Rohr’s Sack, European Clubs’ AFCON Threat + Other Top Sports Stories This Week

 

As COVID-19 continues to pose a threat to sports globally amid the Omicron variant, calls for the postponement of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), have gathered steam. 

In Nigeria,  the Super Eagles’ longest-serving coach was dismissed, while Akwa United got rewarded for their title-winning feat.

These and others, make up First Eleven, as we try to make sense of events in the sporting world in the past week.

Rohr’s Sack

Rohr maintains there was no justification for sacking him.

 

We begin from home where Nigeria on Sunday sacked long-time coach, Gernot Rohr, following a string of unconvincing results.

The decision came months after Nigeria lost at home to the lowly-rated Central Africa Republic (CAR), and survived a nervy game against Cape Verde to book a place in the playoff stage of the 2022 World Cup qualifier.

Days after Rohr’s dismissal, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, explained that the decision had to be made to avoid disaster.

According to him, the German had lost the dressing and indiscipline was rife in the team.

But Rohr faulted the NFF for sacking him, maintaining that he met all targets.

A ‘Surprised’ Move

Eguavoen is a former Nigerian defender.

 

Although the NFF’s decision may not be surprising to many fans in Nigeria, the interim coach of the team, Austin Eguavoen, said he never expected to be handed the role.

The former Super Eagles defender explained that he also did not see Rohr’s sack coming.

“I would say I was shocked, I was surprised when my name was announced after a brief discussion but I thought Gernot Rohr will continue because it has always been, ‘Is he going to continue? Is he not going to continue?’ We’re going to sort things out,” Eguavoen told Channels Television.

“And then when my bosses spoke to me about it a couple of days ago I was like why not but is there a possibility that we can sort things out with him.”

Money Rain For Akwa United 

Akwa United won the league with 71 points. Photo: Akwa United.

 

Away from Rohr’s sack, Governor Emmanuel Udom rewarded Akwa United following their title-winning feat in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

Udom in a ceremony to honour the team at the Government House in Uyo on Thursday promised them N100m, a bus, and a plot of land each to the players.

The Akwa Ibom Governor aside from the reward also urged the team to build on their league victory in the coming season.

NWFL Continues

Rivers Angels are seven-time NWFL champions. Photo: [email protected]

 

While Akwa United will be waiting for the start of the NPFL to defend their crown, matches have already started in the women’s league better known as the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL).

The league which began last weekend is already in Match Day 2. Fourteen teams will be competing in two groups of seven teams each.

Rivers Angels, last season’s winners, have started their title defense and have four points from two games played so far. But Bayelsa Queens are the leaders in Group A with four points having scored more goals.

In Group B of the NWFL, Confluence Queens led the chart after winning two of their games played so far.

Okpekpe Race Returns

East Africans Sweep Okpekpe Road Race

 

World Athletics has confirmed May 28, 2022, as the new date for the eighth Okpekpe International Road Race.

The decision is coming after the competition was twice moved – in 2021 and 2020 – due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Pamodzi Sports Marketing – organisers of the competition –   Mike Itemuagbor, the road race will be back in a better form.

“We have done all the documentation required and we are delighted that World Athletics has confirmed the date we set for the race,” he said, adding that the Okpekpe Road Race will be held in line with COVID-19 guidelines.

AFCON: Pressure Mounts On CAF

AFCON trophy.

 

With less than a month to kickoff, there is pressure on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to postpone the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The European Club Association, which represents leading clubs across the continent, is among leading voices calling for the postponement of the competition billed for Cameroon early next year.

With a host of African top stars playing in Europe, several big clubs are expected to lose players for at least to three-week.

Worried by the outbreak of the Omicron variant and a “suitable medical and operational protocol for the AFCON tournament,” ECA is threatening that the clubs will not release players for the competition. Amid clamours for the postponement, CAF insists the AFCON will hold as planned.

UEFA Draw Drama

 

In Europe, the UEFA Champions League knockout draws were held earlier in the week but an “error” from the organisers meant it had to be redone.

