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Three things: Man City v. Tottenham

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This will go down as one of the greatest, and most dramatic, games in the history of the UEFA Champions League.

In their quarterfinal second leg at the Etihad Stadium Manchester City beat Tottenham 4-3 on the night but drew 4-4 on aggregate and lost on the away goals rule, as their dream of winning an unprecedented quadruple is over.

Spurs will play Ajax in the UCL semifinals, and Man City were knocked out at the quarterfinal stage by a fellow Premier League club for the second-straight season.

After two goals a piece from Heung-Min Son and Raheem Sterling kicked off a wild opening 21 minutes where five goals were scored, VAR drama in stoppage time saw Man City score, as they thought they had won 5-4 on aggregate. But Sterling’s goal was chalked off and Pep Guardiola‘s men were beaten by Mauricio Pochettino‘s battling Spurs who were without top goalscorer Harry Kane but Son and Fernando Llorente delivered the goods.

Good news for neutrals: Man City host Tottenham on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a crucial Premier League game for both clubs.

Here’s what we learned from a wild encounter, which will go down as one of the most incredible 90 minutes in the history of European action.


HISTORIC START SETS TONE FOR INSTANT CLASSIC

Five goals were scored in the opening 21 minutes of the game, which set a new record for the quickest time five goals have been scored in a single Champions League game. Aside from that wild opening period, which ended in Raheem Sterling putting Man City 3-2, the entire game was played at a frantic pace which will see it go down as one of the greatest games in Champions League history. Both teams threw caution to the wind and just went for it.

This was playground football. One team scored, another went up the other end to score. One team attacked, the other then launched a counter. Guardiola and Pochettino will have been far from happy with the standard of defending throughout, but this was one of those games people will be talking about for years and was a real “I was there” moment for anyone at the Etihad Stadium.

Man City went 4-2 up, and thought they had it in the bag, then Fernando Llorente made it 4-3 after a lengthy check with VAR, and then came Sterling’s hat trick goal in the 93rd minute which sparked pandemonium inside the Eithad… only for VAR to correctly show the goal was offside.

This game had it all and it will be shown again and again for the next few decades.


STERLING, KDB SUBLIME BUT CITY’S QUADRUPLE DREAM OVER

Raheem Sterling is having the season of his life and has now scored four goals in his last two games, and on top of Sterling’s goals, the return to form and fitness of Kevin De Bruyne has been a huge bonus for Guardiola’s side despite their heartbreaking exit to Spurs. De Bruyne has now assisted on six of City’s last eight goals, with the Belgian midfielder taking games by the scruff of the neck and making up for lost time after his lengthy spells out this season.

City thought they had sealed yet another dramatic late win, one that would rival Aguero’s amazing last-gasp goal to win them the Premier League title in 2012, but it wasn’t to be. They dominated the game and beat Spurs fair and square in the second leg, but Aguero’s missed penalty kick in the first leg and slack defending from Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte in the second leg ended their chances of winning a historic quadruple.

City’s Champions League jinx has continued for another season, and it was made even crueler by knowing they deserved to go through and thought they had before VAR denied them. Guardiola has long been a fan of VAR technology, but he must feel sick to his stomach as City once again came up short in Europe. He will hope that disappointment will now fuel them to complete the domestic treble, but it is likely this defeat to Spurs over two legs will haunt this group of players for at least the next few months, if not years.


SPURS, SON, DEFIED BELIEF

Losing Harry Kane in the first leg and Moussa Sissoko in the second leg hit Spurs hard in both games, but with Heung-min Son stepping up to score three of their four goals and almost adding a few others, the South Korean star and Tottenham didn’t really deserve to get knocked out of the Champions League.

This was the moment Son truly arrived as a world-class player. He has been criminally underrated in the past few seasons and has stepped up in Kane’s absence again, big time. Llorente, only on for the injured Sissoko, turned out to the hero for Spurs, as they dug deep and rode their luck at City.

As for Spurs’ run to the Champions League last four, for so long it looked like the “Spursy” tag would strike again in this second leg after they chucked away a 2-1 lead by giving up three-straight goals. But they did it. And they’re in the semifinals of the European Cup for just the second time in club history. This is Pochettino’s greatest-ever achievement as a manager, and many will forget that Spurs didn’t win any of their opening three group games, and were 12 minutes from being eliminated but rallied to beat PSV at home in their fourth group game.

Given their injury-hit squad, not playing at their home stadium until the final weeks of the season and not signing a single player in the past two transfer windows, Pochettino has worked miracles. They beat Man City, the favorites to win the Champions League, fair and square over two legs and despite Ajax’s young stars stunning both Real Madrid and Juventus in the last two rounds, Tottenham will be the favorites to advance to the UCL final in Madrid on June 1.

Write this Tottenham team off at your peril.

Delph completes transfer to Everton

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Everton has added an England international in a move to bolster its midfield.

The club announced that it had signed Fabian Delph to a three-year contract, after an undisclosed permanent transfer from Manchester City. Delph comes to the blue half of Liverpool after spending the last four seasons at Manchester City, where he began as a central midfielder but was quickly pushed out wide as a left back, and only featured 20 times in all competitions for the Sky Blues last season.

“Every time I have played against Everton, whether it was home or away, straight away the first thing that comes to mind when you see the fans is passion,” Delph said on Everton’s website. “The Everton fans seem to know football, seem to understand it, it seems to be in their blood and they really back the team. You are always going to hear Evertonians and I’m excited to play at home and hear them when I am playing. I’m really happy to be here, I’m going to give absolutely everything – nothing less than 100 per cent.

