Match Preview : Hull vs Chelsea

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Chelsea have failed to win any of their last three league matches and have conceded seven goals in that period.

We are not seeing any of the defensive solidarity and cohesion expected when Antonio Conte arrived and the Chelsea manager is already under pressure after heavy defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal.

Hull’s good start to the season is over and Mike Phelan needs to get them back on track as soon as possible.

They haven’t won any of their last four league games and the last two has seen nine goals conceded.

Keeping 11 men on the pitch at one time seems to be a problem for the Tigers at present and they need to keep their discipline to have any chance of taking points from teams further up the table. Naijabet.com

Chelsea have a very good record against Hull, which Conte will be banking on this Saturday. The Blues have won 10 of the last 12 matches against Hull and haven’t tasted defeat against the Tigers since 1988.

Having said that, neither team are playing well and that record may not help them too much at the weekend.

Team News 

Reds seek win against Swansea without Sakho

An in-form Liverpool head to Swansea City this weekend without Mamadou Sakho as he looks to repair his rocky relationship with Reds manager Jurgen Klopp.

The France international claimed in a late-night Snapchat post before Liverpool’s 5-1 win over Hull City last weekend game that the club were telling “lies” about his fitness.

Klopp has since spoken to his squad as a whole, and to the defender privately, to remind them of their responsibilities.

Asked if Sakho had to work hard and keep quiet in order to regain a Liverpool first-team place, Klopp said: “That’s not a route for Mamadou Sakho, it’s a route for every player. Work hard and do your best. That’s how it is for every player.

“I spoke to the team and I spoke to Mama, and we spoke together and that’s it. From my side, everything is done and we carry on.” Naija and Bet

Sakho spent five months out after he was suspended in April as Uefa investigated a doping allegation against him, which was later dismissed.

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Mata drop from Spain WC qualifiers against Italy

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Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has left Manchester United’s in-form midfielder Juan Mata out of his squad for World Cup qualifiers away to Italy and Albania.

Mata has scored two goals in four Premier League starts for United, including an excellent one in the 4-1 home victory over Premier League champions Leicester on Saturday.

“There are many players that we like but not all of them can come,” Lopetegui told a news conference on Friday.

Mata, who missed out on Euro 2016, was named in Lopetegui’s first squad but did not play in Spain’s 2-0 win in Belgium and the 8-0 rout of Liechtenstein this month. Naijabet.com

Lopetegui recalled Isco, despite the midfielder’s limited playing time at Real Madrid.

“It’s not the same being a sub at Real Madrid than at any other club,” Lopetegui said.

“I can’t deny that I like Isco. He has played 58 minutes in the league and that’s very little. But he is a player that I like and that I trust.”

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Match Preview : Swansea vs Liverpool

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Swansea will be glad to see the back of Manchester City after two straight matches against Pep Guardiola’s side but things do not come any easier as a free-scoring Liverpool await on Saturday.

Swansea have lost four of their last five matches in all competitions and another one could see the end of Guidolin as Swansea manager.

Liverpool are rampant at the moment. They have won their last four matches in a row and scored 14 goals in the process. Their front three are in top form and they should be eyeing another big win this weekend to strengthen their title credentials before the international break.

Liverpool have only won one of their last five matches away to Swansea and will need to end that funk to take all the points on Saturday. Naijabet

Liverpool haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league all season, which should give Swansea some confidence, but they may run out of steam, as they did against City last weekend.

Team News

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Ancelotti ready for Bayern next record

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A sixth straight Bundesliga win for Bayern Munich at home to Cologne on Saturday will see coach Carlo Ancelotti equal the record for the best start in Germany’s top-flight.

Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Andre Schubert, who managed the feat last year, and Willi Entenmann, with Stuttgart in 1986, are the only two Bundesliga coaches to have won their first six league games.

Ancelotti had already steered Bayern to the best start to the season in the club’s history with eight straight victories before Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

But Cologne will provide a decent test of Bayern’s staying power: Peter Stoeger’s side, along with Bayern, newly promoted RB Leipzig – who host Augsburg on Friday – and Hoffenheim, are one of the four unbeaten teams after five rounds of Bundesliga matches. Naijabet

Andre Schuerrle, whose goal three minutes from time gave Borussia Dortmund a 2-2 draw at home to Real Madrid on Tuesday in the Champions League, hopes to be fit for their away match at Bayer Leverkusen.