UEFA blamed a “material error” due to a “technical problem with the software of an external service provider” as it announced that the draw for the first knockout round of its flagship competition would be redone at 1400 GMT.  The full fixtures for the knockout phase of the Champions League can be found here.

Aguero Bows Out 

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Kun Aguero looks on as he addresses a press conference to announce his retirement from football, at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, on December 15, 2021. Pau BARRENA / AFP

 

Two days after the Champions League knockout phase draws, Argentine star, Sergio Aguero retired from football, ending a career that saw him score 260 goals for Manchester City.

The 33-year-old, who recently moved to Barcelona and only managed five games, broke down in tears while announcing his retirement from the game in a press conference.

Compatriot, Lionel Messi, was among the first set of people to pay tribute to the former Atletico Madrid forward both of whom won the Copa America earlier this summer.

Messi and Aguero won the football event of the 2008 Olympics. Photo: Instagram/Leomessi

 

COVID-19 Ravages EPL

Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva (2L) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal with teammates during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 6, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Aguero’s retirement was not the only health-related issue in European football this week. The English Premier League is battling a wave of COVID-19 infections. Owing to the resurgence of the disease, several league games have been called off but opinions are divided on moves for a COVID-19 break.

Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, is among those who maintain the league should continue while his Arsenal counterpart, Mikel Arteta, is calling for fairness before a decision is taken on the matter.

England is also not the only nation where the virus is disrupting football. In Spain, several Real Madrid players have contracted the disease.

F1 Great Hamilton Knighted

Mercedes’ British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton poses with his medal after being appointed as a Knight Bachelor (Knighthood) for services to motorsports, by Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on December 15, 2021. Andrew Matthews / POOL / AFP

 

And just days after missing out on a record-breaking eighth Formula One title in controversial fashion, Lewis Hamilton was knighted by the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old was recognised in the New Year Honours list for services to motorsport following a year in which he broke Michael Schumacher’s all-time tally for Grand Prix wins and emulated the German by winning a seventh world title.

On Sunday, however, championship rival Max Verstappen won his first Formula One world title after a season-long battle with Hamilton came down to a one-lap shoot-out in Abu Dhabi.

‘Greatness!’ Steve Curry Sets Record

ead Coach Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrate after passing Ray Allen for most three-pointers made in NBA history with 2,974 during the game against the New York Knicks on December 14, 2021, at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP

 

In basketball, Golden State Warriors star, Stephen Curry, eclipsed Ray Allen’s all-time record for NBA three-pointers with his 2,973rd career three-pointer.

It came on his first shot of the clash with the New York Knicks, less than two minutes into the contest, and had the crowd on its feet.

 

‘A Whole Career Together’: Messi Leads Tribute To Aguero On Retirement

Messi and Aguero won the football event of the 2008 Olympics. Photo: Instagram/Leomessi

 

Lionel Messi has paid tribute to compatriot, Sergio Aguero, following the latter’s retirement from football on Wednesday.

“I have decided to stop playing professional football,” said Aguero, who enjoyed 10 highly successful years at Manchester City before leaving at the end of last season. “It is a very hard moment but I am happy with my decision. My health comes first.”

Messi, who was among the first set of players to pay tribute to the Barcelona forward following the decision, said he shared some good moments with Aguero whom he won gold with at the 2008 Olympics.

READ ALSO: Sergio Aguero Retires From Football

“Practically a whole career together, Kun… We’ve had some great moments and others that weren’t so great, but all of them have made us grow closer and become better friends. And we’re going to continue spending them together off the pitch,” the Paris Saint Germain (PSG) star began in a lengthy Instagram post.

“With the great joy of lifting the Copa America just a little while ago, with all the achievements you obtained in England… And the truth is that now it hurts a lot to see how you have to stop doing what you love the most because of what happened to you. I’m sure you will continue to be happy because you are a person who radiates happiness and those of us who love you will be there for you. Now a new stage of your life is beginning and I am convinced that you will enjoy it with a smile on your face and with all the enthusiasm that you put into everything.

