Manchester City have full focus on winning a maiden Champions League title, Raheem Sterling explained ahead of Tuesday's meeting with Real Madrid.

City were beaten by Chelsea in last season's final, but remain in contention to end their European drought after overcoming Atletico Madrid in a tense quarter-final tie earlier this month.

Next up for the Premier League leaders is a semi-final clash with Los Blancos, against whom Pep Guardiola's side are unbeaten in their last three home Champions League meetings (one win, two draws).

Among City players, only Riyad Mahrez (six goals, one assist) has bettered Sterling's five Champions League goal contributions this season (three goals, two assists), and the England winger is highly motivated to make up for past failures in Europe.

"Every season we are a club looking to challenge for all the big trophies," Sterling told a media conference on Monday.

"The Champions League is the one we haven't got our hands on and is the one we are focused on.

"It's a special competition, it's a competition every young player wants to be in, and it was no different [for me] growing up. The music and atmosphere on the night is always special."

This will be the seventh meeting between the two teams in European competition, with each of the previous six coming in the Champions League. After failing to win the first four, City defeated Madrid home and away in a last-16 tie in 2019-20, albeit the second leg was played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sterling, however, insisted those past meetings will count for nothing as Guardiola looks to become the first manager to eliminate Madrid in three separate Champions League knockout ties.

"We know – not just from this season but from previous seasons and history – how good they are in this competition," Sterling said.

"They have scored late goals but we have players who have been in high-pressure games and we know how to deal with it. I think come tomorrow, we will be fine. 

"What's happened previously doesn't really matter. All that's in the past. All we can control is making sure we are prepared right. It's a game over two legs, we can't focus on their previous games, we focus on tomorrow at the Etihad."

Sterling has netted 24 goals for City in the Champions League. Among English players, only Wayne Rooney (30) has scored more times in the competition's history.

It is a record Sterling has an eye on.

"When you make your debut, then it's the next thing: score your first goal, and you always look to be better and improve," he added.

"As a forward, to be scoring and making assists is a massive thing. It's where you get your confidence from. That's what I am out there for.

"It's a team full of competition. It's the competition that makes you thrive. When you are performing you want to keep scoring and making assists. Sometimes you have to understand there's a lot of great players in the team. 

"I'm playing and contributing a lot more [compared to last season]. I am in a good mood, good spirits. The team is in the semi-finals of the Champions League and fighting for the title. I couldn't ask for much more. I am in good spirits.

"If I can get the English record, that's what I will do."

Sterling has recorded 20 goal contributions for City in all competitions this season (14 goals, six assists).

Sadio Mane kept Liverpool in the Premier League title hunt with a priceless second-half equaliser in a gripping 2-2 draw with leaders Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp's side sat 14 points behind City in January, but a 10-game winning run cut the gap to just one point to set up what many billed as a title decider at the Etihad Stadium.

Diogo Jota cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne's opener in an enthralling start, and Mane followed suit swiftly after the interval following Gabriel Jesus' 36th-minute strike.

Neither side could find a winner, with Raheem Sterling seeing a goal disallowed, as Pep Guardiola's side kept their slender lead intact with seven games left to play.

Sterling squandered a glorious chance after five minutes as he was denied by the onrushing Alisson following a square Jesus pass, but City were ahead just seconds later.

De Bruyne profited from a quick Bernardo Silva free-kick before arrowing a left-footed effort home, the ball going in off the right post following a fortuitous deflection off Joel Matip.

Liverpool responded within eight minutes, with Andy Robertson finding Trent Alexander-Arnold, who played the ball back from the far post for Jota to squeeze a low strike under Ederson.

De Bruyne whipped narrowly wide in search of his second before Jesus latched onto a Joao Cancelo cross and coolly finished via the underside of the crossbar.

Mane levelled up within a minute of the second half getting under way, racing onto Mohamed Salah's throughball to slot powerfully past Ederson, who thwarted Jota's prodded effort shortly after.

Sterling thought he had nudged the hosts ahead again, but a VAR check showed the forward was offside when De Bruyne passed the ball, while Salah curled just off target at the other end.

Substitute Riyad Mahrez provided a late scare for the visitors as he clipped the post with a free-kick, and then chipped over after a sublime De Bruyne pass, but there would be no decisive goal.

Pep Guardiola has told Manchester City they must not expect Liverpool to drop any points before the end of the season – apart from when they visit the Etihad Stadium next weekend.

