Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Arsenal win 12 goal thriller at Madejski

This was a nail-biting game, a classic match that saw Arsenal overturn a 4-0 deficit to reach the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup for the tenth consecutive time. 

After a weekend filled with controversies, this match was a treat for the ones present in the ground, a comeback that made Arsenal fans sing in elation. It was the kind of night that will give Arsene Wenger and his boys hope for the remainder of the season. On the other hand, it must have been difficult for Reading manager Brian McDermott to see his side lose after a gaining a four-goal advantage within 20 minutes. 

11 changes were an indication that Arsene Wenger was not taking the Capital One Cup that seriously, he admitted at last week's AGM "the competition doesn't top his priority list this season. 

A horror show put by Gunners in the first half was disappointing; their defending was appalling and the attack led by Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou was proving to be spineless. 

In the 12th minute, Reading took the lead when Mikele Leigertwood initiated the move in the midfield and Jason Roberts and Noel Hunt were rewarded for their attacking flair turning away Hal Robson-Kanu's low cross. Six minutes later, the Royals doubled their scoreline, when Koscielny scored an own goal, sliding Gunter's cross into his own net. 

The night got worse for Arsenal when they went 4-0 down within 20 minutes. 

Post the breather though, the incompetence of the first-half was replaced by the sublime spirit of Walcott, who kept running and believing even when his fellow-strikers Chamakh and Andrei Arshavin stood still in despairâ??He cleanly finished past Adam Federici after Andrey Arshavin's through ball on the whistle-blow of half-time. 

The goal stirred hope for Arsenal, with Wenger shortly had more players in attack, bringing them back into the game. 

Substitute Olivier Giroud arrived in 62nd minute and scored off Theo Walcott's corner in the 64th minute with a powerful clean header. 

Arsenal reduced the deficit in the 89th minute when Koscielny headed in. 

With four minutes of added time, it became a race against time for the Gunners. Walcott rose to the occasion and saved them the blushes as he netted a shot with the final kick of normal time squeezing it past Federici, equalizing the scoreline. 

In the extra time, for the first time, Gunners were ahead with a goal in the 103rd minute when a low drive of Marouane Chamakh from the edge of the box scrape through Federici. 

Reading substitute Pavel Pogrebnyak leveled, making it 5-5 in the 115th minute. 

In the dying seconds of extra time, Theo Walcott completed his hat-trick, and then, implausibly, Chamakh sealed victory for Arsenal with a goal on the counter, making the score line 7-5. 

Arsene Wenger expressed the match results as a 'miracle' adding: 'Reading was playing very well and at a higher pace than us and we conceded goal after goal. The turning point came when Theo scored our first goal just before half-time to make it 4-1.' 

McDermott confessed that he was amazed by the result. He said: 'That was extraordinary. We have to pick ourselves up and move on. It is embarrassing but we have to take it on the chin and just move on.' 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Golden Boot for Europe's top scorer, Lionel Messi

The 25-year-old Barcelona star, Lionel Messi was awarded the Golden Boot trophy on Monday for finishing last season as the top goal scorer in Europe's domestic leagues. 

Scoring 50 goals for Barcelona, Messi has notched a record in the Primera Division leaving behind Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo by four goals. 

Dedicating the award to his Barcelona teammates, Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol; Messi said, "It is a prize for scoring goals, but without my teammates I couldn't have scored them. I share this award with them as I always do." 

"I don't fight for individual awards, I fight for titles. My goals are reclaiming the league crown, winning the Copa del Rey and the winning the Champions League again. Those are my goals, team goals." 

Messi won his first Golden Boot award for 2009-2010 season when he scored 34 goals. 

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova said "We won't see another player like him, and if we do, it won't be for a very long time. It's not just for the goals he scores, but for how he sees and understands the game, that is what makes him so great. On Saturday, he ran 50 meters to defend a corner in the 89th minute with a 5-0 lead. Not many players would have done that." 

Last season, the Argentinean attacker scored 73 goals in all competitions for Barcelona, smashing previously-set record of 67 goals established by Bayern Munich's Gerd Mueller in 1972-73 and world club record of 70 by Archie Stark of Bethlehem Steel in 1924-25. 

