suggested there was not much contact from the defender.
Wenger was forced to bring in Paulista in place of a frustrated Giroud. Chelsea made their numerical advantage count immediately as they opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. It was Costa again in the thick of the action as he converted a teasing cross from Ivanovic to put the Blues ahead. Former Chelsea keeper pulled off a crucial save of Costa late in the half as the teams went off the pitch at 1-0 during the interval.
Arsenal turned on the pressure in the second half as they poured forward with Chelsea waiting to hit the hosts on the break. Alexis Sanchez, who himself was returning from injury, was brought in by the manager to add more of a goal threat. But the Blues held on to record a league double over the Gunners this season to deny Arsenal top spot in the league.
Atletico Madrid 0-0 Sevilla
The Rojiblancos missed an opportunity to go to the summit of the Liga table as they were held to a goalless draw by a spirited Sevilla side who were down to 10 men in the second half at the Vicente Calderon. In-form Antoine Griezmann came closest for the hosts as he headed against the post in the second interval.
Simeone’s men will be livid with the fact that they could not take advantage of their numerical advantage as Vitolo was sent off in the second half for a second bookable offence. Atletico are now level on points with Barcelona who have a game in hand.
Real Betis 1-1 Real Madrid
Scorers: Cejudo 7’ – Benzema 70’
Real Madrid entered the game hoping to claw back the deficit as cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid were held at home by Sevilla. James Rodriguez started the game for the injured Gareth Bale. Betis stunned the away side as they took the lead as early as in the 7th minute when Cejudo struck a brilliant volley into the top corner leaving Keylor Navas no chance.
Real Madrid woke up from the rude shock dealt by the hosts as they piled the pressure looking for the equaliser but they failed to find the killer pass to open up a disciplined Betis rearguard. Betis went into the interval with the 1-0 lead.
Los Blancos came out in the second half with clear intentions as they lay siege to the Betis goal. However, James Benzema and Ronaldo were all guilty of wasting good chances to put the visitors on terms. Madrid finally found the equaliser in the 70th minute as Toni Kroos slid in a brilliant through ball to James who beat the offside trap to square the ball to Benzema who slotted into an empty net.
The impressive Betis keeper Adan was in prime form throughout as he kept a Benzema effort from close range to keep Betis in the game. Also, Ruben Castro went agonisingly close to putting Betis on the counter in stoppage time before his side held on to a deserved point against a disappointing Real Madrid side.