Gareth Barry rescues Manchester City, delivers 93rd minute winner

1 Comment

After 92 minutes of nothing, Gareth Barry gave Manchester City something: Two extra points.

Reading had held out the whole way at the Etihad, the relegation-embattled Royals within minutes of a valuable point against the defending champions. Manchester City had was in control the entire time but had generated very few chances. Through regulation time, the Citizens had only put two shots on Adam Federici.

But until there’s a goal, you only need one shot to win it, and minutes before referee Mike Dean was set to call time on what would have been City’s bitter disappointment, Barry got his chance.

Or, better put, he made his chance, and in the process gave City a Saturday victory:

Gareth Barry has been the subject of much criticism over the years. After a drawn-out courtship by then-Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez failed to pry him from Aston Villa (where he lost his captaincy), his game was rightly scrutinized against LFC’s implied evaluation. When Manchester City overpaid to take him from Villa Park, the criticisms became more germane.

But as he continues to illustrate, Barry is a one of the few points of consistency in the City side, and as the reliability entails efficiency with the small things while playing mistake-free soccer, he’s been one of the holders’ better players.

It’s fashionable to bemoan the idea that a straight-forward, limited player like Barry can be so important to such an ambitious club, but those thought exercises ignore the fact that he’s actually very good, if straight-forward and limited. As the absences of Darren Fletcher and Frank Lampard have shown, Almost every club around City in the table could use someone like Barry.

So he’s not Sergio Busquets. You know what the really great thing about Busquets is? Nobody is like him.

And he’s not Bastian Schweinsteiger. But guess what the great thing about Schweinsteiger is.

Gareth Barry only needs to be Gareth Barry. That means solid play, the right decisions, and an occasional 93rd minute goal. And City’s two points better for it.

Group C wide open as Denmark, Australia settle for draw

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Denmark and Australia settled for a 1-1 draw on Thursday, as this exciting Group C affair had nothing to separate the two nations at the end of 90 minutes.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

As it stands, the Danes lead the group with four points, while Australia earned its first point of the World Cup.

France will meet Peru later on Thursday, with Les Bleus having won its first match and Peru having suffered defeat to Denmark.

The Danes broke through after seven minutes when Nicolai Jørgensen picked out a perfect back-heel pass to Christian Eriksen at the top of the box, before the Tottenham Hotspur attacker volleyed home for a 1-0 lead.

Jørgensen nearly doubled the Denmark advantage in the 24th minute when the 27-year-old had an open header from close range that skewed just wide of the target.

Australia worked its way into the match following the opener, and were awarded a penalty kick in the 37th minute after VAR Mark Geiger altered an initial decision for a handball inside the box.

Mile Jedinak converted the spot kick to level the match at 1-1, giving the Socceroos life.

A dangerous free kick four minutes later almost gave Denmark the lead once again, however, Eriksen couldn’t get a crucial touch on the ball to knock it over the goal line before Ryan collected.

The second half continued with lightning pace from both sides, and Aaron Mooy‘s 71st minute blast came inches away from giving Australia an improbable lead.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The two nations will conclude Group C play on June 26, as Denmark faces France and Australia takes on CONMEBOL side Peru.

Video: VAR awards Australia penalty, before Jedinak converts

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
1 Comment

The Socceroos battled admirably in the latter stages of the first half, and Australia was rewarded for their efforts.

Australia has leveled the match at 1-1 after a Mile Jedinak penalty kick cancelled out Christian Eriksen’s stunning opener in the seventh minute.

After an initial decision to play on by the head referee, VAR Mark Geiger opted to award a penalty kick to the Aussies after Yussuf Poulsen was caught with his hand away from his body on a Mathew Leckie header.

Poulsen was also shown a yellow card for the infraction, which rules him out for Denmark’s group-stage finale against France.

Video: Eriksen volley has Denmark ahead inside 10 minutes

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Denmark is well on its way to another three points on Thursday, and this time it’s Christian Eriksen who has finally broken through at the World Cup.

 MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Eriksen put the Danes in front in the seventh minute after a tremendous volley that gave Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan no chance at keeping it out.

After a sloppy turnover in their own half, Australia could only watch as the ball fell to Nicolai Jørgensen, who cleverly back-heeled to Eriksen at the top of the box.

The Danes pulled off a 1-0 victory in their first Group C match against Peru, while Australia fell 2-1 to France.

Croatia coach says “we have nothing to lose” against Argentina

Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic chose his words wisely when discussing their final Group D opponent, Argentina, but his side won’t be backing down when they take on Lionel Messi and Co.

[ MORE: Spain gets win after Iran equalizer called off by replay ]

With three points already in the bag for the European nation, Croatia currently sits atop their group, however, Dalic recognizes the task that lies in front of him and his team on Thursday.

“I didn’t say that Argentina was the easiest opponent,” Dalic said. “I said that this was the easiest game for us. We have nothing to lose. We are playing against one of the best.”

Croatia does have the benefit of having won its first match in group play, which has given the side a decided enthusiasm heading into the meeting.

For Ivan Rakitic — who plays at Barcelona with Messi — he believes there isn’t much he or anyone on his team can say or do to further prepare themselves for the Albiceleste.

“What can I tell them that they don’t know?” Rakitic said. “The world knows. Messi is one of the best players in the world. He will have his moments, clearly. It is up to us to stop him, to play the right way against him, and to enjoy the match and play our best.

“It’s a beautiful thing to play against one of the best teams in the world. We are especially motivated.”

In four all-time meetings, Argentina leads 2-1-1 against Croatia, including a 1-0 victory during the 1998 World Cup in France.

The two teams last met in 2014 following Argentina’s World Cup final defeat to Germany, with Messi and Co. earning a 2-1 victory over Croatia.