Leon Bailey fired Aston Villa to a 1-0 win over Manchester City which equalled a club record with a 14th consecutive home victory and lifted them above the stuttering champions into third place in the Premier League.

Bailey’s 74th-minute strike came thanks to a deflection off Ruben Dias but few inside Villa Park cared amid jubilant celebrations.

Unai Emery’s first career win over Pep Guardiola in 14 attempts came in his 50th match in charge of Villa, a side he has transformed from relegation battlers to top-four contenders in the space of a year.

For City it was yet another sign of their over-reliance on the suspended Rodri. They are unbeaten in their last 43 matches in which the Spain midfielder has played, but their four defeats this season have all come when he has been serving a ban.

With Jack Grealish and Jeremy Doku also missing through suspension and injury respectively, Guardiola was forced into a midfield that included two defenders, John Stones and Rico Lewis, with another, Manuel Akanji, pushing forward.

Villa knew they could get at such an imbalanced City side and did so from the start.

City’s lack of fluidity only encouraged a Villa side already high on confidence in front of their own fans and they were all over the champions in the first half, beating the high line with regularity as Ederson was forced into early saves to deny Bailey and Pau Torres.

At the other end, Erling Haaland was denied twice in quick succession by Emiliano Martinez in the 11th minute. Villa’s World Cup winner pushed his low shot to one side and then, when Bernardo Silva picked up the rebound to cross, recovered to palm his close-range header to safety.

But that was a rare foray forward for City, who struggled to get out of their own half as Villa repeatedly picked off the ball, having 13 shots at goal in the first half alone.

They thought they had their reward on the stroke of half time. After Ederson pushed Ollie Watkins’ shot to the side, Lucas Digne stretched to cross and Douglas Luiz headed in, but the flag went in with the ball narrowly out of play.

Stones dropped back into a more conventional position to start the second half and City began to pop the ball around with something approaching their usual confidence, but without getting a sight of goal.

Instead it was Villa who threatened just after the hour mark. Bailey pounced on a loose pass from Silva and played a sweeping ball to John McGinn, who cut inside but saw his shot bounce the wrong side of the post.

City were once again struggling to get out of their own half, and Guardiola responded by sending on midfield reinforcements in Mateo Kovacic and Matheus Nunes for Lewis and Julian Alvarez, with Oscar Bobb replacing Foden soon after.

But Bobb had barely come on to the pitch when Villa took the lead. Bailey cut inside and left Josko Gvardiol behind far too easily, then checked his run on the edge of the box to hit a right-footed shot which deflected off Dias to beat Ederson.

Five minutes later, Luiz almost scored against his former club as Watkins’ shot was deflected up in the air and he pounced on the rebound to force a fine save from Ederson.

Luiz was denied again in the 86th minute when his curling shot bounced back off the post, but City had no response as their winless league run stretched to four, something which last happened in 2017.

For Villa it was a 23rd home win of the calendar year. They can match a top-flight club record that dates back to 1931 when Arsenal visit on Saturday.



England Under-19 international Sonny Perkins kept Leeds in the FA Cup with a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser earning them a 2-2 draw at Cardiff.

Cardiff looked like inflicting more FA Cup third-round misery on Leeds following first-half goals from Jaden Philogene and Sheyi Ojo.

But Rodrigo reduced the deficit with a close-range header and, after the Spanish substitute had been denied from the penalty spot and Cardiff lost Joel Bagan to a red card, Perkins squeezed home from close range three minutes into injury time.

The tie had evoked memories of Cardiff’s famous third-round victory in 2002 when David O’Leary’s Leeds were top of the Premier League.

Cardiff were in the third tier at the time, but a frenzied Ninian Park saw Scott Young’s late winner deliver one of the competition’s great upsets.

Former defender Young was among the guests invited back for the day as around 6,500 Leeds filled the end behind one of the goals at Cardiff City Stadium to produce a terrific atmosphere.

