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Guardiola loving life as ‘bold’ Man City advances

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There’s no much for a manager to say after his side beats another 7-0 on the day, and 10-2 on aggregate.

So don’t judge Pep Guardiola too harshly for his words following Manchester City’s Tuesday demolition of Schalke in the UEFA Champions League.

[ RECAP: Man City 7-0 (10-2 agg.) Schalke ]

“It was a clear result,” Guardiola said. “We are happy to get to the quarter-finals. We didn’t start that well, we were a bit scared to play. But after it went 1-0, we relaxed and decided to play and be aggressive.”

Sergio Aguero scored twice for Pep’s men, with Leroy Sane, Raheem SterlingPhil FodenGabriel Jesus, and Bernardo Silva also finding the back of the net.

With Danilo on his back line and both Foden and Fabian Delph coming off the bench to get some minutes, it all went according to plan for Guardiola.

“We have a lot of injured players so we want to continue this run and get those players back fit,” he said. “Everyone has to compete with each other to play. They all want to play. Everybody tried to play, be bold and keep going.”

City can hang with anyone, and shut down Schalke despite the absence of Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Oh, and Kevin De Bruyne did not play either. And Riyad Mahrez was an unused sub.

So yeah, pretty much full strength (Shoulder shrug emoji).

Man City obliterates Schalke to reach UCL quarters (video)

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  • City makes third quarterfinal in four years
  • Aguero bags brace
  • Sane, Sterling produce electric displays

Sergio Aguero scored twice as Manchester City leveled Schalke 7-0 at the Etihad Stadium in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus, and Bernardo Silva also scored as City collected a 10-2 aggregate win over its Bundesliga opposition to reach the quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Man City opened up the match with control of the ball and the chances, even seeing a goal chalked off for interference as Raheem Sterling’s interference with Schalke’s Ralf Fahrmann is what allowed Aymeric Laporte to slot home.

That’s when City did the thing which would make life mathematically improbable for Schalke: Score a goal.

Jeffrey Bruma took down Bernardo Silva in the box to give City a chance from the spot. Aguero’s conversion meant Schalke would need to score three goals without conceding again to Man City. Tall order.

Fahrmann stopped Aguero from making it 2-0 moments later on a dribble inside the box, but couldn’t manage to repeat the feat when the Argentine was set-up by Sterling in the 38th minute.

Sane helped City to its 3-0 halftime lead with a run past USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie, playing right back for Schalke, to beat Fahrmann.

But that wasn’t all. Sterling used VAR to overrule the linesman when he blasted City in front by five on aggregate just after the break. Sane again played the role of maestro on the goal.

Then Foden became the the youngest player ever to score a Champions League goal for Manchester City, again from Sane, and Gabriel Jesus made it 7-0 before long.

Controversial opener, Sterling lead Man City past Watford

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  • Scoreless at halftime
  • Sterling nabs quarter-hour hat trick
  • Deulofeu scores off bench

Raheem Sterling‘s quickfire hat trick started with a controversial ruling as Manchester City beat Watford 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Gerard Deulofeu scored for the Hornets, who will feel aggrieved that Sterling’s seemingly offside first goal was ruled onside for unusual reasons.

City increases its table lead to four matches before Liverpool hosts Burnley, while Watford will stay 8th unless Wolves are worked over by Chelsea on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

David Silva flew to head a Riyad Mahrez cross toward goal, but the ball flicked wide of the goal as Man City came close to a ninth minute opener.

Watford’s second unit, so to speak, was stout and took some work to break down. Aguero’s pounded down header of a powerful Bernardo Silva cross just missed the near post in the 29th minute.

Foster made a fine leg stop on Aguero five minutes later, and Mahrez just missed the upper 90 in stoppage time as Watford made it to halftime on level terms.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Raheem Sterling was ruled offside in the 46th minute after Aguero played him through for a finish.

But wait… a conversation between referee and linesman ended with the decision for a goal, as Sterling was fine because a clearing attempt hit Sterling and went into the goal. A head scratcher.

City made sure to put some distance between itself and the decision through a Mahrez cross through the box for a Sterling tap-in.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

David Silva then cued up Sterling for the hat trick, the Englishman needing plenty of work to cut in front and finish.

