Haaland Haunts Dortmund As Man City Come From Behind

Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (2nd-L) celebrates his goal with teammates during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between England’s Manchester City and Germany’s Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on September 14, 2022. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

Erling Haaland haunted his former club as Manchester City were forced to come from a goal down to beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 on Wednesday and put one foot in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Norwegian had been kept remarkably quiet, but only needed the slighted glimpse of goal to extend his scoring streak to six games as his telescopic left leg prodded home the winner six minutes from time.

Haaland has now scored 13 goals in his first eight competitive games for City since they met his bargain £51 million ($58 million) buyout clause from the German giants.

Jude Bellingham had given Dortmund the lead 11 minutes into the second half.

But a triple substitution awoke City from their slumber and two goals in four minutes turned the game around.

John Stones’ piledriver from outside the box levelled with the aid of some poor goalkeeping from Alexander Meyer.

Haaland then took centre stage by somehow stretching to meet Joao Cancelo’s cross and beat Meyer at his near post.

Victory sees City open up a three-point lead at the top of Group G, with Dortmund still in second after FC Copenhagen and Sevilla played out a 0-0 draw in the Danish capital.

Bellingham admitted on the eve of the game he had no idea how Haaland can be stopped.

But the Germans did a good job of suffocating the service to their former star striker as the first 45 minutes passed with barely any goalmouth action to note.

The visitors were also first to threaten when the first big chance did arrive five minutes into the second half.

An incisive counter-attack fed Marco Reus inside the area and he left another former Dortmund man Manuel Akanji on the ground before bending his shot inches wide of the far post.

City did not heed the wake-up call as four minutes later, Dortmund did break the deadlock.

Bellingham has been strongly linked with a move back to the Premier League with City, Manchester United, and Liverpool reportedly interested.

The England international was quick to shut down speculation over his future on Tuesday and may have added a few more millions to his price tag as he timed his run perfectly to head in Reus’ cross.

Guardiola responded immediately with a triple substitution as Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, and Julian Alvarez were called upon to add more guile in the final third.

Foden nearly created the chance Haaland had been waiting for all night with a purposeful run into the box and low cross that required a brilliant last-ditch interception from Mats Hummels.

When City’s equaliser did arrive, it came from an unlikely source as Stones blasted home his first Champions League goal since 2017 from outside the box.

Haaland was not to be denied the headlines, though, as Cancelo’s inventive cross with the outside of his right foot was pounced on by City’s giant number nine who raised his foot to head height to flick the ball home.

Man City Fight Back To Salvage Draw Against Newcastle

Newcastle United’s Swiss defender Fabian Schar (L) fights for the ball with Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (C) during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England, on August 21, 2022. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

Erling Haaland helped Manchester City fight back from 3-1 down to salvage a 3-3 draw from an enthralling encounter at Newcastle on Sunday.

Despite Ilkay Gundogan’s early opener for City, Newcastle had the champions on the ropes as goals from Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier had St. James’ Park rocking.

But Haaland sparked the revival when he fired home his third goal since joining from Borussia Dortmund before Bernardo Silva’s equaliser extended City’s unbeaten start to the season.

Pep Guardiola’s men move up to second, two points adrift of Arsenal, but missed the chance to open up a seven-point advantage on Liverpool ahead of their trip to Manchester United on Monday.

Newcastle have not splashed the cash of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund to the extent expected in the transfer window with Nick Pope, Matt Targett, and Sven Botman the only signings made by the Magpies.

But they showed they are now a force to be reckoned with, even for the Premier League’s elite, by pushing City to the limit.

READ ALSOMendy Howler Sends Chelsea Crashing To Leeds Defeat

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England, on August 21, 2022. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

Newcastle had taken four points from their opening two games without conceding a goal.

That record was wiped out within five minutes as City quickly took control.

Silva was recalled to Pep Guardiola’s starting line-up for the first time in the Premier League this season with the midfielder linked with a move to Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

The Portuguese international made an immediate impact as his cross was controlled and finished by Gundogan.

Pope then had to make good stops with his feet from Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden to keep his side in the game.

But Newcastle’s intensity and energy soon swarmed over City with the pace of Allan Saint-Maximin causing havoc.

