Another round of club play is in the books, and several of the region’s top players were in the headlines once again through clutch goals, quality performances, and even uncharacteristic errors.
Concaclusions Episode 9 brings you three of the top storylines involving Concacafers in Europe over the weekend.
Pulisic delivers again for Chelsea
Confidence is everything.
That statement is true no matter the walk of life, and you can perhaps see it best in the football world in the body language and attitude of an attacking player.
Christian Pulisic has been desperate for a performance or even a single moment to help regain his swagger after a frustrating first few months in London. There simply couldn’t have been a better way to do so than the Man of the Match performance by way of a hat trick in the Blues’ 4-2 win over Burnley at the end of October.
With his lack of playing time dominating headlines in the American soccer community, the immediate question after his breakout performance was whether or not it would lead to a consecutive start and a chance to capitalize on the momentum. Pulisic indeed trotted out in Chelsea’s starting XI against Watford and produced a fine 82-minute stint, capped off by what proved to be the match-deciding goal in the 55th minute.
Pulisic vs Watford (A)— JMH (@ChelseaCentral_) November 2, 2019
✅ 85% passing accuracy
✅ 41 passes
✅ 66 touches
✅ 1 goal
✅ 3 shots on target
✅ 4/4 dribbles completed
✅ 6/9 ground duels won
✅ 2/2 aerial duels won
✅ 1 tackle
Another very good performance from Pulisic. Looked very lively & linked play very well. pic.twitter.com/wS846oZ9uL
He finished with three shots on goal and broke through with a tap-in from close range. On this occasion, it was all about his movement and intelligent run to get on the end of Tammy Abraham’s ball across the box.
Next up for Chelsea is a Champions League fixture against Ajax, and a win can see them take sole possession of top spot in the group. Let the good times roll.
Raúl Jiménez haunts Arsenal once again
With goals against several of England’s top clubs in his breakout season, we learned last year that there is no stage too big for Mexican striker Raúl Jiménez. The 28-year-old has the backing of El Tri manager Tata Martino as the team’s best striker, and he often looks the part by way of his performances in the Premier League.
Jiménez was at it once against at the weekend, this time with a splendid finish to compound Arsenal’s recent woes. The Gunners may have got on the board first on Saturday through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 21st minute, but as the match wore on it was Wolves who were able to produce the majority of quality scoring chances despite enjoying less of the ball. Their efforts paid off with just over 14 minutes to play when Jiménez rose at the back post and beat his marker to nod home past a helpless Bernd Leno.
Raul Jimenez with the equalizer!!! pic.twitter.com/Lbm5q74mA8— Pancho Villa's Army™️ (@VillasArmy) November 2, 2019
With his fine headed goal at the Emirates, Jiménez now has nine goals to his name in all competitions. They are nowhere near where they aimed to be at the beginning of the season, but the 11 teams above them should be wary should they start stringing together results. Next up is a Europa League tilt against Slovakian outfit Slovan Bratislava.
Keylor Navas has rare off night in PSG defeat
When Kylian Mbappé ripped through the back line and cleverly flicked over the keeper in the 19th minute, it appeared PSG were well on their way to another comfortable win and potentially their sixth league shutout since Keylor Navas arrived.
Let’s just say Dijon had other ideas.
Rather than roll over to the Parisian giants, bottom of the table Dijon put their heads down and kept their shape while enjoying merely a third of possession. Their forays forward were both intelligent and efficient, resulting in two more shots on target than PSG at the end of the match.
The timing of their first goal was crucial, as a goal at the stroke of halftime can do wonders for an underdog’s mentality and simultaneously bring a favored side plummeting back down to earth. A low cross into the six-yard box should have been gathered by Navas or at least pushed away from danger, but his spill fell right to the feet of Mounir Chouiar to slam home.
At 1-1 there was everything to play for in the second stanza, and Dijon came storming out of the game to take the lead two minutes in and were ultimately able to hold on for the 2-1 result – their first-ever win over PSG. Navas once again had a moment to forget, as Jhonder Cadiz wiggled his way through the box and beat the ‘keeper through the legs from an incredibly tight angle. You can watch the highlights here.
Navas will look to get back to his normal self when PSG host Club Brugge in the Champions League on Wednesday.