Fabio

Middlesbrough 2-2 Man City: Jesus stuns bright Boro

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Middlesbrough, feeling hard done by a harsh refereeing decision, felt justice had been done when Calum Chambers bungled the ball into the back of the net with 13 minutes to go. What a result it would be in the relegation battle.

It was not to be. Gabriel Jesus, on his return from injury, scored a thumping header with five minutes remaining to peg back Boro for the second time, leaving the home side with a valuable point but a bitter taste in their mouths.

City had its first good effort on net after eight minutes as Sergio Aguero shifted to his left and looked for the top corner but the ball curled just over the bar.

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The game had little on net as it progressed past the half-hour mark, until Middlesbrough had a few half-chances. Marten De Roon put one over the bar under heavy pressure inside the penalty area, and then Stewart Downing also missed the target moments later.

With the home side impressing throughout the first half, matching City step for step, they managed to find a way in front. A Kevin De Bruyne cross was cut out by George Friend and it sparked a vicious break. Downing’s cross from the left was too far behind Friend, but it fell to Alvaro Negredo who fell as he shot, but managed to get the left-footed effort off the left post and into the back of the net as the home fans erupted. Negredo’s goal against his former club was only the beginning of his fantastic performance.

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After the break, Pep Guardiola kept the starting lineup out there momentarily, but quickly made a double change just four minutes in as he yanked off Aleix Garcia and Gael Clichy in favor of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. They immediately made an impact as Sterling’s effort on net was only blocked last-ditch by Calum Chambers.

City began to attack with more vicious intent, and Sterling again had a shot blocked by Chambers’ face on 57 minutes. Their pressure bore fruit as Sane went down in the box under pressure from De Roon, and referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot. The Middlesbrough players absolutely lost their minds, with both De Roon and Fabio earning yellow cards for dissent after the decision. At first glance of the replay there was a clear foul, but upon closer inspection it appeared Sane leaned heavily into the contact to draw the whistle.

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Aguero blasted the penalty in to leave little doubt as the score leveled at 1-1, with the home fans and players still incensed. Middlesbrough looked for a way back into the lead by bringing on Adama Traore, who immediately drew a yellow on Nicolas Otamendi for a foul on a breakaway.

Middlesbrough would eventually get justice for the penalty, as they went back in front with 13 minutes remaining. A free-kick was only parried awkwardly by Willy Caballero, and somehow City failed to clear with the ball pinging all over the box. Negredo somehow kept it alive with a back-heel, and eventually his shot was turned in clumsily by Chambers who wheeled away in delight.

Again though, the lead would not hold. Fabio fouled Sane on the left flank, and Aguero delivered a cross into the box, and only Jesus judged it correctly, cracking the header past Brad Guzan. That leveled things at 2-2, ripping the collective hearts out of Riverside Stadium. City pushed for a winner down the stretch in tense final minutes, but could not find the right formula. Aguero had to come off late with what looked to be a slight knock, a slight concern for City at the end.

The point for Middlesbrough sees them climb within four of Swansea City, who also drew a Manchester club earlier on Sunday. They still remain six points adrift of safety with Hull City well above, leaving the draw feeling like a brutal loss. For City, they keep pace with Manchester United, but cannot build any lead above their single point.

Boro medical staff keeps Fabio sidelined after head injury

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After an aerial clash with Swansea City’s Leroy Fer, Fabio lay motionless on the Liberty Stadium pitch for a significant amount of time, and as the medical staff attended to him, it became apparently quickly that the Middlesbrough defender was at least suspected of having suffered a concussion.

The former Manchester United man finally sat up, still woozy, and was helped off the field. As the stars cleared, he looked to return to the field.

No so fast, said the medical staff.

The Middlesbrough medical team did something not seen often enough in today’s game, physically restraining Fabio as he attempted to return to play, instead clearly signaling for his substitution to keep the player out of danger. The 26-year-old looked visibly frustrated at his inability to rejoin his teammates in the relegation battle against Swansea, but with the medical staff not convinced of his health, the right call was made.

With new regulations regarding concussions instituted in the English top flight before the 2014/15 season, the medical staff has the final say regarding head injuries on whether a player can continue. Earlier this season, Manchester United came under fire when Anthony Martial suffered a clear head injury, but he returned to the field, only to make a bad mistake that led to a Watford goal. He was then substituted, clearly in some discomfort.

This time, Middlesbrough should be praised for its ability to keep players safe. Despite his protests, Fabio was substituted, replaced by Adam Forshaw in the 65th minute, six minutes after the Brazilian came off the field.

EURO 2016 qualifying roundup: Rooney ties England goals record as Three Lions cruise into France

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France automatically qualified for EURO 2016 as the host nation, and England became the first team to earn a berth in the tournament with a win over San Marino today, maintaining a perfect record of seven wins from seven matches.

Check out a quick roundup of the qualification matches today.

San Marino 0-6 England

Wayne Rooney opened the scoring from the penalty spot just 13 minutes into the match, tallying his 49th goal for England. That ties Rooney with the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton as the Three Lions’ all-time top scorer. Remarkably, both players scored goal 49 in their 106th cap for England. Up 2-0 at halftime, Everton’s Ross Barkley scored 15 seconds into the second half to seal the three points, with Theo Walcott (2) and Harry Kane adding goals off the bench.

Ukraine 3-1 Belarus

Ukraine took an early lead within ten minutes and never looked back. Striker Andriy Yarmolenko was wanted by some big name clubs this summer, but stayed with Dynamo Kyiv and showed his talents doubling Ukraine’s lead in the 30th minute before Yevhen Konoplyanka made it 3-0 before the break. Yarmolenko is Ukraine’s second-highest goalscorer, behind only the former Milan and Chelsea man Andriy Shevchenko. With the win, Ukraine moves level on points with Spain for second place in Group C, although Spain has a game in-hand.

