Man City's nervy win at Newcastle 'good lesson' ahead of Champions League final – Guardiola

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City's wild 4-3 win over Newcastle United is a "good lesson" ahead of the Champions League final against Chelsea.

City returned to the pitch for the first time since clinching the Premier League title this week and Guardiola's side survived a seven-goal shoot-out on Friday.

Powered by a Ferran Torres hat-trick, City erased two deficits to set an English record with their 12th consecutive away win – one more milestone after securing their third league title in four years on Tuesday. 

Following one or two days of "distractions" and just one training session, manager Guardiola said he was not expecting perfection against Newcastle as he made five changes to his XI, including giving 35-year-old goalkeeper Scott Carson his club debut. 

Carson made his first Premier League appearance since May 2011 for West Brom, a gap of nine years and 357 days. It is the sixth longest gap between appearances in Premier League history, and the longest ever for a goalkeeper.

With the ultimate prize looming in the Champions League final against Chelsea on May 29, Guardiola expects his team to learn from their close call in Newcastle.

Guardiola said during his post-match news conference after City recorded their 23rd consecutive unbeaten away game in all competitions (W21 D2) – the longest ever undefeated away run by a side in the top four tiers of English football, overtaking Notts County's run of 22 in 2012.

"The way they fought and the way they run and the way they come back after 1-0, after 3-2, and being there and making a step forward – they know it. It's not necessary to tell them.

"They know if you want to win or compete against Chelsea in the final, of course you have to earn it.

"It's better to happen today. Then maybe, maybe it's not going to happen in the final."

Ferran Torres – who arrived from Valencia at the start of the season – became the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick for a team managed by Guardiola (21 years and 75 days), overtaking Gabriel Jesus who was 21 years and 218 days against Shakhtar Donetsk in November 2018.

"I'm delighted for the three goals," Guardiola said. "He has incredible numbers for a first season in England, he has incredible numbers. He didn't play for a period of two months, he didn't play much and he came as a winger who can play on both sides.

"He can make incredible runs in behind but maybe we have to start to think about if he can play as a striker because every time he plays in that position he has a sense for goal, a real sense for goal.

"Today he produced an incredible first goal with the header, but the last two... I think the last one is an example of that intuition. It's intuitive, to know exactly where the ball comes and being there to score a goal.

"He was fantastic all season and an incredible signing for us. He's a young player and can play in three positions up front. Not just in one, he can play in three. But playing in the more central position the guy has an incredible sense of goal."

Related items

  • Man Utd's transfer budget not impacted by debt – Glazer Man Utd's transfer budget not impacted by debt – Glazer

    Manchester United executive co-chairman Joel Glazer insisted the level of debt at Old Trafford has not impacted the Premier League giants in the transfer market.

    The Glazer family have been scrutinised since taking over United in 2005, with the Red Devils saddled in huge debt ever since, though the criticism came to a head following the club's decision to sign up for the doomed European Super League in April.

    United fans have continued to call for further transfer funding amid the club's trophy drought – dating back to 2017, while they have not won the Premier League since 2013, and investment to renovate Old Trafford.

    After finishing second to neighbours Manchester City in 2020-21, United have been linked with Borussia Dortmund pair Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane and Tottenham star Harry Kane among other rumoured targets.

    Under-fire Glazer attended his first fans' forum earlier in June and addressed a number of concerns, including the debt and dividend payments.

    "I know this is a subject that a lot of people have a lot of different views on, but when we take things and look at things as a whole, we think that Manchester United is a very well-run club," Glazer said in quotes released on Monday.

    "We're able to spend with the top clubs throughout Europe, whether it's wages or transfer fees, we've been able to keep our ticket prices low, we've not increased them in over 10 years.

    "We're able to pay a dividend but it's a modest proportion of our five to six hundred million pounds of revenue; it's less than three per cent of that.

    "It has never stood in the way of us pursuing players or transfers on the pitch. We may have walked away from transfers at times because the other side wanted an outlandish number. And while it's easy to pay it that one time, it does have consequences.

    "You do it once and the next person expects it, and then the next person expects it. And that's not good, ultimately, for the club. So, we think that we're able to accomplish all these things and still have a very, very successful club and invest, and do everything that's necessary for a club of our stature."

    Glazer added: "I know this is clearly another area that has got a lot of discussion and debate over the years. We think we have a very comfortable position when it comes to this. We have debt, but a lot of other clubs do have debt as well.

    "We pay a very low interest rate, mostly fixed interest debt. So, if interest rates went up it would not affect us, but we had made progress in reducing our debt over the last several years.

    "The net debt was meaningfully reduced a couple years ago. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit and we have had to use a lot of our cash reserves because we didn't have any supporters in the stands, we didn't have the matchday revenue, and that has affected us, like it's affected all the clubs throughout Europe. The difference is we've been able to keep investing. We're strong."

    He added: "We're going to keep investing on the pitch, which we did last year, and we plan on doing it meaningfully this year. So, we feel that we're in a good spot.

    "There's always headline numbers [for the debt], and then there's the real costs on an annual basis and, again, it's never affected our ability to operate in the transfer market or do anything else with regard to the club."

  • Magical Messi served Chile pain again as Martinez misfires Magical Messi served Chile pain again as Martinez misfires

    It was a modest record for a player as magnificent as Lionel Messi: three games, two final defeats, one red card, no goals.

    But the Barcelona great's Copa America performances against Chile prior to Monday's curtain-raising clash were not entirely out of keeping with the rest of his Argentina career.