Both Cardiff manager Mark Hudson and Leeds counterpart Jesse Marsch rang the changes with their respective positions in the Championship and the Premier League of some concern.

Only three Cardiff players remained from their New Year’s Day defeat at Blackburn, while Leeds kept four from the 2-2 home draw with West Ham.

Leeds were playing their 10th consecutive FA Cup away tie – just one short of Stockport’s 11-game record in the competition – but started well with Crysencio Summerville and Wilfried Gnonto lively and Darko Gyabi whistling a second-minute shot wide.

Cardiff, the lowest scorers in the Championship with 20 goals in 26 games, had not scored in nearly six hours of football.

But their goal drought ended on 348 minutes when Mark Harris broke behind the dozing Pascal Struijk to force a save from the advancing Joel Robles.

The ball broke to Isaak Davies and, although his effort was blocked, it squirted to Philogene who made no mistake from six yards.

Cardiff doubled their lead seven minutes later just after the half-hour mark.

This time Ojo was left unattended from Andy Rinomhota’s floated pass and Robles was beaten again by a fine finish into the roof of the net.

Gnonto was booked for simulation, a sign that Leeds frustration was growing, before the young Italian was off target with a wayward header.

Marsch waited until nearly 15 minutes of the second half to make his first substitutions, a triple change.

Midweek recruit Max Wober, Rodrigo and Cody Drameh – the reigning Cardiff player of the year following his loan spell in south Wales last season – were sent on to rescue the situation.

The move almost paid off instantly as Struijk headed wide when it appeared easier to score.

But Leeds halved the deficit after 65 minutes, Rodrigo meeting Sam Greenwood’s clipped cross with a close-range header that Jak Alnwick got a strong hand to but was unable to keep out.

Leeds set up camp in the Cardiff half and won a spot-kick 10 minutes from time when Bagan dived to tip Junior Firpo’s goalbound shot around a post.

Alnwick guessed correctly to his right to push away Rodrigo’s kick but 18-year-old Perkins, who had only been on the pitch eight minutes, secured an Elland Road replay.



Stevenage’s late show stunned Aston Villa as the League Two side pulled off a sensational FA Cup shock.

Dean Campbell’s 90th-minute winner came just two minutes after Jamie Reid levelled from the spot as Boro grabbed a sensational 2-1 victory at Villa Park.

Leander Dendoncker was sent off for hauling down Campbell in the box for the penalty as Villa collapsed following Morgan Sanson’s first-half opener.

Stevenage booked a fourth-round trip to Stoke as Villa’s awful run in the competition continued. Since losing the 2015 final 4-0 to Arsenal their only win has come in a third-round replay against Wycombe in 2016.

Unai Emery immediately targeted silverware when he was appointed at Villa Park in October but Villa crashed to another early exit.

They saw plenty of the ball early but had only Douglas Luiz’s tame effort to show for it and it allowed the visitors to give them a scare.

Exactly 12 years ago Stevenage dumped Newcastle out of the FA Cup and they were dreaming of another upset after 17 minutes.

Boro worked the ball well on the left and Luke Norris crossed for the unmarked Danny Rose to tap in, only for the celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag on Norris.

It was a warning for Villa, who were yet to click, and Philippe Coutinho’s deflected effort was easily gathered by Taye Ashby-Hammond with the Brazilian also shooting wide.

It had been an inauspicious opening half an hour from Villa as they struggled to break down the confident and organised visitors.

Ultimately it was the only bit of quality of the half which unlocked Stevenage as Emery’s side grabbed a scarcely deserved lead after 32 minutes.

Coutinho, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings were involved in some snappy one-touch build up before the latter slipped in Sanson and he fired in his first goal for Villa from 16 yards.

Stevenage remained undaunted with Norris’ ambitious effort from the corner of the box clipping the bar as Steve Evans’ side searched for the reward their composed and positive display deserved.

