Claudio Bravo

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League Cup: Man City rolls past Man United

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There’s no doubt anymore as to which color Manchester is these days.

Manchester City extended its bragging rights over their now not so noisy neighbors, with a 3-1 first leg win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday in the League Cup semifinals. Bernardo Silva opened the scoring early with a wicked strike from outside the box and it was all up from there for the visitors. Man United showed some brief sparks in the second half, but despite Marcus Rashford’s goal, couldn’t find enough quality to get closer to Man City.

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The action moves to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg on January 29, though Man United will have a two-goal deficit to dig out of.

Manchester City mananger Pep Guardiola made the decision not to play a recognizable striker, leaving both Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero out of the starting lineup. And yet, it quickly paid dividends as Man United’s backline of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, and Brandon Williams struggled to stay with players like Raheem Sterling and Silva.

Indeed, in the 17th minute, it was Silva who found a pocket of space off a short pass from Kevin De Bruyne and unleashed a blast from 28 yards out that had eyes for the upper corner. As good as the strike was, it was also noticeable that Silva easily took the ball past Fred while Jones didn’t jump forward to cover the space, leaving Silva with plenty of room to uncork the shot.

The goal was just what Man City was expecting and afterwards it confidently pinged the ball around midfield and into Man United’s defensive third of the field, threatening to score again. In the 33rd minute, Man City did just that, as Silva found Riyad Mahrez open in the box before Mahrez rounded de Gea and scored into an empty net to put his side up 2-0.

Man City made it 3-0 five minutes later as again Silva was the architect. He played Mahrez into space in the middle before the ball made its way out left to de Bruyne. His shot on goal was parried by de Gea but it went right into the body of Andreas Pereira, which ricocheted into the goal. Even before firing, de Bruyne’s switch to the left sent Jones flying, adding to his rough night.

After being played off the park in the first half, there was only one way to go in the second half for Man United, and it started to get a few minutes of possession on the ball at a time.

After Man City could have made it 4-0 through Mahrez, Rashford pulled one back for the hosts. In the 70th minute after a turnover, Mason Greenwood played a great pass into the run of Rashford, who lashed a strike past Claudio Bravo to make it 3-1.

This story will be updated. 

Gabriel Jesus brace drives Man City past Everton

Manchester City beats Everton video highlights
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Gabriel Jesus scored two goals as Manchester City firmed up its Top Four footing with a 2-1 win over Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

City now has 44 points, eight more than fourth-place Chelsea and 11 fewer than leaders Liverpool who have two matches-in-hand.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Richarlison scored the lone Everton goal. The Toffees stall in 10th with 25 points.


Three things we learned

1. It pays to be a City center forward: Gabriel Jesus’ two goals were fine finishes. The 22-year-old Brazilian potted his 12th and 13th goals of the season in all competitions to go with six assists in 1600 minutes. Sergio Aguero was rested, having scored 14 times in just under 1200 minutes.

Entering play Wednesday, Jesus and Aguero ranked first and second in expected goals per 90 minutes of Premier League play at .91 and .88. No player with more than 300 minutes has more than .70 per game.

It’s also worth noting that xG said Jesus has actually cashed in 3 fewer chances than expected. It’s not crazy to think he may be handed the wheel next season.

2. Bravo follows the story line to keep Everton in it: The gap between Ederson and Claudio Bravo is a significant one, and the Brazilian’s illness had the Chilean back in gaffe mode. City led 2-0 when Bravo badly mishit a pass that ended up in the back of his net within a half-dozen seconds.

3. Calvert-Lewin lucky to stay on: In-form Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin couldn’t keep up his goal scorring run on Wednesday, but is very fortunate to have not been sent off for an 86th minute scissor tackle of Fernandinho on the end line. A yellow card was shown, but it could’ve been much worse for the center forward.

Man of the Match: Easy one, this time, as Gabriel Jesus was wonderful and the difference. Fernandinho also very decent in the win.


City looked to have a dream start with a classic City goal. Riyad Mahrez slipped in Joao Cancelo and the fullback crossed for Phil Foden‘s finish, but VAR spotted Mahrez offside.

VAR denied Riyad Mahrez a penalty shout, and the Algerian saw another chance go for naught in the 45th.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Jesus scored in the 52nd minute to finally get through Ancelotti’s defense, running to meet Ilkay Gundogan‘s invitation. Jordan Pickford could only get a piece of the effort.

