Sergio Aguero vs. Lionel Messi: Which Argentine superstar prevailed?

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MANCHESTER – Two Argentine superstars. Two of the best forwards in the world. Two talisman for their teams. And two great friends.

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Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi squared off at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday as Barcelona beat Manchester City in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash.

[ RELATED: Pellegrini’s gamble backfires ]

Here’s a minute-by-minute breakdown of how both Aguero and Messi got on. Who do you think edged this encounter?

SERGIO AGUERO

 9 mins: Aguero tries to wriggle free 25-yards from goal but is chopped down cynically by Mascherano. Barca crowding around the Argentine already.

17 mins: Nasri whips in a cross from the right which Aguero can’t quite get on the end of.

45 mins: Aguero gets free on the edge of the box and dinks it into Nasri who sees his shot spilled by ter Stegen. Aguero then wins a corner on the rebound.

47 mins: Aguero wriggles free from three Barca defenders before Mascherano hacks the ball away for a corner. From that set piece Dzeko heads just wide.

50 mins: Silva lays the ball back and Aguero tees himself up to finish 10 yards out… but his pesky countryman Mascherano is there to block it, once again.

54 mins: This time Aguero gets away from Mascherano and sends a curling, dipping effort just wide of the post. Most of the fans inside the Etihad thought it was in.

68 mins: GOAL! Aguero runs through and collects a delicious flick from Silva before coolly dinking home to make it 2-1.

87 mins: Aguero picks up the ball on the left flank and has seven Barca players to beat on his own. He drives past three and wins a free kick after being fouled crudely by Adriano. Wonderful stuff to ease the pressure.

LIONEL MESSI

3 mins: Ohh and ahhs from the crowd as Messi jinxes past three players and plays the ball back. Class.

11 mins: Played in by Neymar in the box but has a shot blocked at the last moment by Demichelis. Chance.

16 mins: ASSIST – Messi clips in a pretty mundane ball into the box but as Kompany clears it, the ball rebounds off Suarez and back to the Uruguayan who slams home to put Barca 1-0 up. Not Messi’s most beautiful assist but he’ll take it.

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Kompany and City’s defense struggled to contain Messi and Barca in the first half.

20 mins: Messi spins and beats three men in midfield before threading a perfect ball out wide. More oohs and ahhs from the crowd.

31 mins: Surging towards the box Messi slips the ball into Alba who crosses for Suarez to tap home. 2-0 and Messi had a big hand in this goal too.

35 mins: Messi surges away from Clichy with real pace but his pass is blocked. Barca’s fans chant “Messiiii, Messiii!”

36 mins: He surges through again and is denied by Joe Hart diving in at the near post.

55 mins: Another jinxing run from Messi tees up Rakitic but his shot is deflected over by Kompany.

65 mins: Gasps of “oh my” ring out as a looping ball is brought down exquisitely before his cross is cleared from danger. Sublime.

68 mins: Messi’s first mistake of the match led to City’s goal. He is stripped of the ball by Gael Clichy and the move ends with Aguero dinking home. He is human after all.

77 mins: Alba’a cross finds Messi in the box and his deflected effort loops towards the goal but Hart tips it just over.

86 mins: Messi gives away a free kick for barging Demichelis off the ball.

90 mins: Offside, but he dinks home a terrific finish to show exactly what he’s capable of. No goal.

90+3 mins: He wins a penalty kick after being taken down by Zabaleta… but Hart saves his PK down to the left and Messi heads the rebound wide. Wow.

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win first opener in four years

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Spain’s top flight is two days into a new season, and here’s a roundup of all of Sunday’s action.

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Atletico Madrid 1-0 Getafe

It wasn’t done in aesthetically pleasing fashion, but Atletico Madrid won their first opening season game in four years.

In fact, the first half was rough with both Atletico and Getafe loosing players to straight red cards. Getafe’s Jorge Molina saw red for a studs-up challenge in the 38th minute, while Renan Lodi was asked to leave the field in his debut for Los Colchoneros. 

Summer signing Alvaro Morata proved to be the difference for Atletico, however. Assisted by former Tottenham fullback Kieran Trippier, the team’s academy product scored early on in the 23rd minute – the goal made Atletico one of eight clubs to start the season with three points.

$140 million signing Joao Felix also made his La Liga debut, and impressed the home crowd with a dazzling run in the second half that ended drawing a penalty for Atletico. Morata missed.

