Monday, 25 February 2013

City beat Chelsea to stay 12 pts behind United

Defending champions Manchester City beat Chelsea 2-0 to get its first Premier League soccer win in a month and stay within 12 points of leader Manchester United.

Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez got second-half goals for City at Etihad Stadium yesterday after Frank Lampard, seeking his 200th goal for Chelsea, had his penalty kick saved by Joe Hart. United won 2-0 at last-place Queens Park Rangers two days ago to move to 68 points atop the standings with 11 games left.

"For us now it is not important to look at the table," City manager Roberto Mancini told reporters.

"Only to continue to work like today, to play well, to improve and to look at the table in one month, 40 days. In football, it is finished when it is finished, the last minute of the last game."

City beat United to the championship on the last day of the 2011-12 season with two stoppage-time goals against QPR.

City put Chelsea under pressure in the first half and Petr Cech had to save from Matija Nastasic.

Chelsea had a chance to take the lead from the penalty spot in the 51st minute after Hart brought down Demba Ba, although he wasn't shown a card by referee Andre Marriner. Hart dived low to his right to save Lampard's spot kick.

Sergio Aguero then dinked the ball over Cech only for his effort go just over the crossbar. Toure got the breakthrough in the 63rd minute, taking the ball into the penalty area before placing it right-footed past Cech and inside the far post.

Super sub Tevez sealed City's first league victory since January 19 in the 85th minute, slamming the ball past Cech from outside the area.

Swansea ease past Bradford to win first major trophy

Swansea City clinched their first-ever major trophy courtesy of an easy 5-0 Capital One Cup final win over Bradford City at Wembley.

The gulf in class between the two teams was evident from the very beginning as Swansea, having already put the Premier League's Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa to the sword, proved too good for the second division side.

Nathan Dyer's opener from close-range and Michu's clinical finish gave Michael Laudrup's side an early lead at HT before Dyer stroked home and Jonathan De Guzman scored from first the spot and then the near post to ensure that Laudrup laid claim to the first major silverware of the English season.

After being rested against Liverpool, the Swans' top scorer, Michu, and captain, Ashley Williams, were back in the starting XI along with Dyer, Angel Rangel and Wayne Routledge.

Also Ki Sung-Yueng was re-called as a makeshift centre-back.

For Bradford, Phil Parkinson made just one change to the side that started both legs of the semi-final against Aston Villa, with Garry Thompson replacing Zavon Hines.

The game quickly set into the pattern that was to define the entire games, with Swansea entirely dictating the match and ensuring that Laudrup won his first trophy in charge of a club that he successfully managed to transform this season.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Barcelona, Real play out thrilling draw

Barcelona and Real Madrid played out a exhilarating draw in Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday. 
As goalkeeper Iker Casillas was injured, Diego Lopez replaced him for the home side and Cristiano Ronaldo was given the captain's armband.

The first goal came as Lionel Messi intercepted a clearance and passed it to Cesc Fabregas, who calmly slot it home in the 50th minute.

He later said, "This is obviously a good result; we are in the Bernabeu, a very tough field, and we will have our own fans behind us for the return leg of the draw."

Raphael Varane though salvaged the match for Real, heading an equalizer in the 81st having saved three clear Barcelona chances earlier. "It's like a dream come true, incredible to score a goal like that against Barcelona at just 19," Varane said.

"The second leg will be evenly matched and we're going to play a good match there to win," her added.

The second leg will be played at the Camp Nou on Feb. 27.

It also ended Messi's run in which he had scored in his previous 16 starts.

Giroud, Walcott lead Arsenal's fightback against Liverpool

Arsenal came back after conceding a couple of goals at the Emirates to hold Liverpool in a Premier League encounter this Wednesday.

Liverpool were more impressive from the outset and looked set to seal 3 points with goals from Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson giving them a promising lead but Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott brought Arsenal right back in to the game.

Liverpool grabbed the lead after only 5 minutes as Bacary Sagna's mis-pass allowed Glen Johnson to find Daniel Sturridge who made Wojciech Szczesny pull out a super save, but the ball fell to Suarez and Liverpool's top scorer this season didn't disappoint.

The second goal for Liverpool came right at the hour mark as Jordan Henderson sneaked past 3 defenders, including Santos and Mertesacker. His initial shot was stopped by but it came back to him, who tapped it in to double Liverpool's advantage.

Being 2 goals down brought the Arsenal attach to the fore and Oliver Giroud rose highest to head home from Wilshere's free-kick to reduce the deficit. The Frenchman found plenty of space in the box left by Danny Agger and Jamie Carragher to power his header past the hapless goalkeeper.
Interestingly, it was his fifth goal this week.

It didn't take Arsenal long to seize the initiative as only 3 minutes later, they leveled through Theo Walcott. Santi Cazorla found Oliver Giroud inside Liverpool's D who passed it to Walcott, who in put a powerful strike past Pepe Reina for the equaliser.

