Donetsk 0 Manchester City 3 Ukrainian Joy Ride
Wednesday 21st September 2019 : James Watkins
for GYKO at the Metalist Stadium
Manchester City took three points from their away trip to
Shakhtar Donetsk, after winning 3-0 in Ukraine.
Pep Guardiola’s side dominated the match, and in truth, should’ve
won by at least five or six goals. But, Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan
and Gabriel Jesus all found themselves on the score sheet, as City
became the only Premier League team to win their opening Champions
League match of the season.
Manchester City went into half-time with a 2-0 advantage, after a
dominant display. The visitors almost went ahead through Rodri, who
miscued his header. But, Guardiola’s side made the breakthrough in
the 24th minute, after some excellent hold-up play from Gabriel
Jesus inside the box. He laid the ball into Ilkay Gundogan with the
outside of his boot, and the German rattled the post from outside
the box with his weaker foot. The ball rebounded into the path of
Riyad Mahrez, who gratefully accepted the open goal.
Shortly before half-time, City doubled their lead through Gundogan,
who was an ever-present in the midfield. The previous scorer turned
provider, as Mahrez teed up Gundogan inside the box, who toe-poked
the ball past the goalkeeper and into the near post.
The Citizens had numerous chances to grab a third goal after the
break. Gundogan broke through the Shakhtar midfield lines on 50
minutes, as City found themselves in a 4 v 3 situation. But, the
German fluffed his shot, and Raheem Sterling couldn’t put the
rebound on target.
Guardiola wouldn’t have been happy with the amount of chances City
failed to convert in the second half, but the third goal eventually
came on 77 minutes. A classic City-esque counterattack caught out
Shakhtar’s defence, and with three players queuing up, the Citizens
had to find the net. Kevin de Bruyne brought the ball forward, and
played it into the run of Jesus. The Brazilian took a single touch
before sliding the ball into the far corner of the net.
City’s next Champions League match will be against Dinamo Zagreb on
October 1st. The Croatian side tore apart Atalanta in the other
match in Group C on Wednesday night. Guardiola will be keen to cut
off the supply to Mislav Orsic, who scored a hat-trick for the hosts
against the Italians.
Meanwhile, City can now enjoy hosting Watford this weekend in the
Shakhtar Donetsk (4-2-3-1): Pyatov; Bolbat,
Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Ismaily; Alan Patrick (Marco Antonio 74),
Stepanenko; Solomon (Konoplyanka 45), Marlos, Taison; Junior Moraes
Subs not used: Shevchenko, Butko, Antonio, Lovalenko, Bondar
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Walker (Cancelo 81),
Fernandinho, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Gundogan , Rodrigo (Mendy 83);
Mahrez, De Bruyne (Bernardo Silva 77), Sterling; Jesus
Subs not used: Bravo, Aguero, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Mendy,
Referee: Artur Dias (Portugal) Attendance :
Norwich City 3 Manchester City
2 Canaries Singing
Saturday 15th September 2019 : Ken
Torkington for GYKO at Carrow Road
The Carrow Road crowd will cherish this memory
for years to come. Echoes of ’93 and all that bounded across the
stadium as Norwich City – newly promoted, short of money and with
eight first-team players out injured - took on, outplayed and beat
the celebrated champions of England. The Canaries might just have
put a cat among the pigeons in the title race.
Manchester City are now five points behind Liverpool at the top of
the Premier League table and given the tightest margin by which the
title was decided last year – 11.7mm of ball by one account – that
is not a meaningless total. On the other hand it is still September
and there are many games to go but, beyond the points, Pep Guardiola
will have seen enough in this match to worry him. City were not at
their attacking best but their defending left a lot more to be
Norwich led from the 19th minute when Kenny McLean exploited a City
weakness, getting across to the near post to score with a header
from a corner. Todd Cantwell, fresh from an England Under-21s debut
in midweek, doubled the lead before half-time with his second goal
of the season.
Sergio Agüero then clawed one back before the break, only for the
decisive goal to be struck by Teemu Pukki five minutes into the
second half after Nicolás Otamendi was mugged for the ball on the
edge of his box. Rodri’s 20-yard drive came late on and ultimately
did not make a difference.
