Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Paul Pogba is "happy" again after hailing the star midfielder following his match-winning display against Fulham.

Pogba scored the winning goal as United returned to the top of the Premier League table with a 2-1 victory at Fulham on Wednesday.

Edinson Cavani cancelled out Ademola Lookman's fifth-minute opener with a poacher's finish 16 minutes later in London, where Pogba stepped up for United.

Pogba fired a stunning left-foot effort past Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the 65th minute as United extended their unbeaten streak away from home to 17 games in the Premier League – matching the club's longest ever run set back in 1999.

The future of Pogba has dominated headlines since his outspoken agent Mino Raiola claimed the France World Cup winner was not happy in Manchester amid links with former club Juventus, LaLiga champions Real Madrid and Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain.

But when asked if Pogba is happy again at Old Trafford, Solskjaer told reporters: "I would like to say so yeah, he's enjoying his football, he's happy, he is mentally very happy, physically in very good shape. And we know all about his talents. Today, we decided to play him in midfield, and it was worth it."

Since his return to the club in 2016, no United player has scored more league goals from outside the box than Pogba (six).

"I'm very happy with his performance. You know, sometimes impressed is a strong word, but I know what he can do. And it was all about getting Paul fit, running fit, match fit. And today, he's played in the centre midfield role. He made some good runs into the box as well, he made challenges," said Solskjaer, whose United are two points clear atop the table, though neighbours Manchester City have a game in hand.

"He got an early yellow card, which always is dangerous, but he kept his discipline really well, and he won tackles for us. And he does everything, we know Paul can do more or less everything that's asked of a midfielder. Now he's putting all the elements together the same performances, which is great to see."

Solskjaer also hailed veteran forward Cavani after PSG's all-time leading scorer – who arrived on a free transfer at the start of the season – became the first United player whose first four Premier League goals for the club were all scored away from home.

"He's a centre forward you want in the box, his movement is incredible. It's for everyone to learn from you know. It's almost like I get frustrated at times when he goes wide to put the crosses in because he's the one that you want in there. And sometimes I have to ask him to do less running," Solskjaer added.

"Even in the second half, the header, the great save by Areola. A couple of other times and his movement is spot on. So, he's a type of centre forward we've been looking for and he complements Marcus [Rashford] and Mason [Greenwood] and Anthony [Martial] really well."

George Springer is reportedly packing his bags and heading to the Rogers Centre.

Widespread reports claim the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a six-year, $150million contract with star free agent and MLB World Series champion Springer – the largest deal in franchise history, eclipsing Vernon Wells' $126m extension in 2006.

The emerging Blue Jays, who returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016, had been looking to make a splash in free agency after recruiting ace Ryu Hyun-jin ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Toronto appear to have landed their number one target and one of the most coveted free agents this offseason, despite interest in the likes of Francisco Lindor and DJ LeMahieu, as they challenge the likes of the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox in the American League.

Springer – a World Series winner and MVP with the Houston Astros – brings a wealth of postseason experience to an exciting young core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio in Toronto, where the Blue Jays also boast number one right-handed pitching prospect Nate Pearson.

Teoscar Hernandez also had a breakout season for the Blue Jays, resulting in his first Silver Slugger Award.

But what does Springer's arrival mean for the Blue Jays in their pursuit of a first World Series crown since 1993? We take a look using Stats Perform data.

Experience and lead-off ability

Springer led the Astros to ultimate glory in 2017.

The 31-year-old outfielder tallied a team-high 14 homers, 37 runs, 50 hits and 32 RBIs with a .265 average in 189 at-bats as the Astros reached the AL Championship Series (ALCS) last season.

Springer leads MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015. The Blue Jays as a team have 129 homers from the lead-off spot over that time.

A two-time Silver Slugger, Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

The three-time All-Star's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

In 15 career games at the Blue Jays' Rogers Centre, Springer has slashed .358/.453/.604 with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs.

Springer to compliment Toronto's young star power

It has been a long time since Jose Bautista's memorable bat flip and back-to-back trips to the ALCS in 2015 and 2016.

