De Roon ru­ins City’s day with late equaliser

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Marten De Roon’s dra­matic stop­page­time header can­celled out Ser­gio Aguero’s first-half goal and earned Mid­dles­brough a point with a 1-1 draw at Manch­ester City yes­ter­day.

Aguero touched in his 150th City goal from Kevin De Bruyne’s low cross to cap a dom­i­nant first-half per­for­mance from Pep Guardi­ola’s side. But they could not match it in the sec­ond, de­spite cre­at­ing sev­eral good chances, and were caught late on as Dutch mid­fielder De Roon pow­ered in Ge­orge Friend’s cross for his first goal since join­ing Boro from Ata­lanta for £12m (14m eu­ros, $15.5m) in the sum­mer.

The point was enough for City to go a point clear of Arse­nal and Liver­pool, who both play to­day, whilst Chelsea could go top late if they beat Ever­ton.

It se­cured a ter­rific re­sult for Ai­tor Karanka’s side, but was des­per­ately dis­ap­point­ing for Guardi­ola, four days af­ter his side had pro­duced an out­stand­ing per­for­mance to de­feat Barcelona in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Guardi­ola de­cided to give cen­tre-back Ni­co­las Ota­mendi and winger Ra­heem Ster­ling a rest af­ter a hec­tic re­cent sched­ule, while Clau­dio Bravo re­turned in goal, hav­ing been sus­pended for the mid­week win over Barcelona.

There was no place in the squad, though, for Yaya Toure, de­spite his apol­ogy for crit­i­cism aimed at the man­ager by his agent Dim­itri Seluk.

City dom­i­nated the open­ing half, but had to be pa­tient in the face of some res­o­lute de­fend­ing and in­spired goal­keep­ing by Vic­tor Valdes.

The for­mer Manch­ester United keeper, re­turn­ing to the city for the first time since leav­ing Old Traf­ford, made a se­ries of ex­cel­lent stops.

Hav­ing held a fierce ris­ing 20-yard ef­fort from Alek­san­dar Ko­larov, he then dived to his right to beat the ball away mo­ments later as Aguero danced through the vis­i­tors’ de­fence.

Valdes re­acted bril­liantly af­ter that when David Silva turned Je­sus Navas’ low de­flected cross to­wards goal at the near post, and was off his line bravely to smother tak­ing a bang to the thigh in the process - as the for­mer Sevilla winger tried to con­nect with Fer­nand­inho’s di­ag­o­nal through ball.

Amid those saves, Valdes saw De Bruyne roll a shot just be­yond his far post, and Aguero nar­rowly fail to con­nect with a John Stones flick from a Silva cor­ner.

But he could do noth­ing two min­utes be­fore half­time as Aguero nipped in be­tween two de­fend­ers for the open­ing goal. Navas nearly added a sec­ond with the last kick of the half, as his ris­ing drive hit the out­side of the near post. Mid­dles­brough, who lacked any kind of at­tack­ing in­tent in the first half, be­gan the sec­ond more pos­i­tively. Their for­mer City striker Al­varo Ne­gredo al­most equalised with an out­ra­geous lob from the half­way line, but the ball was tipped over by a backpedalling Bravo, who then dashed from his line mo­ments later to block at the feet of Adam For­shaw.

Guardi­ola’s team bat­tled to re­assert them­selves, with­out re­gain­ing their first-half lev­els of su­pe­ri­or­ity. The im­pres­sive Ilkay Gun­do­gan bounced a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area af­ter a De Bruyne ball from the left had bob­bled into his path, while Aguero headed over from the Bel­gian’s cross.

There were still ner­vous mo­ments for Guardi­ola, as Ste­wart Down­ing drove a shot wide from out on the left af­ter Fer­nand­inho had lost the ball in mid­field to al­low a Mid­dles­brough break.

City could have made sure of vic­tory, with Aguero miss­ing a good chance to make cer­tain of vic­tory has he floated a shot wide from a Navas pull-back, and De Bruyne blaz­ing over af­ter Valdes had failed to gather a long cross on the edge of his penalty area. — AFP

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