“It’s definitely a proud night, without a doubt”, said Daniel Farke.
“To win against the best team in the world as Norwich City who is
promoted and have no chance to spend money and an incredible amount
of injuries. The mentality and spirit and bravery was exceptional.
“I always believe in my players. We knew that we were not the
favourites but we started to play [this kind of] football because we
want to do something extra. The mood was difficult this week,
because we had good performances in [the first] four matches but the
outcomes were not great. We were struggling a bit for
self-confidence. We made a point of trying to give them some belief
“There is an unbelievable spirit and unity around Carrow Road right
now. This result is brilliant proof that, if we stick together even
in difficult times and go further on with bravery and spirit, then
you always have a chance. It’s a night to remember without any doubt
but we must further go on. I’ll be happy when I’m back on the sofa.
I’m too exhausted to celebrate.”
From Norwich’s patched-up side some of the standout performances
came in defence. Sam Byram, recruited from West Ham for less than a
million pounds in the summer,stood up to Raheem Sterling throughout.
At centre-half Ibrahim Amadou provided a brave foil to Ben Godfrey.
Alexander Tettey – the only player in the Norwich squad remaining
from their last Premier League campaign – was authoritative despite
making his first appearance of the season. Then there were Pukki and
Cantwell, the two effervescent forwards continuing to make their
mark on a division they might have expected never to play in just a
City’s problems mirrored Norwich’s strengths. Agüero’s far-post
header was City’s most successful tactic before Kevin De Bruyne –
left out in favour of Ilkay Gündogan after the international break –
was hastily summoned from the bench in the second half.
Much of City’s attacking lacked alacrity while, at the back, the
combination of Otamendi and John Stones looked anything but
authoritative. Norwich toyed with them at 3-1 up. It is only one
game, and both managers know that, but they will each be taking very
different lessons from it.
NORWICH: (4-2-3-1) Krul; Byram, Amadou, Godfrey,
Lewis; Tettey, McLean; Emi (Drmic 83), Stiepermann (Srbeny 89),
SUBS NOT USED: Fahrmann (GK), McGovern (GK); Hanley, Heise, Idah
MAN CITY: (4-2-3-1) Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko;
Gundogan (De Bruyne 57), Rodri; Bernardo Silva (Mahrez 74), Silva
(Gabriel Jesus 57), Sterling; Aguero
SUBS NOT USED: Bravo (GK); Fernandinho, Joao Cancelo, Foden
REFEREE: Kevin Friend
Man City Legends 2 Premier
League All Stars 2
Vinnie Signs Off With A Smile
Wednesday 11th September 2019
Somewhat poetically, Vincent Kompany missed his own testimonial. Of
course he did. A hamstring injury; a scenario in keeping with his
final few years at this club. 'It's typical of me,' laughed Kompany.
'I can't risk it. I'm usually ready to play at the end of the
His figure is statesmanlike in these parts and there were no tears,
no yearning for those final moments addressing the Etihad Stadium to
last forever. His departure from Manchester City is not a farewell,
more of a 'see you soon' and the Premier League champions expect him
to return in some capacity, be it in coaching or business. The
33-year-old beamed as he strode from the tunnel flanked by his three
children as 51,602 supporters patiently waited for their captain.
The smile will be broader when the exact size of the cheque for
Tackle4MCR becomes clear. Kompany's desire to make a discernible
difference to the city's homelessness epidemic is highly
commendable. So too the band he got back together for Wednesday
night. It was fun, the high calibre of stars on show made sure of
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher found themselves booed mercilessly,
Paul Scholes aggressively bit at Samir Nasri's ankles whenever
possible. Nigel De Jong has not lost his appetite for tackling.
Nicky Butt left one on Craig Bellamy before verbals were exchanged.
Old habits die hard.
They sung about Shaun Wright-Phillips and Pablo Zabaleta, watched
David Silva embarrass the elders he used to dance around during a
The pantomime inquest from the Premier League All Stars, who had a
distinctly Manchester United feel to them, drew laughter. 'You can't
have a successful project without Manchester United involved,'
Kompany said. 'We have our differences - that is clear - but if we
can get together for these sort of events the city is stronger.'