“All the best in this new stage! I love you very much my friend, I’m going to miss a lot being with you on the pitch and when we meet up with the national team.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi)

Aside from Messi, footballers across the globe have also continued to send in their wishes to the Argentine star.

Kevin De Bruyne, who played alongside Aguero in Manchester City,  also shared a photo of himself and the Argentine player celebrating a goal in the colours of the English champions.

“One of the best strikers ever!” he said. “Want to wish you all the best for the future legend. See you soon @kunaguero.”

Adding to the torrent of tributes from fans and footballers alike, Ivorian legend, Yaya Toure, described Aguero as a friend.

“Sergio, my friend. I am sad to see you retire today but I am also excited for your future,” he said about his former Manchester City teammate in an Instagram post.

“You have so much still to offer the game. We shared many great times on the pitch and I feel blessed to have been your teammate. You will go down as one of the greatest ever and I can say playing alongside you was an honour!”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Yaya Touré (@realtoureyaya)

Barcelona Sign Sergio Aguero On Two-Year Deal

 

Barcelona have signed Argentina forward Sergio Aguero on a deal until 2023.

Aguero was Manchester City’s all-time goal scorer with 260 goals and has five league titles, a record six Football League Cups, and an FA Cup to his credit.

The Argentine’s contract was announced on the club’s official Twitter handle on Monday.

“FC Barcelona and Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüerohave reached an agreement for the player to join the Club from 1 July when his contract with Manchester City expires,” the statement read.

“The player will sign a contract until the end of the 2022/23 season and his buy-out clause is set at 100 million euros.”

More to follow. 

 

Aguero Close To Barcelona Deal, Says Man City Coach Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said earlier this week that Sergio Aguero was ‘the best striker in our history’ and that the team needed him back in action. (AFP)

 

Sergio Aguero is close to agreeing a move to Barcelona that would unite him with fellow Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. 

City’s record goalscorer, who has spent a decade at the Etihad, scored a quickfire double in the champions’ 5-0 win over Everton in his final Premier League appearance for the club on Sunday.

The goals took his Premier League tally to 184 — the most by any player for a single club.

The 32-year-old forward is set to leave the Etihad as a free agent after Saturday’s Champions League final against Chelsea.

“Maybe I reveal a secret,” Guardiola told the BBC. “Maybe he is close to agreeing a deal for the club of my heart — for Barcelona.

“He is going to be playing alongside the best player of all time, Messi.”

READ ALSO: Suarez Scores As Atletico Madrid Win La Liga

If the move goes ahead it would be Aguero’s second spell in Spain — he made his name at Atletico Madrid before the move to Manchester in 2011.

Aguero’s final season at City was dogged by injury and a coronavirus infection but Guardiola believes the striker has a lot to offer the Catalan giants.

Barcelona had a disappointing season, finishing third in La Liga and falling in the last 16 of the Champions League.

“I’m pretty sure he is going to enjoy,” said Guardiola. “And maybe Barcelona are stronger and stronger with him on the pitch.”

AFP

Who Will Challenge For Man City’s Premier League Crown Next Season?

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy during the award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 23, 2021.
Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester City cruised to their third Premier League title in four seasons, but Pep Guardiola’s side are likely to face a tough defence of the crown next season.

Liverpool and Manchester United look capable of pushing the champions, while Chelsea should be in the mix after Thomas Tuchel’s impressive impact on the Champions League finalists.

AFP Sport looks at how the four leading title contenders will shape up:

Manchester CityAfter the midway point of the season, City were virtually untouchable as they surged clear with a record 21-game winning streak in all competitions by an English top-flight side.

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy during the award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 23, 2021. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Revitalised by the addition of Portugese international centre-back Ruben Dias and the emergence of England playmaker Phil Foden, City silenced the critics who questioned Pep Guardiola after the Spaniard suffered the worst start to a season in his managerial career.

