Pep Guardiola’s Man City Survive Wolves Scare To Make Winning EPL Start

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (C) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal with Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder Ferran Torres (R) during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on September 21, 2020. Manchester City won the game 3-1.
Marc Atkins / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester City survived a scare to start their Premier League title challenge with a 3-1 win against Wolves as Phil Foden enjoyed a moment of redemption on Monday.

City’s delayed start to the campaign — due to their involvement in last season’s Champions League — had allowed Liverpool to build a six-point lead over them before they had even kicked a ball.

Pep Guardiola’s side could not afford to slip up at Molineux if they wanted to keep pace with the champions and they raced into a two-goal lead before half-time thanks to Kevin De Bruyne’s penalty and Foden’s cool finish.

City’s swaggering first half gave way to an anxious spell as Wolves dominated after the interval and they had to cling on after Raul Jimenez got one back before Gabriel Jesus sealed the points in stoppage time.

Guardiola will not have been happy with the way debutant centre-back Nathan Ake, the club’s major close-season signing from Bournemouth, and his defensive partner John Stones were tormented by Wolves in the second half.

While City equalled Aston Villa’s record of winning 10 consecutive opening fixtures to a top-flight season, there is little doubt Liverpool remain the Premier League’s preeminent force for now.

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Mexican striker Raul Jimenez (C) jumps to head the ball to score a goal during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on September 21, 2020.  Stu Forster / POOL / AFP

 

Foden’s goal was a welcome morale boost in his first match since the midfielder was sent home in disgrace, along with Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood, after the pair invited local women into the England team’s hotel.

The breach of coronavirus protocols after England’s Nations League match in Iceland was publicly condemned by City, but the 20-year-old retains Guardiola’s trust.

It feels like a crucial season for City and Guardiola as they look to regain the title they won in 2018 and 2019.

Guardiola says he needs to “deserve” an extension to his City contract rather than just be handed one as he enters the final year of his current deal.

After finishing 18 points behind Liverpool and suffering a shock Champions League quarter-final defeat against Lyon, City need to push the champions harder this term and the early signs were encouraging.

– Tense finale –

Passing and moving with real intent, City went close when De Bruyne forced Wolves keeper Rui Patricio to save his dipping free-kick.

It was De Bruyne, showing no signs of relaxing after being voted PFA Player of the Year last season, who took the responsibility of driving City forward and in the 20th minute he prised open the Wolves defence.

The Belgium midfielder’s burst into the Wolves area drew a rash lunge from Romain Saiss and referee Andre Marriner awarded a penalty that De Bruyne converted with ease.

Since the start of last season, De Bruyne has scored and assisted more Premier League goals (34) than any other player.

City were beaten by Wolves twice last season, but this was Guardiola’s team at their imperious best and they struck again with a slick move in the 32nd minute.

Gabriel Jesus laid off to De Bruyne and his perfectly-weighted pass found Sterling, whose precise cutback teed up Foden to slot home from 12 yards.

De Bruyne had a chance to make it three from Jesus’s pass, but for once he couldn’t apply the finishing touch as Rui Patricio saved well.

Totally out-classed in the first half, Wolves were much improved after the break and there were worrying side for Guardiola as he surveyed his creaking defence.

Daniel Podence turned to fire just wide and he threatened again with a chip over City keeper Ederson that just cleared the crossbar.

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Spanish midfielder Adama Traore (L) crosses the ball past Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy (R) during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on September 21, 2020. Nick Potts / POOL / AFP

 

Jimenez should have reduced the deficit when he shot wide from Adama Traore’s cross.

Jimenez set up a tense finale when he met Podence’s cross with a powerful header in the 78th minute, but Jesus netted deep into stoppage-time as his shot deflected in off Conor Coady.

AFP

Man City’s Gundogan Tests Positive For COVID-19

A health worker wearing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suit tests a swab sample for COVID-19 at a primary health centre in Hyderabad on September 3, 2020. NOAH SEELAM / AFP

 

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has tested positive for coronavirus, the Premier League club announced on Monday, hours ahead of their first match of the new campaign.

The Germany international is now in self-isolation as the club prepare to play Wolves at Molineux.

