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The saddest moments in World Cup history

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The World Cup delivers iconic moments time and time again on the biggest stage, but for every winner, there are millions of losers.

Players have been humanised with their shows of emotion when representing their countries, while others have shamed their nations by writing dark passages in the history of FIFA’s flagship event.

Here are some of the saddest moments in the World Cup’s long and storied history.

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*Note – these entries are not ranked.

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Rodriguez was comforted by Brazil stars after defeat / EITAN ABRAMOVICH/GettyImages

James Rodriguez had torn up the 2014 World Cup with Colombia, playing at an incredibly high level that he couldn’t quite replicate throughout the rest of his career.

The former Real Madrid attacker had scored a truly wonderful Puskas Award strike against Uruguay and then netted a penalty in his side’s eventual exit to Brazil. The emotion overcame Rodriguez, who was comforted by Brazilians David Luiz and Dani Alves having been the leading goalscorer at that World Cup with six efforts.

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Luiz had an absolute mare in 2014 / GABRIEL BOUYS/GettyImages

A nation that worships the World Cup whenever it comes around, hopes were high in Brazil for their semi final with Germany on home soil in 2014.

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But with no Thiago Silva or Neymar, the Selecao looked a shadow of the side that had dominated earlier in the tournament and were carved open time and time again as the likes of Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose and Toni Kroos ran riot in a 7-1 thrashing.

Germany would go on to win the tournament, but that did little to soften the blow for Brazil and their fans after the humiliating defeat.

Sports venues under construction in Qatar ahead of 2022 FIFA World Cup

Workers have died building Qatar’s infrastructure / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar in 2010 brought with it a litany of human rights issues. Among these problems has been the treatment of migrant workers.

By early 2021, more than ten years after the tournament was given to the Middle East nation, over 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar. The nation has been developing new football stadiums and its own infrastructure in order to host the World Cup.

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Joseph S. Blatter, Lionel Messi

Unluckyyyyyy / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

Lionel Messi and World Cups have never quite got on. He was named the best player in 2014, but it wasn’t vintage Messi even if Argentina reached the final.

The legendary attacker had chances during the final to put his side ahead but they were left heartbroken when Mario Gotze popped up with the winner.

Messi was then snapped looking suitably forlorn walking past the World Cup trophy on his way to receive a runners-up medal. He’ll be hoping 2022 is his year.

USA V COLOMBIA

Escobar was murdered / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Andres Escobar made 51 international appearances for Colombia and is held in high regard for his contributions by national team fans.

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At the 1994 World Cup, he scored an own goal in a 2-1 defeat to the United States. Ten days later on his return to Colombia, Escobar was shot and later died in hospital in an attack in apparent retaliation for his own goal.

The defender was only 27 at the time and his death tarnished Colombia’s reputation and image internationally.

Ghana's striker Asamoah Gyan (R) reacts

Gyan’s miss brought elation for Uruguay / FRANCK FIFE/GettyImages

Ghana’s journey to the last eight was the feel-good story of the 2010 World Cup. But it could have been so much better.

The Black Stars were on the verge of becoming the first African side to reach a World Cup semi final when they were awarded a penalty as Luis Suarez used his hands to prevent a goal-bound shot.

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Suarez was sent off but stuck around to watch Asamoah Gyan’s penalty. It soared over the bar, Suarez celebrated and Uruguay ended up progressing.

Paul Gascoigne

An iconic moment from England’s World Cup history / Inpho Photography/GettyImages

Ask any England fan who was around in the 1990s and they’ll tell you Paul Gascoigne was a one-of-a-kind player.

He was incredible at Italia 90, but a yellow card against West Germany saw the former Newcastle and Tottenham midfielder banned for the final if the Three Lions could make it there.

He was seen welling up but somehow performed even better after realising he would miss the final. While a sad image, it remains an iconic moment in World Cup history.

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Irish national football team midfielder

Ireland were robbed by Henry’s handball / LIONEL BONAVENTURE/GettyImages

It’s a sad moment for everyone when a cheater prospers, and the Irish still aren’t that keen on France legend Thierry Henry for what he did in a 2009 play-off.