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Arsenal Wenger open to coaching England

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is open to managing England in the future but is currently committed to the Premier League side, the Frenchman said on Friday. 

“My priority is to do well here. This has always been my club,” Wenger, who will celebrate 20 years at Arsenal on Saturday, told reporters.

“If I am free one day, why not? But I am concentrated on my job,” he said, referring to the England job.

The Football Association is looking for a new England manager after the shock end to Sam Allardyce’s 67-day stint following a newspaper investigation.

Wenger, whose contract with Arsenal runs out at the end of the season, said his managerial style has evolved through the years in his “love affair” with Arsenal. Naijabet.com

“I have a passion for the game but I have the desire to be better tomorrow than yesterday,” Arsenal’s longest serving manager said.

“The way I manage today is not the same today as five years ago. How long can I do, I don’t know.

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Emenike shine as Fener beat Feyernoord

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Emmanuel Emenike scored a stupendous goal on Thursday night to inspire Fenerbahçe to a 1-0 win over Dutch club Feyenoord in the Uefa Europa League.

Emenike scored in the 18th minute of the contest decided at the Ülker Stadyumu Fenerbahçe Sükrü Saracoglu Spor Kompleksi as the Yellow Canaries eased to their first win in Europe’s second tier club competition.

The Super Eaglr striker received a pass from Ozan Tufan and proceeded to smash a powerful shot through the legs of a Feyenoord defender and past goal keeper Bradley Jones in off the post from an acute angle for the game’s only goal. Naija and Bet

Emenike has been in impressive goal-scoring form this season, netting twice in the league and two more times in the Uefa Champions League qualifying campaign.

He has now scored six goals in all competitions this season.

Serie A : Juventus, Napoli back to action

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Juventus and Napoli get back to Serie A basics after impressive Champions League wins while Inter Milan’s league-leading scorer Mauro Icardi looks to add to his tally away to Roma on Sunday.

Champions Juventus, favourites for a record sixth consecutive ‘scudetto’, can feel confident of maintaining their one-point lead on Napoli at Empoli.

Having limped to a scoreless draw at home to Sevilla, Massimiliano Allegri’s men put four goals past Dinamo Zagreb in a 4-0 Champions League win on Wednesday that left them top of Group H.

Although veteran Empoli striker Massimo Maccarone has recovered from a sore back, the Tuscan minnows’ usually formidable home form could be hit by a rash of late injuries to their defence.

Giuseppe Bellusci could now join Vincent Laurini, Andrea Costa and Federico Barba on a growing injury list. Naijabet.com

Yet the smaller sides in Serie A often find an extra gear against the Turin giants and Allegri – who saw Miralem Pjanic, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Dani Alves hit the net in the Croatian capital – remains cautious.

“When you have to win, it’s never easy,” Allegri said after Tuesday’s game in Zagreb.

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Terry straight back into action to halt slide – Conte

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Chelsea icon John Terry looks primed to be thrown straight back into action on Saturday against struggling Hull in a bid to end a run of two successive Premier League defeats.

Both losses to Liverpool and Arsenal have been since Terry damaged ankle ligaments but having returned to training this week and with England central defender Gary Cahill out of form the 35-year-old club captain is needed more than ever.

Terry, who looked to have ended his Chelsea career at the end of last season only to accept a year long contract, has quickly emerged as a central figure in Conte’s plans after the Italian missed out on his main defensive targets during the recent transfer window.

The arrival of David Luiz and Marcos Alonso on transfer deadline day at least bolstered the defensive numbers but neither player has made a significant impact since then. Naijabet.com

Luiz’s partnership with Cahill in central defence has looked anything but convincing.

Cahill in particular was guilty of an error in Arsenal’s 3-0 victory which confirmed the scale of the task confronting Conte as he attempts to revive the club.

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Guidolin fears sack if Swansea lose to Red

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Swansea City manager Francesco Guidolin has said that losing Saturday’s Premier League encounter against Liverpool could signal the end of his stay at the Welsh club following their poor start to the season.

After winning their opening match, Guidolin’s side, who are fourth from bottom in the standings, have come under pressure after suffering four league defeats in their last five games.

