Jack Grealish scored his first goal this season and Erling Haaland extended his record-breaking hot-streak as Manchester City powered to a 3-0 win over 10-man Wolves on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s side needed just 56 seconds to take the lead at Molineux as Grealish finally enjoyed a day to remember after a difficult time since joining City from Aston Villa last year.
Haaland doubled City’s advantage with his 14th goal in 10 games in all competitions following a £51 million ($58 million) move from Borussia Dortmund that already appears a bargain.
Wolves lost any chance of a fightback when Nathan Collins was sent off for an ugly stomach-high foul on Grealish in the first half.
Phil Foden capped City’s stroll in the midlands sunshine as the Premier League champions moved to the top of the table.
Unbeaten City are two points clear of second placed Arsenal, who would regain pole position if they win at Brentford on Sunday.
Guardiola said this week that the “exceptional” Haaland was the “perfect” person to manage because his personality ensured he always remains hungry to improve.
Even Guardiola may run out of superlatives to describe the 22-year-old Norwegian if he continues this astonishing run.
Haaland was named Premier League Player of the Month for August after his blistering start to the season and he is already making his case for the September award.
He has netted in seven successive games for City and is the first player to score in their first four Premier League away appearances.
Showing their hunger to win the title for a fifth time in six seasons, City are unbeaten in a club record 22 away league matches since losing at Tottenham in their opening game last season.
There was a minute’s silence and a rendition of the national anthem following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, with Steve Bull and Mike Summerbee, legends of Wolves and City respectively, laying wreaths on the pitch before kick-off.
After that poignant tribute, City reduced Molineux to silence again with a beautifully crafted opener in the first minute.
Foden’s audacious backheel sent Kevin De Bruyne away down the right flank and the Belgian’s low cross was perfectly placed for Grealish, who timed his run to poke home from close-range.
It was a much-needed contribution from Grealish, who was making just his second league start this term after struggling to reach peak form since his British record £100 million transfer.
Guardiola might feel vindicated as well after defending the England forward following his anonymous display against Dortmund on Wednesday, blaming an ankle injury for his woes and telling him to ignore the doubters.
Haaland doubled City’s lead in the 16th minute with his first goal from outside the area for his new club.
His spectacular late winner against Dortmund led Guardiola to compare Haaland’s improvisation to Dutch legend Johan Cruyff.
This was a more prosaic strike, but it was no less effective.
With Wolves defender Max Kilman fatally backing off outside his own penalty area, Haaland was allowed to advance unchecked before drilling an unerring finish into the bottom corner.
It was Haaland’s 100th goal in his last 99 games in all competitions since leaving RB Salzburg for Dortmund in 2020.
Collins’ reckless foul on Grealish, the Wolves defender leaping into the air to kick him in the midriff, drew an inevitable red card that effectively ended the contest in the 33rd minute.
When Wolves fans jeered Grealish as he writhed on the turf, he lifted his shirt to reveal the red mark left by Collins’ boot.
Foden added City’s third goal in the 69th minute, arriving in the six-yard box to flick in De Bruyne’s cross after Haaland’s flick teed up the Belgian.
Arsenal loanee keeps his 4th clean sheet
Arthur Okonkwo saving a penalty for Arsenal against Plymouth Argyle (Photo via Arete on Twitter)Crewe Alexandra came out on top against Kevin Betsy’s Crawley Town on Saturday, with the former Arsenal academy coach unable to find a way past his old goalkeeper, Arthur Okonkwo.
Okonkwo kept his fourth clean sheet of the season in Saturday’s 1-0 win, making it nine goals conceded in nine games.
It’s a very solid start for the young Gunner, who celebrated his 21st birthday earlier this month.
Just as encouraging as his performances is the fact Okonkwo has been featuring so consistently so far. The goalkeeper is yet to miss a minute of his side’s League Two campaign.
Arsenal goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo warming up before the UEFA Europa League match at Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal. Copyright: Focus ImagesGoalkeeper loans can be a bit hit and miss, as it’s often hard to break in if you don’t make the starting lineup immediately.