But Guerrero, Gurriel, Bichette and Biggio have given Blue Jays fans a lot to be excited about.

The big-hitting quartet took the MLB by storm during last season's coronavirus-shortened campaign, lighting up the league and helping Toronto to a 32-28 record before losing to eventual World Series participants the Rays in the AL Wild Card Round.

Bichette is the first shortstop in MLB history to have a .300-plus batting average and a .500-plus slugging percentage in each of his first two seasons (minimum 125 plate appearances in both seasons).

Blue Jays team-mate Biggio became the first player in league history to have at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 100 walks through his first 159 career games (that is how many games he has played so far).

As for Guerrero, he is the only MLB player currently 21 or younger who has at least 100 career RBIs.

Of players aged 25 or younger, the Blue Jays topped a number of categories last season.

Based on age at the time of games, the Blue Jays had the most hits (234), runs (148), home runs (38), RBIs (137), XBH (93) and BB (103) in 2020.

Zinedine Zidane insisted there was no shame in Real Madrid's shock loss to third-tier side Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey.

Madrid were stunned by the Segunda Division B outfit in the last 32 as Juanan scored a 115th-minute winner on Wednesday.

Jose Solbes had earlier cancelled out Eder Militao's opener and Alcoyano found a winner despite Ramon Lopez's red card in extra time.

But Madrid head coach Zidane dismissed suggestions the defeat was shameful for the LaLiga champions.

"Those are your words. Those words, they do not belong to me," he told a news conference.

"This is football, difficult things because it's true that we play against a Segunda B team and we need to win the match normally, but at the end it hasn't been like that and this does not mean that this is a shame. It can happen and it happens sometimes in a footballer's career and responsibility must be assumed. I completely do.

"We will keep working … another painful day because we don't like to lose and overall for the players, because they just want to win. We won't get crazy now, let's think and keep working."

Excluding the defeat to Cadiz in 2015 for an illegal line-up, Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by a lower-league side for the first time since 2009.

No goalkeeper has made more saves than Jose Juan Figueras (10) in a game against Madrid this season as Zidane's men suffered back-to-back cup losses.

Asked if the players still believed in him, Zidane said: "Yes, I believe so. Then you have to ask them.

"We work, we try and lately we have done good things even though lately a bit less, but apart from the last three or four games, I believe that we have done good things this season.

"Now we have to think on LaLiga and the Champions League and that's it. To focus because things can be done. But if the players are still touched by my message? You have to ask the players. I believe so and we are in the same boat here."

Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers insisted there is no additional pressure as the NFL franchise look to end their Super Bowl absence against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rodgers and the top-seeded Packers will host Tom Brady's Buccaneers in Sunday's blockbuster NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.

Not since winning Super Bowl XLV have the Packers reached the showpiece event – beaten by the San Francisco 49ers in last season's NFC Championship Game, having also lost title deciders in 2017 and 2015.

But MVP favourite Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday: "No more pressure than usual. I think a lot of times the storylines, pressure and those kinds of comments are good stuff for you guys to write about, but I think it starts with the mentality and focus.

"Obviously I put pressure on myself to perform every single week, and I think there's a lot to be said for being able to harness that pressure and fear of failure and focus into a real positive. That's something you learn over the years. But I don't feel any extra pressure going into this one.

"Definitely thankful to be back here. A lot of people didn't think we'd be back here after last season. We got a lot of interesting comments last year about us being the worst 13-3 team that people had seen. Not the same type of comments this [time]. Obviously we're clicking a lot better on offense, I do feel really thankful to be back here, thankful for the chance to be playing."

Rodgers will play a conference title game at home for the first time in his stellar career following the Packers' 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round – his four previous NFC Championship appearances have been on the road.

Green Bay's Rodgers – a Super Bowl champion in the 2010 season – recorded his 12th career playoff game with 250-plus passing yards and two-plus passing touchdowns against the Rams.

