Wembley hero Laporte eyes confidence boost for Man City

By Sports Desk April 25, 2021

Aymeric Laporte felt Sunday's EFL Cup triumph gave Manchester City a timely confidence boost as they enter a decisive period of their season.

Centre-back Laporte was the unlikely matchwinner against Tottenham at Wembley on Sunday, heading home the only goal from Kevin De Bruyne's 82nd-minute free-kick.

City were back at England's national stadium eight days on from a sapping 1-0 reverse against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Now they will turn their attentions towards a Champions League last-four clash against Paris Saint-Germain, with Manchester United's 0-0 draw at Leeds United earlier on Sunday also meaning Pep Guardiola's men are just two wins away from claiming Premier League glory.

"We are so happy to win this title again," Laporte told Sky Sports after City lifted the trophy for a record-equalling fourth season in a row.

"It's very special because we lost in the FA Cup so it is something good for us to get confidence and keep playing like we have done the past few months.

"We have done so, so good and we have to keep this rhythm this way to win more titles."

Laporte's moment to savour came against an opponent who he has often struggled to find his best form against.

A pair of mistakes leading to Son Heung-min strikes led to City going out of the 2018-19 Champions League on away goals, while a shaky display at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium earlier this term preceded John Stones replacing him as Guardiola's first-choice partner for Ruben Dias.

The trend threatened to continue when Laporte was booked for a cynical first-half foul on Lucas Moura, having been incredibly fortunate to escape punishment for an earlier challenge on the same player.

"It's hard. I was thinking a lot about that. We know that a little mistake can cost you a lot," Laporte said.

"I've been careful in the second half and tried not to commit fouls."

Laporte was not penalised for another foul after the Lucas booking and made no tackles or interceptions during the game – statistics that speak of both City's dominance and his necessarily more reserved approach in the second half.

Long-serving City midfielder Fernandinho claimed a sixth winners' medal in the EFL Cup, having also won two under Manuel Pellegrini.

It was the first time the veteran Brazilian lifted the trophy as captain, however, and it was unquestionably a proud moment.

"My first time lifting a trophy at City as captain is an amazing sensation," he told Sky Sports.

"I think we deserved to win that game because we went from the first minute trying to score goals and created chances.

"At the end the game has been decided by a set piece.

"I am happy for myself, my team-mates, the staff, all the group. We have to enjoy this."

Fernandinho added: "I'm really proud. To win six trophies in this competition is an amazing feeling. I'm grateful for this club and the fans – I was so happy to see them back in the stadium. Congratulations to everyone."

Related items

  • Ramos backs PSG team-mate Messi for Ballon d'Or Ramos backs PSG team-mate Messi for Ballon d'Or

    Sergio Ramos endorsed Lionel Messi for the Ballon d'Or as the Paris Saint-Germain superstar targets a record-extending seventh crown.

    Messi is among the favourites for the 2021 Ballon d'Or, which will be announced during Monday's ceremony in Paris.

    Bayern Munich talisman Robert Lewandowski is expected to provide stiff competition as well as Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho, who celebrated Champions League and Euro 2020 glory.

    Ramos has often backed Cristiano Ronaldo for the top gong over the years, given they were Real Madrid team-mates and rivals of former Barcelona captain Messi.

    But Ramos now calls PSG home and wants ex-foe Messi to succeed once more following Argentina's drought-ending Copa America triumph.

    "Yes, of course [I hope he wins]," Spain international defender Ramos told ESPN.

    "I'm going to defend the guys in my team. I wish him all the luck in the world.

    "He's in good shape, and I think he's the kind of player who really makes a difference. He's a unique player and it's a privilege to have him in the team.

    "I think that bit by bit, each of us is going to bring our own quality to make Paris Saint-Germain even greater and achieve the things we want to achieve."

    In Sunday's 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne, Messi delivered three assists in a single league game for the third time of his career after March 2016 against Getafe and February 2020 against Betis.

    Messi became the first PSG player to achieve the feat in Ligue 1 since Blaise Matuidi against Angers in January 2016.

    At 35 years and 243 days, Ramos became the oldest outfield player to make his first appearance with PSG in Ligue 1 since David Beckham (37 years and 298 days against Marseille in February 2013).

    Ramos attempted 101 passes against Saint-Etienne – a game-high and the best tally for a PSG player making his Ligue 1 debut since Opta started analysing this data in 2006-07.

  • Rodgers shakes off toe injury to lead Packers past slumping Rams Rodgers shakes off toe injury to lead Packers past slumping Rams

    Aaron Rodgers was not slowed down by his toe injury as he guided the Green Bay Packers to a 36-28 win over the struggling Los Angeles Rams.