READ ALSO: Suarez Scores As Atletico Madrid Win La Liga

Regaining the title from Liverpool, while also winning the League Cup and reaching their first Champions League final, suggests City are in position for a period of sustained dominance.

They have few weaknesses but the close-season departure of Sergio Aguero, the club’s record goalscorer, leaves a void that needs filling.

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho (C) lifts the Premier League trophy during the award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 23, 2021.
PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

England striker Harry Kane could be top of Guardiola’s shopping list after confirming he wants to leave Tottenham, but his mooted £150 million ($213 million) price tag may convince him to look at the younger and cheaper Borussia Dortmund goal machine Erling Haaland.

Manchester UnitedUnited manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer survived some rocky spells to establish his side as genuine title contenders heading into next season.

Solskjaer led United to a second place finish — 12 points behind City — and the Norwegian has a chance to win the first trophy of his reign in the Europa League final against Villarreal on Wednesday.

Portugal star Bruno Fernandes has been the catalyst, providing on-field inspiration and dressing room leadership in equal measure, a stark contrast to the gifted but temperamental Paul Pogba.

Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood were potent in patches and keeping Edinson Cavani was a wise move, but Kane has also been linked with a move to Old Trafford with Solskjaer needing a world-class striker in his prime to really worry City.

 

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy during the award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 23, 2021.
Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP

 

Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish are also reportedly targets to add extra creativity and goals from the wide areas.

But bigger questions remain in defence with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof not always convincing at centre-back, while Dean Henderson and David De Gea battle to be number one goalkeeper.

LiverpoolHamstrung by a seemingly endless injury list that deprived them of key leaders Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson for most of the season, Liverpool finished outside the top two for the first time in three years.

Jurgen Klopp’s often tetchy demeanour reflected the stress of an arduous campaign as Liverpool failed to build on last season’s first English title in 30 years.

But a strong run of eight wins in their last 10 league games earned a third-place finish, providing optimism for next term.

Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold must improve on patchy individual campaigns, with Mohamed Salah’s future also up for debate after his flirtation with Real Madrid.

 

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy during the award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 23, 2021.
Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP

 

While Liverpool have work to do if they are to regain their position as the Premier League’s preeminent force, the return of Van Dijk, Henderson and Joe Gomez next season will be a significant boost to their title hopes.

ChelseaWhen Frank Lampard was sacked in January, Chelsea were languishing in ninth place as a troubled season threatened to spiral out of control.

However, the decision to hire Thomas Tuchel as Lampard’s replacement proved inspired and the German has fourth-placed Chelsea nicely positioned to push on next season.

Aided by Mason Mount’s superb form, Tuchel has taken Chelsea to the Champions League final for the first time since 2012, with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid unable to solve the tactical tweaks that made the Blues solid in defence and deadly on the counter-attack.

Having healed the fractures in a squad divided by Lampard’s methods, Tuchel has already masterminded two victories over City and one against Liverpool.

To truly turn Chelsea into a force, the former Paris Saint Germain boss must solve the problems posed by the erratic form of expensive signings Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech.

AFP

Aguero To Leave Man City After Ten Years 

Guardiola Calls Aguero Legend After 101th Goal For City
Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match against Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on December 23, 2017. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Argentine star, Sergio Aguero will leave Manchester City at the end of the season when his contract expires, the Premier League club confirmed on Monday. 

“He joined City in the summer of 2011, making an immediate impact by scoring twice and creating an assist on his thirty-minute cameo debut in a 4-0 home win over Swansea City. It was a dramatic and impressive start that gave an indication of what was to follow,” the club said in a statement on its website.

“One renowned such moment would include his heart-stopping goal in the unforgettable final game of that same season against QPR which secured the Club’s first-ever Premier League title.”

Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero looks on after the English FA Cup quarter final football match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on March 20, 2021. Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP

 

Aguero joined City from Atletico Madrid in 2011 and has scored 257 goals in 384 games since, making him their record goal-scorer.

READ ALSO: Matriarch Of Obama Family Dies Aged 99 In Kenyan Hospital

City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said he would reserve any farewell speeches until Aguero actually leaves, but revealed he had commissioned a statue of the striker.