Monday, 28 January 2013

UEFA unveil plans for EURO 2020

Euro 2020 will be held in 13 cities across the continent and the semi-finals and final will be played in the same stadium, UEFA said this weekend. 

UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino said no more than one venue per country would be permitted, no host nation would be guaranteed qualification and that venues would be chosen in September next year. 

"Ideally, we would like to keep travelling times down to a two-hour flight between matches for the teams and their fans," said UEFA President Michel Platini, adding that supporters could make use of low-cost airlines. 

UEFA said that 12 cities would be awarded a package of three group games plus one knockout-stage game, either from the round-of-16 or quarter-finals. 

A special 13th package would be awarded, consisting of the two semi-finals and final. Countries could present up to two bids each, one for the knockout matches and one for the final package. 

Platini said that in his opinion Turkey, which had planned to bid as sole host for the tournament until December's decision, would be favourite to stage the semi-finals and final. 

Infantino said no teams would qualify automatically for the tournament, potentially meaning that some host nations would not be taking part. 

Those host nations which did qualify would be guaranteed two home games in their group but it would be pot luck in the knockout stages. Each six-team group would include a maximum of two host nations. 

The decision to stage the semi-finals and final in the same venue takes the competition back to its early days when a four-team final stage was played. The full tournament format was started at the 1980 championship held in Italy. 

The minimum stadium capacities would be 70,000 for the semi-finals and final, 60,000 for the quarter-finals and 50,000 for the group stage and round of 16 matches, although two exceptions would be made where 30,000 capacity stadiums would be permitted. 

FA Cup: Chelsea held by Brentford

Defending champions Chelsea were held to a 2-2 tie at Brentford in the fourth round of FA Cup yesterday as they twice rallied from a goal behind. 

Marcello Trotta and Harry Forrester, with a penalty, got goals at Griffin Park in west London for Brentford, which plays in the third-tier League One. Oscar and Fernando Torres replied for the Blues. 

The teams will now face a replay at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge to advance in the competition, which Chelsea has won four times in the past six seasons. 

Chelsea had most of the possession early on, although it was the home team that had an opportunity to take the lead on 12 minutes when Blues goalkeeper Ross Turnbull picked up a backpass from John Terry. 

Brentford was awarded a free kick within the penalty area, but Forrester was unable to get his shot on target. The hosts started to gain confidence against their Premier League opposition and Forrester fired just wide from long-range in the 29th minute. Adam Forshaw came close four minutes later. 

The opening goal game three minutes before halftime. Frank Lampard lost the ball and Forrester tested Turnbull with a shot that he could only parry to Trotta to tap into the net. 

Chelsea was level after 55 minutes. Oscar collected the ball just outside the penalty area, turned and then placed a shot into the top corner. 

With 17 minutes remaining, Brentford regained the lead with a penalty, awarded when Turnbull fouled Tom Adeyemi as he burst into the area. Adeyemi had replaced Trotta less than a minute earlier. Forrester stepped up and placed the ball past Turnbull, who dived the correct way. 

Ryan Bertrand missed an opportunity for Chelsea late in the game when he headed over from close range and was then replaced by Demba Ba. 
Moments later, Ba crossed for Torres to tie the game on 83 minutes. 

Brentford held on for the replay, even as Chelsea's players appealed vociferously for a penalty in injury time when the ball hit the hand of Harlee Dean. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Traore helps Burkina Faso extend unbeaten run in AFCON

Alain Traore equalized in the last minute of stoppage time to help Burkina Faso snatch a point against Nigeria. 

It was a major disappointment for Nigeria, as they had dominated the game a red card to Efe Ambrose in the 74th minute let them down. 

After the opening goal by Emmanuel Emenike in the 23rd-minute, Nigeria wasted a lot of chances to increase their lead. 

The result extended Burkina Faso's winless run in the African Nations Cup to 18 matches, you could hardly tell by the way they celebrated the final whistle. 

Nigeria dominated the first half, with almost one-way traffic towards Abdoulaye Soulama's goal. 

Brown Ideye wanted a penalty early on after a fine long ball from Jon Obi Mikel found him in the area and he tumbled under the challenge of Bakary Kone, although there was a fairly obvious use of the hand by Ideye as he controlled the ball and the referee waved play on. 

Ideye then blazed over from Ahmed Musa's cross before the breakthrough came in the 23rd minute. 

A long ball over the top was brilliantly flicked on by Ideye and Emenike got his toe to the ball first under pressure from two defenders. 

Burkina Faso were barely registering as an attacking force, but almost had a penalty just after the half-hour mark when Elderson Echiejile handled, but the referee ruled it just outside and they bungled the free-kick. 

They were much improved in the second half and Moumouni Dagano should have levelled in the 49th minute, but totally mistimed his header from Florent Rouamba's cross as the ball rolled off his shoulder.