Vianney’s Coyle will be leaving a legacy behind

first_img By Doug mckenzie Staff Writer JERRY WOLKOWITZ St. John Vianney’s Tami Coyle takes the ball from Holy Cross’ Kimberly Wurzburg during a state tournament game last month. When St. John Vianney’s first-year girls soccer Coach Mike Alosco first met Tami Coyle, he was immediately impressed. Coyle, a senior who carried the reputation of being one of the best two-sport athletes in the state, approached Alosco as one of the team’s captains and told him that she expected the team to have a big year. After seeing her play for himself, Alosco believed her immediately. “Tami was the first player to come to me to organize a captains’ practice,” Alosco said. “Her fabulous leadership skills were evident to me from the very beginning. She had the girls working hard over the summer, and they were all very into it. She’s an extremely hard worker who leads by example, and that certainly rubs off on her teammates. “For me, as a first-year coach, having Tami Coyle on my team was obviously a tremendous asset,” Alosco said. JACKIE POLLACK St. John Vianney’s Tami Coyle drives to the hoop during a game against Red Bank Catholic last year. It’s the combination of an excellent work ethic and her impressive athletic ability that makes Coyle more than just a great athlete. She has that certain something that separates her from other premier athletes who lead their teams during their respective seasons. Beyond her staggering statistics and the stats piled up by those she plays with is the one thing that will make Tami Coyle a legend at the Holmdel school for many years to come — Tami Coyle is a winner. When the St. John Vianney girls soccer team upset Immaculate Heart Academy of Bergen County in the Parochial state championship game, 1-0, it marked the end of the Blue Eagles’ 56-game winning streak. But the Lady Lancers didn’t care what it meant to the girls from Immaculate Heart. All they knew was that they had just won the first girls state soccer title in their school’s history. For Coyle, it was the culmination of four years of hard work during which time she was dedicated to making herself and her team a legitimate title-contending force in the state. She came into the season having tasted success, with a pair of state championships on the basketball court shining impressively on her résumé. She wanted to make it happen on the soccer field, and she knew she had a chance with this year’s team. “Everything we’ve accomplished this year has been a definite surprise,” she admits, “but I knew from the beginning of the season that we would be a tough team. We have a group of people that have been so dedicated to winning that it was bound to happen.” Coyle added that she had her doubts at the beginning of the year. “At first we were shaky,” she said. “We lost to Red Bank Catholic (at the time, the top-rated team in the Shore) and then had to face Middletown South (No. 2). But when we beat South 3-0, we let everybody know, including ourselves, that we could play with anybody.” From there, the Lancers went on a roll which never stopped. They cruised to the state finals, beating RBC for the Shore Conference Tournament Championship along the way, and calmly upset the nation’s top-rated team to earn their state title. It marked the team’s first, Coyle’s third. Coyle understands the difference between this title and the two previous championships she’s helped secure on the hardwood. “This one is different,” she said. “In basketball, we play before enormous amounts of people, whereas the soccer games have smaller crowds. Plus, in basketball, we’re supposed to be in it from the beginning; Vianney has won it all so many times that it’s a surprise if we don’t. “But in soccer, we’ve never been there before,” she added. “That makes it that much better.” And as far as Coach Alosco is concerned, individual performances on the field don’t get much better than what Coyle (22 goals, nine assists) did for his team this year. “I’ve been coaching high school soccer for 15 years, and Tami is as good a player as I’ve seen,” he said. “She doesn’t get the recognition that others get because she doesn’t play club soccer. But as far as I’m concerned, she’s a definite candidate for first team All-State this year. I simply can’t say enough about how well she has played.” However, the personal accolades don’t mean much to Coyle. Not that she hasn’t appreciated them; she simply doesn’t use them as motivation. “I’ve been All-Division in soccer every year, and was third team All-Shore last year and first team this year,” she said. “But to be honest, I don’t really think about it too much. If I’m playing to my fullest and can help the team perform to its fullest, then I’ve met my personal goals.” As for college, Coyle has yet to make a decision on which sport to play. She admits to having a number of Division I schools interested in signing her, but is having difficulty coming to an ultimate decision. “It really depends on which sport I choose,” she said. “Some schools want me for soccer and others want me for basketball. And most wouldn’t let me play both because of conflicting schedules. I just don’t know if I’m ready to stop playing either sport at this point.” For now, it’s back to the hardwood, where Coyle hopes to help lead the Lancers to the Tournament of Champions after missing out last year. Thus far, she likes what she sees from the team. “I think we’ll prove pretty quickly that we can play with other teams,” she said. Coyle added that she was pleased to see Coach Nick Russo return after a two-year hiatus as the girls coach. “He’s killed us in practice already,” she said. “I can’t believe how sore I am after just a few days. “But he really is an extremely good coach,” she added. “And I’m excited to have him back.” For Russo, the feeling should definitely be mutual.last_img read more