“Sergio’s contribution to Manchester City over the last 10 years cannot be overstated,” Al Mubarak said.

“This is not yet the moment for farewell words and speeches. There is still much to achieve,” he said with City in the running for their first ever European Champions League and hot favourites to win back the Premier League.

“In the meantime, it gives me great pleasure to announce that we will be commissioning an artist to create a statue of Sergio to live at the Etihad Stadium,” the Manchester Evening News reported.

The newspaper said City were planning a farewell party for Aguero after their final game of the Premier League season against Everton May 23.

 

Guardiola Defends Aguero Over Contact With Female Assistant Referee

Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (3L) is substituted by Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (2L) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on October 17, 2020. Alex Livesey / POOL / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola backed Sergio Aguero after the Manchester City striker was criticised for putting his arm on the shoulder of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis during Saturday’s 1-0 win over Arsenal.

Aguero disputed a throw-in call which went against him early in the second half of the Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium.

After arguing his case with Massey-Ellis, Aguero briefly put his arm around the female assistant referee’s shoulder as she began to walk away.

The Argentine star, playing his first game since June after knee surgery, was criticised on social media and his former team-mate Micah Richards said on Sky Sports that Aguero should “know better”.

Under rules introduced in 2016 players can be cautioned or sent off for touching match officials depending on the nature of the incident.

But City’s all-time record scorer went unpunished and in his post-match press conference, Guardiola told reporters: “Come on guys. Sergio is the nicest person I ever met in my life.

“Look for problems in other situations, not in this one.”

AFP

Liverpool Beat Manchester City 3-1 To Open Up Eight-Point Lead

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (R) celebrates with Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk (L) after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England on November 10, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool took a huge step towards a first Premier League title in 30 years by beating defending champions Manchester City 3-1 at Anfield on Sunday to open up an eight-point lead at the top of the table.

Two goals in the first 13 minutes from Fabinho and Mohamed Salah gave the European champions a dream start before Sadio Mane’s diving header early in the second half sealed City’s fate.

Bernardo Silva pulled a late goal back but a third defeat in eight league games leaves City down in fourth, nine points behind Liverpool, and with a mountain to climb if they are to claim a third straight league title.

READ ALSO: Man United Beat Brighton 3-1, Climb To Seventh Position

City’s defensive deficiencies have been much publicised without the injured Aymeric Laporte so far this season and they crumbled as Liverpool scored with their first two attacks of the game.

But the visitors were furious with some justification at the move that led to the opening goal when a dangerous foray into the Liverpool box ended with the ball striking Trent Alexander-Arnold on the arm.

Instead of City being awarded a penalty, the hosts broke down the other end and the ball fell to Fabinho on the edge of the area.

The Brazilian is not renowned for his goalscoring, but when invited to shoot by a hesitant City backline five minutes in, he arrowed a strike beyond stand-in goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

The visitors had their chances to get level in between Liverpool’s early blitz as Raheem Sterling headed wide Kevin De Bruyne’s in-swinging free-kick.

But it was Liverpool who were ruthless as a pinpoint cross by Andy Robertson was headed home on the bounce by Salah.

Damage Done

City still went on to enjoy the better of the play in the remainder of the first half, but the damage was already done.

Sergio Aguero was denied his first-ever goal at Anfield by a smart save from Alisson Becker before a purposeful burst forward by Angelino saw his deflected shot come back off the post.

Aguero then dragged City’s best chance of a reply before the break wide after great work by De Bruyne.

Any hope of a City comeback was eliminated six minutes into the second half when Jordan Henderson’s teasing cross was met with a diving header by Mane although Bravo could have done better to stop the ball creeping over the line.

Liverpool agonisingly missed out on the title by a solitary point last season as City ended the season on a 14-match winning run to edge a titanic tussle.

Pep Guardiola’s men will need to produce something similarly spectacular to retain the title, but after quickly making up for the disappointment of the title race by winning the Champions League last season, Liverpool look destined to go one better this time around.

