Manchester City were on the right side of some contentious decisions as Sergio Aguero's controversial goal and a late Kevin De Bruyne effort earned a 2-0 win over Sheffield United, Pep Guardiola's 100th in the Premier League.

With leaders Liverpool having extended the gap at the top with a win over Wolves, City were fortunate not to fall behind in the first half when Lys Mousset had a goal harshly disallowed by VAR.

However, there was more controversy to follow, with the visitors incensed after referee Chris Kavanagh failed to stop the play despite accidentally blocking off John Fleck in the build-up to Sergio Aguero's opener.

VAR did come to the Blades' assistance when it deemed John Egan had not deliberately handled a Riyad Mahrez shot, though City had the points wrapped up when De Bruyne lashed in with eight minutes remaining, as Guardiola reached 100 wins in 134 matches to break Jose Mourinho's record.

With Mousset having squandered an early header, United thought they had the lead when the striker kept his cool to slot beyond Claudio Bravo, who was starting in place of the suspended Ederson, only for VAR to disallow the goal for a marginal offside call.

Mousset got the better of City's defence again prior to half-time, yet sliced his effort into the side-netting after latching onto Oliver Norwood's pass.

Despite their poor display, City took the lead six minutes into the second half - Aguero clinically drilling in his 10th league goal of the season.

United were adamant the goal should not have stood due to the referee's accidental interference, but VAR once more went against them.

City then wanted a penalty when Egan blocked Mahrez's shot, though their claims were rejected despite the ball hitting the defender's arm.

Any hopes of a comeback were ended soon after as De Bruyne calmly swept home, though Billy Sharp went agonisingly close to setting up a grandstand finish with a looping header which hit the upright and rolled across the line as United's unbeaten run on the road came to an end at nine.

 

What does it mean? City give themselves breathing room

With Liverpool so far ahead, the title race seems all but over, though City could have been looking over their shoulder had they failed to win, with Chelsea coming from behind to beat Arsenal earlier on Sunday. 

As it is, the champions have restored the six-point gap between themselves and Frank Lampard's side, though they still sit a point behind Leicester City in second.

Aguero rediscovers his home comforts

It was a far from a vintage all-round display from Aguero, but when he was put through by De Bruyne's pass, he never looked likely to fluff his lines to score his first home league goal since November 2.

City's ramshackle defence get lucky thanks to VAR

Hindered by a lack of options, Guardiola handed a first Premier League start to 18-year-old Eric Garcia, though the youngster - alongside Fernandinho - was often caught out by the pace of Mousset and the speed of United's counters. 

Indeed, only a marginal offside decision sparred City's blushes. They will surely look to bring in defensive reinforcements in January.

What's next?

Carlo Ancelotti's Everton visit the Etihad Stadium on New Year's Day, while the Blades visit runaway leaders Liverpool on Thursday.

Manchester City were on the right side of some contentious decisions as Sergio Aguero's controversial goal and a late Kevin De Bruyne effort earned a 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday.

With Premier League leaders Liverpool having extended the gap at the top with a win over Wolves, City were fortunate not to fall behind in the first half when Lys Mousset had a goal harshly disallowed by VAR.

However, there was more controversy to follow, with the visitors incensed after referee Chris Kavanagh failed to stop the play despite accidentally blocking off John Fleck in the build-up to Sergio Aguero's opener.

VAR did come to the Blades' assistance when it deemed John Egan had not deliberately handled a Riyad Mahrez shot, though City had the points wrapped up when De Bruyne lashed in with eight minutes remaining.

With Mousset having squandered an early header, United thought they had the lead when the striker kept his cool to slot beyond Claudio Bravo, who was starting in place of the suspended Ederson, only for VAR to disallow the goal for a marginal offside call.

Mousset got the better of City's defence again prior to half-time, yet sliced his effort into the side-netting after latching onto Oliver Norwood's pass.

Despite their poor display, City took the lead six minutes into the second half - Aguero clinically drilling in his 10th league goal of the season.

United were adamant the goal should not have stood due to the referee's accidental interference, but VAR once more went against them.

City then wanted a penalty when Egan blocked Mahrez's shot, though their claims were rejected despite the ball hitting the defender's arm.