Holmdel girls need to revert to their early-season form

first_imgFARRAH MAFFAI Holmdel’s Megan Heugle tags out the Lions’ Jenna Provost during the Hornets’ loss at Middletown North on Friday. Things were looking rosy for the Holmdel High School softball team after a 4-0 start, but the Hornets have struggled along at 1-6 since, and coach Geri Semenza is looking to get her team back on track. The slump means Holmdel will have to bounce back in order to earn a spot in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II playoffs. Teams must be at .500 or better at the end of play May 10 to qualify. Semenza is also looking for an invitation to the Shore Conference Tournament. As a result, Holmdel faces an important five-game week that began Monday when Asbury Park came to visit and included yesterday’s scheduled home game against Monmouth Regional. Tomorrow the Hornets begin a string of three straight road games at Colts Neck. Holmdel will be in Keyport Friday, and Saturday Semenza’s team travels to St. Rose in Belmar. The Hornets defeated both Monmouth Regional and Colts Neck earlier in the season. “Our defense was a big reason for the 4-0 start,” Semenza said. “We’ve struggled the last few weeks. Our defense has been a little inconsistent, but the girls know they can play better in the field.” Fortunately, the Hornets are hitting well as a team. First baseman Staci Gussis is at .385, shortstop Megan Heugle, a four-year starter, is batting .350, and sophomore third baseman Jen Zudonyi is also above the .300 mark. All three are tied for the team lead with 12 RBIs. Right fielder Angela Sze is Holmdel’s leading hitter with a .425 average. In addition, sophomore center fielder Julie Vikse has displayed some power by blasting two homers, third baseman Kristin Dayback, another soph, has begun to hit of late, and freshman catcher Jen Curran is starting to hit as well, Semenza said. “We have a lot of young players, and they’re still making the adjustment to varsity,” the coach said. “Overall, I’m very pleased with their progress.” Senior Andrea Erskine is back on the mound after missing most of last spring with a back injury. Other members of the team include left fielder Nicole Luccarelli and outfielder Mandy Kapsales. “This is a big week for us,” Semenza acknowledged. “We need to start winning to get the momentum we’ll need for the tournaments.” — Warren Rappleyealast_img read more

After further review

first_img Politicians are criticized all the time for flip-flopping on issues – for changing their position on matters based upon the current public opinion. In the past, I too have chastised such behavior, throwing my support to the kind of guy who sticks by his guns, in good times or bad. I respect the integrity that comes with standing up for what you believe in in the face of criticism. That being said, when taking on this issue of wood vs. nonwood bats in our state’s youth and high school baseball and softball leagues, I have become one of the great flip-floppers of all time. I’ve changed my opinion on the matter with just about every phone call I’ve taken and every e-mail I’ve read. While that certainly points to some kind of personal decision-making liability (I think, well, maybe not, I don’t know), it also underlines the persuasiveness of those on both sides of the argument. Those in favor of the switch to wooden bats in our youth through high school leagues – as outlined in Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan’s bill – point to what they perceive to be a safer game for our youngsters. They have data that shows how the ball exits a nonwood bat at a greater speed than it does off a wood one, thereby lessening reaction time and making it more of a threat to opposing pitchers and third basemen. On the other side of the argument is the bat manufacturers themselves, as well as the heads of the various youth baseball and softball leagues and some high school and college coaches, all of whom point to the production standards that have been put in place over the last 10 years that have effectively leveled the playing field (to a degree) between wood and nonwood bats. Having been to a few hundred Little League and high school baseball and softball games myself, I realize that there is a difference between a ball coming off a nonwood bat and a wooden one, beyond the sound it makes. However, I’m not convinced that the difference is so great that it creates a threat necessitating the outlawing of nonwood bats. There simply is no way to quantify how much safer the game would be without the use of nonwood bats. As a result, I’m left feeling that the safety risks of nonwood bats are not enough to support Diegnan’s legislation. Then I look at how the game itself would change, and I’m right back in favor of the switch. I agree with CBA head coach Marty Kenney, who said that today’s kids are too interested in driving the ball, and that some of the finer points of the game have been lost over the years, such as the bunt, not to mention the fastball, which has given way to a variety of breaking and offspeed pitches that are notorious for damaging previously healthy, yet undeveloped pitching arms. As a baseball purist, I would certainly embrace any change that would bring the game back to its roots a bit. Give me a 2-1 pitcher’s duel over a 13-10 slugfest any day. Then again, I wonder how our young pitchers, having faced nothing but batters with wooden bats throughout their careers, would fare once they reached the collegiate level. Nobody argues that the nonwood bats make better hitters out of everyone, and a New Jersey kid would certainly be at a disadvantage seeing nonwood bats for the first time. How do you tell an 18-year-old kid that he can’t get guys out with a fastball on the inside corner the way he used to? The only thing I feel strongly about regarding this issue is that I agree with the notion that it shouldn’t be left up to the state Legislature to decide if nonwood bats are too dangerous for our Little Leagues and schools. The various leagues have proved themselves to be more than capable of governing themselves when it comes to safety issues. For that reason, I suppose one could argue that I don’t support the bill. However, I’m also not ready to totally dismiss the idea that eliminating nonwood bats would be beneficial to our state’s youth leagues. So you see, after all the research, all the conversations with league reps, coaches and fans, and all the flip-flopping, I’m left exactly where I started. I don’t know how I feel about the merits of Assemblyman Diegnan’s bill. Good thing I don’t have a vote. I think. – Doug McKenzie is the sport coordinator for Greater Media Newspapers Doug McKenzie In the end, I’m right back where I started last_img read more

