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Arteta: Despite loss, Man City was “ready for the game”

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Mikel Arteta might have enjoyed the opportunity to sit in the hot seat for Manchester City when the Premier League champions opened their UEFA Champions League season at home to Lyon on Wednesday, but he sure didn’t like the result.

[ RECAP: Man City 1-2 Lyon ]

With suspended Pep Guardiola watching from the stands, Man City went behind 2-0 to the French visitors. The champs could muster one second half marker in a loss at the Etihad Stadium.

Arteta said he couldn’t say whether the game would be different with Guardiola on the touch line, but doesn’t think the loss comes down to his absence. From ManCity.com:

“We missed the right pass and didn’t find consistency,” he said. “We felt under threat every time we lost the ball, that can bring the confidence lower. We were ready for the game, keen to start to Champions League because the way we ended it last season really hurt.

“The players are not perfect, sometimes they have bad days, sometimes better. I can’t fault the effort. I won’t judge them because we lost.”

He’s finding more positives than his players when it comes to the day’s mettle.

“We started slowly, and we were inconsistent in the way we wanted to play,” Arteta said. “We lost too many duels. We gave the ball away in difficult circumstances and they scored twice, but after that, the reaction from the lads was superb. We tweaked a few things to control situations better and we created chances, but at this level, it wasn’t enough.”

John Stones was at the back for both of Lyon’s goals, and admitted that halftime hit the players hard.

“Really disappointing,” he said. “To concede two goals like we did is very frustrating,. We came in at half-time a bit deflated. We picked ourselves up and played a better second half but it was frustrating.”

Man City wins fifth Community Shield

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Sergio Aguero’s 200th and 201st Manchester City goals helped the club to its fifth Community Shield with a 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

Both sides were missing key pieces, with Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne amongst several stars outside the starting lineups.

Manchester City now turns its attention to Sunday’s Premier League opener at Arsenal, while Chelsea opens their league slate on Saturday at Huddersfield Town.

[ MORE: 2018-19 Premier League previews]

Man City was in control in the early throes, and that led to an early goal.

Given time to settle and line up his left peg, the Argentine took a feed off of Phil Foden‘s long dribble and struck across goal to give City its advantage.

But Chelsea would respond, albeit with chances that usually had Claudio Bravo fairly comfortable in his collection of the ball.

Bravo’s misjudgment of a long ball into the box — it bounded over his head — led to a fairly hilarious but ultimately non-threatening moment near the end line.

Aguero danced around Caballero before smashing into the side netting in the 50th minute. He doesn’t miss many of those.

City doubled its advantage when John Stones terrific break-up atop his 18 sprung a lethal counter attack completed by Bernardo Silva slipping Aguero through, again, on Caballero.

The match threatened to crawl to the finish, apart from a late Ross Barkley cross which caused trouble for City’s back line before going out for a corner kick.

Stones proud of English maturity in face of “dirtiest team I’ve played”

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John Stones has called the Colombia side which England beat in a penalty shootout in the 2018 World Cup round of 16 on Tuesday, “the dirtiest team I’ve ever come up against.”

[ MORE: Top 5 storylines — World Cup quarterfinals ]

More importantly than Colombia’s questionable tactics, Stones is proud of the maturity shown by a young England side (average age: 25.6 years old) that refused to fall into the South Americans’ trap. It’s that focus which helped them reach Saturday’s quarterfinal clash with Sweden, and it’s that focus which will serve them best as the Three Lions chase a place in the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990, and perhaps their first final since winning it all in 1966 — quotes from the AP:

“The best thing for us was to beat them at football — that will hurt them most. They’re on the plane going home and we’re in the next round.”

“The game was so strange. It was the dirtiest team I’ve ever come up against, in the respect of when we won a penalty, surrounding the referee, pushing the referee, the head-butt you’ve all seen, scuffing the penalty spot and a lot of off-the-ball stuff I’m sure you’ve not heard about.

“All the sort of things you don’t really hear in a football match. On our behalf, it showed massive character to keep a cool head and not get dragged into their game. We stuck to our plan and kept playing our way and that’s a great quality to have. It was a difficult situation but one we’ve overcome and can be proud of.”

“We kept playing our own football and that’s a great sign for a team to have, to make sure we have that quality of tunnel vision to get out of the game. It was a difficult situation to be in, and we can look back on it and be very proud of it.”

Tuesday’s game saw eight yellow cards (six to Colombia) and a penalty (to England) given by referee Mark Geiger, and could have very easily seen 10 minutes of second-half stoppage time after following a handful of prolonged stoppages in play. Nearly four minutes of real time passed between the moment Geiger whistled to award England a penalty, and the time at which Harry Kane finally took, and converted, it.

VIDEO: Lingard nets stunner as England demolish Panama

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The Three Lions are cruising towards the last 16 of the World Cup.

England led Panama 5-0 in Nizhny Novgorod as the half time whistle blew and Lingard’s curler was the pick of the bunch as Harry Kane and John Stones each had a double with penalty kicks and headers respectively.

Watch Lingard’s stunner in the video below.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Huddersfield Town

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Huddersfield Town hopes to clinch Premier League safety and record a historic upset when it visits Manchester City on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Man City will lift the Premier League trophy after the match, and we’ll have all the coverage.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

John Stones makes his first start since March for City, which keeps whiz kid Aymeric Laporte on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Sane, Silva, Sterling, Jesus. Subs: Bravo, Gundogan, Laporte, Bernardo, Mendy, Yaya Toure, Foden.

Huddersfield Town: Lossl, Smith, Kongolo, Hogg, Mooy, Lowe, Pritchard, Mounie, Zanka, Schindler, Hadergjonaj. Subs: Coleman, Malone, Billing, Van La Parra, Depoitre, Quaner, Stankovic.