Kevin De Bruyne’s dazzling solo effort was enough to secure a potentially title-winning three points as Man City beat Chelsea at the Etihad to open up a 13-point gap at the top(1-0).
Even without a recognised striker for much of the campaign, Man City have still averaged at least three goals at the Etihad in the Premier League and, with Chelsea having only kept two clean sheets in 11 league matches, goals were expected.
However, clear-cut chances were few and far between in a chess match-like first half.
Easily the game’s best opportunity for either side in a cagey opening period came five minutes before HT, when Mateo Kovačić’s misplaced pass sent Jack Grealish through on goal one-on-one with Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Englishman, though, deployed as part of a fluid front three, failed to capitalise, with his placed finish being turned around the post for a corner by the onrushing Spaniard.
Pep Guardiola has lost eight games as a manager against Chelsea, more than against any other club, but his relentless crop took the lead on 69 minutes after a marauding run through the heart of the Blues’ defence by City captain De Bruyne, who sumptuously bent a right-footed effort beyond Arrizabalaga into the bottom corner.
It was a goal that ignited the touch paper as the game opened up, with substitutes Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner stationed alongside a previously isolated Romelu Lukaku.
But Thomas Tuchel’s changes came too late for Chelsea, who failed to fashion any sustained form of pressure on Ederson’s goal.
This was just the second-ever Premier League meeting between Man City and Chelsea as the top two sides in the division and, now City have recorded their 12th consecutive Premier League win, with only Preston North End and Liverpool winning 11 or more games in succession and not going on to win the top-flight title, Guardiola’s cohort look to be champions elect.
Ten Hag’s revolution begins with impressive victory over Liverpool
The Red Devils breathed fire into Erik ten Hag’s reign with a determined 2-1 victory over Liverpool – marking just a second win from 13 Premier League H2Hs – after the buildup to the game witnessed crowds of protesting home fans.
Considering the negative headlines surrounding the club, it was scarcely believable that Erik ten Hag’s side could leapfrog Liverpool in the Premier League standings with a victory here.
However, the Reds’ rocky start meant that they arrived at Old Trafford looking for their first win of the season.
It wasn’t to be, however, as United produced an excellent display of attacking prowess and defensive resilience to defeat their old adversaries.
Ten Hag became the first United manager to start his tenure with two defeats in over a century, after his side’s 4-0 defeat to Brentford last time out.
His charges started wickedly here though, full of energy, and United’s pressure almost told ten minutes in with Anthony Elanga guiding his effort onto the post.
A regular fixture in their title-winning season, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk looked uncharacteristically nervy and a menacing Jadon Sancho opened the scoring with a composed finish just five minutes later.
The game was played at breakneck speed, with Liverpool’s defence split open on numerous occasions and United showing new spirit and determination as the Old Trafford crowd roared their side on.
Liverpool improved as the half drew to its conclusion, with Lisandro Martínez clearing off his own line, but a stubborn United backline held out as the HT whistle blew.
Smelling blood in a nervy defence, the hosts would strike again just eight minutes into the second period after some swift buildup play saw Marcus Rashford set free before the forward slotted past Alisson to double his side’s lead.
Liverpool had little answer for the majority of the half, but Mohamed Salah headed in with little under ten minutes remaining to set the scene for a thrilling Old Trafford finale.
It would be a night to remember for United however and there was a tangible sense of optimism, despite the earlier protests, as Ten Hag’s name rang around Manchester, with the Red Devils capping off a fine performance by seeing out the victory.
Victor Osimhen Starts As Napoli Defeats Perugia 4-1
Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen was in action for the Italian serie A giants, SSC Napoli on Sunday evening. Napoli defeated Perugia FC 4-1 in a preseason-friendly match.
The former LOSC Lille football club star was given a starting role by coach Luciano Spalletti and was able to impress the team in the first half of the game.
The Nigerian international started in his team’s attack alongside Hirving Lozano and the duo were outstanding for the away team in the game.
Georgia national team star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia opened the scoring for the away team in the 5th minute after receiving an assist from Victor Osimhen and Andre Zambo Anguissa doubled the lead in the 37th minute via another teamwork from Nigerian Victor Osimhen to end the first half 2-0.
Federico Melchiorri scored a goal for the home team in the 48th minute and Matteo Politano extended the lead in the 54th minute before Andrea Petagna scored the last goal of the game in the 90th minute to end the match 4-1.
Victor Osimhen was impressive for Napoli football club in the game and he was able to play a vital role in his team’s two first-half goals before he was replaced by Eljif Elmas in the second half of the game.
Champions League: Chelsea 1 vs 3 Real Madrid Match report
34-year-old Karim Benzema yet again showed he ages like a fine wine, scoring a hat-trick in a punishing 3-1 victory over Chelsea.
Benzema’s 10th goal in his last four matches put ‘Los Blancos’ in the driving seat to set up a potential semi-final showdown against fierce rivals Atlético Madrid or Manchester City.
Stamford Bridge was the venue of a shock 4-1 defeat to Brentford at the weekend and the ‘Blues’ were hoping no hangover would exist against the sterner test of 13-time UEFA Champions League (UCL) winners Real Madrid.
Big-game player Kai Havertz blazed over early on when played through by N’Golo Kanté, but it was ‘Los Blancos’ man-of-the-moment, Benzema who was out to write the headlines, as he had done single-handedly in the miraculous last round comeback in Paris.
Benzema’s first goals again blue
Benzema set Vinícius Júnior free down the left after a clever one-two. Vinícius, then pulled the ball back towards the incoming Benzema, whose header from a distance flew past Edouard Mendy before he could even lift a glove.
The Frenchman then remarkably made it five goals in 53 minutes of UCL play, this time pulling off the back of Thiago Silva and meeting Luka Modrić’s inch-perfect cross to guide home for his 36th in all competitions.
Chelsea’s consolidation goal
The ‘Blues’ proved it wasn’t over yet as Havertz pulled one back, heading across former Chelsea keeper, Thibaut Courtois and into the net following a Jorginho quarter-back style ball.
Benzema’s Hattrick versus Chelsea
Chelsea rang the changes at HT, but remarkably, went 3-1 down within a minute of the restart.
A long pass over the top should have been dealt with comfortably, but Mendy made an unforced error as the ball got caught under his studs, allowing Benzema to roll home and become only the fourth player to score successive UCL hat-tricks.
‘Blues’ captain, César Azpilicueta almost provided an immediate response with a 25-yard drive heading for the top corner, but he was denied by a strong top-handed Courtois wonder save.
Low on confidence, substitute Romelu Lukaku then headed wide from six-yards out when it was easier to score, perhaps summing up Chelsea’s evening.
UEFA Champions League Chelsea vs Real Madrid final whistle
The result ends a run of six UCL matches without defeat for Chelsea and consequently breaks Thomas Tuchel’s nine-match unbeaten record against Spanish opponents.
Returning Leg in Bernabeu
The Londoners now face a huge uphill challenge away at the Santiago Bernabeu, running the risk of being eliminated at this stage for the first time since losing to Manchester United in 2010/11.
Connectley – Naija News
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