Fish On

first_img Ron Nuzzolo Notes from another fine day on the bay Before the storm last week I got reports from N.J. Saltwater Fisherman, Joey Gahrmann and his brother Chuck Gahrmann, both from East Brunswick, along with their buddy Scott McCall from Hillsborough, who fished the Raritan Bay area near buoy 11 for Chuck’s birthday. They went out around 9:30 a.m. and headed into the back bay. Nothing was around, no boats and no fish. They set up a couple of times with no runs, no hits. Then around noon they spotted some birds crashing, set up again and landed a short on clams. Then the choppy east wind picked up. They decide to troll plugs through the birds, and wouldn’t you know it – fish on every time with plugs, mostly shorts around 23-27 inches with a few smaller ones thrown in, too. Finally they found the keepers, landing eight solid 29-inchers and one nice 36.25-incher that weighed in at 18 pounds. So they put three nice fish in the box for a birthday dinner and released the other keepers for another day. Great birthday gift and good times had by all. Joe Caputo had chartered a trip with his longtime friend Captain Paul. Captain Paul has a 26-foot Shamrock and is out of Great Kills, Staten Island. Ron Nuzzolo, my father, and Bill Lee decided to tag along with Joe since he was very kind to extend his invitation. They wanted to catch an early start as well as the end of the tide. They left the dock at 5:15 a.m. in the morning, sworn to secrecy so as not to divulge exactly where they were (Raritan Bay, somewhere near Keyport was all I can get from them). When they finally got to their location, no one was around except for the sounds of bunker jumping out of the water. Captain Paul started his chum slick with his secret formula of frozen clams and some other things. Within the first 20 minutes or so they landed the first flounder. They started the morning out using sand worms and by 9:30 already had 23 flounders in the cooler. Small bass also arrived at the scene before bites slowed down a bit and gave them a chance to eat their lunch. This gave them a chance to talk about the ones that got away from past trips. The tide swung around and the flounders now wanted something different. They all switched over to mussels and that seemed to work well for the afternoon bite. Ron Sr. hooked up with a double-header of small bass and Bill Lee landed a nice yellow flounder. Joe Caputo hooked into a beautiful bass; unfortunately the bass was shy of its legal size of 28 inches. By 1:30 p.m. they were maxed out with 40 flounders and were well on their way home. What a great day – good conversation, some good laughs and fishing with a bunch of great anglers. Those are the days that you remember and talk about for years to come. I thought I would share that with you. For these guys they have memories of trips like this one by the hundreds and just another day on the bay. Remember a good trip or bad, it’s about the friends and memories that come from it that count. I have fished with these guys in the past and I, too, have some great stories that I will pass along to my kids. This report came in from Captain Dave in Atlantic Highlands – A forecast of heavy rainstorms and flooding did not deter the Bob O’Leary party from Old Bridge from their day of fishing. Fearing a water temperature change and turbid water in the back bay from the storm, a trip to Roamer Shoals was in order. Within three minutes, the first bass was on. Nonstop action from the bass was the theme for the rest of the afternoon. One rod set for flounder produced fish up to 19 inches. Short bass dominated the catch but the action was red hot. Bob O’Leary took the pool with a striper. Clams were the bait of the day. Recipe of the week Every week I ask readers to send in their favorite local recipes to share with the rest of us. At the end of the year I will post my three favorite recipes. Once we post them, you, the readers, will decide who will become the first annual “Fish on with Ron – Local Seafood Recipe Champ.” Please send your recipe and or fishing report to me at ron@signbrothers.com. Our recipe this week comes from Lucia Spagnolo from Bayonne, but originally from San Vito/ Calabria / Italy. Get the Net: 5 out of 5 nets Difficulty: Very simple Comments: Old school basics, simple seafood delight Nonna Lucia’s Fried Snapper 5 or 6 medium size snapper 1/2 cup flour 1/2 cup vegetable oil Sea salt Black pepper to taste 1/2 cup lemon butter sauce Heat up oil until ready for frying. Clean snapper thoroughly, remove heads and tails, clean insides, and scale them thoroughly over cold water. Salt snapper generously and only add pepper to taste. Dredge the snapper in the flour, coating completely. Add the snapper to the pan, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. In a separate pan, combine stick of melted butter with the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup white wine, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic a set aside. To serve, lay the snapper on dish and spoon the lemon butter sauce on top. Garnish with parsley. Recipe by: Lucia Spagnolo from Bayonnelast_img read more

