Sergio Aguero

Manchester City 1 (Aguero ’69) Barcelona 2 (Suarez ’16, ’30)

Luis Suarez’s return to England resulted in a bang as his brace put Catalan giants Barcelona in a commanding position ahead of the second leg at Camp Nou.

The ex-Liverpool forward, who netted 31 goals in 33 league matches on English soil last season, set Luis Enrique’s side on their way with just 16 minutes played.

His headed knock-on landed back into his path and he was agile enough to steady himself and slot the opener into the bottom corner.

Suarez slid in his, and Barcelona’s second, on the half hour mark off the base of the post to all but end the tie as a contest before half-time.

A traditionally sumptuous bit of Barcelona pass and move resulted in the second which Ivan Rakitic started and Suarez finished, with a jinking Lionel Messi run and a pinpoint low Jordi Alba cross in-between.

Sergio Aguero responded on 69 minutes with an equally aesthetically pleasing strike, he latched onto a neat David Silva back-hell and lashed the ball into the back of the net to keep slim City dreams alive.

Gael Clichy was given his marching orders four minutes later though for a second miss-timed challenge and his second yellow card. The first of which for slicing down Rakitic, and a similarly stupid challenge on Dani Alves brought Clichy’s night to an end.

Messi had a 90th minute penalty saved by Joe Hart, and the headed rebound went wide to keep City somewhat in the contest, but with an uphill battle.

Advertisements

BenjaminWills’Blog Premier League Team of the Season so far (2014/15)

The Premier League always offers drama, excitement, and talking points, and the 2014/15 season has not failed to disappoint so far. Here are the 11 men who have caught the eye of BenjaminWills’Blog from August to December.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United)

Spain international De Gea has really made an impact in English football after overcoming a stuttering debut season in 2011/12 and is considered by many to be one of, if not the, best Goalkeeper in the Premier League.

De Gea has managed six clean sheets this season so far despite playing behind a much talked about inexperienced Manchester United defence that has included the likes of Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair at centre back as well as winger Ashley Young as a makeshift wing-back.

He has made a string of impressive stops, most notably from Bryan Oviedo against Everton in the dying stages to keep it at 2-1 and in the home clash with Liverpool where Raheem Sterling looked certain to score.

Saving from Private Bryan: De Gea keeps out Oviedo

Saving from Private Bryan: De Gea keeps out Oviedo

Honourable Mention(s): Robert Green (QPR) who has made the most saves so far this season with 59 and Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) who has kept the most clean sheets (Seven) and least goals conceded (14).

Right Back: Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)

Southampton have surprised many this campaign, spending a large section of the latter end of 2014 in the top four despite losing five first teamers and their manager in the summer.

The Saints have conceded just 15 goals in their 19 games with season with only leaders Chelsea conceding less (14) with Clyne part of an impressive foursome that also features Jose Fonte, Toby Alderweireld and Ryan Bertrand.

Clyne is the most proficient tackler in the league with 48 successes when attempting to win the ball and his quality displays were rewarded with his full England debut against Slovenia in November.

Clyne-ing up the pecking order: England may have found their right-back.

Clyne-ing up the pecking order: England may have found their right-back.

Honourable Mention(s): Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) and Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea).

Centre Back: John Terry (Chelsea)

Many have compared the current Chelsea team to that of 2004/05 where they romped to the title with a record 95 points.

One of the few surviving members of that side is captain John Terry who, if you go by stats, is performing even better than he did 10 years ago.

He has won a higher percentage of his tackles, more of his duels, and conceded less fouls. To quote a famous Chelsea banner; “Captain. Leader. Legend”.

Better at 34 than 24? John Terry is in fine form.

Better at 34 than 24? John Terry is in fine form.

Centre Back: Toby Alderweireld (Southampton)

Tobias Albertine Maurits Alderweireld, or “Toby”, to his friends, Alderweireld has been the cement in the heart of the Saints’ defence with partner Fonte while Bertrand and the previously mentioned Clyne are doing the business on the flanks.

Alderweireld swapped the Spanish capital for the South Coast in September to get more first team football, he is getting it, and his performances make you wonder why he has not had a look in at Vicente Calderon.

The Belgian defender has won 17 tackles, losing just 12, won 22 aerial duels, made 89 clearances while comitting zero defensive errors. His loan at St.Mary’s could well be made permanent in the near future.

TA

To-by or not To-by: Will Southampton make his loan deal permanent next Summer?

Honourable Mention(s): Winston Reid (West Ham) and Jose Fonte (Southampton).

Left Back: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Chelsea fans’ Player of the Year last year Azpilicueta is shining again this term, although he is naturally a right back, “Dave” has taken to the other side like a duck to water.