Almiron blasted over a glorious chance from Saint-Maximin’s cross before Wilson should have done better than a tame shot into the arms of Ederson when a corner broke his way.

Newcastle’s pressure finally got its reward on 28 minutes and it was a sweet moment for Almiron, who was mocked by Jack Grealish during City’s title celebrations at the end of last season.

The Paraguayan’s finish was unorthodox as Saint-Maximin’s cross came off his thigh to leave Ederson with no chance.

Saint-Maximin was the creator again as Newcastle turned the game around before half-time as Wilson latched onto his pass and prodded beyond Ederson.

Haaland had been kept quiet before the break but exploded into life with the smallest glimpse of an opportunity in the second half and came within inches of an equaliser as his fierce low shot was turned onto the post by Pope.

Moments later, City looked destined for a first Premier League defeat since February when Trippier curled a brilliant free-kick into the top corner after John Stones resorted to hauling down Saint-Maximin on the edge of the box.

Haaland’s predatory instincts were on full show as he started the comeback by firing into the roof of the net when Rodri knocked a set-piece back across goal.

The Norwegian then showed the other side to his game as his electric pace burst onto De Bruyne’s through ball and forced Pope to come flying off this line to block.

De Bruyne’s next defence-splitting pass did lead to the equaliser as Silva produced a composed finish to level at 3-3.

The drama did not end there, even if the scoring did, as Trippier had a straight red card for a late lunge on De Bruyne reduced to a yellow after a VAR review.

But City failed to turn their momentum into a winner in the closing stages as they blinked for the first time in their title defence.

AFP

Haaland’s Debut Headlines Opening Weekend Of Premier League Season

Haaland is one of the new signings expected to bring fireworks to the EPL. [email protected]

 

Arsenal’s trip to Crystal Palace lifts the curtain on the new Premier League season on Friday, with Erling Haaland’s debut in the English top flight the highlight of the weekend as champions Manchester City travel to West Ham.

Haaland has been the marquee arrival to the Premier League from over £1 billion ($1.2 billion) spent on transfer fees ahead of the new campaign.

The Norwegian is expected to further strengthen Pep Guardiola’s side, who have won the title in four of the last five seasons.

However, Haaland and City’s season did not get off to a good start as perennial title rivals Liverpool won the Community Shield 3-1 last weekend.

A trip to the London Stadium is a good early-season test of City’s revamped squad with Julian Alvarez and Kalvin Phillips also coming in to replace the departed Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling, and Gabriel Jesus.

West Ham nearly denied City the title last season as they led 2-0 at half-time in the penultimate game of the campaign before the visitors rallied to salvage the point which won them the league.

The Hammers have also strengthened with the signing of Italian international striker Gianluca Scamacca as David Moyes’ men look to close the gap on the top four after qualifying for Europe in the past two seasons.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Sign Cucurella From Brighton

“We know what the standard is and we will reach the standards as quickly as possible and maintain what we have done always,” said Guardiola.

“I don’t feel, because we know each other well, that we are far, far away.

“But the games against West Ham and after Bournemouth will dictate our level and what we have to do.”

 Chelsea ‘Not Ready’

In this file photo, supporters gather outside the ground to welcome the arrival of the team coaches ahead of the English Premier League football match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on May 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Chelsea’s visit to Everton on Saturday pits together two sides who have reason to fear the season ahead at different ends of the table.

The start to Chelsea’s new era under the ownership of Todd Boehly’s consortium has not gone smoothly with manager Thomas Tuchel blaming an exhausting schedule on a pre-season tour to the US and a lack of signings for feeling “not ready” for the new season.

Tuchel is also unhappy with a number of key players, including captain Cesar Azpilicueta, still looking to leave the club before the end of the transfer window.

Chelsea were thrashed 4-0 in pre-season by Arsenal in Orlando, but Everton suffered an even more embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Minnesota United on their tour to the States.

After narrowly surviving last season, the Toffees have since sold Richarlison to Tottenham.

But Everton have beaten Chelsea on each of the Londoners’ last four trips to Goodison Park.

