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Cech: Blues have taken ‘first step’

first_imgChelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech said his team had taken a step in the right direction by beating Birmingham in Roberto Di Matteo’s first match as interim boss.Di Matteo, placed in charge following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas, called for his players to show passion and they did not disappoint.Goals from Juan Mata and Raul Meireles secured a 2-0 victory and an FA Cup quarter-final clash with Leicester.AdChoices广告“Today was the first step. We managed to take a step forward but this is not the end, this is the beginning,” Cech told ITV.“We had to fight because they are a Championship team – they are used to fighting for long balls and battling.“In the second half, once we scored the first goal, the game opened up. It was just a pity we didn’t score more goals because we had chances.”Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Kohlbeck: Andersen proves his worth in second season at UW

first_imgWhen the Wisconsin football team blew a 24-7 lead way back against LSU Aug. 30, the Badgers and second year head coach Gary Andersen suddenly found themselves in the midst of a three-game losing streak.Not only did the Badgers miss out on a statement victory against a well-known SEC team in LSU, but combined with two losses from the previous season — against Penn State on Senior Day at Camp Randall and to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl — questions started to circulate about whether or not Andersen was the right successor for former UW head coach Bret Bielema.And things did not get better for Andersen in the ensuing weeks of his second season at the helm of the Badgers.Following the LSU loss the Badgers did win three straight games, but they were against teams that can be considered as textbook “cupcakes.” And then the Big Ten season started and Andersen and the Badgers had a chance to start conference play on the right foot and start the journey to the Big Ten Championship game. But once again Wisconsin lost a close game, falling to the Wildcats 20-14, and had now lost their last four games against Power Five conference opponents.After the Northwestern loss the Badgers were 4-2 on the season, 0-1 in the Big Ten and had a messy situation at quarterback with both Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy. A Big Ten West Division championship seemed like a far-off possibility. The play calling of offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig was questioned, while unrest with the performance of Andersen filled Madison and the state of Wisconsin.But fast forward seven weeks, and the Badgers — under the direction of Andersen, Ludwig and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda — are going to the Big Ten Championship game for the third time in four years.After the debacle at Northwestern, Andersen and Ludwig decided to go with a two-quarterback system. It’s a strategy that makes most football fans cringe simply when they hear the term and one that has prompted the well-known phrase: “if you have two quarterbacks, you have none.”But Andersen and company turned things around. The two-quarterback strategy became effective and the Badgers rattled off seven straight wins — including a blowout of Nebraska, a two-point win at Iowa and Saturday’s win over Minnesota to close out the regular season — to claim the Big Ten West division title.While the offense was and still is largely fueled by the efforts of Heisman contender Melvin Gordon, it’s been the play of both Stave and McEvoy that has kept things open for Gordon. Andersen and Ludwig saw the talents in both quarterbacks and decided it would be best to utilize each one’s individual strengths to help the offense overall by putting them both on the field.Since the implementation of the two-quarterback system after Northwestern, Stave has been effective over those seven games going 71-for-117 (61 percent) for 928 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception. McEvoy on the other hand has used his feet and the run option to run for 288 yards on 31 carries (9.3 average) and four touchdowns.Defensively, the Badgers under both Andersen and Aranda have found the right players to fill in for a defense that lost seven of its starters from last season. A quicker, more athletic UW defense now leads the Big Ten in most major defensive categories and ranks second in total defense and fourth in scoring defense in the nation.But it’s also been the ability to win close games that has Andersen in the Big Ten Championship game in just his second season at Wisconsin. The Badgers pulled out another close game that came down to the fourth quarter Saturday against the Gophers after winning a decisive battle in Iowa City two weeks ago against the Hawkeyes.The changes Andersen has made in his second season at UW have shown he has what it takes to be successful in the Big Ten as a head coach. After the loss to Northwestern, the Badgers were considered to be a far cry from being legitimate contenders to win the Big Ten West. Now, they are the 11th-ranked team in the AP and Coaches poll and have a date with the Ohio State Buckeyes next weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the right to be called Big Ten champions.So while this season can certainly finish even better with a victory over the Buckeyes, regardless of what happens Saturday, Andersen has a Big Ten West Division title under his belt and has proved his worth as the head coach for the Badgers in just his second season.last_img read more

Dirk Nowitzki on Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson injuries: ‘I do feel bad for the Warriors’

first_imgWhile Thompson got hurt late in Thursday’s game, Durant had been dealing with a calf injury since the second round of the playoffs and returned for Game 5 of the NBA Finals only to leave in the second quarter with an Achilles injury. He had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles earlier this week, and it’s likely he’ll miss all of next season.  When asked if he believes the Warriors made a mistake with Durant by rushing him back, Nowitzki admitted it’s a tough scenario that varies from player to player.”Well my situation was a little different,” Nowitzki said. “I didn’t sit out one game, I wasn’t out for an entire month. Obviously in Durant’s case, they obviously thought he had healed up fine. I’m sure they had all the doctors and (physiotherapists) weigh in and he wanted to play and they cleared him, but he was already sitting out a month. NBA trade rumors: Celtics refused to include Jayson Tatum in Anthony Davis offer LeBron James reacts to Anthony Davis trade: ‘Just the beginning’ “Well deserved, that fan base deserves it. It’s a fun place to play up there,” Nowitzki said, via the Dallas Morning News. “But sad, of course, for (Kevin) Durant and Klay (Thompson). Two great players, two great guys and to have them go down with major, major injuries obviously is tough for me as an ex-athlete to watch, but they’ll be back obviously. They’re great players, both Hall of Famers and they’ll be back.”Added Nowitzki: “It was tough to watch, but Toronto deserves it. They had a great year and they had some great team play and Kawhi (Leonard) was fantastic the entire playoff run. They definitely deserved it, but I do feel bad for the Warriors.” Related News Dirk Nowitzki knows from personal experience how devastating injuries can be, and commends Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson for trying to play through theirs when the stakes were highest.Speaking recently on ESPN Dallas 103.3, the Mavericks great shared his thoughts on the Raptors winning their first NBA title after defeating the Warriors in Game 6 on Thursday and saluted the injured stars for their last-ditch effort at a three-peat. LaVar Ball on Lakers trading son Lonzo: They’ll never win another championship “Durant’s situation was a lot different. I’m sure everybody weighed in and he wanted to play and the doctors cleared him. Things like this unfortunately are a part of sports.”The Warriors confirmed Thompson suffered a torn ACL but still expressed their desire to re-sign him.On the other hand, it has been speculated that Durant could leave Golden State during free agency. However, that could change after his Achilles injury left his long-term future in question.last_img read more