The All Stars replied in style, a sharp move involving Scholes,
Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie was finished off by
Robbie Keane. Van Persie later scored with a trademark whip.
Benjani headed a late equaliser for City and celebrated the only way
he knows how.
His exit was a bit of a whirlwind and it is fair to say nobody at
City was particularly prepared for that eventuality when the veteran
decided on becoming Anderlecht's player-manager. Kompany did not
even have time to conduct one last interview with the club's
In that sense, this was fitting. Colin Bell and Tony Book
ceremonially congratulated Kompany before a long embrace with Mike
Summerbee, complete with touching words.
He might not realise it yet, but the man who led this club for a
decade now owns a seat at their rich table of legends.
MANCHESTER CITY LEGENDS: (4-3-3) Hart; Zabaleta
(Richards 71), Toure, Lescott (Luckassen 82), De Jong; Nasri (Hamann
77), Ireland (El Kababri 82), Silva (Bellamy 22, Vassell 61);
Wright-Phillips (Benjani 71), Aguero (Cobbaut 28, Kompany 46),
GOALS: Petrov (2), Benjani (89)
PREMIER LEAGUE ALL-STARS: (4-3-3) van der Sar (Given 46); Neville (Saief
35), Carragher, Carrick, Cole; Arteta, Butt (van der Vaart 46),
Scholes, Giggs; Keane (Cahill 46), van Persie
GOALS: Keane (31), Van Persie (48)
REFEREE: Mark Halsey Attendance : 51,602
Manchester City 4 Brighton 0
Saturday 31st August 2019 : GYKO at the
Twenty-seven minutes into the kind of match to
which they have long since become accustomed, Manchester City’s fans
broke out in applause to support their stricken neighbours. “Stand
up for the Bury boys” was the accompanying chant and it would
presumably not have taken long, upon a quick survey of the home
support, to locate some of the 28,885 who watched the Shakers win
1-0 at Maine Road in their final meeting. That was on Valentine’s
Day 1998, when both clubs were in the second tier; they are based 10
miles apart but here, against a competent but outclassed
Brighton, they got back to their modern-day business of operating in
an entirely different universe.
That applies in comparison with almost everyone they face, in
fairness, and especially when Kevin De Bruyne is in full flight.
Friday was the fourth anniversary of his arrival from Wolfsburg and
he marked it with a fitting masterclass, opening the scoring after
little more than a minute and providing an assist for Sergio Agüero
to convert the first of two sublime finishes.
Had a flashing volley not cleared the bar shortly before his
69th-minute substitution, he might have signed off with a goal of
the season contender. In the event his work was long done by the
time Bernardo Silva, 17 seconds after coming on, scored the fourth
and the only black mark for City was a potentially serious injury to
Aymeric Laporte, who was taken off on a stretcher in the first half.
“My players up front are incredibly good and they make the
difference,” Pep Guardiola said.
Brighton stuck to their guns, playing from the back in the face of a
vigorous City press and creating opportunities to make things mildly
awkward after going two down. It is easy to be magnanimous when you
have won without reaching full throttle but Guardiola seemed
genuinely heartened to have watched something he claimed was far
removed from the timid fare visitors usually offer up.
“Sometimes the opponents have the courage and personality to say
‘OK, I am going to play’,” he said. “They played to hurt us and
score goals. It is a good lesson for me. I learn from my colleague.”
That determination to chew on morsels for self-improvement is part
of what makes him. Everyone knew the die was cast upon De Bruyne’s
opener, timed at 67 seconds.
The goal would not qualify for a highlights reel of the playmaker’s
City days but was dispatched as efficiently as anyone would expect.
David Silva had the freedom of the inside-left channel after Davy
Pröpper’s missed challenge and there were no prizes for guessing
what resulted: a cutback, and a sidefoot into the vacant goal from
It took any sting from the game. City dozed for a while and when
Kyle Walker and Dale Stephens fairly engaged in a 50-50 challenge to
a resounding thud it had the effect of waking everyone up. Agüero
and De Bruyne duly shot wide while David Silva could not adjust his
feet to convert Raheem Sterling’s centre.
