City

Manchester City 6-0 Tottenham Hotspur: 13-second goal leads to blowout at Etihad (video)

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A surgical Manchester City cut apart a formerly solid Tottenham defense and saw the home side cruise again at the Etihad 6-0.

A crazy early goal in the first minute by Navas foreshadowed five more – including two from Sergio Aguero – in an all-too-easy win for Manchester City as Spurs crumbled.

Despite struggles on the road, Manchester City have been incredible at home, now sitting on 27 goals to just 2 conceded at the Etihad.

Manchester City shocked the visitors and scored just 13 seconds into the match as Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris cleared poorly straight off the opening kick, and Sergio Aguero stole the ball.  Aguero unleashed a shot well saved by Lloris, but the rebound was put home by Navas on a brilliant, tight-angle finish.

Following the goal, viewers were graced with end-to-end play, with Sandro tackling Samir Nasri hard in the 11th minute to prevent a second for the home side.

source: AP
Sergio Aguero went top of the Premier League scoring chart with his brace.

Spurs controlled much of the possession in the first half, but they failed to do much creative and Manchester City were incisive on the counter-attack.

With the Spurs midfield working very hard in possession, Sandro got sick on the pitch midway through the period, but stayed on.

Alvaro Negredo made sure City had their second in the 34th minute as Lloris again failed with a clearance, falling instead to Toure who headed to Nasri on the left wing.

Nasri found Aguero on the edge of the box, and again Lloris saved well from Aguero only to have the rebound fall to Negredo whose scissor kick was blocked by Younes Kaboul then clipped Sandro and went in, officially an own goal.

City weren’t done before the break, as Aguero would finally get one of his own.  Navas made a beautiful run behind Erik Lamela and received a perfect ball from Pablo Zabaleta.  The winger then crossed perfectly, bending along the ground around Dawson to Aguero for an easy tap-in and a 3-0 lead.

Yaya Toure assisted Sergio Aguero’s second just two minutes into the second half, then a brilliant first-touch from Alvaro Negredo eight minutes later allowed him to get past Michael Dawson to make it 5-0.

Aguero came off before he could complete his hat-trick, and Negredo nearly doubled his tally as he put a 71st minute header over the bar. Fernandinho should have had one as well in the 82nd minute when slotted in on the 6-yard box but he whiffed at the kick.

Navas picked up his second, bookending the scoring as he broke free in added time and finished cooly to add insult to injury.

The win launched City up to fourth in the league – at least for the moment – with a league-leading goal differential of +21.

The loss is the worst in the league for Tottenham since a 6-1 loss to Chelsea in 1998. The goose egg for Spurs also marks the first time they’ve been held goalless for three straight matches since January of 2009.

GOALS:

Manchester City – Navas 1′, 90+2′; Aguero 41′, 50′; Negredo, 55′; Sandro (og) 34′

LINEUPS:

Manchester City – Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Nastasic (Lescott, 45′), Clichy; Navas, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Nasri (Milner, 77′); Negredo, Aguero (Garcia, 69′)

Tottenham Hotspur – Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Verthongen; Sandro, Paulinho (Dembele, 61′); Lennon, Holtby (Adebayor, 45′), Lamela; Soldado (Sigurdsson, 61′)

Mourinho: Leicester home should be Claudio Ranieri Stadium

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City shows his frustration as Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho cannot quite get his head around Leicester City’s firing of Claudio Ranieri.

The story is on the tips of the tongues of many in the Premier League, and Manchester United’s boss is no exception.

[ MORE: UEL draw | Who is Rostov? ]

Speaking Friday ahead of United’s EFL Cup Final against Southampton, here’s what Mourinho had to say.

From the BBC:

“He deserves the Leicester stadium to be named ‘Claudio Ranieri Stadium’. The most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of most beautiful in football history.

“Now Leicester are in the highlights again with a decision that has everyone in football united. It’s very difficult to accept. It’s important to realize how football is and we need to react. I was sacked as a champion [by Chelsea], a giant negative as I thought – peanuts compared to Claudio.

