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At Manchester City, for its 5-2 dismantling of CSKA Moscow, coach Manuel Pellegrini again put Costel Pantilimon in goal instead of the recently error-prone Joe Hart.

That’s not good for England to have its `keeper looking fidgety and forlorn on the City bench eight months out from the World Cup.

SCORES WHEN HE WANTS: With Sergio Aguero, the fans’ chants for once feel justified: Manchester City’s striker is so sublimely talented that he really does seem to score when he wants.

Aguero’s pair against CSKA Moscow _ the second slotted into the bottom corner after a marvelous spin past Aleksei Berezutski _ means he has now found the net in each of his last six games, scoring a total of nine goals.

Big “ifs,” of course, but with such skills, Aguero could challenge for the Ballon d’Or next year if he secures City some trophies this season and outshines Argentina teammate Messi at the 2014 World Cup.

AWKWARD: Although Champions League soccer is often high quality, arguably better than at the World Cup, the same cannot always be said of the news conferences that players, coaches and the media endure before games.

Perhaps because they’re addressing reporters they are less familiar with or because it’s hard to wax lyrical about a match they’ve yet to play, managers and players often seem to become particularly wooden under the Champions League media spotlight.

Consider these banalities from Wenger before his team’s 1-0 defeat of Dortmund:

“Dortmund is a good side.”

“It’s difficult to predict what will happen, that’s what makes football great.”

“At least you have a guarantee that the two teams will try to win the game.”

You don’t say, Arsene.


John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at) or follow him at