With the aggregate score tied up at 1-1 and into extra time, former Arsenal striker Henry handled the ball en route to setting up William Gallas, who scored the winner from close range to take Les Bleus to the World Cup.

Henry admitted to the offence and the referee and officials in question received significant backlash and criticism for failing to spot it.

Diego Simeone, David Beckham

Simeone and Beckham tangled in 1998 / GERARD CERLES/GettyImages

England’s World Cup journeys have often ended in penalty shootout heartache, and that was the case in 1998 when they were defeated by Argentina in the last 16.

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The South American side were given a major helping hand when David Beckham’s petulant but extremely soft reaction to a Diego Simeone challenge saw the Manchester United midfielder sent off.

Beckham was vilified by the press and the public back in England for a slight flick of the right leg and the exaggerations of an opposition player.

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, Leonardo Nascimento de Araújo

There was drama over Ronaldo in 1998 / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

Ronaldo was the best player in the world and Brazil’s talisman during the late 1990s and early 2000s but his participation in the 1998 World Cup final was put in doubt when he suffered convulsions and lost consciousness.

Confusion reigned as Ronaldo was first out and then back in Brazil’s starting XI to face France in Paris. He did end up playing the game after convincing manager Mario Zagallo he was fit, but it mattered little as Les Bleus won 3-0.

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Raul Gonzalez - Soccer Player

Spain knocked out Ireland in 2002 / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

Legions of young Ireland fans enjoyed the brilliant run the Republic enjoyed in 2002.

They went through the group stage unbeaten against Germany, Cameroon and Saudi Arabia to finish second and set up a last 16 tie with Spain.

Fernando Morientes put La Roja ahead before Ian Harte missed a penalty. Robbie Keane dramatically levelled things up in stoppage time and the Boys in Green had subsequent chances to win the game in extra time.

However, their famous run came to an end as Matthew Holland, David Connolly and Kevin Kilbane all missed their efforts in the penalty shootout defeat.

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WORLD CUP-1982-WEST GERMANY-ALGERIA

West Germany and Austria knocked out Algeria / STAFF/GettyImages

The ‘Disgrace of Gijon’ is one of the more controversial moments in World Cup history.

Ahead of their final group game, West Germany and Austria already knew the result they each needed to qualify for the knockout stages at the expense of Algeria.

West Germany scored early on and the teams played out the rest of the game knowing they’d both go through if the result remained the same. They were accused of fixing the outcome, but FIFA ruled that neither set of players had done anything wrong and later changed the scheduling so the final group stage matches are played concurrently.

Zinedine Zidane, Horacio Elizondo

Zidane exited pro football with a red card in a World Cup final / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Zinedine Zidane was firmly one of the world’s best in 2006 but was approaching the end of his glittering career.

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The final game of that career was the 2006 World Cup final as France faced Italy in Berlin. Zizou stuck Les Bleus ahead with a Panenka penalty before Marco Materazzi equalised for the Azzurri.

The two goalscorers then conversed in extra time, resulting in Zidane laying out Materazzi with a headbutt. He was dismissed and France lost on penalties.

Manuel Neuer

Decision? No goal / Cameron Spencer/GettyImages

Make no mistake about, England were not a good side at the 2010 World Cup, but that didn’t stop the nation feeling aggrieved about their last 16 exit to Germany.

Trailing 2-1, Frank Lampard sent a dipping effort over Manuel Neuer, clipping the bar and travelling over the line by at least a foot. The goal wasn’t given and the Three Lions ended up collapsing as Thomas Muller scored twice in the second half.

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FIFA soon introduced goal-line technology, but it was too late for Fabio Capello and England.

Gyula Grosics

Gyula Grosics during the Battle of Berne / Keystone/GettyImages

Hungary and Brazil squared off in the quarter finals in 1954 in what is recognised as one of the most infamous games in World Cup history.

Violent conduct throughout the match saw the referee dismiss three players – Jozsef Bozsik, Nilton Santos and Humberto – and the emotions continued to run high at full time as the Brazilian players entered the Hungarian dressing room.

