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Manchester City comeback ends Bayern Munich’s record run; defending champions still win Group D

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Bayern Munich’s record 10-match winning streak in UEFA Champions League is no more, with a rotated Manchester City team overcoming a two-goal deficit to produce one of the most surprising results of this year’s tournament. After goals in the first 12 minutes from Thomas Müller and Mario Götze, Bayern appeared to be on their way to a perfect group stage, yet a City team starting six reserves got goals from David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov, and James Milner, handing the defending champions their first Champions League loss in nine months.

Though the 3-2 defeat at the Allianz Arena won’t cost Bayern Group D — FCB’s two-goal win in Manchester giving them the tiebreaker over the Citizens — it was Bayern’s first home loss under Pep Guardiola, the club was without a defeat at home since March’s 2-0 Champions League loss to Arsenal. In all competition, Bayern were unbeaten since their German Super Cup loss to Borussia Dortmund (July 27), today’s loss ending a 27-match undefeated run.

For the Citizens, a team that had already confirmed their knockout round spot, the win does nothing for their position in the competition, but with a short history of pronounced disappointment in this tournament, the result marks City’s biggest win in Champions League. And for a man whose Real Madrid team fell short of glory in Spain at the boots of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, Manuel Pellegrini is sure to savor a victory that quells any notion the Chilean can’t beat his former La Liga adversary.

With a multi-goal win, Manchester City had a chance to take the group from Bayern Munich, and opportunity City’s boss seemed to pass on before the opening whistle. Joe Hart was back in goal for Costel Pantillimon. The long forgotten Joleon Lescott came in at Vincent Kompany’s expense, with Micah Richards starting at right back. James Milner was deployed out left while the returning David Silva got a start up top along side Edin Dzeko. Add in Javi Garcia in midfield for the suspended Yaya Touré, and this was an XI picked to rest its stars, not win a Champions League group.

Against a Bayern team that saw Philipp Lahm return from injury, the approach had all the success you’d expect. Five minutes in, the defending champions were on the board, a drilled diagonal from Dante finding Thomas Müller behind Aleksandar Kolarov, with the German international’s second touch sending a ball behind Joe Hart for the opening goal. Seven minutes later, Mario Götze was abandoned at the edge of the six-yard box on a corner kick, a ball from Mario Mandzukic finding the Bayern midfielder for an easy second goal. The quarter-hour pole still minutes away, the route appeared to be on.

Be it through Bayern complacency or City’s ascendance, the visitors soon found their way into the match, trading attacks with their hosts instead of merely absorbing the holders’ advances. Whereas Bayern’s pressure high through the middle had troubled City at the outset, the team chasing a two-goal deficit had adapted and were soon creating chances of their own.

In the 28th minute, City broke through, halving Bayern’s lead through Silva. Off a cross from Jesus Navas, Milner came in from wide left to head back toward the middle, with an acrobatic play in front of goal from Silva allowing a high leg from the Spanish international to turn the ball toward goal. Beating a transitioning Manuel Neuer, Silva brought City within one.

Going into halftime, Bayern had regained full control, and while that didn’t translate into goals, they were keeping City from threatening Neuer. Near the hour mark, however, two mistakes quickly turned Bayern’s one-goal lead into a one-goal deficit, putting the defending champions’ 10-match Champions League winning streak in jeopardy.

source: AP
Controversially given, Aleksandar Kolarov’s 59th minute penalty kick drew Manchester City even. Three minutes later, James Milner scored the winner in City’s 3-2 win at Bayern Munich. (Photo: AP Photo.)

In the 59th minute, Dante was judged to have brought down Milner in the far left of the penalty area. Though the Bayen defender didn’t appear to have committed foul before hearing David Fernández’s whistle, City was still given a chance for their equalizer, with Kolarov’s conversion making it 2-2.

Three minutes later, Milner went from supporting cast to lead actor, curling a right-footed shot from wide left inside Neuer’s far post, giving City’s rotated side an unlikely lead. Playing a cross from Jesus Navas that had eluded Jerome Boateng, Milner opened his right foot onto a ball from well wide of goal. Catching Neuer moving back to the left post, Milner curled his shot toward the far upright, his spin on the ball sending the shot diving into the far netting, putting City up, 3-2.

From there, Manchester City were able to start packing it in, central midfielders Fernandinho and Garcia sitting deep to protect the defense. While the game became more one-sided, a Bayern team “held” to 58 percent possession now monopolizing the ball, the dynamic didn’t yield chances. City were ready to hold out for the upset.

By match’s end, Bayern hadn’t found a way to threaten Hart, a smiling Pep Guardiola readily conceding defeat at the final whistle. Though the Bayern boss’s regret was surely tempered by the knowledge his team had won their group, his congratulations seemed earnest, the former Barça head coach embrace the hand of a man who’d just found his first victory over a rival.


Goals

Bayern Munich: Thomas Müller 5, Mario Götze 12

Manchester City: David Silva 28, Aleksandar Kolarov 59 (p.k.), James Milner 62

Lineups

Bayern Munich: Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Dante, David Alaba; Thiago Alcántara; Thomas Müller, Mario Götze (Javi Martínez 55), Toni Kroos, Franck Ribéry; Mario Mandzukic (Xherdan Shaqiri 68)

Substitutes: Rafinha, Diego Contento, Daniel van Buyten, Claudio Pizarro, Tom Starke

Manchester City: Joe Hart; Micah Richards (Pablo Zabaleta 16), Martín Demichelis, Joleon Lescott, Aleksandar Kolarov; Jesus Navas, Javi Garcia, Fernandinho, James Milner; David Silva (Álvaro Negredo 73), Edin Dzeko

Substitutes: Jack Rodwell, Vincent Kompany, Dedryck Boyata, Sergio Agüero, Costel Pantilimon

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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