According to NFL Research, the only other payers in NFL history with 10-plus such games are Brady (17), Joe Montana (12) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (10).

Rodgers also eclipsed Brett Favre for most playoff completions (439) in Packers history.

Per Stats Perform, Rodgers has thrown for multiple passing TDs in eight consecutive postseason games, tied with Joe Flacco for the longest streak in history. Now with 233 in his career, Rodgers also passed Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown at Lambeau Field (regular and postseason).

Brady and the Buccaneers stand in the way of Rodgers and just his second Super Bowl berth, with many feeling the upcoming encounter could be the latter's best chance at progressing past the NFC Championship for the first time in a decade.

But the 37-year-old Rodgers – a two-time MVP and nine-time Pro Bowler – said: "I'm always just trying to stay present, especially this year as much as anything, and enjoy the moments. I hope there's more opportunities, but I don't know. I mean, I really don't. That stuff is out of my control.

"My future is a beautiful mystery I think. The present is such a gift to be able to stay in the moment and to have gratitude for being in this situation again, and being with the guys and having fans in our stadium and maybe snow in an NFC Championship Game. I'm going to enjoy these moments for sure, and just not worry about what happens down the line."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp provided a promising update on Virgil van Dijk, but he remains unsure when the star defender will return for the Premier League champions.

Van Dijk underwent surgery on his knee in October after suffering a serious injury in the Merseyside derby against Everton.

The Netherlands international has been missed by Liverpool, who are fourth and six points adrift of rivals Manchester United ahead of hosting Burnley on Thursday.

Klopp was upbeat about Van Dijk's rehabilitation, but he is unsure when the 29-year-old might return.

"He looks really good," Klopp told a news conference.

"I spoke this morning to him on the phone, he is in a really good mood so it's all very promising but I don't know when he will be back.

"There are for sure a lot of stages still to go over or to pass, whatever, that's clear. I had this injury myself.

"For the time we are in and for how long he is out now, how long the rehabilitation is going on, he looks really, really promising."

Since Van Dijk's Premier League debut for Liverpool in January 2018, Klopp's men have won 72 of 95 games with him in their side.

That win percentage of 75.8 drops to 50 in the 14 league games in which Van Dijk has been absent.

Liverpool have also averaged more goals for (2.3 to 1.9) with Van Dijk, and also conceded more with him (0.8 to 0.6) than without him.

Klopp's side, however, have struggled for consistency so far this season and head into their clash against Burnley on a four-game winless run in the league.

Zinedine Zidane accepted Real Madrid's stunning Copa del Rey exit to third-tier Alcoyano will lead to further speculation over his future, but insisted he remained "very calm" over the situation.

Madrid were knocked out of the competition by lower league opponents for the first time since 2009 despite taking the lead on Wednesday, Eder Militao heading them in front on the stroke of half-time.

However, the reigning top-flight champions in Spain were unable to build on the lead, meaning an 80th-minute equaliser from Jose Solbes forced extra time.

A penalty shoot-out seemed the likely method to settle the last-32 tie, only for Juanan to pop up with a dramatic late winner that will no doubt increase the growing pressure on Zidane.

"When you lose there is always talk, I take responsibility and whatever has to happen will happen," the Madrid boss told the media in his post-match interview. 

"I am very calm. The players wanted to win the game, they try and sometimes different things happen."

Zidane rested some of his regulars but still selected a strong starting XI, while Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard were all introduced from the bench during proceedings.

The Frenchman could not fault the effort of his players as he accepted blame for the result; Alcoyano finished the game with 10 men too, Ramon Lopez sent off before Juanan's 115th-minute strike.

Madrid finished up having 26 shots - 11 of which were on target - and had 73 per cent of possession, yet still crashed out.

"The players have tried and if we score the second goal it is another match, football is like that," Zidane added after the 2-1 loss.

"The goalkeeper has made two or three saves and we have not scored the second goal, but I take responsibility. We are out."

He added: "This is football, it is very difficult because we played against a Segunda Division B team and we have to win the game, but it has not been like that.