The Brazilian potted a Mahrez pass in the 58th minute to make it 2-0.

City clawed one back off a poor Claudio Bravo clearance, as Richarlison raced to the back post to deposit a deflected Theo Walcott shot.

Pickford denied Jesus a hat trick in the 73rd minute as the Brazilian didn’t get enough on a back post header.

VIDEO: 10-man City lead Wolves after wild first half

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The Premier League’s famous subplots, drama and world-class intrigue were compressed and on full display at Molineux Stadium on Friday.

[ WATCH LIVE: Wolves v. Man City ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers – animated and daring as ever before – hit the ground running against a similar Manchester City they edged in early October. Conor Coady‘s lofting ball broke the visitor’s backline, finding a lone Diogo Jota, who had only Ederson to beat.

And that’s when the floodgates opened.

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The Brazilian goalkeeper was presented a red card for his collision with the Portuguese attacker, leaving City with 10 players. With Claudio Bravo on the bench, Pep Guardiola and company pulled Sergio Aguero and summoned the Chilean.

Less than ten minutes later, Riyad Mahrez was tripped up inside Wolves’ box, forcing a VAR review and a subsequent penalty call from referee Martin Atkinson. Raheem Sterling stepped up to the spot, but Rui Patricio’s penalty-saving techniques were on full display.

Then again came a signal from VAR, calling for a second attempt.

Despite Guardiola signaling for someone rather than Sterling to try and covert from the spot, the Englishmen made sure to finish his chance despite getting his initial strike blocked by Patricio, again.

This is the Premier League’s magic in less than 30 minutes.

Liverpool smacks Man City, puts both hands on title fate

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Liverpool put both of its hands around the Premier League title race in dismissing sloppy Manchester City 3-1 at Anfield on Sunday.

The win boosts the Reds eight points clear of the field and nine points ahead of fourth place City, the two-time reigning Premier League champions.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Fabinho and Mohamed Salah scored first half goals for the Premier League leaders, and Sadio Mane salted away the result early in the second half.

Bernardo Silva scored a late goal for City, providing some drama for the final dozen minutes


Three stars, three duds

Star No. 1: Fabinho was an absolute monster in every third, scorching the match-opening goal and making life miserable for the City attackers and midfielders alike in the heart of the pitch. He may be the MVP of the title campaign so far.

Star No. 2: Mohamed Salah was electric in the first half, timing his run perfectly to send the Reds ahead by two and making himself a menace in the decisive first half.

Star No. 3: The goalkeeper didn’t have to make too many saves, and Alisson Becker certainly cannot be blamed for Bernardo’s vicious, unmarked back post lash to make it 3-1. Alisson was calm in collecting the ball and commanded his area.

Dud No. 1: VAR and/or referee Michael Oliver. Liverpool deserved this win, make no mistake about it, but the non-call on Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s handball moments before the Reds took a 1-0 lead was a tough one to take for anyone other than Liverpool and its fans.

Duds Nos. 2 and 3: Raheem Sterling was shook in his old home, booed at every turn and simply miserable in possession. His frustration got the best of him, his body language betraying him. Credit to the Englishman for continuing to fight for goals well after Sergio Aguero was withdrawn, the Argentine just not anywhere near his best and missing multiple chances to get on the board.

Bonus Dud: City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had a difficult job to do, and he did it poorly, making just one key positive play while allowing a trio of Reds goals.


Liverpool scored with its only moment of the first 7 minutes, which came after Trent Alexander-Arnold went unwhistled for a handball in the box.

The moment was electric; Fabinho smashed a shot past Claudio Bravo for 1-0.

City was still all over Liverpool, with Raheem Sterling nodding wide and John Stones failing to get on the end of Kevin De Bruyne‘s 12th minute free kick.

Bravo was beaten again when Salah got on the end of a cross through the box and headed past the Chilean keeper.

Alisson made a fine two-handed parry on Sergio Aguero in the 25th. Angelino saw a deflected strike hit the post when he lost Jordan Henderson but couldn’t beat Van Dijk for a clean strike in the 29th.

Bravo parried a Firmino drive in the 38th minute, Liverpool continuing to thrive on the counter.

Kyle Walker tore a shot well wide in the 39th, and Aguero dragged a shot wide of the far post in the 42nd.

Salah came close with a distance effort in the 45th minute, but Bravo made an outstanding save.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The second half started with more for City, a deflected shot earning a corner that was played short and wound up with Alisson.