The City manager saw his side win 2-0 at Burnley on Saturday to return to the top of the Premier League, after being deposed for a couple of hours by Jurgen Klopp's Reds.

First-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan gave City the points at Turf Moor, with this their third successive 2-0 victory over Burnley.

"We got the points and there are eight games left... 24 [points]," said Guardiola.

"Hopefully Liverpool are going to lose against us, but apart from that I don't think they're going to drop points. We have to feel this pressure, live it and handle it. We have to win eight games, otherwise we will not be champions."

Guardiola's objective is to keep the minds of his players away from the prospects of winning trophies, and drilled to focus on the importance of the next game. For City, the next task now is a Champions League quarter-final first leg at home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

"We have to feel the pressure," Guardiola said. "We have to concentrate on the Champions League, then we have five days to prepare for Liverpool."

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss added: "To be honest, we don't speak much about being contenders to be champions this season."

City were always expected to come out on top at Turf Moor against a relegation-threatened side, given they had won their past nine meetings with Burnley in all competitions by an aggregate score of 32-1.

Guardiola lamented City not bolstering their goal difference even further as they failed to put away any of their 12 shots in the second half, while he said Burnley's grass was long and made his team's task a challenge.

Raheem Sterling provided assists for both goals, and his performance pleased Guardiola, as did the fact the forward got to captain England against Ivory Coast during the international break.

"Raheem came back from the national team, with the boost of a goal and being the captain for England," Guardiola said. "We saw today how decisive he was with all the decisions, and he played with the assists from the right side, and showed speed and everything.

“I have the feeling he is arriving in a really good moment.”

It was a win that contained several City landmarks, with De Bruyne becoming the 10th City player to reach 200 Premier League appearances, with only Fernandinho (140) picking up more victories in his first 200 Premier League games for the club than the Belgian (139).

Gundogan's goal was his 34th in the Premier League for City, making him the outright highest-scoring German in the competition's history, overtaking former Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil.

Raheem Sterling spoke of his pride after recording a goal and an assist while standing in as England captain for Tuesday's 3-0 win over Ivory Coast.

The Manchester City winger teed up Ollie Watkins' opener before turning home the second goal after Serge Aurier had seen red for the visitors, donning the captain's armband as regular skipper Harry Kane started on the bench. 

Tyrone Mings added a late third for Gareth Southgate's men, with the Three Lions maintaining their record of having never lost to an African team, winning 14 and drawing six of their 20 clashes with sides from the continent.

Sterling's strike at Wembley, meanwhile, was his first ever friendly goal for England, with the first 18 of his 19 international goals coming in competitive fixtures.

Speaking to Sky Sports in the aftermath of the win, Sterling highlighted the role England's senior players have played in welcoming a raft of new faces to a much-changed squad this month.

"It's a good night," he said. "It's always an honour to get the opportunity to wear the captain's armband, and I thought it was a great team performance in the end.

"[Being captain] is a great privilege. Never in my wildest imagination, as a young player coming through, did I think that I would captain England one day. It's not something I'd ever have imagined. 

"I remember coming through as a young player, and it's always nice when senior players put their arm around you and make you feel comfortable, because it's a new environment, at the end of the day.

"All we can do is try to make the new players as comfortable as possible, so they can play as well as they can."

England, meanwhile, are now unbeaten in their last 22 games in all competitions inside 90 minutes, recording 18 wins and four draws during that time.

And Sterling said the Euro 2020 runners-up have to take things "game-by-game" if they are to better that run at the World Cup later this year.

"We've had two good friendlies here, where the manager has tried different formations and different teams," Sterling added.

"All we can do is just continue to build on last summer, go one game at a time, get through this summer and put in some good performances."

It wasn't so long ago that Raheem Sterling's long-term future at Manchester City was shrouded in doubt.

The England forward has long since been linked to LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

However, it appears Sterling may now be in line to commit his future to the reigning Premier League champions.


TOP STORY – PEP WANTS NEW DEAL FOR STERLING

City boss Pep Guardiola has reportedly given the green light on awarding Sterling a new contract, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Sterling, who has 13 goals and four assists across all competitions for City this season, had been linked with a move to Barca as recently as the January transfer window.

But having played his way back into the team, City want to renew his deal – though the club want a swift decision with Sterling's present contract due to expire in 2023.


