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′

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

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“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.

Sparta Prague signs France midfielder Rio Mavuba

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PRAGUE (AP) Sparta Prague says it has signed France midfielder Rio Mavuba to a three-year contract.

The 33-year-old Mavuba comes from French club Lille, which he joined in 2008. Before that, he played for Bordeaux and Spanish club Villarreal.

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Mavuba was on the France team at the 2014 World Cup.

He is the 10th player signed by Sparta after Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni took charge in May.

Mexico 1-0 Honduras: Pizarro strikes early to put El Tri in Gold Cup semifinals

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Mexico had little trouble dispatching Honduras as El Tri won 1-0 in Glendale, AZ and eased into the Gold Cup semifinals.

Just four minutes into the game, Mexico took the lead as they got Honduras on its heels, with Rodolfo Pizarro sticking the ball in at the far post at the end of a scramble. Jesus Duenas carved a ball through the defense, and while Elias Hernandez whiffed on the tap-in, Pizarro was right behind him to finish the chance.

Mexico settled in after scoring, while Honduras tried to out-muscle El Tri, with the latter receiving a pair of yellow cards in the first 45 minutes. There were precious few other chances throughout the first half, with Honduras completely incapable of creating anything in the attacking half.

Mexico continued to dominate out of the halftime break, but they lost Monterrey midfielder Jesus Molina in the 65th minute with discomfort, replaced by Chaka Rodriguez. The best moment for Honduras as they chased the game late came in the 78th minute as Jose Corona made a spectacular save when substitute Alexander Lopez nearly scored directly from a corner. They came close again in stoppage time after a set-piece as Alfredo Mejia scuffed a shot agonizingly wide.

Honduras ended their Gold Cup without a single goal scored. They technically defeated French Guyana 3-0 in the group stage, but that came on the typical forfeit scoreline, whereas the actual game played ended in a 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile, Mexico will take on Jamaica in the semifinal in a rematch of last tournament’s final.

Manchester United beats City 2-0 in preseason Derby

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Manchester is Red, at least for the preseason.

Manchester United used quickfire first-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford to topple Manchester City 2-0 in Houston as part of the International Champions Cup.

The first half-hour saw plenty of action, but nothing in terms of goals. New Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker made a great run to cut down Rashford before he could shoot, while goalkeeper Ederson was required to keep out Paul Pogba.

On the other end, Chris Smalling was active often, nearly conceding a penalty with a pull on the shirt of Patrick Roberts, while also cleaning up after a high City press caught United in their own defensive third.

[ MORE: West Ham signs Chicharito ]

Just before halftime, United went in front thanks to their prized new striker. Pogba launched an absolutely brilliant long-ball, and Lukaku streaked to meet it, heading past a charging Ederson before cutting from a tight angle into the empty net before defenders could recover.

Immediately after, Rashford put United 2-0 up on a cool finish from the right with space after a ball from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The score is Rashford’s third goal of the United States tour.

After a host of changes at halftime that saw City keep just four players on the field, it didn’t help as United kept on the pressure. Rashford almost scored an accidental long-range chip as his long-ball to the far post nearly went in, but Ederson tipped it over. Moments later, Lukaku thundered a howitzer into the crossbar.

United made a host of changes past the hour mark, and they nearly had another if not for the offside flag raising on Phil Jones after a double-save by Ederson. City had a big chance in the final 10 minutes, as a great ball from Samir Nasri found Gabriel Jesus, but the Brazilian put it well over.

Ederson had a solid game in net for Manchester City despite the loss, while Kyle Walker and 17-year-old City youth product Brahim Diaz also stood out. For United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was bright as were Paul Pogba and goalscorer Marcus Rashford.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea (Romero 45′); Valencia (Fosu-Mensah 77′), Lindelöf (Bailly 45′), Smalling (Jones 45′), Blind (Darmian 45′); Herrera (Fellaini 62′), Pogba; Rashford (Martial 62′), Mkhitaryan (Carrick 62′), Lingard (Pereira 78′); Lukaku.

Manchester City: Ederson; Adarabioyo (Otamendi 45′), Kompany (Mangala 45′), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure (Sane 45′), Walker, Foden (Zinchenko 74′), De Bruyne (Diaz 45′), Sterling (Jesus 45′), Aguero (Stones 45′), Roberts (Nasri 45′).