Manchester City v Liverpool - Premier League

Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool: Jovetic brace guides City to win

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Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium strength was back after the Citizens avenged last season’s loss to Liverpool with deadly finishing in a 3-1 win on Monday afternoon.

Stevan Jovetic scored a brace for City, both goals owing plenty to French midfielder Samir Nasri. Sergio Aguero added a goal of his own for the victors.

Rickie Lambert forced Pablo Zabaleta into an own goal late on what would’ve been the Reds forward’s first goal for his boyhood club.

With the win, City is tied for the league lead in points, but dips behind Tottenham on goal differential.

Liverpool stays mid table, their goal difference sinking to minus-1.

[ MORE: Watch full replay, here ]

[ RELATED: Balotelli says leaving England ‘a mistake’ now rectified ]

The first shot of the game didn’t come until the clock turned to 7:00, with Edin Dzeko turning a mediocre low shot wide.

There were some solid moments from both defenses, with Vincent Kompany blocking a hard Daniel Sturridge shot at one end and Martin Skrtel sliding to break up a dangerous pass intended for Dzeko from Yaya Toure.

Jovetic, 24, struck before halftime, taking advantage of a less than perfect clearance from Dejan Lovren and a missed mark of Alberto Moreno. His shot clipped Simon Mignolet’s leg on the way into the goal for a 1-0 lead.

[VIDEO: Premier League highlights, here]

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

The Montenegrin striker struck again in the 55th minute, flicking a ball forward before collecting a cutback from Nasri and blasting a left-footed shot past Mignolet. It was 2-0 and City looked good.

How big of a team play was the tally? Check in, @OptaJoe:

source: Getty ImagesLiverpool boss Brendan Rodgers brought on Lazar Markovic for Philippe Coutinho in the 60th minute in the hopes of shaking things up.

Substitute Jesus Navas sent a gorgeous pass around the Liverpool defense that Aguero rapped home in the 69th minute, just moments after subbing into the game himself. The rout was absolutely on.

But, wait: Lambert moved past a great first save from Joe Hart to pressure Zabaleta into an own goal in the 84th minute and nearly made it 3-2 on the next Reds’ possession.

It turned out to be a momentary lapse, credit to Arlo White for the adjective/noun combo, as City picked up all three points.

Rodgers’ side faced a load of injuries late in a classic “when it rains it pours” scenario, as Moreno hit the turf late while hurting his ankle without any contact from anything but the ground. Glen Johnson had already left the pitch to make it 10 men, while Skrtel played through an injury.

Lineups

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Kompany, Clichy, Fernando, Nasri, Toure, Silva (Navas, 65′), Jovetic (Fernandinho, 80′), Dzeko (Aguero, 69′)

Goals: Jovetic 2 (42, 55), Aguero (69)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno, Gerrard, Coutinho (Markovic, 60′), Henderson, Allen (Can, 75′), Sterling (Lambert, 79′), Sturridge

Goal: Zabaleta (OG, 84)

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

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Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

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VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

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Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

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A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

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