Any hopes of a comeback were ended soon after as De Bruyne calmly swept home, though Billy Sharp went agonisingly close to setting up a grandstand finish with a looping header which hit the upright and rolled across the line as United's unbeaten run on the road came to an end at nine.

 

What does it mean? City give themselves breathing room

With Liverpool so far ahead, the title race seems all but over, though City could have been looking over their shoulder had they failed to win, with Chelsea coming from behind to beat Arsenal earlier on Sunday. 

As it is, the champions have restored the six-point gap between themselves and Frank Lampard's side, though they still sit a point behind Leicester City in second.

Aguero rediscovers his home comforts

It was a far from a vintage all-round display from Aguero, but when he was put through by De Bruyne's pass, he never looked likely to fluff his lines to score his first home league goal since November 2.

City's ramshackle defence get lucky thanks to VAR

Hindered by a lack of options, Pep Guardiola handed a first Premier League start to 18-year-old Eric Garcia, though the youngster - alongside Fernandinho - was often caught out by the pace of Mousset and the speed of United's counters. 

Indeed, only a marginal offside decision sparred City's blushes. They will surely look to bring in defensive reinforcements in January.

What's next?

Carlo Ancelotti's Everton visit the Etihad Stadium on New Year's Day, while the Blades visit runaway leaders Liverpool on Thursday.

Pep Guardiola will stay at Manchester City and see out his contract, according to chief executive Ferran Soriano.

Guardiola is contracted to City until 2021, however, there are doubts over the Spaniard's future in Manchester following back-to-back Premier League titles.

Reports – which Guardiola has denied – have claimed there is a clause which would allow the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss to leave at the end of the current campaign.

However, Soriano is confident Guardiola will stay and honour his deal amid speculation he wants to return to Barcelona.

"Pep has said so many times that he has a contract that covers this year, plus next year too," Soriano said at the Dubai International Sports Conference. "There is no discussion about this.

"Pep will stay and he'll leave at the right time one day – and the club is strong enough to survive any change. But as Pep said many times, he's not leaving."

Guardiola moved to City in 2016 and his side have dominated English football up until this season.

City have won seven trophies since the 2017-18 campaign, however, Guardiola's men are third and 14 points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool this term.

Sunday will see City host Sheffield United at the Etihad Stadium following Friday's stunning 3-2 loss away to Wolves.

 

Pep Guardiola acknowledged Manchester City will need to change if they are to return to the top of the Premier League, though he again ruled out making January signings.

The reigning champions suffered their fifth defeat of the season at Wolves on Friday to leave them 14 points adrift of runaway leaders Liverpool, who also have a game in hand on City.

It means City are highly unlikely to start the new decade by adding to the four domestic titles they have won in the 2010s, during which time they also won the FA Cup twice and lifted the EFL Cup on four occasions.

Such success has transformed City but Guardiola knows the club cannot afford to stand still if they are to win more trophies.

"The club in the last decade make an incredible step with different managers, different players and sustain that," Guardiola said at a news conference.

"I think in 10 years [City] won four Premier Leagues so it's not bad considering this league.

"There are periods. Football is not all the time being up there. We were incredible for two seasons and in this competition, the Premier League, we lost more games [this season] than the previous two seasons and you have to adapt.

"You have to analyse and move forward."

That adaptation process is likely to take place after the season, though, when it has already been confirmed that David Silva is leaving and Fernandinho may follow him out of the exit door.

City seemingly have issues to address now, yet when asked whether that would result in incomings next month, Guardiola replied: "Nope."

Guardiola's side had to play with 10 men for 78 minutes of a 3-2 loss against Wolves after goalkeeper Ederson was sent off.

They are next in action on Sunday against Sheffield United, with Guardiola, like many of his counterparts, not a fan of the quick turnaround.

"All the managers, everybody agrees about that," he said.

"Every season is the same. The first season was the same – I played at Anfield and two days later with Burnley at home we played 75 minutes 10 against 11 as well.

"My words are not going to change. I think Jose Mourinho said the same and Jurgen [Klopp]. Every season is the same. TVs decide and we have to adapt.

