Three things we learned from Manchester City’s win vs. Chelsea

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MANCHESTER — What. A. Game. Manchester City beat Chelsea 3-0 on Sunday at a raucous Etihad Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

And, in all honesty, it could have been more for the Citizens as their stars dazzled and blew a lackluster Chelsea away. Jose Mourinho’s side hung in there, but this will be a week to forget for the Portuguese boss after the now infamous medic-gate.

[ MORE: Mourinho says result was “fake” ]

Here are three things we learned from a feisty encounter at the Etihad Stadium between two title contenders.

AGUERO, AND CITY’S, CLASS DAZZLES

Among the home fans at the Etihad, there is an air of expectancy every time Sergio Aguero picks up the ball. After winning the Premier League’s golden boot last season, you can understand why. Last year the Argentine scored 26 times in 33 games and in his first start of the new season he could have had five goals in the first half. He had to settle for one. His personal duel with Chelsea’s N0. 2 goalkeeper Asmir Begovic (more on that below) was epic and Aguero looked to be coming out second best. However, in the 31st minute a moment of individual magic helped settle the match as Aguero controlled the ball in the box with Gary Cahill, John Terry and Nemanja Matic in close pursuit. He flicked the ball past Cahill delicately and rolled the ball home into the bottom corner and off the post in front of the newly renovated South Stand. The Etihad erupted to yet another moment of class from the tiny Argentine striker.

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Other notable performers for City were Eliaquim Mangala who stood up to a fired-up Diego Costa and should have scored with a glancing header in the first half. Plus David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Yaya Toure were all full of running and caused Chelsea’s defense endless problems. Fernandinho was brilliant in roughing up Chelsea’s attackers and added a fine third goal to seal the win. Earlier this week, Vincent Kompany said City “have a point to prove” this season. Kompany headed home City’s second for his second in as many games this season and with two wins from two and two impressive performances under their belt, City’s stars are well on their way to proving that form is temporary but class is permanent. They are now the favorites to win the PL title this season. No doubt.

CHELSEA’S PROBLEMS GROW

In a week where Jose Mourinho had been hung, drawn and quartered by the world’s media for publicly criticizing and then demoting two members of his medical team, Chelsea’s problems worsened after a lackluster display at the Etihad saw them lose a game in August for the first time since 2006 and this damaging defeat equaled Mourinho’s worst-ever loss in charge of the Blues. Chelsea looked sluggish in midfield as Silva, Sterling and Toure ran rings around them, and they failed to find their rhythm in a rambunctious encounter.

A Man City fan dressed up as a doctor (see, above) sat next to Chelsea’s bench, as Mourinho was routinely booed by the home fans for his treatment of Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn after deciding they were not worthy of a place on his bench. At half time his captain John Terry was sat on the bench, as the 34-year-old center back felt his hamstring and was replaced by Kurt Zouma. Despite their defensive collapse, but the reigning Premier League champions were most disappointing in midfield as Ramires, Hazard and Willian floated around without purpose and Nemanja Matic raced around like the Tasmanian Devil trying to put out fires in the engine room. His usual partner in crime, Cesc Fabregas, was nowhere to be seen and this display reeked of a man low in confidence and unable to live with the cut and thrust of his powerful opponents.

Diego Costa’s struggles epitomized Chelsea’s afternoon. The Spanish international was booed by the home fans throughout, got in multiple battles with most of City’s team and on the stroke of half time he was clocked in the head by Fernandinho’s elbow. It was a nasty blow which required a bandage and lengthy treatment. As the teams went down the tunnel for half time soon after, the Brazilian-born forward went after his countryman Fernandinho and had to be held back by several of Chelsea’s players and staff. Costa set up Hazard for Chelsea’s best chance of the game, but the Belgian squandered it, shooting straight at Hart from 12-yards out and in stoppage time Costa hit the post. That summed Chelsea’s day up. For Mourinho, the pantomime atmosphere surrounding his demotion of two medics was complete when first Cahill needed treatment with an apparent broken nose and then Costa went down moments later with that nasty head injury. City’s medical staff rushed on to help Costa as the two young medics Mourinho had promoted to replace Carneiro and Fearn were still dealing with Cahill.

Chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning!” to the Chelsea medics from City’s fans and “Eva! Eva!” told Mourinho all he had to know about the public consensus regarding his decision to throw the duo under the bus. Chelsea is far from unraveling, but the situation certainly isn’t pretty for the reigning champs right now.

BEGOVIC MAKES HIS CLAIM

Before the game there was plenty of talk if Asmir Begovic could live up to the expectations placed on his shoulders in a huge early season matchup. Begovic, making his first competitive start for Chelsea with No. 1 goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois suspended due to a red card on the opening day, come out on top of an incredible personal duel with Aguero early on in the first half, stopping him three times inside the opening 15 minutes.

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30 seconds in, Aguero raced through after a defense-splitting pass from Silva. One-on-one with Begovic, the entire stadium rose expecting to see the ball nestle into the net… but the Bosnian goalkeeper came flying out and saved low. Any pre-match jitters he would have had quickly dissipated. Then in the space of 60 seconds Begovic made two superb stops down low from Aguero, both after rasping snapshots from the PL’s leading goalscorer last season. After the latter save, Aguero walked up to Begovic and gave him a high five. Respect. A few stray kicks here and there and a little bit of mis-communication at times showed Begovic was still getting used to life at his new club, but his manager Jose Mourinho made a point of applauding him after his stunning double-save in quick succession to deny Aguero.