“Ilkay is now observing a 10-day period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK government protocol on quarantine,” said a City statement.

“Everyone at the club wishes Ilkay a speedy recovery.”

Gundogan is the third City player to return a positive test this month, following Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez.

City missed the opening weekend of the Premier League to give them extra time to recover from a late end to the 2019/20 season due to their involvement in the Champions League.

AFP

Guardiola Must Rise To Challenge As Man City Chase Liverpool

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola looks on from the sidelines during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Manchester City at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on July 5, 2020.
Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola faces a stern test of his managerial philosophy as the Manchester City boss aims to overhaul Premier League champions Liverpool this season.

After an extra week of rest due to their involvement in the latter stages of last season’s Champions League, Guardiola’s side start their Premier League campaign with a tricky trip to Wolves on Monday.

It is exactly the kind of fixture that proved fatal to City’s hopes of retaining the title last season.

They were beaten twice by Wolves, eventually losing nine league games and finishing a massive 18 points behind Liverpool.

Guardiola knows City cannot afford so many unexpected stumbles this season if they are to end Liverpool’s reign.

But the Spaniard himself might need to look in the mirror as he contemplates the reasons for City’s steep decline.

His inability to fix City’s defensive problems and constant tinkering with his midfield and attack seemed to spread confusion and frustration among his squad.

Only Kevin De Bruyne enjoyed a transcendent season for City and the Belgian midfield maestro could not carry his team all alone.

Guardiola’s positional switches destabilised City again in their shock Champions League quarter-final loss to Lyon in August.

Throw in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final win over City, in which Gunners boss Mikel Arteta out-witted his former mentor, and it is easy to see why some are questioning Guardiola’s ability to take his team back to the top.

City have the quality in their squad to beat anyone — as they showed in a 4-0 rout of Liverpool last season — but does Guardiola have the hunger and ability to make it happen on a consistent basis?

– ‘No complaints’ –
Luring Lionel Messi from Barcelona would have boosted to City’s title prospects, but the Argentine superstar was eventually forced to end his attempt to reunite with former boss Guardiola.

Instead, City have brought in Dutch defender Nathan Ake and Spanish winger Ferran Torres, while Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly reportedly remains a target.

Guardiola insists he will not complain if those are his only new signings, despite the heavy spending of title rivals Chelsea and Liverpool’s swoop for Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara.

“Since day one, since I arrived here, I’ve been more than satisfied with the team and the club does everything to do their best, not just for me, but for the team,” Guardiola said.

“What is going to happen is going to happen. If we have to stay with the players (we have) I’ll be happy, or if we have to move someone (on) – because sometimes it is the player that decides to leave.

“I’ve never before, or in the future will I complain. I’m lucky to have these players and be in this club.”

City’s failure to replace Vincent Kompany last year proved hugely detrimental and his absence was compounded by a long-term injury to Aymeric Laporte.

City’s title defence faltered early on and they were never able to produce a strong challenge to Liverpool.

With Laporte an unlikely starter at Molineux, having only returned to training on Friday following a positive Covid-19 test earlier this month, former Bournemouth defender Ake seems certain to make his debut, while Torres is also in contention.

“So far really, it is really good. What we have to do, all the players and staff, and all the people close, is to help them to settle as quickly as possible,” Guardiola said.

“And the most important thing is they are two nice people and it’s good to have them with us.”

City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero is still recovering from the knee surgery that has sidelined him since June and could be two months away from a return.

 

 

 

 

-AFP

De Bruyne Wins PFA Player Of The Year

Kelvin De Bruyne
Manchester City’s Kelvin De Bruyne. Photo: [email protected] League

 

Kevin De Bruyne credited the influence of Pep Guardiola after becoming the first Manchester City player to be named the Professional Footballers’ Association’s (PFA) player of the year.

The rest of the PFA team of the year is dominated by Premier League champions Liverpool with five players, while Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford was handed a merit award for his role in the fight against child poverty.

City trailed Liverpool by 18 points in the 2019/20 Premier League season but De Bruyne, who registered 13 goals and a record-equalling 20 assists, was voted the campaign’s top performer by his peers.

“This is a big honour, to be voted by your colleagues, competitors from other teams who you always play against on the field. That they vote for you for best player, it’s amazing,” said De Bruyne.