So much so that even Champions League runner up Felipe Luis has failed to dislodge his spot in the Chelsea 11.

He has made great strides since his under the radar £7 million arrival from Marseille in August 2012 and has proven to be a fine replacement for Ashley Cole.

Just call me Dave: Azpilicueta has faultlessly made the transition from right to left back.

Just call me Dave: Azpilicueta has faultlessly made the transition from right to left back.

Honourable Mention(s): Aaron Cresswell (West Ham), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Manchester United) and Ryan Bertrand (Southampton).

Right Midfield: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

It is a surprise to no-one how much of an impact Alexis has made on the Premier League in such a short space of time.

The Chilean terror arrived in North London from Barcelona for £35 million five months ago on the back of a successful World Cup, scoring two goals in four games as Chile reached the last 16 ahead of holders Spain in Group B.

And he made an immediate impression on Gunners fans, helping his new team to a 3-0 win over Champions Manchester City in the Community shield on his debut and soon started scoring goals. 10 of them in fact, in 18 games, making him the fourth top scorer so far.

Agent of Shield: Sanchez has been Arsenal's Superhero.

Agent of Shield: Sanchez has been Arsenal’s Superhero this season.

Honourable Mention(s): Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Centre Midfield: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)

Arguably the player of the season so far, Cesc Fabregas’ form on his return to the Premier League has picked up from when he departed Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal in 2011.

Back then he had already established himself as the sixth best assister in Premier League history with 71 in eight years but has leap-frogged former Arsenal team mate Thierry Henry into fifth since his move to the West side of the capital.

Fabregas has contributed 13 assists in his 18 games in a Blue shirt, with two goals to his name as well. He is Chelsea’s most influential player in the final third by a mile.

Absolutely Fab-ulous: Fabregas is arguably the Player of the Season so far.

Absolutely Fab-ulous: Fabregas is arguably the Player of the Season so far.

Centre Midfield: Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)

While the aforementioned Fabregas is the go to guy to put the finishing touches to Chelsea’s attacking play, Nemanja Matic is very much the man who gets things started.

Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are often the subject of the plaudits to the 41 goals the Blues have scored this season (joint highest in the league with Manchester City), Matic has been the driving force behind them.

BenjaminWills’Blog has waxed lyrical about Matic in the past and it appears this season the imposing Serbia anchor man is getting the praise he so truly deserves.

Comeback King: Matic has become Chelsea's most important player three years after his exile.

Comeback King: Matic has become Chelsea’s most important player three years after his exile.

Honourable Mention(s): Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea), Alex Song (West Ham), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) and Michael Carrick (Manchester United).

Left Midfield: Stewart Downing (West Ham)

If there is one player from this side that is best defined as the “most improved” then Stewart Downing is that player.

The revitalised England winger has scored four goals, assisted six and created 54 chances already this campaign while he only managed three goals, two assists and created just 62 chances throughout the whole of last season.

In the first half of 2014/15, he has set up more goals than the heavily praised David Silva who has just two assists to his name and created 31 chances with Downing also boasting more key passes (48) to Silva’s 29.

It is a completely different Downing to the one who scored zero goals and fashioned zero assists in the 2011/12 season for Liverpool.

Happy Hammer: Stewart Downing is back to his best.

Happy Hammer: Stewart Downing is back to his best.

Honourable Mention(s): David Silva (Manchester City)

Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

The Premiership’s top marksman at the halfway stage is a deadly diminutive forward that goes by the name of Sergio Aguero.

A World Cup runner up in July, Aguero has bounced back from that bitter disappointment and has rediscovered his scoring boots after he failed to find the back of the net in Brazil.

He is having no such problem domestically though, scoring 14 goals and is eight clear of City’s next top scorer Silva. It says a lot about Aguero that he is had his injury issues this season but is still top of the league’s goal scoring charts.

Argentine Assasion: Aguero is in hot form as ever.

Argentine Assasion: Aguero is in hot form as ever.

Striker: Diego Costa (Chelsea)

Costa arrived on English soil to more than a few doubters to his ability, but, he has, quite literally, pushed all of that to one side.

The imposing Brazilian-born Spaniard, 25, has bulldozed his way past most Premier League defences and notched 13 goals from 54 shots in the process as Chelsea have stormed to the summit.

That tally is one less than Aguero with 14 (one came from the penalty spot) while the little Argentine needed 22 more shots than his fellow former Atletico star striker.

Deadly Diego: At long last Chelsea have found a striker they can rely on.

Deadly Diego: At long last Chelsea have found a striker they can rely on.