    Rodgers entered Sunday's showdown under a cloud, having missed practice in the lead up to the Lambeau Field clash due to fractured toe on his left foot.

    But the reigning NFL MVP shook off the problem with a pair of passing touchdowns while he rushed for another score as the NFC North-leading Packers (9-3) condemned the slumping Rams (7-4) to a third consecutive defeat.

    Rodgers completed 28 of his 47 passes for 307 yards and no interceptions and the Packers quarterback also rushed for a TD on two carries.

    The Packers led 20-17 at half-time and blew the visiting Rams away with a 16-0 third period, despite the loss of Randall Cobb.

    Cobb was ruled out at the start of the second half due to a groin injury, having set a season high for receiving yards with 95 on four catches in the opening two periods, including a seven-yard TD.

    Odell Beckham Jr. scored his first touchdown for the Rams on a 54-yard bomb from Matthew Stafford, but it was a tough outing for the quarterback.

    Stafford threw a pick-six that overshadowed his three-touchdown display on 21-of-38 passing for 302 yards and two sacks.

     

    Niners stay hot in San Francisco

    Deebo Samuel's two touchdowns helped the in-form San Francisco 49ers top the Minnesota Vikings 34-26.

    Samuel celebrated a pair of TDs before a groin injury cut short his outing as the 49ers (6-5) won their third straight game.

    The 49ers star became the first wide receiver in the Super Bowl era to score a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games in a single season.

    Elijah Mitchell put up 133 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries for the 49ers, while Jimmy Garoppolo finished 17-of-26 passing for 230 yards, a touchdown and interception.

  • Patriots strike blow in race for one seed, Brady & Bucs survive against Colts Patriots strike blow in race for one seed, Brady & Bucs survive against Colts

    The New England Patriots struck another blow in the race for the one seed in the AFC, defeating the banged-up Tennessee Titans to leapfrog them with a 36-13 victory at Gillette Stadium.

    New England went into Sunday's heavyweight clash having won five successive games, and their ability to produce turnovers proved key in extending that streak to six.

    Tennessee, minus their top offensive playmakers in injured running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver A.J. Brown, committed four giveaways while the Patriots produced a flawless game in that regard, rookie quarterback Mac Jones recording his second 300-yard passing game of a stellar first season.

    Both teams now stand at 8-4, with the Patriots' victory giving them the tiebreaker over the Titans, with another test of New England's Super Bowl credentials to come a week on Monday when they face AFC East rivals the Buffalo Bills (7-4) on the road.

    Nick Westbrook-Ikhine's touchdown reception and a 68-yard rushing score from Dontrell Hilliard meant the Titans only trailed 16-13 at half-time.

    But their first two drives of the second half, sandwiched by a field goal for New England, ended in a fumble and a punt and Tennessee's slow start to the third quarter was exacerbated when Kendrick Bourne's 41-yard catch and run for his second touchdown of the day gave the Patriots a 26-13 lead.

    The Titans drove to New England's two-yard line in response, only for Ryan Tannehill to see a fourth-down pass to Cody Hollister tipped and intercepted by J.C. Jackson.

    That allowed the Patriots to stretch the lead with Nick Folk's fifth field goal and, after another failed fourth-down attempt from Tannehill, Damien Harris capped things off for New England with a 14-yard run as they sent an emphatic message to the rest of the AFC.

    FOURnette stars as Bucs win Colts thriller

    Defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailed by 10 points at the end of the half in a see-saw battle with the Indianapolis Colts.

    But five Colts turnovers tipped the balance in the favour of the Bucs, Leonard Fournette's fourth touchdown securing a 38-31 victory and a 51st game-winning drive for Tom Brady, putting him three shy of Peyton Manning's all-time record, despite a late 71-yard kickoff return from Isaiah Rodgers that almost forced overtime.

    The Bucs (8-3) have a commanding lead atop the NFC South, with the Carolina Panthers' defeat to the Miami Dolphins dropping them to 5-7. The 6-6 Colts remain firmly in the Wild Card picture in the AFC.

    Bengals sweep Steelers

    The Cincinnati Bengals moved within half a game of the AFC North lead as they completed their first season sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers since the 2009 season.

    It was a feat they achieved in style with a 41-10 rout, running back Joe Mixon the star of the show with 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with Joe Burrow's lone touchdown throw to Tee Higgins his 10th of 30 or more yards this season.

    Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger endured a miserable day, throwing two interceptions and suffering three sacks to drop Pittsburgh to 5-5-1. The 7-4 Bengals will end the day atop the division if the Baltimore Ravens, who own the top seed with Titans' defeat, lose to the Cleveland Browns later on Sunday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.