Previous
Zenit St Petersburg
AS Monaco
ESPN3 4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Madrid
Juventus
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Malmo FF
Olympiakos
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Basel
Liverpool
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Ludogorets Razgrad
Real Madrid
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
Benfica
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Anderlecht
Borussia Dortmund
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Arsenal
Galatasaray
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Leeds United
Reading
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Huddersfield Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Fulham
Bolton Wanderers
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Puebla
UNAM
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
America
Veracruz
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
Pachuca
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Chiapas
U. de G.
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Tijuana
Cruz Azul
2:45 AM GMT
Game Details
Ottawa Fury FC
Atlanta Silverbacks
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Libertad
River Plate
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Bahia
César Vallejo
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Emelec
Goiás EC
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Atlético Nacional
EC Vitória
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
San Lorenzo
Olimpo de Bahía Blanca
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Independiente
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Crucero del Norte
Sp. Belgrano
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
All Boys
Sarmiento de Junín
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Santa Marina
Atlético Tucumán
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Unión de Santa Fe
Patronato
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Boca Unidos
Colón de Santa Fe
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Instituto de Córdoba
Guaraní A. Franco
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Independiente Rivadavia
Huracán
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
Aldosivi
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Cruzeiro
ABC
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Botafogo
Santos FC
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Corinthians
Atlético MG
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
América RN
Flamengo
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Los Caimanes
Inti Gas Deportes
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Unión Comercio
Universitario de Deportes
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Cristal
Real Garcilaso
8:30 PM GMT
Game Details
León de Huánuco
César Vallejo
Postp
Game Details
Guaraní
3 de Febrero
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportivo Capiatá
Sportivo Luqueño
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Libertad
Nacional
11:10 PM GMT
Game Details
General Díaz
Olimpia
11:40 PM GMT
Game Details
Mushuc Runa
U. Católica
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Manta F.C.
Barcelona
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Olmedo
Club Deportivo Cuenca
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
El Nacional
LDU Quito
12:15 AM GMT
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
Deportivo Quito
12:15 AM GMT
Game Details
Club Petrolero de Yacuiba
The Strongest
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
San José
Oriente Petrolero
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Western Sydney Wanderers
FC Seoul
2
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
CD Dragon
Alianza FC
Postp
Postponed - now being played Wed, Oct 1
Game Details
Valledupar F.C.
Atlético Junior
8:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Patriotas F.C.
Once Caldas
12:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Next

Bruce must make case for defence

Hull City 1 day ago
Read
Richard Jolly profile picture Posted by Richard Jolly
Aug 25, 2014

Jovetic's success vindicating Pellegrini

The ESPN FC panel weigh in on Manchester City's 3-1 victory over Liverpool and share what both teams need to work on to find success this season.

Manuel Pellegrini is not a man for bold boasts. There is the feeling he likes to remain resolutely unquotable so, by his low standards, it amounted to a forthright assertion when, on Friday, he declared we would see "the real Stevan Jovetic" this season. Three days later, he was vindicated.

This was not the semi-fit, pale imitation of Jovetic who featured in fitness bulletins but rarely on the pitch for much of the past season. Two games into his second campaign, the Montenegrin has provided City with a belated return on their 22-million-pound investment.

His double decided the meeting of last season's champions and runners-up. Liverpool were defeated by a man they coveted: not in this summer's spending spree, but back in 2009, when he figured on Rafa Benitez's shopping list. The Merseysiders ended up with the perennially injured Alberto Aquilani and no striking signing. A precipitous decline followed.

It is ancient history from an Anfield perspective. The future sat in the stands in lurid red trainers. This was not a night for City to grow nostalgic about Mario Balotelli. Liverpool's newest recruit was the supplier for the most famous goal in their history, Sergio Aguero's 94th-minute title decider in 2012.

Manchester CityManchester City
LiverpoolLiverpool
3
1
FT
Game Details

The subject of a thousand tales, Balotelli's infamy precedes him. "I think if you spoke to too many people you get all sorts of stories," said Brendan Rodgers in his news conference, explaining why he did not consult his mentor Jose Mourinho. "He has a reputation but we hope he can curb that behaviour."

The Italian was once City's fourth-choice forward; that was Jovetic's lot in life last season. He has climbed the pecking order in the current campaign and, while Manchester United's excellent preseason performances proved deceptive, Jovetic has taken his fine form from the International Champions Cup into the Premier League.

"We never had any doubts about his quality," said Pellegrini in his post-match news conference. It is why interest from Italy was repelled; Juventus and Inter Milan were frustrated, City elated with the illustration of his talent. "He is really a top player," Pellegrini said, before insisting, in Pellegrini-esque fashion, that he was pleased: "Not only for his goals. Stevan is working the whole game without the ball also."

It marks a difference with Balotelli, whose work rate can vary. "He is very honest," Rodgers nevertheless insisted. "He knows his flaws and faults and he is looking for someone to help him. There is no better club for him. There are no egos and big[-time] Charlies. This is a group that has improved because they are a team."

If Balotelli may remain the ultimate individualist, Jovetic's creativity was deployed productively. His back-heel to Samir Nasri led to his second goal, when the Frenchman returned the ball to him. It was the second City strike this season to follow a forward's flourish -- Edin Dzeko fashioned David Silva's opener at Newcastle in similar style.

Stevan Jovetic has gone from Manchester City's fourth-choice striker to their leading scorer seemingly overnight.

Jovetic's first was indicative of the work rate Pellegrini highlighted. As Alberto Moreno hesitated, he latched on to Dejan Lovren's header to power in the opener. It illustrated the decisiveness newcomers to the division sometimes lack; the sheer speed can overwhelm some, and the debutant Moreno, flawless until then, was found wanting in an instant. Jovetic, making only his fourth Premier League start in 13 months in Manchester, looked more attuned to the intensity.

Moreno's evening got worse. All three City goals -- the last scored by the substitute Sergio Aguero 23 seconds after his introduction -- stemmed from Liverpool's left flank. It was the half of the back four patrolled by Lovren and Moreno, the recent recruits. These are early days, but in a back four when an out-of-sorts Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel offered City an avenue to attack on the other side, it was a concern that the newcomers were found fallible.

"We are disappointed with the goals, of course," said Rodgers. "I wasn't overly happy with the first and third. The second they have worked well." His trademark optimism was allied with a warning: "I have every confidence the players will improve," he said. "You can spend as much as you want and it won't guarantee you anything." The arrival of Balotelli took their spending to 117 million pounds, while their improvement last season came from within.

Liverpool's cheapest addition, Rickie Lambert, claimed their goal -- although it was later changed to a Pablo Zabaleta own goal. He has started the season as Rodgers' second-choice striker, behind Daniel Sturridge. Balotelli completes a triumvirate of centre-forwards.

Pellegrini, in line with his philosophy of having two players for every position, prefers to have more. "We need four strikers," he said. Last year, Jovetic was fourth in line and a bit-part player. "To start in this way after an unlucky season is good," the City manager added. It was an understatement. But this is Pellegrini, after all.

Richard Jolly

Richard Jolly is a football writer for ESPN, The Guardian, The National, The Observer, the Straits Times and the Sunday Express.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.