Manchester United 0-3 Manchester City: Dzeko’s double hands City derby delight (video)

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Manchester City prevailed in the 167th edition of the Manchester derby, as they beat Manchester United 3-0 away at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Edin Dzeko stole the headlines with two clinical finishes in each half, to keep City’s title charge on course and leave fierce rivals United languishing way down the standings. Yaya Toure’s late drive sealed the impressive victory for City, who have now won three-straight PL games away at the Theater of Dreams.

From the get-go Manuel Pellegrini’s City were the better side, as they started brightly in each half as Dzeko scored in the first minute of the match with a close range finish after a flowing City move and then finished the Red Devils off with a calm finish from a set piece just after the break.

(MORE: Three things we learned in Man City’s derby demolition of Man United)

With their fifth derby win in the last six derbies, City now move into second place in the PL standings and are just three points behind leaders Chelsea with two games in hand. As for United, they’re steady in seventh and have now lost 10 PL games for the first-time in history as David Moyes’ side were second-best throughout.

Man City made a lighting quick start as Dzeko opened the scoring within 43 seconds of the kick off. David Silva burst into the box and Rafael stopped him with a last-ditch tackle but the ball then broke to Samir Nasri, who shifted the ball onto his right foot and struck the post but the rebound came straight to Dzeko who tapped home from two-yards out to give City the perfect start.

In the 9th minute Silva intercepted the ball after a poor giveaway 30-yards out which saw the Spaniard surge towards the edge of the box and take it past two United defenders but his tame effort was blocked, as the Citizens missed a golden chance to go 2-0 ahead.

(MORE: David Moyes takes responsibility for ‘disappointing’ derby before walking out of press conference)

Silva was popping everywhere as City were dominating the early stages and United just couldn’t get a grip on proceedings. In the 17th minute great link up play between Yaya Toure and Silva link up saw the latter play a great ball to Dzeko, and although the Bosnian directed his shot towards the bottom corner David De Gea got across to save well to his left to make up for his initial giveaway.

source: Getty Images
City celebrate their third-straight derby win, as the Citizens rub salt into United’s wounds.

Then the game began to open up, as a clearance in his own six-yard box from Vincent Kompany halted United’s advances after Wayne Rooney had found Juan Mata unmarked on the left side of the box. The game ebbed and flowed, as both sets of supporters urged their teams to attack in a breathless opening 45 minutes at Old Trafford. That passion spilled over in the 30th minute, as Marouane Fellaini barged into Pablo Zabaleta and shoved his forearm and elbow straight into the face of City’s right back. Referee Michael Oliver saw the whole thing, but only booked Fellaini as United were lucky to still have eleven men on the pitch.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Manchester United got better as the first half wore on, as they were lucky to be just 1-0 down following City’s early onslaught. Fellaini had a shot which Joe Hart saved easily before the half hour mark, then Mata fired way over when well placed before the interval, as City comfortably protected their one goal lead as the teams went in at the break.

City started the second half just as they’d begun the first, as they took the game to United. A vicious out-swinging corner from the right found Fernandinho in the six-yard box but the Brazilian saw the ball late and couldn’t direct his header under the crossbar as it flew over.

Soon after City did double their lead as Dzeko’s controlled volley from another inch-perfect Nasri corner made it 2-0 to the Citizens and sent the away fans wild. Nasri’s out-swinging set piece saw Dzeko steal a march on his marker to coolly volley home his 20th goal of the season and give City a commanding lead against their fierce rivals.

United tried to fight back, but for large spells of the second half ‘Ole’s’ rang out from the away end as City’s players kept the ball with ease. Welbeck went close to halving the deficit in the 71st minute, as Rafael’s cross from the right was behind United’s striker but he cleverly sent a flick towards goal with his backheel but Hart reacted superbly to claw the effort away.

City defended well and kept their clean sheet intact with a resolute defensive display as United tried to throw everything they had at their neighbors. But the game ended the way it started, City dominating proceedings, as Toure reacted first to James Milner’s deflected shot and the Ivorian smashed home a low shot in stoppage time to hammer the final nail in United’s derby day coffin.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Jones, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley (Kagawa, 45′), Fellaini (Valencia, 66′); Mata, Welbeck (Hernandez, 77′), Rooney

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri (Milner, 74′), Silva, Navas (Javi Garcia, 68′), Dzeko (Negredo, 79′)

Goals: Dzeko (1′ & 55′), Toure (90′)

Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Eriksen

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After months of posturing and working the back channels, it would appear that Christian Eriksen is close to getting his transfer away from Tottenham Hotspur.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

After months of posturing and holding firm, it would appear that Tottenham are close to getting their desired transfer fee for Eriksen despite his contract having only six months remaining.

After months of posturing and unsettling the 27-year-old star, it would appear that Inter Milan are close to getting their Danish international playmaker.

In the end, it would appear that everyone is going to get what they want, only no one truly gets what they want. Spurs spent the last year trying to sign Eriksen to a new contract; Eriksen wanted to leave in the summer and will feel like they wasted six months of his career; much like Inter would have been desperate to bolster their squad in the summer.

[ MORE: Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong ]

$22 million — the amount Spurs will reportedly receive from Inter — will hardly be enough to replace such an influential player, therefore Spurs come out of this long-running saga the worst of the bunch.

As for Eriksen and Inter, it’ll be a challenge for the player to immediately find his footing and shine ever so brightly in the midst of a title race, especially after the side has already slumped to back-to-back draws and fallen four points back of Juventus. Though, reportedly tripling his wages from Spurs to Inter leaves Eriksen the biggest winner in a mostly no-win situation.

