Sterling sparkles as Manchester City see off Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s Trezeguet and Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo during their match at Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 26 October 2019

Sterling sparkles as Manchester City see off Aston Villa

  • Raheem Sterling inspires a 3-0 win; Guardiola’s side closes the gap on Liverpool to 3 points

MANCHESTER: Manchester City closed the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to three points as Raheem Sterling inspired a 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday. Pep Guardiola’s side survived a tame opening period as second half goals from Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan put Villa to the sword.
City’s second successive league victory lifted them above Leicester into second place and put pressure on Liverpool to beat Tottenham in Sunday’s clash at Anfield.
The only frustration for Guardiola was a red card for Fernandinho, who was dismissed after earning a second booking when he tugged at Keinan Davis in the 87th minute.
City were upset by Wolves in their last league fixture at the Etihad Stadium, but Guardiola had never lost back-to-back home league games as a manager and Sterling was key to ensuring that impressive record wasn’t ruined.
Sterling’s latest virtuoso display came just days after his second hat-trick of the campaign in City’s Champions League demolition of Atalanta.
The England winger has made a convincing case to be regarded as genuine superstar over the last 18 months and Villa had no answer to his intelligent movement, sublime skills and predatory finishing.
City have scored 32 league goals this season, 11 more than Liverpool, and their firepower was clear to see as they saw off Villa with their record scorer Sergio Aguero on the bench.
Gabriel Jesus made consecutive Premier League starts for the first time since December, but he squandered a chance to put City ahead when he dragged his close-range shot wide from Sterling’s pass.
No fewer than 11 City stars have suffered injuries this season, with Oleksandr Zinchenko and Rodri the latest to be sidelined for several weeks.
Guardiola admitted he was “a little bit concerned” about how City would cope, yet with Sterling on his side, anything is possible.
Sterling appealed for a penalty when his shot cannoned off Bjorn Engels’ arm, then glanced a header just wide.
John Stones was back in place of Rodri at the heart of City’s defense, but the England international looked rusty in his first start since September.
He gifted possession to Villa and Douglas Luiz almost took advantage when he tangled with City keeper Ederson, who narrowly avoided conceding a penalty in the melee.
Moments later, Stones threw himself in front of a Trezeguet shot, surviving a penalty appeal after the ball deflected onto his hand.
Despite their lack of rhythm in the first half, City should have been ahead at the break when Sterling teed up David Silva, only for the Spanish midfielder to shoot inches wide of the far post.
Usually firmly dedicated to Guardiola’s passing principles, City finally broke Villa’s stubborn resistence with a goal straight from the route one handbook.
A huge punt forward by Ederson was flicked on by Jesus into the path of the unmarked Sterling, who took one touch before shooting under Tom Heaton for his 13th goal in 14 appearances in all competitions this term.
City should have doubled their lead when Engels gave the ball away to Sterling and he picked out Jesus, but the Brazilian’s shot was brilliantly cleared off the line by Tyrone Mings.
It made no difference as Guardiola’s side were in the groove and they killed off Villa with two goals in 5 minutes.
In the 65th minute, De Bruyne swung in a cross that evaded Silva and Sterling before bouncing into the net.
A long VAR review followed to check for offside but the goal was given.
Gundogan put the result beyond doubt in the 70th minute with a clinical finish after Villa failed to clear.


Lewandowski scores 30th goal of season as Bayern close on title

Updated 07 June 2020

Lewandowski scores 30th goal of season as Bayern close on title

  • Bayern struck twice in quick succession just before half-time to turn the game in their favor

BERLIN: Robert Lewandowski scored his 30th league goal of the season on Saturday as Bayern Munich came from behind to claim a 4-2 victory at Bayer Leverkusen and move a step closer to the Bundesliga title.

After Lucas Alario secured an early lead for the home side, Bayern struck twice in quick succession just before half-time to turn the game in their favor after Kingsley Coman’s equalizer.

Lewandowski netted in the second half as Bayern established a 10-point lead over title rivals Borussia Dortmund, who host Hertha Berlin later on Saturday.

The game also saw Bayern lend their support to protests over the death of black American man George Floyd, with all their players wearing armbands bearing the slogan “Black Lives Matter.”

With their talisman and Bayern transfer target Kai Havertz ruled out with a muscle injury, Leverkusen turned to Alario to lead the line against the champions.

The Argentine delivered after just 9 minutes, beating the offside trap after a throw-in to slot the ball past Manuel Neuer.

A mistake from Moussa Diaby allowed Coman to curl in the equalizer, before a fizzing shot from Leon Goretzka and an elegant lob from Serge Gnabry saw Bayern take a 2-goal lead before half-time.

Lewandowski finished the job with a well-placed header after the break, reaching the 30-goal mark for only the second time in his Bundesliga career, but there was still time for 17-year-old Florian Wirtz to curl in a consolation goal for Leverkusen before the final whistle.

Elsewhere, a late equalizer from Christian Strohdiek gave bottom-of-the-table Paderborn a faint glimmer of hope in the race for survival, as they snatched a 1-1 draw away to RB Leipzig.

Chelsea-bound Leipzig striker Timo Werner set up Patrik Schick on 27 minutes to give Leipzig the lead, but they were forced to defend it with 10 men after Dayot Upamecano was booked twice in the first half.

Strohdiek’s last-minute strike gave Paderborn their fourth draw in five games, though Steffen Baumgart’s side remain 8 points off Fortuna Duesseldorf who occupy the relegation playoff place.

Duesseldorf themselves missed the chance to move toward safety, as they battled to a dramatic 2-2 draw against 10-man Hoffenheim.

A headed opener from Rouwen Hennings and a red card for Hoffenheim’s Benjamin Huebner put the home side in pole position, but the visitors struck back with goals from Munas Dabbur and Steven Zuber before Hennings saved a point with a late penalty.

Uwe Roesler’s side remain 3 points adrift of survival, after goals from Moussa Niakhate and Pierre Kunde Malong gave fellow strugglers Mainz a rare 2-0 win over local rivals Eintracht Frankfurt.