Everton 2-3 Manchester City: Dzeko’s double sends City top (video)

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Manchester City beat Everton 3-2 at Goodison Park on Saturday as the Citizens took a huge step towards lifting the Premier League title with a nervy win.

Ross Barkley’s wondergoal put Everton ahead as the home side looked to be springing a shock in a slightly subdued atmosphere (an Everton win would hand the initiative in the PL title race to their fierce rivals Liverpool) at Goodison.

However City were soon level as Sergioo Aguero equalized, then Edin Dzeko headed home just before half time to put City 2-1 up at the break. Moments after the interval Dzeko bagged another as City looked to be cruising but Romelu Lukaku’s powerful header midway through the second half made it a nervy finish for City.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men held on and are top of the PL standings on 80 points with Liverpool and Chelsea still to play this weekend. City, crucially, have a game in hand over their title rivals as they host Aston Villa on Wednesday before the face West Ham on the final day of the season. If they win their final two games, City win the league regardless of what Liverpool or Chelsea do, due to their vastly superior goal difference. As for Everton, their top four challenge is now officially as Roberto Martinez’s men will finish fifth.

MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Early on Everton started well and in the fifth minute they engineered a move down their left flank which found Steven Naismith but he dragged his shot wide of the post, then at the other end Javi Garcia rose highest but headed straight at Tim Howard as City felt their way into the game. After 10 minutes Everton were ahead through Barkley’s moment of individual brilliance. The youngster latched onto a layoff from Naismith and curled a stunning strike into the far corner as Joe Hart’s despairing dive got nowhere near Barkley’s effort. Everton had thrown a spanner in the works of City’s title charge.

However in the 22nd minute Aguero broke free and smashed home at the near post past Tim Howard to make it 1-1 midway through the first half as City didn’t take long to hit back. Although Aguero didn’t last much longer as the Argentine forward limped off after hurting himself in the process of scoring the goal. City pushed to go ahead before the break as Yaya Toure surged into the box but his cross was cleared by Everton skipper Phil Jagielka. It was all City for the remaining moments of the first half and Dzeko headed home in the 43rd minute to turn the game on its head and give City a 2-1 lead at the break.

Following the interval Everton almost drew level within seconds of the restart as yet another surging Barkley run from midfield played in Naismith who curled his shot towards the bottom corner but Hart made a crucial fingertip save to preserve City’s one-goal advantage. That saved looked even more pivotal soon after as City went 3-1 ahead in the 48th minute. Samir Nasri sent his cross past John Stones on the left side of the box and Dzeko pounced to bag his second and City’s third of the match as the away side cruised at Goodison.

After that City took their foot off the gas and Everton had plenty of play in and around the box as the Citizens sat back. Eventually that pressure paid off for the home side as Leighton Baines was allowed to tee the ball up and cross in an inch-perfect delivery which Lukaku headed in off the post with 25 minutes to go. Suddenly, much to City’s displeasure, it was game on at Goodison.

City edged towards the win as Everton controlled the closing stages, which included six minutes of stoppage time after Dzeko went down injured, but failed to break through and grab an all-important equalizer.

The Citizens did the job they need to do.

LINEUPS

Everton: Howard, Baines, Stones, Jagielka (Deulofeu, 66′), Alcaraz, Coleman, McCarthy, Osman (McGeady, 83′), Barkley, Naismith, Lukaku

Goals: Barkley (10′), Lukaku (65′)

Manchester City:Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Garcia, Toure (Kolarov, 68′), Milner, Nasri (Silva, 74′), Dzeko, Aguero (Fernandinho, 27′)

Goal: Aguero (22′), Dzeko (43′, 48′)

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.

Aguero involved in clash with Wigan fan after FA Cupset

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Sergio Aguero was involved in a confrontation with a Wigan fan as ugly scenes marred the end of the third-division side’s shock FA Cup win over Manchester City on Monday.

[ MORE: Wigan shock Man City, the world and themselves ]

Fans spilled on to the pitch at DW Stadium as the host celebrated its 1-0 fifth-round win against the runaway English Premier League leader.

Supporters from both clubs were involved in disturbances, while television pictures appeared to show a home supporter and striker Aguero involved in a physical exchange.

Aguero appeared to hit the supporter after the fan said something to the player, and Aguero had to be held back by his City teammates.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Advertising hoardings were also ripped out and thrown as a pitch invasion by Wigan fans got out of hand while the defeated City players were being escorted off the pitch.

Footage also appeared to show objects, including an advertising board, being thrown at police officers by fans in the City end.

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”