N.J. Hitmen 13-year-olds win the USABL state baseball title

first_imgThe N.J. Hitmen are proving to be an instant hit on the local travel baseball scene.The youth program, started three years ago by Frank Salesi of Middletown and Mike DiPede of Marlboro, has grown from one to four teams. One of those teams is the 13-year-old N.J. Hitmen Elite, playing this week in Aberdeen, Md., for the Stars and Stripes tournament after a very successful spring season.“We’re ready to roll. We’re trying to feed off our success,” said Salesi, who manages the 13-year-old team that won the United States Amateur Baseball League (USABL) Elite Division and the USABL state championship.In the state championship finals on May 25, the N.J. Hitmen beat Old Bridge, 5-4, as Jake Burlew, who lives in Matawan, lined a triple and came around on an error on the play to stake the N.J. Hitmen to a 5-1 lead. Sal Monticciolo, who pitched the first 4 2/3 innings, and Matt Fanelli each hammered two extra-base hits. Both are from Holmdel. Austin Nappi of Matawan pitched the final 2 1/3 innings, ending it with the tying run at third base.Logan Marter, an outfielder and pitcher from Matawan, has wielded one of the hot bats for the team, along with Nappi, Burlew and Monticciolo.The N.J. Hitmen program includes a 10- year-old team, a new 12-year-old team and two 13-year-old teams, and it will be starting a team for 11-year-olds this fall.“We started with a team that was all 11s that I managed, and now those players are 13. When I managed them at the start, I found it difficult to find a good travel program for my son, Sal,” Salesi said of the older son on the 13s Elite.Other USABL teams come out of Freehold, Manalapan, Keyport, Aberdeen, Holmdel and Oceanport.Salesi was a catcher in high school at Xaverian and then at Brooklyn College before continuing to play baseball for teams in Westchester, N.Y., and Brooklyn, including in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. He retired at 35 because of obligations to his growing family.Mike Chiusano, who caught in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle Mariners major league systems, coaches the Elite 13s with Salesi. A year ago, that team won the Cheesequake Travel League and finished 18th out of 104 teams in the Cooperstown Dream Park showcase.The 13s B team is managed by Gerald Angolia, president of St. Joseph’s Little League in Keyport, and Michael Olsen of Matawan is the coach.A year ago, the 13s Elite had five 11- year-olds on the team, which pushed Salesi and DiPede to start a 12-year-old team last fall. Pat Caragliano manages the 12s with coaches DiPede; Pat Egan, who is president of Matawan youth baseball; and Jerry Martin of Matawan. It was in first place in the fall season when Hurricane Sandy ended things early. Like the Elite 13s, the 10-year-olds are rated a Level 5, which is the highest level. Egan is manager and L.J. Baillargeon of Freehold is the coach of the team that finished in first place in the USABL and won the tournament championship, 5- 4, over a Staten Island team when Griffin Falco belted a walk-off two-run homer. They’ll play in three showcases in the Mount Holly area in late July, and early and late August. Tryouts for all levels of the N.J. Hitmen program take place in mid-July. The 10s and 11s will hold tryouts at St. Joseph’s Baseball Field in Keyport, and the 12s and 13s will have tryouts at the Cheesequake Baseball Field in Old Bridge. Check with the Facebook page for times or email frank@njhitmen.org.As soon as the 13s get back from Aberdeen, they’ll be back on the road next Wednesday for the PONY (Protect Our Nation’s Youth) sectionals in New Bedford, Mass., on July 11-14. The winner advances to the zone championships in Virginia and a shot for a spot in the nationals in California starting on July 23.The N.J. Hitmen 13s Elite became eligible when Salesi entered it in PONY/American Amateur Baseball Congress so that team and his youngest team, which also is entered there, have a chance to play deeper into the summer.Along with registration fees, the N.J. Hitmen trips are paid with help from fundraisers. As for the sheer volume of work involved in overseeing so many teams, Salesi acknowledges the many dedicated coaches and eager volunteers for keeping things moving forward. By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent last_img read more