Struggling Atleti in unfamiliar territory under Simeone

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MADRID — This is uncharted territory for many Atletico Madrid fans.

Few other times in recent years have they seen their team struggle so much under Diego Simeone.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

Few other times have they seen their coach fail so often while trying to put the team back on track.

Atletico hit a new low under Simeone on Thursday when it was eliminated by third-division club Cultural Leonesa in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey. The 2-1 loss in extra time was the team’s worst result in the cup competition since losing to third-tier club Albacete at the same stage in 2011-12.

Two days after that loss in 2011, Atletico hired the then-mostly unknown Simeone to replace Gregorio Manzano, a move that kick-started one of the club’s most successful eras and led to a Spanish league title, two Europa League trophies and two Champions League final appearances.

Atletico did go through difficult moments under Simeone, including when the team failed to advance past the group stage of the Champions League a couple of seasons ago.

“There were always complicated moments in past seasons, maybe after we didn’t make it in the Champions League, or when we lost in the Champions League finals,” Simeone said. “After being at the club for so long, things like this can happen, although they shouldn’t happen.”

There is a greater sense of urgency about the team’s struggles this time.

In addition to Wednesday’s embarrassing Copa del Rey elimination, Atletico lost the Spanish Super Cup final to Real Madrid on Jan. 12, and already is eight points off the Spanish league lead after 20 matches.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

Before, there used to be a notion that Simeone would quickly turn things around and put the team back on track, but this time there aren’t many signs things will improve again soon.

Atletico has yet to impress since undergoing its biggest squad revamp under Simeone at the end of last season, when it lost Antoine Griezmann and other veteran players such as Filipe Luis and Diego Godin. Young Portugal forward Joao Felix, who arrived to replace Griezmann after a transfer from Benfica worth more than 120 million euros ($133 million), has yet to meet expectations.

More concerning, Atletico is not being nearly as effective as it used to be, when it always seemed to find a way to win matches despite not playing well.

The team remains solid defensively — it has the second-best defense in the Spanish league with 14 goals conceded — but it hasn’t been able to do much in attack recently.

“Everything is harder when you can’t score,” Simeone said.

Only seven teams have scored fewer goals than Atletico’s 22 in the 20-team standings.

Diego Costa has been mostly out injured, and Victor “Vitolo” Machin and Alvaro Morata haven’t done much in attack. Morata is the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals in all competitions, and no one else has more than five.

“We have to be humble enough to be self-critical,” Simeone said. “We need to keep working to try to be ready for the challenges that we have ahead of us. We have a very good squad and I’m sure that the results that we want will start arriving soon.”

Atletico biggest chance to rebound will come next month against European champion Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League. The first leg will be on Feb. 18 in Spain.

Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong

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Jose Mourinho seems to be quite happy that the Premier League will implement its first-ever winter break next month, allowing players a bit of rest and recovery time during a marathon campaign, but says its timing makes the break almost worthless for clubs competing in European competitions.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

The next four weeks will play out as follows for Tottenham Hotspur: FA Cup against Southampton this weekend; PL fixture against Manchester City next weekend; the following weekend off which results in two weeks without a game; PL fixture against Aston Villa the following weekend; Champions League first leg against RB Leipzig three days later.

In Mourinho’s perfect world, that first round of PL fixtures following the break would be held a week earlier, leaving the seven English clubs competing in the Champions League and Europa League with a week and a half between games before setting out once again to chase European glory. Instead, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea will all have a quick turnaround from PL action to UCL competition — quotes from the Guardian:

“It is what it is. I’m not happy that the break comes in the wrong moment. The break should be before the Champions League and, in the end, before the Champions League we don’t have the break. We have to play Aston Villa on the Sunday, playing [RB Leipzig three] days later. So we don’t really care about the break, honestly.”

Mourinho’s point is a solid one: if the winter break is going to exist — and it should — then why shouldn’t its benefits be maximized? Non-European sides — typically those with smaller squads — would still have the full two weeks between games, while those in Europe are able to better leverage their slightly larger squads with only 10 or 11 days between games — still a lengthy break relative to the rest of the season.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

It’s only the first year of the winter break in the PL, so perhaps hopefully they’ll receive Mourinho’s criticism — and that of any other managers — constructively.

Serie A: AC Milan extends unbeaten run since Zlatan’s arrival

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BRESCIA, Italy (AP) Ante Rebic scored his third goal in two matches, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was superb and AC Milan won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Brescia on Friday to climb into the Europa League places in Serie A.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

Rebic, who scored twice in a win over Udinese last weekend, pounced on a loose ball directly in front of the goal following a cross from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 71st minute.

Since Ibrahimovic’s return to Milan over the holiday break, Milan is unbeaten with four wins and a draw across all competitions.

Donnarumma produced several difficult saves to deny Dimitri Bisoli and Ernesto Torregrossa.

Also, Milan fullback Theo Hernandez hit the crossbar in the closing minutes.

The Rossoneri moved up to sixth place, four points behind fifth-place Atalanta.

[ MORE: Solskjaer’s transfer update; positive on rebuild ]

“Our goal is to qualify for Europe,” Donnarumma said. “We’ve got to continue like this and not rest for a moment. There’s another big Italian Cup match coming up with Torino midweek and we want to reach the semifinals.

“We’ll take it one game at a time and try to keep this momentum going.”

Brescia was without Mario Balotelli, who was suspended for two matches after protesting a booking last weekend that ended up with the striker being sent off.

Brescia remained one point above last-place Genoa.