Ten Hag’s First Impression 

Manchester United’s Harry Maguire talks to manager Erik ten Hag (R) during a training session at the WACA stadium in Perth on July 21, 2022, ahead of the tour match between Manchester United and Aston Villa. (Photo by Trevor Collens / AFP

 

Should Chelsea fail to hit the heights they previously have under Tuchel, Manchester United will be one of the sides hoping to take their place in the top four.

A 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Brighton in May summed up a miserable season for the Red Devils as they finished sixth.

Erik ten Hag has the chance to make a good first impression as United boss when the Seagulls visit Old Trafford.

But hopes of a new dawn for United have been dashed by another difficult summer off the field.

Cristiano Ronaldo has made his desire to leave clear, but a buyer cannot be found for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, while United’s prolonged chase of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong appears set to fail.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Crystal Palace v Arsenal (1900)

Saturday

Fulham v Liverpool (1130), Bournemouth v Aston Villa, Leeds v Wolves, Newcastle v Nottingham Forest, Tottenham v Southampton (all 1400), Everton v Chelsea (1630)

Sunday

Man Utd v Brighton, Leicester v Brentford (both 1300), West Ham v Man City (1530)

AFP

Man City’s Foden Voted Premier League Young Player Of The Season

Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden celebrates after scoring his team’s third goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid, at the Etihad Stadium, in Manchester, on April 26, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Manchester City forward Phil Foden was named the Premier League’s Young Player of the season for the second consecutive year on Saturday.

Foden has been instrumental in City’s bid to retain the Premier League title, scoring nine goals and producing five assists.

The 21-year-old has matched his goal and assist totals from last season and could surpass them in City’s vital Premier League title decider against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side are one point clear of second-placed Liverpool and will be guaranteed to win a fourth English title in five seasons if they beat Villa at the Etihad Stadium.

Liverpool would win the title if they defeat Wolves and City drop points.

“I’m very proud to have won this award for a second season in a row,” Foden told City’s website.

“There are so many talented young players in the Premier League this season and it’s a real honour to win it again.

“I have been really happy with my performances this season and it has been great to contribute to this team in what will hopefully be another successful year for us all.”

In an award voted on by fans, Foden finished ahead of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, Chelsea’s Mason Mount, West Ham’s Declan Rice, Arsenal duo Aaron Ramsdale and Bukayo Saka and Crystal Palace pair Conor Gallagher and Tyrick Mitchell.

AFP

Haaland Satisfies Man City’s Need For A Striker And Status

In this file photo, Dortmund’s Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland applauds after the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Dortmund v VfL Wolfsburg in Dortmund, western Germany, on April 16, 2022. INA FASSBENDER / AFP

 

Manchester City are still licking their wounds from another painful Champions League exit, but by winning the race to sign Erling Haaland they have established themselves as a go-to destination for Europe’s top talent.

The 21-year-old goalscoring phenomenon had his choice of the continent’s top clubs thanks to a reported buyout clause of 60 million euros (£51 million, $63 million) that will see him leave Borussia Dortmund well below his market value.

Real Madrid wanted to pair the Norwegian with Kylian Mbappe at the Bernabeu next season, Barcelona sought him as a successor to Lionel Messi, while Bayern Munich again aimed to swoop on their Bundesliga rivals.

Haaland, however, will instead line up in City blue next season, just as his father Alf-Inge did between 2000-2003 during a very different era for the club.

READ ALSO: Guardiola Hints Man City Closing In On Haaland Deal

The arrival of petrodollars from Abu Dhabi has long since transformed City’s fortunes, with Pep Guardiola’s men now on the brink of a fourth Premier League title in five seasons.

But Haaland is the man City need to fill a void if they are to reach the next level — a superstar striker.

City have played the best part of two seasons without a recognised number nine.

An attempt to land Harry Kane as Sergio Aguero’s successor fell short last summer and it may have cost City another shot at Champions League glory.

Despite beating Real Madrid 4-2 in the first leg of their semi-final, Guardiola’s men missed a series of sitters to put the tie to bed.

That came back to haunt them last week as Real miraculously hauled themselves off the floor to score twice in the final seconds of the second leg and set up a final against Liverpool, City’s nearest challengers for the Premier League trophy.

Haaland, however has scored 23 goals in just 19 Champions League appearances for Salzburg and Dortmund.