ROUND-UP

- Alvaro Morata is a man in demand. Barca were thought to be keen on signing the Spain striker in January, but Arsenal remain interested in the Atletico Madrid forward – who is on loan at Juventus – according to the Boot Room .

- Memphis Depay 's future at Camp Nou was hurt by the departure of Ronald Koeman. Sport reports that Serie A trio Inter , Milan and Juventus are interested in the Netherlands star.

- Stefan de Vrij could be on the move at the end of the season. InterLive says the centre-back could be reunited with Antonio Conte at Tottenham .

- Lucas Vazquez wants to make Spain's World Cup squad and El Nacional says the 30-year-old winger is prepared to leave Real Madrid in order to do so.

Cristiano Ronaldo's future with Manchester United is uncertain amid a difficult season at Old Trafford.

The 37-year-old only joined United from Juventus in August, following interest from rivals Manchester City.

But the Red Devils are well out of the title race, with Ronaldo contributing nine league goals, in a tumultuous season that has seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer axed as manager.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD WOULD BOW TO RONALDO TRANSFER DEMANDS

Manchester United will allow five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo to depart if he demands to depart in the off-season, reports the Sunday Mirror.

The Portuguese is ready to quit the Red Devils should they miss the top four and subsequently fail to qualify for the Champions League.

The report claims that Ronaldo was expecting to transfer United into title contenders but that his presence has become a sideshow, meaning they are willing to let him go.

 

ROUND-UP

- Raphinha has caught the eye of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona but Leeds United plan to rebuff any offers him in the off-season according to The Mirror.

- The Mirror also reports that Arsenal are in the race for Napoli's Spanish midfielder Fabian Ruiz , joining Madrid and Barcelona.

- Liverpool target Fabio Carvalho is being pursued by Manchester United too, claims the Daily Star. The Fulham teenager came close to joining the Reds in January.

- Manchester City and Raheem Sterling are set for contract talks at the end of the season but the English leaders may sell him if he does not agree to a new deal, according to the Times.

- Fiorentina are interested in Manchester United full-back Diogo Dalot but would need to convince him to lower his wages, reports La Nazione. Dalot is in line for a new deal with United according to the Star.

- Liverpool Echo reports that Everton's Jean-Philippe Gbamin could join CSKA Moscow on loan with the Russian transfer window open until February 22.

Bernardo Silva scored twice as Manchester City made Champions League history with an emphatic 5-0 away win over Sporting CP in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Riyad Mahrez got them on their way with a simple finish early on before Silva added a second with a thunderous strike before the midway point of the first half.

Phil Foden scored a third shortly after the half-hour mark and Silva got his second before half-time as Pep Guardiola's side became the first team in Champions League history to lead an away knockout match by four goals at the break.

Raheem Sterling added a superb fifth in the second half, with City's progress to the quarter-finals all but secured ahead of the return fixture in Manchester next month. 

City started at a blistering pace and went ahead in the seventh minute, Mahrez slotting in Kevin De Bruyne's pull-back after Antonio Adan had parried Foden's effort.

John Stones headed wide soon after, yet City doubled their advantage after 17 minutes when Silva crashed a sumptuous half-volley in off the crossbar from 10 yards.

City's dominance heralded a third goal in the 32nd minute, Foden stroking in from close range after Mahrez's low cross had squeezed past two Sporting defenders.

They made it 4-0 before the break when Silva’s strike from Sterling's pull-back was diverted past Adan by the unfortunate Goncalo Bernardo Inacio.

Silva saw a header ruled out for offside shortly after the interval, yet they added a fifth in the 58th minute courtesy of Sterling's wonderful curled strike from 20 yards.
 

What does it mean? City blow hosts away

City were utterly electric in the opening 45 minutes, effectively ending the tie with a game and a half remaining thanks to some ruthless finishing.

They cooled off somewhat in the second period, although Sterling's glorious strike meant they became the 14th team to score 200 goals in the Champions League. It took them 97 games to reach that milestone – fewer than any of the other 13 teams to do it in the competition.

Sterling's landmark goal

Sterling brought up his 150th club goal with a wonderful strike after the break, while the England international also left Portugal with an assist after teeing up Silva's second goal.

Poor Porro

Pedro Porro did not enjoy the most fruitful of outings against his parent club, the Spaniard losing possession a joint game-high 19 times, while he failed to have a shot or play a single key pass.

What's next?

Both sides are back in domestic action at the weekend, with City hosting Tottenham on Saturday and Sporting at home to Estoril a day later.

