Champions League woe continues for City, will that impact their performance vs. Stoke?

FIFA referees chief springs to defense of Eriksson after City’s critical comments


FIFA referees chief Jim Boyce is calling Manuel Pellegrini’s criticism of referee Jonas Eriksson “absolute nonsense” after the Manchester City manager unleashed a string of verbal barbs at the official following City’s 2-0 home defeat against FC Barcelona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie.

Pellegrini was critical of Eriksson’s nationality and bias after the Swede sent Martin Demichelis off for a “last man back” tackle on Lionel Messi that earned Barca a penalty kick. City back Vincent Kompany added “There was a lot of soft fouls. In the Premier League, they would have not been given.”

But it wasn’t the Premier League, and Boyce was furious at Pellegrini’s comments about an official slated to referee matches at the World Cup this summer.

“It is absolute nonsense to say a referee should not be chosen for an important match because he comes from a smaller country. If the referee has proved himself at the top level it should not matter what country they come from.

“All the referees who have been chosen for the World Cup have been assessed by experienced officials who have been involved at FIFA and UEFA level and marked on their performances in the World Cup and confederation competitions at a high level.

“I read the remarks that were made by the Manchester City manager. I saw the game and my own personal opinion is that I thought the referee had a good game.

“He is a very experienced referee who has been chosen for the World Cup because of excellent reports of his performances in Europe.”

If Boyce’s comments are a harbinger of what’s to come from UEFA’s review of Pellegrini’s comments, then maybe the manager will face just desserts — a big fine or suspension — for his classless post-game press conference. Call me one of those who have no question it was a penalty and red card. Flip the script: if that tackle happens on the forward on your team, are you looking for a free kick and yellow?

Didn’t think so.

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)

Wenger lauds team spirit following Arsenal’s big win

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Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]

United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.

All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]

Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.

You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.

[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.

[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.

The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.

Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.