Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City: Defending champs earn season’s first win by holding off Toon (video)

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Newcastle United sent six debutants onto the pitch at St. James Park, but it wasn’t enough to knock down the defending Premier League champions as Manchester City escaped with three points.

It wasn’t pretty for either side, but David Silva took advantage of some poor defending in the first half to put the visitors ahead, and Sergio Aguero put things away late for a wire-to-wire victory that at times proved nervy.

The first chance fell to Samir Nasri in the 12th minute, as a quick and powerful counter fell to the French winger. He wasn’t planning on shooting, but the ball bounced so perfectly in front of him he decided to blast a shot and forced a diving parry from Tim Krul.

Otherwise, there was little to report out of the first half-hour, with both teams proving incredibly wasteful.

Finally, after 37 minutes, we had our first moment of quality, with Manchester City earning their first goal thanks to some beautiful passing and shambolic defending by Newcastle.

Yaya Toure ripped a long ball up for Edin Dzeko in the corner of the box, and he settled well before flicking a pinpoint back-heel to a streaking David Silva, who snuck behind new Toon signing Daryl Janmaat much too easily to the near post. Silva finished cooly past Krul and Manchester City had their lead.

source: AP
David Silva’s goal proved the difference despite Newcastle’s threatening moments.

Dzeko’s back-heel was outstanding, but the two Newcastle defenders surrounding him were hardly looking to prevent him feeding an opponent, likely hoping the other would do the job.

Despite the relative lack in quality of the first half, it was fun to watch the partnership between Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, who linked up well up front.  In addition, new Newcastle signing Remy Cabella showed some individual skill for the home side, despite an unfortunate hairstyle.

Newcastle surprisingly came to life following the break, with some shaky defending giving them some opportunity in the box, and the chances lit up the stadium.  Michael Williamson nearly picked out a free-kick with his head, placing it just over the bar on 58 minutes after Joe Hart unwisely came out to try and collect in traffic.

With the home side still pressing with a half-hour remaining, Alan Pardew threw on Gabriel Obertan, one who impressed in preseason, causing his manager to speak publicly of his second chance at St. James Park.

On ten minutes remaining, Newcastle began to throw everything forward and pressure the City defense hard. Substitute Ayoze Perez rifled a dangerous shot on a breakaway in but it was deflected just a whisker wide. Then Rolando Aarons came close a minute later.

The best chance yet came from Moussa Sissoko early in the four minutes of added time, having received a cut-back from Cabella, but the Frenchman blasted it over the bar.

Then Manchester City put things away, with substitute Sergio Aguero bursting down the left with Fabricio Coloccini. He cracked off a shot from a tight angle which Krul saved, but it came right back to Aguero and he nestled it into the far corner for a 2-0 lead and all three points.

LINEUPS

Newcastle: Krul; Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Anita (Obertan 63′), Colback; Sissoko, Cabella, Gouffran (Aarons 74′); Riviere (Perez 83′).

Manchester City: Hart; Clichy, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Fernando, Toure, Nasri (Milner 78′), Silva, Jovetic (Fernandinho 72′); Dzeko (Aguero 83′).

Goals: Silva 38′, Aguero 90+2′

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images
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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal between Arsenal and Manchester United finally becoming reality (0:20), Swansea’s stunning 1-0 victory over Liverpool (9:20), Southampton’s much-needed draw with Spurs (22:30) and Watford’s decision to part ways with Marco Silva (36:20). The gents end the show sharing their memories of the late English striker, Cyrille Regis (39:45).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.

Klopp “angry, surprised” by Liverpool defeat to Swansea

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Liverpool fans might disagree — Jurgen Klopp certainly does, tonight, at least — but the beauty of the Premier League is that you can end the runaway leaders’ bid for an unbeaten season, then lose to the last-place team in the league, in back-to-back games.

[ MORE: Alexis-for-Mkhi swap complete | De Bruyne’s new contract ]

This, of course, leaves Klopp, Liverpool’s fiery, combustible manager, more than a little hot under the collar. Following Monday’s 1-0 loss away to bottom-of-the-league Swansea City, Klopp pulled no punches in describing the emotions he feels after such a result.

“Frustrated,” “angry” and “surprised” quickly came to mind after seeing his side’s 14-game PL unbeaten run come to an end. Despite creating 21 chances on the night, the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain managed to put just four on target, which was undoubtedly the genesis of his frustration, anger and surprise — quotes from the BBC:

“I’m frustrated and I’m angry because it was not a good game. We lost the game in the first half. We didn’t do what we wanted to do. It hasn’t happened too often so I didn’t expect that, I was quite surprised. Because of the first half we weren’t flying and they were.

“We made pressure at the end but not enough to score. The last situation was unlucky but if we got a point it would still have been a bad game for us, and it was the opposite of what we wanted. That happens from time to time and it’s never the right moment and like it should be.

“It’s not that we threw it away. Swansea are fighting for their life and we’ve no problem with that, we had a problem with our offensive motions. It’s not what we came here for tonight. We have nothing, and that’s our fault.”

Swansea 1-0 Liverpool: Last-place Swans shock Reds

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  • Swansea shock Liverpool in game of few chances
  • Mawson sweeps home the winner — 40′
  • Reds’ 14-game PL unbeaten run ends
  • Swans now 2W-1D-1L under Carvalhal

From the high of snapping Manchester City’s unbeaten run (30 games dating back to last season) and bid for an unbeaten 2017-18 Premier League season, to being beaten by last-place Swansea City… in back-to-back games… all in the span of eight days.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

On Monday, Swansea topped Liverpool, 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium, to claim just their fifth PL victory all season; two of the five have come in the first three weeks of new manager Carlos Carvalhal’s tenure (four games).

Virgil Van Dijk cost Liverpool $100 million, but he’s yet to arrest the Reds’ woeful set-piece defending. It was the big Dutchman who failed to head the ball clear from the Swans’ 40th-minute corner kick. After an unfortunate bounce in the box, the ball fell to Mawson just 10 yards out. The young Welshman swept his right foot through the ball and Loris Karius could do nothing about it.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Liverpool’s first surefire chance of the second half came in the 60th minute, when Mohamed Salah delicately lifted just over the wall a free kick from 22 yards out. The ball quickly fell as it neared goal, but Lukasz Fabianski reacted quicker and pushed it over the crossbar at full-stretch to preserve the lead at 1-0.

Right on 94 minutes, with the referee staring at his watch, Roberto Firmino headed off Fabianski’s right-hand post and Adam Lallana missed an open-net follow-up, somehow booting the ball well over the bar from three yards out.

Despite holding over 70 percent of possession on the night, Liverpool put on target just four of their 21 total shots.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

With the defeat, Liverpool (47 points) fail to capitalize on Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw with Southampton on Sunday. Having ultimately gained a point in Round 24, Tottenham now trail Liverpool by just two points in the race for fourth. The two sides meet in two weeks’ time, on Sunday, Feb. 4, at Anfield.

Swansea (20 points), meanwhile, have done nearly enough to climb out of the PL cellar, but remain 20th out of 20 teams on goal differential. Three points stand between them and safety.