City Future-Proofing

What remains to be seen is how well he can be embedded into Guardiola’s system.

League titles won with Samuel Eto’o at Barcelona, Robert Lewandowski in his time at Bayern Munich and Aguero in his early years at City dispells the notion Guardiola’s football cannot accommodate a number nine.

But the recent story of City’s success under the Catalan coach has been one of collective brilliance.

Riyad Mahrez is their top scorer with 24 goals in all competitions this season, ahead of Raheem Sterling (16), Kevin De Bruyne (15) and Phil Foden (14).

Not all superstar signings have gone as planned for Guardiola in the past.

Haaland’s arrival has sparked comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ill-fated season at Barcelona in 2009/10.

And Jack Grealish, despite costing City £100 million to make him the most expensive player in English football history, has spent much of this season on the bench.

But by landing one of Europe’s hottest properties, City are also looking to a future beyond Guardiola, whose current contract runs out in 2023.

Now they will have at least one season together to try to satisfy City’s desperate desire for a first Champions League title.

AFP

Guardiola Hints Man City Closing In On Haaland Deal

Manchester City’s Spanish coach Josep Guardiola (2R) watches his players (LtoR) Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva, Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho and Manchester City’s Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez, during the UEFA Champions League.
ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola said Tuesday he could not comment on Manchester City’s move for Erling Haaland until “it’s completely done”, all but confirming that a deal for the forward is imminent.

There were reports on Monday that the Norway international had already undergone a medical after agreeing personal terms with the Premier League champions.

The club have not officially commented but manager Guardiola gave a clue that the 21-year-old is on his way to the Etihad when speaking at a press conference on the eve of his side’s match against Wolves.

“Everybody knows the situation,” said Guardiola. “I shouldn’t talk because I don’t like to talk about the future or next season. Borussia Dortmund and Man City told me I’m not allowed to say anything until it’s completely done.”

It has been reported that Haaland is set to sign a five-year contract to move to the Etihad for the start of next season after City formally triggered his release clause, reportedly £63 million ($78 million).

Guardiola said: “I’d love to talk but they tell me don’t say anything until (after) the legal actions. We’ll have time to talk, not because I don’t want to.”

The signing of Haaland would end City’s long search for a specialist centre-forward to replace record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who left last year.

City then tried but failed in a high-profile attempt to prise England captain Harry Kane away from Tottenham.

Haaland, whose father Alf-Inge played for City from 2000 to 2003, has been prolific since joining Dortmund from RB Salzburg in January 2020, scoring 85 goals in 88 appearances for the German side.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, whose side are involved in a tight title race with City this year, said he would expect the transfer to set new boundaries.

“I signed a new contract knowing City would not stop developing,” he told Sky Sports. “If Erling Haaland went there he would not weaken them, definitely not.

“I know a lot of people talk about money but this transfer will set new levels, let me say it like this.”

Man City Title Would Have ‘More Sugar’ For Fernandinho

Manchester City's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho reacts after he scored an own goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on January 18, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP
Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho reacts after he scored an own goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on January 18, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City captain Fernandinho has said winning the Premier League title this season would be especially sweet.

The 37-year-old Brazilian midfielder is set to leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season after nine years at the club.

Reigning champions City have been involved in a protracted battle for the title with Liverpool but established a three-point lead at the top of the table last weekend by thrashing Newcastle 5-0 while their rivals could only draw 1-1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

It was just the result City needed after an agonising 6-5 aggregate semi-final loss to Real Madrid still left them waiting for a first European Champions League title after they conceded two goals in the closing seconds of normal time.

“Every title is sweet,” Fernandinho, bidding for his fifth Premier League winner’s medal, told reporters.

“It’s going to be one more… with a little more sugar.

“It was a great response but at the same time we are focusing on ourselves and know the title is in our hands.”

He added: “It doesn’t matter what they do over there, we have to keep going through all the hard games.

“This is what we are trying to do, focus on ourselves, but I thought it was a great response after defeat in Madrid, especially for our fans and ourselves because when you lose a match like this, the confidence can go a little bit down.

“But not just the result, the performance overall was really good and we are really happy about that.”

One downside for City in their win over Newcastle was when Ruben Dias went off injured at half-time.