They were interrupted when Laporte, who had halted a gallop up field
from Adam Webster, went down clutching his right knee. The medics
came on and so, after a lengthy delay, did Fernandinho in Laporte’s
place. “The doctor is going to call me but I think [he will be out]
a while,” Guardiola said.
It did little to knock City off their stride. The second goal was a
peach, Riyad Mahrez back-heeling De Bruyne into space and Agüero
receiving the Belgian’s pass, thumping past Mat Ryan after taking
two touches to work an angle.
Brighton worked their two best openings either side of half-time,
Ederson saving from Neal Maupay and Fernandinho heading away a
goal-bound effort from Leandro Trossard. “The performance of our
players was one of real courage; their application was fantastic,”
Graham Potter said.
It is no criticism of them to say that Agüero’s was even better. A
subtle first-time touch from David Silva, allowing him to size up a
curler from the edge of the area, opened up the chance and the end
product was scintillating. Bernardo Silva, slotting in from an
angle, had the final say.
Unlike that defeat to Bury this was hardly a “where were you when?”
occasion, but nowadays City routinely provide moments to stick in
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi,
Laporte (Fernandinho 37), Zinchenko; De Bruyne (Gundogan 70),
Rodrigo, David Silva (Bernardo Silva 79); Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling
Substitutes not used: Bravo, Angelino, Joao Cancelo, Foden.
Brighton & Hove Albion (3-5-2): Ryan; Webster, Dunk, Burn; Montoya,
Propper, Stephens, Bernardo (Murray 67); Maupay(Connolly 67), March,
Trossard (Gross 74).
Substitutes not used: Button, Duffy, Gross, Jahanbakhsh, Mooy.
Man of the match: David Silva
Referee: Jonathan Moss 7
Bournemouth 1 Manchester City 3
South Coast Stroll
Sunday 25th August 2019 : Keith Ludbrook at
the Vitality Stadium for GYKO
There were periods when this was awkward.
Manchester City even looked flustered at times, stretched by
Bournemouth’s urgency and admirable refusal to wilt. And yet Pep
Guardiola’s side still negotiated passage to another victory with
all the panache of seasoned champions and with David Silva, dwarfed
by the home side’s central midfielders, untouchable
at the heart of so much of their play. He retired at the end having
barely broken into a sweat.
To thrill at so much of the attacking football this team can deliver
is also to despair for virtually every other side in the division.
It seemed almost unfair that City should force their way ahead here
with a goal that owed something to fortune, Kevin De Bruyne scuffing
his shot from Oleksandr Zinchenko’s centre only for the ball to fall
kindly for Sergio Agüero to cushion and convert. There was more to
admire at the build-up to their second – from Aymeric Laporte’s
pinged cross-field ball to Bernardo Silva, then David Silva’s
slipped pass for Raheem Sterling to score – as a goal which felt
suitably majestic in its construction.
That David Silva should be so integral felt a reminder of what City
will lose when he departs at the expiry of his contract next summer.
This was his 400th appearance for the club, the first player to
reach such a landmark at City since Paul Power. He may not have the
energy of old, with the management and medical staff managing his
schedule cannily, but few compare when he infiltrates that pocket of
space in front of an opposition backline. There is no real quelling
his threat. The Spaniard would be baffled at the non-award of a
penalty after Jefferson Lerma stood on his foot on the hour-mark
but, unperturbed, was soon wriggling into a crowded penalty area to
panic Bournemouth once again. Agüero emerged from the clutter to ram
in his side’s third and confirmed the victory.
Not that Bournemouth ever threatened to surrender meekly. They had
been the more aggressive through the opening exchanges, their
muscular energy disconcerting the visitors to the extent that Kyle
Walker was sanctioned for the second of two crude fouls on Nathan
Aké. Ederson, tearing out of his penalty area, would also earn a
caution for clattering Callum Wilson while the contest was still
goalless. That punishment might have been deemed lenient. Yet by the
time the Brazilian blocked Adam Smith’s close-range attempt, after
Nicolás Otamendi’s ill-judged decision to chest down on the edge of
his six-yard box, the home side were playing catch-up.
