Manchester City 1-1 AS Roma: Italians frustrate City as European woe continues

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Manchester City dropped more points in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, as AS Roma held them to a 1-1 draw in Group E at the Etihad Stadium.

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Sergio Aguero’s early penalty was cancelled out by Francesco Totti’s silky finish as the Italian giants came to England with a gameplan and frustrated City who failed to break down a stubborn Roma defense.

The Citizens now have just one point from their first two group games, while Roma sit in second place with four and Bayern Munich are top with six points. Plenty of work for Manuel Pellgrini’s men to do after another disappointing night of European action, but they now face back-to-back matches versus CSKA Moscow.

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In just the fourth minute a delightful clipped ball from David Silva played in Aguero who got the wrong side of Maicon and the Brazilian defender clearly pulled Aguero back to concede a penalty. Aguero stepped up to score the spot kick for his fourth goal of the season to give City the perfect start. In the sixth minute Maicon — who was lucky to still be on the pitch after denying a clear goalscoring opportunity for the PK — surged forward down the right, played a magnificent one-two with Francesco Totti but his thumping effort crashed off the crossbar and away. So close to an equalizer for Roma as a frantic start ensued at the Etihad.

Things didn’t calm down as both teams continued to flood forward and Roma got a deserved equalizer in the 23rd minute. Nainggolan played in Totti and the veteran attacker caught Vincent Kompany and City’s entire defense out of position before lifting a lovely dink over the onrushing Joe Hart to make it 1-1. With the goal Totti, aged 38, became the oldest scorer in Champions League history.

source: Getty Images
Totti dinks in Roma’s equalizer to become the UCL’s oldest scorer.

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City struggled to get a foothold in the game and Roma looked extremely dangerous on the break with Gervinho getting in behind and forcing Hart into a good stop. Before the break City could have had another penalty when Silva’s cross was pulled back towards Aguero but Manolas slid in and looked to handle in the box but the scored were locked at 1-1 with Roma in the ascendancy.

At half time Manuel Pellergini replaced Jesus Navas with James Milner, as he tried to quell the threat of Roma’s lighting-quick counter attacks. That plan didn’t work as Totti fizzed a shot just wide, then Miralem Pjanic saw his shot blocked by Hart from close range as the Italian outfit piled on the pressure. Moments later Pjanic curled an effort just wide of the post as City were at sixes and sevens. Frank Lampard came off the bench to give City an extra man in midfield and he linked up superbly to play in Fernandinho but the Brazilian’s effort was blocked after a super last-ditch challenge from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

The closing stages of the game saw City take charge as Silva and Lampard both went close but Roma held on for an important draw away from home to leave City still searching for their first UCL win of the season.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Navas (Milner, 45′), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Silva, Aguero (Jovetic, 85′), Dzeko (Lampard, 57′)

Goal: Aguero (4′)

AS Roma: Skorupski; Maicon (Torosidis, 89′), Manolas, Mapou, Cole; Pjanic, Keita, Nainggolan; Florenzi (Holebas, 83′), Totti (Iturbe, 72′), Gervinho

Goal: Totti (23′)

Police enter headquarters of Spanish club Malaga

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MALAGA, Spain (AP) Police entered the headquarters of Spanish club Malaga on Wednesday to seize documents related to a court case involving the second-division team.

[ MORE: Christian Eriksen holds talks with Levy; Inter “still confident” ]

Authorities did not release further details because the search-and-seizure action was part of an investigation being conducted under secrecy.

Police would not confirm Spanish media reports that the action was about a case in which Qatari owner Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani is being sued by minority owners over alleged administrative irregularities.

[ MORE: Levy reportedly met with Real Madrid about Gareth Bale ]

Al-Thani took over the club in 2010.

Malaga last month fired coach Victor Sanchez del Amo after an intimate video was released online.

The team from southern Spain is 16th in the 22-team second-division standings.

Bale’s agent denies loan reports; ‘not many clubs can afford him’

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Gareth Bale‘s agent Jonathan Barnett has called recent reports claiming the Real Madrid superstar could be loaned elsewhere “ridiculous” on the basis that “there are not many clubs that can afford him anyway.”

[ MORE: Daniel Levy reportedly met with Real Madrid about Bale ]

Bale has reportedly been unhappy in Madrid and at odds with manager Zinedine Zidane, leading to months of speculation that he could leave the Santiago Bernabeu. However, due to his nearly $600,000-per-week wages, very few — if any — clubs in the world can afford his wages, let alone the transfer fee required as well.

Therefore, a loan move would seem to make sense, only Barnett seems to be offended that a player of Bale’s caliber would ever be discussed as a loan candidate — quotes from the BBC:

“Why would one of the best players on Earth go on loan? That’s ridiculous. At the moment, he is going to be playing football for Real Madrid and he has got two and a half years left on his contract.

“He is happy and hopefully he will win a couple of more things with Real Madrid.”

“Things can change, but loans are ridiculous and there are not many clubs that can afford him anyway.”

Bale’s contract runs through the summer of 2022. He has scored just two goals in nine league games this season.

Bayern signs Odriozola on loan from Real Madrid

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich signed Spain right back Alvaro Odriozola on loan from Real Madrid on Wednesday to help ease its defensive worries after a spate of injuries.

[ MORE: Eriksen holds talks with Levy; Inter “still confident” ]

The Bavarian powerhouse said the 24-year-old Odriozola signed a deal to the end of the season after successfully passing a medical examination.

“We decided to fulfill our head coach Hansi Flick’s wish to strengthen the defense and decided for Alvaro Odriozola,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “We’re very happy with the transfer and thank the management at Real Madrid for the very friendly and cooperative talks.”

Bayern defenders Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez and Javi Martinez are out with injuries and 23-year-old Benjamin Pavard — a center back — had been filling in at right back. Odriozola’s arrival will free the French player to return to his usual position.

[ MORE: Cavani “will go to Atletico Madrid” if PSG let him leave ]

Madrid paid a reported $33 million to sign Odriozola from Real Sociedad in 2018, but the winger has barely played since. He made only four league appearances this season, with Dani Carvajal preferred at right back.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane gave the go-ahead for Odriozola’s transfer on Tuesday. Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao were also reportedly interested.

Odriozola has one goal in four appearances for Spain.

Bayern is hoping to claw back a four-point deficit on Bundesliga leader Leipzig to claim a record-extending eighth straight title.

Eriksen holds talks with Levy; Inter ‘still confident in this deal’

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Christian Eriksen met with chairman Daniel Levy on Tuesday in his latest attempt to secure his Tottenham Hotspur exit during the January transfer window, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Levy reportedly met with Real Madrid about Gareth Bale ]

Eriksen already has a pre-contract agreement with Inter Milan in place, but the Danish playmaker and the Serie A club are hopeful of completing the signing this month. Inter submitted a $14.5-million bid (plus bonuses) for Eriksen earlier this week, but Levy is said to be holding out for his $22-million valuation, fully guaranteed, of the player.

Eriksen’s agent is also expected to meet with Levy following Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Norwich City (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold) in yet another attempt to broker a deal between the two clubs.

[ MORE: Cavani “will go to Atletico Madrid” if PSG let him leave ]

Inter Milan chief executive Giuseppe Marotta remains optimistic that an agreement can be reached this month, as he told Sky Italia, “We’re waiting and we’re still confident in this deal.”