Watford pulled one back when Troy Deeney flicked a header to substitute Deulofeu for a goal with the Spaniard’s first touch of the match.

Gabriel Jesus would’ve felt he was about to slot for 4-1 when Christian Kabasele slid to block his 85th minute shot.

Vinicius Junior called up for Brazil for first time

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Vinicius Junior has been called up to the Brazilian national team for the first time for friendly matches against Panama and the Czech Republic.

The 18-year-old striker has become a key player for Real Madrid this season.

[ MORE: PL relegation picture in focus ]

Brazil coach Tite also called up midfielder Felipe Anderson and striker Richarlison.

Brazil is preparing to host the Copa America in June.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras)

Ddefenders: Alex Sandro (Juventus), Danilo (Manchester City), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Eder Militao (Porto), Dani Alves (Paris Saint-Germain), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Miranda (Inter Milan)

Midfielders: Allan (Napoli), Arthur (Barcelona), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Felipe Anderson (West Ham), Lucas Paqueta (AC Milan)

Forwards: Everton (Gremio), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Richarlison (Everton), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

Watch Live: Liverpool, Man City, Man United and more in PL action

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A full Wednesday slate of Week 28 games kicking off at 2:45 and 3:00 p.m. ET features each of the top six teams in the Premier League table.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Leading the way is a critical matchup between Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge (live at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSports.com) that sees both teams desperately need a result. Spurs comes into the cross-town London meeting in dire need of a win to keep pace with the leaders in Liverpool and Manchester City. Any slip-up for Mauricio Pochettino could see them fall harmlessly away from the title race, already six points back of the Reds at the top.

For Chelsea, the Blues are even more in need of a positive result. With Maurizio Sarri under fire, all eyes will be on the Italian after the club played spectacularly well in the Carabao Cup final, only to lose to Manchester City in penalties amid the wild incident involving Kepa Arrizabalaga. With the young goalkeeper already fined one week’s wages for refusing a substitution and enraging his manager on the touchline, Sarri has decided to drop Kepa to the bench and instead start Willy Caballero in his place. While it might be a consequence of Arrizabalaga’s actions in the Cup final, it could also be seen as an olive branch extended to Caballero, who was left befuddled on the touchline when Arrizabalaga refused a substitution on Sunday.

[ WATCH LIVE: Chelsea v. Tottenham on NBCSports.com ]

Elsewhere, Liverpool hosts Watford at Anfield in the wake of the Reds’ goalless draw with Manchester United which saw them retake the Premier League lead, but only by a point. Jurgen Klopp‘s men have won just one of their last four league matches, with six total dropped points in that span, which has allowed Manchester City to climb back into the race.

Pep Guardiola and City are also in action, welcoming West Ham to the Etihad with a 3:00 p.m. ET start. City will look for victory in the hopes that Liverpool continues its poor run of form, potentially taking over the Premier League lead should that take place. The Spanish boss will have to navigate the next few fixtures without two absolutely critical players to the squad, with Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte both sidelined for a significant portion of games due to injuries sustained in the Carabao Cup final. The squad has thinned considerably as that pair joins John Stones and Gabriel Jesus on the sidelines, meaning Guardiola has lost his first-choice central defensive partnership plus his starting defensive midfielder critical to counter-busting and distribution.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]

Rounding out the top six is Manchester United, who travels to Crystal Palace hoping to capitalize on any slips by either Chelsea or Arsenal. United is sandwiched between the two in a jam-packed battle for the final Champions League place. Arsenal currently resides in fourth, but they own just a one-point advantage on Manchester United, and Chelsea rests just two points back of the Red Devils in sixth. Manchester United still has not lost in league play since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over, with draws against Burnley and Liverpool as the only blemishes on his Premier League record thus far. Crystal Palace comes into the game in good form as well, having gone unbeaten in its last four with two wins and two draws in that span.


2:45 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Southampton v. Fulham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Chelsea v. Tottenham – NBCSN [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Liverpool v. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Manchester City v. West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Crystal Palace v. Manchester United – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]