Guardiola’s mood was not improved when another VAR check went against his side after Sterling went down in the area under pressure from Mane.

City finally got the goal much of their approach play had threatened when Bernardo Silva swept home Angelino’s cross 12 minutes from time.

Liverpool were then camped inside their own half but held out for what could prove to be a vital win come May.

AFP

‘Incredible’: Guardiola Hails Hat-Trick Hero Aguero

Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola kisses striker Sergio Aguero (L) as Aguero leaves the pitch substituted just after completing his hattrick Huddersfield Town at the Etihad Stadium … on August 19, 2018. Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola claimed Sergio Aguero has never been better after the Manchester City striker’s hat-trick inspired a 6-1 rout of Huddersfield on Sunday.

Aguero became City’s record goalscorer during their Premier League title-winning campaign last season and the Argentine enjoyed another memorable moment at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The 30-year-old’s latest goal spree took him to nine Premier League trebles in his City career, just behind record-holder Alan Shearer’s 11.

City manager Guardiola was thrilled by Aguero’s lethal display and admitted his forward is hitting new heights.

“The pass was outstanding, the control by Sergio Aguero. I never saw him like this since I was here, he is in an incredible condition with the ball and without the ball,” Guardiola said.

“I thought to take Sergio off before the hat-trick but in the end it was perfect, he scored a goal and off to a standing ovation.”

City have made a swaggering start to their title defence, brushing aside Arsenal last weekend before crushing Huddersfield.

Ominously for their title rivals, Guardiola believes City are even better than last season.

“We started better than last season. We made a good performance in 90 minutes,” he said.

“Last season Huddersfield played five at the back. We decided today, we would play with two strikers. All the players made a good performance.”

The return to fitness of France defender Benjamin Mendy, who missed most of last season with a knee injury has been a major boost to City.

“We could not attack in this way last year because we did not have Benjamin Mendy, he is so clever to go up and down,” Guardiola said.

“When we have we are able to attack in that way.”

AFP

Aguero Scores Hat-Trick As Rampant City Thrash Huddersfield

Sergio Aguero (C) celebrates scoring Manchester City’s fifth goal and his third to complete his hattrick during their English Premier League football match against Huddersfield Town at the Etihad Stadium… on August 19, 2018. Photo: Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

Sergio Aguero hit a hat-trick as Manchester City’s record-breaking forward inspired a 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s champions opened their home campaign with a pre-match display of ticker tape and exploding fireworks and Aguero continued the pyrotechnics on the field.

Aguero, who turned 30 in the close-season, has now scored 14 times in his last eight Premier League games at City’s Etihad Stadium.

The Argentina star — City’s all-time leading scorer — joins former Liverpool forward Robbie Fowler on nine Premier League hat-tricks.

Only ex-Newcastle and Blackburn star Alan Shearer has scored more in the competition’s history with 11.

City’s rampant display underlined why they are such strong favourites to retain their title.

Such is City’s strength in depth, Guardiola was able to leave Kyle Walker, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling on the bench.

And even though City learned this week that playmaker Kevin De Bruyne will be out for up to three months with a knee injury, the fact Guardiola was able to name substitutes which cost his club £230 million ($293 million) in transfer fees, was a sobering thought for their rivals.

Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola (R) kisses Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (L) as Aguero leaves the pitch substituted just after completing his hattrick against Huddersfield Town. Photo: Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

After relentless City pressure, which featured Guardiola’s team having 80 per cent possession, the champions finally took the lead on 25 minutes, the start of a three-goal blitz inside 10 minutes.

Ederson, Guardiola’s ball-playing goalkeeper, struck a magnificent pass over 60 yards, isolating Aguero against defender Christopher Schindler.

The Argentine skilfully held off his marker, twisting and turning before lobbing the ball over keeper Ben Hamer, who had advanced to the edge of his area, from the edge of the area.

Six minutes later, Benjamin Mendy attacked down the left, exchanging passes with Gabriel Jesus, who enjoyed a fortunate ricochet off a defender before drilling the ball home.

