Roberto Mancini says Manchester City remains alive in the EPL title chase. You believe him?

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Roberto Mancini, Manchester City’s embattled manager, likes the way his team performed today, generally dominant in a 2-0 win over Chelsea.

And he’s correct, of course. But that’s the point; Where has more like this been through the long Premiership campaign?

City’s big men did what the visiting counterparts did not – they rose to the moment. Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez scored wonderful goals, and goalkeeper Joe Hart atoned for giving up a penalty kick with an excellent stop on Frank Lampard’s well-hit effort from the spot.

This was a big moment, City’s important victory Sunday. It was big in creating a little breathing room in the table; Mancini’s club is now seven points clear of Chelsea for second place.

But again, where have more like this one been as Manchester United built the 12-point lead that Sir Alex Ferguson’s men now hold?

Mancini isn’t giving up hope. What he said in the flash interview immediately after Sunday’s win at the Etihad.

First of all, we can’t thing that it’s finished with 11 games to go. We can’t think this … It’s not my mentality. We don’t want it. This isn’t in the players’ mentality, and we need to play like today.”

Points for confidence and fighting mentality. But the issue here isn’t just the Sky Blues and whether they can perform as the Big City rather than the Shrunken City, about whether Mancini’s men can string together more of these commanding afternoons.

It’s also about United, which has given no indication that a repeat of last year’s late collapse is a threat.

Even with Robin van Persie’s hip injury – which is not expected to be a long-term injury but must be concerning considering everything the sensational Dutchman means around Old Trafford – you get a feeling that things are under control with United. The schedule favors Ferguson’s men, too, which leaves us to answer the same question …

Where was more like Sunday for the pursuers from Manchester City?

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

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


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE