Monday , October 23 2017

Five-goal Aguero fires Man City top – Mane, slick Southampton deepen Chelsea gloom

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (left), vies with Newcastle United’s Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at The Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on Oct 3. (Inset): Southampton’s Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane (left), falls to the ground in the penalty area after a challenge by Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Ramires (center), during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge in London on Oct 3. (AFP)
Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (left), vies with Newcastle United’s Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at The Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on Oct 3. (Inset): Southampton’s Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane (left), falls to the ground in the penalty area after a challenge by Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Ramires (center), during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge in London on Oct 3. (AFP)

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Oct 3, (AFP): Sergio Aguero turned in a remarkable goal-scoring performance by netting five times in 20 minutes as Manchester City came from behind to rout Newcastle United 6-1 on Saturday.

Only four other players in post-1992 Premier League history — Andrew Cole, Alan Shearer, Jermain Defoe and Dimitar Berbatov — had scored five times in one game and Aguero’s display was all the more stunning as he had failed to find the net since a home win over Chelsea in August.

After cancelling out an effort from Aleksandar Mitrovic just before half-time, Aguero led a second-half assault on the Newcastle goal that was devastating in its attacking aggression and effectiveness.

When the dust subsided, City were back on top of the division, with Newcastle 15 points below them at the foot of the table.

Aguero opened his account in the 42nd minute as David Silva chipped to the far post, Fernandinho headed the ball back across goal and the City forward headed home powerfully from just inside the six-yard area.

Four minutes into the second half, Aguero put City in front for the first time on the afternoon, gathering a pass from David Silva and beating Tim Krul via a slight deflection off Yoan Gouffran.

Barely a minute later Aguero completed his hat-trick, in a time of under nine minutes that made it the fifth-fastest treble since the Premier League was founded.

De Bruyne’s excellent through-ball exposed one of the increasingly glaring holes in the visiting back line and Aguero was not going to be denied with a finish that he lifted over the oncoming goalkeeper.

De Bruyne claimed the next goal in the 53rd minute, making it 4-1, to gain an individual reward for his endeavours.

A right-wing cross from substitute Jesus Navas found the Belgian on the corner of the six-yard box and a slightly mis-hit volley gave Krul no chance in the Newcastle goal.

The game was becoming an embarrassment, all Newcastle’s hard work of the first half being spectacularly undone, and it was about to get worse.

On the hour, Aguero scored his fourth goal, and City’s fifth, from another Silva assist, which gave him the time and space to steady himself and curl a perfectly-judged attempt into the bottom-right corner.

Mercifully for Steve McClaren’s Newcastle, the scoring frenzy was about to end, but not before City had claimed their sixth goal and Aguero, inevitably, a fifth.

De Bruyne created the opening with a low cross from the left flank and Aguero slid the ball home.

There had been no indication of the drama to come as City struggled during a first half in which they fell behind to McClaren’s team, who were looking to build upon a battling draw with Chelsea on their previous outing.

Southampton 3, Chelsea 1

Chelsea’s disastrous season continued with a 3-1 home defeat by Southampton on Saturday that left Jose Mourinho’s Premier League champions 10 points off the pace in 16th place.

Having taken an early lead through Willian, Mourinho’s side collapsed alarmingly, with Steven Davis levelling for Ronald Koeman’s team before second-half goals from Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle wrapped up the win.

Mourinho had suffered just one home league defeat in over four seasons at Chelsea coming into the season, but has now already seen his side beaten twice at Stamford Bridge during the current campaign, following an earlier defeat by Crystal Palace in August.

There were few signs Chelsea are ready to return to the form that saw them cruise to last season’s title and the growing discontent around the club was apparent when home supporters greeted the final whistle with a chorus of boos.

By his own admission, this is the worst spell of Mourinho’s career and the manager this week found himself in the unfamiliar position of being forced to defend his methods following reports of discontent within his squad.

The failure to beat struggling Newcastle United seven days previously had summed up Chelsea’s problems, with Mourinho describing the first-half display at St James’ Park as being “on a scale of one to 10, minus one”.