Any hopes of a comeback were almost extinguished when Bailey’s close-range effort deflected wide immediately after the break as Villa emerged with renewed vigour.

Stevenage remained robust, though, and displayed the confidence of a side who have now only lost two of their last 23 games.

They frustrated Villa, who by the hour were camped well into the visitors’ half, and Calum Chambers prodded wide after 66 minutes.

Bailey shot over but, with five minutes left, Villa imploded. Robin Olsen played Dendoncker into trouble on the edge of the box and he was robbed by Campbell.

The midfielder pulled the forward back as he broke into the box and, after referee Graham Scott initially gave a free-kick, he awarded a penalty and sent Dendoncker off.

Following a VAR check Reid buried the spot kick and better was to come two minutes later when Villa fell asleep from a short corner and Campbell beat Olsen at his near post to win it.



Riyad Mahrez struck twice as Manchester City eased to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup third round.

Three of the champions’ goals in a one-sided encounter at the Etihad Stadium came in a 15-minute spell late in the first half as Mahrez, Julian Alvarez – from the penalty spot – and Phil Foden all found the target.

Mahrez added a fourth with City’s second penalty of the afternoon five minutes from time.

It was City’s second win over the out-of-form Londoners in the space of four days and piled on the frustration for their manager Graham Potter.

After a run of just one win in seven in all competitions, Chelsea supporters booed their side and were also heard chanting the names of former owner Roman Abramovich and ex-manager Thomas Tuchel.

City have no such concerns and, as well as looking to reel Arsenal in at the top of the Premier League, could now be hosting them in the fourth round – if the Gunners can see off Oxford on Monday.

City, who rested Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne, effectively had the game wrapped up by half-time.

The sides made 13 changes between them from the teams that played each other on Thursday but it was soon apparent City boasted greater strength in depth.

Chances were scarce as the game began at a slow tempo but City comfortably established control.

Mahrez first threatened when he beat Lewis Hall on the right but Kepa Arrizabalaga claimed his cross.

Cole Palmer wasted a golden opportunity after 13 minutes when he latched onto a long ball from Aymeric Laporte and shot into the side-netting instead of squaring for Alvarez.

Mahrez made no mistake, however, after he was fouled just outside the area by Hall. He got up to curl a superb free-kick into the top corner, albeit via a slight deflection off the wall, to put City ahead after 23 minutes.

Things got worse for Chelsea on the half-hour when Kai Havertz inexplicably charged and punched the ball away defending a corner. The offence was initially missed by referee Robert Jones but there was no escape for Havertz following a VAR review.

Alvarez fired the resulting penalty past Kepa despite the keeper getting a hand to his shot and having done his best to put the World Cup winner off with some words as he placed the ball on the spot.

Alvarez went close to another soon after but Kalidou Koulibaly just did enough to take the sting out of his effort.

Foden made it 3-0 when he rounded off a fine team move seven minutes before the interval.

The ball was spread from the right to the left and then back to the right, where Mahrez controlled brilliantly and casually fed the onrushing Kyle Walker to cutback for Foden to tuck home.

City went close again on the stroke of half-time when Alvarez was inches away from connecting with a Mahrez cross.

Such were Chelsea’s struggles, they did not even register a shot until a Mason Mount effort was deflected wide in the 55th minute.

City eased off but Mahrez curled an effort narrowly wide in the 73rd minute. He then did even better from the spot late on after Koulibaly bundled over Foden.

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Chelsea put their pre-World Cup blues behind them as England duo Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount starred in a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth.

Graham Potter was in desperate need of a win following the three straight Premier League defeats which had left his side outside the top six at Christmas for only the second time in 22 seasons.

But there were encouraging signs that Potter has put the six-week break to good use as Chelsea stylishly put their bogey side to the sword.

Bournemouth had won on three of their last five visits to Stamford Bridge but they never looked like repeating the feat in Gary O’Neil’s first match as permanent manager.

