Bernardo Silva

WATCH: Man City scores five times in first 18 minutes

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What a start. Emphasize it, bold it, underline it.

Manchester City scored five goals in the first 18 minutes of play on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium, relegating Watford to also-ran status before the match was a quarter finished.

[ STREAM: Man City v. Watford ]

It took 54 seconds for De Bruyne to assist David Silva with an outstanding opener, but Gerard Deulofeu nearly answered when he danced around Nicolas Otamendi to force a conceded corner out of Ederson.

Silva, marked for Inter Miami in a mid-week report, was the finisher for the 55th time in his Premier League career and 72nd for his club.

Ben Foster then gave away a useless penalty when he slapped a through ball out of bounds before felling Riyad Mahrez for an easy penalty. Aguero stepped to the spot calm as you like and dispatched the No. 2 to the scoreboard.

That was hardly the end to Watford’s woes, as Mahrez dazzled with a dribble through the heart of the field to earn a free kick atop the 18. There was only one destination, given the series of events. 3-0.

Bernardo Silva then got in on the act, when Otamendi nodded a De Bruyne corner to the back post for a prone finish and 4-0.

Not to be outdone, Otamendi was back post for a finish of his own, giving City its fifth goal off an Aguero assist.

Man City batters Brighton, loses Laporte

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Manchester City smashed Brighton and Hove Albion, but will be on pins and needles over an injury to one of its very best.

Sergio Aguero scored twice and David Silva had two assists in the 4-0 defeat of the Seagulls at the Etihad Stadium, but Aymeric Laporte was stretchered off the pitch.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva also scored for City, who will enter the international break no lower than second on the table while boasting the league’s best goal differential (10).

Brighton dips 15th with four points and a minus-2 goal differential.


Three things 

  1. Laporte’s injury looms — City cruised to victory, but Laporte’s departure via stretcher threatens to overshadow the easy win. Perhaps no City player is more important to Pep Guardiola‘s system.
  2. David Silva’s class is permanent — Perhaps it would be easier to talk about Sergio Aguero still scoring goals for fun at age 31. But Silva is two years older and in his last season at the Etihad Stadium, and has two assists in each of his last two matches.
  3. The brilliant behind Mat Ryan angle of Sergio Aguero’s second goal begs you to imagine stopping it.

Man of the Match: Aguero — See above.


City needed 71 seconds to go ahead, with David Silva bursting toward the goal and cutting back for De Bruyne to zip into the goal.

Their momentum was flummoxed by the scary injury to Laporte, but Aguero settled the nerves before halftime.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

He’d add a third off another David Silva feed, and Bernardo Silva scored mere moments after joining the match. The 78th minute sub scored a 79th minute goal to make it 4-0.

Who will make Ballon d’Or final three?

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When Luka Modric won the Ballon d’Or last summer, marking the first victor neither named Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo since 2007, it threatened to signal a new era for the trophy in more ways than one.

Ronaldo didn’t win the honors, finishing second, but Messi was inexplicably left off the final ballot altogether.

[ MORE: De Ligt joins Juve ]

Could this be the year that neither makes the top three? Probably not, but it could be the first time Ronaldo fails to make the list since Barca swept the honors Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi in 2010.

So while most of us are not thinking of the award right now, Ronaldo has it on his brain. It’s no surprise that Marca, known for its backing of Real Madrid royalty, has thrown his name in the mix as a “favorite” given his scudetto with Juventus. That it mentions his performance in the UEFA Nations League is a little goofy — it was a two-match summer — but such is life.

Ronaldo and Messi are deadlocked on five Ballons d’Or, the most ever, and Messi’s year was superior to his longtime rival. Both won their leagues and Messi did not claim domestic honors at the Copa America — in fact he was not his phenomenal self — but Messi scored 12 goals in 10 Champions League appearances before Liverpool stunned Barcelona prior to the final (Ronaldo’s Juve lost to Ajax).

Marca proffers this “I don’t care but obviously I very much care” from CR7:

“I don’t live with an obsession about awards,” Ronaldo explained. “My numbers don’t lie, this year I’ve won three titles and I’ve been good in the Nations League. What else can I do?”

Ronaldo, it should be noted, was still incredible last season. He scored all three goals as Juventus erased a 2-0 first leg deficit in the UCL Round of 16 versus old rivals Atletico Madrid, then scored in both legs of the side’s exit via Ajax. And he likely would’ve won the top scorer’s prize in Italy had he not missed six matches through injury and rest.

Messi again breached the half-century mark in goals, scoring 51 times in all competitions for Barcelona. He chipped in 22 assists and also missed six matches between the UCL and La Liga.

Are there three players who could surpass both to make a new final three?

It would be stunning if Liverpool and Netherlands center back Virgil Van Dijk was kept off the top three, while Sadio Mane may have a Champions League crown and Africa Cup of Nations victory. And you can follow the Luka Modric logic to a land where treble- and Nations League-winning Bernardo Silva is in the discussion (Raheem Sterling was also great).

Kylian Mbappe had probably the best-looking season on Earth, scoring 39 times with 17 assists in 43 matches and navigating the attention that came with Neymar’s long-term absence by shouldering the burden to great success. We made the argument that his 19 goals and six assists in 23 Neymar-free matches is one of the prime reasons he’s be worth almost any transfer fee.

Also remember that the odds of the captains of international teams having enough ballots without Ronaldo and/or Messi named is very difficult to imagine.

Still, Messi, Mbappe, and Van Dijk seems like the final three to us. What do you think?

Ronaldo hat trick puts Portugal in final

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It’s kinda what he does, you know, scoring huge goals?

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick as Portugal clinched a spot in the inaugural UEFA Nations League Final with a 3-1 defeat of Switzerland on Wednesday at the Estadio do Dragao.

[ MORE: Premier League VAR details ]

Ronaldo’s match-winner came in the 88th minute off a feed from Bernardo Silva, and then the Portuguese megastar cooked Manuel Akanji en route to a 90th minute insurance goal.

Ricardo Rodriguez scored a penalty kick for Switzerland’s lone goal.

Ronaldo’s performance came on the same day that the American lawsuit filed against Ronaldo for rape was moved to federal court.

The first goal was wonderful, a free kick sent through the wall after Ronaldo was fouled to win the opportunity, though it came after Bruno Fernandes was somehow not sent off for a sliding studs-up challenge. To be fair to Portugal, Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka could also have been sent off minutes later for a two-footed challenge.

The goals were the 86th, 87th, and 88th of his Portugal senior career.

And really the performance saved the story line, which would’ve been all about VAR after a penalty awarded to Portugal was never given thanks to a video review which nullified the foul in order to give a dodgy penalty to the Swiss.

That in itself had a measure of fairness, as the Swiss were the better team on the day. They just didn’t have Cristiano Ronaldo.

Man City, Liverpool go 10-of-11 on PFA Team of the Year

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LONDON (AP) Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is the only player not from Manchester City or Liverpool to be selected in the Premier League’s Team of the Year for the 2018-19 season.

City had six representatives — Ederson, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero — while Liverpool had four, although Mohamed Salah wasn’t among them despite being tied for the top scorer in the league.

Pogba was picked for the team, which is voted for by Premier League players, despite having an up-and-down season. He was dropped for the final matches of Jose Mourinho’s tenure and has had a dip in form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in recent weeks.

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard wasn’t included, despite being on the six-man shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year award.

Team of the Year

Goalkeeper: Ederson (Manchester City)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Andy Robertson (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Fernandinho (Manchester City)

Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)