“It’s maybe strange that I’m the first one at City, seeing all the good players who played there before and who are still playing. But it’s nice to represent the club.”

READ ALSO: Ronaldo Scores Brace Against Sweden To Cross 100-Goal Mark

The Belgian midfielder praised Guardiola’s influence for giving him the freedom to shine after a 2018/19 season where he was dogged by injuries.

“We speak often about the team but in a lot of senses he knows when he gives the orders of what the team has to do that I will listen,” added De Bruyne.

“But then on the other side, he gives me a lot of freedom; I don’t know why that’s just the way it goes between us.

“He knows in one way I will always put the team first and then obviously if I can help myself I’m going to do that.”

Liverpool’s five-strong contingent in the team of the year was made up of Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Virgil Van Dijk and Sadio Mane.

Burnley’s Nick Pope, Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu, City’s David Silva, golden boot winner Jamie Vardy, and Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were also selected.

Rashford forced the UK government into a U-turn over its free school meals policy during the lockdown, ensuring children in need would receive meals across the summer.

The England forward has since formed a child food poverty task force, linking up with some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets and food brands.

And on receiving the PFA’s special award, handed out for services to football, the 22-year-old insisted he is only just getting started on his off-field quest.

“What we’ve done so far, it’s only a short-term answer,” said Rashford.

“Me and my team behind me are just trying to find plans on how we can help these children for the rest of their childhood really, to find long-term answers to the problem.”

AFP

Five Premier League Rising Stars

SAKA-BUKAYO
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (2nd L) chases after the ball during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in London on July 15, 2020.
Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP

 

The new Premier League season starts on Saturday with a clutch of young players eager to play a starring role.

After Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood was the breakout star last term, AFP Sport looks at five candidates aiming to emulate the striker’s success in the coming months:

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden (L) celebrates with Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (R) after scoring their second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Manchester City and Dinamo Zagreb at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on October 1, 2019. Manchester City won the game 2-0.
Anthony Devlin / AFP

Widely regarded as the most gifted of England’s Under-17 World Cup-winning team three years ago, Foden has a golden opportunity to fulfil his vast potential this season.

The departure of City playmaker David Silva has left a vacancy in Pep Guardiola’s team that Foden is determined to fill.

Guardiola showed his trust in the 20-year-old by starting him in last season’s League Cup final win against Aston Villa, when he was the man of the match, as well as the Champions League last-16 second-leg victory over Real Madrid.

“I’ve played many big games for Man City now and I have learned to cope with the fans and the pressure. It definitely helps you,” Foden said.

England manager Gareth Southgate also believes Foden is ready for prime time, but his first callup to the national squad ended in disgrace when he and Mason Greenwood were sent home on Monday after the pair breached coronavirus protocols in Iceland, reportedly after leaving the team’s bio-secure ‘bubble’ after meeting local girls.

Kalvin Phillips (Leeds)

Kalvin Phillips

Just two years after his career was in danger of stagnating, Phillips has inspired Leeds’ long-awaited return to the Premier League and celebrated his first England call-up in a memorable period for the midfielder.

It is a remarkable rise for a player regarded as an underachiever when Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa took charge in 2018.

Bielsa recognised that Phillips was better suited to a midfield holding position than the box-to-box role he had previously been asked to fill.

Since that inspired switch, the 24-year-old has made more tackles, interceptions and successful passes than any other Leeds player.

Those qualities have seen Leeds fans dub him the “Yorkshire Pirlo” in a nod to the perceived similarities between their hometown hero and former Italy great Andrea Pirlo.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s English striker Bukayo Saka (C) vies for the ball against Liverpool’s Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (R) during the English FA Community Shield football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 29, 2020. (Photo by ANDREW COULDRIDGE / POOL / AFP) 

The versatile 19-year-old earned a PFA Young Player of the Year nomination after an impressive 2019/20 campaign.

Now Saka must build on that breakthrough first full season by cementing his place in Mikel Arteta’s side.

Capable of playing on the left or right wing, at left-back and even in central midfield, Saka showed no signs of resting on his laurels as he delivered an influential display when Arsenal beat Liverpool in the recent Community Shield.