Russia 1-0 Sweden

Leonid Slutsky’s first match in charge of Russia was a big win as Artyom Dzyuba’s strike in the 38th minute was enough to down Sweden. Slutsky replaced former England manager Fabio Capello after he was relieved of his duties following a dispute over wages with the Russian federation. Russia now sits in third place in the Group G standings one point behind Sweden, as qualifying for the EURO’s is vital for the hosts of the 2018 World Cup.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group C

Luxembourg 1-0 Macedonia
Spain 2-0 Slovakia

Group E

Estonia 1-0 Lithuania
Switzerland 3-2 Slovenia

Group G

Austria 1-0 Moldova
Montenegro 2-0 Liechtenstein

Real Madrid’s Perez says De Gea move failed because Manchester United lacks transfer “experience”

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Florentino Perez isn’t done taking shots at Manchester United.

Real Madrid had already issued a point-by-point critique laying out why the David De Gea-Keylor Navas trade-off failed at the summer transfer deadline, and now is pointing to United as novices in the transfer game.

[ EURO 2016: Thursday’s qualifying roundup ]

At least compared to the club that’s done a move for a “Galactico” or twelve.

Perez says a move that should’ve taken an hour “took eight”, and blasted the Red Devils’ chairman by using examples from 2013.

From the BBC:

Florentino Perez drew parallels with United’s failure to sign both Real’s Fabio Coentrao and Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera on the final day of the summer transfer window in 2013.

Goalkeeper De Gea’s move fell through as paperwork was not submitted in time.

“They lack experience,” Perez told Spanish radio station Cadena SER. 

“This same thing happened to Coentrao and Herrera.”

The idea that United lacks experience in the transfer game is pretty funny. The club has sent Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham to La Liga’s giants, and purchased Angel Di Maria from Madrid amongst dozens of deals in recent years.

Hopefully this is the last blast in what’s become an annoying war of words, one that could’ve easily been avoided had either party not been having a foot-measuring contest.

European qualifiers preview: Netherlands, Spain, Germany in unusual positions (full schedule)

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Four match days remain in the group stage of qualification for Euro 2016 in France.

That means several big name nations have to pick up big points beginning Thursday if they want to avoid the playoff stage, let alone miss the tournament completely.

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To refresh: the top two teams in each group go directly to Euro 2016. The top-ranked third-place side will go through, while the other eight will pair off in a two-legged home-road tie to advance to France. Only the host nation has clinched a spot already.

Take Group A, where powerful Netherlands could be outside the playoff picture after this week. The Dutch have to host first-place Iceland on Thursday before a Sunday trip to No. 4 Turkey, the former opponent with a five-point lead on its hosts and the latter just two points behind Holland.

Group C finds Spain and Slovakia in the driver’s seat, but also en route to a head-on collision for first place. The Slovak side is guaranteed at least third place, but can take a 6-point advantage on second-place Spain with a road win on Saturday. Meanwhile, third-place Ukraine has a pair of relative minnows in Belarus and Macedonia, and will hope to make up its three points on Spain (which holds a five-goal advantage in differential and a 1-0 home win).

Group D has an open-door policy, as Germany has slipped up a bit. The World Cup champions are a point behind group-leading Poland, and host the leaders on Friday before another tough match-up with Scotland on Monday. If the White Eagles can get a point from Die Mannschaft, they’ll have a great chance to clinch a spot with minnows Gibraltar next.

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Sweden has a tough pair of Group G match-ups with leaders Austria and third-place Russia, but its Leonid Slutsky under pressure. The longtime CSKA Moscow coach is taking over for Fabio Capello, and has to make up four points on the No.2 Swedes, making a home win on Saturday all-but-necessary.

In groups H and I, Italy and Portugal have found tougher sledding than usual. The Italians should have themselves sorted by the end of the week, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s side has to avenge its home loss to Albania. The good news? Albania has to play two matches in this window, while Portugal can focus its energy on the Red and Blacks.

FULL WEEK’S SCHEDULE

Thursday, Sept. 3
Kazakhstan at Czech Republic
Latvia at Turkey
Iceland at Netherlands
Wales at Cyprus
Bosnia & Herzegovina at Belgium
Andorra at Israel
Croatia at Azerbaijan
Norway at Bulgaria
Malta at Italy

Friday, Sept. 4
Northern Ireland at Faroe Islands
Romania at Hungary
Finland at Greece
Albania at Denmark
Ireland at Gibraltar
Armenia at Serbia

Saturday, Sept. 5
Lithuania at Estonia
England at San Marino
Slovenia at Switzerland
Sweden at Russia
Moldova at Austria
Liechtenstein at Montenegro

Sunday, Sept. 6
Czech Republic at Latvia
Netherlands at Turkey
Kazakhstan at Iceland
Israel at Wales
Belgium at Cyprus
Andorra at Bosnia & Herzegovina
Croatia at Norway
Azerbaijan at Malta
Bulgaria at Italy

Monday, Sept. 7
Georgia at Ireland
Germany at Scotland
Hungary at Northern Ireland
Faroe Islands at Finland
Greece at Romania
Denmark at Armenia
Portugal at Albania

Tuesday, Sept. 8
Spain at Macedonia
Ukraine at Slovakia
Luxembourg at Belarus
San Marino at Lithuania
Switzerland at England
Estonia at Slovenia
Montenegro at Moldova
Russia at Liechtenstein
Austria at Sweden