Messi crossed 57-year-old milestone of 232 goals set by Cesar Rodriguez to become the top scorer for Barcelona. With 17 goals in all competitions this season, he has set his goals in mind of breaking another record very soon. He is only two goals away from leveling Pele's milestone of 75 goals for club and country in 1958 calendar year. 

"Obviously, it's an honor to be close to the numbers of a person who is so important to football," Messi said. "But, again, they are only statistics. 

"My goal is to win as many titles as I can before the end of my career. I have always been like that. Then I can look back at what I have won and take stock of my career." 

Luis Suarez, the former Barcelona and Spain midfielder gave away the award on the day that the 23 man long-list was announced for 2012 Ballon d'Or. 
"We will quickly make a space for a Ballon d'Or or a Golden Shoe if there is another," he said. 

"Messi is the essence of football," Suarez said. "There has never been a player fast, skilful and technical who scores so many goals until Messi." 
Messi meanwhile, candidly said that he would not have any problems making space in his trophy cabinet for another award if he had to! 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Everton come from behind to hold Liverpool

Everton survived a late scare to draw 2-2 with neighbours Liverpool in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park yesterday. 

The home side fought back from two goals down but heaved a sigh of relief when a Luis Suarez injury-time winner for Liverpool was wrongly ruled out for off-side. The result dropped Everton to fifth in the Premier League, with Tottenham replacing them in fourth after a 2-1 win at Southampton. 

And Suarez responded to the opening goal, on 14 minutes, by running towards the Everton bench and diving to the ground, much to Moyes' amusement. "I thought it was great," Moyes said. "I would probably have done the same, but he is going to have to dive in front of a lot of managers now." Suarez then doubled Liverpool's lead six minutes later as Steven Gerrard swung in a free kick and the striker found the corner with a well-taken header. 

But Everton hit back strongly and after Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones could only punch a cross to the edge of the box, Leon Osman slammed the ball into the corner. Everton were on top by this point and when Marouane Fellaini was given too much time on the edge of the box, his cross found Steven Naismith, who made no mistake from close range to make it 2-2 at the break. 

Both teams had chances to win it but Suarez thought he'd pinched the three points in injury time, only for his close-range finish to be ruled off-side, though replays showed the goal should have counted. "The goal at the end was clearly a goal and we are disappointed not to get it," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. "I think the linesman gave it but everyone in the ground thought it was a goal. That should have been a goal and an outstanding hat-trick for Luis Suarez." 

"But I thought the character and temperament was exceptional.Two-nil can be a difficult scoreline, especially here when they play long balls into the box, but it was another day of progress for us." Moyes said his side deserved to get at least a point. "It was a good game, really exciting, a disappointing start but our boys showed great character to come back. "I thought we were a bit unfortunate to not to go in 3-2 up at half-time. 

It was a really good game, end to end, and either team could have won it." 

Chaos at Stamford Bridge

Manchester United ended Chelsea's unbeaten start to the Premier League season and moved within a point of them after benefiting from key refereeing decisions to win 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. 

After United threw away a two-goal lead when Juan Mata and Ramires scored, Chelsea had Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres sent off. Referee Mark Clattenburg then allowed Javier Hernandez's goal to count in the 75th minute despite the United striker appearing to be in an offside position. "He's always going to be a threat to defenders and he's got the winning goal in an important game," United manager Alex Ferguson said after his team's first league win at Chelsea since April 2002. 

"It's always hard to come here and it's hard to get decisions here. Over the last few years there have been some shocking decisions against us, and I think everyone knows that. But today, if we did get a little break, I think we deserved it." 

United looked set to storm to victory after scoring twice in the opening 12 minutes. Chelsea defender David Luiz inadvertently turned the ball into his own net in the fourth minute after Robin van Persie's shot had rebounded off the post. 

Van Persie then found the net himself, sweeping home from Antonio Valencia's cross after United again tore through Chelsea down the right flank. United goalkeeper David de Gea pulled off a string of saves to prevent Chelsea gaining a foothold in the game, but the hosts' pressure paid off when Mata curled in a free kick just before the break. 

