Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal: Pulsating clash swings City’s way as offense explodes (video)

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A dominant attacking display from Manchester City saw them brush aside Premier League leaders Arsenal 6-3 at the Etihad Stadium, as the Citizens are now just three points behind the Gunners after a pulsating clash.

City took the lead through Sergio Aguero’s stunning first half volley, but Theo Walcott equalized soon after for Arsenal. Before the break City regained the lead when Alvaro Negredo finished off a superb team move to make it 2-1. After the interval City extended their lead when Fernandinho curled home a beauty but Walcott pulled Arsenal back into the game with a stunner of his own moments later.

City went 4-2 up as David Silva smashed home from close range and then Fernandinho added his second to make it 5-2. Arsenal grabbed a consolation through Per Mertesacker but City had the last say as Yaya Toure scored a penalty as the Citizens momentarily move into second spot in the PL.

With the win, Manuel Pellegrini’s men are just three points Arsenal as the Gunners lead at the summit is reduced after City’s explosive offensive display. The Citizen’s have now scored 35 goals in their eight home games so far and have won all eight as they sent out a message to the rest of the PL.

Manchester City dominated the early stages as they poured forward to try and go ahead early but Arsenal held firm and gradually grew in confidence as the first half wore on.

And it was the Gunners who had the first big chance of the game, as Walcott got free down the right and found Jack Wilshere unmarked at the back post in the 11th minute but the England international horribly skewed his volley and Olivier Giroud couldn’t direct his header goal wards in the ensuing melee.

Moments later Aguero gave City the lead as he acrobatically finished at the back post after a flick on from Martin Demechelis after a corner was swung in. Aguero peeled off away from his marker and volleyed home in style to put City 1-0 up after 13 minutes as the Citizens’ bright-start was rewarded. The goal marked the Argentine’s 15th goal in his last 14, and his 19th goal in 20 games this season.

City were playing with a real swagger and confidence and in the 19th minute central defender Vincent Kompany strolled forward and played in Negredo who smashed an effort just wide of the near post as the Citizens’ pushed for a second.

Wave after wave of City attack continued to come in on Arsenal’s goal as the Gunners struggled to get out of their own half. But in the 31st minute they were back on level terms as Yaya Toure was caught in possession and Arsenal pounced to make it 1-1.

Mesut Ozil was found on the edge of the box and he waited to play in Walcott who side-footed his effort goal wards and Demechelis got a slight touch on it as the ball hit the back of the net and there has to be question marks about Costel Pantilimon’s positioning in goal for City.

A fantastic end to the first half ensued as Negredo was played in and ‘the beast’ curled his left-footed effort wide of the far corner as City looked to hit back straight-away.

source: AP
Walcott curled in a beauty for his and Arsenal’s second goal of the match.

Eventually they did go back in front, as Negredo put City 2-1 up when Toure and Pablo Zabaleta combined superbly to set the Spanish striker up for a easy tap-in in the 39th minute. Laurent Koscielny was injured for Arsenal as he tried to stop Negredo from scoring and was replaced by Thomas Vermaelen.

In the second half City lost their in-form striker Aguero within a few minutes of the restart as the Argentine forward injured his calf and was replaced by Jesus Navas with City switching to a 4-5-1 formation. Moments later City were 3-1 up as the Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho curled home his first goal in the league for City in the 50h minute.

Arsenal attacked straight-away as Wilshere’s ball found Giroud at the back post but the Frenchman blazed over from close-range. As the Gunners pushed to get back into the game Zabaleta looked to have handled a through ball which stopped Walcott from going clean through but referee Martin Atkinson waved away the calls for a PK.

Walcott made it 3-2 in the 63rd minute as he curled home a beauty to score his second goal in his first game since returning from injury. The England winger cut in from the left and put his effort right into the top corner to give the Gunners hope of a stunning comeback.

But two minutes later Silva restored City’s two-goal advantage as he powerfully swept home a cross from the right as the game took yet another twist to put the Citizens 4-2 ahead.

Late on the game opened up and City almost extended their lead as Navas went clean through, rounded Szczesny in Arsenal’s goal but put his effort into the side-netting instead of slotting home. It didn’t matter though because City scored again thanks to a cool finish from Fernandinho for his second PL goal of the season but Mertesacker pulled a goal back in stoppage time with a header. But Toure rounded it all off from the penalty spot in the 94th minute to make it 6-3.

City are now within touching distance of top spot.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Nasri, Silva (Milner, 70), Aguero (Jesus Navas 48), Negredo

Goals: Aguero (14), Negredo (39), Fernandinho (50 & 87), Silva (66), Toure (90)

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Vermaelen, 41), Monreal, Flamini (Gnabry, 70), Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud (Bendtner, 75)

Goals: Walcott (31 & 63), Mertesacker (90)

Champions League preview: Spurs host Leipzig, Valencia visits Atalanta

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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties kickoff Wednesday, including one being labeled as the biggest in a club’s existence.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

That would be Serie A side Atalanta, which hosts Valencia at 3 p.m. at Gewiss Stadium.

