Tag: Edin Dzeko

Premiership: Liverpool 2-1 Man City

Liverpool put a huge dent in Manchester City’s title hopes with a 2-1 victory which dramatically enhanced their own hopes of a top-four finish.

Chelsea’s involvement in the Capital One Cup final had given Manuel Pellegrini’s side a chance to reduce the gap at the top to two points but, as was the case last season, they were cut down at Anfield.

Eleven months ago defeat here did not prove their undoing in the title race as Chelsea did them a favour by winning at Anfield.

This time it was Liverpool doing Chelsea favours — not something their fans would usually celebrate but on this occasion their club’s needs come first, and with the championship beyond their means, the race for Champions League qualification takes priority.

Jordan Henderson’s brilliant opener was matched by an equally good team goal from Edin Dzeko but Philippe Coutinho’s 75th-minute winner eclipsed them all.

Anfield is a bad ground for City, who have now not won here in 12 league matches, yet it was supposed to be their hosts who were mourning a Europa League exit to Besiktas on penalties on Thursday.

City reverted to the team which thrashed Newcastle 5-0 last weekend after losing to Barcelona in midweek but it was the home side, registering four changes — most significantly returning playmaker Coutinho — from the defeat to Besiktas, who got off to a flier.

Coutinho, who twice set up Adam Lallana to first shoot weakly at Joe Hart and then brilliantly finish from a narrow angle only to be judged marginally offside, was the instigator.

Pressing hard he robbed Vincent Kompany and rode a challenge from the City captain before laying off to Raheem Sterling, who gave Kompany a torrid time in the first half, and he teed up Henderson to curl a beauty over Hart and into the top corner in the 11th minute.

Immediately the intensity went up a notch, with Sergio Aguero breaking free of Skrtel and beating Simon Mignolet but not the far post with a left-footed shot.

It was end-to-end stuff, with the creative Coutinho and equally mercurial David Silva running the show for their respective sides, although an honourable mention should go to the pint-sized Joe Allen, who was a giant in midfield against players of huge size and even bigger reputations.

The former’s ball with the outside of his right foot sent Sterling racing down the left wing, but although he easily jinked past Eliaquim Mangala, City’s 32 million-pound summer signing, his cross rolled through the six-yard area with no-one to knock it in.

Silva was increasingly finding space in front of Liverpool’s back four, the area where he is most dangerous, and from there he crafted City’s 25th-minute equaliser.

The Spain international picked out Aguero, whose sublime ball to Dzeko was deservedly rewarded with a goal as the Bosnian slotted past Mignolet for his 50th Premier League goal.

From then on the game became even more open and entertaining, something of a rarity for a noon kick-off on a Sunday.

Both defences looked to be the weakest links, with Mangala equally out of touch as Kompany while Dejan Lovren’s presence in the back three, after his penalty shoot-out miss in Istanbul cost his side Europa League progress, seemed to cause as much indecision in Liverpool’s ranks as it did consternation in the stands.

The ripple of applause he received for holding off or, depending on your persuasion, pushing over Pablo Zabaleta in the box just before half-time seemed more in relief than appreciation.

Attacks continued, with Aguero heading over 20 seconds into the second half and Sterling bundling wide a Lallana cross, but the quality level dropped somewhat.

In an instant it was raised again, in the 75th minute, when Coutinho cut in from the left, dropped his shoulder and unleashed an arcing shot which dipped over the outstretched fingertips of Hart.

Once again going behind sparked City to go to another gear and, having sent on striker Wilfried Bony for Fernandinho, Aguero’s angled shot whistled just past the far post after Lovren had lunged in.

A frenzied final 10 minutes saw Coutinho have another shot deflected over, Bony escape with a yellow card after appearing to lead with an elbow on Lallana, substitute Daniel Sturridge roll a shot wide with only Hart to beat and Silva flash a shot just off target with the seconds ticking down.

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Premiership: Man City 5-0 Newcastle

Manchester City warmed up for Tuesday’s visit of Barcelona in style by crushing Newcastle 5-0 on a perfect day for the Barclays Premier League champions.

City led from the second minute as they cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table to five points by demolishing the Magpies at the Etihad Stadium.

Top scorer Sergio Aguero opened the scoring with a penalty before Samir Nasri and the impressive Edin Dzeko added to the lead inside 21 minutes. David Silva made the scoreline even more lopsided with a rapid double early in the second half.

New signing Wilfried Bony did not get on the scoresheet after coming off the bench for the final 30 minutes but, even before kicking a ball, it seemed he had started paying back his B£25million fee.

His mere presence in the squad – finally available after the African Nations Cup – appeared to sharpen Dzeko, whose goal was his first since September.

The return of Yaya Toure, following his tournament success alongside Bony for Ivory Coast, could also not be understated as City gained complete control of the midfield area.

Toure is suspended as City return to Champions League action this week, but they could not go into a clash against Barcelona in better heart.

They needed just 20 seconds to assert their authority as Vurnon Anita gifted possession to Dzeko in the box and then clumsily brought the Bosnian down.

It was just the start of a highly impressive performance from Dzeko, although it was Aguero who tucked away the penalty for his 22nd goal of the season.

Newcastle initially responded well to the setback and Daryl Janmaat sent a fierce effort narrowly wide with Joe Hart apparently beaten.

But that was about as good as it got for Newcastle as City strode through the visitors’ defence to double their lead after 12 minutes.

Dzeko was the provider, cutting inside from the left and passing inside to Nasri, albeit with a slight deflection. Nasri took the ball in his stride and casually wrong-footed two defenders before scooping the ball into the roof of the net.

Dzeko continued to stretch the Newcastle defence and got the goal his early excellence deserved when a well-timed run behind the defence was spotted by Silva. The Spaniard picked him out with a superb crossfield pass and the Bosnian chested down before clipping home on the half-volley.

By now City were in complete control and they eased off the throttle to coast towards the interval.

Newcastle hardly made an impression and City might have had another before the break as Fernandinho struck a long-range shot straight at Tim Krul, after more good work from Dzeko.

The Magpies had a rare good chance early in the second half as Papiss Cisse met Moussa Sissoko’s fine chipped cross with a powerful volley that deflected off Vincent Kompany, but Hart was alert.

That was enough to stir City back into life and they further increased their lead with two Silva goals in the space of three minutes.

Aguero broke from deep to create the opening for the first, with Silva finishing by digging out Nasri’s pass inside and tucking home.

The Spaniard had another moments later, this time racing on to an Aguero knock-down from a Toure pass and rifling in from distance.

That quickfire double put the game beyond any doubt and Manuel Pellegrini, with Tuesday in mind, decided to take star duo Silva and Aguero off after an hour.

That meant a 30-minute run-out for Bony, and he might have had a debut goal but for a fine save from Krul after racing on to a Toure pass.

Dzeko also extended Krul and the goalkeeper kept out a well-struck free-kick from Aleksandar Kolarov as City, despite easing off in the latter stages, continued to dominate.

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