Mata helped to set up Chelsea's equalizer eight minutes into the second half. His cross was headed on by Torres to Oscar, who chipped the ball across to Ramires and the Brazilian headed Chelsea level. 

However, Chelsea's momentum was halted when Ivanovic was red-carded for tripping Ashley Young and worse followed when Fernando Torres appeared to have been felled by Jonny Evans but was instead shown a second yellow card for diving. The home crowd roared its disapproval and then watched on as Hernandez, on as a substitute for Tom Cleverley, poked home United's winner from close range. 

"They say that the winning goal came from an offside, so that's the bit of luck I think we got," Ferguson said. "We started the game so well, absolutely brilliant, and then just 10 minutes from halftime we lost our way a bit. I couldn't wait for halftime, to be honest with you. 

"But they got that second goal after halftime and, at that moment, we had to start performing properly, and I think we did better then," added Sir Alex. 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Europa League Updates

Lyon continued their perfect start to the Europa League, while Tottenham Hotspur drew in Slovenia and Hannover won in Sweden on Thursday. 

Gylfi Sigurdsson's 58th-minute goal earned Tottenham a 1-1 draw at Maribor after Robert Beric had opened the scoring in the first half. 

Goals from Argentine Lisandro Lopez and Frenchman Jimmy Briand clinched a 2-1 victory for Lyon over Athletic Bilbao in Group I. Lyon are one of three teams with three wins from as many matches alongside Atletico Madrid in Group B and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in Group F. 

Atletico accounted for Academica 2-1 in Madrid, while Dnipro recorded a 3-1 win at home to Napoli. 

Hannover grabbed a thrilling 2-1 win at Helsingborg after the sides traded goals in second-half stoppage time. Helsingborg striker Alvaro Santos levelled proceedings in the 91st minute before Didier Ya Konan put the visitors back in front two minutes later. 

Rodrigo Palacio's 88th-minute goal sealed a 1-0 win for Inter Milan over Partizan, while Panathinaikos striker Toche scored on 90 minutes to clinch a 1-1 draw with Lazio. 

Bayer Leverkusen thumped Rapid Wien 4-0 in Austria, and Levante outclassed Twente 3-0 at home. Genk defeated Sporting 2-1, while Videoton edged Basel 2-1 and Neftci lost 1-0 to Rubin Kazan. Young Boys beat Udinese 3-1, Viktoria Plzen grabbed a 2-1 win at Hapoel Tel Aviv, and AEL went down to Fenerbahce 1-0. 

Borussia Moenchengladbach overcame Marseille 2-0, Maritimo and Bordeaux played out a 1-1 draw and Steaua Bucharest outclassed Molde 2-0 while Stuttgart and FC Copenhagen ended in a 0-0 stalemate, while PSV Eindhoven and AIK finished locked at 1-1. 

Downing downs Anzhi

Stewart Downing struck a spectacular goal from outside the D to help Liverpool beat Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League and go top of Group A. 

The winger, who signed for a reputed 32 million Dollars back in 2011, grabbed only his fourth goal for the club to see off Anzhi, who are coached by Guus Hiddink. 

Liverpool defender- Daniel Agger had a goal ruled out when he headed the ball out of Anzhi keeper Vladimir Gabulov's hands and fired home. The defender was yellow carded for this moment of insanity. 

This is a good result for Liverpool as they head in to the Merseyside derby next week. 

Talking to the media after the game, Brendan Rodgers said, "We had good control of the game and when we had to dig deep they put their bodies on the line for us. 

"Stewart Downing scored a brilliant goal. He is a wonderful technician off either foot. He has had a rough ride here, it's been a tough time but he is a good guy and an important member of our team and he got a good reception from the Kop." 

"Great credit to the players after that," Rodgers added "I haven't even thought about the derby, with our squad it's one game at a time." 

The other game in Liverpool's group saw Young Boys beat Italian side Udinese 3-1 thanks to a hat-trick from Argentinean striker Raul Marcelo Bobadilla. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Injury forces Donovan out of World Cup Qualifiers

An injured left knee has forced Landon Donovan to withdraw from the upcoming CONCACAF qualifiers. Donovan, the career leader in goals, assists and starts for the U.S. team â?? will likely not be replaced on what was a 24-man roster for the upcoming qualifiers, Friday on the road against Antigua & Barbuda and Tuesday against Guatemala in Kansas City, Kan. 

