Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool; Reds fail to finish as City climbs second (video)

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Liverpool came close to becoming the first visiting team not named Bayern Munich to win at the Etihad Stadium in months, but suspect finishing and a poor moment of goalkeeping allowed Manchester City to survive with a 2-1 decision at home.

The Reds struck first, and rightly so after having an earlier Raheem Sterling goal wiped out for what seemed to be a dubious offsides call. Sterling would play his part in the tally, as he moved deftly past a sliding Joe Hart before deferring to Phillippe Coutinho. He slotted home into an yawning net from a not-so-easy angle to move ahead 1-0 in the 24th minute.

Kompany came to City’s rescue with a headed-down effort off a corner, this one moving past Mignolet to level the score in the 31st minute. Joe Allen probably should’ve done better to clear the goal off the line.

Coutinho was robbed by Hart in the 40th minute after Liverpool worked its way into prime real estate via Sterling’s chip and Luis Suarez‘s one-touch pass. The Brazilian was on the doorstep but the maligned Hart was brilliant in parrying a right-footed effort aside.

Manchester City continued its streak of scoring two or more goals at home, a feat that traces back to May, when Jesus Navas slid a pass to Negredo. He hit a hard shot with the outside of his left foot that ignored a lackadaisical Simon Mignolet‘s paw and gave City a 2-1 halftime lead.

(MORE: Boxing Day Roundup)

A sublime turn from David Silva was the feature moment of a 55th minute that nearly saw City go up by two goals, but Yaya Toure was foiled by a tough first touch and Hart was wise to the ensuing corner.

It wasn’t in the cards for Raheem Sterling, who made a meal of a prime scoring chance with less than 20 minutes to play. Sterling’s well-timed run became a balloon over the crossbar when he sent the ball aloft from eight yards out.

Liverpool will feel unlucky considering this performance on the road but it’s worth noting that while Mignolet was not at his best on the second goal, he later denied the deficit’s growth on several occasions.

The late goings-on featured a series of yellow cards including a reputation foul on Suarez to go with cautions to Victor Moses and Glen Johnson. Man City’s only yellow went to Pablo Zabaleta.

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Nasri (Milner, 72), Silva (Javi Garcia, 87), Negredo (Dzeko, 77), Navas

Goals: Kompany (31), Negredo (45+1)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Cissokho, Skrtel, Sakho, Johnson, Lucas (Aspas, 82), Allen, Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho, Suarez.

Goals: Coutinho (24)

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

Photo by Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy/Qatar 2022 via Getty Images
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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.