Pep Guardiola admits he does not know whether Raheem Sterling will sign a new contract with Manchester City, but he would love him to stay.

Sterling netted a 'perfect' hat-trick in City's 4-0 win over Norwich on Saturday, as finishes with his left foot, right foot and head took his tally to 10 league goals for the season.

The England man has 18 months left to run on his current deal at the Etihad Stadium, and has previously spoken about an interest in playing abroad in the future.

Ahead of City's Champions League trip to Portuguese giants Sporting, Guardiola praised Sterling's contribution but stressed others at the club will handle discussions with the forward.

"What I want is the best for the players," Guardiola said. "I'm pleased if they're happy, but the contract is not my business. I've never been involved.

"I've known Raheem for six seasons. This season, he has been outstanding with goals and assists, and in his contribution to the team.

"During any period there are highs and lows, there are problems, this is part of life. This is not a honeymoon. There are always problems that you have to try to solve.

"Nobody doubts how important it is [to keep Sterling]. If we count the amount of games he played since we have been together, it's a lot, he has been a key player.

"In the future, I don’t know what is going to happen, because the club decides, all the time. About extending contracts for players, I give my opinion of course, but the club decides."

Sterling's 10 Premier League goals have been scored from chances amounting to 9.37 expected goals, meaning it is a solid return, and the 27-year-old has started 15 of City's 25 Premier League matches this term as Guardiola continues to rotate his squad.

The 51-year-old City manager was also keen to stress none of his attackers were guaranteed to start when Champions League football resumes in midweek, and that nobody at the club was "untouchable".

"They know nobody has a guarantee [of starting matches], even if they play good, because I have to try to handle the squad in the best way possible," Guardiola said.

"Nobody here is untouchable, not even me. The club is above and beyond all of us."

Manchester United's inability to take their chances came back to bite them once more as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton on Saturday.

Che Adams struck early in the second half to cancel out Jadon Sancho's opener at Old Trafford.

In the 3pm GMT kick-offs, Everton ended a six-match winless streak in the Premier League as Frank Lampard oversaw a vital 3-0 win over Leeds United at Goodison Park, while Watford were beaten by Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace.

Later, league leaders Manchester City moved 12 points clear at the top with a 4-0 thrashing of strugglers Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Manchester United 1-1 Southampton: Rangnick's right, but that won't get the Red Devils points

Ralf Rangnick may have risked the wrath of some pundits after bringing up expected goals in his post-match comments, but the interim manager is correct – his side are creating plenty of chances without putting them away.

United finished the game with 12 shots to Southampton's 13, but an xG of 2.6 to the visitors' 0.9.

 

Nevertheless, for only the second time in their Premier League history, United have failed to win back-to-back matches despite being ahead at half-time in both, having last done so in December 1998.

Across their 10 top-flight games under Rangnick, meanwhile, they have averaged fewer goals per game than they have under any other manager in Premier League history (1.4).

United are at least unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League games against Southampton (W5 D7) since a 1-0 home loss in January 2016, while having only scored two goals in his first 23 appearances for the club in all competitions, Sancho has since netted two in his last three.

Brentford 0-0 Crystal Palace: Bees stop the rot

Brentford ended a run of five straight Premier League defeats and registered a clean sheet for the first time in 12 top-flight games (since a 1-0 win over Everton on November 28), as they drew with Palace.

It was a match of few clear chances (there were only 15 shots in total), though Wilfried Zaha was convinced he should have been awarded a late penalty.

Zaha was making his 250th Premier League appearance for Crystal Palace, just the third African player to hit that milestone for a single club in the competition, after Shola Ameobi (294 for Newcastle) and Didier Drogba (254 for Chelsea).

Everton 3-0 Leeds United: Lampard up and running

Lampard claimed his first league win as Everton manager in style, as the Toffees snapped a four-match losing streak in the competition with an emphatic 3-0 win over Leeds.

Everton went 2-0 up before half-time through Seamus Coleman's first league goal in 69 games, since May 2019, and Michael Keane's 10th goal in the top flight for the club.

 

Both of those were headers and no team have now scored more headed Premier League goals than Everton, who are level with United on 336.

It was the first time Everton scored twice before half-time in 40 Premier League games, last doing so one year and nine days earlier against, coincidentally, Leeds at Elland Road.

Anthony Gordon diverted in Richarlison's shot to seal Everton's biggest Premier League win since a 5-2 victory over West Brom in September 2020.