Their approach had been disrupted by the loss of Charlie Daniels to
what appeared another serious knee injury – the wing-back’s left leg
buckling as he attempted to cross – with the ease at which City
sliced them open to extend their advantage perhaps reflective of a
team readjusting. Yet the substitute introduced for the stricken
Daniels, Harry Wilson, would illuminate the occasion with a sublime
free-kick in first-half stoppage time, whipping the ball over the
wall and beyond the leaping Ederson via a flick from the angle of
post and bar.
At least that offered Bournemouth hope and, briefly, momentum.
Callum Wilson might even have forced them level after bursting
beyond Aymeric Laporte, only for the defender’s slight touch to
unsteady the striker and Ederson to conjure a smart save. The
champions were stretched in that frantic period, reliant upon their
goalkeeper’s punching from Ryan Fraser’s dangerous delivery, but
City’s threat on the counter was ever-present and Agüero’s second
rather deflated their challenge until the latter stages.
There is no disgrace in losing to these opponents. And if this is to
be his last year in this league, performances like this from David
Silva should be cherished
C Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Smith (Ibe 68), Mepham, Steve Cook, Ake,
Daniels (H Wilson 37), King, Lerma, Billing, Fraser, C Wilson (Solanke
Subs not used: Boruc, Surman, Rico, Simpson.
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko, De Bruyne,
Gundogan, Silva, Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling.
Subs not used: Bravo, Tasende, Rodri, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Joao
Referee : Andre Marriner
Manchester City 2 Tottenham 2
VAR rears its ugly head again
Saturday 17th August 2018 : GYKO at the Etihad
It was an extraordinary finale and, amid all the
drama and utter confusion, spare a thought perhaps for those
Manchester City supporters who had happily left the stadium,
believing they had just seen their team score a dramatic and joyous
What they had not accounted for was VAR concluding, after what felt
like an age, that the shot from Gabriel Jesus had been preceded by a
handball from Aymeric Laporte. Jesus had danced in front of the
supporters, wriggling his hips, samba-style. Pep Guardiola and
Sergio Agüero, who had fallen out so publicly earlier in the second
half, had made up with a touchline embrace. The scoreboard had
pronounced it was 3-2. And the Spurs players had all retreated
before the signal came that the goal could not stand. And, suddenly,
there was a tinny roar from the away end.
For City, that was an excruciating moment of deja vu bearing in mind
the influence of VAR when these sides met in April’s Champions
League quarter-final. The shot-count in their latest encounter was
30-3 in favour of the home team and, in corners, 11-2. Guardiola
described it as one of the more illuminating performances of his
three-year reign. What City could not do, ultimately, was make the
game safe after Raheem Sterling and Agüero had put them in front,
Spurs duly nabbed a point courtesy of equalising goals from Érik
Lamela and the substitute Lucas Moura, only 19 seconds after coming
on, as well as some splendid goalkeeping from Hugo Lloris and
various moments of fortune when City, inspired by the brilliance of
Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, threatened to overwhelm them.
Nobody should be too harsh on City because they had played stylishly
and fully warranted Guardiola’s compliments. That, however, made it
an even more painful occasion for the champions because, if there is
one lesson to be had from last season, it is that a draw these days
is a bad result for a team with title aspirations.
This one ended a 15-match winning sequence, going back to January,
and the spat between Guardiola and Agüero was probably a measure of
their frustrations. It was not the first time the two have clashed
and, for an uncomfortable amount of time, Guardiola could be seen
flapping his arms and covering his mouth so nobody, bar Agüero,
could make out the precise words. Suffice to say, it didn’t look
like a “well done”.
For Spurs, it was a tough, obdurate performance, albeit one that
must have reminded them they are still a considerable distance
behind City in terms of pure skill. Not that they should worry too
much about that after ending a run of six successive away defeats.
If that had extended to seven, it would have equalled their worst
run since August to December 2000, when George Graham was in charge.
To make matters worse for City, they could legitimately argue they
ought to have been awarded a penalty in the first half because of
Lamela’s manhandling of Rodri at a corner. The referee, Michael
Oliver, evidently did not think a player being grappled to the floor
was worthy of being penalised. Neither did the VAR officials, which
was mysterious when this was precisely the sort of oversight they
should be trying to put right.