"It can happen, it happens, these are things that happen in a football career. I assume responsibility and we will continue working. We will not go crazy."

Madrid must quickly put the cup result behind them as they continue their LaLiga title defence on Saturday, travelling to Deportivo Alaves.

Mike Evans feels Tom Brady is "just playing chess" late in his career as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepare for the NFC Championship Game.

Brady, 43, has led the Buccaneers into their first NFC Championship Game since the 2002 season and Tampa Bay face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

The Buccaneers finished last season 7-9 and now are a win away from the Super Bowl, but Evans is unsurprised Brady has had such a big impact.

"He's the greatest player to ever play the game. You add him on any roster and I'm sure the outcome would be somewhat like this," the wide receiver told a news conference.

"He always gets his teams to the playoffs. He's a winner, he's a natural-born winner, leader, all that.

"At this point in his career he's just playing chess and we're definitely very happy that he's on our side."

The Buccaneers were 6-2 on the road during the regular season and they have beaten the Washington Football Team and New Orleans Saints away from home in the playoffs.

While Super Bowl LV will be played at their Raymond James Stadium, they must first beat a Packers outfit that are 8-1 at Lambeau Field this season.

Brady, who is 1-1 at Lambeau Field with his most recent outing at the ground coming in 2014, said getting the fundamentals right was key on the road.

"We've been pretty good on the road all year, outside of the first game and then the Chicago game. For one reason or another we've just done a good job," he told a news conference.

"Some years it's been like that, I've been part of other teams when it wasn't quite like that. Let's keep that streak going, that would be pretty sweet, so let's get another one.

"We're going to be challenged to get it because we're going up against a great football team. Playing on the road is about playing good football – communication, execution, all the fundamentals of blocking, tackling. All those things.

"It's a great environment and this is one of the coolest stadiums in the league to play in. I know they're excited, we're excited, and it'll make for a great football game."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed a "fantastic" winning goal from Paul Pogba at Fulham but refused to be drawn on Manchester United's chances of winning the Premier League.

United returned to the top of the table with a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage after Manchester City briefly moved to the summit a 2-0 win over Aston Villa earlier on Wednesday.

Ademola Lookman capitalised on poor United defending to give Fulham an early lead, but Edinson Cavani equalised in the first half and Pogba won it with a stunning left-foot strike after 65 minutes.

The Red Devils are unbeaten in 17 away games in the top flight, matching their longest ever run set back in 1999, and lead City by two points, although their neighbours have a game in hand.

United again showed their character to mount a fightback and have won seven Premier League games this season after going behind.

Solskjaer told BT Sport: "I think we started slow but after their goal I felt we played well. We needed to wake up and after that we played really well.

"We don't do offsides really, we should follow the run. We had not woken up but good reaction."

Pogba has scored the winner in two of United's last three games after coming in from the cold and Solskjaer is pleased with the progress the France midfielder has made.

"It was a fantastic goal by Paul and we had some other chances to finish the game but of course when it is just one goal and the players they put on it is going to be like heart in your mouth," said the United boss.

"He [Pogba] has really come on. He is fit, he can play in midfield and he can play wide. That is key with Paul, getting him match fit and running fit and he is at the moment. He played very well."

It is now 13 Premier League games without defeat for United, but Solskjaer again fended off talk of a title challenge.

The former United and Norway striker said: "It is always going to be talked about that when you are halfway through and top of the league.

"But we are not thinking about this, we just have to go one game at a time. It is such an unpredictable season."

Paul Pogba will continue to play with a smile on his face as long as Manchester United keep winning, he explained after another decisive Premier League strike.

United reclaimed top spot with a 2-1 victory at Fulham on Wednesday, moving back ahead of Leicester City and Manchester City after their wins over Chelsea and Aston Villa respectively.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men triumphed having conceded first away from home for the seventh time in seven attempts this term with Pogba striking the winner after Edinson Cavani had cancelled out Ademola Lookman's early opener.