Watford 0-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: No home comforts for the Hornets

Watford have now lost six consecutive home league games for the first time since August to October 1990, a run which also included a defeat to Brighton.

Neal Maupay and Adam Webster got the goals for Brighton, who have lost just one of their past 12 away games in the Premier League, all coming in 2021-22 (W4 D7) – no side has lost fewer away games in the top flight this term than the Seagulls.

Watford have not kept a clean sheet in any of their past 17 home Premier League matches, equalling the competition's record run without a home shut-out.

Roy Hodgson has taken on a big job, and Watford will want a favour from Aston Villa against Newcastle United on Sunday to remain within three points of safety.

Norwich City 0-4 Manchester City: Perfect Sterling hat-trick sees leaders storm on

City lost on their previous league trip to Carrow Road, but there appeared little danger of a shock this time around as Raheem Sterling's perfect hat-trick helped them to a 4-0 win.

Sterling became the third City player to score a perfect hat-trick in the Premier League, after Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero (twice). Meanwhile, no player has scored more away hat-tricks for the club in the competition than Sterling, with each of his last three coming on the road.

 

The ex-Liverpool attacker became the sixth City player to score as many as 10 headed goals in the Premier League, with only Aguero (19) and Niall Quinn (13) netting more.

City scored at least four goals in a Premier League away game for the 21st time under Pep Guardiola, at least eight more than any other side since the Catalan coach joined the club.

Norwich, meanwhile, have conceded 50 goals in their 24 Premier League games this season – only in 1938-39 (21) and 1946-47 (19) have they shipped 50 in fewer games in a single league campaign.

Raheem Sterling was the focus of Pep Guardiola's praise after the Manchester City attacker netted a hat-trick in the 4-0 win at Norwich City.

Having opened the scoring with a superb long-range strike, Sterling headed home a Ruben Dias cross, then scored left-footed after seeing a weak penalty parried away by Canaries stopper Angus Gunn, giving the England international a perfect hat-trick as City moved 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Sterling has now racked up 10 goal contributions (eight goals and two assists) in his last eight Premier League games against Norwich, and has scored five Premier League hat-tricks since joining the club in 2015.

He is the third City player to score a perfect hat-trick in the Premier League, after Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero (twice), though no player has netted more away hat-tricks in the competition than Sterling, with each of his last three coming on the road.

The former Liverpool winger averages a goal or assist every 66 minutes in the Premier League against Norwich – he only has a better record against Watford (64 minutes) – and Guardiola was full delighted.

"He made a fantastic game," the 51-year-old said of Sterling, who is City's top scorer in the league with 10 goals so far this season despite reportedly being open to leaving the club last year.

"Especially after the [first] goal, he was so aggressive and direct. 

"He made a fantastic goal [the opener], and for the second one he was there.

"He has been an incredibly important player in all these seasons, with the amount of goals and assists [he gets]. He always creates something.

"When he has confidence, he is a really important player."

Sterling was on fire at Carrow Road, scoring his three goals from chances equating to 2.09 expected goals, and attempting more shots (five) than any other player on the pitch.

Phil Foden also got on the scoresheet, though fellow England attacker Jack Grealish missed the match through injury, and Guardiola was uncertain when asked about the timescale of the 26-year-old's return.

"I hope [the injury is not serious]. We will see," Guardiola explained.

"I don't know if he will be ready for Tuesday [against Sporting in the Champions League]. After [the] Brentford [game] we trained and he was uncomfortable.

"He was not able to play today, but hopefully in the next days [he can]."

Manchester City stretched their lead at the Premier League summit to 12 points, as Raheem Sterling's perfect hat-trick helped them to a comfortable win over struggling Norwich City.

Pep Guardiola shuffled his pack ahead of the resumption of Champions League football, resting the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and Joao Cancelo, but the champions produced an assured performance as their England stars fired them to a ninth win in their past 13 league games against the Canaries.

After Sterling struck a stunning opener, Phil Foden tapped home a second and Sterling doubled his own tally with a close-range header, before the winger tapped home a rebound after missing a late penalty.

Guardiola's men now have a 12-point lead over second-placed Liverpool, albeit having played two games more than Jurgen Klopp's men, while Norwich's mini-revival was halted by their dominant visitors.

City almost took the lead five minutes in, when Bernardo Silva danced through the home backline before hitting the post, before Grant Hanley headed against the woodwork at the opposite end during a frantic start to the contest. 