Not the smoothest of games for Diego Simeone’s side, but like Real Madrid, they already have an edge on Barcelona.

Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla 

Julen Lopetegui can finally breathe (and coach) in peace.

Following a series of unfortunate events with the Spanish national team and Real Madrid, Lopetegui and Sevilla started their new era in a winning way.

Sergio Reguilon got things started for the visiting side with a tap in inside the six-yard box. And in the final minutes, no stranger to stepping up for Sevilla, Nolito slotted one past Diego Lopez.

With only two shots on frame to speak for them, Espanyol was one, two steps behind Los Hispalenses, who look for another top-six finish in Spain’s top-flight league.

Sevilla’s young quest for that continues as they travel to Granada. Meanwhile, Espanyol have no time to waist with a Europa League play-off bout against Ukrainian side Zorya lined up midweek.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Real Valladolid

Alaves 1-0 Levante

Report: Edinson Cavani set to join Inter Miami next summer

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Edinson Cavani is reportedly set to make a big splash in Florida.

According to Uruguayan journalist Alvaro Izquierdo, Cavani, 32, is set to join David Beckham’s Inter Miami next summer. The club will make their MLS debut next season.

The specifics of the supposed move are not know, but per the report from Izquierdo, Cavani will join Miami on a free transfer after his contract with PSG expires in June. Since joining in 2013, El Matador has been irreplaceable for the French giants, scoring over 160 goals and becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. This season, Cavani is off to a perfect start -scoring in the first two games of the Ligue 1 season.

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The striker is one of the first superstars linked to Miami, but the general vibe given off by owners Jorge Mas and Beckham is that the club will look to spend big – similar to Atlanta United, LAFC and LA Galaxy.

Miami has signed three players so far ahead of their 2020 MLS debut – Christian Makoun, Julian Carranza, and Matias Pellegrini all currently makeup the squad.

‘But hey this is MLS’: Wayne Rooney slams MLS’ travel arrangements

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Wayne Rooney is not a fan of MLS’ travel arrangements.

D.C. United lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Canada, and had to fly back to the nation’s capital before prepping for a midweek showdown with visiting New York Red Bulls. To the 33-year-old Englishmen the trip should’ve taken six hours, not half a day.

MLS is notoriously known for the lack of charter flights it offers its teams, a mere four per season is the reported amount each team is allocated. Traveling on commercial flights has caused routine delays for a slew of team’s this season, with certain teams arriving only hours before the first whistle in some cases.

Players, however, will reportedly push for better travel in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Not only for Rooney, but for the majority of professional athletes around the world, flying charter is customary.

Upon his arrival to D.C. in 2018, Rooney turned down first-class flights offered by the Black-and-Red, among other fine accommodations. “If you are going to be part of the team, you have to be part of the team,” Rooney said on his decision to reject first-class flights and private hotel rooms. “All in and do the same things. I don’t want special treatment — I wanted to be treated the same as the players. I’m part of this team.”

Rooney, despite being on his way out of D.C. to join Derby County in January, is certainly a part of the team.

He is also now a part of the complex fight for better travel in MLS.

Vela scores 24th, LAFC clinches playoff berth

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SANDY, Utah (AP) – Carlos Vela scored his MLS-leading 24th goal of the season, Tyler Miller had four saves and Los Angeles FC beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday night to clinch a playoff berth.

LAFC played a man down after defender Walker Zimmerman, who was shown a yellow card for time wasting in the 17th minute, was given a red for unsporting behavior in the 48th., Real Salt Lake’s Aaron Herrera, who blocked two would-be goals in the first half, was shown a straight red for denial of a goal scoring opportunity on Vela, who then converted from the spot to make it 1-0 in the 64th minute.

Vela, whose 15 assists are tied with Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers for the league lead, broke the MLS record for combined goals and assists. Sebastian Giovinco’s had 22 goals and 16 assists for Toronto FC in 2015.

Miller has eight shutouts this season for LAFC (18-3-4), who have won four consecutive games and seven of their last eight dating to June 28.

Adama Diomande side-netted a rising right-footer to cap the scoring in the 82nd minute.

Salt Lake (12-10-4) had its six-game unbeaten streak, including three straight wins, snapped and allowed multiple goals for the first time since a 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on June 1.