Amid all this controversy, it also now transpires that Sterling is
capable of scoring the kind of expertly placed header that has never
previously been listed among the skills of a player who stands at
5ft 6in. Though it helps when De Bruyne is capable of swinging over
the kind of beautifully weighted delivery that led to the opening
The cross was sumptuous, spinning high in the air before arcing
towards the back post. Sterling had turned his body position so when
the ball connected with his forehead it went back across Lloris
before nestling just inside the side-netting. It was placed to
perfection. And, in that precise moment, the television cameras
caught Guardiola looking at his coaching staff as if he was a little
Their lead lasted three minutes before Lamela strode through the
middle to place a left-footed shot past Ederson. Laporte had
committed the classic defensive error of turning his back as his
opponent shaped to shoot. Twenty yards out, Lamela curled a low
effort into the bottom corner.
City took the lead for a second time when Agüero darted forwards to
turn in another of De Bruyne’s right-sided deliveries and, as a
snapshot of how the game was going, how about the moment late in the
first half when Bernardo was boxed in by three opponents but gave
them all the slip? The olés were memorable as Bernardo eluded Tanguy
Ndombele, Danny Rose and Lamela.
The problem for City was turning their superiority into more goals
and that left them vulnerable to the kind of sucker punch Moura
delivered after his 55th-minute introduction for Harry Winks. Lamela
swung over the corner from the right. Moura’s header flashed past
Ederson and Spurs held on, courtesy of a correct, though late, VAR
decision and more evidence of how the sport is changing but, not
necessarily for the better.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte,
Zinchenko; Gundogan, Rodri (D. Silva 78), De Bruyne; Bernardo Silva
(Mahrez 80), Aguero (Gabriel Jesus 65), Sterling
Subs not used: Bravo, Fernandinho, Joao Cancelo, Foden
TOTTENHAM (4-3-2-1): Lloris; Walker-Peters, Sanchez,
Alderweireld, Rose; Sissoko, Winks (Lucas Moura 56), Ndombele;
Lamela (Lo Celso 85), Eriksen (Skipp 90+1); Kane
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Vertonghen, Dier, Davies
Referee: Michael Oliver Attendance : 54,503
West Ham United 0 Manchester City 5
Sunday 11th August 2019 : Brent Hapgood for
GYKO at the City of London Stadium
Welcome to the new world. Which looks, it must be
said, quite a lot like the old world. On a breezy afternoon in east
London, Manchester City’s two-times champions kicked off the new
season with a defeat of West Ham that barely required a shift out of
Raheem Sterling made it four goals in a week with a wonderful
hat-trick. Riyad Mahrez was involved throughout, passing, moving and
dribbling with a familiar swagger, and taking a decisive hand in the
first four goals. Kevin De Bruyne looked close to his hard-running
best in midfield.
In-between this, VAR kept up a regular commentary on City’s
dominance, disallowing one goal, retaining another and ordering a
This will surely become a feature of City’s matches given the rhythm
of their attacks, the way cut-backs from the flanks and cute runs
along the defensive line are key to their best moments. Otherwise it
was a breathtaking show of controlled strength. Their opponents may
come forewarned of the way City attack and facing essentially the
same set of players. Trying to stop them is another matter
The stadium was full at kick-off, the skies above an autumnal grey,
the atmosphere inside largely undetectable beneath the
brain-mangling volume of the pre-match PA.
West Ham had seven players in their starting lineup who have joined
the club in the past year. This included their record signing
Sébastien Haller, who had previously mused on whether he might get a
touch of the ball.
But West Ham did start brightly, with Jack Wilshere prominent in
midfield, and Haller was sharp in the opening minutes, dropping deep
at times and playing neatly with his back to goal.
Steadily, City began to exert their own patterns. With nine minutes
gone, Mahrez had their first shot at goal, grooving in from the left
and drawing a low save from Lukasz Fabianksi.