42 free kicks and two penalties were given, coupled with four cautions to add to the three red cards.

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Alessandro Del Piero, Vincenzo Iaquinta

Del Piero broke German hearts in 2006 / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

On home soil, Germany enjoyed a memorable run to the semi finals at the 2006 World Cup.

Emotions were already running high as Fabio Grosso celebrated his 119th-minute strike in iconic fashion, though cameras soon switched to the glum and wobbling faces of the German supporters.

Alessandro Del Piero wrapped the result up a minute later to stop Germany making an appearance in the final in Berlin. They would at least win the tournament eight years later.

Diego Armando Maradona

Neapolitans had to choose between Italy and Maradona / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

Diego Maradona and Napoli were a match made in heaven. The Naples people loved the Argentine for his world-class talent and flair, but they were on separate sides at the 1990 World Cup.

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Argentina would play hosts Italy at Stadio San Paolo, where fans held up banners reading: “Diego in our hearts, Italy in our chants” and “Maradona: Naples loves you, but Italy is our homeland.”

Argentina would win on penalties as Maradona, with the dilemma of supporting the world’s best player or their beloved homeland proving too much for some Italians.

Fernando Hierro, Gamal Ghandour, Fernando Morientes

Spain felt robbed in 2002 / JIMIN LAI/GettyImages

Playing at the World Cup is the pinnacle of any player’s career, so to have the dream of winning it ruined by some controversial refereeing decisions must be incredibly tough to take.

La Roja would have two legitimate goals chalked off in their quarter final defeat to joint hosts South Korea, eventually losing 5-3 on penalties.

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South Korea had previously seen off Portugal and Italy with some similarly dodgy officiating, though they were eventually vanquished from the tournament themselves by Germany.

Danijel Subasic

Subasic has paid tribute to Custic throughout his career / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic has played with a shirt featuring a picture of late teammate Hrvoje Custic under his jersey for years.

Custic, who played for Zadar and NK Zagreb at club level, was fatally injured aged 24 in 2008 when he fell into a concrete wall and Subasic’s heroics with Croatia in 2018 – particularly his display against Denmark in the last 16 – were dedicated to his compatriot and friend.

Subasic broke down in a press conference when asked about the tribute.

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Salvatore Held

There were scenes of chaos in Santiago / Keystone/GettyImages

When a football match requires police intervention on four separate occasions, it’s fair to say the referee has lost control – even if they aren’t to blame for the poor conduct of players.

A Group 2 clash between Chile and Italy was so violent it led the official on the day – Ken Aston – to invent yellow and red cards.

Tensions were already high after two Italian journalists had mocked the city Santiago, stating its population was prone to “malnutrition, illiteracy, alcoholism and poverty”.

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Cisse’s Senegal went out on fair play / EMMANUEL DUNAND/GettyImages

There are some tough ways to be eliminated from the World Cup, but being the first side to go out because of a poor disciplinary record is a horrible one to take.

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That’s what happened to Senegal in 2018 as a tiebreaker saw Japan take second place with the two sides tied on points, goals for and goals against.

“We haven’t qualified because of fair play. We have fewer points in fair play and Senegal doesn’t qualify because we don’t deserve it,” Cisse said at the time. A very measured response to a heartbreaking exit for the African nation.

Pascal Zuberbuehler

Switzerland’s campaign ended in heartbreak / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Switzerland don’t have a particularly strong record at World Cups, having not reached a quarter final since 1954. And while there was nothing illegal about their exit to Ukraine in the last 16, it still felt undeserved for a team that didn’t concede a single goal.

Pascal Zuberbuhler kept four clean sheets in the Swiss’ four games, but they couldn’t break down the Ukrainians in the knockout stage and some misses from the penalty spot saw them leave the tournament.

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WORLD CUP-1982-FRANCE-KUWAIT

There was commotion in the game between Kuwait and France / STRINGER/GettyImages

A controversial moment during a 1982 World Cup group game came when Kuwait conceded to France as players stopped after hearing a whistle from the crowd and thinking it was the referee’s.

