Late second-half surge powers Wolves past Man City

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Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez, and Matt Doherty scored second-half goals as Wolverhampton Wanderers edged Manchester City 3-2 at Molineux Stadium, sending Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves to fifth on the table.

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Despite going down 2-0 in the 50th minute, an inspired Wolves side managed to rally a comeback against a 10-man City with Traore and Jimenez each contributing a goal and assist.

With the win Wolves move on to 30 points, while City stay on 38 points – 14 points behind league leaders Liverpool.

Espirito Santo’s Wolves are only the second team to win both league bouts against Pep Guardiola‘s City – the first dates back to their 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium on Oct. 6.

3 things we learned

1. Nuno Espirito Santo’s second-half substitutions were spot on: Both of Wolves’ last two goals came after the Portuguese manager restructured the left side of the field. Between the the 73rd and 79th minute, Diogo Jota and Jonny Castro left the field for Ruben Vinagre and Pedro Neto. Shortly after the changes were made, the home side’s attack was oozing with confidence, dominating possession and arriving at City’s goal from all angles. Eventually, Jimenez, Traore, and Doherty were able to find space within the new-look attack and contribute to game’s final score.

2. Manchester City’s December has been substandard: December has been an unusually poor month for Manchester City. Following the defeat, Guardiola’s side has now dropped six points – the other three against Manchester United. With Liverpool up 14 points, this is a stab on City’s chances of a three peat. 

3. Jimenez-Traore duo is paying dividends and more: Each attacker scored and assisted once on Friday against City. In there 2-0 victory over the defending champions in October, both were just as influential. With the January transfer window around the corner, the objective will probably be maintaining both players and building around them.

Man of the Match: Adama Traore –  With a goal and an assist, Traore was the heartbeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday night.


The first half was filled with plenty of drama, with Ederson being issued a red card and Raheem Sterling converting from the spot on his second attempt after an encroachment call from VAR.

Even though City were playing with 10 men, the visitor’s started the second half with poise and confidence, controlling the match’s possession and tempo.

In the 50th minute, Sterling’s delicate chip over Rui Patricio – his second goal of the match – all but sealed three points for the defending champions.

What should havre been a low-blow for Wolves turned out to be additional motivation to go for the unlikely win.

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In the 54th minute, Traore’s low-driven, sizzling shot unearthed the “there is a chance” attitude that one could sense in every Wolves player and supporter inside the stadium.

With the clock counting down the final 10 minutes of regular time and the hosts knocking on City’s doors, Jimenez converted his 21st goal of the season, finishing Traore’s recovery and hustle inside the opponent’s box.

Matt Doherty sealed the comeback for Wolves, finishing his solo run with a close-range strike inside the box.

Barcelona ends contract with company accused of fake posts

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona has ended its contract with a company that made negative comments on social media about people within the club.

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said Tuesday the decision was made after the club found out that one of its service providers used an account to make “inadequate” comments about people in the club. He did not name the company nor give any detail about the comments.

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Bartomeu reiterated the club’s denial of accusations it hired a company to make negative comments about its own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior club officials.

The Cadena Ser radio network said Monday a company used fake social media accounts to discredit opposition figures and some of Barcelona’s players when they expressed views that went against the club. Cadena Ser said some of the figures included star players Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique as well as former coach Pep Guardiola.

Bartomeu said other companies will continue to monitor social media on behalf of the club.

“It’s the responsibility of the club to know what is said on social media around the world,” he said. “But the club has never contracted services to discredit anyone, and we will do whatever is needed to defend ourselves from such accusations.”

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

Premier League Preview: Man City v. West Ham

Premier League Preview: Man City v. West Ham
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Manchester City takes the pitch at the Etihad Stadium for the first time since UEFA hammered it with a two-year Champions League ban when it hosts West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch Live at 3 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Manager Pep Guardiola has reportedly stated his commitment to the club ahead of the match, which was rescheduled from last weekend after Storm Ciara hit England.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Second-place City opens the day 25 points back of leaders Liverpool, while West Ham is one point behind 17th place.

The Irons have not won a Premier League match since New Year’s Day, David Moyes‘ first match in charge.

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Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT —  Oleksandr Zinchenko, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane. QUESTIONABLE — Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy

West Ham: OUT — Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko. QUESTIONABLE — Felipe Anderson


Probable lineups

Man City: Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Walker, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, D. Silva, Aguero, Mahrez.

West Ham: Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Zabaleta, Rice, Soucek, Noble, Snodgrass, Haller, Antonio.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s David Moyes on the relegation fight: “I’m more than confident we will climb the table. I think the players here are more than capable. I think we have got a good group. I think they are all fully aware of the situation we’re in and the improvement we need to make to make sure we’re not in the bottom three, and I’m sure come the end we will do.”


Prediction

A blowout. While West Ham has the urgency to get out of the drop zone, City will be pouring its full focus into finding form for next week’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid. City, 4-1.

Champions League preview: Spurs host Leipzig, Valencia visits Atalanta

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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties kickoff Wednesday, including one being labeled as the biggest in a club’s existence.

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That would be Serie A side Atalanta, which hosts Valencia at 3 p.m. at Gewiss Stadium.

Atalanta had played in two consecutive Europa Leagues, but this is their first move into the Champions League. To make the knockout rounds is exceptional, and club president Antonio Percassi is fired up.

“We must be honest, this is the most important game in the history of this club,” Percassi told Sky Sport Italia. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s exciting just thinking that tomorrow we’ll be in a Champions League Round of 16. It’s wonderful for our fans too. … This is going to be a unique experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Atalanta finished second in its group to Manchester City, and is fourth in Serie A. Valencia won its group.

There’s a Premier League side in action on Wednesday, too, as Spurs begin life without Heung-Min Son.

Jose Mourinho spun a tale about how badly Tottenham will need its fans against RB Leipzig, comparing the home-field advantage to an emergency rescue crew of sorts.

Leipzig is led by Julian Nagelsmann, who was once referred to as “Baby Mourinho” by his players.

The 32-year-old was quick to distance himself from the story.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v. Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won lots of titles with big clubs, the Champions League twice. He has made his mark on European football at some big European clubs. I think it his 59th knockout game in the CL and it is my first so there is obviously respect there.”

Liverpool’s Robertson not a fan of Atletico Madrid theatrics

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Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson was not impressed with Atletico Madrid’s display as his side fell 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Reds fell behind on a fourth-minute Saul Niguez goal and couldn’t get a shot on target despite 73 percent possession in Spain.

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Atleti executed its plan to near-perfection, slowing restarts and taking advantage of counterattacking opportunities to assuage the constant pressure of Liverpool.

At times it was reminiscent of early-century Italian national team play, and both neutrals and Liverpool knew what they were in for once Atleti took the lead.

“We gave them the best possible start to get the fans behind them and then they can start falling over and things like that, trying to get under our skin a bit which I think we handled quite well to be honest,” Robertson told BT Sport. “We know we are better than (how they played). We put in a decent performance and we can be better than that. Luckily we have got a second leg to put it right.”

Given the performance and the reputation, you’d still fancy the Reds to “put it right” at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp thinks Atleti will feel plenty of pressure at Anfield, and he will certainly feel the officiating will be more to his liking.