After 20 minutes Manuel Pellegrini appeared for the first time on
his touchline, a small, sharp-suited figure in the middle of all
that branded claret carpet, gesturing anxiously towards West Ham’s
Perhaps he was asking Michail Antonio to offer a little cover to his
full-back. If so it went unheeded. Almost immediately Mahrez did his
Mahrez thing, sitting Aaron Cresswell down on the turf inside his
own area with that same old shimmy, but shooting into the
The first goal arrived two minutes later courtesy of a lovely move
down that side. De Bruyne carried the ball across from the left.
Mahrez played a delightful through pass for Kyle Walker, tearing
down the right. The cut-back was deflected on to Gabriel Jesus, who
Gabriel Jesus gives City the lead.
It was a move City repeated throughout the first half. It seems odd
that opponents still set up against them as though in fear of being
pierced down the middle. One day someone is going to say hang it all
and just play two full-backs instead.
On 32 minutes, there was a first intervention from VAR as a
bored-sounding voice said: “They’re checking for a red card,”
followed, a few moments later, by “no red card”.
Ten minutes before half-time the home team had their first shot at
goal, a hooked effort over the shoulder from Haller and City went to
the break having barely broken into a collective sprint.
It was 2-0 five minutes after half-time. This was a glorious move
down the right. Mahrez fed De Bruyne on the charge. He glided into
space and played a perfectly weighted ball to Sterling, who veered
in on goal and finished with ease.
Two minutes later it was 3-0, then 2-0 again as VAR scrubbed off the
goal for a very narrow offside against Sterling’s shoulder; a moment
of technical offside-dom that offered no advantage and a decision
that penalised a fine piece of movement.
Clearly the offside rule needs to be tweaked for the post-VAR world.
The best suggestion being: you are onside until the whole of you is
For a while West Ham pressed hard again and after 72 minutes they
should have pulled one back. Ryan Fredericks whipped in a cross from
the right and Ederson pulled off a fine double save, first from
Javier Hernández’s left thigh, then from Manuel Lanzini’s header.
Moments later it was finally 3-0.
Mahrez cut inside and lofted a beautiful little pass over the
defence. Sterling read it, stayed onside, then produced a lovely
There was time for Fabianksi to save a weak 83rd-minute penalty from
Sergio Agüero, on as a sub, before VAR ordered a successful retake
for encroachment by Declan Rice and as the stadium began to empty
Sterling completed his hat-trick with a lovely low finish after fine
work from Rodri
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena,
Diop, Cresswell; Wilshere (Snodgrass 56), Rice; Anderson (Hernandez
66), Lanzini, Antonio (Fornals 45), Haller
Substitutes not used: Roberto, Ogbonna, Sanchez, Zabaleta
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte,
Zinchenko; De Bruyne (Gundogan 79), Rodri , David Silva (Foden 80);
Mahrez, Jesus (Aguero 69), Sterling
Substitutes not used: Bravo, Otamendi, Bernardo Silva, Cancelo
Referee: Mike Dean 6 Attendance: 59,870
Liverpool 1 Manchester City 1
City win first Trophy on Pens
Sunday 4th August 2019 : Ben Jacobs for GYKO
at Wembley Stadium
Call it a phoney war, if you like, but the
Community Shield suggested Manchester City and Liverpool are set for
another epic battle. One point separated them last season and there
was nothing between them on Sunday until City prevailed in the
penalty shootout. So Pep Guardiola’s side won by the narrowest
margin. Again. But there was enough to indicate things could go the
other way over the next nine months.
If the purpose of this curtain-raiser was to stoke anticipation for
the main event that kicks off on Friday, mission accomplished.
Gabriel Jesus converted the decisive spot-kick after Georginio
Wijnaldum missed for Liverpool but there was enough before that to
please – and worry – both managers.
At first City threatened to win at a canter; Raheem Sterling giving
them an early lead that reflected their superiority and Liverpool’s
sluggishness. But the European champions gradually found fluency and
began to expose frailties in City. They struck the frame of the goal
twice before Joël Matip nodded in an equaliser. Liverpool would have
clinched victory if not for a spectacular clearance off the line by
Kyle Walker. Factor in Guardiola being booked for a tantrum and it
was clear City were spooked before emerging triumphant.