Saka’s range of passing was on full display when he found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a raking cross-field ball that led to his captain’s goal against Liverpool.

Only Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold have provided more assists for Premier League sides in all competitions since the start of last season than Saka, who has 12.

Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion)

Matheus Pereira spent last season on loan at West Brom.

The 24-year-old Brazilian was Albion’s star performer in their promotion-winning campaign last term.

In his first season in English football, Championship defenders found it impossible to contain Pereira as the winger scored eight goals and provided 16 assists — more than any other second-tier player.

He had initially joined on loan from Sporting Lisbon, but Albion secured a permanent deal for around £9 million ($12 million) that should prove value for money.

“Everybody is aware of the impact he made in his first season and from speaking to him I know he is now very excited by the challenge of playing for Albion in the Premier League,” said West Brom sporting director Luke Dowling.

Curtis Jones (Liverpool)

Curtis Jones scores for Liverpool against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup this season

Jones gave a tantalising glimpse of his ability with a brilliant long-range winner against Everton in last season’s FA Cup third round.

The 19-year-old midfielder’s energy and quality in possession make him an ideal fit for Jurgen Klopp’s high tempo game-plan.

He made eight more appearances after that Merseyside derby wonder-goal and came off the bench in last month’s Community Shield.

With Klopp taking a cautious approach in the transfer market and expressing his faith in the club’s cadre of talented youngsters, Liverpool-born Jones could earn more opportunities when the Reds start the season as English champions for the first time since 1990.

 

 

-AFP

Man City’s Mahrez, Laporte Test Positive For COVID-19

Manchester City’s Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English League Cup third round football match between Oxford United and Manchester City at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, west of London, on September 25, 2018. 
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Manchester City players Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte have tested positive for coronavirus just five days before the start of the new Premier League season, the club announced on Monday.

City said in a statement that French defender Laporte and Algerian international forward Mahrez were self-isolating in accordance with Premier League and government rules.

“Neither is displaying symptoms of the virus,” the statement said.

“Everyone at the club wishes Riyad and Aymeric a speedy recovery ahead of their return to training and the new season.”

The Premier League season starts on Saturday but Manchester City do not open their campaign until September 21, when they play Wolves.

City and neighbours Manchester United are missing the opening weekend to give them extra time to recover from a late end to the 2019/20 season because both were involved in European competition.

Mahrez tweeted: “Thank you for all the nice messages, I’m good. Stay safe everyone take care of you.”

Laporte thanked fans for their messages of support, saying he would be back soon.

 

AFP

Messi’s Father Lands In Spain As Barca Stand-Off Drags On

Jorge Messi, father and agent of Lionel Messi arrives at his apartment in Barcelona on September 02, 2020. Lionel Messi boycotted Barcelona’s first pre-season training session on Monday, as the striker upped the stakes in his battle to leave this summer.
LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

 

Jorge Messi, father and agent of Lionel Messi, landed in Barcelona on Wednesday, an AFP correspondent said, ahead of talks with the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu about the striker’s intention to leave this summer.

Messi senior flew in from the Argentine city of Rosario, landing at the private terminal in Barcelona’s El Prat airport on Wednesday morning.

“I don’t know anything,” he told reporters before getting into a taxi.

Jorge Messi will be hoping to unblock the stand-off between Barca and his son, which threatens to descend into an expensive and bitter legal battle if a resolution cannot be found.

The 33-year-old striker boycotted Barcelona’s first pre-season training session on Monday, as he tries to force his way out of the club he joined as a 13-year-old boy.

Messi had also failed to attend a coronavirus test at Barcelona’s training ground on Sunday.

 

File photo: Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts after Bayern Munich’s second goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP)

 

Yet Barcelona insist their captain will only depart if his 700-million-euro ($833 million) release clause is activated, a stance that has been backed up by La Liga, who say that release clause still applies.

But Messi and his lawyers argue he is allowed to go for free this summer according to another clause in his contract, which they claim was triggered on August 25 when a burofax stating Messi’s intention to leave arrived at Camp Nou.

If Messi joins another club but loses in court, he could be liable to pay the 700 million euros Barcelona are owed.

Manchester City are the firm favourites to sign Messi, not least because of his previous success with City coach Pep Guardiola. Inter Milan, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are also interested.

AFP

Ex-Manchester City Star David Silva Contracts COVID-19

File photo: Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder David Silva (R) waves into the lens of a television camera operator after the UEFA Champions League round of 16, second leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England on August 7, 2020. Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP

 

 

Former Manchester City midfielder David Silva has tested positive for coronavirus, his new club Real Sociedad announced on Monday.

The 34-year-old joined La Real on a free transfer earlier this month but returned a positive COVID-19 test after arriving in San Sebastian.

The Liga club said it was Silva’s second test within 72 hours since landing in Spain, having previously tested negative.

The Spaniard, a former World Cup and European Championship winner, left Man City at the end of his contract before signing a two-year deal with Sociedad.

He is self-isolating and is displaying no symptoms, the club said.

Silva’s new teammate Mikel Oyarzabal has also contracted the virus and was replaced in Luis Enrique’s Spain squad by Villarreal forward Gerard Moreno.

Spain face Germany in their Nations League opener in Stuttgart on Thursday, before hosting Ukraine three days later.

The 2020/21 La Liga campaign gets underway on September 12.

AFP

Man City To Erect Statue To Honour Silva’s Decade Of Service

File photo: Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder David Silva (R) waves into the lens of a television camera operator after the UEFA Champions League round of 16-second leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England on August 7, 2020. Manchester City won the match 2-1. Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP

 

 

 

David Silva is to be honoured by Manchester City, as former captain Vincent Kompany was, with a statue celebrating his 10 years with the club and his contribution to 14 trophies, the club announced on Monday.

The 34-year-old former Spanish international attacking midfielder saw the curtain come down on his career at City in the surprise 3-1 loss to French side Lyon in Saturday’s Champions League quarter-final.

Silva joined from Valencia in 2010, and made 436 appearances — he also was part of the Spain national side that collected two Euro crowns (2008 and 2012) and the 2014 World Cup.

“David is a transformational player, a quiet leader who has inspired everyone around him,” said City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak in a club statement.

 

 

File photo: Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder David Silva celebrates after he scores the team’s first goal during the English FA Cup final football match between Manchester City and Watford at Wembley Stadium in London, on May 18, 2019. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

“David’s statue will act as a lasting reminder of the wonderful moments that he gave us, not only as an incredible footballer but as an inspiring ambassador who represented this football club with great dignity at all times.”

The statue will be unveiled in 2021.

Silva’s contribution will also be commemorated by a mosaic and the naming of a training pitch in his honour at City’s training ground.

Silva made 309 Premier League appearances, scoring 60 goals and played a pivotal role in City’s title wins in 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2019.

He also won two FA Cups and five League Cups.

Silva holds the record for the most European appearances for City, having played 70 Champions League matches over the past decade.

Silva is unlikely to hang up his boots as he has been linked with a move to Serie A side Lazio, who have reportedly offered him a three-year contract.

AFP

Guardiola Blames Man City Imperfections For Another Champions League Exit

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola attends a press conference at City Football Academy in Manchester, north west England on September 30, 2019, the eve of their UEFA Champions League football Group C match against Dinamo Zagreb. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola admitted Manchester City shot themselves in the foot once more in the Champions League after crashing out in the quarter-finals for the third straight season with a shock 3-1 defeat to Lyon in Lisbon.

A familiar cocktail of defensive errors, missed chances and VAR controversy did for Guardiola’s side with the Catalan coach also under fire for another surprise team selection in the knockout stages.

Guardiola is yet to get beyond the last eight in his four years in charge of City as the English side’s wait to be crowned champions of Europe continues despite the billions invested by the club’s Abu Dhabi owners.

“One day we’ll break this gap to the quarter-finals,” said Guardiola.

“You have to be perfect in these competitions in one game and we weren’t.”

City looked disjointed as Guardiola started with an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation and trailed at half-time to Maxwel Cornet’s strike.

Their pressure in the second half finally told when Kevin De Bruyne levelled 21 minutes from time.

However, Moussa Dembele’s strike to restore the French side’s lead was allowed to stand despite a VAR check for a trip on Aymeric Laporte.

