Monday, December 10, 2012

Scotland double puts them back in hunt

2:04 AM Posted by Moto Musashi No comments

A double victory for Scotland women's curling team on the second day of the European Championships in Sweden has seen them soar into gold medal contention.


There were contrasting fortunes for Scotland's men, however, after they slipped to two straight defeats in Karlsted.
But for Muirhead and her team success here is a very realistic possibility after they recovered from an opening day loss to world champions Switzerland in some style.
Firstly they saw off Italy 8-2 despite trailing 2-1 after the second end, and later they needed just eight ends to claim an 11-5 success over Finland.
Scotland's men are in difficulty however, after they were defeated 8-5 by Russia, and later hammered 9-1 by Denmark.

Scotland double puts them back in hunt

2:04 AM Posted by Moto Musashi No comments

A double victory for Scotland women's curling team on the second day of the European Championships in Sweden has seen them soar into gold medal contention.

Led by Eve Muirhead, who is bidding to defend her title here, the Scots were too strong for both Italy and Finland to move to within a place of top spot in Group A.
There were contrasting fortunes for Scotland's men, however, after they slipped to two straight defeats in Karlsted.
But for Muirhead and her team success here is a very realistic possibility after they recovered from an opening day loss to world champions Switzerland in some style.
Firstly they saw off Italy 8-2 despite trailing 2-1 after the second end, and later they needed just eight ends to claim an 11-5 success over Finland.
Scotland's men are in difficulty however, after they were defeated 8-5 by Russia, and later hammered 9-1 by Denmark.
Against the Russians, the World Championship runners-up fought back impressively to level at 5-5 with two ends to play, but went on to suffer defeat.
Led by Tom Brewster, they were then toppled by Denmark who needed just six ends for their 9-1 win.
Elsewhere, in Group B England's men were involved in two tight matches and came away with victories in both, leaving them well-placed to push for a medal.
Led by Alan MacDougall, England trailed Turkey 4-3 with two ends to play but won them both 2-0 to secure a 7-4 victory.
Later, a decisive 1-0 win in the final end gave them a 7-6 triumph over Estonia.
England's women had a mixed day, firstly losing 11-4 against Latvia, before recovering to beat Spain 9-4.

Fabregas out for a month with muscle strain

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Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas will be out for three to four weeks after damaging a thigh muscle in the early stages of their 2-1 win at Real Betis.

The Spain international, who has been in excellent form over recent weeks, had to be replaced by Alexis Sanchez after pulling up in the ninth minute.
He will miss Barca's remaining three games of 2012 - the league matches at home to Atletico Madrid and away to Real Valladolid and the first leg of the King's Cup last 16 tie at second-division Cordoba, the club said in a statement on their website.
Fabregas may also be sidelined for the home game against Espanyol on January 6 and the return leg of the Cup tie three days later, they added.

Cardiff bow out after defeat to Montpellier

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Fourteen-man Cardiff had their Heineken Cup aspirations ended as they fell to a 35-24 Pool Six defeat to Montpellier.