Both managers had said they would have welcomed a longer break
before renewing hostilities but that did not mean either was about
to make this chore any easier for his rival: 65 days after Jordan
Henderson lifted their sixth European crown, Liverpool began with
nine of the 11 players who started the Champions League final.
Guardiola, too, deployed nearly all of his artillery; the main
acknowledgment of this match’s ceremonial status being the inclusion
of Claudio Bravo in goal ahead of Ederson. “We have to prepare as if
every match is a final,” said Guardiola and, given how little room
either side leave the other for error, both will probably have to
sustain that approach throughout the campaign ahead.
City started far sharper. They could have scored in the fourth
minute after Sterling dispossessed Joe Gomez 30 yards from goal and
slipped a pass through to Leroy Sané, who fired into the side
Roberto Firmino was the only Liverpool player who shone from the
start. Mohamed Salah, by contrast, was off‑colour: busy and
dangerous but wasteful. He dragged a shot wide of the near post
early on and did almost exactly the same thing several more times.
The fact City’s breakthrough came while they were at a numerical
disadvantage – Sané having an injury assessed – spoke of how much
better they started. The nature of the goal confirmed the point, as
Liverpool’s defence was caught napping by a quick free-kick.
Oleksandr Zinchenko headed a lofted pass from Walker back across the
six-yard area, where Sterling beat Henderson to the ball and forced
it past Alisson.
Salah botched another good opportunity before Sterling did likewise
for City, shooting straight at Alisson from eight yards. Rodri,
City’s record signing at £62.8m, moved and passed with almost
Fernandinho-esque intelligence on his debut but he was given a
lesson in the competitiveness of the Premier League when he was
muscled off the ball twice in the first half by Firmino.
City’s chief vulnerability was in defence. Zinchenko found the going
tough at left-back and was not helped much by his central defenders.
A weak header by John Stones in the 29th minute from a cross by
Divock Origi demanded an intervention from Zinchenko that did not
come; Salah should have punished him but poked high and wide.
City’s vibrancy had subsided. When Gomez escaped being penalised for
raising a foot to prod a bouncing ball away from David Silva,
Guardiola, highly strung at the best of times, bawled and
gesticulated so much the referee booked him.
City’s grip on the game loosened as Liverpool’s menace grew. In the
57th minute Virgil van Dijk hooked a shot on to the underside of the
crossbar after a corner by Trent Alexander-Arnold was allowed to
bobble all the way to him at the edge of the six-yard area.
Reminiscent of City’s decisive escape at the Etihad Stadium in
January, the shot was millimetres from crossing the line. Then Salah
cut into the right-hand side of the box and rattled the post.
Walker, resolving to get City back on to the front foot, launched
into a storming run forward before feeding Sterling. Clean through
on goal and with Walker offering support, Sterling appeared
overwhelmed by the options and allowed Alisson to step out and
relieve him of the ball. City’s sharpness had faded all right.
And their defensive frailties – relative to the strength of the rest
of their team – were being increasingly exposed by Liverpool, who
soon equalised with a goal similar to City’s. Van Dijk, pulling wide
to retrieve a free-kick from the right by Henderson, dabbed a dainty
cross back across goal and Matip climbed above Nicolás Otamendi to
nod into the net.
City were not exactly unravelling but there was certainly some
raggedness about them. Maybe that was inevitable given the lack of
preparation; maybe, though, they will regret not replacing Vincent
Liverpool, spruced up by five substitutions and running through
City’s midfield with impressive regularity, came closest to winning
in normal time. Bravo foiled Naby Keïta and Salah before he finally
beat the goalkeeper – only for Walker to hook his header off the
LIVERPOOL: (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Matip
67), Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson (Lallana 79), Fabinho
(Keita 67), Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino (Shaqiri 79), Origi (Oxlade-Chamberlain
SUBS NOT USED: Mignolet (GK); Lovren
MAN CITY: (4-3-3) Bravo; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; De
Bruyne (Foden 89), Rodri , Silva (Gundogan 61); Bernardo Silva,
Sterling, Sane (Gabriel Jesus 13)
SUBS NOT USED: Ederson (GK); Tasende, Aguero, Garcia
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson 7