Pogba's effort was a fine left-footed blast from outside the area, his first league effort with his weaker foot from this range since January 2015 when he was still at Juventus.

It was a goal the midfielder revelled in, as he told BT Sport: "I hit it well. I didn't expect the left foot would be like this, but we try.

"If you don't shoot, you don't know what's going to happen. I'm really glad that the ball went in. It was a beautiful goal and a beautiful victory - that's the most important."

That strike marked the second time this month Pogba has fired United to victory, also netting the only goal at Burnley.

Yet he has also missed big chances - opportunities Opta would expect him to score - against Aston Villa and Liverpool since the start of 2021, with a wasteful attempt at Anfield on Sunday costing United two points.

Explaining his emotions after responding with a big goal, Pogba said: "It's not like I apologised, but I was really mad; I was really mad that I was close to the goal and maybe I should have done better.

"Today it went in so I'm really happy for that. The most important is that we had the win today, because it was a hard one, a very mature one.

"We had to defend and we knew it would be like this. We knew it and we've done it the hard way, the beautiful way. It's beautiful to win like that."

The broadcaster suggested Pogba, maligned for much of his United career, looked to be enjoying himself on the pitch in an all-action display that included more passes (80) and more passes in the opposition half (56) than any other player while leading the Red Devils in tackles (four), interceptions (three) and possession gains (nine).

"I love winning," he replied. "It's all about winning. I will always be happy when I win and I will always be happy when I'm on the pitch.

"Today we won, so I'm happy; the day we lose, I will be angry again. This is me."

And United cannot afford any slip-ups, with City, who have played a game fewer, and Leicester just two points back.

"We just know that we have to get our result. We knew we had to win and that's it," Pogba said.

"It's the Premier League, so you know it's always hard. It will never be easy. These are big teams as well, very close on points, so we have to do us. That's it."

Paul Pogba's sensational strike sent Manchester United back to the top of the Premier League as a 2-1 victory at Fulham extended their unbeaten away run to a record-equalling 17 matches.

United had slipped below both Leicester City and rivals Manchester City in the prior 24 hours but had a response at Craven Cottage despite trailing again to Ademola Lookman's early effort on Wednesday.

It was the seventh time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side had conceded first on the road in the league this season, yet goals from Edinson Cavani and, in spectacular fashion, Pogba ensured this encounter ended in the same fashion as the previous six with a United win.

The Red Devils have not lost a league fixture away from Old Trafford in more than a year and their 17-game streak now matches the club's Premier League benchmark, set in 1999 when Solskjaer was a player under Alex Ferguson.

That sequence stretched across consecutive title-winning campaigns and United will hope to be celebrating again come May, although they were given another scare by Fulham with just five minutes on the clock.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa's pass exploited a gaping hole in the visiting defence to find Lookman onside and in the clear, able to steady himself before finishing beyond David de Gea.

But Bruno Fernandes led the United response. They kept their attack alive after his left-footed shot bounced back out off the post and the midfielder's low cross was spilled by Alphonse Areola for Cavani to prod in.

Areola was rather more impressive in turning away another Fernandes effort moments later but was not worked again before half-time and Lookman might have restored Fulham's lead at the start of the second period, only to this time shoot straight at De Gea.

It was a squandered opportunity that proved costly as Pogba produced his moment of magic, cutting inside from the right and arrowing a left-footed drive across Areola into the far corner.

Areola again followed the goal with a super stop, denying Cavani from close range, but De Gea also had to be alert to block from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and protect the points for United.

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has earned a share of more history… or, at least, he might have.

It may sound cryptic but Ronaldo's latest remarkable goalscoring feat is sure to be a bone of contention.

The 35-year-old's effort in the 2-0 Supercoppa Italiana win over Napoli means he is now on 760 professional goals during his illustrious career.

That tally in some quarters matches the number accumulated by Josef Bican, who played internationally for Austria and Czechoslovakia between 1933 and 1949.

