Swansea 2-3 Manchester City: Goals galore keeps City rolling (video)

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Manchester City won back-to-back games away from home for the first time this season, as they downed a spirited Swansea side 3-2 at the Liberty Stadium to celebrate 2014’s arrival in style.

City took the lead through Fernandinho in the first half but on the stroke of the interval Wilfried Bony equalized for the Swans with a great header. After the break Manuel Pellegrini’s men flexed their attack-minded muscles superbly as Yaya Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov both scored in quick succession to make it 3-1, before Bony’s late strike made the match look closer than it was.

With the victory City momentarily went top of the league, as they have 44 points from their 20 games so far. As for Swansea, they remain in 11th and sit just five points above the relegation zone.

It was an even start at a rainy Liberty Stadium, as the visitors had the first effort at goal when Alvaro Negredo fed Edin Dzeko who swept his shot just wide of Swansea’s goal.

But the home side started well and an effort from Bony flew just wide of Joe Hart’s right-hand post after five minutes, as the lone striker got an early sight of goal. Soon after a setback hit the home side as Pablo Hernandez was forced off with a hamstring injury, he was replaced by Belgian international Roland Lamah after just 10 minutes.

Moments later Fernandinho opened the scoring as Samir Nasri’s corner was cleared only to the edge of the box, where City’s Brazilian midfielder was waiting to smash home a low drive to put his side 1-0 up. City threatened to double their lead on several occasions during the first half, as Jesus Navas and Nasri on both wings created plenty of problems for Swansea’s defense.

To their credit the Swans kept going as Jonjo Shelvey and Julian de Guzman both went close midway through the first half following patient build up play from the home side. But City always looked more dangerous as Dzeko’s effort on the half hour mark was deflected just wide by Chico Flores. At the other end Bony once again came close, as he struck almost a carbon copy of his first effort which flew just wide of Hart’s post.

But he wasn’t to be denied, as Ivorian striker Bony scored for the first time in seven games right on the interval, heading home from De Guzman’s delicious cross from the right to make it 1-1 at the break. Despite City looking comfortable for most of the match, it was Swansea who were in the ascendancy at the break.

Early on in the second half Negredo caused havoc in the box but the Spanish striker couldn’t finish after a defensive mix up at the back nearly put Swansea behind once again. Soon City raced away, with Toure bursting into the box after 55 minutes and hitting a shot that deflected off Ashely Williams and into the net to put City 2-1 ahead.

Less than 10 minutes later it was 3-1 as the Citizens’ fine goal-scoring record continued into 2014. Left back Kolarov picked up the ball on the left flank and drive down the line, before cutting inside and smashing home an effort with his right foot for his first PL goal in over a year.

City were rampant after that but Swansea looked dangerous on the odd occasion as Bony stung the palms of Hart with the Swans looking to pull a goal back and make it interesting. However that goal didn’t arrive until the 91st minute, when Bony grabbed his second of the match with a sensational drive from outside box to pull Swansea within one goal of City.

However, it proved to be too little, too late.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Tremmel, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Canas, de Guzman, Shelvey (Pozuelo, 81), Hernandez (Lamah 10), Routledge, Bony

Goals: Bony (45 &90)

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov, Navas (Rodwell, 90), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Nasri (Milner, 70), Negredo (Garcia, 60), Dzeko

Goals: Fernandinho (14), Toure (58), Kolarov (66)

Transfer rumor roundup: Van Dijk to Chelsea, Ox to Anfield

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More and more players are being linked with Manchester United, but — believe it or not — the Red Devils aren’t the only club seeking talent.

DiMarzio is reporting that Antonio Conte is close to securing the services of Southampton center back Virgil Van Dijk, insisting the Dutch back is Conte’s top choice ahead of Juventus power house Leonardo Bonucci (which isn’t to say there isn’t room for both). The price? An eyebrow-raising $77 million.

[ MORE: Confederations Cup scenarios ]

Meanwhile, Conte is selling talented Bertrand Traore outside the Premier League. A solid season on loan at Ajax upped interest in the 21-year-old striker, and L’Equipe says it’s a $22 million move to Lyon for Traore.

How much do you think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is worth? Liverpool may think his value is as high as $32 million, as The Independent reports that Arsenal is prepared to sell the Southampton Academy product to the attacker-heavy Reds.

Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry‘s wild journey looks to have another stop despite a purchase from Bayern Munich this summer. Gnabry was one of Germany’s heroes at the Olympics and left Arsenal for Werder Bremen last summer. He thrived, and earned a deal to Bayern, but Kicker brings quotes from a Hoffenheim player that are hopeful of a loan for this season.

Messi offers to pay $558,000 to avoid 21-month jail sentence

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has offered to pay an additional fine of 500,000 euros ($558,000) to ensure he avoids a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud that a judge is expected to suspend, a Spanish state prosecutor said Friday.

State prosecutor Isabel Lopez Riera told The Associated Press the fine-for-time deal was presented by Messi’s lawyers to the judge who will rule on whether to suspend Messi’s sentence – as is widely expected. Lopez Riera said she has told the judge that her office is not opposed to the deal.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

Lopez Riera said Messi’s lawyers have made a similar offer for the Barcelona player’s father, Jorge Horacio Messi. He is offering to pay 360,000 euros ($402,000) to avoid his 15-month sentence for helping his son cheat on his taxes.

In Spain, prison sentences under 24 months for first-time offenders can be suspended by a judge.

The government attorney representing Spain’s Tax Office in the case will also be able to weigh in on the proposed deal. As state prosecutor, Lopez Riera is impartial in the case as a defender of the public interest.

Last year, a court in Barcelona found Messi and his father each guilty of three counts of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) from 2007-09. The unpaid taxes were from money made through endorsement deals, not Messi’s salary paid by Barcelona.

Messi was fined 2 million euros and his father 1.5 million euros. Both were originally sentenced to 21 months, but his father’s sentence was later reduced to 15 months.

In the last two weeks, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho have been accused by a Madrid-based state prosecutor of having defrauded Spain’s Tax Office of millions of euros (dollars) in unpaid taxes.

Both have denied wrongdoing.

WATCH: Pair of inspiring Academy videos from Men In Blazers

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Men In Blazers produced a pair of videos on two teens from rival academies that should give all young players a sense of gratitude and inspiration for their chances in American soccer.

New York City FC Academy center back Prince Amponsah and New York Red Bulls Academy destroyer Amadeo Chapru-Tate get the mini-doc treatment from Roger Bennett.

Amponsah comes from Ghana, and his family moved to the United States where their son found his way to the youth national team.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

Chapru-Tate comes from Haiti, adopted by his parents after a three-year process. His first game saw him score an own goal, but that was not a sign of what’s to come for the 15-year-old.

Confederations Cup: Scenarios before final group matches

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Seven of eight nations remain alive for the knockout rounds after two-thirds of the group stage at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

Only New Zealand has been eliminated, though the underdogs aren’t the sort of nations who will quit ahead of its group finale against Portugal.

That’s one of two Saturday matches, along with Russia versus Mexico, with two more on the docket for Sunday when Germany meets Cameroon and Chile duels with Australia.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

We’ve seen zany finishes at the Confederations Cup before, as the U.S. beat Egypt 3-0 and Brazil topped Italy 3-0 on the final day of group play in 2009 to send the Americans past Italy and into the knockout rounds despite a tournament-opening 3-1 loss to the Italians.

Group A

Draws will be enough to send Mexico and Portugal into the knockout rounds, with Mexico currently leading the group by virtue of a single goal scored (The two sides drew 2-2 in the opener).

We mentioned New Zealand’s status as a wild card, but hosts Russia will be under immense pressure against Mexico. The cynic will note that the tournament’s location could help the Russians beyond simple home-field advantage, while a bigger cynic may not that Mexico has been the beneficiary of plenty of officials’ whistles and non-whistles in recent years.

The safe bet is Portugal to win and Mexico to advance via draw or win.

Group B

No one’s safe, but Chile is feeling very good about its chances coming into Sunday’s match against Australia in Moscow. The Chileans battered Australia at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and a draw would give them a place in the next round.

The Socceroos need a two-goal win to pass Chile and assure a spot in the next round. A one-goal win could also do the trick for Australia if Germany loses and Australia outscores the Germans (who currently hold a one-goal advantage).

Germany knows it’s result-and-in for them, while Cameroon faces the longest odds. Not only do the Africans need to upset the Germans, but they need a two-goal win and help. If Cameroon won by one, it would fail to pass Germany.