The only downside for the Blues was the sight of England defender Reece James, back from the knee injury which forced him to miss the World Cup, limping off injured again just after half-time.

The full-back had got himself quickly up to speed with one darting run and cross finding its way to Marc Cucurella, who chipped the ball back in for Kai Havertz to head just over the crossbar.

Chelsea had a decent penalty shout moments later when Adam Smith tugged at the shirt of Christian Pulisic, but neither referee Simon Hooper or the VAR were interested.

Nevertheless, Chelsea were well in control and took the lead after just 16 minutes when Mount fed his England colleague Sterling down the right.

Sterling fizzed a low ball across goal which Havertz, another of Chelsea’s returning Qatar contingent, slid in to squeeze beneath the diving Bournemouth keeper Mark Travers.

Seven minutes later Chelsea had a second, Havertz laying the ball back for Mount – making his 150th Chelsea start – to superbly curl beyond Travers from 20 yards.

There was confusion before half-time when a penalty appeal at both ends fell on deaf ears before Pulisic put the ball in the net, with the goal seemingly disallowed for a foul by Havertz on Smith.

Travers then ensured the deficit stayed at two with fine saves to deny James and Sterling.

James’ second half lasted just seven minutes before he went down, and the luckless 23-year-old looked close to tears as he trudged off.

Havertz should have had a second when he eased past Lloyd Kelly in the area only to drag his shot wide, before Travers saved another drive from Mount and Kalidou Koulibaly headed a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta narrowly off target.

Bournemouth battled gamely but without testing Kepa Arrizabalaga until the 79th minute when the Chelsea keeper saved from Ryan Christie at his near post, but it was ultimately a comfortable and satisfying win for Potter’s side.



PSV have announced they have reached an agreement with Liverpool over the proposed transfer of Cody Gakpo.

The Netherlands attacker starred at the World Cup, scoring three goals in Qatar, and is now on his way to England to finalise a switch to Merseyside.

“PSV and Liverpool have reached an agreement on the proposed transfer of Cody Gakpo,” an official club statement read.

“The 23-year-old attacker will leave for England imminently where he will be subjected to the necessary formalities ahead of the completion of the transfer.”

PSV general manager Marcel Brands confirmed Gakpo’s anticipated transfer would be a “record” for the Eredivisie club.

Hirving Lozano’s move to Napoli in 2019 for a reported 42 million euros was the previous highest sale by the Dutch outfit.

A club statement added: “Both clubs are not making any announcements about the transfer fee.”

“But this is a record transfer for PSV,” said general manager Brands.



France striker Kylian Mbappe won the World Cup Golden Boot award with eight goals after scoring a hat-trick in Sunday’s final defeat by Argentina on penalties following a 3-3 draw. Mbappe became just the second man to score three times in a World Cup final after England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966 and finished one goal ahead of Lionel Messi, named as the tournament’s best player.

Messi is the first player to score in the group stage and all four rounds in the knockout phase.

The 23-year-old has scored 12 World Cup goals in 14 matches and is level with Brazil legend Pele in sixth on the all-time list.

Mbappe is only the second player to find the target in successive World Cup finals after Vava, who scored in Brazil’s wins in 1958 and 1962.

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The Paris Saint-Germain forward’s four goals in World Cup finals are also the most in history.

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called for the forthcoming World Cup in Qatar to be the catalyst for a “first step to peace” in Ukraine.

Infantino addressed world leaders at the G20 Summit in Bali.

Russian national teams and clubs have been banned from playing in FIFA competitions since the country invaded Ukraine in February.

Infantino accepted it was “naive” to believe that football can solve the world’s problems, but told the Summit: “Because football unites the world, this particular FIFA World Cup, with five billion people watching it, can be a trigger for a positive gesture, for a sign or a message of hope.

“Russia hosted the last World Cup in 2018, and Ukraine is bidding to host the World Cup in 2030.

