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

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  • 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.

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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.

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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.

Red-hot Rebić scores again as AC Milan tops Torino

AC Milan
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MILAN (AP) Ante Rebić kept up his scoring form to lead AC Milan to a 1-0 win over struggling Torino in Serie A on Monday.

The Croatia international beat his marker to redirect a cross from the center of the area midway through the first half at the San Siro.

The score raised Rebić’s tally to six goals and an assist in eight matches since he earned his starting spot – a move that coincided with Zlatan Ibrahimović’s return to the Rossoneri.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Bouncing back from a derby loss, Milan moved up to eighth and just beyond the Europa League places. The seven-time European champion is hoping to return to continental competition after voluntary withdrawing from this season’s Europa League to pay for UEFA financial fair play breaches.

Torino, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight, with new coach Moreno Longo still unable to turn things around in his second match in charge.

Ibrahimović narrowly missed a curling shot shortly after the break.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Simeone: Liverpool intensity “makes me admire it as a rival”

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The UEFA Champions League returns at long last on Tuesday, and two of the greatest managers in the game will match wits for the first time.

No we’re not talking about Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel, the meeting of the minds in Tuesday’s other kickoff between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in Germany.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in Spain, and the fiery German thinks it will be “absolutely interesting.”

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People say I emotional on the sideline,” Klopp said. “I am only on level 4, Diego is level 12. Really I am the kindergarten cop against him. He is so impressive after all these years, after so many years at the club – eight years. That is really long and having still this emotional level, still, wow. So impressive. I say, his teams are always organized world class.”

The admiration is mutual.

Simeone expects a huge challenge from a Liverpool team he regards on a historic plane.

“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” he said, via The Independent. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams that we have admired. This team is much more intense, more adaptable, and it makes me admire it as a rival.”

The bettors say Liverpool is the heavy favorite in the first leg despite the match’s location at the Wanda Metropolitano. With football geniuses like Klopp and Simeone, however, either could have a plan to throw the other for a loop.

CONCACAF Champions League preview: Five MLS sides eye history

CONCACAF Champions League preview
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Once the Premier League and La Liga had taken their final bows of the day on Saturday, there felt was a particular absence, one soon-to-be filled by domestic soccer.

Yes, MLS is coming soon, and the CONCACAF Champions League is even closer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Five MLS sides begin their Round of 16 ties over the next three evenings, some with easier paths than others to elusive CCL glory.

The competition may not have burned itself onto the mainstream, lagging behind continental competitions in Europe and South America, but those who’ve embraced it (hint: this guy) love the thing.

For all the progress Major League Soccer has made in its quarter-century, it’s yet to find much success in dealing with Liga MX powers in the fight to qualify for the Club World Cup.

MLS sides have not won the competition since it was rebranded the CCL. Only three MLS sides have made the CCL final this decade, with Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal Impact (2015), and Toronto FC (2017) all coming up short at the last step.

The CCL provides everything you love and hate about World Cup qualifying, and those dicey pitches with sometimes worse lighting mean the favorites aren’t guaranteed much.

The top half of the bracket sees three MLS teams — Montreal, Seattle, and NYCFC — and just one Liga MX side, while the bottom half gives us a Liga MX v. MLS match-up straight away.

That’s Leon v. LAFC, and it begins Tuesday night in Mexico. That tie carries the added intrigue of MLS superstar Carlos Vela bringing his act back to his home country for the first time… ever.

Bracket

Saprissa (Costa Rica) v. Montreal — 8 p.m. ET Weds.
Olimpia (Honduras) v. Seattle — 10 p.m. ET Thurs.

San Carlos (Costa Rica) v. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Thurs.
Alianza (El Salvador) v. UANL Tigres — 8 p.m. ET Weds.

Leon v. LAFC — 10 p.m. ET Tues.
Portmore United (Jamaica) v. Cruz Azul — 8 p.m. ET Tues.

Comunicaciones (Guatemala) v. Club America — 10 p.m. ET Weds.
Montagua (Honduras) v. Atlanta United — 10 p.m. ET Tues.

The 2 Robbies podcast: VAR carnage at Stamford Bridge

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle dissect a crazy game at Stamford Bridge that saw Chelsea on the wrong side of several VAR decisions (00:45).

The gents also recap the big moments from the weekend; Liverpool beat Norwich (18:30), Son’s late winner against Aston Villa (24:45) and Arteta‘s attackers thrash Newcastle United (30:15).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]