Manchester City 3-0 Swansea: Incisive City attack slices up Swansea defense (video)

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Tried to push forward they did, but the visitors were powerless to stop a Manchester City attack led by Samir Nasri’s double to give the home side a 3-0 win at the Etihad.

Swansea’s Jonathan De Guzman missed a sitter to pull level at 1-1 at the end of the first half, and City were in the clear from there.

Manchester City asked the early questions, with Swansea struggling to get out of their own half within the first five minutes.

They broke through early, as Jose Canas brought down Alvaro Negredo in the 8th minute, and the Spanish winger came through with the ensuing free kick.

Manchester City posted up men at the end of the Swansea wall to box the players in, and Negredo bent the ball around the pinned down wall and past a rooted Gerhard Tremmel for a 1-0 lead.

With Swansea opening the game up soon after, 4-time Joe Hart understudy Costel Pantilimon was forced into an impressive diving save by Jonjo Shelvey in the 14th minute.

Shelvey was bright in the Swansea attack, and he made a run in the 23rd minute through the City midfield and cut out Alvaro Vasquez with space between the defense, but the Spaniard dragged his shot wide.  Unfortunately, chances were few and far between for the Swans who were without both Michu and Wilfried Bony due to injury.

Negredo and Samir Nasri cut through the Swansea defense again in the 29th minute and Negredo’s shot was palmed out by Gerhard Tremmel.  The ensuing corner was a good one, and Martin Demichelis’s header clattered the crossbar before being cleared.

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A double from Samir Nasri (right), one assisted by Yaya Toure (left), sank the Swans.

Demichelis got away with a bit of a shirt tug on Pozuelo in his own penalty box a few minutes later, which sprung Aguero on the other end to have a go but a fantastic tackle by Jose Canas stopped Aguero on the other end in his tracks.

Just on the stroke of halftime Swansea had a beautiful chance to equalize as Jonathan De Guzman beat Demichelis one-on-one with a nutmeg, sending the defender embarassingly to the turf. It sent De Guzman through on goal, but with Jolean Lescott and Costel Pantilimon bearing down on the midfielder he panicked and blasted well over, a shocking miss.

Samir Nasri, filling in brilliantly in David Silva’s absence, put City up 2-0 after the break and on the home side went.  Yaya Toure, ever present in that midfield, won the ball and ran easily through to the box, where he cut back for Nasri.  The Frenchman reached out with his foot, stuck the ball at his feet, weaved through and shot past Tremmel.

City were clearly the better side the entire second half, and after they searched for a third, Nasri finally had it in the 77th minute. Pablo Zabaleta latched onto the ball on the right of the box on the overlap, and he cut back for a wide open Nasri bang in the middle of the box for a powerful close-range finish.

Nasri came inches from his hat-trick when he got a pass from Dzeko on a break in the dying minutes, cut back to his right foot and fired for the top corner but it went just wide.

With Chelsea also winning, the victory sends Manchester City up to third place and takes advantage of Liverpool’s loss earlier today.  Swansea remain in 12th, with an attractive brand of soccer this season but fewer points to show for it than many would have expected.

City now have scored 29 goals at home and conceded only two, and are the only club in the Premier League with a perfect home record.

GOALS:

Manchester City – Negredo 8′; Nasri 58′, 77′

LINEUPS:

Manchester City – Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Demichelis, Clichy; Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Navas (Kolarov, 76′), Nasri; Negredo (Milner, 63′), Aguero (Dzeko, 79′).

Swansea City – Tremmel; Tiendalli, Chico Flores, Williams, Davies; Canas (Routledge, 62′), de Guzman, Shelvey, Pozuelo (Dyer, 67′), Hernandez; Vazquez.

Wasteful Poland snatches late 2-1 win at Montenegro

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Poland was in control for much of the game, but failed to finish in front of net until Borussia Dortmund full-back Lukasz Piszczek found the winner with eight minutes to go as the visitors increased their lead at the top of World Cup qualification Group E.

Robert Lewandowski put Poland in front five minutes before halftime with a brilliant free-kick that left Montenegran goalkeeper Mladen Blozovic completely baffled, but Montenegro looked sturdy at the back for much of the game and dangerous on the counter. They’d hit just past the hour mark as Stefan Mugosa headed in to level the score.

Lewandowski had a pair of massive chances in the second half, but couldn’t get either to go down as Blozovic was there to turn him away, and Montenegran defenders cleared off the line as well. Luckily for Poland, they had Piszczek who burst down the right to beat Aleksandar Sofranac, and he produced a stunning finish looped over the closing Blozovic from a tight angle, dinked off the far post, and into the back of the net.

That would do it for Montenegro who had little attacking ability outside of their countering abilities, and with Poland happy to ease out the clock, the hosts didn’t have enough.

The win pushes Poland six points clear at the top of Group E, a sizeable lead with five matches remaining. The battle for the second-place spot is tight, with Montenegro still in command on seven points, level with Denmark but ahead on goal differential. Armenia and Romania are even with six points each.

Netherlands manager Danny Blind fired after Bulgaria loss

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The Netherlands are in real trouble, and the manager has paid the price.

The Dutch national team has parted ways with Danny Blind the day after a 2-0 loss to Bulgaria left the Dutch fourth in their World Cup qualification group halfway through.

The move garnering all the headlines from Saturday’s loss was Blind’s decision to start 17-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt. The Ajax youth product, who has just two Eredivisie starts to his credit, made two crucial errors and yanked at halftime, but the damage had been done. Spas Delev scored twice in the opening 20 minutes for Bulgaria, and that was all the home side needed as the Dutch offered little in front of goal.

Blind was also criticized for not getting Memphis Depay on the field as they chased the game. The Netherlands held 74% possession, but could only manage 3 shots on target. Depay has been in good form since his January move to Lyon, with five goals in his 10 Ligue 1 appearances.

This decision was something Blind saw coming. He told national broadcaster NOS immediately after the Bulgaria loss, “I blame myself. It can’t go on like this. Things have to change.”

“I need to think about [my future]. I do not throw the towel in here. I’m incredibly disappointed, especially since I had a good feeling about this match. It makes sense that I put myself in front of the mirror.”

However, the problems for the Dutch go far deeper than Danny Blind. They missed out on Euro 2016 largely thanks to the failed 2nd tenure for Guus Hiddink. His assistant Blind took over, but the results have been equally as poor. The Netherlands sit fourth in UEFA World Cup qualification Group A, with losses to Bulgaria and France plus a draw with Sweden. It’s not over for them though, as they sit three points back of a second place spot with five matches to go, and three of those five at home.

With the Netherlands still yet to play their friendly against Italy this coming week, former goalkeeper Fred Grim takes over on an interim basis. Grim collected 101 caps for the Netherlands, and has served as the Netherlands U-21 manager for the last two years. Before that, he took charge of his first full managerial job as head man of Dutch 2nd-tier club Almere City.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.