The Portuguese has now joined fellow defenders John Stones and Kyle Walker among City’s casualty list, with none of the trio expected to play again this season.

Fernandinho, deployed as a makeshift centre-back after Dias’s departure, said: “We have some injury issues now but — at the end of the season — that is normal.”

Man City Move Closer To Premier League Title, Arsenal Boost Top Four Bid

Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder Rodri (C) celebrates scoring the team’s third goal with Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 8, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 


Manchester City moved a step closer to retaining the Premier League title with a 5-0 demolition of Newcastle, while Arsenal beat relegation-threatened Leeds 2-1 to boost their bid for a top four finish on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side took control before half-time at the Etihad Stadium thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Aymeric Laporte.

Rodri got City’s third after the break before Phil Foden and Sterling struck in stoppage time as they stormed back to the top of the table.

Liverpool had knocked the champions out of pole position with their 1-1 draw against Tottenham on Saturday.

But City are now three points clear of Liverpool, with three games left for both teams. Guardiola’s men hold a goal difference four better than the Reds.

Quadruple chasing Liverpool are next in action at Aston Villa on Tuesday, while City head to Wolves 24 hours later.

City’s stroll against Newcastle was the ideal way to recover from their painful Champions League semi-final exit against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Real had scored twice in the final seconds of normal time before winning in extra-time, leaving Guardiola to lament there were “no words to help” his players get over the loss.

But City can exorcise those demons by winning a fourth English title in five seasons and this was a step in the right direction.

In the 19th minute, Joao Cancelo nodded an Ilkay Gundogan cross towards Sterling and he dived to head in from close-range.

City doubled their lead after 38 minutes when Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka was unable to hold onto Gundogan’s volley and Laporte scrambled home.

Rodri scored with a 61st minute header from Kevin De Bruyne’s corner, then Foden diverted Oleksandr Zinchenko’s shot into the net in the 90th minute.

Sterling rounded off the rout in stoppage-time with a cool finish from Jack Grealish’s pass.

Eddie Nketiah netted twice in the first 10 minutes at the Emirates Stadium as Mikel Arteta’s side earned their fourth successive win.

Leeds had skipper Luke Ayling sent off and, although Diego Llorente got one back in the 66th minute, it was too little, too late for Jesse Marsch’s strugglers.

Fourth placed Arsenal are four points clear of fifth placed Tottenham, with three games left for both teams in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.

– Everton out of bottom three –

Arsenal will visit Tottenham on Thursday knowing a win in the north London derby would guarantee their first Champions League campaign since 2016-17.

Nketiah spent time on loan at Leeds earlier in his career, but the Arsenal forward showed no mercy to his old club.

In the fifth minute, Nketiah punished a poor touch from Illan Meslier, closing down the Leeds keeper and tapping into the empty net.

Nketiah struck again five minutes later, this time meeting Gabriel Martinelli’s cross with a fine finish from 12 yards.

Ayling was sent off after a VAR review of his crude lunge on Martinelli in the 27th minute.

Leeds slump into the relegation zone, sitting third bottom due to having a worse goal difference than Burnley.

Everton made the most of Leeds’ stumble to climb out of the bottom three as they won 2-1 at Leicester — their first away success in the league since August.

Ukrainian left-back Vitaliy Mykolenko ran onto Alex Iwobi’s flick and netted with a stunning volley from the edge of the area in the sixth minute.

Everton surrendered the lead five minutes later as Yerry Mina and Seamus Coleman went up for a header, only to collide and allow Patson Daka to run through and beat Jordan Pickford.

However, Mason Holgate won it for Everton in the 30th minute, the defender converting the rebound after Kasper Schmeichel saved Richarlison’s header.

Everton, hoping to avoid playing in the second tier for the first time since 1954, are one point above the relegation zone with a game in hand.

West Ham crushed relegated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road to ease the pain of their Europa League semi-final defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

‘No Words Can Help’ Ease Man City Euro Exit – Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Pep Guardiola admits “no words can help” ease the pain of Manchester City’s elimination from the Champions League as he refocuses on his side’s Premier League title challenge.

