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Manchester City 2-1 Sunderland: Sluggish Black Cats fold late to City pressure

  • Pep Guardiola benched England goalkeeper Joe Hart
  • Aguero scored from the spot four minutes in
  • Defoe struck back with 20 minutes to go
  • City pressure produces own-goal winner

It seemed that Jermain Defoe had earned Sunderland a quality point on the road at Manchester City. Then, with 10 minutes to go, new Sunderland manager David Moyes removed Defoe for a central defender, and City capitalized on the negative mentality to give Pep Guardiola a 2-1 win in his Premier League debut.

Sunderland looked sluggish and disinterested for much of the match, and while Defoe had pulled back level on a moment of lapse in the Manchester City defense, the attacking prowess of the home side eventually saw Paddy McNair turn the ball into his own net with three minutes to go in regulation.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Just minutes into the game, Raheem Sterling made a run down the right-hand side and received a long header from Fernandinho. Sterling had Patrick Van Anholt beat, and so the Dutchman slid through his legs in the box, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Sergio Aguero deposited the penalty easily past Vito Mannone, and City led just four minutes into the game.

[ MORE: Premier League standings ]

The early goal didn’t change much, with Sunderland still happy to sit back and absorb oodles of City pressure. American Lynden Gooch, on his Premier League debut, did have a moment in the 11th minute, cutting a nice whipped cross untouched along the face of goal, but there was no Black Cat striker to meet it.

The game ground to a crawl as Sunderland had no interest in going forward and City played with a calm, patient demeanor. Finally, the visitors forced Willy Caballero into a save on 40 minutes. A short corner swung in eventually popped up in the air. When it came down, Lamine Kone flicked it towards Defoe, just onside in front of net. Defoe got away from Fernandinho and hit from close range, but Caballero stood tall to save.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Down the other end, American Lynden Gooch – on for his debut under David Moyes – picked up a yellow card for an attempted tackle hoping to stop a City counter.

City should have gone two-up on the hour mark as Sterling burst down the left and cut across the face of goal. The ball was only cleared to David Silva at the spot, and while he was pressured into a whiff, the ball came to Aguero who rifled just wide from point-blank range.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

With Sunderland looking to sleep its way through the match, they sprung to life on 70 minutes. John Stones stepped up to guard Jack Rodwell with the ball at the top of the box, allowing Rodwell to cut the ball through to Defoe onsides and unmarked. The striker took two touches to pass by Bacary Sagna, and deposited it easily past Caballero.

David Moyes, apparently happy to see the game out at 1-1, pulled Defoe off in favor of former Manchester United manager Paddy McNair. That defensive managerial tactic ultimately did Sunderland in, as relentless City pressure in the waning minutes saw the hosts earn a winner. A cross from Jesus Navas slipped through the fingertips of Vito Mannone, and with both Kelechi Iheanacho and Fabian Delph lurking at the goal mouth, the ball clipped McNair and went into the net for an own-goal.

Messi named FIFA’s Best men’s player; Best XI controversial

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Lionel Messi is the winner of FIFA’s The Best men’s player, awarded Monday in Milan.

The prolific megastar beat out Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo for the honor.

All three, of course, were on the Best XI, though it was not without controversy.

Premier League champions Manchester City had no representation on FIFA’s The Best XI, which comically included three Real Madrid players.

Champions League winners Liverpool followed up the Best Goalkeeper honor given to Alisson Becker and Best Manager nod to Jurgen Klopp with spots for Van Dijk and obviously  Alisson on the XI.

Real Madrid, La Liga’s third place side, put Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, and Luka Modric on the team, as well as Eden Hazard who spent most of the awards season with Chelsea.

Juve’s Ronaldo is joined by Matthijs de Ligt, who led Ajax’s long UCL run before leaving for Turin.

Kylian Mbappe helps shut the attacks of Man City and Liverpool out of the team. Not one player from Germany or the Bundesliga was named to the team.

  • Alisson Becker (BRA) – Liverpool
  • Matthijs de Ligt (NED) – Ajax / Juventus
  • Sergio Ramos (ESP) – Real Madrid
  • Virgil van Dijk (NED) – Liverpool
  • Marcelo (BRA) – Real Madrid
  • Luka Modric (CRO) – Real Madrid
  • Frenkie de Jong (NED) – Ajax/Barcelona
  • Eden Hazard (BEL) – Chelsea/ Real Madrid
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) – Juventus
  • Kylian Mbappe (FRA) – Paris Saint-Germain
  • Lionel Messi (ARG) – Barcelona

Leeds, Bielsa win Fair Play honor at FIFA’s The Best awards

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Well this is peak FIFA.

Football’s governing body has just awarded Leeds United and much-admired manager Marcelo Bielsa its FIFA Fair Play award at its 2019 The Best awards ceremony in Milan.

[ MORE: Klopp wins manager award ]

The reason the Whites won the award is understandable, if you just ignore the fact that they were publicly caught cheating months earlier… and that the “fair play” moment came after an extremely questionable play which led to a brawl.

The win comes for Bielsa’s decision in late April, when his player Mateusz Klich scored a goal despite Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija being injured on the pitch.

Bielsa instructed his players to allow Villa to tie the match after a post-goal fight saw a red card to Anwar El Ghazi.

Fair play? Sure, and Leeds kissed goodbye its slim hopes of finishing in automatic promotion place in the Championship.

However, Leeds was also caught monitoring Derby County training sessions, leading to Bielsa to admit in January that he had spied “all the rivals” that season.

I mean, who were the other nominees? Jose Callejon and the Turkish player who fouled players with a sharp object during play?

Bielsa admitted this during an extraordinary Powerpoint session for media members in England which showed the maniacal depths of his preparation, which curried a lot of favor with the media and fans.

Yes, even though he admitted Leeds cheated the whole season.

He also said, “I thought I wasn’t violating the norm,” which is ridiculous.

Now of course we should be too pious, either; A whole lot of teams cheat in this way and football is a cutthroat game. Bielsa is a managerial legend and loved by Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino, and Jorge Sampaoli.

Jurgen Klopp wins FIFA’s The Best men’s manager

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Jurgen Klopp has been named the top manager in the world for the past season at FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony on Monday in Milan, Italy.

The UEFA Champions League-winning manager beat out Premier League winner Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and UCL finalist Mauricio Pochettino of Spurs.

[ WATCH: FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony ]

Klopp, of course, was magnanimous in victory.

 “It is great, nobody expected this 20, 10, five, four years ago that I would be standing here,” Klopp said. “We know what an incredible job Mauricio Pochettino did and what Pep did.”

He thanked the owners and players of his club.

“To the owners thank you, they gave me an incredible team. I have to thank my team – as a coach you can only be as good as your team is. I’m really proud of being manager of such an incredible bunch of players. This is an individual prize, I don’t 100% understand individual prizes, I’m here for a lot of people.”

Good for Klopp.

Watch Live: FIFA’s The Best awards 2019

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FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony takes place in Milan, Italy on Tuesday as the top players and managers on the planet will be crowned.

The ceremony starts at 2:30 p.m. ET and you can watch it live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes (click on the link below).


Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo are the three nominees to be crowned the best male player on the planet.

USWNT duo Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are up for the top female award, as is England’s Lucy Bronze.

Outgoing USWNT head coach Jill Ellis is the favorite to land the award for the best coach in the women’s game, while Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are all among the candidates to be named the best managers in the men’s game.

Click on the link above to watch the glitzy ceremony from Milan as plenty of other awards, like the Puskas Award for the best goal scored in the world, will be dished out.