Leroy Sane’s 72nd-minute strike proved decisive as Manchester City reinvigorated their title defence and ended Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League run with a crucial 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.
Roberto Firmino looked to have sealed a potentially vital point for leaders Liverpool in the title race when he equalised just past the hour, but Sane struck soon after, confirming the Reds’ first league defeat of the season in their 21st game and moving City to second and within four points of the summit.
Liverpool were mightily unlucky not to take an early lead when a defensive mix-up between John Stones and Ederson followed Sadio Mane hitting the post, but they survived and finished the first half well – Sergio Aguero netting in ruthless fashion.
Firmino restored parity in the 64th minute and City initially looked rattled, as if they could see the Premier League trophy moving out of sight, until Sane found the bottom-right corner to breathe life into their challenge once again.
Santi Cazorla scored twice as Real Madrid failed to take full advantage of their game in hand on LaLiga leaders Barcelona in a frustrating 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened Villarreal.
Los Blancos, back in action for the first time since winning the Club World Cup, appeared to be headed for three points as Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane cancelled out Cazorla’s crisp early opener by the 20th minute.
But with just eight minutes remaining, Cazorla ghosted in to head Pablo Fornals’ teasing cross past Thibaut Courtois to secure a share of the spoils.
Madrid, who lost the ineffective Gareth Bale to injury at half-time, are consequently fourth and seven points behind leaders Barcelona after 17 matches, while Villarreal are out of the bottom three but remain level with 18th-placed Athletic Bilbao.
Cristiano Ronaldo claimed the Best Player as the Juventus superstar scooped two honours at the 2019 Globe Soccer Awards.
Ronaldo reigned supreme in Dubai, where he beat Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann and Paris Saint-Germain sensation Kylian Mbappe to the award on Thursday.
It marked the third consecutive year Ronaldo was crowned the award’s best player, and fifth in total since 2011.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also received the Fans’ Award at the ceremony in the United Arab Emirates.
World Cup-winning France boss Didier Deschamps took the Best Coach award, beating out an impressive list of nominees that included Zinedine Zidane, Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid, Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool and Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Simeone’s Atletico, meanwhile, were named Best Club of the Year.
Juve’s Blaise Matuidi and Brazil great Ronaldo were also among the recipients of the various honours handed out.
Matuidi was recognised for his career progress, while the Brazilian Ronaldo, Fabio Capello and Zvonimir Boban were given awards for past achievements in the game.
Unai Emery has denied reports that Arsenal have made a bid for Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
According to reports in Spain on Thursday, Arsenal had made a bid for the Costa Rican, who has made eight appearances for Real this season following Thibaut Courtois’ arrival in the summer.
But Emery says the reports were “not true”, and while he admits he does not know whether there is an interest in Navas, he believes the club are happy with current ‘keepers Petr Cech, Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez.
Asked if Arsenal had made a bid for Navas, Emery replied: “Not true.”
Questioned whether there was an interest in Navas, he said: “I don’t know. We never speak about one goalkeeper because I think – and it’s true – we are very happy with the three goalkeepers we have now. We’ve never spoken about Keylor Navas.”