City scrape through FA Cup tie against Cheltenham Town…
Cheltenham Town almost caused a huge FA Cup upset against Manchester City, as the Premier League side needed late goals to win 3-1 against their League Two opposition.
The highlight of the first half — other than the fireworks which saw the game momentarily paused — was a sweet strike from Benjamin Mendy that was brilliantly cleared off the line by Cheltenham captain Ben Tozer.
Tozer had a big hand in the game’s opening goal, as his long throw was flicked on and then prodded in by Alfie May to give Cheltenham a shock lead in the 59th minute. It was not to be for the hosts, however, as goals from Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres in the final ten minutes ensured City avoided an embarrassing defeat.
….As Southampton, West Ham and Brighton also win in fourth round
In the day’s early FA Cup kick-off, a strong Southampton side won 1-0 against Arsenal thanks to a 24th-minute own-goal from Gabriel.
West Ham will join Southampton in the fifth round, emphatically beating League One side Doncaster 4-0 with academy product Oladapo Afolayan scoring on debut.
Brighton also beat League One opposition to progress, as a stunning long-range strike from Yves Bissouma helped them to a 2-1 win over Blackpool.
Elsewhere, there were fourth-round wins for Sheffield United, Swansea City, Bristol City and Barnsley.
Derby win again under Rooney
In the Championship’s only fixture of the day, Derby were 1-0 winners away at QPR.
Derby had the better of the opening stages, but it was a cagey first half overall with few moments of quality. A Derby counter in the 56th minute saw Colin Kazim-Richards open the scoring and the away side held on for their second win in as many games.
Wayne Rooney’s side remain 21st, but are only behind Nottingham Forest on goals scored.
Wolves sign Willian Jose on loan
Wolves have signed striker Willian Jose on loan from Real Sociedad. The deal is until the end of the season and includes an option to buy for £22 million.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have lacked potency in attack since Raul Jimenez suffered a fractured skull against Arsenal in November, winning only one of nine league games since.
Jose — a strong centre-forward with excellent hold-up play — has scored at least 11 league goals in each of his four full seasons at La Real.
Rafa Benitez leaves Chinese side Dalian Professional
Rafa Benitez has left his position as manager at Chinese Super League team Dalian Professional by mutual consent.
The 60-year-old still had a year left on his £12 million-a-year contract, but the deal has been terminated early despite talks about an extension last month.
Benitez — who has been at his family home in Merseyside since November — told The Athletic a month ago that he was “keeping an eye on Europe and the Premier League” when thinking about his next job.
Milan’s title charge falters as Mandzukic makes debut
Serie A leaders Milan were stunned by a brilliant performance from Atalanta, losing 3-0 at San Siro. Goals from Cristian Romero, Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata secured the win, with Milan only staying top thanks to Inter’s failure to win at Udinese.
Manager Stefano Pioli eventually turned to new signing Mario Mandzukic in the 70th minute with the score 2-0, but the Croatian was unable to prevent Milan from suffering just their second defeat of the season.
Mandzukic is the latest player to take the famed No 9 shirt at Milan — a number which has not proved fruitful for its wearers since Filippo Inzaghi retired in 2012. Go Deeper below with The Athletic’s James Horncastle as he explores the ‘cursed’ shirt.
(Photos: Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images, Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images, Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images, Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)