However, there are those – including FIFA's official website – who credit Rapid Vienna and Slavia Prague legend Bican with scoring 805 goals in 530 matches, an astonishing 1.52 goals per game (FIFA also clarifies 805 is an 'estimated' number).

The discrepancy appears to centre around the fact that some historians include Bican's efforts for Rapid's second team, while others do not.

What is not up for dispute is the remarkable feats of either player and Ronaldo continues to reach new benchmarks as he approaches his 36th birthday.

Of his 760 goals, 311 were scored in LaLiga, while he has 134 in the Champions League and 84 in the Premier League.

Additionally, Ronaldo has a sensational 102 goals for Portugal and his 450 during nine years with Real Madrid is a Los Blancos record.

No club has been on the receiving end of Ronaldo's brilliance more than Sevilla, who have conceded 27 times to the former Manchester United star, with Atletico Madrid second on 25.

The most prolific season of Ronaldo's career was 2011-12 when he scored 69 times, the same amount he achieved in the calendar year of 2013.

Ronaldo has scored three goals in a game 46 times, while one on eight occasions he has celebrated four and twice five in a single game, and there are 57 direct free-kicks and 133 penalties to his name.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Kevin De Bruyne may have suffered a muscular injury in the 2-0 win over Aston Villa, though he is waiting on further updates.

De Bruyne hobbled off in the second half as City beat Villa on Wednesday to move top of the Premier League table.

City star De Bruyne was replaced approaching the hour mark before Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan scored during the final 11 minutes at home to Villa, the former in controversial circumstances.

Kyle Walker also succumbed to injury after just 28 minutes, and Guardiola was asked about the pair.

"First, I didn't speak to the doctor," he said.

"Kyle asked to be out because something happened – hopefully it was just a kick.

"Kevin put his hand on his leg. Maybe it will be something muscular. But what do you expect? It's normal, sometimes these things happen with these kind of games."

City are now unbeaten in 16 games across all competitions after defeating a Villa side whose previous top-flight outing was a 2-1 loss to Manchester United 19 days earlier, having suffered a coronavirus outbreak.  

Silva broke the deadlock in the 79th minute amid strong claims for offside against Rodri as Villa boss Dean Smith was sent off for his protests, while Gundogan's late penalty sealed the win.

"I didn't watch the image on TV, I know they complained on the touchline," Guardiola said when discussing Silva's contentious goal.

"And VAR is there. So there are many challenges, with long balls when the player is offside, and you go backwards, the central defenders, you clear the ball, central defender for themselves, the counter attack.

"But VAR was there. If it was offside, the goal would have been disallowed, but honestly I didn't watch it, and I understand they complained about this action. In general, the game we played was outstanding."

City have kept 10 clean sheets in their 18 Premier League games this season – only in 1976-77 (17 games) have they reached that figure in fewer fixtures in their league history.

After a difficult start to the season, his side are firmly back in the mix, and Guardiola added: "There are many, many teams, but if you ask me for my opinion, still have one game left to finish the first round, so the rise in the table is good because we are there.

"When we lost against Tottenham, we were 12th in the table, but then we lost just two games and the most important thing, is the fact that we are back since Newcastle game, playing the game we have to play to be contenders. Everyone wants to win, wants to be champions but you have to show why you are champions.

"Today, I had the feeling that we controlled many aspects, we had the right tempo of the game, we concede few, create a lot. We have to be more clinical in the final third, especially in the eight yard box and penalty spot but we'll improve."

Bernardo Silva was relieved to end his Premier League goal drought as Manchester City earned a late 2-0 win over Aston Villa to go top.

The Portugal international superbly scored a disputed first Premier League goal of the season 11 minutes from time.

Villa boss Dean Smith was sent off for his protests after he felt Silva's strike should have been ruled out for offside against Rodri, who won the ball back from Tyrone Mings in the build-up.

The Spain international was in a clear offside position when Mings received possession but the officials allowed the goal to stand because, under the current interpretation of the law, a new phase of play began after the Villa centre-back touched the ball.

