Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool: Slugfest ends even

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  • Milner scores penalty kick
  • Aguero equalizes for City
  • Liverpool unbeaten against top six
  • City unbeaten in 7 PL games

Manchester City and Liverpool left it all out on the pitch in an enthralling 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

James Milner put Liverpool ahead with a controversial penalty kick but Sergio Aguero rescued a point for City as both teams had plenty of chances but couldn’t find a winner in a hugely entertaining contest.

With the point Man City stay in third and have 57 points, while Liverpool are fourth on 56 points.

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Kevin De Bruyne almost caught out Simon Mignolet at his near post as he mishit his cross as City grew into the game as the first half wore on. Fernandinho then whipped in a great cross which Aguero almost got on the end of but Joel Matip marshaled City’s Argentine striker expertly.

City continued to look the more dangerous as Aguero and Sane linked up and the latter sent in a cross which broke to David Silva who drilled a shot inches wide.

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Liverpool then ha a great chance to go ahead as Sadio Mane raced clear and latched onto a loose ball but Nicolas Otamendi and Claudio Bravo did enough between them to thwart the Senegalese forward. Georginio Wijnaldum went down in the box under pressure from Yaya Toure and Liverpool felt they should have had a penalty kick.

Man City then came agonizingly close to taking the lead as Silva’s ball into the six-yard box was about to be tapped home by Raheem Sterling but James Milner seemed to bundle him over and then Fernandinho slipped at the vital moment and put his shot wide. Moments later Willy Caballero pushed a fine shot by Roberto Firmino wide and then denied Adam Lallana as the first half finished with a flourish.

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Liverpool started the second half well as Lallana got free down the right and cut the ball back to Mane but his shot was brilliantly blocked by John Stones.

Moments later Liverpool were ahead as Milner slammed home a spot kick (his seventh of the season) after a challenge from Gael Clichy on Firmino which Michael Oliver deemed to be a foul. However replays showed that Clichy got the ball but that little difference as Liverpool led.

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The rest of the game continued to me an end-to-end encounter with Sterling going close and then Philippe Coutinho played clean through but Caballero coming up big once again.

City were eventually level as De Bruyne was free on the right flank and he whipped in a delightful ball which Aguero duly tapped home. 1-1. Game on. City pushed hard for the win as Sane and Aguero linked up superbly and Liverpool half cleared with the ball falling to De Bruyne but he hit the post with his shot.

At the other end Lallana missed a glorious chance as Wijnaldum played in Firmino with an amazing lobbed pass and he passed it to Lallana who completely missed the ball. Huge let off for City who then had a great chance of their own but Sterling’s short squirmed just wide as Mignolet raced out.

One final chance came and went as Aguero volleyed over at the back post from six yards out and that was that. What a game.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

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Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

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“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

(more…)

La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

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.