When asked if he could be sacked if Swansea lose at home to Liverpool, who have won three successive league games and are fourth in the table, Guidolin said: “Maybe. Could be. It could happen.” Naijabet.com

The former Udinese boss, who joined Swansea in January, also revealed that he recently met with chairman Huw Jenkins to discuss his future at the club.

“I spoke with the chairman last week but at the moment, the most important thing is for me to work with my players and my team on the training ground and to prepare for the next game with focus and concentration,” Guidolin added.

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Ibrahimovic gets United moving in Europa League

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed in a 69th-minute winner as Manchester United got their Europa League campaign off the ground with a laboured 1-0 home win over Zorya Luhansk on Thursday.

Beaten 1-0 at Feyenoord in their Group A opener, Jose Mourinho’s side struggled to break down their unadventurous Ukrainian opponents until the introduction from the bench of Wayne Rooney.

The England captain’s mishit shot was headed in by Ibrahimovic to leave United a point behind group leaders Fenerbahce, who visit Old Trafford on October 20.

“It was difficult,” said Mourinho. “We had our chances in the first half. We could have scored and it would have been a different match. But we didn’t. Naijabet.com

“They kept organised and had plenty of players behind the ball, but with players ready to do something on the counter-attack. It was difficult and we needed to win.

“One week, three defeats. One week, three victories. But I was not depressed by the defeats and I am not over the moon with three wins.”

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Swansea will provide tough test for Liverpool – Klopp

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Saturday’s opponents Swansea City are a far better team than current form suggests and there will be no complacency as the Merseysiders look to maintain their bright start to the season.

Liverpool are fuelled with confidence and fourth in the table, having beaten Arsenal, Chelsea and champions Leicester City in their opening six games of the campaign.

While it has been a far more testing start for Swansea, who are fourth from bottom with a solitary victory, Klopp believes they could prove a stubborn obstacle at the Liberty Stadium.

“They played much better than four points look like,” Klopp told reporters on Thursday. Naija and Bet

“They are a good football-playing side with a clear plan and different options in their style of play, good defending.

“We cannot lean back and think that’s how it is until now so it will stay like this, especially on Saturday. We will be prepared for this game, nobody should be in doubt that we know about the quality of Swansea.”

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Robben wants Bayern contract extension

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Dutch winger Arjen Robben wants to prolong his Bayern Munich contract beyond the end of his current deal which expires at the end of this season, German football magazine Kicker reported on Thursday.

“Arjen would like to stay but there are two parties involved in the debate,” the 32-year-old forward’s father and agent Hans Robben said. Naijabet

He explained that Bayern were monitoring the player’s fitness and form and stated he did not know if his son would accept a one-year extension.

Having won five league titles and the 2013 Champions League since joining Bayern Munich in 2009, injuries have been a feature of Robben’s career and he is just coming back from the latest lay-off with a thigh strain.

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Balotelli on target again for Nice

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Mario Balotelli opened his Europa League account for Nice on Thursday before keeling over sick as Nice went into half-time of their at Krasnodar in Russia at 2-1 down.

Trailing after strikes from Fedor Smolov on 22 minutes and Joaozinho, 11 minutes later, the 26-year-old Balotelli slipped as he struck a curling shot home in the 43rd minute before bending over to cough and retch.

It was Balotelli’s fifth goal in four games for Nice after twice bagging braces in Ligue 1 wins over Marseille and Monaco.

The Italian striker, having been in some distress, was replaced at half-time Naija and Bet

Unfortunately for Nice, there was no way back as they ended up losing the match 5-2.

Nice also lost their first Europa League Group I game 1-0 to Schalke 04.

Iheanacho, Iwobi in line Uefa for award

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Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi have been named among the shortlist for this year’s edition of the Uefa Golden Boy award released on Thursday.

The Nigerian duo have impressed this season in the English Premier League but will face 38 other nominees for the award to recognise the best player under the age of 21.

Iheanacho has been in fine form since he got his bow in the first team of Manchester City last term under Manuel Pellegrini, and has since gone on to score 10 Premier League goals from just 14 shots on target in 30 appearances. Naijabet.com

Arsenal midfielder Iwobi has made 17 league appearances and has scored twice in those run-outs for the Gunners.

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Ramsey out of Wales squad for WC qualifiers

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Aaron Ramsey has been left out of the Wales squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Georgia next week as he continues to struggle with a hamstring injury.