There were question marks surrounding why Begovic would leave a spot as a PL regular with Stoke City to be a clear No. 2 behind Courtois. Even though he will likely be demoted back to the bench next week against West Bromwich Albion, there will now be question marks around whether or not Begovic can seriously challenge Courtois as the starter. In a day to forget for Chelsea, Begovic’s performance was perhaps the one bright spot as he could do nothing on all three goals. 

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard price ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).

Report: Chelsea, Real $38M apart on Hazard

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How much for Hazard?

Real Madrid are willing to pay $127 million, no small fee, to bring Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but that’s well off the Blues’ evaluation according to Sky Sports.

Chelsea sees Hazard’s price as $165 million. Belgian writer Kristof Terreur told Sky that Hazard wants his future sorted by June 4.

[ MORE: Bayern wins double ]

The Blues’ superstar is entering the final year of his contract, and could begin negotiating with other clubs in January and leave on a free transfer.

Hazard turns 29 in January. He recorded 19 goals and 16 assists in 51 matches this season, his best output in a Blues uniform.

The report says Chelsea feels no pressure to sell Hazard, but it would be a surprise if it dug in its heels too deeply considering the state of the Belgian’s contract.

Even for Chelsea, letting over $100 million walk out the door is wild, and for all Hazard’s won with Chelsea there’s also been consternation under several managers and a more than occasional habit of disappointing on the table.

MLS roundup: Timbers end road trip with emphatic win in Philly

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in MLS…

[ MORE: USA topped by Ukraine in U-20 World Cup opener ]

Philadelphia Union 1-3 Portland Timbers [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Just when everyone had begun to take the Union seriously — to give them the respect befitting a first-place team — Jim Curtin’s side fell flat on its face and fell out of the Eastern Conference’s top spot. Saturday’s defeat to the suddenly streaking — and homeward bound — Timbers snapped Philadelphia’s six-game unbeaten run (four wins).

24-year-old attacker Brian Fernandez, signed as a Designated Player earlier this month, made his first MLS start and marked the occasion with two first-half goals (31st and 36th minutes). Diego Valeri added the third (87th) after Kacper Przybylko pulled the Union back to 2-1 in the 47th.

Now, with 14 points from their 12-game road trip to start the season, Portland heads home for 17 of their final 22 games to be played inside a newly renovated — and expanded — Providence Park. The gap between themselves and a Western Conference playoff place is just four points.

New England Revolution 1-1 D.C. United [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

With the Union slipping up and dropping all three points, D.C. United made the most of their opportunity to return to the top of the East on the back of Wayne Rooney‘s 90th-minute penalty kick to snatch a 1-1 draw with (what will soon be) Bruce Arena’s Revolution.

Juan Agudelo put the home side ahead with a header in the 61st minute, and the lead held firm for nearly the final half-hour. Alas, video review reviewed a handball late in the game, which presented Rooney the chance to play the part of hero. He duly obliged and hammered his spot kick past backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who replaced Matt Turner following his 56th minute red card for cleaning out Rooney.

Arena is expected to take charge of Revs training this week and make his debut as head coach next Sunday, when his new side visits… his old side, the LA Galaxy.

Colorado Rapids 3-2 Columbus Crew SC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Don’t look now, but the Rapids have won two straight games under interim head coach Conor Casey and appear set on clawing their way out of the league’s basement.

Sure, they blew a pair of leads at home, but they also hit back with another goal of their own every time Crew SC drew level, culminating in a stunning winner from Nicolas Mezquida.

The gap between Colorado and 23th place is now just three points, as expansion side FC Cincinnati come closer and closer on the horizon.

Elsewhere in MLS

Chicago Fire 1-1 New York City FC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 FC Dallas [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
FC Cincinnati 0-2 New York Red Bulls [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Minnesota United 1-0 Houston Dynamo [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders — 6 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. San Jose Earthquakes — 7:30 p.m. ET

Will winning the double be enough to keep Kovac at Bayern?

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BERLIN (AP) Niko Kovac is the first to win a domestic double in Germany as a player and coach, yet it may not be enough to keep his job as Bayern Munich coach.

[ MORE: Valencia end Barcelona’s four-year hold on Copa del Rey ]

Kovac, whose side defeated Leipzig 3-0 in the German Cup final on Saturday, a week after clinching the Bundesliga title, is yet to be given assurances in public from the club that he will remain in charge, despite bringing a successful end to what had been a testing season.

The pressure and uncertainty appeared to cast a shadow on what was Kovac’s second successive German Cup win — he was Eintracht Frankfurt coach when the side defeated Bayern in the final last year.

“Last year I was leaving the team. This year everything is a little less emotional, no tears, but still, I’m happy,” Kovac said.

“Sometimes I would really wish that things went a little differently. It’s difficult to turn the wheel back. We should all work on it, we’re all human. We should make sure that we get along with each other.”

[ U-20 WORLD CUP: Ezequiel Barco’s golazo paces Argentina to big win ]

Kovac, who won the double as a player in 2003, acknowledged the cup win on Saturday was “very important” as “it shows that we have worked well.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was again coy when pressed on the coach’s future.

“At the end of the day, we have to get titles. Of course the coach plays a central role,” Rummenigge said. “It was never an issue for us with the term that he has until 2021, that he would simply not be there anymore as coach beforehand.”