American Exports: Jermaine Jones, Schalke 04 settle for home draw in Champions League playoff
AMSTERDAM – Jermaine Jones and Schalke still have it all to do in the away leg after settling for a 1-1 share with Champions League playoff-round guests PAOK on Wednesday.
During his full shift, the US midfielder was most involved in spotlight action over the back half of the opening period. Jones spent a long stretch helping to drive the attack, even if it most often ended in frustration.
He narrowly missed getting a toe to the end of a free kick service in the 19th minute and fired just over from long range at the half-hour mark. Jefferson Farfán opened for Schalke only seconds later, but Jones agonizingly missed the frame from a good position when given a shot at doubling the lead six minutes from intermission.
After visiting Hannover 96 on Saturday, the Miners will pack up for the return clash in Greece on Aug. 27 with a place in the Champions League group phase on the line.
Meanwhile, in English Premier League play, Brad Guzan and Aston Villa took a tough-luck 2-1 defeat on the chin at Chelsea.
The former Chivas USA backstop notched two saves, though the first one still ended up in the net thanks to an Antonio Luna own-goal in the sixth minute. Oscar broke into the Villa area on the left to force a fine Guzan stop, but the defender could not help from deflecting the rebound into his own net.
The American's second denial, however, preceded a Villa rush that was capped with a Christian Benteke equalizer on the edge of halftime. In the end, Guzan – whose first career away win in EPL action came at Stamford Bridge – was helpless to stop a Branislav Ivanovic restart header from deciding matters in the 72nd minute.
Over in Norway's NM Cupen, Mikkel Diskerud shook off a weekend knock to go the distance as Rosenborg advanced to the semifinals with a last-gasp 2-1 winner against visiting Vålerenga. The recently crowned Gold Cup champion won the corner kick that led to Alexander Toft Søderlund's 79th-minute opener.
The cup final four has yet to be drawn, but will be played out on Sept. 25 and 26.