The goal was initially given, causing Kuwait to walk off, before the decision was reversed, causing France to protest. The lengthy delay also saw Kuwaiti FA president Prince Fahid get involved before the match was eventually restarted, ending in a 4-1 France win.

Kuwait have not qualified for a World Cup since.

Son Heung-Min

Son’s a pretty emotional guy / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Son Heung-min has always been a footballer who plays with his heart on his sleeve and that was evident at the 2018 World Cup.

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After defeat to Mexico left their qualification hopes in tatters, Son cried on the pitch before regaining his composure to meet his country’s president, Jae-in Moon.

However, he broke down again when he saw the president consoling his teammates. South Korea would at least sign off with victory over then-champions Germany, where he would score his side’s second late on.

Mora had a shocking 1982 tournament

Mora had a shocking 1982 tournament / Icon Sport / Contributor| Getty Images

Goalkeepers are often on a hiding to nothing, and when the gap in quality between two sides is too big, their afternoons get a lot busier.

And while Luis Guevara Mora was occupied during El Salvador’s 1982 meeting with Hungary, he earned a rather undesirable record.

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Hungary won 10-1, the biggest scoreline in men’s World Cup finals history and the most goals conceded by one goalkeeper in a match. 

El Salvador haven’t appeared at a World Cup since, with their last impression hardly impressing the wider football world.

Argentinian referee Horacio Elizendo giv

Ronaldo got the better of Rooney / VOLKER HARTMANN/GettyImages

Club friendships were cast aside at the 2006 World Cup when England met Portugal in the quarter finals.

Wayne Rooney had just stamped on Ricardo Carvalho and was soon to receive a red card, but Cristiano Ronaldo – his Manchester United teammate at the time – arrived on the scene to further demonstrate the damage that had been done.

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Ronaldo later winked to the Portugal bench, which the English press picked up and vilified him for. The pair would quickly reconcile at Old Trafford.

Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pele

Pele bowed out in style / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

If there’s a player most synonymous with the World Cup, it’s Brazilian great Pele.

His iconic tears of joy in 1958 were captured after Brazil won their first world title and he would sign off 12 years later with another success, this time in the final against Italy.

However, the striker would call time on his illustrious Selecao career after the 1970 tournament, bringing his era of greatness on the international stage to an end. He is still revered around the world to this day.

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Team photograph of the Dutch team before the World Cup Final match...

The Netherlands couldn’t win the trophy in the 1970s / Getty Images/GettyImages

The Netherlands side of the 1970s is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever assembled. But shockingly, despite being led by the likes of Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and Johnny Rep, they were not rewarded with a World Cup during that time.

The Oranje reached the final in both 1974 and 1978 but were undone by West Germany and Argentina respectively. They are still yet to win a world title, coming closest in 2010 when they were beaten by Spain in South Africa.

Hong conceded seven in this game against Turkey

Hong conceded seven in this game against Turkey / Popperfoto / Contributor | Getty Images

South Korea qualified for the 1954 World Cup for the first time in its history, but it’s fair to say the games did not go to plan for goalkeeper Hong Deok-young.

In just two matches, the stopper shipped 16 goals in heavy defeats to Hungary and Turkey, the most conceded by a goalkeeper in one tournament. Nevertheless, that team still blazed the trail for other Asian sides to follow and South Korea are now regulars at World Cups in the modern age.

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Raymond Domenech

A mutiny in France’s squad ruined their 2010 chances / Mark Kolbe/GettyImages

With a squad packed with quality yet lucky to be there following some controversy in their play-off with the Republic of Ireland, hopes were high for France at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Les Bleus boasted attacking quality like Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and Franck Ribery in their squad, but discontent in the squad managed by Raymond Domenech caused them to massively underperform.



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Football

Everything you need to know about the Hollywood-backed club

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Wrexham are gearing up for one of the biggest games in their club history when they face Sheffield United in the FA Cup.

The Welsh side have grown exponentially in recent years following the arrival of Hollywood players Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, with a documentary series also raising the profile of the club.

There has been plenty of on-pitch progress too, with some big signings being made in the past couple of season.

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Here’s what you need to know about the club.