Teenage fly-half Rhys Patchell slotted seven penalties and a drop goal for the home side, who had scrum-half Lloyd Williams sent off after 25 minutes for a tip tackle on opposite number Benoit Paillaugue.
Pierre Berard, Mamuka Gorgodze and Timoci Nagusa all crossed for Montpellier, with the classy Paillaugue kicking 20 points.
The Blues' defeat adds to the gloom that has enveloped Welsh rugby, with the regions managing a collective one win from nine Heineken Cup matches to go with the national side's run of seven straight defeats.
The injury-ravaged Blues, without Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, Bradley Davies and a host of others, did make a good fist of the opening quarter against a Montpellier side resting several of their first-choice names.
Patchell had the hosts on the board inside four minutes with a penalty and fell just short with a long-distance effort just seconds earlier.
But there were already early warning signs for the Cardiff scrum, an Achilles heel throughout the season.
An emphatic drive from the Montpellier pack allowed Paillaugue to slot a monster 50-metre penalty, and another strong shove gave the scrum-half his second three-pointer after Patchell had briefly put the hosts back ahead.
Patchell, showing a good degree of composure for one so young, replied with another penalty to make it 9-6 at the end of a scrappy opening quarter lacking in creativity.
But the Blues' hopes were dealt a major blow when Wales international Williams was dismissed.
The home crowd howled their derision at referee John Lacey, but the official was left with little choice after Williams lifted opposite number Paillaugue and dropped him on to the back of his neck after the ball had squirted out of a Blues scrum.
Paillaugue dusted himself down to level the scores from the resulting penalty, only for Patchell to again respond, this time with a well-taken drop goal.
But the home side's numerical disadvantage soon told as Montpellier built patiently through the phases to work an overlap on the left for wing Berard to cross, with the reliable boot of Paillaugue adding the conversion from the touchline.
Patchell kept Cardiff in it with yet another penalty, but when Dafydd Hewitt came in at the side of the ruck Paillaugue struck to leave the visitors 19-15 to the good at the break.
The Blues turned round with a strong wind behind them and Patchell used it to bring them within a point with a huge three-pointer from almost his own 10-yard line.
Montpellier should have made the game safe 15 minutes into the second half when Yoan Audrin picked off Patchell's pass.
The young fly-half did brilliantly to haul the winger down, but when the ball was recycled the visitors had a huge overlap, only for Gorgodze's final pass to Berard to be ruled forward.
Paillaugue did at least re-establish the four-point lead with his latest penalty, and the French side's second try followed with 14 minutes to go.
Fly-half Santiago Fernandez gathered in Paillaugue's kick to take Montpellier deep into Cardiff territory. Desperate scrambling defence kept out Berard, but Gorgodze stretched out to dot down through the ruck.
The hosts battled gamely and Patchell quickly slotted another two penalties to get the Blues back to within three points.
But Paillaugue steadied any French nerves before replacement wing Nagusa sealed the win by finishing smartly in the corner.

Jamieson in play-off win at Mandela Championship

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Scotland's Scott Jamieson clinched his first European Tour International Schedule victory as he beat Steve Webster and Eduardo de la Riva in a play-off to win the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship on Sunday.

The tournament had been restructured into a 36-hole event after a waterlogged course prevented play over the first two days, and the course had been shortened to a par-65 for the first event of the 2013 European Tour.
The Scot began with a one-over par round of 66 and found himself in a share of 68th place at the halfway point.
But a sensational round of 57 on Sunday morning including an outward nine of 26 lifted him level with Webster and de la Riva on a seven-under score of 123. The trio were then forced to wait more than five hours to find out if their efforts would be good enough for a place in a playoff.
But as the wind picked up in Durban, the afternoon field were unable to match the leaders' score, and they began a sudden-death playoff at the 18th hole.
"First thing this morning I wouldn't have thought I'd be standing here with a trophy at the end of the day, but I was only six shots back. But eight-under par was a great score today and it was obviously enough to get me into the playoff," Jamieson told a news conference.
The first man eliminated was De la Riva, who was unable to get down in two after finding the bunker on the first playoff hole.
"It's a big pity for me. I played very well in the tournament, and in the sudden death I hit a good second shot. But it went in the sand, and a very bad bunker shot cost me," de la Riva told Reuters.
Jamieson and Webster returned to the 18th tee to continue the playoff, and the Englishman found trouble in the left rough. His bogey was not enough to match the par of Jamieson, allowing the Scot to clinch victory.
"I was pretty nervous for the playoff. But that's why we play - we want to get in that situation and that's what I kept telling myself. The other guys would have been nervous too, so it's just a case of who plays the best golf," Jamieson said.
"Hopefully, this will be a stepping stone to many more victories this year. The goal is to try break into the top-100 in the world rankings and get into the US PGA in August - that remains the biggest goal," he added.

Al-Ahly brave elements to beat Hiroshima

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Egypt's Al-Ahly beat Japanese champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 in blizzard-like conditions in Toyota to reach the semi-finals of the Club World Cup.

