Match coverage

Argentina 3-3 France (4-2 on pens): Montiel ends frenzied final in shootout after Mbappe hat-trick

Lionel Messi of Argentina and team celebrate after winning the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium...

Argentina found themselves just 10 minutes from glory. Kylian Mbappe scored twice in 97 seconds to equalise. Lionel Messi made it 3-2 in extra-time, yet his club teammate completed his hat-trick from the spot during a frantic finish. Into a penalty shootout they went and Sevilla fullback Gonzalo Montiel had the final say: sending Hugo Lloris the wrong way, finishing a remarkable World Cup Final with a dramatic win over the defending champions last night. Continue reading “Argentina 3-3 France (4-2 on pens): Montiel ends frenzied final in shootout after Mbappe hat-trick”


Manchester City 2-1 Real Madrid: 5 Talking Points as Citizens sting Real, into quarter-finals

Manchester City players celebrate with Gabriel Jesus after his second-half strike sunk Real Madrid

Raphael Varane’s catastrophic defensive errors will dominate headlines, but Manchester City were rewarded for their intense pressing from the front against La Liga champions Real Madrid. What were five talking points here, as Pep Guardiola’s men booked their place in next week’s Champions League quarter-finals?

Continue reading “Manchester City 2-1 Real Madrid: 5 Talking Points as Citizens sting Real, into quarter-finals”


Manchester City 8-0 Watford: 5 Talking Points

Image result for bernardo silva vs watford

Bernardo Silva netted his first career hat-trick as Manchester City celebrated their 125th anniversary with a record-breaking 8-0 home victory against a woeful Watford display on Saturday lunchtime. But what were five talking points from their memorable win here?

Continue reading “Manchester City 8-0 Watford: 5 Talking Points”


Norwich City 3-2 Manchester City: 5 Talking Points

Image result for todd cantwell vs manchester city

Goals from Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki helped Norwich to a dramatic 3-2 win over Premier League champions Manchester City, who missed great chances while an inexcusable Nicolas Otamendi mistake saw them lose their first league game since January.

Continue reading “Norwich City 3-2 Manchester City: 5 Talking Points”


Laporte sidelined, Manchester City linked with Inter’s Milan Skriniar

Image result for milan skriniar inter milan 2019

With Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte sidelined until the New Year after successful knee surgery, Pep Guardiola is reportedly targeting a move for Inter Milan centre-back Milan Skriniar this coming winter. Continue reading “Laporte sidelined, Manchester City linked with Inter’s Milan Skriniar”


Champions League – Tottenham 1-0 Manchester City: 5 Hits and Flops

Tottenham players celebrate Son's goal during their 1-0 win over Manchester City in the UCL QF first leg

Tottenham’s 1-0 win vs Manchester City gifts them a slender lead ahead of next week’s UCL QF return leg. Who excelled, and who struggled? Continue reading “Champions League – Tottenham 1-0 Manchester City: 5 Hits and Flops”


Manchester City 3-1 Watford: 5 Talking Points

Manchester City players celebrate one of Sterling's strikes in an action-packed second-half

Raheem Sterling’s 12-minute hat-trick saw the Premier League leaders extend the gap atop the table to four points, after a 3-1 win over a determined Watford side.

Continue reading “Manchester City 3-1 Watford: 5 Talking Points”


FC Schalke 04 2-3 Manchester City: 5 Talking Points

Sterling wheels away to celebrate his last-gasp winner as City recovered a 2-1 deficit in Germany

Here are five talking points, as ten-man Manchester City recovered from 2-1 down to snatch a last-gasp 3-2 win and valuable advantage over an unpredictable Schalke side in Gelsenkirchen. Continue reading “FC Schalke 04 2-3 Manchester City: 5 Talking Points”


Champions League Quarter-Final: Manchester City (1) 1-2 (5) Liverpool – Player Ratings

Manchester City v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg

Goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino sealed Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final place, but how did they fare individually?

Continue reading “Champions League Quarter-Final: Manchester City (1) 1-2 (5) Liverpool – Player Ratings”


Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City: Hosts outclassed as Pep’s men roll on

Goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otámendi were enough to seal all three points for Manchester City – who extend their lead as Premier League leaders to a whopping eleven points.