"I don't have any confidence about that [changing long term], they don't care."

Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano believes Pep Guardiola is the best coach in world football, but admits it is hard to argue with Zinedine Zidane's record at Real Madrid.

Guardiola won five major trophies in his first three full campaigns at the Etihad Stadium, including a clean sweep of domestic honours last season.

City look unlikely to retain their Premier League title, trailing leaders Liverpool by 14 points after a dramatic 3-2 defeat to Wolves on Friday.

Zidane has come under scrutiny since returning to Madrid, despite an incredible first stint at the club that saw him win three successive Champions League trophies.

And while Soriano agrees with Zidane's recent sentiment that Guardiola is the finest coach around, the City CEO has spoken of his admiration for the France legend.

 

"In the case of Zidane, the results speak for themselves, as in the case of Pep," he said at the the Globe Soccer Awards event. 

"There are all the titles he has won in LaLiga, the Bundesliga, the Premier League. For me, Guardiola is the best coach in the world because he is our [coach]."

City have never won the Champions League and face a huge challenge to be crowned European champions this season, having been drawn against Madrid at the last-16 stage.

The first leg is to be held at the Santiago Bernabeu on February 26 and Soriano believes there is very little between the two teams.

"You look at them and wherever you look - the quality of the players, the money invested, the salaries we pay - these are two great teams that are very even," he said. 

"It is unlikely that one team is far superior to the other - it will depend on how these two games take place.

"As usually happens in the Champions League, the tie can depend on a small detail, a defensive mistake or a referee error, which can be decisive."

Asked how the sides compare in terms of style of play, Soriano added: "You usually insist on the importance of City's style of play, while Real Madrid's style is usually winning no matter how.

"With Zidane they have won three Champions Leagues in a row. That's the reality. They have won three Champions Leagues in a row with Zidane and four in five years. Discussions about the style of play die when the data is exposed.

"I talk about what concerns Manchester City, where we play a certain style of football, but we do it because we believe in it and also because we are doing well, because when we don't play well we usually lose. 

"Ours is a way of looking at simple football: we have to play our way, and we can execute it in different ways, but the style, the fundamentals, have to be the same so that we do well.

"We can never lose that essence. Maybe other teams can play in several different ways, but not us."

Manchester City fans are in need of some good news after Friday's loss to Wolves, and they might have thought they had it when Real Sociedad announced Martin Odegaard would be joining on loan.

The reigning Premier League champions threw away a 2-0 lead at Molineux as Wolves fought back against 10 men to win 3-2 and leave City 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, who also have a game in hand.

With City offering up a limp title defence, the club may be forced into action when the transfer window reopens next month – despite Pep Guardiola's insistence they will not be – and they have been linked with Norway international Odegaard.

The 21-year-old joined Sociedad from Real Madrid on an initial season-long loan back in July and he has shone for a side who are challenging for a Champions League place.

On Saturday, though, Sociedad curiously said Odegaard had been offloaded to City.

"Real Sociedad have reached an agreement with Manchester City over the loan of Martin Odegaard," a club statement read.

"The player is set to stay at Manchester City until the end of the season.

"The txuri urdin club wants to thank and offer recognition for the job done by Martin. He has shown great professionalism, dedication and loyalty to this club and we wish him well for the future."

However, Odegaard is highly unlikely to be turning out for City against Sheffield United on Sunday – or indeed at all – as the announcement came on Spain's 'Holy Innocents Day', when practical jokes and fake news are commonplace.

"We are forced to take this difficult decision in order to avoid possible media comments for the next six months," the Sociedad statement added. "What a relief!"

Raul Jimenez hopes Wolves can repeat their upset win over Manchester City when they visit Liverpool on Sunday.

Wolves stunned City 3-2 in the Premier League on Friday, denting the champions' title chances while moving up to fifth in the table.

Jimenez, who scored the equaliser as Wolves came from 2-0 down, hopes his team can deliver again when they make the trip to Anfield.

"Why not?" the forward said, via the club's website, about repeating the result.

"It will be a tough game, but we know that."