City were just moments away from claiming a place in the final against Liverpool before Real Madrid staged a stunning fightback at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Real scored twice in the final seconds of normal time and eventually won the game 3-1 after extra-time, taking the semi-final tie 6-5 on aggregate.

Asked on Friday what he said to his players, Guardiola told reporters: “We didn’t speak. No words can help what we feel.

“It’s a question of time, try to sleep and think of the targets. Tomorrow we will talk.”

READ ALSO: Three Things We Learned From Real Madrid Vs Manchester City

Real Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

The City boss must now pick his men up for the Premier League run-in.

City, who lead Liverpool by just one point with four games left, host mid-table Newcastle on Sunday, a day after Jurgen Klopp’s team play Tottenham.

“We’re not thinking about the title, we’re thinking about Newcastle,” said Guardiola.

“That’s enough to focus on. Then Wolves, then West Ham. It’s not necessary to listen to what people are saying we can achieve.”

Guardiola, speaking at his pre-match press conference, made a passionate defence of his side after their latest stumble on the European stage.

City have dominated English football over the past decade but have yet to be crowned European champions despite huge investment from their Abu Dhabi owners.

“If people say it’s a failure then I disagree,” said Guardiola, whose team lost last year’s Champions League final to Chelsea.

“The people in the squad know how difficult it is. But they accept it. I’m not going to make a debate.

“In the club the feeling we have is we try to do it again. We are sad, of course, because we were close.”

Guardiola, who won two Champions League titles when in charge of Barcelona, said Real deserved their victory but vowed City would not give up on their Champions League dream.

“The players wanted to play the final but for this club to compete against Real the way we did is a joy,” he said.

“I say congratulations to Liverpool and Madrid, they deserve it. Next season we try again and if it doesn’t work we try again.”

AFP

Man City Suffer Most Painful Champions League Meltdown In Madrid

Manchester City's English midfielder Phil Foden (R) celebrates scoring his team's first goal with Manchester City's Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva (L) during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on February 26, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP
Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden (R) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal with Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva (L) during the English Premier League. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City have become accustomed to Champions League heartache, but the manner of their latest collapse against Real Madrid might be the most painful defeat of all.

Four times Pep Guardiola’s men held a two-goal advantage in a classic semi-final tie they eventually lost 6-5 on aggregate.

Thirteen-time champions Madrid somehow found a way to win as City, last year’s defeated finalists, melted away in the white-hot atmosphere of the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

For 89 minutes, the English champions showed the maturity built up over a decade of experience in the competition but in 90 seconds their best-laid plans were destroyed.

Riyad Mahrez’s stunning strike 17 minutes from time put the visitors 1-0 up on the night and 5-3 on aggregate, apparently ending the contest.

Madrid had not even mustered a shot on target until Rodrygo swept home Karim Benzema’s cross as stoppage time approached.

Suddenly, the Bernabeu believed and yet another of the world’s most expensively assembled squads succumbed to the Real rope-a-dope just as Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea had done in the previous two rounds.

READ ALSO: Andy Murray Forced To Miss Djokovic Clash In Madrid

Rodrygo headed in again after less than a minute of the six added on and could even have had a hat-trick before extra-time started.

In the end, fittingly, it was Benzema who delivered the final blow from the penalty spot to earn an unlikely victory in a tie in which Madrid had trailed for 178 minutes.

It was a case of history repeating itself — both in terms of the Madrid fightback and also a Guardiola team failing to negotiate the fine margins that define the latter stages of the Champions League.
– Near misses –

It is now 11 years since he won the second of his two European Cups as a coach at Barcelona.

In the 10 seasons he has been in charge of Barca, Bayern Munich and City since, he has lost a final — last year’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea, five semi-finals and three quarter-finals.

“Always I had defeats so tough in the Champions League,” said the 51-year-old. “It’s tough for us, we cannot deny it, we were so close to a Champions League final.”

City, who have never been crowned European champions, will have another go next season, possibly armed with the extra artillery of Erling Haaland, with reports suggesting the Norwegian will move to the Etihad from Borussia Dortmund.

Before then, Guardiola must rouse a group of mentally and physically exhausted players to avoid ending the season without a trophy for the first time since the 2016/17 campaign.

