Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle United

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  • City are unbeaten in 13 games vs. Newcastle (11-0-2)
  • Newcastle have never won at the Etihad
  • Man City scored in every home game in 2012-13, the only team to do that

The first Monday game of the season has arrived as Manchester City host Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium (3pm ET, watch live on NBCSN or NBC Sports Live Extra) later today.

City’s new manager Manuel Pellegrini will be making his home debut in front of a packed house in Manchester, with Newcastle aiming to get off to a good start in one of the most daunting venues in the league.

Pellegrini has bought big this summer, with Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Jesus Navas all arriving for over $135 million. All four of the new men are expected to start for City, with their defense set in stone after an impressive season at the back in 2012-13 City kept more clean sheets, 18, than any other team last year and also conceded just 34 goals.

But these new signings will give them an extra impetus up front.

As for Newcastle, it has been a turbulent summer at St. James’ Park after Joe Kinnear was controversially appointed in the front office. Owner Mike Ashley has placed Kinnear above manager Alan Pardew and Newcastle’s fans aren’t happy with the situation in the North-East. Star striker Papiss Cisse is back on the pitch after threatening to walk out of the club following a money-lending company became the Magpies shirt sponsor. Cisse has put his religious dispute to one side and will now lead the line.

As for injuries, Sergio Aguero has overcome a knee complaint and should feature but Matija Nastasic is still out with an ankle injury. While Newcastle have fitness doubts over Davide Santon (hip), Steven Taylor (toe) and Jonas Gutierrez (hamstring). And Newcastle’s only new signing of the summer, Loic Remy from QPR, is unavailable after a calf injury.

Make sure you tune in to NBC Sports Network or watch online via NBC Sports Live Extra to see City clash with Newcastle in what should be an end-to-end encounter.

What they’re saying

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew: “They’ve again invested heavily, Manchester City. They’re obviously going to be one of the contenders for the title so it’s a tough game for us but we’re more than ready for it.The ideal scenario is to get a result of any kind and I think we’ve got the players to do it. We carry some fabulous players – (Yohan) Cabaye, (Fabricio) Coloccini, Papiss Cisse – so we’ve got an opportunity and hopefully we can take it.”

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: “Of course the new players – and the manager and staff – all need to time to get to know each other and I am sure that we will improve as the season progresses but we do not have that time; we have to hit the ground running and that starts against Newcastle. Supporters of Manchester City have the reputation of being a big family and I am delighted to be part of it. My job now is to win trophies and take the team forward.

Prediction

I can see this ending up as comfortable win for Man City. The new players will look to put on a show in their first home game and new manager Manuel Pellegrini will be fired up, yet composed, to get his first season in the Premier League underway. Newcastle are great going forward but not so good at the back. Expect a goal-fest and a City win.

SKC, Crew SC play to 0-0 draw; VAR steals the show (again)

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

Three moments that mattered

43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.

45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).

59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: None

Rayo Vallecano win promotion back to La Liga

Photo credit: Rayo Vallecano / @RayoVallecano
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MADRID (AP) Rayo Vallecano earned promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Lugo 1-0 in a second-tier league game on Sunday.

Alex Moreno’s goal for the hosts in the 40th minute sealed Rayo’s return to La Liga after two seasons away.

Huesca had already secured promotion last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Lugo.

The third team to move up will be the winner of a two-round playoff between the four teams that finish the season from third to sixth.

Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were all relegated from the top flight this season.

FOLLOW LIVE: West leaders SKC host East’s 2nd-best Crew SC

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.

[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]

Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.

Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.

Ronaldo staying at Real Madrid: ‘See you next year’

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MADRID (AP) — For a third straight year, Real Madrid are celebrating a European title with their fans.

Madrid brought the Champions League trophy home on Sunday and paraded it through the streets of the Spanish capital as thousands of fans saluted the newly crowned champions.

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

Madrid was back in Spain after winning its 13th European title with a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday.

Players and team members participated in a ceremony at a local cathedral. After this they met with the city mayor and community president before addressing fans from a terrace at the Puerta del Sol square, one of Madrid’s main locations.

“It has become a routine to be here,” captain Sergio Ramos said. “Hopefully it will continue for many years.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, who after the final hinted he could be leaving Madrid, heard fans asking him to stay at the club.

“Thank you for all of your support,” Ronaldo told the crowd. “We made history, it’s time to be happy.”

The team then got on an open bus and paraded with the trophy until reaching the club’s traditional celebration spot, the Plaza de Cibeles, where fans had been waiting for the champions for hours.

[ UCL FINAL: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

The players chanted “Campeones, Campeones” and “We Are Kings of Europe” along with the fans. Ramos and Marcelo carried the trophy across the walkway set up over the plaza’s fountain and draped the statue of the goddess Cibele with a Spain flag that carried Madrid’s name on it. Ramos also put a team scarf around the goddess’ head to huge cheers from the crowd as the song “We Are The Champions” was played.

The next stop was due to be the team’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where nearly 80,000 fans were expected to attend a ceremony honoring the European champions.

The stadium was packed on Saturday with fans watching the match on eight big screens set up at midfield. Confetti blasted from a stage behind the screens when the players lifted the trophy in Ukraine.

Thousands had already made it to the Plaza de Cibeles right after the game in celebrations that lasted into the early hours of Sunday.

Madrid has won the Champions League in four of the last five years. It had beaten Juventus last season, and city rival Atletico Madrid in finals in 2014 and 2016.