Premier League: David Luiz sent off as Manchester City outclass Arsenal; Sheffield United denied by technology

Raheem Sterling scored the first goal of the Premier League’s return to action after the coronavirus lockdown as Manchester City defeated Arsenal 3-0 behind closed doors at the Etihad stadium on Wednesday.

Reuters June 18, 2020 08:35:18 IST
Premier League: David Luiz sent off as Manchester City outclass Arsenal; Sheffield United denied by technology

Raheem Sterling scored the first goal of the Premier League’s return to action after the coronavirus lockdown as Manchester City defeated Arsenal 3-0 behind closed doors at the Etihad stadium on Wednesday.

The result means Liverpool, whose lead has been cut to 22 points by second-placed City, cannot now win the title on Sunday at Everton in the Merseyside derby.

Premier League David Luiz sent off as Manchester City outclass Arsenal Sheffield United denied by technology

Manchester City's Phil Foden celebrates scoring their third goal against Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. AP

But the league table was far from the minds of the few people inside the stadium at kickoff time, with a minute’s silence for victims of the coronavirus followed by the players and officials taking a knee in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Sterling, a prominent supporter of the movement whose slogan featured on the players’ shirts, fired home on the stroke of halftime to put the hosts ahead.

City had threatened on several occasions to provide the first goal of “Project Restart” with Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno saving efforts from Sterling and David Silva and racing out to foil Riyad Mahrez.

The goal came after Arsenal substitute David Luiz failed to deal with a ball into the box and allowed Sterling in on goal, and the Brazilian was at fault again for City’s second.

Premier League David Luiz sent off as Manchester City outclass Arsenal Sheffield United denied by technology

Arsenal's David Luiz saw red for bringing down Riyad Mahrez. AP

Mahrez got the wrong side of Luiz as he burst into the box and the ex-Chelsea defender put his hand on the Algerian’s back. Referee Anthony Taylor ruled he had pushed him to the ground, awarding a penalty and sending off Luiz.

Kevin De Bruyne confidently converted the spot-kick and City never looked in any danger against opponents reduced to 10 men.

City also ended the game with 10 players when Spanish defender Eric Garcia was carried off on a stretcher after a collision with his keeper Ederson. City were not able to replace him as manager Pep Guardiola had used all five available substitutes.

Guardiola’s side wrapped up the win in stoppage time when Sergio Aguero hit the post, after a neat exchange with Sterling, and substitute Phil Foden slotted home the loose ball.

Sheffield United denied by tech error in 0-0 draw with Villa

Aston Villa and Sheffield United played out a goalless draw as the Premier League made a poignant re-start with strong statements against racism and an embarrassing failure of goal-line technology.

In the first game back after a 100-day hiatus, visitors United were denied a legitimate goal at Villa Park when the ball crossed the line, but was not awarded, leading to an apology from Hawk-Eye, who provide the goal-line technology system.

It was a let-off for Villa, who remained second-bottom in the table with 26 points, while Champions League-chasing Sheffield United moved sixth, a point behind Manchester United above them with nine games of the season remaining.

The match had begun with a strong statement of support for the worldwide protests against racism as the players and match officials all took a knee on the opening whistle.

There was also a moment’s silence before kickoff in memory of those who died in the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, which included the father of Villa manager Dean Smith.

Premier League David Luiz sent off as Manchester City outclass Arsenal Sheffield United denied by technology

Aston Villa's Oerjan Nyland saves inside the net against Sheffield United. AP

The game’s major talking point arrived just before halftime when off-balance Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland caught a curling free kick but was bundled back over the line by team mate Keinan Davis in a clumsy defensive mix-up.

Referee Michael Oliver, pointing to his watch, looked to indicate that goal-line technology had not verified the ball had crossed the line, despite what appeared to be clear evidence on TV replays.

There was also no intervention from the Video Assistant Referee.

Hawk-Eye issued a statement after the game saying the seven cameras in the stands around the goal area were obstructed by the keeper, defender and goalpost.

“This level of occlusion has never been seen before in over 9,000 matches that the Hawk-Eye Goal Line Technology system has been in operation,” the company said, re-igniting the debate over technology in football.

The visitors will feel hard done by but also had goalkeeper Dean Henderson to thank for securing a share of the points in a lively affair on a rainy evening, where both sides showed a lack of match practice.

He made key saves in the second half, first to deny Davis and then push away a rasping shot from John McGinn on the hour mark as Villa, who lost 4-0 at Leicester City in their last game before the league was suspended on March 9, made six changes to their starting lineup.

Yet sloppy defending, a characteristic of Villa’s play this season, almost came back to haunt them when a poor pass was intercepted only for John Lundstram’s 70th-minute effort to be blocked.

Neither side took advantage of the new rule allowing five substitutes, but Villa used four in another first for a league game in England.

The game was also stripped of its usual pre-match routine as both sides attempted to keep their distance amid strict health protocols, taking to the field separately and not shaking hands before kickoff.

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