Atalanta had played in two consecutive Europa Leagues, but this is their first move into the Champions League. To make the knockout rounds is exceptional, and club president Antonio Percassi is fired up.

“We must be honest, this is the most important game in the history of this club,” Percassi told Sky Sport Italia. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s exciting just thinking that tomorrow we’ll be in a Champions League Round of 16. It’s wonderful for our fans too. … This is going to be a unique experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Atalanta finished second in its group to Manchester City, and is fourth in Serie A. Valencia won its group.

There’s a Premier League side in action on Wednesday, too, as Spurs begin life without Heung-Min Son.

Jose Mourinho spun a tale about how badly Tottenham will need its fans against RB Leipzig, comparing the home-field advantage to an emergency rescue crew of sorts.

Leipzig is led by Julian Nagelsmann, who was once referred to as “Baby Mourinho” by his players.

The 32-year-old was quick to distance himself from the story.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v. Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won lots of titles with big clubs, the Champions League twice. He has made his mark on European football at some big European clubs. I think it his 59th knockout game in the CL and it is my first so there is obviously respect there.”

Liverpool’s Robertson not a fan of Atletico Madrid theatrics

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Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson was not impressed with Atletico Madrid’s display as his side fell 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Reds fell behind on a fourth-minute Saul Niguez goal and couldn’t get a shot on target despite 73 percent possession in Spain.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Atleti executed its plan to near-perfection, slowing restarts and taking advantage of counterattacking opportunities to assuage the constant pressure of Liverpool.

At times it was reminiscent of early-century Italian national team play, and both neutrals and Liverpool knew what they were in for once Atleti took the lead.

“We gave them the best possible start to get the fans behind them and then they can start falling over and things like that, trying to get under our skin a bit which I think we handled quite well to be honest,” Robertson told BT Sport. “We know we are better than (how they played). We put in a decent performance and we can be better than that. Luckily we have got a second leg to put it right.”

Given the performance and the reputation, you’d still fancy the Reds to “put it right” at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp thinks Atleti will feel plenty of pressure at Anfield, and he will certainly feel the officiating will be more to his liking.

Liverpool’s Klopp: ‘Our people will be ready’ for second leg at Anfield

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Jurgen Klopp didn’t have any issue with Diego Simeone’s defense-first Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Spanish side flummoxed Liverpool’s attack and the Reds didn’t manage a shot on target despite eight attempts and 73 percent possession at the Wanda Metropolitano.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

What Klopp didn’t appreciate was the referee’s work, though, implying that Polish official Szymon Marciniak was overwhelmed by the occasion. Marciniak has worked UCL matches for six seasons, twice overseeing quarterfinal ties.

Klopp was shown a yellow card in the second half, and the Liverpool boss felt Sadio Mane was harassed by Atleti. Klopp removed yellow-carrying Mane at halftime.

“He was targeted obviously,” Klopp said after the game. “The only thing they wanted was to make sure he got a yellow card. The score is 1-0, that’s all but you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere. So many things happened, after 30 minutes already three players were on the ground. The first yellow card was a striker from us. I’m not sure they even got a yellow card, which is funny.”

Atleti’s Angel Correa was shown a yellow, while Klopp, Mane, and Joe Gomez were cautioned for Liverpool.

The Liverpool boss found himself laughing a few times, especially when he was asked about Simeone’s touchline personality.

Klopp said before the game that if the German was a four in intensity, then Simeone was a 12. Simeone followed suit by constantly urging the crowd to get behind the home side on Tuesday.

That didn’t bother Klopp, but he issued a public relations officer’s dream in reacting to it.

“Wow, wow,” he laughed. “That’s energy. I don’t think I have to do it that much (at Anfield). Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield. It’s not over yet.”

Klopp finished his remarks by saying of Jordan Henderson‘s removal from the game with a hamstring injury, “I hope it was a precaution, but I’m not 100 percent sure”

Haaland wins first leg after Borussia Dortmund-PSG comes to life late

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Erling Haaland scored twice in a mid-second half flurry as Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The hosts also got an assist from teenager Giovanni Reyna, who became the youngest American to appear in a Champions League match.

Haaland now has 39 goals in 29 appearances between Red Bull Salzburg and BVB, 11 of those for his new German employer.

Neymar scored off a Kylian Mbappe goal for PSG, who brings an away goal back to the Parc des Princes for a March 11 second leg.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Neymar had an early free kick, missing just wide of the far post.

Jadon Sancho troubled the keeper twice in the first half hour, first with a cross that Mats Hummels headed over goal. Then, Keylor Navas picked another Sancho offering out of the air.

Sancho kept serving, and Erling Haaland couldn’t turn a promising cross on target.

Dortmund walked into halftime with a scoreless match but a 7-2 edge in shot attempts. Neither of PSG’s shots were on target.

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Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre put in American teen Giovani Reyna in the 67th minute.

Two minutes later, it was 1-0 to the hosts through Haaland’s close-range goal.

Neymar replied from close range himself after a powerful, clever dribble from Kylian Mbappe led to a pass through the box.

But Haaland got his second in the 77th minute with a scorching shot that serves as the first senior assist of Reyna’s senior career with Dortmund (Watch it here).