    There have been moments of magic, of course, but just 15 goals across 46 Copa America and World Cup appearances ahead of this game. Meanwhile, not since 2007-08 has Messi fallen short of averaging a goal every two games for Barca, let alone one every three.

    Even Messi himself could not reasonably argue his international displays have come close to the standard set at club level.

    And while World Cup failures will always remain at the forefront of any such discussion – his achievements in contrast to Diego Maradona's one-man show in 1986 – the Copa America has provided its fair share of pain.

    The final defeats to Chile in 2015 and 2016 were among three for Messi and four for Argentina since their 14th and most recent title in 1993.

    Those two in consecutive years both came courtesy of penalty shoot-outs. Messi scored his spot-kick in the first match but missed the following year, setting his side on their way to another sore setback.

    It was fitting then, it seemed, that this latest campaign – surely one of Messi's last – would start against Chile and initially start in much more encouraging fashion.

    Neymar had set the standard against Venezuela the previous day.

    In front of empty, hushed stands that make it impossible to ignore the influence of politics in football – a popular topic of debate in 2021 – the pace was ponderous until the world's most expensive footballer got to work.

    Neymar scored one and created another in a 3-0 Brazil win. Along with five shots, he created seven chances – the most of any Selecao player in a Copa America match since his debut.

    It took 33 minutes, in which the absence of an atmosphere again jarred, but Messi rose to that challenge when presented with a free-kick in a central position, dipped over the wall and beyond the grasp of Claudio Bravo.

    That was one of seven Messi shots and he played four key passes, too. On paper, this ranked alongside Neymar's efforts.

    By full-time, though, it was a frustratingly familiar tale, as the supporting cast proved unable to suitably assist their superstar.

    Messi's excellence has excused a whole generation of Argentina internationals, absolved of blame because their great number 10 should have been able to win major tournaments alone.

    Too many hugely talented players have misfired on the big stage; Lionel Scaloni sent out some past and present examples.

    Lautaro Martinez is supposed to be the face of a young, new team. He had 11 goals in 23 prior internationals and should have added to that tally more than once in Rio de Janeiro.

    The Inter forward failed to hit the target with any of his three attempts and optimistically appealed for a foul following two of them when he inexplicably missed from point-blank range.

    And Martinez's frustration unfortunately came to the fore after 62 minutes when he lunged into an awful challenge on Charles Aranguiz under the nose of the referee and escaped with a booking.

    The 23-year-old's evening might have ended early with a red card. Instead, it was cut short by the introduction of Sergio Aguero.

    Chile had equalised five minutes prior to Martinez's moment of madness, one of a series of rash attempted tackles punished as a VAR review found Nicolas Tagliafico had made contact with Arturo Vidal in the area.

    Vidal took the penalty and Emiliano Martinez turned it onto the crossbar, but Eduardo Vargas was on hand to nod in his 13th Copa America goal – staying three clear of Messi and climbing into the top 10 all-time.

    Aguero followed Angel Di Maria onto the pitch as Argentina sought a response. Both players were not so long ago out of the picture under Scaloni, having previously been part of the Messi-led team that repeatedly came up short.

    In each Chile final, Di Maria started. Aguero was introduced from the bench in one and in the XI for the other.

    As on those occasions, there were no heroics from either on Monday. Di Maria, now 33, had two shots but neither troubled Bravo. Aguero, also 33, was caught offside once.

    Messi will be the story if Argentina do not deliver silverware in the coming weeks, just as he will be should they finally get over the hump.

    But the same problems persist. When Messi's free-kick set the stage, it was Martinez who could not step up, underwhelming again like too many past Argentina attackers.

    If this is to be the tournament in which Messi reaches his promised land, he is going to need some help.

  • Argentina 1-1 Chile: Vargas salvages a point after Messi moment of magic Argentina 1-1 Chile: Vargas salvages a point after Messi moment of magic

    A sublime Lionel Messi free-kick was not enough for Argentina to start the Copa America with a victory as Chile striker Eduardo Vargas salvaged a 1-1 draw.

    Argentina had much the better of the first half and mercurial captain Messi put them in front with a brilliant free-kick in the Group B encounter at Estadio Nilton Santos.

    Vargas came to Chile's rescue after the break, heading home the rebound after Emiliano Martinez saved Arturo Vidal's penalty.

    Nicolas Gonzalez was particularly wasteful as Argentina were unable to secure what would have been a deserved victory in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.

    Messi is yet to win a trophy with Argentina following back-to-back runners-up performances at the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, having also fallen short in the 2007 final against Brazil.

    Giovani Lo Celso was Chile's chief tormentor in a promising start from the Albiceleste, setting up chances that Lautaro Martinez and Gonzalez were unable to take.

    Gonzalez headed over the crossbar after his shot was palmed away by Claudio Bravo and the forward also failed to beat the Chile goalkeeper with a tame finish when the lively Lo Celso sent him clear with an incisive pass.

    Messi produced yet another moment of magic to put Argentina in front, though, bending a brilliant free-kick into the top-right corner after 33 minutes.

    An unmarked Martinez spurned a glorious chance to add a second when he scuffed a shot wide and Lionel Scaloni's side were made to pay for their profligacy when Chile levelled 12 minutes into the second half.

    Vidal was awarded a spot-kick for a rash challenge from Nicolas Tagliafico after referee Wilmar Roldan checked the pitchside monitor and although the midfielder's penalty was brilliantly tipped against the crossbar by Martinez, Vargas nodded in following up.

    Bravo palmed away Messi's drive 20 minutes from time and Gonzalez headed over the bar when his skipper presented him with another golden opportunity in a frustrating start for Argentina.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.