Mane to put the match to bed out of nothing, Liverpool’s first meaningful attack of the second half defying Bravo. Jordan Henderson’s cross caught him out, and Mane’s header was pushed into the side panel by the Chilean.

Man City tried to answer through Sterling, whose shot was blocked by Dejan Lovren for a corner which again came to nothing.

Bernardo grabbed one back in the 78th, and Sterling had Gabriel Jesus cued up for a second in the 80th but it caught the Brazilian off balance.

Walker missed a back post bid from the influential Angelino, and City couldn’t break through Liverpool’s set-in side.

Three things we learned: Liverpool v. Man City

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LIVERPOOL — This was billed as a decisive day in the Premier League title race and it duly delivered.

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool now have one hand on the Premier League trophy after a 3-1 win against Manchester City, as they moved nine points clear of Pep Guardiola‘s reigning champs and eight points clear of second-place Leicester City.

Liverpool remain unbeaten through the first 12 games of this season, they have lost once in their last 51 Premier League games and they are unbeaten in their last 29 games in the competition.

Here’s what we learned from a dramatic battle at Anfield, as the lopsided scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story.


VAR DRAMA ‘HANDS’ LIVERPOOL HUGE TITLE ADVANTAGE

Man City should have had a penalty kick but 20 seconds later they trailed 1-0. There was a clear handball in the box as Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s outstretched arm flicked onto his leg and as Sergio Aguero stopped and remonstrated with the officials, Liverpool broke and the ball was half cleared to Fabinho who drilled home to make it 1-0. VAR was then used to have a look at the goal and although Bernardo Silva did touch the ball with his arm just before Alexander-Arnold did, there was no advantage to be gained as it was clearly accidental as his arm wasn’t in an unnatural position like TAA’s was. Unlike the IFAB rules which were made clearer after Aymeric Laporte handled in the build up to Gabriel Jesus‘ later winner was chalked off against Spurs in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg last season.

VAR got this big call wrong. Referee Michael Oliver had a clear view of the situation but waved away the penalty calls from Man City. VAR didn’t deem it to be a clear and obvious error. It was. VAR has become a farce and it set the tone for Liverpool to take the lead early on and go nine points clear of Man City in the title race. Pep Guardiola and his staff were livid in the technical area all game long as a few other penalty calls were checked and waved away by VAR. The first one was the most clear and obvious and it was obviously, and clearly, a mistake.


MAN CITY WERE THE BETTER, MORE DANGEROUS TEAM

In the first half alone Alisson denied Sergio Aguero twice, Aneglino hit the post and Kevin De Bruyne flashed across some wicked deliveries which John Stones and Fernandinho couldn’t get on the end of. In the second half Raheem Sterling was denied by a great block and Aguero somehow missed the ball totally when he was two yards out and the goal was gaping. Man City weren’t clinical enough and Liverpool made them pay. That coupled with VAR calls going the other way on Liverpool’s two first half goals culminated in a lopsided defeat for Man City.

Pep Guardiola’s side controlled the game, Fernandinho and John Stones looked fairly assured and although Claudio Bravo was partly at fault for the third goal he looked solid enough. After this game Man City will be scratching their heads as to how on earth they lost. But they did, and Man City have now failed to win on any of their last 17 Premier League trips to Anfield. Sergio Aguero has never scored there. Klopp has beaten Guardiola more times than any other manager. Man City’s players were cagey at times with Sterling, De Bruyne and Aguero all guilty of uncharacteristic mistakes. City played well enough but the reigning champions were taught a ruthless lesson by the champions elect.


LIVERPOOL A DIFFERENT MACHINE AS TITLE GLORY AWAITS

This Liverpool team are ruthless. When they sense an opportunity to win, they take it. And they did just that on Sunday. That is why they will win the Premier League this season. They are a different machine in 2019-20. Klopp’s side are eight points clear atop the table and yes, there are still 26 games to go, but something absolutely unfathomable would have to happen for them not to be crowned Premier League champions this season. Liverpool have addd a steely edge to their play, a ruthless streak which enables them to make the most of their opponents weaknesses.

They now bend but don’t break. It’s crazy to say this, but Liverpool weren’t at their best on Sunday and they haven’t been for much of this season. But they are nine points ahead of Man City and beat them 3-1 to extend their unbeaten run at home to 46 games. These are the kind of results which sum up why teams are destined to win titles. Liverpool’s 30-year wait for a title is so close, but still so far, from being over.