Tuesday, June 15

Agüero and Torres take Manchester City to the brink of the title with victory over Palace | Premier league


Sergio Aguero’s time at Manchester City may be coming to an end, but they certainly won’t quickly forget it. A 182 Premier League goal for the club and the first in open play in 12 months ensured Pep Guardiola’s side moved within a short distance of a fifth title in a decade since the Argentine’s arrival from Atlético de Madrid.

Anything less than a Manchester United win against Liverpool on Sunday will confirm what we have all known will happen for some time.

Unbelievably, this was City’s eleventh straight away win since drawing at Old Trafford on December 12, a new record, with an aggregate score of 28-4. The only question now is whether City can finish off Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday and reach the Champions League final for the first time. In this way, not many would bet against it.

Having spent most of the season without a recognized striker, Guardiola selected two at Selhurst Park, as Ederson, Rodri and João Cancelo were the only starters from the first leg of the semifinal against PSG who kept their places. City have been on the road since their surprise loss to Leeds on April 10, a six-game, 3,000-plus mile streak, with their coach admitting ahead of time that some of their players were unsurprisingly “tired. And exhausted “by his exploits.

With rumors of a possible free transfer to Chelsea still circulating, Aguero was making just his fifth Premier League start to the season after amassing nearly 400 in the previous decade. He played a deeper role here behind Gabriel Jesus in one of Guardiola’s more conventional formations, although it was a Palace forward who had the best early opportunity.

Christian Benteke’s contract also ends in the summer and his timid header from a perfect cross from Andros Townsend was an illustration of why Palace is in no rush to offer his club a record signing for another extension. Raheem Sterling wasn’t much better at the other end after dribbling into the penalty area and eventually sending his shot off target under pressure from Tyrick Mitchell.

Manchester City's Ferran Torres, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal
Manchester City’s Ferran Torres, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s second goal. Photograph: Catherine Ivill / AP

An excellent interaction between Agüero and Jesús that required a last minute punt by Joel Ward was a glimpse of the association’s potential to spearhead the attack. But a City defense that lost the safety of Rúben Dias, who took his place on a star-studded bench alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and the rest, was grateful to escape and fit in when Ederson blocked Benteke’s shot from close range with his hands. legs. .

The Palace organization, a hallmark of their coach, of course, continued to frustrate the visitors and a volley from Jesús was correctly disallowed for offside in the 36th minute. Questions remain as to whether Roy Hodgson will continue next season, and The former England manager, who will turn 74 in August, has yet to be offered a new contract. However, aside from a brief pressure just before halftime, Palace’s discipline in closing down spaces for his opponents was an illustration of why he won’t be easily replaced.

It was the first time in 21 games that City failed to get a shot on goal in the first half, a statistic that would not have pleased their coach. But while Foden, Ilkay Gündogan and Bernardo Silva were sent in early to warm up, Guardiola resisted the temptation to make a change.

After another last-minute punt from Jesús, his faith was rewarded when Agüero controlled Benjamin Mendy’s pass into the infield and threw a shot that outscored Vicente Guaita from 15 yards. While receiving applause from his teammates, Guardiola removed an imaginary cap from City’s record scorer.

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The contest ended 84 seconds later when Sterling and Jesus combined to set up Torres, who hit the ball into the net from the edge of the box and sparked wild celebrations around the corner, this time led by substitute De Bruyne.

City showed no mercy after their quick brace and could easily have extended their lead had it not been for Guaita and a frantic Palace defense. Jesús was one of those who did not take advantage when the visitors accumulated 13 shots in the second half. But the afternoon already belonged to Agüero.


www.theguardian.com

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