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Man City wins third-straight League Cup
(Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Man City wins third-straight League Cup

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Manchester City won its third-straight League Cup trophy, outlasting a game challenge from Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: “Clinical” Foden reacts ]

It’s the eighth trophy of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City, as Rodri and Sergio Aguero scored in a 2-1 win. City’s seven league cups trail only Liverpool’s eight.

Mbwana Samatta pulled a goal back for Villa, who was denied extra time by a brilliant Claudio Bravo save. City had 70 percent of the ball and a 22-5 shots edge, but made a furious bid over the final few minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three things we learned

1. Another trophy for City, with new heroes: Winning silverware never gets old, and this one will feel especially nice given the tumultuous season at the Etihad Stadium and impending UEFA Champions League ban. Villa proving difficult to beat lent the occasion more intensity.

The names helping City to glory were mostly new to the trophy chase, or at least unusual to it. Rodri helped set up the first goal and scored the second. Phil Foden was an absolute menace. And Bravo made a tremendous late save to ensure the match didn’t go beyond 90 minutes.

2. Foden announces himself: It can be easy to tire of the “did the young English player play and how did he play?” storyline with Premier League, but this isn’t that: Phil Foden was electrifying in this one, recalling fellow spark plug Jack Grealish on the opposite sideline.

The kid was sensational, completing 90 percent of his passes including two key passes. He completed three of four dribbles, won 7 of 10 duels, and made an interception to go with two tackles. That says nothing of his ability to move the ball in tight spaces before finding a safe outlet. Wonderful from a kid who’s still a teenager until May 28.

3. Bad call burns Villa, as fans provide occasion: Neither the AR nor head referee saw the ball touch Ilkay Gundogan last ahead of a wrongly-awarded Man City corner. VAR isn’t going to be deployed for every corner, nor should it be, but the missed call allowed Gundogan’s corner that Rodri buried for 2-0.

Villa’s fans were tentative early, but snapped to life once Samatta scored and found another level after the hour mark. It will have been a memorable day for a big club even if Dean Smith‘s men can’t shake the relegation blues.

Man of the Match: It’s between Rodri and Foden, with an acknowledging nod to Villa defender Tyrone Mings. We’ll give it to Rodri, City’s underrated star.


Early chances went both ways, Anwar El Ghazi heading over the goal at one end before John Stones headed a Gundogan did the same at the other.

City took the lead on an incisive, clinical play. Rodri swept a pass over the line to a streaking Phil Foden, who cut back for Aguero.

The Argentine had plenty to do with a leaping side-footed finish of an airborne ball.

El Ghazi cut around Stones to shoot toward the near post, but Claudio Bravo was in position.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Rodri had it 2-0 off a Gundogan corner that should not have been. The ball went off Gundogan last on the end line, but VAR cannot review every corner.

Villa got one back when Stones fell over, allowing El Ghazi to cross between Fernandinho and Oleksandr Zinchenko for a waiting Samatta.

City couldn’t find the goal to put the game to bed and introduced Kevin De Bruyne for Ilkay Gundogan, Guardiola not content to ride out a one-goal win.

Rodri almost had another when Nyland pawed away a 74th-minute bid, and Aguero slipped in a bid to side volley a Sterling cross past Nyland.

Villa won a corner in the 87th minute through the industry of Trezeguet, the crowd again meeting the moment. Bravo made an incredible save to push Bjorn Engels‘ header off the post.

Rodri, Guardiola react to latest Man City setback (video)

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola didn’t speak to the press for a long time after his side’s 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

It was an exceptional time to wait for a managerial response, and it would be easy to imagine the Catalan mastermind tearing into his team in the interim.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Rodri lifted the lid on the manager’s mindset in a post-match interview around an hour after the match concluded on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium pitch.

“He’s frustrated because we work a lot and prepare incredibly for the matches. We put on the pitch what we train. We do it, we don’t concede anything. We have 18 I think shots on target.

