Man City held to goalless draw by lowly QPR
Man City held to goalless draw by lowly QPR
City closed the gap on leaders Manchester United to four points but a frustrating night for Roberto Mancini’s side in a wet and windy capital handed United the chance to increase their advantage to seven when they host Southampton on Wednesday.
“Julio Cesar saved everything and we made some mistakes — on another day maybe we could have scored four goals,” Mancini, who signed Brazilian Cesar back in 2005 when Inter Milan manager, told City’s website (www.mcfc.co.uk).
United have 56 points from 23 games with City on 52 from 24.
Aston Villa’s season continued to lurch from bad to worse after 2-1 defeat against fellow strugglers Newcastle United dropped the freefalling Midlands club into the relegation zone.
Goals from Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye fired Newcastle into a first-half lead with Christian Benteke’s penalty soon after the restart not enough to save Villa from a fourth successive home league defeat.
Villa got a standing ovation for their second-half efforts and beleaguered manager Paul Lambert, backed this week by the club’s American owner Randy Lerner, promised to “fight our way out of it.”
Wigan Athletic moved above Villa and out of the drop zone on goal difference after coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke City.
QPR, still five points from safety despite a four-match unbeaten run, have become a well-organized defensive unit under Harry Redknapp as City discovered at Loftus Road.
Mancini, who left Balotelli out of his squad with the Italy striker set to move back home to Serie A with AC Milan, went for broke in the second-half with his remaining three frontline strikers Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and substitute Edin Dzeko all on the pitch.
But they were thwarted by sturdy defending and the irrepressible Cesar. A strong penalty shout when Scott Sinclair appeared to be upended was also waved away.
“We did everything to win this game but we didn’t score,” added Mancini.
“The pitch was wet, it was windy, it was difficult — we deserved to win but we have another 14 games to go.”
Mancini said it would be difficult for City to replace Balotelli before the transfer window closed on Thursday.
“I don’t know, we have three strikers, we will see. We have only two days. It’s difficult to get a good player now.”
City’s Pablo Zabaleta headed against the crossbar in the first half and Cesar made superb saves to deny Gareth Barry and David Silva.
Newcastle relied on their French connection to secure a first away league win of the season, heaping further pressure on Lambert.
Villa have picked up just one league win in their last 10 and last week were knocked out of the Capital One (League) Cup and FA Cup in the space of four days by lower league opponents.
France midfielder Moussa Sissoko had an immediate impact on his debut for Newcastle after joining last week from Toulouse, setting up Cisse to score after 19 minutes.
Another Frenchman, Cabaye, doubled the lead with a sizzling half-volley on 31 and, although Villa tore into their opponents after the break, Newcastle survived to move up one place to 15th.
Lambert vowed to battle on.
“There will be a few teams down there and we will have to fight our way out of it,” he said.
“Money dictates everything and the situation hasn’t changed. I don’t know if we will be able to bring anyone in, let’s see what the next two days brings. You have to survive in the league and sometimes you need a bit of help.”
Wigan got a boost in their survival fight thanks to a fine fightback at Stoke, who had led through Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch.
James McArthur got Wigan back in the match soon after Crouch’s early second-half goal and secured a point with Franco Di Santo’s volley just after the hour.
In the night’s other match, Sunderland and Capital One Cup finalists Swansea City drew 0-0.
FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Magical Lionel Messi and morose Jose Mourinho
LONDON: After an action-packed weekend of football across Europe, here is what we learned from the top divisions of the football-mad continent.
REDS AND CITY LOOK A CLASS APART
Both Manchester City and Liverpool have two wins from two and both have barely broken sweat. Before the season kicked off it was predicted that this pair would battle it out for the title and so far neither has done anything for anyone to question that. City were simply devastating in their 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield — a victory so clinical and simplistic in its execution that it seems safe to say that Pep Guardiola’s team have got better over the summer. Benjamin Mendy back and fit is as good as a new signing, and a look at their subs bench — Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane — is enough to make anyone wince. It is much the same story for Liverpool. The Reds barely got out of third gear in their 2-0 win at Crystal Palace, a place where good sides will go and leave with nothing this season. It was an ominous result and one that bodes well for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
SERIE A IS NOT LA LIGA
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus debut was not what the Portuguese star would have wished for. The Old Lady may have won, but that fact it was a very tight game — the Bianconeri were forced to come from behind before a last-minute winner gifted them a tense 3-2 win against Chievo — and he did not score would have doubtless left Ronaldo less than ecstatic. The match was perhaps a little taster of what the 33-year-old can expect. Serie A has far more tighter matches than in Spain and defenses are harder to breach. Clearly Ronaldo has the talent to shine in Italy, and in Juve he is at the best club. But if he is expecting to find it as easy as he made it look for Real Madrid he had better think again.
NEW SEASON, SAME MESSI
There is very much a changing of the guard feel to Barcelona this campaign. Andres Iniesta has gone and the side has a different feel to it than the ones that have dominated the domestic scene of the past 10 years. But newly installed as captain Lionel Messi did more than enough to suggest that he will pick up any slack left by club legend Iniesta. Harshly criticized at the World Cup, the Argentine ace got back to doing what he does best: Scoring goals. Messi got a brace in Barca’s 3-0 win over Alaves and in doing so netted the Catalan giants’ 6,000 top-flight goal — he also got their 5,000th eight years ago.
MOURINHO NEEDS TO LIVEN UP
If you have spent your entire managerial career squeezing the life out of football, is it any surprise when football then squeezes the life out of you? Ever since he arrived at Old Trafford the Portuguese boss has looked miserable. He always sees himself as the victim, a mentality that is as telling as it is perverse. Just two games into the season and United are a club in crisis and a lot of that has to do with Mourinho’s mentality. While he did not get the central defender he craved in the summer, he would do well to remember that he signed the two center-backs that played in the 3-2 defeat at Brighton. More moaning and being morose will neither help him nor United. It is time for Jose to smile.