Ilkay Gundogan's last-minute penalty sealed the points to extend City's winning run to nine matches.

Rivals Manchester United can replace them at the summit if they are victorious when they face Fulham later on Wednesday.

For Silva, it was his first league strike since the 5-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion in July.

And it was his first Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium in 20 appearances, since scoring a hat-trick against Watford in September 2019.

"It has been a long time since I have scored," Silva said to BT Sport.

"I'm happy to score. It doesn't matter who scores the goals but I'm happy to score.

"Most important we are leaders for now. There is still a long way to go but still, very happy. We are doing very well, very solid at the back. We are happy with the last two games and our momentum."

The breakthrough arrived just as it looked like Villa would halt City's fine run of form.

Silva's opener was the 36th effort at goal in a dramatic match, and City's 25th of the contest.

Asked about Villa's complaints over his goal, Silva added: "I haven't checked it yet. 

"Our player was offside but when their defender touched it, he stops being offside, I think. But I haven't checked it.

"It was a very important win, a tough game for us. Just three more points and on to the next one.

"It felt like an important win because we got to the 75th minute without scoring, so to get those two goals, we are very happy."

City have now won 15 of their past 16 Premier League home games against Villa, including an on-going streak of 11 in a row.

And their forthcomig fixtures appear favourable as they look to extend their winning run.

After an FA Cup match with League Two Cheltenham Town, City face struggling trio West Brom, Sheffield United and Burnley prior to their crunch clash with champions Liverpool at Anfield on February 6.

Patrick Mahomes had "limited work and no contact" on Wednesday as he works through concussion protocol ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs' AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills. 

Superstar quarterback Mahomes, who was already struggling with a toe injury, left the Chiefs' win over the Cleveland Browns last week following a hit from Mack Wilson. 

The 2018 MVP was unable to return, but veteran backup Chad Henne led the defending Super Bowl champions to a dramatic victory in their playoff opener. 

Henne, playing in the postseason for the first time in his NFL career, endured a shaky outing, though, throwing an interception and being sacked once despite completing six of eight passes and crucially gaining 13 yards on one of his two rushing attempts. 

Kansas City will be keen for the return of Mahomes, who became just the second player in NFL history - after Steve Young - to have both passing and rushing touchdowns in three straight playoff games. 

Head coach Andy Reid said every player besides Willie Gay was "out there in some form or another", with the Chiefs also hoping to welcome back rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. 

"Tomorrow's a bigger practice, but they all seemed to make it through well and we'll just see how it goes tomorrow," Reid said.

On Mahomes specifically, Reid added: "He looked good. He's in the protocol, so there's only certain things he can do.

"It's a limited basis, but today was a little bit limited practice, so that fitted right in to what he could do.

"He took all the snaps and he feels good, so we're just going to have to follow this protocol as closely as we possibly can."

Having continued to take risks with Henne at the helm last week, including a gamble on a pass from fourth and inches to seal the win, Reid is confident Kansas City's preparations will not be impacted by the uncertainty at quarterback.

"When Chad was in the game, we didn't really have to change much, so that was a plus," he explained. "We're just leaving it the way we do.

"Chad's comfortable with it, and he feels he can handle that. It's all well there."

Mahomes has thrown for 14 touchdowns and two interceptions across six playoff games, with a career postseason QB rating of 106.6, the best in league history.

Bernardo Silva scored a controversial first Premier League goal of the season as Manchester City beat Aston Villa 2-0 to go top of the table.

City dominated much of an entertaining encounter on a miserable evening but looked set to miss out on the chance to take over at the summit until Silva struck 11 minutes from time, albeit in contentious circumstances.

Villa boss Dean Smith was sent off for his protests after he felt Silva's goal should have been ruled out for offside against Rodri, who had won the ball back from Tyrone Mings.

Ilkay Gundogan's penalty sealed all three points to extend City's winning run to nine matches and put them top, although Manchester United can replace them when they face Fulham later on Wednesday.

City lost Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker to injury but they are now unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions.

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