Ahly's talismanic forward Mohamed Aboutrika, now in the twilight of his career, drilled home the winner 12 minutes into the second half after starting the game on the bench.
Mexico's Monterrey overpowered South Koreans Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 in the first quarter-final to set up a showdown with Chelsea.
African champions Ahly will face Brazil's Corinthians, holders of the Libertadores Cup, in the tournament's first semi-final on Wednesday.
Elsayed Hamdi put the Egyptians ahead in the 15th minute, only for Hisato Sato to equalise with a fierce right-foot drive with snow falling heavily in Toyota.
Hiroshima lost goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa after three minutes, taken off on a stretcher with blood stains on his jersey after catching a knee in the face.
Ahly captain Hossam Ghaly was then carried off clutching his knee with conditions worsening to be replaced by Aboutrika.

Dundee United seal derby triumph

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Keith Watson continued his habit of scoring on the big occasion as Dundee United maintained their city supremacy at Dens Park with a 3-0 win over Dundee.

Argentine forward Cesar Delgado scored twice in the second half as slick-passing Monterrey dominated the tournament's first quarter-final in snow-sprinkled Toyota.
Jesus Corona opened the scoring after nine minutes, finishing a superb three-man move from close range before his back-heel fell for Delgado to tap home in the 77th minute.
Delgado smashed in his second seven minutes later to kill off the game, in which Hawk-Eye's goal-line technology was being used for the first time, although Ulsan grabbed a late consolation through Lee Keun-ho.
Monterrey could have scored more but showed enough to suggest they will be no pushovers for Chelsea when the teams meet in Yokohama on Thursday.
Egypt's Al-Ahly were playing J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Sunday's second quarter-final for the right to face Brazil's Corinthians in the last four.

Diame facing 12-week lay-off

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West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is fearful he could be without midfielder Mohamed Diame for up to 12 weeks after he suffered a hamstring injury in the 3-2 defeat to Liverpool.

Diame has been a key player for West Ham this season but was forced off after 73 minutes, with Liverpool scoring twice in the closing stages to take the three points.
The Senegal international was stretchered from the pitch after pulling up near the touchline and Allardyce did not give a positive early prognosis.
"Not good, it does not take a medical expert to know it is a serious hamstring tear when he falls and stopped the way he did," he said.
"I would expect, in medical terms, for it to be a grade 3 (injury) and that could be anything up to eight, 10 or 12 weeks."

Manchester United to play exhibition match in Australia

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Manchester United will play an exhibition match in Down Under during their pre-season tour next year against a team made up of domestic league players, Football Federation Australia (FFA) said on Monday.

he July 20 match in Sydney against an A-League All Star team to be pre-selected by local fans would be the English Premier League giants' first visit Down Under since a two-match tour in 1999.
"Having Manchester United as the opponent for our first ever A-League All Star game will put the ... A-League on the world stage," FFA chief executive David Gallop said.

Pacquiao says he is 'fine', no plans to retire

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There had been speculation the 33-year-old Pacquiao might consider retirement after losing for a second time in his last three bouts but the Filipino southpaw made it clear he would be back to compete after taking a well-earned break.
"To all my fans, I would like to thank you for your prayers and assure you that I am fine," Pacquiao said in a statement just hours after his stunning defeat in a non-title welterweight bout in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"I am looking forward to a nice rest and then I will be back to fight. On behalf of (his wife) Jinkee and our family we would like to wish everyone a joyous Christmas and a happy and healthy new year."
Pacquiao, who had won twice and drawn once in his three previous meetings with Marquez, was floored by a thunderous right by the counter-punching Mexican with just one second left in the sixth round of a high-energy bout.
The Filipino was also knocked down in the third round but fears of a possible concussion were put to rest after a precautionary CT (computed tomography) scan at nearby University Medical Center hospital after the fight ended.
"The results were negative," said Michael Koncz, Pacquiao's advisor. "We were in and out in just over an hour and Manny was in excellent spirits."
Both fighters had much to prove in their heavily anticipated fourth showdown on Saturday.
Marquez was determined to set the record straight after firmly believing he had been "robbed" by judges' verdicts in their three previous fights while Pacquiao was eager to prove his powers had not diminished with age.
The Filipino had delivered a below-par performance against Marquez 13 months ago when he narrowly retained his WBO welterweight title with a controversial majority decision that was greeted by loud booing from disgruntled Marquez fans.
Pacquiao's preparations for that fight were hampered by various distractions, including marital difficulties, but he has since patched up his relationship with his wife and become a much more disciplined boxer after giving up his former pastimes of cockfighting, gambling and nightclubbing.
In June, however, Pacquiao lost on a hotly disputed split decision to American Timothy Bradley, his first defeat since he was beaten by Erik Morales in Las Vegas in March 2005.
With his ego bruised and his stature diminished, the Filipino set his sights on bold vindication against Marquez, but once again he fell short in his bid.
"I want to congratulate Juan Manuel," said Pacquiao, who slipped to 54-5-2 with 38 knockouts. "I have no excuses. It was a good fight and he deserved the victory. I think boxing fans who watched us were winners too."
Pacquiao's stunning loss has almost certainly written off any chance of a long awaited mega-fight between the Filipino and American Floyd Mayweather Jr., and he is now much more likely to take on Marquez for a fifth time.
"Yes, why not? It's a good fight," said the Filipino, who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions. "If you give us a chance, we'll fight again."

