Manchester City names newly healthy Sergio Aguero to FA Cup squad

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It’s been exactly one month since Manchester City last had the services of their leading scorer. Since, Sergio Agüero has been sidelined with a calf injury that originally expected to cost him six weeks of action. Now, two weeks ahead of schedule, the Argentine attacker is set to return, having been named to City’s squad for tomorrow’s FA Cup replay against Blackburn.

The match comes after the teams drew 1-1 at Ewood Park on Jan. 4, the only game Manchester City  failed to win during Agüero’s absence. With seven victories in their last eight games, City has advanced to the League Cup semifinals and climbed to second in the Premier League, scoring 22 goals while their star striker recovered. With Edin Dzeko taking Agüero’s place in Manuel Pellegrini’s starting XI, City has been able to weather the loss of the Premier League’s second-leading scorer.

Despite that success, the Citizens will be relieved at the quick return of a man who has scored 19 goals in 20 all-competition games this season, his 13 league goals leaving him behind only Liverpool’s Luis Suárez (22) among Premier League scorers. Originally expected to be out until late January after leaving City’s 6-3 win over Arsenal, Agüero’s early comeback will afford him matches against Blackburn, Cardiff City, and West Ham before his team faces its next top-half opponent. On Jan. 29, City visit Tottenham before hosting Chelsea five days later.

In the meantime, a healthy Agüero will help City absorb a new rash of injuries hitting the team’s stars. While Pellegirni is hopeful Samir Nasri’s knee injury won’t keep the French attacker sidelined for the initially-feared eight weeks, he’s still looking at starting XI without one of his interiores for most of winter. On Wednesday, Nasri will be joined on the sidelines by David Silva and Yaya Touré, City set to rest their two hobbled stars ahead of their Saturday league match with Cardiff..

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