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Player ratings as Riyad Mahrez inspires comeback

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Riyad Mahrez inspired a second half comeback for Man City, scoring a brace as the Citizens came from two goals down to record an important win.

Spurs had taken the lead in the first half thanks to goals from Dejan Kulusevski and Emerson Royal, before Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland and a brace from Mahrez completed a brilliant comeback.

As expected, Manchester City dominated possession of the ball in the opening exchanges, but Tottenham were largely able restrict the home side’s efforts on goal.

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Cristian Romero proved to be particularly impressive in the opening half-hour and perhaps provided the only real highlight of that period when he stormed back to pull of a brilliant slide tackle on Jack Grealish.

The game opened up a bit more following that period, with Tottenham finding their way into the final third a bit more frequently. In doing so, however, they left themselves more open at the back, allowing City to have their first notable effort on goal in the 38th minute. That effort would come from youngster Rico Lewis, who forced Hugo Lloris into a decent saw with his drilled effort from 25-yards out.

Their next chance would come a few minutes later, when Nathan Ake clipped the ball over the top of the Spurs defence and into the path of Erling Haaland. After controlling well, the Norwegian saw his subequent side footed strike well saved by Lloris.

After a few decent saves, Lloris would throw in his customary clanger in the 43rd minute, rushing out in an attempt to beat Haaland to a cross into the heart of the penalty area. Haaland got there first, but could only head over the crossbar.

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Then, out of nowhere, Tottenham took the lead.

The goal would come from some horrid play from Man City, with Ederson playing a terrible ball into Rodri inside his own penalty which Rodrigo Bentancur nabbed off his feet. The ball would then spill out to Kulusevski who coolly side-footed into the net.

Just before half-time Tottenham scored again. This time it was Emerson (of all people) who’d get the goal, with the wing-back reacting first in the six-yard box to head home after Ederson parried a Harry Kane strike.

At the start of the second half Man City found a route back into the game, as Alvarez reacted well to a goalmouth scramble to fire the ball into the roof of the net.

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A few minutes later, City drew level.

The second would come from Haaland, who latched onto a delicate header across goal from Mahrez to make it 2-2.

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Despite all the momentum being with City, it was actually Spurs who almost re-took the lead on the hour mark. After some brilliant play from Kulusevski on the right flank, the Swedish international pulled the ball back into the back of Ivan Perisic who saw his subsequent strike on goal deflected on to the post by Lewis.

Spurs and Perisic would be made to rue that miss a few minutes later when Mahrez made it 3-2. The Algerian – in electric form in the second half – burst past Davies on the right of the penalty area before drilling the ball past Lloris.

The wide player bagged his brace in the 89th minute, capitalising on a woeful first touch from Clement Lenglet before chipping the ball over Lloris.

GK – Ederson – 2/10 – His woeful play led to the opening goal.

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RB – Rico Lewis – 7/10 – Man City’s best defender and is only 18 years old. A serious talent.

CB – Manuel Akanji – 4/10 – Poor on the ball at times. For anyone who watched the Bundesliga over the last five years, it remains a mystery that Guardiola is starting Akanji week in, week out.

CB – John Stones – 5/10 – Passing was better than his partner’s.

LB – Nathan Ake – 5/10 – Struggled up against Kulu.

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RM – Riyad Mahrez – 10/10 – Turned on the style at the start of the second half to propel his side back into the game, before scoring the third to give City the lead.

CM – Rodri – 4/10 – Slow in possession, slow to react out of possession. Not at his best.

CM – Ilkay Gundogan – 6/10 – In a proper midfield battle against Bentancur and Hojbjerg.

LM – Jack Grealish – 4/10 – Cuts back instead of taking on his man way too often.

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ST – Erling Haaland – 7/10 – Missed a few really good chances in the first half but finally got his goal in the second.

ST – Julian Alvarez – 7/10 – Paid his manager back for starting him by scoring City’s first of the evening.

SUB – Kyle Walker – N/A.

SUB – Bernardo Silva – N/A.

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GK – Hugo Lloris – 4/10 – Made a few good saves but also probably could’ve done better for City’s third.

CB – Cristian Romero – 7/10 – He was brilliant in the first half, stifling most of City’s attacks on his own.

CB – Eric Dier – 6/10 – Put in a decent enough performance.

CB – Ben Davies – 3/10 – Turned inside out a few times too many in the second half.

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RWB – Emerson Royal – 6/10 – Scored a very rare goal and did well defensively too.

CM – Rodrigo Bentancur – 7/10 – How much of a difference he makes to this Tottenham teammate can’t be underestimated. His diligence set up Kulu’s opener.