Angus Gunn produced a strong save to deny Sterling on 25 minutes, but the England man was not to be denied five minutes later, as he beautifully curled home his first goal of 2022 from the edge of the area.

Norwich were reduced to chasing the ball for the remainder of the first half, with Ikay Gundogan spurning a good opportunity as the champions monopolised possession and avoided conceding in the opening half for the 22nd time in their 25 league games this term.

City needed fewer than three minutes to strike after the break, as Foden tapped across the line at the second attempt after a bizarre goalmouth scramble.

The visitors further extended their lead when the fantastic Sterling nodded Ruben Dias' cross home, recording his ninth league goal of the season on 70 minutes.

City's man of the match crowned his terrific performance by tapping home for a hat-trick after Gunn spilled his late penalty, awarded for Hanley's foul on young substitute Liam Delap.

What does it mean? Away form carrying City towards title

Guardiola's quest to bring a fourth title in six years to the Etihad Stadium remains firmly on course, with the help of a fantastic away record.

After losing at Tottenham on the opening day of the season, City are now unbeaten in their past 12 on the road, winning on 10 of those trips.

Sterling torments Canaries again

Norwich's supporters must be sick of the sight of Sterling, whose treble took his tally to 10 goal involvements in his past eight Premier League matches against the Canaries (eight goals, two assists).

Sterling has now netted 10 Premier League goals this season, more than any other City player.

Foden remains an eager traveller

Foden's scrappy finish gave his side a deserved two-goal cushion within moments of the restart and maintained his great goalscoring record in away matches. Only Mohamed Salah, with 10, can beat Foden's tally of five away Premier League goals this season, while no Englishman has scored more on their travels in the Premier League this term.

Meanwhile, Harry Kane (68) is the only English player to rack up more goal involvements than Foden since the start of last season, with the City man recording 40 in all competitions (24 goals, 16 assists).

What's next?

City now face an important week in their quest for silverware: they will follow up Tuesday's Champions League trip to Sporting CP by hosting Tottenham in a weeks' time. Earlier that day, Norwich face another tough assignment when they travel to Anfield to face Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola applauded the patience demonstrated by Manchester City during their 2-0 victory over Brentford on Wednesday.

The runaway Premier League leaders moved 12 points clear at the summit thanks to goals from Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne at the Etihad Stadium.

However, Guardiola’s side were made to work hard for their 10th successive home win in all competitions.

Indeed, they found it difficult to break down a stubborn Brentford despite enjoying over three-quarters of the possession and registering 15 shots.

Nevertheless, Guardiola was pleased by the resilience of his players, who took their points tally for the campaign to 60 with 14 matches remaining.

"[Brentford] are so difficult to attack; aggressive, high pressing. We build up; they drop and defend so deep," he told reporters after the match.

"[We had to] be patient, make no mistakes and in the end we got the result.

"[I am] very satisfied with the performance. We conceded two shots [on target], a few corners and were patient. [It is] difficult when they defend deep with 10 players in their 18-yard box.

"It is impressive at this stage to have 60 points - we have done incredibly well so far."

Raheem Sterling also praised City's persistence as they completed the league double over the Bees for the first time since the 1936-37 season, when they collected their maiden top-flight crown.

"They defended well, they're a tight unit. We had to keep going, probing the ball and finding the gaps, and we did," the England forward added.

"They made it really difficult; the game at their place was really difficult too. They were hard to break down. We stuck to it and got two goals."

Raheem Sterling feels England's commitment to taking a knee at Euro 2020 and thereafter shows the gesture can still be powerful in the fight against racism despite certain fans voicing discontent.

In 2020, the Premier League lent its support to the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd, an African American man murdered by a white police officer in the American city of Minneapolis.

Clubs wore Black Lives Matter badges on their jerseys, while players, officials and staff began to take a knee at the start of every match.

In 2021-22, clubs are generally continuing to take a knee, though there are examples of individuals opting against it – Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player to say he was no longer going to kneel back in February 2021, the Ivory Coast international suggesting the gesture had lost meaning.

Ever since fans began returning to stadiums after the initial lockdown in the coronavirus pandemic, taking a knee has been a topic of debate.

Some supporters have gone as far as booing players for taking part, with the justification of such reactions being that some perceive it to be a "political" gesture despite what players and authorities say.