Honourable Mention(s): Charlie Austin (QPR) and Graziano Pelle (Southampton)

Here is BenjaminWills’Blog Team of the Season so far in graphic form then:

Graphic

TOTS graphic provided by @YidNick

Manchester City 1-2 CSKA Moscow (Toure ‘8; Doumbia ‘2, ’34)

Sparks flew in an explosive night on a bad tempered bonfire night clash where Manchester City ended the contest with nine men looks to have left their dreams of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League in tatters.

Fernandinho, who came on as a half-time substitute, received yellow cards in the 62nd and 70th minute in a mad eight minutes for the midfielder.

Yaya Toure was shown his marching orders nine minutes before the end for stupidly shoving Roman Eremenko when the CSKA Moscow man disposessed him.

Toure was already on a yellow that he picked up 16 minutes earlier but his push merited a straight red.

A brace from Seydou Doumbia either side of Toure’s free-kick provided goals in an eventful evening at the Etihad.

Doumbia, who scored both of CSKA’s goals in the 5-2 defeat the last time these two met at the Etihad, opened the scoring with just two minutes played when he headed home Bribas Natkho’s free-kick.

His effort, coming after just 90 seconds, is the quickest goal of this season’s competition so far.

Toure levelled the scores with his first goal in nine Champions League outings six minutes later but Doumbia hit back again with 34 minutes on the clock.

Five of Doumbia’s 10 Champions League goals have now come against City.

Pontus Wernbloom, who was shown a yellow card after 28 minutes, pulled back Sergio Aguero 77 minutes on the clock but Sergei Ignashevich was booked instead in a case of mistaken identity on a night where very little went in City’s favour.

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Kompany, Clichy, Navas (Nasri ’45), Toure, Fernando (Dzeko ’65), Milner, Jovetic (Fernandinho ’45), Aguero

Subs not used: Cabellero, Sagna, Boyata, Mangala

Yellow Cards: Fernandinho ’62, Toure ’65, Aguero ‘89

Red Cards: Fernandino ’70, Toure ‘81

CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Ignashevich, V.Berezutski, Schennikov, Wernbloom, Dzagoev (Efremov ‘86), Eremenko, Natcho, Musa, Doumbia (Milanov ’66)

Subs not used: Chepchugov, Berezoutski, Nababkin, Cauna, Bazelyuk

Yellow Cards: Wernbloom ’28, Ignashevitch ’77, Eremenko ‘79

Red Cards: None

Man of the Match: Seydou Doumbia

PREVIEW: Manchester City vs CSKA Moscow (19:45 BST)

MANCHESTER City go into their fourth game of this season’s Champions League still looking for their first win of the group stage.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men have two points from a possible nine going into tonight’s clash at the Etihad, seven fewer than leaders Bayern Munich.

Opposition CSKA Moscow only have one point themselves, which they picked up in the reverse of this fixture, a 2-2 draw in Russia on October 21.

Russian champions CSKA fought back from two goals down, although Bedras Nacho’s equaliser from the spot four minutes from time came in controversial circumstances as Seydou Doumbia went down easily in the box.

That game was played in a near- empty stadium due to a ban on CSKA fans for racist abuse.

Premier League holders City have won four of their last five matches in the league, their most recent three points coming in the 1-0 Manchester derby win at home to Manchester United with Sergio Aguero’s goal separating the sides.

Moscow meanwhile are without a win in two domestically following a 0-1 home defeat vs Zenit St. Petersburg and a 3-3 draw against FC Ufa

Frank Lampard is expected to be fit for City and could make his first appearance since the Citizens’ 4-1 win over Tottenham.

Eliaquim Mangala and David Silva are also in contention to return but Aleksander Kolarov will definitely sit out the match with a calf injury.

CSKA however will be without Kirill Panchenko and Rasmus Elm who have knee and stomach problems respectively.

 

Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham

Four goals from Sergio Aguero secured three points for his side to ensure Manchester City kept up the pressure on league leaders Chelsea.

Two of his goals were penalties while the others were delicious finishes into the bottom corner past a despairing Hugo Lloris.

The Argentine also had another spot kick saved in an encounter that saw four penalties awarded in total by referee John Moss.

Visitors Tottenham were too handed an opportunity to score from 12 yards but a normally reliable Roberto Soldado was denied by Joe Hart in the second half.

Sergio Aguero will take all the headlines though and deservedly so with a spell-binding performance that began with an effort that he lashed past Lloris with 13 minutes played.

He had his second six minutes later when he sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot following a debatable foul on Frank Lampard by Erik Lamela.

It was three for the 26-year-old with 68 minutes on the clock, scoring his second penalty goal after three attempts after Federico Fazio pulled him down in the box, the defender was sent off for his misdemeanour.