Continue reading “Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City: Hosts outclassed as Pep’s men roll on”


Focus: Otámendi’s impressive display against Norwich

Focus: Otámendi's impressive display against Norwich

After sealing his summer switch to Eastlands, Nicolas Otámendi has settled into life in Manchester well – and his display on Saturday afternoon just reiterates that.

Even though the Citizens came out on top, they certainly would have wanted a clean sheet to show for their hard work over the 90 minutes at the Ethiad on Saturday afternoon.

Alas, they were unable to keep a clean sheet – due to a rare but equally frustrating error by Joe Hart, who dropped a swerving cross straight into the path of Cameron Jerome, who couldn’t believe his luck from a few yards out.

Otámendi shone in an otherwise average display

Admittedly, the overall performance was not superb. But, Nicolas Otámendi, was excellent. Not only did he score his first goal for his new employers, following his big-money switch in the summer, but defensively, he was very solid too.

A towering header near the penalty spot arrowed into the corner of the net, and despite John Ruddy‘s dive – this proved needless, as the agile Argentinian wheeled away to celebrate his second-half opener with the Ethiad faithful.

After a sharp start, he’s settled in nicely

Having been thrown into the deep end – literally – with his debut coming in a cameo appearance against Juventus, he was partly at fault for Álvaro Morata‘s winner with less than ten minutes to play. Being pulled out of position, the ball was popped through him and within a flash, the Spaniard curled his effort into the corner of the net.

Since then though, Otámendi has taken to life in England relatively well. It’s never easy, settling into a new country, not least as a defender, where you have to form a defensive partnership with teammates that may not even speak the same language either.

Still learning English, he doesn’t speak much of it, but he hasn’t need to use it. Doing his talking on the pitch (no pun intended here), his plethora of interceptions and smart challenges have helped the sky Blues to avoid some rather compromising situations, especially on the counter attack when he might have been the last defender too.

Gives Pellegrini a pleasing selection headache

A real aerial presence, he highlighted his use from set-pieces with a well-taken finish, but was defensively alert when called upon too. He looks established and relatively calm at the back alongside Vincent Kompany – which allows Manuel Pellegrini a selection headache for his centre-back pairing in each game.

Does he go for the skipper and Otámendi? Or Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala? The latter option may seem slightly erratic, but both are refreshing options to pick in a defensive manner for City.

His display against local rivals Manchester United, more of the same. Powerful, clean but efficient too, it’s certainly a joy for City supporters to see – given their backline has been critically analysed as the weakest part of their team… his presence certainly strengthens it.


Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: Sides share the spoils in nervy Derby

Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: Sides share the spoils in nervy Derby

After all of the pre-match hype, the 170th installment of the Manchester Derby ended in a nervy goalless draw at Old Trafford – with both sides staying firm defensively.

It seemed typical that after all of the pre-match build-up, excitement, and analysis ahead of kick-off at Old Trafford, it’d finish with a goalless draw between the noisy neighbours of Manchester. Even so, although this was true, neither side played particularly badly – it was more credit given towards both defences in particular, who stayed firm in the presence of frequent attacking pressure to keep a hard-fought clean sheet.

Argentinian duo Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Otámendi were two of the standout performers for their respective clubs, the latter of which was making his Derby debut, covered himself in plenty of glory with a no-nonsense, excellent defensive display to help Joe Hart keep his 100th Premier League clean sheet.

Strong, competitive team line-ups

Even with both Sergio Agüero and David Silva out of contention to feature, Manchester City fielded a strong side regardless. Manuel Pellegrini made three changes to the squad who came from behind to steal all three points against Sevilla on Wednesday in the Champions League – club captain Vincent Kompany was back in the starting XI for the first time in over a month, whilst Fernando and Aleksandar Kolarov were both included too.

Jesús Navas dropped to the substitutes’ bench – much to the quiet relief of the visiting supporters – whilst Yaya Touré was deployed in a more attacking role with Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterlingon either flank.

As for Manchester United, Louis van Gaal had the luxury of being able to choose from a virtually fully-strengthened side. Luke Shaw (leg) and Paddy McNair (liver) were the only two players sidelined with their respective injuries – and the latter probably wouldn’t have featured in fairness.

Energetic atmosphere helped spirited Reds

As the intriguing clash got underway, it soon became apparent that the hosts were on top in the early stages, and certainly fed off the energy from the home supporters – willing their team on to try and secure bragging rights for another day.

They struggled to make the most of their possession though, and despite a few advances towards goal, it was actually the sky Blueswho had the first half-chance on-goal. After some intelligent interplay between Fernandinho and Sterling, the latter weaved his way past two challenges in the box before trying his luck – but his effort took a deflection and swerved away from goal with David de Gea relatively untroubled.

Martial a tricky threat to deal with

Anthony Martial was a problem for City to deal with, and the 19-year-old weaved his magic on the flank upon occasion too. It was great work from the young Frenchman to speed down the flank, dribble past his marker and unselfishly square the ball into the path of teammate Juan Mata – who dithered in possession just enough to allow the visitors’ a chance to get back into their defensive shape – having been hit on the counter – and his attempted ball was cut out effectively.

You could almost hear the collective groans from the Old Trafford faithful as the half went on, they were understandably frustrated their side had failed to make the most of their half-chances to create an opportunity to score.

Ideas were there – execution, not so much

This feeling was echoed even further in the 37th minute whenWayne Rooney swatted Bacary Sagna out of his path like a fly before driving towards the box with Martial calling for the ball on his left. He took an extra touch before releasing the ball, and that was enough to put Martial off continuing his run, evidently assuming the 30-year-old would go for goal himself.

The idea was certainly there, but the execution, not so much. It could have easily been one-nil to City at the interval too – but Yaya Touré watched on in agony as his looping header flashed narrowly wide of de Gea’s near post from a de Bruyne corner-kick.

As the second-half began, neither side made any alterations, with both bosses eager to keep their relative teams the same, trying to see if they could improve in the second 45. United probably should have broken the deadlock just five minutes afterwards, at the end of a quick passing move, but another deflection thwarted Ander Herrera‘s strike from the edge of the area.

Just a minute later, penalty appeals were waved away by refereeMark Clattenburg – as Herrera went down under the suspected challenge from Sterling, although replays showed it would have been a soft spot-kick, in fairness. Chris Smalling saw his headed effort trickle narrowly wide of Hart’s far post, with plenty of home supporters getting ready to celebrate the opener, but it wasn’t to be.

Otámendi made an important interception to deny Rooney with a one-on-one opportunity in the box on the hour mark, just a minute before Hart was called into action to stop Mata with a perfectly-timed challenge as the ball broke free from an innocuous sliding interception in midfield.

Alterations highlighted the varying tactics as the clock ticked down

The inclusion of Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini sparked new life in United going forward, as they nervously edged closer towards a winner. The same couldn’t really be said for Pellegrini’s side – as Navas was particularly ineffective whilst Martin Demichelis was deployed in a midfield role to nullify United’s prominence in that area of the field. Kelechi Iheanacho was introduced into the fray, but it was too late for the talented young Nigerian to really create anything of note, apart from a few neat touches here-and-there.

City looked dangerous on the counter, and United were constantly weary that their local rivals could, and probably would, steal a late strike at some point. Lingard though, came closest to breaking the deadlock with a few minutes remaining. After being released with a teasing lofted ball by Martial, the 22-year-old chipped a helpless Hart, but his goal-bound effort rattled off the crossbar and the Citizens were handed a lifeline.

If not for the presence of Wayne Rooney at the far post, they would have taken it, too. A searching delivery was fizzed into the box by Kolarov from the left-hand side, and Otámendi was an inch or two away from latching onto the ball – which would have almost certainly resulted in the opening goal. Instead, the experienced Englishman was alert to the danger and got his body in-behind the Argentine, making sure he got tight to him, stopping him in his tracks rather dramatically.

There was time for one final push, and Joe Hart made a fantastic diving stop to his left to deny Smalling from becoming a Derby day hero – after his low strike was seemingly destined for the bottom corner, but England’s number one had other ideas, making sure his clean sheet was intact.

Manchester Derby, a goalless draw. It fails to tell the whole story, though.