Inter move second with win against Napoli

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Internazionale moved into second place in Serie A courtesy of a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Napoli at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
The men from Naples were the form team coming into this fixture but the Nerazzurri went to the half-time interval with a two-goal advantage thanks to clinical finishes from Fredy Guarin and Diego Milito.
As with the first half, Napoli started the second in the ascendancy and Edinson Cavani halved the deficit on 54 minutes with a close-range and frantic finish as Inter ceded the initiative.
Christian Maggio passed up the opportunity to draw the game level in the closing moments but his header was straight at Samir Handanovic as the hosts held on for the win that saw them leapfrog Walter Mazzarri’s squad into second place, four points behind pacesetters Juve.
With a 1-0 win at Palermo earlier in the day extending Juventus’ lead at the top of Serie A to five points, this fixture between the other two protagonists of the 2012-13 Scudetto race took on further significance.
Andrea Stramaccioni was unable to call on the services of talisman Wesley Sneijder for the visit of the Azzurri – the Dutchman is officially listed as injured but an ongoing contractual dispute is widely seen to be the reason for his omission.
Marek Hamsik, who had been a doubt after missing Friday training due to flu symptoms, started for an in-form Napoli side who had scored 13 times in their last five league matches and they began on the front foot.
They had had the better of the opening exchanges when Antonio Cassano saw Fredy Guarin’s late run from deep to lift a corner to the far post that the Colombian controlled wonderfully well on the volley and fired past Morgan De Sanctis from the edge of the six-yard box with only eight minutes gone.
The early goal advantage afforded a front two of Diego Milito and Cassano space as they stretched the Azzurri defence, but, in Lorenzo Insigne, Cavani and Hamsik, Napoli have a front three of potent threat and, on balance, the visitors probably had the better of the chances.
First, having received the ball from Cavani, Insigne evaded a couple of desperate Inter lunges as he slalomed across the front of the box, but his effort dropped just the wrong side of the post. Insigne then turned provider for Cavani, but, having worked a yard of space in behind Juan Jesus, the Uruguayan inexplicably headed wide from the edge of the six-yard box.
Milito and Cassano continued to offer a threat up front with some intelligent running and Milito, ever the poacher, profited on a loose clearance to double his side’s advantage.
Guarin showed great sleight of foot to evade a challenge following a loose clearance from Juan Zuniga to feed the Argentine on the shoulder of the last man – Milito did well to hold off the challenge before slotting the ball past De Sanctis with 39 minutes gone.
Insigne almost halved his side’s disadvantage with an instinctive half-volley on the stroke of half-time, but it dropped just the wrong side of the post.
Mazzarri introduced Goran Pandev for Alessandro Gamberini at the break to further boost his side’s attacking potency and almost constant pressure paid dividends when Cavani followed up a saved Maggio effort to thrash the ball past Handanovic with 54 minutes gone.
Napoli were incessant as they chased the leveller but failed to really threaten the goal of Handanovic until late in the second half when Alvaro Pereira almost scored one of the great own goals following a centre from Cavani.
Inter remained a threat intermittently on the break but were on the back foot for the last 10 minutes and Maggio should have ensured a share of the spoils but his header was straight at Handanovic.
With that chance went Napoli’s last chance of getting something from an enthralling encounter.

