Man City breathe life into title defence, Rory McIlroy starts well in Hawaii

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Leroy Sane scores Man City’s winner against Liverpool. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Leroy Sane scores Man City’s winner against Liverpool. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Manchester City breathed new life into their title defence last night as they beat league leaders Liverpool 2-1 at the Etihad, reducing the gap at the top of the Premier League to four points. Pep Guardiola’s side controlled a bruising, loose encounter, before sitting deep and surviving late pressure from the visitors to secure a priceless three points. Sergio Agüero opened the scoring for the champions with a brilliant finish on 40 minutes, before Roberto Firmino bundled home a 64th minute equaliser. However the champions would have the final say, with Lero Sané fizzing home a 72nd minute winner and blowing things wide open at the top of the table. After the game Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp claimed City captain Vincent Kompany should have been sent off for a second-half tackle on Mohamed Salah, he said: “I really like Vincent Kompany but how on earth is that not a red card? He is last man and he goes in. If he hits Mo more he is out for the season. It is not easy for the ref and he may not see it how I see it.”

Rory McIlroy has got his 2019 campaign off to a solid start after he shot an opening round of 69 in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. A strong finish, which saw him birdie three of his final four holes, leaves the four-time Major winner three strokes off the lead of American Kevin Tway. Tway sets the pace after opening with a 69, with compatriots Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland lurking a stroke behind him on six under par. Elsewhere there was mixed news for Pádraig Harrington yesterday. The Dubliner has confirmed he will be out until February after slipping at home and breaking a bone in his wrist - however he is also expected to be officially unveiled as the 2020 Ryder Cup captain at a press conference next week.

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