We miss one penalty, one cross bar, one post and I don’t know if football is being fair with us now. We prepare, we create, we go, we go, and it seems nothing is going well but we have to keep going.

“We qualified for the final of one tournament, okay, the Premier League now is out, but we have more tournaments and competitions, so we have to keep fighting.”

[ MORE: Mourinho reacts to win ]

Frustrated or not, when Guardiola finally did speak to the cameras he was mostly dismissive of the loss aside from some criticism for Oleksandr Zinchenko‘s second yellow card that turned the game on its ear.

City out-attempted Spurs 18-3 but both of those attempts wound up in the champions’ goal within 10 minutes of the red card.

Here’s Pep, via the BBC:

“With this performance, how should I be critical of my players? I was talking with my staff and my wife and some players. With this performance it would be an incredible mistake to say how bad they are. It is not true. Football is for creating chances and conceding few. A few times this season it has happened.

“The sending off was a key point. We finish with 10 or 11, it’s completely different in terms of quality. …. We said at half-time be careful, yellow cards are a fast and quick action and sometimes to make a decision in that moment is not easy.”

The two-time defending Premier League champions sit 22 points off leaders Liverpool. They’ll host West Ham on Feb. 9 before a two-week break and a March 22 scrap with third-place Leicester City.

Pep effusive in praise for Rodri after magnificent goal, performance

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Pep Guardiola raved about his Manchester City side after a 4-1 defeat of Burnley on Tuesday at Turf Moor, though previous criticisms were clearly still in his head.

Guardiola either didn’t understand or was caught off guard by a relatively straight-forward question about Rodri’s quality allowing Fernandinho to play center back, and bristled a bit.

[ RECAP: Burnley 1-4 Man City ]

“We are open to accept your opinions but at the end we know the qualities of the players much better than all of you and we know what the team needs in this moment. In Fernandinho for his personality and his character is an important player.”

Well, then. A simple misunderstanding, but perhaps a look into the mindset of the man right now.

The manager was very happy with Gabriel Jesus‘ brace and Rodri’s Man of the Match performance, one which included a bullet goal, as City rebounded from back-to-back draws against Shakhtar Donetsk and Newcastle.

He saved special praise for Rodri.

“He was incredible,” Guardiola said. “His position in the transition is so clever. He has a much better picture of our game in his head. He’s a fantastic player, so young and perfect in his physicality. He’s got it because a guy who wants to learn and listen, he’s ready, and that’s why we can count on him.”

As for Jesus, who scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in the place of injured Sergio Aguero, Guardiola expressed his confidence in the 22-year-old Brazilian.

“We need him so,” Guardiola said. “Strikers have to score goals and we need him. His effort and his commitment is always there, but strikers like him live for the goal and to score is important. … Of course it’s not easy but the team doesn’t have a doubt about him.”

Man City next hosts Manchester United on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Rodri, Jesus lead Man City to easy win

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Gabriel Jesus got Manchester City back in the win column ahead of a weekend derby, as the reigning champions scored a professional 4-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Riyad Mahrez scored his 50th Premier League goal and Rodri also scored for City, who became the third team to break the 30-point marker and joins Leicester City on 32. Man City hosts Manchester United at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

Robbie Brady scored in the 89th minute to ruin the clean sheet. Burnley dips into 11th with 18 points, six clear of the Bottom Three. The Clarets visit Spurs on Saturday.


Three things

1. Gabby goes good: Manchester City’s second league match without Sergio Aguero went much better than the first, and the 22-year-old Jesus deserves all the credit. Both of his goals were clinical finishes, the first a beauty from just inside the 18 and the second a thumping, leaping volley of a Bernardo Silva pass. His fourth and fifth goals helped City ease to the win ahead of an intense weekend derby.