Juventus secure win at Palermo to go five points clear

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Juventus marked Antonio Conte’s return to touchline duty with a 1-0 victory against Palermo at Stadio Renzo Barbera to open up a five-point gap at the top of Serie A.
The hosts had the better of the opening exchanges with ex-Juve striker Fabrizio Miccoli having a goal disallowed for offside before the men from Turin began to get a foothold in the game.
Mirko Vucinic and then Alessandro Matri passed up gilt-edged opportunities to give the Bianconeri a half-time advantage but the former made amends when he set up the winner for Stephan Lichtsteiner five minutes into the second-half.
Palermo’s plight was made all the more difficult with the second-half dismissal of Michel Morganella and Juventus held on to open up a five-point gap over Napoli, who face third-placed Inter in the late game.
The defeat means Palermo are just outside the relegation places on goal difference.
Massimo Carrera’s steady hand in the absence of Conte on the touchline has seen the Bianconeri qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winners and set the pace in Serie A but the return of Conte was much welcomed for what could be a season-defining couple of weeks.
Ex-Juve striker Miccoli led the line for Gian Piero Gasperini’s men, who, during the opening exchanges, dealt with the difficult conditions well to manufacture the better of the openings, although the visitors came into the match as the half progressed.
Miccoli expertly volleyed a clipped ball by Edgar Barreto past Gianluigi Buffon from the acutest of angles only to have his celebrations cut short by the assistant referee’s flag, before the enduring class of Andrea Pirlo began to turn the game in the favour of the reigning champions.
However, for all their dominance of the latter stages of the first half, the men from Turin went to the interval on parity following gilt-edged misses from first Vucinic and then Matri.
Albeit off balance, Vucinic contrived to turn a saved Claudio Marchisio volley wide of the goal from inside the six-yard box before his strike partner fired straight at Samir Ujkani following good work from Arturo Vidal down the right.
The weather worsened at half-time with a hailstorm delaying the restart, but it did nothing to the visiting side’s focus as they almost immediately took the lead in the opening minute - Vucinic’s effort brushed the foot of the post from the edge of the box, though.
The Montenegrin was not to be denied, though, and played a crucial role in the goal with 50 minutes gone. He expertly rose to take a Pirlo ball on the chest with Steve von Bergen in close attention before releasing Lichtsteiner to fire past Ujkani to give the visitors a lead they were not to relinquish.
The half-time deluge did little for the game as a spectacle and the forward trio of Franco Brienza – a second-half substitute - Josip Ilicic and Miccoli struggled to express their running game with the pitch almost unbearably heavy.
Morganella’s pointless dismissal for a second yellow effectively ended the game as a contest but Gasperini elected to play a higher defensive line in search of a response - which the Bianconeri exploited to create two clear-cut chances as the game drew to a close.
First, Vucinic found Leonardo Bonucci in unfamiliar territory but having tried – and failed - to round Ujkani he fell in a heap only to receive a yellow card for diving, before Vucinic fired straight at the keeper in a one-on-one situation.
The win gives Juventus a five-point advantage at the top of the table, which increases the significance of the evening kick-off when Napoli travel to Inter - where a draw would make it an almost perfect return for Conte.