Aguero’s fourth came 15 minutes before the end in similar fashion to his first, gliding a shot past the hapless Lloris.

SA

Despite the convincing looking scoreline Tottenham did put up a good fight against the champions. Hart needed to save low to deny Ryan Mason eight minutes in.

Cristian Eriksen’s goal materialised a quarter of an hour in after Soldado robbed a dallying Fernando in midfield and the Spaniard teed up Eriksen who smashed home first time past Hart off the underside of the bar 139 seconds after his side went behind.

Manchester City: Hart, Clichy, Demichelis, Kompany, Sagna, Milner, Lampard (Fernandinho ’28), Fernando (Toure ’77), Navas, Silva (Jovetic ’70), Aguero

Subs not used: Caballero, Kolarov, Boyata, Dzeko

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Dier, Fazio, Kaboul, Rose, Capoue (Dembele ’60), Mason (Vertonghen ’70), Chadli, Eriksen, Lamela (Townsend ’60) Soldado

Subs not used: Vorm, Stambouli, Adebayor, Kane

Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero

Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City

Title contenders Arsenal and Manchester City battled to a 2-2 draw at the Emirates stadium, three of the four goals coming in the second half.

Sergio Aguero gave Manchester City the lead 28 minutes into the game when he arrived on the edge of the six yard box to nip in and score from Jesus Navas’ pass.

Nacho Monreal, who kept his place despite Kieran Gibbs’ return from injury was at fault as Navas was given acres of space on the right hand side.

Jack Wilshere tied the game up just after the hour, providing the finishing touch to a typical Arsenal build up of neat passing play. Wilshere gilded past Gael Clichy and dinked the ball over Joe Hart after a one-two with Aaron Ramsey.

Alexis Sanchez completed the second half turnaround 16 minutes before the end, superbly volleying in a Wilshere header after Ramsey’s cross wasn’t dealt with efficiently enough by Vincent Kompany.

Martin Demichelis ensured City went back to Manchester with a share of the spoils however when he headed home a corner seven minutes from time, being left unmarked by the Arsenal defence.

Jack the lad: Wilshere equalizes for Arsenal

Jack the lad: Wilshere equalizes for Arsenal

 

Manchester City had chances to win the game in the closing stages, putting the Gunners under the pressure with a late flurry and even had the ball in the back of the net, but Samir Nasri was offside.

Their best opportunity however was shortly after their opener but David Silva’s effort was well kept out by Wojciech Szczesny but in reality, the Spaniard should have put his side further ahead.

Arsene Wenger will be happy that his side picked up a point today as Arsenal’s record against the top four was poor last season but a late injury to Mathieu Debuchy could be a severe one and it will have left a sour taste in the mouth of his manager.

Debuatant Danny Welbeck was also replaced on 88 minutes due to injury.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy (Chambers ’81), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini (Arteta ’90), Wilshere, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, Welbeck (Oxlade-Chamberlain ’88)

Subs not used: Ospina, Gibbs, Cazorla, Podolski

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho (Kolarov ’77), Lampard (Nasri ’45), Navas, Silva, Milner, Aguero (Dzeko ’67)

Subs not used: Caballero, Sagna, Mangala, Sinclair

Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool

Champions Manchester City continued their 100% start to the season thanks to a 3- 1 win over Liverpool, a Stevan Jovetic braced and one from Sergio Aguero sealed the points for City.

Debut defender Alberto Moreno was at fault, failing to clear his lines, dallying while Stefan Jovetic seized on Moreno’s hesitancy and smashed home through Simon Mignolet’s legs four minutes before the break.

Moreno fell asleep for the second as well, as Samir Nasri’s squared pass from the right hand side of the box was tapped home by Jovetic but City’s build up play deserves some plaudits.

A flamboyant flick from Jovetic teed up Nasri who returned the favour, picking out the Montenegro man whose shot was just out of reach of Glen Johnson on the line in the tenth minute of the second half.

Aguero’s steady return to the Manchester City fold continued due to his World Cup commitments, coming on as a 68th substitute but his introduction to the score sheet was anything but slow.

20 seconds after coming on, the little Argentine burst onto fellow substitute Jesus Navas’ through ball, leaving the high lined Liverpool defence in his wake, taking one touch and then slotting past Mignolet who was caught in no man’s land.

Rickie Lambert did add faint consolation for the visitors, bundling in his first goal in the colours of his boyhood team when his original shot from Daniel Sturridge’s cross was saved with 83 minutes played.

Liverpool almost halved the deficit but Lambert’s decision to attempt a squared pass to Sturridge instead of taking a shot at goal allowed Vincent Kompany to deal with the situation and an intriguing climax was thwarted.