That was followed by defeat at Porto in the Champions League and the Portuguese reacted by making four changes. Skipper John Terry returned to make only his second start in six games, while Radamel Falcao was handed his first league start of the season in place of the suspended Diego Costa.

After the recent turmoil, Chelsea needed an early break to settle any nerves and it came after just 10 minutes when Willian punished the visitors after Oriol Romeu had fouled Eden Hazard.

Curling the free-kick in from the left-hand side of the box, the Brazilian directed the set-piece beyond goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and into the top-right corner.

Had Oscar managed to beat Stekelenburg with a curling shot midway through the half, the home side might have gone on to dominate.

Instead, though, they allowed Southampton to come back into the game with Koeman’s side growing in confidence and fuelled by a sense of injustice when a strong appeal for a penalty was turned down after Mane appeared to have been tripped by Ramires.

Mane was becoming increasingly influential and his threaded pass presented Ryan Bertrand with the chance to mark his return to Stamford Bridge with a goal, only for the left-back to be denied by Asmir Begovic.

The equaliser came two minutes before the interval when Pelle held off Gary Cahill and chested Jose Fonte’s long ball into the path of Davis, who struck the ball on the full past Begovic from 20 yards.

Chelsea’s belief appeared to have disappeared when the game resumed after the break and it took another excellent Begovic save and a block by Gary Cahill to repel efforts from Mane.

Both Cahill and Terry appeared vulnerable to the pace of Mane and both defenders were at fault when the Senegal forward put the visitors ahead in the 60th minute.

First, Cahill lost possession deep inside his own half, then Terry was easily turned by Mane as the forward collected Pelle’s pass and shot beneath Begovic.

Worse was to come for Chelsea when Hazard’s misplaced pass was intercepted near halfway by Pelle, allowing Mane to break towards the home penalty area before returning the ball to Pelle, who shot inside the far post.

Sunderland 2, West Ham 2

In Sunderland, Dick Advocaat saw 10-man Sunderland squander a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw against West Ham that left his side still languishing in the Premier League relegation zone on Saturday.

With reports claiming Advocaat was considering resigning whatever the result at the Stadium of Light, it could prove a downbeat end to the Dutchman’s turbulent spell in charge.

Goals from Steven Fletcher and Jermain Lens looked to have put Sunderland firmly in charge midway through the first half.

But Carl Jenkinson got one back before the interval and Lens was sent off in the second half, setting the stage for Dimitri Payet to equalise for the Hammers.

Sunderland are now without a win in eight league matches this season and the only sliver of consolation came with Newcastle’s 6-1 thrashing at Manchester city which dropped their bitter rivals below them to the bottom of the table.

Even so, this was another miserable afternoon for Advocaat, who is said to have grown frustrated by having to work on a limited budget this season, with Burnley manager Sean Dyche reportedly lined up to replace him.

Despite all the drama around Advocaat, Sunderland made a bright start that culminated in Fletcher’s 10th minute goal.

It was a perfectly executed set-piece routine, with Yann M’Vila’s low free-kick picking out Fletcher and the Scotland forward firing home from 12 yards.

Advocaat kept his emotions in check on the touchline but, with Sunderland fans showing their support for the manager by chanting his name, their team’s vibrant display was rewarded again in the 22nd minute.

Taking M’Vila’s pass, Dutch forward Lens looked up and lofted a superb chip over Hammers goalkeeper Adrian from the edge of the penalty area.

But Fabio Borini wasted two good chances, including a horrible miss when he scuffed wide with only Adrian to beat.

And Jenkinson reduced the deficit in the first minute of stoppage-time when Victor Moses’ pass allowed the defender to blast home.

The tension was ratcheted up another notch in the 57th minute as Lens was sent off for a second booking after fouling Winston Reid. There was worse to come for Advocaat three minutes later.

Not for the first time this season, Sunderland contributed to their own downfall with goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon spilling Manuel Lanzini’s shot to Payet, who calmly converted to complete West Ham’s fightback.

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