Conversely, if you can nail down your place in the early stages of the loan, it sets you up well to play regularly all year.
So far, it doesn’t appear that Okonkwo is going to have much trouble earning minutes with Crewe.
Referee gets life ban for holding VAR review on fan’s mobile phone
Serbian referee Stefan Lazovic who used footage on a fan’s mobile phone for VAR review to overturn an offside decision has been banned for life.
Lazovic went viral after pictures emerged of his VAR check in one of Serbia’s lower-tier competitions earlier this week.
He had originally ruled out a goal for offside before studying the spectator’s video, eventually deciding that the player was in fact onside.
And the Sun reports that Serbian chiefs were not impressed by the decision and have since stripped Lazovic of his duties.
Lazovic’s alleged dismissal sparked outrage on social media, as fans stood in support of the referee.
Former Manchester United and Chelsea star Nemanja Matic commented on an Instagram post supporting Lazovic with a two raised hands emoji.
The original comment written by ftbl.serbia read: “Support for Stefan Lazovic! Why should only he suffer, why such a rigorous sentence, why a lifetime ban from trial?
“How is it possible that there is no penalty for the delegate and all other authorities from the responsible FS of that district?
“How could the match be allowed to be played without one assistant referee?! Who is responsible here? Why does Stefan’s spear break?
“At the end of the day, the fact that he watched the video and changed the decision, just shows that he wanted everything to be FAIR!
“He talks about the fact that he was not a slave to his vanity, but he admitted and corrected his mistake.
“Well, this video went around the world and now millions of people have heard about the ‘over there’ football clubs Popovic and Apollon, as well as the village of Vrnjci!
“In short, we appeal to the judges’ organisation and the competent authorities – now you CHANGE the decision! Let the VAR system work for you too and cancel the penalty. Correct the ERROR!
“SUPPORT FOR STEFAN LAZOVIC!”
Dani Alves claims European football ‘full of racists’ after Vinicius Jnr slur
Dani Alves has claimed that the European football is “full of racists” as he responded to the racist abuse Vinicius Jnr was targeted with in Spain.
Real Madrid’s 22-year-old forward was targeted with a racist slur by agent Pedro Bravo, who said during an El Chiringuito discussion of the Brazil international that “in Spain, you have to respect rivals and stop playing the monkey”.
Following a backlash alleging that this was a racist stereotype, Bravo has subsequently apologised on social media by claiming that he misused a metaphor. It has opened a discussion across Spain and further afield of the language and attitude applied towards footballers with racial undertones.
Vinicius Junior has vowed to keep his goal dancing celebrations as they show “the happiness of a black Brazilian in Europe”, with his celebrations similar to those of his fellow Brazilian stars over the years – including international teammate Neymar.
Indeed, the Paris Saint-Germain star took to Twitter to defend his Vinicius: “Dribble, dance and be you! Happy just the way you are. Go for it my boy, next goal we dance.” Meanwhile, Brazil legend Pele added: “Football is joy. It’s a dance. It’s a real party. Although racism still exists, we will not allow that to stop us from continuing to smile.”
However, Alves has now gone further in his reaction to the fallout from Bravo’s comments in Spain by hitting out at the culture within European football. The right-back – who is currently playing for Mexican club Pumas having joined from Barcelona earlier this year – has stated that he experienced elements of racism everywhere he went on the continent.
Alves wrote on Twitter: “It is serious that there are idiots who continue to think that the dances are the problem. Gentlemen, the real problem is that Europe is full of RACISTs and they do not accept that other nationalities stand out in their country more than they do. I experienced that in almost every place there.”
A statement from Real Madrid added that they condemned “regrettable and unfortunate comments made against our player” and would take legal action against anyone making racist comments towards members of their squad. The Brazilian Football Federation called for “dancing, dribbling and above all respect” in a statement of solidarity.
Brazil’s legendary striker Ronaldo, formerly of Real Madrid, joined in the condemnation of the abuse directed at Vinicius: “Your dances do not disrespect anyone, racism does: it disrespects, excludes, hurts and kills.”
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