Man City Players Like Precarious Situations – Guardiola

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola admitted that his Manchester City loved to play under pressure ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid.

City won their first European title last season thanks to Rodri’s goal in the final against Inter Milan, completing a treble with the Premier League and FA Cup.

The operator from Spain now has the chance to become the first manager to lead an English club to win the treble twice in a row.

That opportunity is even more open after last weekend’s league action which put them at the top with six games to go.

However, City will have to overcome 14-time European champions Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium after a 3-3 draw in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“They surprised us with the position of the players and we have to review.

“Carlo (Ancelotti) with his experience, is able to change tactics and we have to be ready. But at the same time we will try to apply pressure.

“They (City players) like pressure. They like to be in a critical situation,” said Guardiola.

Ronaldo Sent Off Late In The Game

ABU DHABI: Al-Nassr captain Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off late in the game as his side slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of neighbors Al-Hilal in a tense Saudi Super Cup semi-final in Abu Dhabi earlier this morning.

Portugal’s top goal scorer was shown a straight red card four minutes before the end for elbowing Al-Hilal defender Ali Al-Bulayhi when his team was 2-0 down.

Al-Hilal controlled by Jorge Jesus opened the curtain in the 62nd minute when Salem Al-Dawsari hit the ball into the right corner following a goal from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic after a quick counter attack.

Brazilian striker Malcolm doubled the score in the 72nd minute with a beautiful header after Michael’s high pass from the right found his unmarked compatriot in the middle of the penalty box.

Former Liverpool striker Sadio Mane then closed the gap for Al-Nassr due to an injury following Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s goal.

Al-Hilal will be chasing a record fourth championship in the final match early this Friday morning when they face Karim Benzema’s club, Al-Ittihad, who previously eliminated Al-Wehda 2-1 in another semi-final match.

Guardiola Responds To Keane’s Criticism Of Haaland

LONDON: Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland needs to be respected as the ‘world’s best goalkeeper’ after the Manchester City star was criticized by Roy Keane.

Former Manchester United captain Keane said Haaland’s overall game was very poor and almost like a League Two player.

Haaland was criticized by Keane following City’s lackluster performance in a goalless draw against Premier League rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Haaland is the Premier League’s top scorer this season with 18 goals after winning the Golden Boot last season during his first season with City.

He scored 52 goals in all competitions as Guardiola’s squad lifted the treble of the Premier League, European Champions League and FA Cup.

Guardiola disagreed with Keane’s statement, insisting the blame for the draw against Arsenal should be placed on one team.

“I don’t agree with him. He (Haaland) is the best striker in the world and helped us win what we won last season. Erling is extraordinary.

“The reason we didn’t create chances wasn’t because of Erling. The standards that Erling has are unbelievable and everyone expected something else.

“There were games he played better but against Arsenal I know we didn’t create chances, not because of Erling.

“We need to be more effective in the box. If he plays, Erling will have more space. If you want to score goals, bring more players to the opponent’s goalkeeper, it’s that easy,” said Guardiola.

City’s failure to beat Arsenal set the stage for their quest for a fourth consecutive English league title.

They are now three points behind leaders Liverpool ahead of Aston Villa’s visit to the Etihad Stadium today.

Argentina Bounced Back To Beat Costa Rica 3-1

LOS ANGELES: Angel Di Maria, Alexis Mac Allister and Lautaro Martinez saved Argentina as the world champions came back from behind before beating Costa Rica 3-1 in an international friendly in Los Angeles this morning.

The South American giants, missing captain Lionel Messi due to injury, completed a two-match tour of the United States with a second win at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Lionel Scaloni’s side, who beat El Salvador 3-0 in Philadelphia last Saturday, dominated the first 45 minutes and created several interesting chances.

However Costa Rica took the lead in the 34th minute after a quick counter-attack.

Alvaro Zamora welcomed Manfred Ugalde’s pass and made a sliding shot which was met by Argentinian goalkeeper Walter Benitez.

Benitez’s shot, however, landed at the feet of Ugalde, who plowed home the ball to make it 1-0.

Argentina got back into contention early in the second half with a stunning equalizer from veteran Di Maria in the 52nd minute.

The 36-year-old Benfica winger flicked a free kick from outside the penalty box towards the corner of the goal which Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas failed to reach.

Argentina made it 2-1 a few minutes later with another set-piece.

Nicolas Tagliafico’s header was hit by the crossbar following a corner kick and Liverpool midfielder Mac Allister acted quickly to head the ball home from close range.

