Saturday’s FA Cup tie looked to be a sure thing for Manchester City. The side, currently second place in the Premier League, were hosting Watford, sixteenth in the Championship. The Etihad has been a fortress this season, with the Citizens yet to drop points at home. What was there to worry about?
With dreams of a quadruple dancing in front of his eyes, Manuel Pellegrini put out a strong squad, with Sergio Agüero and Edin Džeko up top and Yaya Toure in midfield. Only the defense, missing Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta, as well as Joe Hart in goal, looked weaker than average.
Not a minor detail, it turned out. Watford had a 2-0 lead by the time thirty minutes were out, with Fernando Forestieri and Troy Deeney scoring two within ten minutes. As the minutes ticked by, it looked as though City’s hopes of collecting four trophies this season were about to come to an end.
Kun Agüero started the City comeback in the 60th minute, getting on the end of a cross from Aleksandar Kolarov. With ten minutes left to play, the Argentine had leveled the scoreline. It was Kolarov that scored the winner, a shot from distance that wiggled under Watford keeper Jonathan Bond, but Agüero added another in injury time to ensure Manchester City would progress to the next round.
Max Meyer picked up from his remarkable Olympics by firing home, and Mesut Ozil also scored for the Germans in a match that was not about the winner. Bastian Schweinsteiger called it a day on his international career in the win, his 121st cap. The Manchester United man finishes his career with 24 goals, a World Cup title and a EURO runner-up finish. Not too shabby.
ROI all-time leading scorer Robbie Keane fittingly ended his tenure as an international player with yet another goal, bringing his career tally to 68 goals in 146 caps. Stoke City’s Jon Walters scored twice for the Boys in Green, and Robbie Brady (Norwich) also netted in the win.
It took the hosts a half-hour to break down the visitors, but a pair from Feyenoord striker Nicolai Jorgensen opened the floodgates and Andreas Cornelius, Viktor Fischer and Jens Stryger Larsen finished the scoring in a blowout at the CASA Arena in Horsens. It was Larsen’s first cap.
Elsewhere Turkey 0-0 Russia
Albania 0-0 Morocco
Estonia 1-1 Malta
Norway 0-1 Belarus
Lebanon 1-1 Jordan
3. Dieumerci Mbokani, loan from Dynamo Kyiv to Hull — While Robbie Brady, Timm Klose, and Nathan Redmond got a lot of the headlines, Mbokani was a powerful part of the Canaries’ attack in an ill-fated campaign. At 30 he’s far from a long-term fix, but Mbokani should provide strength and skill to a Hull City side facing a very challenging campaign. Per 90 minutes, no one on Norwich touched him last year (courtesy advanced stats site Squawka):
2. Jack Wilshere, loan from Arsenal to Bournemouth — We want so badly to make this our No. 1 for many reasons, but can’t take that risk thanks to the risk presented by Wilshere’s injury history. For Jeff Mostyn, Eddie Howe, and the Cherries to win the rights to bring Wilshere to town is big for a lot of reasons. That Arsene Wenger allowed him to go is another. Frankly, this could be a game changer for two clubs’ PL fortunes.
— Honorable mention — Wilfried Bony is a nice pick-up for Stoke, but Bruno Martins Indi gives the club freedom to use Geoff Cameron in other ways. … Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is another good piece for Spurs’ attacking depth ahead of the UEFA Champions League.
Islam Slimani, permanent from Lisbon to Leicester — The Algerian striker was sold on King Power Stadium by fellow Desert Warriors attacker Riyad Mahrez, and now gives the Foxes even more danger whether counterattacking or taking their talents to the opposition. With Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and Ahmed Musa joining Slimani, Leicester has the depth to dance in Europe.