England players were jeered before Euro 2020 and it was confirmed they would continue to kneel during the tournament – the online abuse of Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho after their penalty misses in the final showed there was still a fight to be fought.

The Three Lions' commitment to taking a knee highlighted how this generation will not stand for such matters being swept under the carpet after a few days of outrage.

Speaking with manager Gareth Southgate to BBC Radio 4, Sterling said: "How us as a team took a stance, I think the big question was, 'Are we going to continue doing it through the Euros?'.

"And I think a lot of the time when the racism comes up or something has happened, a lot of the time in football and in the majority of society, we tend to address it for that period, for that five days or that week and then we brush it under the carpet and [pretend] things are all fine now.

"When the next scenario happens. that's when we go again. But us as a country, players that have been in those scenarios face some of that racist abuse, on a whole, we just want to keep highlighting that.

"Yes, there have been times that we've sat down and said, 'Is the message still powerful?', and we've said yes and as a group and as a collective we've tried to keep that going."

Sterling has been vocal in calling out racism for years, having routinely brought to attention the conduct of the British media.

Arguably the most famous such incident saw Sterling highlight how a newspaper reported on the spending habits of his young Manchester City team-mates Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden back in 2018.

While Foden was covered in a positive light for buying his mother a new £2million home, Adarabioyo – who is of Nigerian descent – was said to have paid a similar amount for a "mansion…despite having never started a Premier League match", the headline seeming to suggest he was not worthy.

The unity and social consciousness of the current England squad has often been put down to Southgate's management of the team, though he pointed to Sterling's stance as helping him to open his eyes.

Continuing on the subject of taking a knee, Southgate said: "At the very least, this had to be a team where we were united on how we saw it and we could send a message to young kids watching that I think the lads maybe didn't realise how powerful that would be going into a tournament because they wanted to concentrate on the football.

"They want to be judged primarily on the football but what Raheem has done, in this space, in particular…. I remember you [Sterling] put the two articles out on how Tosin had been reported on as a young player and a similar sort of story with Phil, and the difference, and it was clear the way those things had been reported.

"So, there were a lot of things that happened over the last few years, including the incident with George Floyd, which I think led…it educated me a lot and I wanted to represent the players in the best way I could."

Even numerous coronavirus-enforced cancellations could not stop the Premier League's Boxing Day schedule from delivering a mountain of goals.

Leaders Manchester City demolished Leeds United 7-0 earlier in December before a 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle and followed that up with a nine-goal thriller against Leicester City.

Mikel Arteta's in-form Arsenal maintained their pursuit of a Champions League spot by smashing five past struggling Norwich City, while the reinvigorated Tottenham cruised past London rivals Crystal Palace.

Staying in the capital, West Ham's poor run of form continued in a 3-2 home loss to Southampton before Chelsea came from behind to defeat Aston Villa on the road.

After plenty of festive cheer across Sunday's top-flight action, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of the Opta data.

Tottenham 3-0 Crystal Palace: Conte's deadly trio down sorry Eagles

Spurs had lost just one of their last 12 top-flight home games against Palace and continued that impressive run of form as Harry Kane equalled another record in a dominant 3-0 win.

Kane opened the scoring in the first half after Lucas Moura's set him up, netting in his sixth consecutive Boxing Day fixture as he equalled Robbie Fowler's Premier League scoring record of nine goals on the day after Christmas.

Lucas added a second as he scored and assisted in the same top-flight game for the first time, with the Brazilian registering five goal involvements in his last five league games, as many as in his previous 23 matches in the competition.

Wilfried Zaha's first-half dismissal for two bookable offences compounded Palace's misery, the winger's fifth red card for the Eagles in all competitions - three more than any other player for the club since his debut in 2010.

Son Heung-min then scored his sixth goal in six home top-flight games against Palace, as Antonio Conte became just the third Spurs boss to go unbeaten in their first six league games after Jacques Santini in 2004-05 and Tim Sherwood in 2013-14.

Manchester City 6-3 Leicester City: Citizens defeat Foxes in Boxing Day record thriller

City went down 5-2 in this fixture last season but triumphed in a 6-3 classic this time around, despite a spirited second-half fightback from Leicester, in the first Premier League game on Boxing Day to see as many as nine goals.

Kevin de Bruyne netted first and has now scored in five of his last six league starts at the Etihad Stadium, before Riyad Mahrez scored in his fourth consecutive appearance for the first time since he moved to England in 2014 as he converted from the spot.

