It was supposed to be all about Sergio Aguero, but it was a fellow Manchester City player with an uncertain future that made the difference as the Premier League leaders took another huge step towards the title on Saturday evening.
Benjamin Mendy was making just his second Premier League appearance in four months as he nimbly avoided one challenge and coolly sidefooted home the crucial opener in a 2-0 win over Leicester City that propelled Pep Guardiola’s side 17 points clear at the top of the table.
City had dominated against Brendan Rodgers’ strangely unadventurous side and were only missing a goal until Mendy became the game’s unlikely hero.
Aguero was one of the first players to sprint over to celebrate with the enigmatic Frenchman, who has found himself on the periphery of Guardiola’s plans this season.
But it almost seemed unfair that the Argentine was never presented with an opening as enticing as the one Mendy converted in the 58th minute.
Just five days after the announcement that Aguero would leave the club, he was given the opportunity to show from the first whistle that he still has plenty to offer at the highest level.
Against Leciester, the 32-year-old made his usual astute runs, worked hard off the ball, linked up with the team – but somehow the big chance he was craving never came.
Indeed, his biggest goal contribution was getting Fernandinho’s 30-yard strike into the bottom corner of the Leicester goal disallowed, with Aguero standing in an offside position when he leapt out of the way of the Brazilian’s superb fifth-minute shot.
The striker could not hide his frustration during the game as he was forced to feed off scraps while others went close to scoring, with Kevin De Bruyne firing against the bar, and Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus both forcing Kasper Schmeichel into action.
He clasped his hands in frustration when Jesus failed to square the ball to him after he had found some space for himself in the six-yard box.
He held his head in his hands after he volleyed high over the bar when a poor clearance had dropped for him around the penalty spot, and then slapped his thigh when he failed to control a short pass as he darted into the box.
And he was already in the dugout, replaced by Raheem Sterling two minutes after Mendy’s goal, when fellow forward Jesus poked in City’s second goal in the 74th minute.
Still, despite Aguero’s disappointment, this was a victory that showed City’s strength in depth as they ramped up their bid for an unprecedented quadruple.
While Mendy’s long-term future at the club remains uncertain, he stepped seamlessly into a side that easily dealt with a team that scored five times at the Etihad Stadium in September.
He was one of six players that started against the Foxes after staying behind at the Etihad Campus during the international break.
Everton confirm former Burnley boss Dyche as new manager
Everton have confirmed the appointment of former Burnley boss Sean Dyche as their new manager on a two-and-a-half-year contract.
The report came on Monday that Dyche had been chosen by the Everton board as Frank Lampard’s successor, after also holding talks with former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa.
Dyche, according to a Sky Sports report, is the seventh permanent manager hired by Toffees owner Farhad Moshiri since he took over the club nearly seven years ago.
Lampard’s last game in charge was a 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers West Ham on January 21, which kept them second-bottom on 15 points after 20 games – two points below the safety zone.
The Merseyside club had been floundering under the former England international, having last won a league game in October when they beat Crystal Palace 3-0 at home.
Lampard was appointed by Everton in January 2022 after he managed Chelsea from 2019/2021 and Derby County in the second tier in 2018/19, but Dyche will now be tasked with arresting the slide towards the Championship.
Dyche told the club’s official website, “It’s an honour to become Everton manager. My staff and I are ready and eager to help get this great club back on track.
“I know about Everton’s passionate fanbase and how precious this club is to them. We’re ready to work and ready to give them what they want. That starts with sweat on the shirt, effort and getting back to some of the basic principles of what Everton Football Club has stood for for a long time.”
Mourinho Compares Victor Osimhen to one of the African legend, Didier Drogba
AS Roma manager, Jose Mourinho, has compared Super Eagles of Nigeria and Napoli of Italy hitman, Victor Osimhen, to Chelsea and Ivory Coast legend, Didier Drogba.
NEWSBREAK reports that the Nigerian striker netted a world-class goal as his side, Napoli, marched towards the Serie A title on Sunday. Osimhen’s classic goal came against Mourinho’s Roma at the Diego Maradona stadium where Napoli won 2-1.
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Speaking after the match, Mourinho, a former Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid manager, said: “He (Osimhen) is of the same level as Drogba, but Didier didn’t dive.
Kelechi Iheanacho’s record goal helps Leicester qualify for last 16 FA Cup
Leicester city needed the goal from Nigerian footballer Kelechi Iheanacho to avoid a shock elimination from the FA Cup with a 1-0 win at Walsall on Saturday.
The Nigerian has scored more goals in the competition than any other player since making his debut in 2016.
Iheanacho’s 17th goal in 23 FA Cup appearances had some fortune as his strike from the edge of the box took a deflection for the only goal 23 minutes from time.
Leicester, Leeds and Man United join Manchester City as the first four sides to book their place in the last 16 of the competition.
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