CM – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 6/10 – Worked hard to track City’s midfielders.

LWB – Ivan Perisic – 4/10 – So nearly gave Tottenham a 3-2 lead, but was denied by Lewis and the post.

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RW – Dejan Kulusevski – 7/10 – Scored the opener and caused Ake problems throughout.

ST – Harry Kane – 6/10 – A few nice touches and his movement cause City some problems.

LW – Heung-min Son – 2/10 – Devoid of confidence. By far Tottenham’s least effective forward on Thursday evening…and throughout the rest of the season too.

SUB – Ryan Sessegnon – N/A.

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SUB – Yves Bissouma – N/A.

SUB – Clement Lenglet – 0/10 – Came off the bench and made a mistake which led to a goal. Full bad.

SUB – Richarlison – N/A.



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EPL

Player ratings as single Ake goals knocks Gunners out of FA Cup

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Manchester City knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup at the Etihad Stadium as the fourth round kicked off on Friday night, with Nathan Ake the unexpected star of the show with the only goal.

The Gunners made a bright start and right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu stung the palms of City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega after only a few minutes. Leandro Trossard was the architect of a few moves down the left in those early stages, exposing City’s preference to have right-back Rico Lewis operate as an auxiliary central midfielder.

The hosts caught their first sight of goal courtesy of a loose ball that threatened to let Erling Haaland in. Matt Turner was quick to rush out, but as the ball popped up into the air, Haaland attempted the acrobatic – think Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs England in 2012 – but Tomiyasu dropped back onto the line.

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Midway through the first half, Ortega’s strong left hand stopped Trossard putting Arsenal ahead after the £27m Belgian drove in-field from his flank. City had their own chance from a Belgian soon after when Kevin De Bruyne whipped a left-footed shot just wide of the far post.

Trossard made another Arsenal chance when he put a teasing cross into Eddie Nketiah at the near post, with the in-form striker sending his flick just wide. It didn’t really feel like an action-packed first half, yet the opportunities kept coming as Haaland missed the target under pressure from Gabriel.

Trossard aside, none of the big players on either side had particularly stood out in the first 45 – the likes of Haaland, De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Bukayo Saka had all be disappointingly quiet.

Given that, it was perhaps fitting that the eventual breakthrough came from an unlikely source. Substitute Julian Alvarez changed things by taking on a shot from distance that rebounded off the post. Jack Grealish recycled it and found left-back Ake, who passed the ball into the far corner of the goal like a seasoned striker.

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Both managers made numerous changes to try and shift the balance of the game in their favour as the minutes ticked away. It achieved little as far as the spectacle was concerned, breaking up any potential for a bit of rhythm or momentum.

City dug in in the closing stages, squeezing Arsenal out whenever the Gunners threatened to make something happen in or around the box – in particular Ortega made a couple of vital smothers when Arsenal sub Gabriel Martinelli injected some pace for the hosts.

Stefan Ortega

Stefan Ortega was the busier goalkeeper in the first half / Michael Regan/GettyImages

GK: Stefan Ortega – 8/10 – Needed to make saves from the start, keeping City in it when Arsenal were arguably stronger in the first half. Stayed strong throughout and never looked as though he was going to be beaten.

RB: Rico Lewis – 6/10 – Spent a lot of time in the middle of the pitch as per instructions from his manager. Clearly a good player but it gave Trossard too much space, albeit not his fault.

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CB: John Stones – 5/10 – Often looked vulnerable because of how Lewis was playing. A suspected hamstring injury then ended his night before half-time.

CB: Manuel Akanji – 7/10 – Had to switch positions after Stones was taken off but put in a dominant performance regardless.

LB: Nathan Ake – 8/10 – Finished with great composure to put his team ahead and put in a solid defensive shift as well, with Saka hardly given a sniff.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 5/10 – Narrowly missed with a great curling effort in the first half and slightly improved after half-time but was far from his best.

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CM: Rodri – 5/10 – Unusually sloppy with the ball by his standards.

CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 6/10 – Did both sides of the ball pretty well but not always on the same page as the forwards ahead of him.

RW: Riyad Mahrez – 4/10 – Not really himself. Didn’t have enough of the ball to make any real impact and was withdrawn before an hour had passed.

ST: Erling Haaland – 5/10 – Attempted the spectacular early on and also took a whack to the back of the head before half-time. Didn’t get his usual quality service.

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LW: Jack Grealish – 6/10 – Gets an assist for his layoff to Ake and City’s best forward on the night.