Raheem Sterling then incredibly fired over with the goal gaping to bring City back on level terms and less than 60 seconds later an error from goalkeeper Ederson allowed Dembele to tap home and seal Lyon a semi-final meeting with Guardiola’s old club Bayern Munich.

“This competition is that situation,” Guardiola added of Sterling’s miss.

“You have to equalise and go to extra-time and after we concede the third goal. We create more chances, so we did everything but unfortunately we are out again.”

Neither Guardiola nor De Bruyne wished to dwell on the VAR call for Lyon’s second after the dramatic role it played in denying City a stoppage time winner in last season’s quarter-final against Tottenham.

“I’ve no idea, I’ve not seen it back so whatever they decide, they decide. I’m not going to blame that, I think we should have done better,” De Bruyne told BT Sport.

“Different year, same stuff. We need to learn, it’s not good enough.”

AFP

Lyon Stun Manchester City To Set-Up Semi-Final Date With Bayern

Lyon's Ivorian forward Maxwel Cornet (R) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Lyon at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 15, 2020. Miguel A. Lopes / POOL / AFP
Lyon’s Ivorian forward Maxwel Cornet (R) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Lyon at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 15, 2020. Miguel A. Lopes / POOL / AFP

 

Moussa Dembele came off the bench to score two late goals as Lyon caused another Champions League sensation on Saturday, dumping out Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City with a 3-1 quarter-final win in Lisbon.

City had looked on course to come back and win the tie behind closed doors at the Estadio Jose Alvalade after Kevin De Bruyne’s goal midway through the second half had cancelled out Maxwel Cornet’s first-half opener.

However, Dembele put Lyon back ahead in the 79th minute and then capitalised on a shocking miss by Raheem Sterling to clinch the victory three minutes from the end.

Against all expectations, a team who finished seventh in the curtailed French season, and had played just two competitive games since early March, now find themselves through to a Champions League semi-final on Wednesday against Bayern Munich.

That, surely, will be a step too far for Rudi Garcia’s team but then again nobody expected them to eliminate Juventus in the last round, never mind knock out City here.

“We are still in it, which means we have a great team,” former Celtic striker Dembele told French television channel RMC Sport.

Manchester City's English defender Kyle Walker (L) vies with Lyon's Ivorian forward Maxwel Cornet during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Lyon at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 15, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP
Manchester City’s English defender Kyle Walker (L) vies with Lyon’s Ivorian forward Maxwel Cornet during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Lyon at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 15, 2020.
FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP

 

“We are taking it game by game, not getting carried away. We will try to be ready for Bayern.”

Guardiola’s team had been warned about Lyon, losing at home and then drawing away against the French club in last season’s Champions League.

But that was almost two years ago now and Lyon had lost several key players since then.

This, a day after Bayern’s 8-2 demolition of Barcelona, is a seismic shock and a hammer blow to the ambitions of City under Guardiola.

Their wait for European glory will go on, with this a third consecutive quarter-final exit.

“It is what it is. Maybe one day we are going to break through the quarter-finals. We are not able to do it now, with these incredible guys, but we are going to try in the future,” Guardiola said.

He was brought to the Etihad Stadium to deliver the Champions League, but he has not managed to equal the club’s best performance to date in the competition, a semi-final appearance in 2016, just before he was appointed.

Franco-German battle

And so, a year after Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur in an all-English final, there will be no English representative in the semi-finals in the Portuguese capital.

Instead, both ties will be Franco-German duels, with Paris Saint-Germain facing RB Leipzig before Bayern meet Lyon in a repeat of the 2010 semi-finals.

Guardiola had set his team up with a three-man defence, as Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte were joined by the young Spaniard Eric Garcia. Phil Foden dropped out of their line-up.

City created little in the first half and were caught out by a long ball over the top as Lyon took the lead.

Lyon's Portuguese goalkeeper Anthony Lopes vies for the ball beside Lyon's Brazilian defender Marcal (L) during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Lyon at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 15, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP
Lyon’s Portuguese goalkeeper Anthony Lopes vies for the ball beside Lyon’s Brazilian defender Marcal (L) during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Lyon at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 15, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP

 

Garcia raced back to tackle Karl Toko-Ekambi but Cornet was quickest to the loose ball and, with Ederson off his line, curled a low shot first-time into the corner of the net to keep up his remarkable record against these opponents — the wing-back scored three times against City in last season’s two meetings.