“I don’t think he needs more. Nobody can do what he did. If some of the stories have just a little bit of truth, it is difficult to find words to justify but we have to be able to cope.”

Mourinho is giving voice to what many feel, this writer included. Ranieri is in a relegation fight, yes, but to fire him days after the Foxes stole a road goal against Sevilla that gives them reasonable odds to advance in the UEFA Champions League? It’s an odd one, and smacks a bit of, “Well, we can’t fire him if he beats Liverpool or Sevilla”.

Liverpool visits the King Power Stadium this weekend, and the Foxes will need an incredible response at home to topple the rested Reds. Sure the Premier League is win now, but add me to the chorus who thinks the new manager will have the same odds to fix Leicester as Ranieri.

Roma’s American president losing patience over stadium delay

James Pallotta, AS Roma
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
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ROME (AP) Roma’s American president is starting to lose patience with city officials over long-delayed plans for a new stadium.

Ahead of a meeting between municipal authorities and club officials Friday, James Pallotta issued a statement saying the team expects “a massively positive result” from the encounter.

Pallotta adds “the alternative would be catastrophic for the future of AS Roma, Italian football, the city of Rome, and quite frankly for future business in Italy.”

[ MORE: PST feature on Pallotta ]

The mostly privately financed 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) project received another setback this week when cultural authorities announced plans to declare the proposed stadium site – an abandoned hippodrome – as a site of “particularly important interest.”

The project in Tor di Valle, halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, also includes three office towers.

Who is Manchester United’s UEL opponent Rostov?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 15: Jano Ananidze (L) of FC Spartak Moscow is challenged by Alexandru Gatcan of FC Rostov during the Russian Premier League match between FC Spartak Moscow v FC Rostov at Otkrytie Arena Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)
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Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have learned their fate for the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The Red Devils face Russian side FC Rostov in the next round of the tournament, four victorious ties from claiming an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Spurs sent packing | Full UEL draw ]

So who is Rostov? Seventh in the Russian Premier League standings, Selmashi finished second last season and won the league in 1994 and 2008.

Rostov entered the Europa League after a run through the Champions League which saw the club knock out Anderlecht and Ajax, both still alive in the UEL, before finishing third behind Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich in the group stage. Rostov beat Sparta Prague in the Round of 32 of the UEL.

The club is led by former Moldova boss Ivan Daniliants. Its leading scorer is left wing Dmitri Poloz with 11 goals, and Ecuadorian national teamer Christian Noboa and Moldova veteran Alexandru Gațcan among its mainstays.

While some will make the case that a rough pitch, long trip, and stingy team makes this draw a bad one for United, Mourinho’s crew should triumph. How worse could it have been? This one won’t be easy, but consider Roma, Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach… even a reunion with Memphis Depay and Lyon would bring more of a challenge than Rostov.

Europa League draw: Man Utd learns fate

Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan, center back to camera, celebrates scoring the opening goal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2nd right, and other teammates during a Europa League round of 32 second leg soccer match between Saint Etienne and Manchester United at Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint Etienne, France, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
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The travel is tricky, but Manchester United’s draw for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 could’ve been much worse.

The Red Devils are off to Russia to face FC Rostov in the next round of the UEL competition.

[ MORE: Spurs out | Who is Rostov? ]

In another draw that leads you to question whether there’s anything random about it all, United and lone La Liga representative Celta Vigo drew winnable matches against Russian clubs, Roma has a tantalizing match against Lyon, and an all-Bundesliga match hits the docket.

Heck, we’ll even see an all-Belgian tie between Gent vs. Genk.

And in a draw which will have many glued to their sets, USMNT left-sided man Fabian Johnson will help Borussia Monchengladbach against German rivals Schalke. The first leg comes five days after the pair face off in Bundesliga play.

The Round of 16 legs will be played March 9 and 16.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16

Rostov vs. Manchester United
Celta Vigo vs. Krasnodar
Copenhagen vs. Ajax
Olympiacos vs. Besiktas
Lyon vs. Roma
Schalke vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
APOEL Nicosia vs. Anderlecht
Gent vs. Genk