Top 5 — Man United, City’s most memorable Manchester derbies

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The Manchester derby is almost always memorable, for better or for worse depending on which half of the city you support. Here are five derbies, from the last decade, that really delivered the goods…

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Man United 0-3 Man City — Beginning of the end for Moyes — March 25, 2014

The David Moyes era last less than a full season at Old Trafford, the scene of a 3-0 derby day defeat for Manchester United toward the end of the 2013-14 Premier League season.

Edin Dzeko put the visitors ahead inside the first minute; Dzeko doubled Manchester City’s lead just before the hour mark; and Yaya Toure finished off the drubbing with a tally of his own in the 90th minute. Man City would go on to win the title, their second in three seasons, finishing two points ahead of Liverpool. Man United would finish seventh.

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Man City 2-3 Man United — RvP’s late winner — Dec. 9, 2012

In the final season of Sir Alex Ferguson‘s legendary managerial career, the Scotsman pulled a fast one on the rest of the PL signing star Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie, who led the league in goals scored the season before, for a fee just shy of $30 million. The Dutchman would lead the league in scoring for a second straight season en route to his first (Ferguson’s 13th) league title.

It was RvP’s 14th goal of the season, which came in the 92nd minute, that deflected and looped off the outstretched leg of Samir Nasri and won the December derby for United. Wayne Rooney‘s first-half brace looked to have been thrown away when Toure and Pablo Zabaleta pulled the Citizens back to 2-2, but Nasri’s lazy efforts from within the free-kick wall ultimately proved the difference.

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Man United 1-6 Man City — Demolition job at Old Trafford — Oct. 23, 2011

City would go on to win their first top-division title since 1968 in the same season they hit Ferguson’s men with a 6-1 drubbing at Old Trafford. How sweet those 10 months must have been for City supporters — the final half-hour of the final game of the season notwithstanding.

It was the worst home defeat United had suffered since 1955, and it sent City five points clear of everyone else. It was the first time United had conceded a half-dozen at Old Trafford since 1930. It could have just as easily been 7-1, or 8-1. Mario Balotelli, who made headlines earlier in the week by setting off fireworks inside his house, scored either side of halftime and revealed his famous “Why Always Me?” shirt, before Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko (twice) and David Silva completed the rout.

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Man United 2-1 Man City — Rooney’s overhead kick — Feb. 12, 2011

A goal — and photo — you’ll never forget. City were still in search of their first league title — they wouldn’t get theirs until the following season, as the 2010-11 crown was to be Ferguson’s penultimate, his 12th — but they were getting closer. The two sides entered this end-of-winter derby just five points apart at the top of the table.

Nani put the Red Devils ahead not long before halftime, but David Silva equalized on 65 minutes. Then, in the 78th minute, Nani’s cross was deflected and sent looping high into the air at Old Trafford. Rooney read it first, arrived at the spot, threw his body into the air, and struck the ball (with his shin) for one of the most memorable, iconic goals in PL history. United won the title by nine points that season.

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Man United 4-3 Man City — Owen’s Fergie Time winner — Sept. 20, 2009

Don’t you miss Fergie Time? Probably not, unless you’re a supporter of the red half of Manchester. Back in the early days of the 2009-10 season, referee Martin Atkinson let the early-season derby at Old Trafford go on, and on, and on. Four minutes of stoppage time were signaled, but after four minutes, and five minutes, no whistle.

Then, Michael Owen, in one of his few noteworthy contributions to the club, found a pocket of space before latching onto Ryan Giggs‘ through ball and striking a perfect, right-footed shot past Shay Given, just inside the far post. City had just “arrived” on the scene as oil-rich players to be reckoned with, but for this day in the fall of 2009, little brother was harshly put back into his place.

Struggling Atleti in unfamiliar territory under Simeone

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MADRID — This is uncharted territory for many Atletico Madrid fans.

Few other times in recent years have they seen their team struggle so much under Diego Simeone.

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Few other times have they seen their coach fail so often while trying to put the team back on track.

Atletico hit a new low under Simeone on Thursday when it was eliminated by third-division club Cultural Leonesa in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey. The 2-1 loss in extra time was the team’s worst result in the cup competition since losing to third-tier club Albacete at the same stage in 2011-12.

Two days after that loss in 2011, Atletico hired the then-mostly unknown Simeone to replace Gregorio Manzano, a move that kick-started one of the club’s most successful eras and led to a Spanish league title, two Europa League trophies and two Champions League final appearances.

Atletico did go through difficult moments under Simeone, including when the team failed to advance past the group stage of the Champions League a couple of seasons ago.

“There were always complicated moments in past seasons, maybe after we didn’t make it in the Champions League, or when we lost in the Champions League finals,” Simeone said. “After being at the club for so long, things like this can happen, although they shouldn’t happen.”

There is a greater sense of urgency about the team’s struggles this time.

In addition to Wednesday’s embarrassing Copa del Rey elimination, Atletico lost the Spanish Super Cup final to Real Madrid on Jan. 12, and already is eight points off the Spanish league lead after 20 matches.

