Manchester City is still rolling. Still perfect since mid-August. Nineteen wins in a row. Barely.
And for the 19th – same as for the 18th, and the 17th – it has a familiar face to thank.
For the third time in eight days, and for at least the fourth time this season, Raheem Sterling rescued three points for City with a late winner. This time, he did so with a majestic 96th-minute goal to beat Southampton 2-1.
Sterling ran nearly the length of the pitch in ecstasy, and jumped for joy. Pep Guardiola leapt into the brisk Manchester air. The Etihad has seen some late heroics over the years. It has likely never seen an individual streak like this.
Elsewhere, the big boys kept up with City. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all kept clean sheets, and all won. Wayne Rooney completed a hat trick with a goal from his own half, and claimed three huge points for Everton.
But the story of the day was the Premier League leaders, who maintained their eight-point gap at the top of the table.
And the story of the day was Sterling. He beat Feyenoord in the Champions League last Wednesday in the 88th minute. He beat Huddersfield in the 84th this past Sunday. This time, he left it late, even by his standards, on an incredible Wednesday evening at the Etihad.
Raheem Sterling does it again
City, for the second consecutive game, wasn’t machine-like. It didn’t run circles around its opponent. In fact, it could have been behind at halftime. Southampton center backs Maya Yoshida and Wesley Hoedt both came close on corners. Hoedt’s header hit the bar.
Shortly after the break, City went ahead via a set piece of its own. The goal was credited to Kevin De Bruyne because the cross was on frame, but it took a heavy deflection off Virgil Van Dijk:
Fraser Forster kept the visitors in the game with several massive saves in the second half. Van Dijk completed the trifecta of Southampton center back missed chances off corners with 20 minutes remaining. Finally, a midfielder got on the end of a chance, and he buried it. Oriol Romeu hammered Sofiane Boufal’s pull back in off the City crossbar to bring the Saints level with 15 minutes to go.
And they appeared to have held on for the point. But in the sixth of five minutes of stoppage time, Sterling did it again.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) November 29, 2017
City has now won three Premier League games by a score of 2-1 this season. All three came courtesy of Sterling winners – one in the 84th minute, one in the 96th, and one in the 97th back in August against Bournemouth. That was the first of the 19 wins.
The 22-year-old English attacker has made an extraordinary leap in his third year at City. He has thrived under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola. He has scored 13 goals in all competitions, already a personal single-season best. He is a complete winger, a bonafide superstar, and a big reason why City is still eight points clear at the top of the league.
Ozil and Arsenal romp
Arsenal stormed by Huddersfield with a powerful, Mesut Ozil-powered five-goal showing. But it was Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette who set the Gunners on their way in the first half:
After the break, Ozil set up Olivier Giroud for Arsenal’s second …
… and Alexis Sanchez for the third:
He then did the honors himself for Arsenal’s fourth:
Giroud, who replaced an injured Lacazette at halftime completed the 5-0 rout with three minutes remaining. The only negative to come out of the match was Lacazette’s groin strain, which will rule him out for Saturday’s game against Manchester United.
Liverpool wins, Salah scores two off the bench
Jurgen Klopp rotated his entire forward line, resting Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho, and bringing back Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino after the latter two had been left out against Chelsea on Saturday. He also handed a rare start to young English striker Dominic Solanke, and the 20-year-old helped create Mane’s opener:
Salah then entered the match midway through the second half, and continued his scorching hot scoring run. He casually bagged two goals, his 16th and 17th of the campaign, and Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 win.
With Tottenham losing at Leicester on Tuesday, Liverpool’s victory at Stoke was significant. It lifted the Reds up into fifth place, two points back of Arsenal for fourth. With Burnley beating Bournemouth 2-1, Spurs slipped all the way to seventh.
Rooney’s hat trick
A missed penalty rebound. A late-arriving run. And a 70-yard wondergoal … seriously. Here’s the Rooney hat trick compilation:
Rooney was an unused substitute in Everton’s dreadful 4-1 loss at Southampton over the weekend. He doesn’t exactly fit well into the Toffees team. But man, he can still strike a ball well. The technique on the third goal was otherworldly. It was perfection. His goalscoring prowess almost makes him a must-start, despite his flaws.
It propelled Everton to a crucial 4-0 victory with recently-appointed manager Sam Allardyce watching from the stands. The victory dragged Everton all the way up into 13th place.
West Ham, meanwhile, is stuck in 18th place, and David Moyes already seems to be under pressure.
Chelsea 1-0 Swansea
Bournemouth 1-2 Burnley