Bouchard breezes into last eight, Murray survives

first_imgEugenie Bouchard’s meteoric rise continued on Sunday when the baby-faced Canadian demolished Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-2 to claim a quarter-final spot at the French Open.The 18th seeded Bouchard, who reached the Australian Open semi-final this year, blazed away with 30 winners in just 52 minutes on court Philippe Chatrier.Andy Murray survived a cliffhanger against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, returning to court on Sunday to win 12-10 in the deciding set after their third-round match had been stopped by bad light at 7-7 in the fifth the previous evening.French hopes took a knock as Richard Gasquet failed to stage a comeback against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in another third round match held over from Saturday.Bouchard’s pace and variety of shots was too much to handle for the higher-seeded Kerber, who had reached the last eight at Roland Garros in 2012.The German was caught snoozing early on and went 5-0 down, never recovering as Bouchard set up a meeting with 14th seed Carla Suarez Navarro after the Spaniard used her one-handed backhand to great effect to end the run of up-and-coming Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic with a 6-3 6-3 win.“I feel like since the beginning of the year I have been improving my game, since Australia I’m at a different level from there,” said Bouchard, who claimed her first WTA title the previous week in Nuremberg.“I have been feeling that way in practice and in matches recently. Even if it’s not always there, I know that I can really play at a good level.“I have confidence in myself. I can play like this and play even better,” the 20-year-old added.Predicting that Bouchard could win the title, Kerber said: “She’s a great player. She played very well today. But I actually didn’t find my rhythm.”In the men’s draw, sixth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic was the first to advance into the quarter-finals, dismissing the towering John Isner 6-4 6-4 6-4.NO NONSENSEBerdych broke the American 10th seed’s serve once in each set for a no-nonsense victory to book a quarter-final encounter with either 17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer or Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis.Murray set up a fourth-round clash with Verdasco, after holding his nerve in a high-quality finale to his clash with Kohlschreiber on Court Suzanne Lenglen.Kohlschreiber served to stay in the match six times but finally relented as Murray, who had led by two sets to one and 4-2 on Saturday, clinched victory on his second match point with a blistering backhand return.The seventh seed’s 3-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 12-10 win means he faces left-hander Verdasco, the man he beat in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year from two sets down.Verdasco barely broke sweat to see off French 12th seed Gasquet, taking advantage of his opponent’s lethargy to win 6-3 6-2 6-3.Later on Sunday, world number two Novak Djokovic, chasing the only grand slam title missing from his collection, faces Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 13th seed.last_img read more

Figo launches bid for FIFA presidency

first_imgBy Mike CollettFormer Portugal international Luis Figo said on Wednesday he wanted to stand for the FIFA presidency revealing his plans one day before nominations close to enter the race.The former Real Madrid and Barcelona forward announced his intention to run against incumbent Sepp Blatter in an interview with CNN and said he had the five nominations needed for an official campaign.Figo, 42, was twice voted World Player of the Year. “I care about football, so what I’m seeing regarding the image of FIFA – not only now but in the past years – I don’t like it,” he said.Figo is the latest to throw his hat in the ring alongside Blatter, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France, ex-France international David Ginola and Michael Van Praag, president of the Dutch FA.Speaking about his campaign, Figo said: “Football has given me so much during my life and I want to give something back to the game. I look at the reputation of FIFA right now and I don’t like it. Football deserves better.“In recent weeks, months, and even years, I have seen the image of FIFA deteriorate and as I speak to many people in football – to players, managers and Association Presidents – so many of those people have told me that something has to be done.“Throughout my career I have worked at all levels of the game. This has given me a unique insight and understanding that I feel can enhance the discussion about the future of FIFA and the future of football.”In his 20-year playing career Figo made nearly 800 appearances for Sporting Lisbon, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan and played a record 127 times for Portugal scoring 32 goals.Figo, who has served on the UEFA Football Committee since 2011, added: “I am convinced that FIFA’s position as the governing body of world football is absolutely vital.“For this to be preserved it is essential that we see change at the top and we set FIFA on a new course which is all about football and less about politics.“This is why I am looking forward to getting on the road in the coming weeks, to explain in detail my programme and my vision.”last_img read more