And the rout continued when Hamer fumbled a routine Mendy cross and Aguero pounced, tapping in from six yards.

Majestic City

David Silva had set the tone with a majestic opening half-hour, torturing the Huddersfield defence and allowing the City supporters to forget about the absence of De Bruyne.

But, incredibly, Huddersfield scored from their first attack of the game, three minutes before the interval.

Philip Billing’s long throw-in was helped on by Steve Mounie and Jon Gorenc Stankovic responded quickly, forcing the ball in from six yards.

If that gave Guardiola something to ponder at the interval, it required just three minutes of the second half for Silva to restore City’s three-goal cushion.

The former Spain international, who this week announced his retirement from his national team, curled a magnificent 25-yard left-foot free-kick into the top right-hand corner of the Huddersfield goal.

Silva, who became the third City player after Joe Hart and Richard Dunne to appear in 250 Premier League games for the club, made way for Mahrez after 64 minutes but there was no let-up for the visitors.

Aguero might have claimed his hat-trick earlier, with a 56th-minute shot that struck the Huddersfield post, while Hamer also turned around his shot around a post after 70 minutes.

Five minutes later, Aguero had his third — and his 31st league game in which he has scored multiple goals.

The striker met yet another dangerous left-wing cross from Mendy, twisting acrobatically to shoot across his body and into the goal from six yards.

That allowed Guardiola to take off Aguero, replacing him with Leroy Sane who helped wrap up the scoring after 84 minutes with a run and shot which took a fortunate rebound off Terence Kongolo on its way into the net.

AFP

Aguero Relieved To Avoid Last Day Drama

Aguero Treble Gets Manchester City Back On Track
FILE COPY Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero waits for the ball during a football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. Photo Credit:  Oli SCARFF / AFPOli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City’s latest Premier League triumph lacked the drama of Sergio Aguero’s winner with virtually the last kick of the season in 2012, but the Argentine is relieved to have won the title with five games to spare.

City also claimed the title on the final day of the 2013/14 season, but Aguero believes his third league winner’s medal in England is just reward for the best football he has been involved in since joining from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

“This is my third title with City and it’s just a relief not to have to wait (until) the final day this time,” Aguero told City’s Twitter account.

City are well on course to break the record for most points and goals, earning comparisons with the greatest ever teams in the Premier League era.

“This season has been incredible and the football we’ve played has been the best I’ve been involved with while at the club.

“It’s been a pleasure to play with this team and be part of everything we’ve achieved this season.

“For players like David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Yaya (Toure) who have been here a long time, it’s even more special because it’s another title we’ve won together.”

AFP

Salah Starts, Aguero Benched As Liverpool Eye CL Semi-Finals

Liverpool Sink Manchester City In Champions League Clash
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (C) opened scoring for Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final football match against Manchester City at Anfield stadium. Photo: Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

Liverpool’s chances of reaching a first Champions League semi-final for 10 years received a huge boost as 38-goal top scorer Mohamed Salah was passed fit to start their quarter-final, second leg at Manchester City on Tuesday.

Salah opened the scoring in last week’s first leg to help Liverpool amass a commanding 3-0 lead in the tie.

Georginio Wijnaldum comes in for the suspended Jordan Henderson in Jurgen Klopp’s only change from the first leg.

City manager Pep Guardiola sprang a huge surprise by leaving his top scorer Sergio Aguero on the bench in an otherwise extremely offensive-minded line-up.

Former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva are introduced at the expense of club captain Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan for the side that started at Anfield.

Guardiola makes four changes from the side beaten 3-2 by Manchester United on Saturday with the chance to seal the Premier League title as Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus return after being rested at the weekend.

Manchester City (3-4-3)

Ederson; Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte; Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva (captain), Bernardo Silva; Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane

Coach: Pep Guardiola (ESP)

Liverpool (4-3-3):

Loris Karius; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; James Milner (captain), Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Coach: Jurgen Klopp (GER)

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)

AFP