Offshore drilling, England: Manchester City 2, at Newcastle United 0

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Man of the Match: Of course, it was Yaya Touré. While Vincent Kompany got the big goal on Monday against rival United, it’s usually the Citizens’ midfield general that comes up with the big goals. On Sunday, that goal came in the 70th minute, with Touré opening his right foot on a 20-yard shot, slotting the game-winner one foot inside Tim Krul’s left post.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Though the winner came relatively late, this match took a predictable form. After an initial feeling out period, City started the slow process of breaking down a Newcastle side playing as if they knew they were second best. By the end of the first, City was consistently creating chances down their left, with a Davide Santon intervention on the line needed to keep Gareth Barry from putting City up near intermission.
  • “Can they get to halftime?” It’s the question that’s always asked in these scenarios. It’s clear one team is vastly better than the other, but if the underdogs can just make it to intermission, they’ll get to reset. Maybe they can extend that momentum-less, expository opening to the second half into the game’s last half hour, when they can hold on for dear life. Yeah, Newcastle was way off City’s standard, but we’ve seen this match before. Once Howard Webb blew halftime, the idea of a 0-0 draw started to take hold.
  • The Magpies never looked capable of more. This was a team that could have moved third? It was hard to believe, based on their performance. There was no urgency, no drive, no sense that had been given an opportunity to cease control of their Champions League destiny. Their performance gave justification to all the patronizing analyses marveling how a plucky club like theirs could venture into places that should be far, far beyond their meager reach. Today, they approached this match more like an Fulham-esque upstart than a Champions League candidate.
  • This was most evident with Newcastle’s Senegalese striker tandem. We know Manchester City’s central defenders (Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott) can match up with anybody in England, but Sunday’s muzzling of Papiss Demba Cisse and Demba Ba was devastating. The only thing missing was Kompany taking an ether-drenched rang from his sock, sneaking behind Cissé and whispering “there, there” as he put him to sleep. “It’s all over now. You can rest, Papiss. You can rest.”
  • Still, for much of the second half, it looked like Newcastle could hold out, as City left Tim Krul wanting for action throughout the first 15 minutes. Slowly you saw wide midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez creep deeper and deeper. “It’s happening,” you said to yourself. “They’re about the slip the switch, bunker, and bleed this thing out.”
  • Minutes later, Touré happened. On the ball 28 yards from goal, he got a pass away to Sergio Agüero just as Yoann Cabaye put in a challenge. With Newcastle’s midfielder unable to recover in time to track Touré, Agüero immediately played a ball into the space Cabaye vacated. Fabricio Coloccini couldn’t close him down in time, and with his impeccably placed shot, Touré instantly extinguished every flicker of hope Magpies’ supporters had kindled over the first 69 minutes.
  • Touré would go on to add a late second, but it could have been worse for Newcastle. He missed another easy chance in the 84th minute, while Agüero went wide on an opportunity in the 75th after being put in alone on Krul.
  • Newcastle’s shortcomings aside, it was a second stifling performance from Manchester City within the span of a week. On Monday they held Manchester United to no shots on goal, while Newcastle only generated one moment of danger.
  • City will close (what is assumed to be) their first Premier League title campaign next week against relegation-embattled Queens Park Rangers, a team bossed by Roberto Mancini’s predecessor, Mark Hughes. Newcastle travels to Everton needing help to from West Brom (hosting Arsenal) and/or Fulham (at Tottenham) to realize their Champions League dreams.

“Drill, baby, drill.” — Huge fans of ProSoccerTalk’s Offshore drilling updates.

Video: Ronaldo scores fourth goal, gives Portugal early lead

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He has four goals in less than two matches, and Portugal is off to another flying start courtesy of their star forward.

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Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Portuguese a 1-0 lead against Morocco in the fourth minute after brilliantly heading home a corner kick.

The Real Madrid star gave Portugal a similar spark at the beginning of their 3-3 draw against Spain in their first Group B match when Ronaldo drew, and scored a penalty kick inside of the opening three minutes.

Is there anything this man cannot do?

Reports: Alli unlikely to play in England’s second Group G match

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The Three Lions may not have taken all good news away from the team’s 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener.

[ MORE: Russia races past Egypt, likely en route to next round ]

Several reports are suggesting that England will likely be without Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli in their second Group G match against Panama on Sunday.

Alli was forced out of England’s opener with a thigh strain, which gave manager Gareth Southgate the decision to put in Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

There isn’t a timetable for the 22-year-old’s return to the pitch, but his absence will definitely present a major question for Southgate heading into the rest of group play.

Without Alli in the starting XI, it’ll likely be between Loftus-Cheek and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard to fill the role where Alli normally sits.

In the case of Lingard, who started against Tunisia, the England boss would have to bring in another starter if Southgate opts to have the Red Devils attacker sit in as the number 10.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

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Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.