Raheem Sterling, who has won the most penalties by any player in Premier League history (22), rolled another spot-kick in, while Ilkay Gundogan was on target as Leicester went 4-0 down inside 25 minutes for the first time in the top flight since Watford did so against City in 2019.

Leicester reduced the deficit after the interval as James Maddison found the net for the fourth time in his last five top-flight appearances before loanee Ademola Lookman finished past Ederson.

Those two earlier goals were teed up by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted twice in a top-flight match for the first time before adding a goal of his own to make it 4-3.

However, Pep Guardiola's side confirmed victory with an Aymeric Laporte header and Sterling's second – City's 112th league goal in 2021, the most a team has netted in a year since Arsenal also scored 112 in 1963.

Norwich City 0-5 Arsenal: Saka at the double as Gunners equal away record

Bukayo Saka registered a brace as high-flying Arsenal ran riott in a 5-0 victory over Norwich, who have played more Premier League games on Boxing Day without ever winning than any other side in the competition (eight).

Saka struck his first after just six minutes before his second arrived after the hour mark. At 20 years and 112 days, he is the second-youngest player to score 10-plus Premier League goals for Arsenal, after Nicolas Anelka (19y 225d).

Kieran Tierney doubled the Gunners' lead in between Saka's pair of goals, with Martin Odegaard providing his second assist of the game – the Norway international has been involved in six goals in his last six league games, two more than he had in his first 25 appearances in the competition.

Alexandre Lacazette added a fourth, while Emile Smith Rowe scored after coming off the bench once again – his league-leading third goal as a substitute. No top-flight team have bettered Arsenal's five goals from substitutes this season.

Norwich were unable to find a way past Aaron Ramsdale as the Gunners registered their joint-biggest margin of victory away from home in a Premier League match, while scoring four-plus goals in consecutive away league games for the first time since 2009.

Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea: Jorginho penalty brace seals Blues comeback triumph

Chelsea have stuttered in recent weeks but returned to winning ways as a Jorginho brace ensured they came from behind to defeat Aston Villa 3-1.

Reece James inadvertently flicked into his own net as Villa were gifted an own goal by Chelsea in the Premier League for only the second time, after Frank Sinclair also turned past his own goalkeeper back in December 1994.

Jorginho soon restored parity from the spot after Matthew Cash had felled Callum Hudson-Odoi before substitute Romelu Lukaku headed the Blues into the lead with his ninth top-flight goal in 10 appearances against Villa.

Jorginho wrapped things up as he rolled in again from 12 yards, with his 17th Premier League strike from the spot. In fact, 89 per cent of his 19 goals have come from penalties, the highest such ratio of anyone with 10-plus goals in the competition’s history.

Since Thomas Tuchel's first game in charge in January, the Blues have scored more penalties than any other club in England's premier competition (12), with Jorginho netting 10 of these himself - more than any other club besides Chelsea in that period.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Leicester City for playing their part in the epic 6-3 Boxing Day thriller at the Etihad Stadium.

The Premier League champions moved six points clear at the top of the table, but they were given a scare by the Foxes.

Guardiola’s side raced into a 4-0 lead inside 25 minutes, only for Leicester to reduce the deficit to a single goal after striking three times in the space of 10 second-half minutes.

However, further goals from Aymeric Laporte and Raheem Sterling - his second of the game - eventually sealed a ninth consecutive top-flight victory for City.

Guardiola reflected on a "weird" and highly entertaining seventh successive home Boxing Day win for the leaders.

"It was a Boxing Day game. It was a nice game to watch and three more points. We keep going," he told BBC Sport.

"The quality of players we have produced this amount of actions to score goals. No manager and tactics can solve it without the quality.

"It was weird. Even at 4-0 in the first half, every time they had the ball, they arrived in the final third delivering good passes. They have a lot of quality; they are a master of counter-attacks.

"They changed in the second half. They didn’t play to press high. They were close. 

"The game was so dangerous. We didn’t play bad in the second half. The game was not over. With set-pieces, we could win the game."

Sterling found the net for the fourth successive Premier League match; doing so for the first time since between August and September 2017.

The England international was also full of praise for the spirit demonstrated by the Foxes.

"The manager warned us at half-time," he said.

"Leicester conceded four in the first half but every time they attacked, they created chances.

"It's disappointing. We just had to control the game. At 4-0 up, you have to kill the game. 

"Leicester have some really good players. They didn't get disheartened and kept going; Credit to them."

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