Trailing 2-0 and playing against 10 men, Wolves scored through Adama Traore before Jimenez's equaliser and Matt Doherty's 89th-minute winner.

Jimenez praised his team, who also recorded a 2-0 win over City in October.

"It's never easy to come back from two goals, especially against a team like Manchester City," he said.

"It's difficult, but with our heart and our football, we knew this was a very good opportunity for us to win this game.

"It wasn't a perfect match, but we played very well against a very good team in Manchester City. It's difficult to win or even draw against them, but we've won both games.

"So, we are very excited, very happy, and we will enjoy this."

A proud Nuno Espirito Santo hailed his "relentless" Wolves team after a 3-2 win over Manchester City in the Premier League on Friday.

Wolves found themselves 2-0 behind at the Molineux after Raheem Sterling's brace followed Ederson's 12th-minute red card for City.

However, they fought back and goals from Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez and Matt Doherty saw them stun City and climb into fifth in the table.

Nuno lauded his team for their fight as they moved to within eight points of third-placed City.

"We are relentless and will keep on going, it doesn't matter what happens, we want to compete," the Wolves head coach said, via the club's website.

"Of course, they were blocking our game, on our right side, but most important was staying in the game. Conceding the second goal makes the task very hard, it's a very good team, but we played good, nice goals.

"We had to stay in the game. We got punished with one mistake in the second half, when we didn't press well, but we reacted very good.

"The way we achieved the goals was very good, the way we reacted, the way we kept players with so much quality under pressure – it requires a lot of effort."

Nuno, whose team visit league leaders Liverpool on Sunday, was proud of Wolves' second-half performance.

"No matter what the result, I must be proud of the way the players played. We made mistakes, but let's be fair to the game, everything changes when City have one man less," he said.

"We had much more of the ball but had to find solutions. Second half we reacted, played the way we want to do things, combining one side to the other, one versus one in the wide areas, and I'm delighted."

Pep Guardiola is adamant Manchester City will not prioritise cup competitions over the Premier League for the rest of the season because he worries about them missing out on European places.

City are 14 points behind league leaders Liverpool thanks to Friday's 3-2 defeat at Wolves, meaning their title defence looks beyond Guardiola's men.

Although Ederson's early red card left City in a precious position at Molineux, they found themselves two to the good just after the interval thanks to a pair of Raheem Sterling goals.

But Adama Traore pulled one back soon after and he then played a vital role in an 82nd-minute equaliser, making the most of Benjamin Mendy's woeful error to set up Raul Jimenez.

The Mexican teed up Matt Doherty late on and he secured the win that leaves City well adrift of Liverpool, who also have a game in hand.

But giving up on the Premier League is a dangerous game Guardiola is unwilling to play.

"We can't give up otherwise we won't be in Europe," Guardiola told reporters.

"I never prioritise competitions. Now we're back at home, playing another game in less than 40 hours [at home to Sheffield United]. We have to prepare, see how they are and how they feel.

"Our response is always good; we are used to being top and now we are fighting."

Friday's result meant Manchester City were unable to move back up to second above Leicester City, who lost 4-0 to Liverpool on Boxing Day.

And Guardiola reiterated that they are now City's target, acknowledging it is not realistic to continue aiming for Liverpool's lofty perch.

"We have to move on," he said. "We played the first season and we were there [near the top] all the time, in some situations we are far away. We have to catch the second one and see where we are.

"It's unrealistic to think about Liverpool, we think about Leicester. We have the chance to recover second, I know the quality of the team, but that's the situation."

Throughout the first half of the 2019-20 Premier League season, the contrast between the performances of Liverpool and Manchester City has been stark.

Unbeaten and unbelievably consistent, Liverpool have been largely infallible as they have taken their form from last season's incredible title race between the two same sides to the next level. The sole blemish on the Reds' domestic season to this point is a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

City, meanwhile, have slogged through a campaign in which injuries have exposed a lack of depth at the back and left them to struggle against inferior opposition on several occasions.

Their defeat at Anfield, a stadium where City have not won since 2003, in November was no surprise given their desperate record at the home of the league leaders, but losses to Norwich City, United and Wolves - who became just the second team to complete a league double over Pep Guardiola's City - were marks on the ledger few anticipated.