De Bruyne appeared the most likely to make something happen for City and threatened from free-kicks after the restart, as City turned up the heat following the introduction of Riyad Mahrez in place of Fernandinho.

The equaliser duly arrived in the 69th minute as Mahrez clipped a ball forward towards Sterling and he cut it back from the byline to De Bruyne, the Belgian arriving unmarked at the edge of the box to sidefoot home.

Sterling’s shocking miss

Few would have bet against City going on to win the game from there. Lyon had offered nothing going forward in the second half and coach Garcia even decided to take off Memphis Depay, who had been anonymous.

But it proved an inspired decision as his replacement Dembele latched onto Houssem Aouar’s through ball to race through on goal and beat Ederson.

City expected the effort to be disallowed following a VAR review but the Dutch officials let it stand, and Lyon were back in front.

Manchester City's English midfielder Raheem Sterling (L) misses a goal opportunity during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Lyon at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 15, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP
Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (L) misses a goal opportunity during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Lyon at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 15, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP

 

Still they should have been pegged back again, but Sterling somehow put the ball over with the goal gaping having been teed up by Ilkay Gundogan.

Lyon went straight downfield and sealed a famous victory as Dembele converted the loose ball after Ederson had saved from Aouar.

 

AFP

Champions League: Man City Have Learnt From Past Disappointments, Says Jesus

Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on August 7, 2020. Nick Potts / POOL / AFP
Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on August 7, 2020.
Nick Potts / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus says he can imagine his hands round the Champions League trophy and he and his team-mates are stronger for previous disappointments in the competition coveted by their Abu Dhabi owners above all others.

The 23-year-old Brazilian had a standout performance in Friday’s 2-1 win over 13-time European champions Real Madrid that earned a place in the quarter-finals.

Jesus’s starring role eased concerns at the likely absence of injured record goalscorer Sergio Aguero for Saturday’s quarter-final in Lisbon.

Guardiola — who has not lifted the Champions League since his second success with Barcelona in 2011 — and the squad fly to Portugal later on Monday.

“We have to dream,” Jesus told British media. “I’m a dreamer and can picture myself with the trophy on my hands.

“But I know the reality is different, we have to work, to show our dedication. To win is the most important thing.”

Jesus — who scored in both legs and set up Raheem Sterling for their first goal in Friday’s last 16 second leg — said the players had turned disappointments in Europe’s premier club competition into a positive.

Under Guardiola they have exited in the quarter-finals the past two years to English rivals Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur and prior to that Monaco eliminated them in the last 16.

City’s best performance so far was reaching the 2016 semi-finals under Guardiola’s predecessor Manuel Pellegrini.

“As a group, we have matured from being knocked out of the previous Champions League editions,” said Jesus.

“We’ve learned to suffer.”

‘Run their socks off’

Sterling said Jesus is definitely not playing second fiddle to Aguero — indeed the Brazilian’s goal on Friday drew him level on 23 for the season with the Argentinian veteran.

“He (Jesus) is not a sub, we’ve got two great strikers at this club,” said Sterling.

“Both strikers score goals and when you play with either one of them you know what you expect from each of them.

Title Race Will ‘Go Down To The Wire’ – Sterling
Sterling celebrates after scoring the winning 2-3 goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Schalke 04 and Manchester City on February 20, 2019 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

 

“They are both top players in front of goal. You saw from Gabby his calmness in front of goal was brilliant.”

Sterling’s goal was his 100th for City and made him only the sixth English player to score 20 goals in the Champions League.

“It’s a good achievement but now I want some more in the next couple of games, to keep progressing,” he said.

“But the most important thing is my goals count for something and hopefully at the end of the competition they can do.”

The 25-year-old England international said City had to “run their socks off” if they are to beat Lyon — who ousted Juventus on Friday — and reach the semi-finals.

“They (Lyon) are a great team and it’s going to be a difficult one,” said Sterling.

“But I keep saying the same thing -– there are teams in his competition with great quality.

“We have to keep up the energy and play our football.”

 

AFP