Raheem Sterling double leads Manchester City to 3-1 win over Crystal Palace

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates after the match with manager Pep Guardiola. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 14 April 2019
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Raheem Sterling double leads Manchester City to 3-1 win over Crystal Palace

LONDON: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola threw himself backward then banged the side of the dugout with his fist after seeing Raheem Sterling skew wide an early chance from close range against Crystal Palace.
Sterling responded in the best way possible.
The England winger put City ahead five minutes later and added a second goal — his 21st of the season in all competitions — to lead City to a 3-1 win that kept the pressure on Liverpool in the Premier League title race on Sunday.
City moved a point clear of Liverpool, which plays Chelsea later.
“When I was younger you always want to score your first opportunity and sometimes it doesn’t happen like that,” Sterling said. “You don’t beat yourself up. There’s 80 minutes left, you just have to be ready for the next opportunity.
“That’s the mentality, just keep going.”
That’s exactly the mentality City must have, too, as the team looks to retain the league title for the first time. It can’t do much more — this was a ninth straight league victory stretching back to Feb. 3, and the champions know they will keep the trophy if they win their remaining five games.
Palace was always likely to be a challenging test for City, with Roy Hodgson’s team one of four to have beaten the champions in the league this season. Palace also ended City’s 18-game winning run in the league last season with a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park, an atmospheric ground that Guardiola has said is one of the toughest to visit.
As it was, City dominated the game and barely gave Palace a chance until Luka Milivojevic scored a free kick in the 81st minute to make it 2-1 and set up a tense finish. Any hope that Palace — and Liverpool — had was snuffed out when Gabriel Jesus, on as a substitute for Sergio Aguero, made the three points safe for City with a goal on the counterattack in the 90th.
“It will go down to the wire,” Sterling said of the title race. “I don’t see us slowing down now. Liverpool have a great squad, great self-belief, but so do we.”
Sterling’s early miss came when he was picked out by a cross from David Silva from the byline. Sterling swung his left foot at the ball and it dribbled wide.
Anguish turned to ecstasy within a few minutes for Sterling when he latched onto Kevin De Bruyne’s threaded through-ball and lifted an angled shot into the roof of the net.
His second goal wasn’t so pretty but it was just as effective, as he turned home a finish from Leroy Sane’s driven ball across the area in the 63rd.
The game came between a two-legged Champions League quarterfinal against Tottenham, which leads 1-0 after the first match. Guardiola left out holding midfielder Fernandinho because of a minor injury.
“This pressure is incredible,” Guardiola said.


Le Fondre pounces to earn Sydney vital point

Updated 23 April 2019
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Le Fondre pounces to earn Sydney vital point

  • The stalemate leaves all to play for in Group H

SHANGHAI: “Fantastic” journeyman forward Adam le Fondre pounced to earn Sydney FC a point in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Shanghai SIPG in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.

The stalemate leaves all to play for in Group H with two rounds of matches to play after table-toppers Ulsan were held 2-2 at Kawasaki Frontale.

Chinese champions SIPG, for whom Brazilian forward Hulk was a constant menace, came back from a goal down to lead 2-1.

But the 32-year-old le Fondre displayed his enduring predatory instincts to grab a classy leveller on 62 minutes.

The striker, who is at his ninth club and has had spells at Cardiff City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, popped up with a bullet header on the six-yard box.

“He’s a fantastic person, first and foremost, and a fantastic player,” said Sydney coach Steve Corica, who knows his team will almost certainly need to win their last two matches to progress to the knock-out rounds.

Corica, formerly a player at Leicester City and Wolves, was full of praise for the evergreen le Fondre, who moved to Australia from Bolton in August 2018.

“He’s played in England, played in the Premier League, scored goals wherever he’s gone,” said Corica.

“He works extremely hard for our team and in the A-League has scored 16 goals (this season), and he’s scored in the Champions League.

“He’s been fantastic for our club and the way he’s played this year.”

Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale gave themselves a qualification lifeline as they fought back from a goal down at home with nine minutes remaining to draw 2-2 with South Korea’s Ulsan.

Leandro Damiao fired home an 81st-minute equalizer to revive Frontale’s fading hopes of progress to the last 16.

Star striker Yu Kobayashi opened the scoring for the home side, but the Koreans struck back twice before half-time through Park Yang-woo and Junior Negrao.

Kawasaki piled on the pressure toward the end with Kobayashi guilty of the miss of the match in the second minute of stoppage time when he found himself unmarked with the goal gaping, but somehow hit the post.

Ulsan top a tight Group H on eight points, with SIPG on five, Kawasaki on four and Sydney still just about alive on three points.

Fabio Cannavaro’s Guangzhou Evergrande were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by an under-strength Melbourne Victory.

The former two-time Asian champions dropped to second in Group F after Huang Bowen’s 24th-minute strike was canceled out by Jai Ingham’s goal two minutes later. Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima took advantage of the Chinese giants’ slip-up to go top on nine points with a 1-0 win at Daegu FC in South Korea, courtesy of Hayato Araki’s 34th-minute winner. With Daegu just a point behind Guangzhou, Cannavaro’s men now face a pivotal clash in Hiroshima in two weeks before the group finale against the Koreans on May 22.