The difference between Liverpool and a City side that look increasingly likely to be surrendering the title come May was laid bare at Molineux in a remarkable game.

Only 24 hours earlier, Liverpool, less than a week removed from their Club World Cup final win, breezed through what was seen as their toughest challenge of the season.

Jurgen Klopp's men came through a seemingly tricky trip to Leicester City in style, controlling the game from start to finish en route to an emphatic 4-0 success.

It was a display to silence any lingering doubters questioning whether Liverpool can finish the job from such a commanding position, and City's showing in the Midlands only served to further talk that this title race is becoming a procession for the Merseysiders.

Indeed, what City produced against Wolves was the antithesis of what Liverpool delivered at the King Power Stadium. Any hope of controlling the game was lost when Ederson raced outside the box and caught Diogo Jota as the Portuguese bore down on his goal. A straight red card forced a reshuffle in which Sergio Aguero was withdrawn to allow Claudio Bravo to slot in between the posts.

Stunningly, 10-man City did manage to assume control as a twice-taken Raheem Sterling penalty gave them the lead 25 minutes in, albeit he had to pounce to net on the rebound. WIth five minutes gone in the second half, the same man made it 2-0 at the end of a wonderfully worked break and City looked set to emerge unscathed and with a morale-boosting away win.

However, just five minutes later Wolves had hope. Adama Traore rifled in from the edge of the area to punish Sterling sloppily losing possession. Yet, even as Wolves pushed and pushed, City looked relatively comfortable, but their defensive frailties emerged once more and helped Wolves complete the turnaround.

The much-maligned Bravo proved dependable in goal, but he could do nothing about Wolves' equaliser. Benjamin Mendy, known more for his injuries and social media activity than any defensive capabilities at this point in his City career, was out-muscled by Traore on the right byline, and he teed up Raul Jimenez for a tap-in.

Matt Doherty completed the comeback as he played a one-two with Jimenez and was allowed to work his way past three City defenders before lashing a left-footed effort beyond Bravo's despairing dive.

Chelsea are the only other team to complete a Premier League double over Guardiola's City, doing so in his first season. City finished that campaign third, the position they occupy now as Guardiola's side sit a massive 14 points behind Liverpool.

Asked about that gap after the match, Guardiola was considered and stopped short of declaring the title race over, but deep down he will know overhauling Liverpool is a near-impossible task.

Whereas Liverpool look emboldened by running the champions so close last season, City appear exhausted by their astonishing exploits of the previous two terms. The frantic finale at Molineux likely ensured there will be no such grandstand finish in May and as 2019 draws to its conclusion, the title race is all over bar the shouting.

Bernardo Silva acknowledged Manchester City's 14-point gap to Premier League leaders Liverpool is a "really bad situation" after Friday's dramatic 3-2 defeat to Wolves.

Liverpool – who have a game in hand on City – thrashed Leicester City 4-0 on Thursday to increase their lead at the top and Pep Guardiola's men were unable to make a dent in that at Molineux.

Despite having Ederson sent off in the 12th minute, City found themselves two up early in the second half thanks to a Raheem Sterling brace.

But Adama Traore inspired Wolves, scoring from 25 yards before setting up Raul Jimenez's equaliser in the 82nd minute – picking the Mexican out after capitalising on a woeful Benjamin Mendy error.

Matt Doherty clinched the win following a clever interchange with Jimenez, and Silva accepts City's position is frustrating.

Speaking on Amazon Prime, he said: "It is a really bad situation for us. A frustrating first half of the season.

"Nobody expected us to be this far away from Liverpool at this halfway point. We have to continue now.

"We know that winning the title is very complicated. I wouldn't say impossible but very difficult."

Guardiola's post-match comments struck a similarly exasperated tone as he practically ruled out a title challenge.

"It's big [the gap behind Liverpool] for a long time now," he said. "It's not realistic to think about it. The same question for a long time, but the same answer."

Manchester City suffered another hammer blow in their bid to keep the Premier League title race alive with a 3-2 defeat to Wolves, making unwanted history for Pep Guardiola in the process.