Donovan was injured Saturday while playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 2-1 Major League Soccer loss to Real Salt Lake. Donovan had scrapped plans for an MRI in Los Angeles on Monday because he thought his knee had improved. 

"Landon was very optimistic over the weekend when his knee was feeling much better, but now he needs time to recover," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. 

Hours before the Donovan decision was announced, Klinsmann said the Americans were "very, very positive" about his status. 

"You want your leaders on the team there," Klinsmann said. 

The U.S. team might need at least a victory and a draw from its next two Group A matches to advance to next year's regional finals. The United States, Guatemala and Jamaica have seven points each after the first four matches in this round of qualifying. 

Bolton sack Owen Coyle

Bolton Wanderers fired manager-Owen Coyle following a poor start in the NPower League this season. 

Coyle, a former player with the northwest England soccer team, joined the Trotters from local rival Burnley in January 2010 as a replacement for Gary Megson. 

Bolton ended an 11-year stay in the English top division last season and is 18th in the 24-team Championship with 11 points from 10 games. Coyle, 46, described the 2-1 defeat at Millwall in the team's last game as the lowest point of his coaching career. 

"Owen poured his heart and soul into the job, both on and off the pitch, and he led our club with great dignity during some very challenging times," Chairman Phil Gartside said in a statement on the club's website. "It is the right time for a change. We set a target at the beginning of the season and want to get back on track." 

The team will be temporarily coached by academy manager Jimmy Phillips and head of academy coaching and development Sammy Lee, Bolton said.

"I have always been driven to act in the best interests of the club and care passionately about it," Coyle said. "I had fantastic times here as a player and it has been a privilege to have held the post of manager." 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Deschamps announces squad for WC Qualifiers

France football coach Didier Deschamps has announced the squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against reigning World and European Champions Spain. 

In the 23-man squad he announced Sunday, injured Lassana Diarra was replaced by uncapped Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Clement Chantome, Xinhua reported. 

Diarra injured his back in Anzhi Makhachkala's 2-0 win at Dynamo Moscow in the Russian Premier League Sunday and was unable to finish the match. 


Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Lille) 

Defenders: Christophe Jallet (Paris Saint-Germain), Mamadou Sakho (Paris Saint-Germain), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier), Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Adil Rami (Valencia), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille) 

Midfielders: Etienne Capoue (Toulouse), Clement Chantome (Paris Saint-Germain), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse) 

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain). 

Steven Gerrard pledges future to Liverpool

Steven Gerrard has pledged his future to the Merseyside Club and says that they have far from given up on their goal of reaching Champions League qualification at the end of the season, even though the Reds have had a disappointing start to their campaign. 

Liverpool are coming off the back of a hard-fought 3-2 loss to Udinese in the Europa League as they prepare to face Stoke at Anfield on Sunday, and Brendan Rodgers will face a struggle as he attempts to keep all of his players fully match-fit. 

But Gerrard refuses to compromise on Liverpool's pre-season goals of finishing in the top four, claiming that he also wants to win at least one trophy during the season. 

When asked what his ambitions are this season, the captain told the media: "Top four and a trophy." 

He added: We're six games in. The Norwich win will be the catalyst to push us on." 

Gerrard insists that Liverpool are still a threat for any team that prepares to face them, despite the side only boasting one win in the league so far this season. 

"I think teams will find it really difficult to play against us and I'm confident we can go on a run of winning games," he explained. "They [Liverpool's upcoming fixtures] are good opportunities but they are also tough games. They are games we should be winning, certainly here at home. 

"We've being playing well for a number of weeks, so if we can continue that I am sure we can take maximum points in both those games." 

Liverpool will play Reading, Everton and Newcastle after Stoke in the league, and the Reds will be planning to take maximum points from the matches as they aim to vastly improve on their current 14th position in the table. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

United thump 3 past Newcastle

Manchester United moved into second spot in the English Premier League with a convincing 3-0 win at Newcastle Sunday. 

