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regular-article-logo Saturday, 02 March 2024

Premier League: Joao Felix feels the blues

Portugal forward looked disconsolate after being shown a straight red card in the 58th minute for his dangerous challenge on Kenny Tete

AP/PTI London Published 14.01.23, 05:35 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File picture

Joao Felix was sent off on his Chelsea debut for a studs-first lunge as his new team lost 2-1 at Fulham in the Premier League to fall deeper into crisis.

The Portugal forward looked disconsolate after being shown a straight red card in the 58th minute for his dangerous challenge on Kenny Tete that caught the Fulham right back just below his right knee.

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Felix, who joined on loan from Atletico Madrid for the rest of the season on Wednesday, was having an impressive game until his sending-off, making surging runs, delivering incisive passes and showing some neat tricks and flicks.

He won’t be able to showcase them again until February 11 as he will now miss league games against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Fulham. With Felix having joined on a deal costing Chelsea a reported $790,000 a week taking in wages and the loan fee, it is a costly error for both the club and for under-pressure manager Graham Potter.

“It was a forward’s tackle — there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red,” Potter said. “It is another blow. The hits keep coming at the moment, that’s how it is. He (Felix) was really good, you could see his quality in the game, so it is doubly disappointing for us.”

Chelsea slipped to a sixth loss in their last eight matches in all competitions — their worst run of results in nearly 30 years — thanks to a 73rd-minute winner from Carlos Vinicius, who met a cross from Andreas Pereira with an unchallenged header at the far post as goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga hesitated to come out for the ball.

The Brazilian striker was only playing because firstchoice Aleksandar Mitrovic was suspended.

“Guys are stepping up — we are not a one-trick pony,” said Tim Ream, Fulham’s American defender. “We have guys in the team who can finish and put the ball away.”

On being sixth in the league: “It is a consequence of everything we are doing. The hard work on the training ground, the togetherness of the players and fans. We are not looking at the table but we are in a very good position.”

Fulham went ahead in the 25th minute through a deflected shot from former Chelsea winger Willian, only to concede an equaliser in the 47th when Mason Mount’s free-kick came back off the post and centre back Kalidou Koulibaly forced home the rebound from close range.

Fulham climbed above Liverpool into sixth place to continue a brilliant first season back in the top flight. This was a fourth straight win in the top flight, something the southwest London club hadn’t achieved since 1966.

Chelsea stayed in 10th place, 19 points off leaders Arsenal having played one game more. A top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League is looking more and more unlikely for Chelsea.

Ter Stegen, Pedri do it for Barca

Riyadh: Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved two penalties and Pedri converted the deciding spot-kick as Barcelona defeated Real Betis 4-2 in a shootout to set up a Spanish Super Cup final against rivals Real Madrid this weekend in Saudi Arabia.

Madrid defeated Valencia on penalties in the other semi-final on Wednesday, when Thibaut Courtois made the decisive save.The decisive match will be on Sunday.

Barcelona converted all four of their penalties in the shootout and Ter Stegen stopped the efforts by Juanmi and Willian Carvalho to give the Catalan club the victory. The score was 2-2 after extra time.

AP/PTI

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