Verstappen steals the show on Monaco debut

first_imgBy Alan BaldwinToo young to rent a car, or drive unaccompanied on public roads, 17-year-old Formula One prodigy Max Verstappen had his bosses purring with a sensational performance in practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.The fresh-faced Dutch rookie stole the show after lapping second fastest to Mercedes’ world champion Lewis Hamilton around an intimidating and unforgiving street circuit he had never driven before.Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost was impressed.“He went out in the morning and from run to run he improved his lap time without making any mistake. No locking, nothing. His car control and his feedback during the run was really extraordinary,” he said.“I’m very happy that he is in the team and convinced that he will show some other great runs, hopefully in qualifying,” added the boss, who predicted a top-five finish for the youngster before the end of the year.Verstappen, son of former racer Jos, has already finished seventh this season to become the sport’s youngest ever points scorer.“I thought it was super. For a guy that can’t rent a hire car yet, it’s enormously impressive, at 17 years of age,” commented Christian Horner, principal of Toro Rosso’s senior team Red Bull Racing.“I think the two Toro Rosso drivers actually have done a wonderful job this year,” he added. “I think it’s one of the positive stories in Formula One at the moment, those two young rookies that Red Bull have given a chance.“They’re here on merit and it shows that the junior programme is most definitely working.”Verstappen, whose Spanish rookie team-mate Carlos Sainz was fifth fastest in the same session, recognised it had been a memorable day.“I built it up slowly in the first practice because it was all new for me, but I felt really good in the car immediately,” he said.“This gave me a lot of confidence and to finish the morning session in P2 (second place) made me feel great.“In the afternoon it was a bit of a shame that it rained as we couldn’t complete as many laps as we wanted, but to still finish P7 is not bad.”last_img read more

Man City close in on last eight after 3-1 win at Dynamo

first_imgManchester City moved within touching distance of a first appearance in the Champions League quarter-finals after a dynamic first-half display at Dynamo Kiev helped them secure a 3-1 last-16 first-leg win on Wednesday.City were irrepressible in the opening 45 minutes, slicing through their opponents almost at will and taking a 2-0 lead with goals from Sergio Aguero and David Silva.The hosts, however, improved dramatically after the restart and Vitaliy Buyalskiy’s deflected effort reduced the arrears to fire up the home crowd and spur on the Dynamo players.City keeper Joe Hart was forced into a superb save to deny Buyalskiy an equaliser, but Yaya Toure curled home late on to leave the tie firmly balanced in City’s favour ahead of the return leg on March 15.The English side, who reverted to a full-strength team after resting a host of players in a humiliating 5-1 FA Cup defeat by Chelsea, began with real intent, dominating possession and pressing their opponents into near submission in a classy first-half display.The hosts, returning from their winter break, looked very much a side who had not played an official match in two and a half months.After a minor scare for City when Hart pushed an effort from Andriy Yarmolenko on to the crossbar, the visitors took the lead after 15 minutes.Toure headed Silva’s corner into the path of Aguero, who made the most of the space he had been afforded to chest the ball down and volley sharply past keeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy for his 16th goal in his last 17 Champions League starts.The visitors missed chances to extend the lead with Aguero flashing a shot fractionally wide and Toure forcing Shovkovskiy to palm his effort away at the near post, but it was not long before they doubled their advantage.Silva, playing in a central playmaker role, finished off a teasing low cross from Raheem Sterling at the far post on 40 minutes after good work from Aguero.Kiev came out in the second half with renewed vigour and reduced the deficit when Buyalskiy’s rasping effort from the edge of the area took a big deflection off Nicolas Otamendi and nestled in the corner of Hart’s net.Kiev piled forward and Hart was forced into a superb low save to deny Buyalskiy an equaliser with 10 minutes remaining, but Toure put City within touching distance of the last eight when he curled in from 20 metres in the 90th minute.last_img read more