Sun, Feb 09, 2020 - Page 11 News List

Injury removes struggling Sterling from the firing line

AP

Bologna defender Stefano Denswil, left, scores an own-goal in their Serie A match against AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was determined to keep playing Raheem Sterling, sure that a regular run of games — and not a spell out of the team — would help the England winger recover the scoring form that had deserted him.

Now that decision has been taken out of Guardiola’s hands.

City’s announcement that Sterling has a damaged left hamstring and would miss today’s match against West Ham United has raised fears that he also could miss crucial upcoming games such as the EFL Cup final against Aston Villa and the UEFA Champions League match against Real Madrid.

Guardiola on Friday said that he was unsure whether it would be weeks or months before Sterling played again.

Will being taken off of the firing line be such a bad thing for Sterling, who appears to be suffering from a crisis of confidence in front of goal?

“Does he need a rest? I don’t think so,” Guardiola said last week, adding that Sterling “could play every two days. The more he plays, the better he feels.”

Guardiola has been trying to accentuate Sterling’s positives, but there is no doubt that Sterling’s dip in scoring form is a worry.

The slow-down in goals began after his 21st game of the season, which happens to be the game where he got in a confrontation with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez both on the field — in City’s 3-1 loss at Anfield — and off it.

The pair also squared up in the England cafeteria, while on international duty the following day.

Sterling reportedly told Gomez: “So you think you’re the big man?” — and was briefly dropped by England coach Gareth Southgate.

Starting from that loss at Anfield on Nov. 10, Sterling has only gotten on the scoresheet in four of his 20 appearances.

A rest for Sterling might actually do him good in the long run, even if Guardiola thinks otherwise.

LA LIGA

Lucas Perez and Oliver Burke on Friday scored second-half goals to help Deportivo Alaves beat Sociedad Deportiva Eibar 2-1 at home in La Liga.

Perez slotted in an assist from striker partner Jose Luis Sanmartin just seconds after the restart as Eibar defender Esteban Burgos whiffed when trying to clear a ball heading toward his area.

Burke added a second goal in the 66th minute when Sanmartin cleverly let a low cross by Aleix Vidal run between his legs to reach the unmarked Burke arriving in the box.

Alaves’ first win in five home matches lifted them into 13th place.

SERIE A

Musa Barrow on Friday scored twice to help Bologna win at AS Roma 3-2 in the Serie A.

Bologna moved up to sixth, one place below Roma, following a third successive win.

Roma were booed off the pitch. They have only won one of their past six league matches.

Roma gifted the opener to Bologna in the 16th minute, as Chris Smalling inexplicably left Barrow’s cross, allowing Riccardo Orsolini to tap in at the far post.

Roma leveled in the 22nd minute when Bologna defender Stefano Denswil bundled Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross into his own net, but Barrow restored the visitors’ lead just four minutes later as his effort was deflected into the top corner.

LIGUE 1

Lille OSC on Friday won at Angers SCO 2-0 in the Ligue 1 to move level on points with third-placed Rennes.

Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen scored in the 14th minute when he latched onto a pass and lobbed it to goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle.

Butelle saved another effort from Osimhen a few minutes later, but he was well beaten in the 75th minute when Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches dribbled past a couple of defenders, after cutting in from the left, and drilled a low shot inside the near post.

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