Although it feels like he’s been around forever, Delph is actually still only 29-years-old, and should still have a few years left in the tank to help propel Everton to the next level. At the least, Delph adds steel and technical ability in the middle of the park, where he could likely partner with Andre Gomes, who made his move to Everton permanent this summer from Barcelona.

Delph also adds versatility, and that should help him stay in the Everton lineup, should it need him out wide or to play in the center of the park.

However, the most important aspect Delph brings is the winning mentality. Even though he didn’t play a massive role, Delph has had the opportunity to train and play alongside the likes of Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, all winners in their careers who do whatever it takes to get three points and win a title.

Bringing that attitude and mentality to Everton is huge for the club, which needs a lift after the departure of Wayne Rooney and other big names who have departed since the end of the David Moyes era.

Report: Ajax in negotiations to sign El Tri’s Alvarez

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One of the Mexico National Team’s brightest stars appears to be heading to Ajax, where he could potentially be the replacement for one Matthijs de Ligt.

According to a report in Voetbol International, a publication in the Netherlands, Ajax technical director Marc Overmars confirmed the club’s interest in signing Club America and El Tri defender Edson Alvarez. Club America are reportedly demanding nothing less than nearly $17 million for Alvarez, who has in just two years become a regular for El Tri.

[READ: USMNT’s Boyd signs with Besiktas]

The report states that Wolverhampton Wanderers – which has Alvarez’s El Tri teammate Raul Jimenez – and PSV Eindhoven were also interesting in signing Alvarez.

The 21-year-old made his debut for Club America as a right back under long-time Liga MX manager Ricardo La Volpe in 2016, and just a few months after his club debut, he was already playing for the national team. He was included and featured at the 2017 Gold Cup, becoming Mexico’s youngest scorer in the competition (at age 19) and he then started all four of Mexico’s games at the 2018 World Cup, including against Neymar and Brazil in the Round of 16.

Alvarez has continued his strong play over the past year and has moved into more of a centerback and holding midfielder role at times. He played as a No. 6 for Mexico in its 1-0 win over the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2019 Gold Cup final, at times dropping into the back line to defend while providing support in the attack.

As Alvarez is still young but continues to grow, it’s a perfect time for him to join Ajax. There, he’ll face even better attackers than in Liga MX, and he’ll have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders to play for a prestigious club like Ajax. The pressure to perform will only make him better, like it’s helped countryman Hirving “Chucky” Lozano across the Netherlands at PSV Eindhoven.

Interestingly, Alvarez would be the second summer signing for Ajax with a North American connection. Defender Kik Pierie was actually born in Boston, while his father was studying at Harvard Medical School, though he’s been raised almost entirely in the Netherlands and has featured for the Oranje internationally.

USMNT’s Boyd signs with Besiktas

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Add another American to the list of players who will be playing in UEFA competitions this fall.

Turkish giant Besiktas announced on Monday that it had signed winger Tyler Boyd to a four-year contract in a transfer from Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes. Boyd has had a pretty impressive last six months, from scoring six goals in 14 games with Ankaragücü in the Turkish Superlig on loan, to scoring goals and making the Gold Cup roster for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

The New Zealand-born pacey winger completed a one-time switch to play for the USMNT in May, and he went on to score a brace in the USMNT’s Gold Cup opener against Guyana. While Boyd made five appearances for the U.S. this summer, he was left on the bench as the U.S. bowed out to Mexico, suddenly appearing out of Berhalter’s plans as quickly as he entered them.

Regardless, this is a great move for Boyd, assuming he can get some first team minutes. It’s a big step up from Ankaragücü to play for Besiktas, which not only includes the heated Istanbul derbies against Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, but next season will also include at least six matches in the UEFA Europa League. By finishing third in the Turkish league, Besiktas earned a place direct in the Europa League group stage.

Of course, like we saw this summer with the USMNT, Boyd has to break into a more talented group of players and earn minutes, both for league and European matches. If he’s not playing much, it’s possible we won’t see much of him with the national team, as Jordan Morris gets regular playing time as well as others in that position like Timothy Weah, Corey Baird and possibly Kenny Saief, now that he’s back with Anderlecht.

Boyd is undoubtedly a talented player. Hopefully, this move up in stature and pressure can help the 24-year-old take his game to a new level.

Report: Manchester United “miles” apart on Maguire deal

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Yesterday, the English tabloids exploded with reports that Manchester United was nearing a deal with Leicester City to make Harry Maguire the most expensive defender in the world with a $100 million deal nearly completed. Some even went so far as to suggest a medical would take place on Monday – today.

Now, there seems to be an about-face as ESPN senior writer Mark Ogden reports that the two sides are “miles away” on a potential deal, as his source describes it.

According to the report, Manchester United’s last bid of $50 million is much closer to their valuation of the player, and while Leicester City is holding out for a world record bid, the two sides have not made much movement towards an agreement. They are willing to go up to $75 million with another bid, but that is still well off the Leicester City price tag.

Ogden writes that Manchester United’s first choice was Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt, but he is nearing completion on a move to Juventus, and if the reports over the last few weeks are to be believed, Manchester United was never really in play. De Ligt was handed significant wages at Juventus, something Manchester United may not have been willing to do.

They turned their sights towards Maguire, but with three weeks left in the transfer window, there apparently needs to be significant work done on a deal to move it across the finish line. Ogden writes that there is “confidence” within Manchester United that Maguire wants the move, but that’s nothing if the two clubs can’t come to an agreement.