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Relieved Pellegrini praises Manchester City’s patience after difficult week

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It took nearly 70 minutes for Manchester City to break down Stoke on Saturday, but when they did the sense of relief around the Etihad Stadium was evident.

Yaya Toure crashed into the penalty box and finished expertly with 20 minutes to go as City’s pressure, and most importantly their patience, paid off.

Stoke set up to defend and weren’t bothered about winning the game and after a draining 2-0 defeat to FC Barcelona in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, City looked to have run out of ideas and steam for most of the second half.

(RECAP: Man City 1-0 Stoke – Toure to the rescue as City stay in the hunt)

But the Citizens kept chugging away and eventually sealed a vital three points to keep them within touching distance of Chelsea in top spot. City manager Pellegrini was pleased his side stuck to the task.

“Three points, three very important points. We had the application to continue attacking and we had the concentration. They [Stoke] were defending with 10 players in their box,” Pellegrini said. “It was very important to be concentrated for counter-attacks and set pieces. Both things were important, to keep a clean sheet and to be patient. I thought we controlled the game and it was a matter of time before we scored.”

I’m not sure if every Man City fan inside the stadium shared Pellegrini’s optimism, as City looked labored with Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic all leading the line but they all looked out of ideas as Stoke’s two banks of five shut down every avenue. Almost.

Add in the fact that City have failed to score in the past two PL games, a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea and a 0-0 draw with Norwich, the pressure was on late in the game for Pellegrini’s men. The last time City had failed to score in three-straight PL games came six years ago, and stats like those were swirling around before this game as City’s prolific offense has suddenly dried up. But then big Yaya turned up to grab the points.

Patience will play a big part in their Premier League title race. City proved they’re up to the challenge as they ground out a win,  kept their cool and seem to have navigated a sticky patch.

Can they keep it up?

Atleti’s Torres ready for “game of his life” in UEFA Champions League final

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 21: Atletico de Madrid players Saul Niguez (L) and Fernando Torres (R) stretch during the training session during the Club Atletico de Madrid Open Media Day ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match against Real Madrid CF on May 21, 2016 in Majadahonda, Spain.
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Fernando Torres has won the UEFA Champions League before, but a victory on Saturday would ring as true as ever.

Calling it the game of his life, the Atletico Madrid striker spoke about this year’s final against Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determined UCL final ]

A lot has changed since the 2012 victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, when Torres subbed into Chelsea’s comeback win.

His decline at Chelsea found him on loan to Milan, where he transferred before finding another loan back home to Atleti. Now 32, Torres has his most goals since 2013 and is preparing for a Madrid Derby final.

From Sky Sports:

“Tomorrow [Saturday] is the game of my life, without doubt,” said Torres. “To me it means everything. Everything you dream when you’re a kid, I have the chance tomorrow to make this dream come true.

“I’ve played for great teams, and won many things, but this one is special, it is different, it’s what I wanted when I was a kid.”

Later lauding Atleti for giving him the chance “to come back and fight for what I wanted”, Torres is clearly hungry for a bit of redemption. And if his side comes out on top, he’ll likely be a big part of it.

Costa injury sends Kaka into Brazil’s Copa America squad

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 06:  Kaka (R) is seen on the field prior to a MLS soccer match between Real Salt Lake and the Orlando City SC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on March 6, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Kaka will not start the season opener due to injury. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images
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Orlando City is losing its wizard for a bit.

Kaka, 34, has been called into Dunga’s Brazil squad for this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

The move was made after Bayern Munich star Douglas Costa picked up an injury that will cause him to miss the tournament.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | B | C | D ]

The 2007 Ballon D’Or winner didn’t play in that year’s Copa America, which Brazil won.

Kaka has two goals and five assists in 7 MLS matches this season, a year after netting nine times with six assists in 28 matches.

Evans to face new rape trial in October

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 28:  Sheffield United player Ched Evans in action during the npower League One game between Sheffield United and Chesterfield at Bramall Lane on March 28, 2012 in Sheffield, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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CARDIFF, Wales (AP) A former Premier League player whose rape conviction was overturned will face a new trial in October.

Ched Evans, a Wales international who has played for Manchester City and Sheffield United, appeared in court in Cardiff on Friday and pleaded not guilty to raping a woman at a hotel in May 2011.

[ MORE: Mourinho confirmed | Speaks more ]

Evans had already served half of a five-year sentence before being released from prison and getting the conviction overturned in April following an appeal.

Evans only spoke briefly to confirm his identity before entering his plea.

The new trial will start on Oct. 4 in Cardiff.

Mourinho: “I prefer to forget the last three years” of Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho is asked for his autograph by fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on October 26, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has immediately begun courting the fans of his new club.

The 53-year-old Portuguese manager may’ve run rivals Chelsea on two occasions, but claims he’s always had empathy with United even when defeating the Old Trafford club.

[ MORE: United hires Mourinho | Things he must do ]

In an interview with Manchester United TV, Mourinho issues some high praise of the club while also managing a bit of classic “The Special One” ego in saying, “Giant clubs must be for the best managers.”

As for the disappointing trio of years between David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal, Mourinho says he’d rather consider his tenure in line with the run of Alex Ferguson.

From the BBC:

“I think we can look at our club in two perspectives – one is the past three years and another is the history. I prefer to forget the last three years. I prefer to focus on the giant club I have in my hands now. “

Mourinho has had some time to calculate the best way to endear himself to United supporters, and playing to their belief as the most historic club in the world sure pushes the right buttons.

Now comes the task of delivering titles in a climate more competitive than any other time in modern history.