Inter Milan striker Martinez made it 3-1 in the 77th minute, meeting Rodrigo De Paul’s beautiful cross before cleverly throwing the ball past Navas.

Real Madrid Back At The Top Of La Liga

MADRID: La Liga leaders Real Madrid again widened the gap to seven points after beating Celta Vigo 4-0 at home.

Vinicius Junior opened the scoring in the first half of action at the Santiago Bernabeu before Celta’s own two goals controlled by former Madrid boss Rafa Benitez ensured victory for the hosts.

Rudiger headed the ball but was hit by the crossbar before flying behind Celta goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and across the goal line with 11 minutes remaining.

Celta once again scored their own goal when Carlos Dominguez was caught by Vinicius Junior’s cross into his own net.

Turkey’s Arda Guler, whose first season in Spain was hit by injury, came on as a substitute and scored his first goal for Madrid while injured.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid were forced to play without the league’s top scorer this season, Jude Bellingham, who was suspended for two matches due to a red card against Valencia last weekend.

Madrid drew 1-1 against RB Leipzig on Wednesday, but did enough to take them into the quarter-finals of the European Champions League with a 2-1 win on aggregate.

Foden Is The Best Player In Premier League – Guardiola

MANCHESTER, England: Phil Foden is the best player in the Premier League on his current form and is already a Manchester City legend, manager Pep Guardiola said after his second-half brace sparked a 3-1 win over Manchester United late last night.

City were clearly in control but fell behind thanks to Marcus Rashford’s fine goal in the eighth minute before striker Foden stole the show in the second half.

The 23-year-old local fired a powerful left-footed shot into the top corner in the 56th minute and then beat Andre Onana with a finish just after 80 minutes.

Erling Haaland’s 18th goal of the season completed the injury-time scoring – his sixth in the past week – but nothing could take the focus off Foden who now has 11 league goals this season to equal his personal best.

“It’s about the number of games he’s played. He’s had talent for a long time but now he’s more mature and understands the game more, especially when defending,” Guardiola told the BBC.

“He can play in the middle, on the right, create moments and break in, play on the left, score goals from the left. What can I say? He’s the best player in the Premier League right now with the amount of contributions he makes. It’s incredible.”

Foden’s quality and level of consistency make him difficult to drop in a squad filled with world-class players. His current performance has also made him a mainstay in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

“We don’t compromise on that,” Guardiola said when asked about Foden’s discipline in defence.

“Players who don’t do that don’t stay in the team. He loves football, he lives for football. He’s a fun guy and his work ethic is amazing.”

Guardiola was no less effusive in his praise of Foden when speaking to Sky Sports.

“He is already a legendary player because in his short age, the games played, the minutes, the goals scored, the titles won and he is a local player and that is why the relationship with the fans is amazing,” said Guardiola.

“He is the best player of the season. No one has determined the outcome of matches for us more than him this season.”

Man United Considering Selling Antony

LONDON: Manchester United are set to listen to offers for Antony next summer as the Brazilian winger’s career at Old Trafford looks to be over.

United, however, may struggle to recoup half of the £86 million (paid to Ajax Amsterdam 18 months ago, making him the second most expensive player in the club’s history.

Antony has started just once in the last eight games – at Newport County in the FA Cup – and was a substitute again when United lost to Fulham at Old Trafford last Saturday.

Teenager Omari Forson was selected instead and manager Erik ten Hag fielded three substitutes including another teenage winger Amad Diallo, before bringing on Antony in the final minutes of stoppage time.

Antony has now played 20 English Premier League games this season without any goals or assists for his team.

As new co-owners INEOS monitor the cost and effectiveness of United’s squad following Jim Ratcliffe’s £1.3 billion investment, the player’s stats are indeed in the spotlight.

Ten Hag returned to his old club Ajax to sign Antony in the summer of 2022 and it is understood the Dutchman has not yet given up on the player, believing he still has the ability to turn his career fortunes around in England.

But Ten Hag admitted last month Antony was affected by allegations of domestic abuse, which he vehemently denies, which led to him being dropped by Brazil last September and spending several days in South America to clear his name.

Following the defeat to Fulham, the United boss was candid in his explanation of playing Alejandro Garnacho, Forson and Diallo instead of the failed Brazilian.

“It has nothing to do with fitness level,” Ten Hag said. “He is fit but we have a lot of options on the right.

“You’ve seen Antony’s performance and he needs to step up. I saw it in the training session but Omari Forson, Amad Diallo and Garnacho deserve to play.”

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