The Arsenal midfielder has been sidelined since sustaining the injury during the Gunners’ opening Premier League game last month.

Ramsey, one of the stars of Wales’s run to the semifinals of this year’s European Championships in France, will miss the Austria game in Vienna next Thursday and the game against Georgia in Cardiff three days later.

Wales, who started their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 4-0 home win over Moldova, will also be without midfielder Jonny Williams, who has only recently returned to training following injury. Naijabet.com

Wales squad for World Cup qualifiers against Austria (October 6) and Georgia (October 9).

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Ronaldo returns back to Portugal squad

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Cristiano Ronaldo was named in the Portugal squad on Thursday after recovering from a knee injury that wrecked his Euro 2016 final and is expected to start in the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and the Faroe Islands.

The European champions need the Real Madrid forward to start firing immediately after they suffered a 2-0 away defeat to Switzerland earlier this month to sit bottom of Group B after one game.

“This group is stronger of course with Cristiano Ronaldo in it, but also because all the other players have had more playing time (since the early season loss),” coach Fernando Santos said. Naijabet.com

Ronaldo, 31, missed the beginning of the La Liga season after two months out but scored minutes after returning to action.

However, he was left fuming last weekend after Real coach Zinedine Zidane subbed him for the final 20 minutes of the 2-2 Spanish league draw at Las Palmas.

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Atletico’s Godin out due to ankle sprain injury

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Atletico Madrid’s Uruguayan international defender Diego Godin has picked up a left ankle sprain during the Spanish club’s midweek 1-0 Champions League win over Bayern Munich.

“After a first examination by the club’s medical staff, the international (Uruguayan) is suffering from a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his left ankle,” the club said in a statement Thursday.

“Additional tests will be conducted in the coming hours,” it added without giving details for how long the 30-year-old was expected to be sidelined for. Naijabet.com

The Spanish club are already without Uruguayan defender Jose Maria Gimenez, who suffered a thigh injury last weekend, and Godin’s absence could prove a defensive headache for coach Diego Simeone.

Atletico play Valencia in La Liga action on Sunday with Godin also a possible doubt for Uruguay’s upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Colombia.

West Ham still searching for one good result

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West Ham United are one win away from getting their season back on track, manager Slaven Bilic has said ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Middlesbrough.

The east London club, who are 18th in the standings, suffered a 3-0 thumping by Southampton at the London Stadium on Sunday to register a fourth straight defeat and fifth in six league games.

Bilic’s side, who finished an impressive seventh last season, even failed to make the Europa League group stage for a second year in a row after they were eliminated in a playoff by Romanian side Astra Giurgiu last month.

“One good result can change the whole season. We cannot think it is just going to happen. We need to earn it. I am concerned and it has been a bad start,” Bilic said on Thursday. Naija and Bet

“But with one win we can build everything back with a win over Middlesbrough over Saturday.”

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Guardiola hail City’s Champion Leagues fight back

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Manager Pep Guardiola tempered his delight at Manchester City’s ability to fight back three times in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday by urging his players to understand the importance of a good start.

Moussa Dembele scored early in both halves for the hosts in Glasgow either side of a Raheem Sterling own goal as City responded each time with strikes from Fernandinho, Sterling and Nolito.

The Premier League leaders are second in the group on four points, two behind Barcelona, who rallied to win 2-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach in the other Group C fixture.

“Maybe this is a good lesson for our future on the importance of starting well,” Guardiola said. Naija and Bet

“It was difficult for us to start in the first half and second half with a goal against us, that’s why I’m so happy for the reaction of the players – it’s not easy to score three goals away.

“This group, this club, we are going to fight until the last game to qualify.”

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Southgate vows to bring stability to England set up

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Gareth Southgate promised to bring some “stability” to the England set-up on Wednesday after Sam Allardyce admitted an “error of judgement” was behind his shock exit as the national side’s manager.

Allardyce’s one-game career as England manager came to a humiliating end after just 67 days on Tuesday following controversial comments made to undercover reporters.

Southgate has been promoted to caretaker boss of the senior England side from his post as Under-21 manager.

The former England central defender will be in charge for the World Cup qualifier against Malta at Wembley on October 8, followed by matches against Slovenia, Scotland and a friendly with Spain.