Brendan Rodgers’ side rarely threatened despite their goal but Sturridge did come relatively close with a fizzing shot that need palming away by Hart, denying the England striker a goal at the club he began his career at.

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernando, Yaya Toure, Nasri, Silva (Navas ’65) Jovetic (Fernandinho ’80), Dzeko (Aguero ’69)

Subs not used: Caballero, Sagna, Kolarov, Milner

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Moreno, Skrtel, Lovren, Gerrard, Henderson, Allen (Can ’74), Coutinho (Markovic ’60) Sterling (Lambert ’79), Sturridge

Subs not used: Jones, Manquillo, Sakho, Kolo Toure

Man of the match: Stevan Jovetic

Germany 1-0 Argentina (AET): Gotze goal wins the World Cup for Germany

Germany became the first European team to win the World Cup on South American soil with a 1-0 win over Argentina in the Maracana. A late Mario Gotze goal deep into extra time ended 24 years of hurt.

A deft touch from 22-year-old Gotze settled the final when he chested down substitute Andre Schurrle’s cross before dinking the ball past Golden Glove nominee Sergio Romero in the 113th minute.

Argentina had chances of their own in normal time and thought they had taken the lead on the half hour when Gonzalo Higuain turned in Ezequiel Lavezzi’s cross but the Napoli striker was denied by the linesman’s flag.

Higuain should have put the Argentines infront nine minutes earlier but spooned a volley horribly wide after a poor back header from Toni Kroos.

Rodrigo Palacio had an even better opportunity seven minutes into the first period of extra time but could only direct his lob wide of Manuel Neuer’s post after Mats Hummels missed Marcos Rojo’s cross field pass.

Die Mannschaft were not far way themselves in the first half when Schurrle’s snapshot was wonderfully saved by Romero after Thomas Muller’s pull back from the left. Romero’s save even more impressive as a German forward was blocking his way.

They came closest when Benedikt Howedes’ header rattled the post following Kroos’ corner. The ball landed at the feet of Muller who was ruled offside but Romero was there to smother anyway.

Golden Gotze Goal: Mario Gotze wins the World Cup for Germany.

Golden Gotze Goal: Mario Gotze wins the World Cup for Germany.

Lionel Messi failed to reach his best yet again and will rue his best shooting chance that arrived two minutes into the second half – dragging a shot wide after being played in by Lucas Biglia.

Kroos could have won the game for Germany in normal time but hit a wasteful shot wide after being set up by Schurrle.

Schurrle himself had the chance to win the final for Joachim Loew’s side, his stinging shot one minute into the extra time period was straight at Romero however.

The game did have its ugly stages though, first Neuer clattered HIguain in a 50-50 challenge that almost resembled Harald Schumacher and Patrick Battiston’s clash in 1982 and left Higuain out cold for a short period. The Argentine was penalised.

Sergio Aguero was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch himself after being involved in a nasty collision with Bastian Schweinsteiger that left the Bayern Munich midfielder bleeding.

It is Germany who are world champions though for the first time since 1990 – where they beat Argentina in the final.

 

 

Nigeria 2-3 Argentina: Messi provides magic as Argentina march on

Two goals from Lionel Messi sent Argentina through from Group F as winners while opponents Nigeria will join them in the next round.

Messi’s second, his 24th goal in his last 23 games for his country, was a sublime swerving free-kick in first half stoppage time that left Vincent Enyeama with no chance. The Lille Goalkeeper just left to admire it like the rest of us.

Argentina’s star opened the scoring after just three minutes when he smashed home Angel di Maria’s rebounded effort following an ingenious through ball by Javier Mascherano.

The winner came from a more unlikely source though when Marcos Rojo bundled in a corner off his knee, not knowing much about it, but they all count.

Man of the match Messi was substituted in the second half as a precaution for the latter stages of his tournament, his two goals being a nice belated present for the man who turned 27 yesterday.

Ahmed Musa had an equally impressive game for the Super Eagles with a brace of his own.

His first, a curled effort from a relatively tight angle on the left hand side of the box that was beyond Sergio Romero and nestled in the corner for 1-1, seconds after Messi’s opener.

Musa tied the scoring again in the second half, again shortly after Messi had given Argentina the lead, two minutes after this time. Musa muscled his way through several challenges before cooly finishing past Romero for 2-2.

It was La Albiceleste who picked up the three points though but Nigeria are also through to the last 16 as Bosnia defeated Iran 3-1 in Salvador.

Sergio Aguero limped off in the opening period however and Argentina will be hoping his tournament is not over.