Substitutes

SUB: Aymeric Laporte (45+4′ for Stones) – 7/10

SUB: Julian Alvarez (58′ for Mahrez) – 7/10

SUB: Kyle Walker (58′ for Lewis) – 7/10

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SUB: Bernardo Silva (75′ for De Bruyne) – 6/10

Manager

Pep Guardiola – 7/10 – The way he set up the team didn’t make sense when Trossard kept causing problems down City’s right. Changed shape early in the second half and the substitutes definitely did make a positive impact overall.

Bukayo Saka; Rodri

Bukayo Saka saw precious little of the ball / Michael Regan/GettyImages

GK: Matt Turner – 6/10 – Stood little chance with the only goal. Always keen to come for crosses or rush off his line.

RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 6/10 – Had the first early chance with a good foray forward.

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CB: Rob Holding – 5/10 – Got physical with Haaland and took a yellow card for it with 50 minutes still left to play. The danger of getting another saw him removed at half-time.

CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – Did enough to put Haaland off in a key moment.

LB: Kieran Tierney – 6/10 – Would have expected a tougher test from Mahrez. Didn’t offer much going forward to take advantage of that.

CM: Fabio Vieira – 5/10 – Had one shot that missed the target and didn’t do enough otherwise.

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CM: Thomas Partey – 5/10 – Didn’t stand out and was surprisingly replaced at half-time.

CM: Granit Xhaka – 6/10 – Successful in stopping City play their usual sparkling game, although a couple of hesitations in key moments were almost costly.

RW: Bukayo Saka – 4/10 – Just 23 touches of the ball tells its own story.

ST: Eddie Nketiah – 5/10 – Couldn’t find the target with a chance in thef first half. The service wasn’t there for him and he touched the ball only slightly more than Saka.

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LW: Leandro Trossard – 7/10 – Gave City real trouble from the start and created a number of chances in the first half. Much quieter after the break.

Substitutes

SUB: William Saliba (46′ for Holding) – 6/10

SUB: Albert Sambi Lokonga (46′ for Partey) – 6/10

SUB: Gabriel Martinelli (66′ for Trossard) – 7/10

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SUB: Oleksandr Zinchenko (66′ for Tierney) – 6/10

SUB: Martin Odegaard (74′ for Saka) – 5/10

Manager

Mikel Arteta – 6/10 – Took no risks with Holding on a yellow card and later responded to going behind by making chances immediately. Couldn’t get one over on his old mentor.

Player of the match – Nathan Ake (Man City)



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Wolves finally set to sign Brazilian talent from Flamengo

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Wolves are finally set to conclude the signing of Joao Gomes after winning their stand-off with Flamengo, sources have confirmed to 90min.

90min revealed earlier in January that Wolves had agreed terms with Flamengo, but at the point of exchanging contracts the Brazilian club did not return documents at their end.

Wolves then struggled to communicate with Flamengo and it emerged that talks had begun with French side Lyon, who made a bid worth €19m (£16.7m) – that was €2m more than Wolves offered.

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However, despite Lyon’s determination to persuade Gomes otherwise, the player refused to move to France. Instead, he insisted he wanted to move to the Premier League and even new Lyon owner John Textor made a personal trip to try and convince him to no avail.

Now, after accepting the Lyon move won’t happen, Flamengo have greenlighted the Wolves deal and given permission for Gomes to join them. The transfer is on course to be finalised over the weekend.

On this edition of Talking Transfers, Scott Saunders hosts Toby Cudworth & Graeme Bailey to discuss some of the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more! If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!



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Kieran Trippier signs new Newcastle contract

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Kieran Trippier has committed his future to Newcastle with a new two-and-a-half-year contract.

The 32-year-old England international was the first signing made by Newcastle following the Saudi Arabia-backed takeover, joining from Aletico Madrid in a £15m deal in January 2022.

Trippier’s previous deal was due to expire in 2024 but he is now tied to the club until 2025.

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After putting pen to paper, Trippier said: “I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve extended my contract here. I’ve got a lot of thank yous to make to the manager, owners, fans and my team-mates.

“When I first arrived here, they made me feel so welcome and I want to help the club achieve great things. It’s a positive moment for us players in the club and there’s no place I’d rather be.”

Newcastle United head coach, Eddie Howe, added: “It’s a fitting reward for the season he’s had. He’s been outstanding both on and off the pitch, showing real leadership at a difficult moment when he first arrived, and now he’s excelled in a team that’s doing well.

“I can’t praise him enough for everything he’s given the club.”

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