Wrexham host Sheffield United in the fourth round of the 2022/23 FA Cup with both sides in brilliant form. Wrexham are top of the National League as they target promotion back to the Football League, while the Blades are second in the Championship.

It’s the first time Wrexham have reached the fourth round since 1997. The two teams last met in 2014 when United edged a five-goal thriller – Phil Jagielka was among the scorers that day.

Phil Parkinson is the current manager at Wrexham, having taken charge of the club back in 2021. He began his managerial career with Colchester United and had roles with Hull and Charlton before a five-year spell with Bradford.

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City achieved promotion as League Two play-off winners in 2012/13, also unexpectedly reaching the League Cup final at Wembley that season.

Parkinson then managed over 150 games for Bolton before resigning in August 2019. He was snapped up by Sunderland a few months later but lasted little more than a year before leaving.

He arrived at Wrexham in July 2021 and took the Welsh side to the FA Trophy final where they were defeated by Bromley in May 2022. The were imminently knocked out of the play-offs by Grimsby at the semi-final stage.

Paul Mullin in undoubtedly Wrexham’s main danger in attack. After boshing in the goals for Cambridge United, the striker dropped down the pyramid to sign for the Robins and has delivered goal after goal.

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The physical Ollie Palmer is dangerous up front, too, with 13 league goals this season, while Ben Tozer and goalkeeper Mark Howard are important players in their defence.

Ryan Reynolds is a Canadian-American actor renowned for roles in films like Deadpool, Free Guy and Red Notice.

He is thought to have a net worth of around $150m. He has a stake Aviation Gin though unclear how big, having sold the company recently for $610m, and co-founded Maximum Effort Productions and Maximum Effort Marketing.

He’s also involved in Mint Mobile.

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Rob McElhenney is an American actor, writer and producer most well known for the comedy show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which he co-created alongside Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton.

What is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is an American sitcom that centres around a group of narcissitic and self-obsessed friends who run an Irish pub in south Philadelphia. McElhenney is known for playing Ronald “Mac” McDonald.

It stars the aforementioned McElhenney, Howerton and Day as well as Kaitlin Olson, who McElhenney married in 2008, and acting legend Danny DeVito.

Rob McElhenney’s fascination with Wrexham began with Mythic Quest writer Humphrey Ker, who revealed he got the actor into the spot during lunch breaks.

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“I’m laying claim to the fact (Rob’s) interest in football derives from several years of teasing me for watching football during our lunch breaks at work. Until eventually, just by pure osmosis, I got him interested in the game to the degree that he decides to buy a football team,” Ker said.

Wrexham had been fan owned since 2011 but the supporters’ trust voted McElhenney and Reynolds’ takeover bid through with 98% in favour.

The pair took total control through RR McReynolds Company LLC and made an initial £2m investment under the terms of the deal in early 2021.

Wrexham is a Welsh town close to the Welsh/English border. The club is well renowned for being one of the oldest professional teams in world football. They nearly folded as recently as 2011, though fan action kept the institution afloat.

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The place is known for being a mining town and was previously a rock-solid seat in United Kingdom political elections for Labour, but in 2019 a Conservative MP was voted in.

Welcome to Wrexham is available exclusively on Disney+ in the United Kingdom, while viewers in the United States can view the show through streaming platform Hulu.

When is the next series?

Wrexham owners Reynolds and McElhenney confirmed on social media the show would return for a second series. It will likely come after the 2022/23 football season finishes.

The biggest result in Wrexham’s history came in the FA Cup in 1992 when they upset First Division Championship winners Arsenal at the Racecourse.

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Alan Smith’s opener was cancelled out by Mickey Thomas’ awesome free kick before Steve Watkin slid in the winner.

They reached the first round of the FA Cup in 2021/22, while the year before they were dumped out in the fourth qualifying round by Solihull Moors.

Wrexham’s ground is the Racecourse Ground. It’s the world’s oldest international football stadium that still hosts international matches and the fifth largest stadium in Wales. It has a current capacity of 10,771, though in 1957, 34,445 spectators watched as Wrexham faced Manchester United.

It was first opened in 1807 and has been Wrexham’s home since 1864.

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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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EPL

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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