Offshore drilling, England: at Manchester City 2, Tottenham Hotspur 1

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After 45 minutes of control that lacked ambition, Manchester City reversed a 1-0 halftime deficit Sunday at Eastlands, getting second half goals from Sergio Agüero and Edin Dzeko en route to a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

The win came after City went into halftime down one despite controlling the first half, Joe Hart’s error on a Steven Caulker header allowing Spurs to grab a 21st minute lead.

After switching to a 3-5-2 formation near the hour mark, Roberto Mancini’s men got a 65th minute equalizer through Sergio Agüero. The defending league champions continued to press over the match’s final 30 minutes, with David Silva eventually crafting the winning goal for Dzeko.

The win keeps City undefeated and, for the moment, vaults them into second. Spurs stay sixth.

Man of the Match: David Silva, out since Oct. 6 with a hamstring injury, showed what City missed in his absence. Starting on the right, Silva was able to cut in onto his better left foot, frequently testing Tottenham’s high line with a game-high five balls played through the defense. In the 88th minute, Silva went over the line to create the winning score, his adroit chip from 22 yards leaving Dzeko a perfect ball to volley past Brad Friedel.

Threesome of Knowledge: What we learned

Possession is still a better description than indicator.

It took Manchester City over 40 minutes to register their first shot on goal despite possession that stayed between 63 and 65 percent. Part of that number was due to Tottenham’s willingness to absorb their play, but that willingness was permitted by City’s passivity. The Citizens lacked guile in the final third.

In the second half, City’s attitude changed, but their possession number was largely the same. At match’s end, City had 62 percent of the ball despite their drastic change in aggressiveness.

On Sunday, as it is most days, the possession number was a better description of the match’s character than an indicator of one team’s dominance. In the first half, City controlled the match. In the second, they dominated.

Joe Hart is fallible.

This seems as good a time as any to offer that the common English soccer media refrain that Joe Hart is the world’s best goalkeeper may not be true. The world has a lot of great keepers, both renown (Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon) and overlooked (Samir Handanovic, Igor Akinfeev). Mr. Hart has a lot of competition.

Today, we were reminded many of Hart’s accolades may be exaggeration. When Steven Caulker came free of Matija Nastasic on Tom Huddlestone’s 21st minute header, his redirection bounced to an easy height for Hart to handle. For whatever reason, the ball got through his hands and into the lower-right corner, giving Spurs the lead on their first shot.

Mixed day for Mancini’s 3-5-2.

In the second half, the inclusion of Maicon (on at 57′ for Nastasic) allowed City to shift gears. Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta became central defenders, Aleksandr Kolarov dropped to left wing back, and Maicon was handed the right side, where his crossing and (surprisingly) strong defense helped City turn control into dominance. It was a point in the plus column for Mancini’s much-maligned 3-5-2 formation.

But the easy switch to the new setup was only enabled by starting Kolarov at left wing, a decision influenced by the injury absence of Samir Nasri. Having a defender in an attacking position may have contributed to the stall we saw from City over the first hour. It also created a situation where a switch to a 3-5-2 was bound to work, Mancini already switching to a formation that better suited the personnel he started.

Packaged for takeaway

  • On the surface, Emmanuel Adebayor was impressive in his second start of the year, providing Spurs with an outlet from the back as City came into the match. Unfortunately, he failed to put a shot on goal and created only one chance for this teammates. He needs to convert the little things (aerial presences, hold up play) into something dangerous.
  • Clint Dempsey continues to struggle. While he provided a decent defensive presence today, he made no contribution in attack. It’s a description you can apply to most of his Spurs starts. He has yet to find a way to be dangerous for André Villas-Boas.
  • Brad Friedel, on the other hand, had a good day, though he is still tentative coming off his line to claim balls played through (or behind) his defense. Today, apparent miscommunication with Caulker nearly cost Spurs.
  • One explanation for Manchester City’s late match surges continues to be Yaya Touré. Today, we saw City’s habit of releasing their best player to be a more attacking presence when needed. Touré’s probing passing and forays forward wilted Spurs’ defense, his deft touch out to Agüero providing for the first goal. Touré is so consistently effective in this role, it’s a wonder he’s not allowed to fill it from minute one.

Bayern fans unhappy with Champions League ticket prices

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Study to show long-term affects of playing soccer ]

The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”

A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).

“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).

Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”

[ MORE: Premier League player power rankings ]

Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.

UEL roundup: AC Milan advances after big win; Arsenal, Everton fall

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Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.

[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]

Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.

Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.

AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.

Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.

Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta

Ex-Brazil forward Robinho sentenced to nine years in prison

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Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.

[ MORE: Study will look at long-term effects of playing soccer ]

At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.

The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.

Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.

Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”

The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Leicester City

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  • West Ham is winless in last six against Leicester
  • Jamie Vardy has two goals, two assists in last 4 games vs. West Ham
  • Hammers have nine points through first 12 matches

West Ham United will host Leicester City from the London Stadium on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes and Co. look to climb out of the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Moyes and West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League through 12 games, and will be hoping to see an improvement in their form with the potential returns of Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic.

The Hammers are without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Michail Antonio, as well as James Collins.

The Foxes are winless in their last two matches, and coming off of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City over the weekend. Robert Huth and Matty James remain sidelined for Puel’s group, but otherwise, the club is relatively healthy.

What they’re saying

West Ham boss David Moyes on turning the team’s form around: “We need to give the supporters something to shout about and something that looks half decent, and then they will support us. I want everyone to be together. I am not aware of the problems before I came, I was a bit surprised when I heard (chanting against the board). “I want them behind us to give us a chance of winning.”

Leicester’s Claude Puel on confidence in his players“I have a good feeling with the players; they listen, they work hard on the pitch and I feel their ambition. We will see in the next games, with a good adaption and rotation, to see them approach it with a positive attitude.”

Prediction

The Hammers are missing several key attacking pieces, including Hernandez, which will surely make the defensive task easier for Leicester. The Foxes attack hasn’t been at its finest, but they’ll be facing a West Ham back line that allows over two goals per game (25 in 12 matches).
West Ham 1-3 Leicester