“It’s obviously been a difficult situation for the FA (England’s governing Football Association) but it was important that there was some stability and continuity for everybody,” Southgate said in an FA statement.

“So, from my point of view, it was important to step forward and give us the best possible chance to win these games.” Naijabet.com

Southgate added: “The focus now has to be on playing football, putting in good performances and getting results, starting with Malta at Wembley.

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Cavani score brace in PSG victory

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Paris Saint-Germain recovered from a slow start to canter to a 3-1 win at Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League on Wednesday night and keep pace with Arsenal at the top of Group A.

Edinson Cavani scored a brace after Blaise Matuidi had cancelled out Natanael Pimienta’s surprise opener for the Bulgarians. Naija and Bet

But the French champions, who drew at home to Arsenal in their opening group encounter, dominated the second half and could easily have inflicted a much heavier defeat on the Bulgarian minnows, who are playing in the Champions League group stage for only the second time.

PSG could have been off to a dream start but Cavani’s snap shot from just outside the area curled agonisingly beyond the corner of post and bar.

Ludogorets wasted a three-on-one counter-attack but nonetheless took the lead on the quarter hour as Natanael curled home a free-kick from a tight angle.

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Unbeaten records at stake as City and Tottenham clash

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The Premier League’s only remaining unbeaten records are on the line on Sunday when Tottenham Hotspur will hope to follow Celtic and inflict another dent in Manchester City’s superb start to the campaign.

The City juggernaut had crushed all before them, winning every competitive game they had played this season, until they were held to a surprise 3-3 draw with Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday.

That result, and the way the Scottish side exposed chinks in City’s defensive armour, will have given a fillip to Tottenham, fresh from a crucial Champions League win in Moscow, before England’s top two clash at White Hart Lane.

Pep Guardiola’s impressive start at the Etihad Stadium has made City many people’s favourites for the title, and Spurs will need all the grit they showed in their victory over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday to avoid losing further ground to their opponents.

Both sides will be without key players for Sunday’s clash. Naijabet.com

Harry Kane, Spurs top scorer for the past two seasons, is expected to be out for at least another month after suffering ankle ligament damage against Sunderland on September 18 – although Son Heung-min’s stunning form has ensured they have not missed him as much as fans feared.

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Barcelona fight back to sink Gladbach

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Barcelona proved they can win away in Europe even without Lionel Messi as they posted a 2-1 comeback victory at Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Thorgan Hazard — the younger brother of Chelsea midfielder Eden — gave Gladbach a shock, yet deserved first-half lead.

But goals in the final 25 minutes, from Arda Turan and Gerard Pique, sealed Barcelona’s second Group C win after their 7-0 hammering of Celtic at the Camp Nou a fortnight ago.

“They put in a huge effort in the first-half, but overall I think we were better and it is a deserved result,” said match-winner Pique.

Gladbach winger Patrick Herrmann admitted it was hard to put the brakes on the Spanish giants. Naijabet.com

“We did brilliantly to go 1-0 up, but Barcelona are such a quality side — you have to stay focused for the entire 90 minutes,” he said.

“If you don’t, they take full advantage. We wanted to win the game and it was a close-run affair in the end, but not the result we wanted.”

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Celtic ends Pep’s perfect City record

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Pep Guardiola witnessed the end to his perfect record with Manchester City as his Premier League leaders had to come from behind three times to earn a 3-3 draw at Celtic in a dazzling Champions League Group C encounter on Wednesday.

Guardiola’s men were taken aback by the fevered atmosphere at Celtic Park as they were denied an 11th straight win which would have equalled Tottenham Hotspur’s 1960-61 landmark as the best start to a season by any English club.

The inspired Scottish champions, unrecognisable from the side humbled 7-0 at Barcelona in their opening game, sniffed a sensation after Moussa Dembele scored at the start of each half and when Raheem Sterling netted a first-half own goal. Naijabet

Yet City simply refused to be subdued, responding with strikes from Fernandinho, the excellent Sterling and Nolito and coming close to a late winner before settling for the point that moves them into second place in the group on four points behind Barcelona, who won 2-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach.

“The support was amazing and that combination of the players’ effort and the atmosphere made it a difficult night for Manchester City,” said Celtic’s manager Brendan Rodgers.

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