City hold a one-point lead over rampant Liverpool — who reached the Champions League final by beating Villarreal — at the top of the Premier League with four games to go.

“We need time now,” admitted Guardiola, whose side host Newcastle on Sunday, a day after Liverpool play Tottenham. “One or two days but we will rise, we have to do it.

“The players gave everything. We were so close but in the end we could not do it.”

A much-anticipated clash between England’s top two teams will now not take place in Paris on May 28, with Liverpool instead facing Madrid for the third time in a European Cup final.

But it is still in City’s hands to deny the Reds a historic quadruple.

Win their final four games and Guardiola will claim a 10th league title in 13 seasons at Barca, Bayern and City.

That record is what makes the Catalan coach one of the most revered of all time.

But the trophy he and City were brought together to win remains out of reach.

Despite the huge sums invested by their Abu Dhabi-based owners, the club cannot buy the belief that decades of Champions League success has brought to both Madrid and Liverpool.

Real go for European Cup number 14 in Paris, while Liverpool would join AC Milan as the second most successful club in the competition’s history on seven titles with victory at the Stade de France.

City would be delighted with just one.

Liverpool Overcome Everton Battle To Keep Pressure On Man City

Liverpool’s Portuguese striker Diogo Jota (L), Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (C) and Liverpool’s English defender Trent Alexander-Arnold applauds the fans following the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 24, 2022. Liverpool won the match 2-0.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool kept the pressure on Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table and pushed local rivals Everton towards relegation with a 2-0 win in the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

The Toffees’ day got off a terrible start even before a ball was kicked at Anfield as Burnley’s 1-0 win over Wolves dumped Everton into the relegation zone.

Second-half goals from Andy Robertson and Divock Origi ensured they remained there despite a spirited display in a feisty encounter.

A 12th consecutive home league win for Liverpool cuts City’s lead at the top of the table back to one point with five games remaining.

“Thank God a football game has two halves,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

“I’m really happy because it isn’t about flying every week, it is about getting results.”

Everton have still not won away from home in the league since August, but they dispelled criticism of being a soft touch away from Goodison Park by showing the fight they will need in the remaining six games to maintain their 68-year stay in the top-flight.

In stark contrast to Manchester United’s capitulation in losing 4-0 at Anfield in midweek, Frank Lampard’s men at least managed to make the Reds earn the three points.

“The important thing is to stick with it. The attitude and the way the lads stuck to their task today was really, really good,” said Lampard, despite his side enjoying just 17 percent possession.

Everton trail Burnley by two points and could be five adrift of safety by the time they are next in action against Lampard’s old club Chelsea.

“We’ve got six games to Burnley’s five left,” he added.

“We had to expect Burnley might win today and worry about our own job. It’s important not to get sucked into that in a negative way.”

A Sadio Mane dipping effort from the edge of the box was the sum total of the threat to the Everton goal in a scrappy first 45 minutes littered with stoppages in play.

Mane was lucky just to see yellow from one melee involving almost all 22 players after Liverpool refused to put the ball out of play with Richarlison down injured.

‘Legend’ Origi to Rescue

Everton’s 32 completed passes in the first half was the fewest of any team in a Premier League game since 2006.

However, they posed the greater threat early in the second half and were made to rue Anthony Gordon’s chance to open the scoring when he dragged his shot across goal with just Alisson Becker to beat.

Gordon also had claims for a penalty appeal waved away to Lampard’s dismay for a push by Joel Matip.

“If that is Mo Salah down the other end, Liverpool get the penalty,” argued Lampard.

With the scores still level on the hour mark, Klopp was forced to turn to his bench with Luis Diaz and Origi, a perennial scourge of Everton in derbies past, thrown on.

The all-important goal, though, came from an unlikely source as Robertson headed in just his second goal of the season from Mohamed Salah’s dinked cross to the back post.

Origi looks set to depart Liverpool at the end of the season after falling further down the pecking order since the January arrival of Diaz.

But the Belgian signed off with his sixth goal in 10 Merseyside derbies when he headed in at the far post five minutes from time.

“He doesn’t always make the squad which is ridiculous, but he is there when we need him every time,” added Klopp.

“He is a world-class striker, he is a legend and will stay a legend forever.”