“Maybe the current World Cup, starting in five days, can really be that positive trigger. So my plea, to all of you, is to think on a temporary ceasefire, for one month, for the duration of the FIFA World Cup, or at least the implementation of humanitarian corridors, or anything that could lead to the resumption of dialogue as a first step to peace. You are the world leaders; you have the ability to influence the course of history.”

Infantino added: “You all know what football means to your people and to your countries; it is about passion, it is about inclusion, it is about tolerance, it is about non-discrimination, and it is about education.”

FIFA has come in for criticism over the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar, a country which criminalises same-sex relationships.

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Cristiano Ronaldo could be sacked by Manchester United after criticising the club and manager Erik ten Hag in his interview with Piers Morgan, according to leading employment lawyers.

In excerpts from the interview – which will only be released in full on Wednesday and Thursday – five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo said he did not respect Ten Hag and claimed a number of individuals at United were trying to force him out of the club.

Released as club football went on hiatus for the World Cup, the interview appears carefully timed and could be the next step in Portugal star Ronaldo’s bid to leave United, having sought an exit in the summer.

But with United taking legal advice – and awaiting the full interview – before issuing a response, the player could find his desired departure is an abrupt one.

Mike Tremeer, employment partner at Fladgate, said: “It seems clear that many of Ronaldo’s comments made during the interview amounts to him ‘knowingly or recklessly … say[ing] something … which is likely to bring the club into disrepute … or cause damage to the club or its officers or employees’.

“That breaches an express clause of the template Premier League player contract and means that the club is entitled to terminate his contract.

“It is apparent that Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United and so this might be the exact outcome he is hoping to achieve.”

Simon Leaf, head of sport at the Mishcon de Reya law firm, agreed that United may now be entitled to terminate Ronaldo’s contract.

However, Leaf added it could be more complicated given Ronaldo’s complaints about how the club had responded to the issues he has faced in his personal life.

The 37-year-old and his partner revealed in April one of their twin babies had died, and Ronaldo told Morgan the club had not believed him when he missed pre-season training in the summer because his baby daughter Bella was ill.

Leaf said: “It would appear that Ronaldo is clearly in breach of his employment agreement, which under its terms, entitles the club to terminate the contract.

“However, the club are caught between a rock and a hard place, as this termination right is subject to Ronaldo’s right to appeal – especially as he seems to be suggesting that United are in breach of its own duties to take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of its employees, which may extend to allowing Ronaldo time off in such difficult circumstances.

“There is no easy answer to this particular legal wrangle, and, from experience, one suspects, that given the sums involved in terms of wages and a potential transfer fee that may be forgone, both Ronaldo and the club will now try to resolve the issues as amicably as possible in private with a view to both parties saving face.”

Danielle Parsons, employment law partner at Irwin Mitchell, said that even if Ronaldo has breached his contract, it would be unusual for a club to sack a player in such circumstances.

“Usually this is rare and most clubs will take care to first investigate and follow their disciplinary procedures to try to avoid any potential dispute around breach of contract, as well as the wider reputational damage this could cause,” Parsons said.



Christopher Nkunku will not participate in the World Cup. The RB Leipzig striker left the training session on Tuesday before its end, injured in the left knee. The radiological examinations taken in the evening unfortunately revealed that it was a sprain. The team said in an official release.

A medical file has been sent to FIFA, a regulatory prerequisite for the replacement of an injured player in the squad since the list was filed on Monday at 7 p.m. The whole group shares Christopher’s sadness and wishes him a speedy recovery.

That is a terrible blow for the 2018 World Cup winners but also hurts RB Leipzig. Die Roten Bullen already saw one of its top attackers in Timo Werner felled by ankle injury, which caused him to be left off of Hansi Flick’s German national team for the tournament.

The RB Leipzig attacker has been rumored to be on the transfer radar of clubs like Bayern Munich and Chelsea FC, but if those teams wanted to get a long look at him playing for France in the World Cup, they will now be disappointed.