Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal: Stunning goal sees Guardiola earn signature win

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An unbelievable pass and fine finish saw Manchester City complete its comeback and give Pep Guardiola his biggest win of the season as City took down Arsenal 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Kevin De Bruyne delivered one of the assists of the season and Raheem Sterling finished it off in style as Manchester City moved to third in the Premier League table. Theo Walcott had put Arsenal in front early, but they had little else to offer and allowed City to slowly build their way back in. Leroy Sane was the one to equalize just minutes after halftime before Sterling’s winner.

Arsenal was content to sit back and see City come at them, and when they got on the ball, they were immediately incisive. Unpressured, Alexis Sanchez was able to dribble forward and feed through Theo Walcott, who had snuck behind Nicolas Otamendi, and the English international struck home clinically for the opener just five minutes gone by.

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Right down the other end, it should have been 1-1, but the home side missed a huge chance. De Bruyne ripped a perfect cross into the box, and Sterling was there to meet it, but he blasted his header just wide right with the goal gaping.

The game slowed down following that chance, with few chances past the half-hour mark, but Arsenal held much of the meaningful possession. Walcott headed just wide from a Gabriel cross on 35 minutes, and David Silva earned the game’s first yellow card minutes later as he brought down Francis Coquelin on a break.

Pablo Zabaleta appeared to be slowing by halftime, and out of the break Guardiola replaced him with Bacary Sagna. Hardly even out of the break, Manchester City was level. A chipped ball from David Silva caught the Arsenal back line napping, and it slipped Sane through to charge into the box and tap home jus two minutes after the restart. Replay showed Sane was just a hair offside, but the margin was very slight.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Petr Cech saved the game for the Gunners on the hour mark, as Sane nearly put City in front. Fernando won the ball in midfield, allowing de Bruyne to feed Sane again as he stayed clearly onside this time, but Petr Cech came off his line to smother the chance and Sane subsequently shot right into the chest of the Arsenal goalkeeper.

Then, the moment of the match and maybe a moment of the season. One of the most incredible passes you’ll ever see, Kevin de Bruyne got the ball on a throw-in and somehow contorted his body to clip the ball 40 yards across the pitch while facing his own goal. The ball fell right into the lap of Sterling, and still with work to do, he cut inside and beat Cech to his near post to put Manchester City in front. A stunning goal from start to finish, fitting to win this match.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The win for Manchester City sees them jump the Gunners into third place on 36 points, relief for Pep Guardiola now on two straight wins after the rare pair of losses. For Arsenal, they fall to fourth and now sit just a point above rival Spurs after Tottenham downed Burnley.

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.

League Cup semi: Man City take 2-1 lead into 2nd leg vs. Bristol

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Manchester City can move one step closer on Tuesday to claiming their first of four potential trophies this season, when Pep Guardiola‘s men take on Bristol City in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday ]

After coming back to beat the Robins in the first leg at home, Man City must now go on the road and take care of business to reach the Feb. 25 final at Wembley Stadium. As he has done so many times — and so famously — in the sky blue of City, Sergio Aguero grabbed the late winner (91st minute — WATCH HERE) 14 days ago.

For a few not-so-insignificant periods of the game, Bristol were very much the aggressors and appeared more likely to make the score 2-0 than for City to get back to 1-1. Bobby Reid converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after her was brought down under John Stones‘ wild, sliding tackle. Kevin De Bruyne leveled things up 10 minutes into the second half, setting the stage for Aguero’s late heroics.

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

Since the first leg on Jan. 9, City have failed in their bid to finish the PL season with an unbeaten record before bouncing back to beat Newcastle United on the weekend, courtesy of a hat trick from Aguero — Guardiola quotes, from Sport24:

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have. Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.”

[ MORE: One dream January signing for each top-six side ]

Bristol, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times: it’s been nearly a month (Boxing Day, to be specific — five losses, one draw) since Lee Johnson’s side last won a game in any competition, and they’ve fallen from second to fifth in the Championship table — Johnson quotes, from the Guardian:

“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win. It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?

“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”

The winner of Arsenal versus Chelsea (0-0 after the first leg) awaits in the final.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

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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.