EPL

Manchester City 1-0 Wolves: Sterling fires Citizens to victory ​after costly Jimenez red card

By Sports Desk December 11, 2021

Raheem Sterling's second-half penalty earned Manchester City a sixth Premier League win in a row and kept the reigning champions roaring along at the summit as they saw off 10-man Wolves 1-0.

City climbed to top spot for the first time this season last weekend and took full advantage of playing before Liverpool and Chelsea on Saturday with a hard-fought – if somewhat controversial – win at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's men were given a huge helping hand by Raul Jimenez's silly sending-off in first-half stoppage time for two bookable offences in the space of 31 seconds.

Wolves again felt hard done by when referee Jonathan Moss adjudged that Bernardo Silva's cross hit Joao Moutinho on the arm, giving Sterling the opportunity to convert the resulting penalty with 66 minutes played for his 100th Premier League goal, which proved enough for a slender victory.

Wolves were only undone by a last-gasp goal in last week's loss to Liverpool, and they managed to contain City in a first half that saw the hosts register just two attempts on target.

However, the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Jimenez was booked for a foul on Rodri and again penalised almost straight after for failing to retreat when the free-kick was taken.

Ilkay Gundogan had a header blocked on the line by Conor Coady and City's pressure eventually told when Sterling calmly converted the match-winning penalty, which Wolves' players argued should never have been given as Silva's cross appeared to hit Moutinho on the armpit, rather than his arm.

Jack Grealish blasted over a great opportunity soon after, while Silva and Sterling had attempts saved by Jose Sa, but Wolves struggled to pose a sustained threat at the other end as they went a fourth game without scoring.

 

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    Kai Havertz scored twice but Germany made another early World Cup exit despite beating Costa Rica 4-2 in a thriller at Al Bayt Stadium on Thursday.

    Needing a victory to have any chance of reaching the round of 16, Germany secured their first win of the tournament but bow out at the group stage for a second successive World Cup.

    Serge Gnabry gave them a richly deserved early lead, but Yeltsin Tejeda equalised with his first international goal in the second half and Costa Rica were heading for the knockout stage after Juan Pablo Vargas put them in front.

    Havertz levelled not long after Vargas' goal and struck again to put Germany back in front, with fellow substitute Niclas Fullkrug then adding a late fourth goal 

    It was Japan and Spain who advance from Group E, though, with the Samurai Blue finishing top after their surprise 2-1 win over Luis Enrique's side.

    Gnabry opened the scoring only 10 minutes in, meeting David Raum's cross from the left with a glancing header that found the far corner of the net.

    Leon Goretzka's header was kept out by Keylor Navas, Musiala fired wide after turning sharply and surging into the box and Gnabry was only just off target with a right-foot drive as Germany continued to dominate.

    But Keysher Fuller almost equalised from out of the blue late in the first half, Manuel Neuer superbly tipping his shot around the post after a mistake from Antonio Rudiger.

    News of Japan leading Spain left Germany fans with hands on heads and things took another turn for the worse when Tejeda was on hand to finish from close range after Neuer could only palm Kendall Waston's header into his path in the 58th minute.

    Musiala twice struck the right-hand post and Rudiger hit the outside of the same upright as Germany desperately tried to stay alive.

    Costa Rica then stunned Germany once again by taking the lead after 70 minutes, Vargas getting the final touch when Neuer as Germany failed to deal with a ball into the box.

    Los Ticos' joy was short-lived, though, as Havertz finished clinically with his right foot soon after coming off the bench just a few minutes after Germany had fallen behind.

    Navas denied Fullkrug with a magnificent save from close range, but Havertz tucked in coolly with his left foot at the back post.

    Fullkrug looked to have strayed offside, but was awarded a second goal in as many games in the closing stages following a VAR check after he slotted in from close range, but Germany bowed out on goal difference.

  • Japan 2-1 Spain: Samurai Blue top Group E after remarkable fightback as La Roja survive huge scare Japan 2-1 Spain: Samurai Blue top Group E after remarkable fightback as La Roja survive huge scare

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    However, Spain failed to capitalise on their huge dominance of possession as Japan turned the game on its head with a quickfire second-half double, Doan firing home from range before Tanaka bundled in a second.

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    Tite will rotate his Brazil squad for their final Group G match, but opponents Cameroon still face an uphill battle to make the last 16 of the World Cup.

    Brazil are already through to the knockout stage and will top the pool unless they lose and Switzerland win with a significant goal swing.

    Opponents Cameroon have plenty still to play for, on the other hand, as they must win to have any hope of reaching the second round for the first time since 1990.

    They have never won their final group game at a finals, however, while Brazil are unbeaten at this stage in a record 17 matches.

    And the Selecao have their own goals in mind, looking to take nine points from a possible nine for the first time since 2006.

    "Being first is always the goal, regardless of who the opponent is in the next match," said Fabinho, one of the men set to come into the XI.

    "Our focus is always to win the games, try to earn nine points and give our best. 

    "Whoever will play will have the opportunity to wear the shirt of the Brazilian national team in a World Cup, so the thought of a winning team has to always be this, to enter, give the best, win and be the first."

     

    Tite's first-choice stars have set a high standard, winning both games without conceding or even facing a single shot on target. They are the first team not to face a shot on target in their first two games at a World Cup since France in 1998.

    "Personally, I don't think [maintaining the standard] brings pressure to us," added Fabinho. "I think playing in a World Cup is every player's dream. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

    "We have to face this with great joy, knowing the responsibility, come in and give our best. We know the way the team plays, the team is solid defensively.

    "Sure, you have the worries of keeping that, the ideas, but I don't think it adds pressure. We don't feel that."

    Cameroon have lost only two World Cup matches to South American teams, but both have been in their two meetings with Brazil, who have won all seven of their finals clashes with African opposition, scoring 20 goals and conceding just two.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Cameroon – Vincent Aboubakar

    Aboubakar has twice appeared from the bench, yet he could hardly have done more to earn a starting berth. Against Serbia, he became the first substitute to both score and assist a goal in a World Cup match for an African nation, bringing Cameroon back from 3-1 down to 3-3 within 11 minutes of his introduction.

    Brazil – Vinicius Junior

    The Selecao may not need to risk playing Vinicius, with Neymar already injured, but it must be tough not to pick a man in this form. Only Kylian Mbappe (23) was involved in more open play sequences that ended with a shot than the winger (15) through two matchdays. Only Mbappe and Ismaila Sarr (four) created more chances following a carry (three).

    PREDICTION

    Even with the potential for changes in the Brazil XI, the supercomputer has no doubts about this one. Tite's men are massive 72.7 per cent favourites.

    Cameroon must win but are given only a 10.6 per cent chance, with a draw that would confirm Brazil as group winners rated at 16.7 per cent.

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