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Before, there used to be a notion that Simeone would quickly turn things around and put the team back on track, but this time there aren’t many signs things will improve again soon.

Atletico has yet to impress since undergoing its biggest squad revamp under Simeone at the end of last season, when it lost Antoine Griezmann and other veteran players such as Filipe Luis and Diego Godin. Young Portugal forward Joao Felix, who arrived to replace Griezmann after a transfer from Benfica worth more than 120 million euros ($133 million), has yet to meet expectations.

More concerning, Atletico is not being nearly as effective as it used to be, when it always seemed to find a way to win matches despite not playing well.

The team remains solid defensively — it has the second-best defense in the Spanish league with 14 goals conceded — but it hasn’t been able to do much in attack recently.

“Everything is harder when you can’t score,” Simeone said.

Only seven teams have scored fewer goals than Atletico’s 22 in the 20-team standings.

Diego Costa has been mostly out injured, and Victor “Vitolo” Machin and Alvaro Morata haven’t done much in attack. Morata is the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals in all competitions, and no one else has more than five.

“We have to be humble enough to be self-critical,” Simeone said. “We need to keep working to try to be ready for the challenges that we have ahead of us. We have a very good squad and I’m sure that the results that we want will start arriving soon.”

Atletico biggest chance to rebound will come next month against European champion Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League. The first leg will be on Feb. 18 in Spain.

Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong

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Jose Mourinho seems to be quite happy that the Premier League will implement its first-ever winter break next month, allowing players a bit of rest and recovery time during a marathon campaign, but says its timing makes the break almost worthless for clubs competing in European competitions.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

The next four weeks will play out as follows for Tottenham Hotspur: FA Cup against Southampton this weekend; PL fixture against Manchester City next weekend; the following weekend off which results in two weeks without a game; PL fixture against Aston Villa the following weekend; Champions League first leg against RB Leipzig three days later.

In Mourinho’s perfect world, that first round of PL fixtures following the break would be held a week earlier, leaving the seven English clubs competing in the Champions League and Europa League with a week and a half between games before setting out once again to chase European glory. Instead, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea will all have a quick turnaround from PL action to UCL competition — quotes from the Guardian:

“It is what it is. I’m not happy that the break comes in the wrong moment. The break should be before the Champions League and, in the end, before the Champions League we don’t have the break. We have to play Aston Villa on the Sunday, playing [RB Leipzig three] days later. So we don’t really care about the break, honestly.”

Mourinho’s point is a solid one: if the winter break is going to exist — and it should — then why shouldn’t its benefits be maximized? Non-European sides — typically those with smaller squads — would still have the full two weeks between games, while those in Europe are able to better leverage their slightly larger squads with only 10 or 11 days between games — still a lengthy break relative to the rest of the season.

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It’s only the first year of the winter break in the PL, so perhaps hopefully they’ll receive Mourinho’s criticism — and that of any other managers — constructively.

Serie A: AC Milan extends unbeaten run since Zlatan’s arrival

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BRESCIA, Italy (AP) Ante Rebic scored his third goal in two matches, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was superb and AC Milan won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Brescia on Friday to climb into the Europa League places in Serie A.

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Rebic, who scored twice in a win over Udinese last weekend, pounced on a loose ball directly in front of the goal following a cross from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 71st minute.

Since Ibrahimovic’s return to Milan over the holiday break, Milan is unbeaten with four wins and a draw across all competitions.

Donnarumma produced several difficult saves to deny Dimitri Bisoli and Ernesto Torregrossa.

Also, Milan fullback Theo Hernandez hit the crossbar in the closing minutes.

The Rossoneri moved up to sixth place, four points behind fifth-place Atalanta.

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“Our goal is to qualify for Europe,” Donnarumma said. “We’ve got to continue like this and not rest for a moment. There’s another big Italian Cup match coming up with Torino midweek and we want to reach the semifinals.

“We’ll take it one game at a time and try to keep this momentum going.”

Brescia was without Mario Balotelli, who was suspended for two matches after protesting a booking last weekend that ended up with the striker being sent off.

Brescia remained one point above last-place Genoa.

FA Cup: Sheffield Wednesday into 5th round; Derby headed for replay

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Sheffield Wednesday became the first club to reach the fifth round of the 2019-20 FA Cup by beating Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road on Friday.

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The Owls took a 1-0 lead into halftime after Morgan Fox squeezed his shot past the goalkeeper from a tight angle, and Sam Winnall put the EFL Championship side 2-0 up by slotting the ball home just before full-time. QPR pulled a goal back through Nahki Wells just moments later, but it wasn’t enough and the game finished 2-1.

It’s the second time in three seasons that Wednesday has reached the fifth round after doing so just twice in their previous 17 seasons.

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Elsewhere, fellow Championship side Derby County, featuring Wayne Rooney who played all 90 minutes, couldn’t see off League Two side Northampton Town and will be forced into the dreaded replay after struggling to a scoreless draw away from home.

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.