Could there have been much more drama in football games as the English Premier League welcomed in the New Year?
Red cards, penalties, plenty of goal action, a thrilling comeback and some tetchy managers.
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Middlesbrough 0-0 Leicester City
‘If that was a penalty, I am the pope.’
The quip from Claudio Ranieri, manager of champions Leicester City, following a penalty box collision between Robert Huth
and Adama Traore in this goalless draw at Boro.
That was the highlight of a fairly spasmodic opening encounter of 2017 in which both sides could have done with a win but
were relieved not to lose.
Everton 3-0 Southampton
The Toffees have reportedly had a £19 million bid for Morgan Schneiderlin turned down but, on this evidence, the Saints are
far more in need of strengthening and would welcome the midfielder’s return.
This was proof of two clubs heading in differing directions – granted Southampton regularly have to sell their best players.
The Saints kept Everton out until the final 18 minutes and then deteriorated after Enner Valencia’s first goal for the
Merseysiders opened the floodgates.
Manchester City 2-1 Burnley
Like at Boro, it was the post-match comments of a manager which proved as topical as anything on the pitch.
Pep Guardiola was polite but clearly rattled by the 32nd-minute dismissal of Fernandinho – who could have no complaints
following a two-footed lunge – and the failure to disallow Burnley’s goal for a supposed foul on goalkeeper Claudio Bravo
(he had some justification for that viewpoint).
Ultimately, City’s 10 men triumphed courtesy of substitute Sergio Aguero’s 153rd goal in sky blue, but Guardiola’s
unhappiness over decisions he suggested would not be made outside of English football spoke of unease.
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