United have moved above local rivals Manchester City on goal difference, but both trail pacesetters Chelsea by four points after seven games. 

Alex Ferguson's men responded to their shock 3-2 home defeat last weekend to Tottenham Hotspur with a fine performance against north-east hopefuls Newcastle. 

Early goals from defenders Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra put them firmly in command before young England international Tom Cleverley wrapped up the three points with a brilliant strike after the break. 

It was his first English Premier League goal. 

Wayne Rooney, who set up the two opening goals from corners and was named man of the match, said United were delighted with their display. 

"It was a great result, everyone knows this is one of the hardest games of the season and we came away and defended brilliantly," he told the media in a post match interaction. 

The Messi and Ronaldo Show

Real Madrid held Barcelona to a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou. 

Tito Vilanova's Barca headed into the Primera Division game at the Nou Camp eight points clear of their arch rivals and boasting a 100 per cent record from their first six matches, but found themselves trailing midway through the first half when Ronaldo netted for the sixth straight Clasico. 

But Messi equalised with a scrappy goal soon after and then put the hosts ahead with a stunning free-kick on the hour, only for Ronaldo to capitalise on sloppy defending midway through the second half to ensure honours ended even. 

Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta was handed his first start since the Supercopa aggregate defeat against Real in August, while Adriano partnered Javier Mascherano at centre-back with Gerard Pique (foot) and Carles Puyol (dislocated elbow) sidelined. 

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho made three changes from the team that won 4-1 at Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria replacing Michael Essien, Kaka and Jose Callejon. 

The visitors began brightly and created the better of the early chances. 

Ronaldo - scorer of a midweek hat-trick in Amsterdam, and the winner in this corresponding fixture last term to virtually assure Madrid the title - crossed from the right for Karim Benzema, who miscued his volley horribly wide from 12 yards when left unmarked in the 13th minute. 

Six minutes later, Ozil sent over a corner and Sergio Ramos leapt above the Barca defence only to direct his header inches wide of Victor Valdes' goal. 

The warning signs had been there but Barca failed to heed them and the opener duly arrived midway through the first half. Benzema turned neatly on the edge of the box and fed Ronaldo, who lashed home a low left-footed finish which beat Valdes at his near post. 

It could have been 2-0 moments later when Khedira burst down the right before feeding Benzema. The Frenchman spooned his effort against the post, though, and Di Maria sent the rebound wide with the goal at his mercy. 

The home team suffered a further blow when Dani Alves' involvement ended in the game after 28 minutes, the Brazilian replaced by Martin Montoya. 

However, two minutes later they were level. Madrid failed to clear their lines from Pedro Rodriguez's cross and, after bobbling around in the area the ball fell kindly to Messi in the six-yard box and he lashed past a helpless Iker Casillas and into the roof of the net. 

Both sides had decent penalty shouts turned down at the start of the second half, Ozil going down after contact with Mascherano before Iniesta appeared to be clipped by Pepe. 

Vilanova's team took the lead in spectacular style on the hour mark, Messi picking himself up after being fouled by Xabi Alonso and despatching a brilliant left-footed free-kick up over the wall and curling away from the diving Casillas. 

Whatever Messi could do, though, Ronaldo could do too, and swiftly matched the Argentina forward's eight goals in La Liga this term six minutes later. 

Ozil slotted a slick pass through to the Portuguese, who had been played onside by Adriano and coolly slotted past Valdes to get Madrid back on level terms. 

The final quarter was end-to-end stuff, although Mourinho's men were seemingly the more content with the point. 

Messi floated a shot high and wide from Jordi Alba's cut-back, with Iniesta's cross scrambled clear by Marcelo soon after. 

Gonzalo Higuain, a 62nd-minute replacement for Benzema, saw his cross deflected to safety by Mascherano before the final few minutes were played out almost entirely in Madrid's defensive third. 

Montoya was almost an unlikely match-winner on 88 minutes but his right-footed attempt from the edge of the box crashed back off the bar, before Pedro burst through in stoppage time and unleashed a left-footed shot which flew just wide.