City missed the chance to close the gap to leaders Liverpool to 11 points as Guardiola's side, reduced to 10 men following Ederson's dismissal after 12 minutes, threw away a 2-0 lead.

The defending champions had only 37.8 per cent of possession at Molineux – the lowest recorded by a Guardiola-led side in top-flight history.

Wolves' thrilling win also saw them become just the second team to do the league double over City since Guardiola took over in 2016, with Antonio Conte's Chelsea the only other outfit to achieve the feat in the Catalan's first season in charge.

Additionally, it was Wolves' first double over City since the 1999-2000 campaign, when both were in the second tier, and their first in the top tier since 1960-61.

With Wolves now serious contenders for a top-four finish, City have a fight on their hands just to finish as runners-up. 

Manchester City blew a two-goal lead at Wolves as Raul Jimenez and Matt Doherty netted late on at Molineux to secure a thrilling 3-2 home victory, with the 10-man champions' hopes of usurping runaway leaders Liverpool taking another huge blow.

City found themselves with an unlikely 2-0 lead just after half-time thanks to a Raheem Sterling brace, the lead remarkable given the 12th-minute dismissal of Ederson, but Wolves fought back spectacularly in the second half – Adama Traore playing a vital role.

Ederson's early sending off left City in a tricky position, though they initially responded well and went ahead through Sterling – the attacker tapping in a penalty rebound after Rui Patricio had saved two of his spot-kicks, the first ultimately being retaken due to encroachment.

Sterling doubled his tally with a lovely finish early in the second half and it looked as though it would be enough, but the lively Traore pulled one back before then setting up Jimenez in the latter stages following a woeful error from Benjamin Mendy.

There was still time for a stunning winner as Doherty finished off a fine move in style in the 89th minute to clinch the win, leaving City – who hit the crossbar through Sterling in stoppage time – 14 points adrift of Liverpool.

A A gripping first half looked to be going Wolves' way when Ederson was dismissed for catching Diogo Jota after rushing out of his box in the 12th minute, with Sergio Aguero's return from a month-long injury absence ending prematurely as he was hooked for replacement goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

But Riyad Mahrez was tripped by Leander Dendoncker in the opposing penalty area soon after and, following a lengthy VAR review, the spot-kick was given.

Sterling's subsequent effort was stopped by Patricio, only for VAR to penalise Wolves following encroachment from Conor Coady. The retake brought about another save, but this time the England forward converted the rebound.

City managed to reach half-time with their lead intact and Sterling got his second just after the interval, racing on to Kevin De Bruyne's throughball and beating Patricio with a clever chip.

But Sterling gave possession away a few minutes later and Traore capitalised, sending a 25-yard drive crashing in off the left-hand post.

Mendy was the next City player to make a costly error, trying to shepherd the ball out of play only to be out-muscled by Traore, who teed up Jimenez to steer home.

And Doherty completed the turnaround with a left-footed strike from the edge of the box following a clever interchange with Jimenez – Sterling's last-gasp free-kick causing a brief moment of worry as it clipped the bar.

Manchester City blew a two-goal lead at Wolves as Raul Jimenez and Matt Doherty netted late on at Molineux to secure a thrilling 3-2 home victory, with the 10-man champions' hopes of usurping runaway leaders Liverpool taking another huge blow.

City found themselves with an unlikely 2-0 lead just after half-time thanks to a Raheem Sterling brace, the lead remarkable given the 12th-minute dismissal of Ederson, but Wolves fought back spectacularly in the second half – Adama Traore playing a vital role.

Ederson's early sending off left City in a tricky position, though they initially responded well and went ahead through Sterling – the attacker tapping in a penalty rebound after Rui Patricio had saved two of his spot-kicks, the first ultimately being retaken due to encroachment.

Sterling doubled his tally with a lovely finish early in the second half and it looked as though it would be enough, but the lively Traore pulled one back before then setting up Jimenez in the latter stages following a woeful error from Benjamin Mendy.

There was still time for a stunning winner as Doherty finished off a fine move in style in the 89th minute to clinch the win, leaving City – who hit the crossbar through Sterling in stoppage time – 14 points adrift of Liverpool.

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