2. Rodri’s pile pildriver seals the deal: The Spaniard’s second Premier League was a scorcher of the hottest quality. David Silva‘s shot was blocked onto the path of Rodri, who hit a volley past a flying, splayed Pope. We’re not sure his hand would’ve held up to the pressure of this incredible rip.

3. Feast of famine Clarets fail to give it a go: Sean Dyche set up negatively and mostly limited damage, but the home crowd will have been hoping for something more from a side which has either been strong or miserable for the better part of a month. Burnley’s last five fixtures have ended multiple goals to nil: 3-0 losses to City and Sheffield United, a 2-0 defeat versus Palace, and 3-0 beatings of Watford and West Ham.

Man of the Match: Rodri — Aside from the blazing goal, Rodri completed 90 of 99 passes while winning four aerials and three tackles.


It comes as little surprise that City controlled the early stages, and had the ball in the goal only to see a flag rightly raised when an offside Gabriel Jesus redirected an Angelino drive past Nick Pope.

Jesus would break through in the 24th minute, swirling a shot around Pope which looked an awful lot like Jack Grealish‘s marvelous goal versus Manchester United this weekend.

Pope continues to shine at Turf Moor, and made a strong leg save to deny Bernardo Silva before halftime, one of several interventions in the frame.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Jesus again got the better of Pope when Kevin De Bruyne played Bernardo on the right of the box. The Portuguese sent a cross to the back post that a leaping Jesus smashed into the goal for 2-0.

Dwight McNeil ripped a free kick on frame that Ederson collected in the 61st minute.

Rodri’s rocket goal was joining by a savvy strike from Mahrez in the 87th minute, Phil Foden laying off to the Algerian for a dribble to the top of 18 and drive past Pope.

Brady denied City its clean sheet when he ran onto a loose ball at the back post in the 89th.

Guardiola fears Sergio Aguero’s muscular injury is ‘not good’

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Manchester City may be without their top scorer for weeks to come.

Sergio Aguero limped off the field in the 77th minute, following a challenge from Reece James in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over a visiting Chelsea, and Pep Guardiola is worried that the striker may be out of action during a crucial point of the season.

“Hopefully we’ll know tomorrow [Sunday], but the first indication is not good,” Pep Guardiola admitted following his team’s win on Saturday. “I think it’s a muscular injury. [We could be without] him for some days of the toughest part of our season.“

“The doctor says tomorrow we are going to see but he thought it was a kick but I think he stretched a little bit,” he added.

The striker, who has scored 13 goals this season, is now a doubt for Man City’s midweek Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk, and depending on the results of the scan he is scheduled for on Sunday, may miss games against Newcastle, Burnley and Manchester United.

In league play, the 31-year-old has featured 12 times (nine starts) for City, scoring on nine occasions. With a goal-per-game ratio of 0.8 this season, Aguero is on pace to tie his best his best mark. Meanwhile, Gabriel Jesus – who replaced an injured Aguero in the 77th minute at the Etihad – has scored only three goals in 10 appearances this season.

Aguero was not the only City player to come off on Saturday due to health reasons.

Following the game, Guardiola also admitted that captain David Silva and Rodri had to pulled out of the field due to the “tiredness” and “cramps” that both Spaniards were experiencing.

“For Rodri and Silva it is more tiredness and cramps,” he said. “Rodri was out for a month and games like today are so demanding, but with determination and suffering in certain moments, we did it.”

Following a deflection, Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring, while Riyad Mahrez, with a bit of bit of brilliance, sealed the three points late in the first half, as City managed to eek out a vital victory over a red-hot Chelsea.

“We beat an incredible top side, Frank is a brave manager – courageous to play,” Guardiola said. “Chelsea are an incredible team, we knew it but we beat them. It was a typical high-level game. Our back four played so good today. In the most difficult period of the game we scored on the counter.

“We created enough chances to score more goals. We score a goal [equaliser] when they were better. Before the goal from them, the game was tight. Then we suffered, but the second half we were much better.”