Liga - Falcao hits five as Atletico crush Deportivo

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The prolific Colombian, known as "the tiger" and coveted by several of Europe's richest clubs, took his tally for the season to 16 in 15 matches as Atletico restored their five-point lead over chasing city rivals Real Madrid.
The thumping victory at a festive Calderon also lifted them to within three points of unbeaten leaders Barcelona, who play at Real Betis in the late kick-off (2000 GMT).
Jose Mourinho's Real side twice had to come from behind to scrape a 3-2 win at Real Valladolid on Saturday which closed the gap to Atletico, whom they beat 2-0 at the Bernabeu last weekend, to two points overnight.
However, Atletico responded by romping to a 12th win in 15 outings this term against a Depor side in danger of dropping straight back down to the Segunda after winning promotion at the end of last season.
Atletico forward Diego Costa made amends for Thursday's Europa League red card when he opened the scoring with a header from Koke's corner in the 23rd minute.
Veteran Depor midfielder Juan Carlos Valeron headed against a post four minutes later but Atletico doubled their lead on their next foray forward when Falcao sped on to Koke's pass and fired a fizzing low drive into the corner of the net.
A quick throw on the left three minutes before the break set up the 26-year-old for his second and he crashed a dipping shot past Daniel Aranzubia from the corner of the penalty area.
Falcao then won and converted a penalty in the 64th minute to complete his hat-trick, before flinging himself to head Arda Turan's deflected shot over the line for a fourth, rounding it off with a clinical fifth in the 71st minute.
He is the first player to score five goals in a Liga match since Fernando Morientes for Real Madrid against Las Palmas in 2002.

England take unassailable lead with win at Eden Gardens

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Having been frustrated by the last-wicket stand late on day four, England needed just 10 balls to finish it the following morning, with James Anderson bowling Pragyan Ojha, leaving Ravi Ashwin stranded on 91.
It left England with a mere 41 runs to chase, but India, opening with their two main spinners, sparked a little panic in the tourists by reducing them to eight for three.
Alastair Cook, looking to get the match over in a hurry, was out stumped for one in Ashwin's first over.
Ojha then got in on the act, trapping Jonathan Trott in front of the stumps for three, before a duck for Kevin Pietersen, tickling Ashwin behind to MS Dhoni, left England reeling.
The statisticians were frantically checking the history books for lowest scores and smallest totals defended - but Ian Bell, who had scratched around with the bat all series, settled the nerves with a run-a-ball innings of 28, including some confident boundaries which will give him a much-needed boost ahead of the final Test. Nick Compton, who had not batted with any other player in his England career other than his captain, was also unbeaten on nine.
The final Test begins on Thursday in Nagpur, with England's advantage in the series now unassailable, and the tourists within sight of a first series victory in India in 28 years.

City apologise to Ferdinand as FA investigate derby violence

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The defender was left with blood pouring from a cut above his left eye in chaotic scenes after Robin van Persie secured United's 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium. He had treatment but was able to complete the match.
The incident is now being investigated by Greater Manchester Police and the Football Association.
"We apologise to Rio," said a Manchester City spokesperson. "We condemn the actions of the individual concerned.
"We are reviewing the CCTV with the police and our normal security. We will support the police with any investigation and hopefully identify the person as soon as possible."
Ferdinand was able to complete the game and afterwards on Twitter said: "Whoever threw that coin, what a shot! Can't believe it was a copper 2p....could have at least been a £1 coin!"
City goalkeeper Joe Hart also had to forcibly restrain a blue-clad pitch invader who was heading towards Ferdinand.
An FA statement read: "The FA is investigating the incident in which an object was thrown from the crowd and hit Rio Ferdinand following Manchester United's third goal against Manchester City on Sunday. The FA will liaise with Greater Manchester Police and await the reports of both our crowd control advisor who was present at the game and the match referee.
"It is disappointing that after a great game and advert for the Premier League that we are discussing this issue. We will work with the clubs and authorities to identify those responsible and support the strongest sanctions available, including life bans.
"We condemn any such acts and it is simply unacceptable that any player is exposed to injury in this way. To witness Rio Ferdinand leaving the field with a cut above his eye to receive treatment is appalling.
"Football in this country has made great progress over recent decades. However, we must maintain the safety and security inside of our stadia and to do this we need to isolate and identify any individuals guilty of offences with strong penalties to act as a deterrent to others."
Earlier in the game, Wayne Rooney was hit by a coin as he prepared to take a corner.
And police said a man was arrested in the stadium for racist chanting in another unsavoury incident.
United manager Alex Ferguson said: "It's unfortunate that a City fan runs on and coins are thrown. That shouldn't happen. The same thing happened at Chelsea, which was masked by all the other things. We could have done without that."
Referring to the incident at Stamford Bridge in October when a steward was injured by Chelsea fans when United celebrated an equally dramatic win, the Scot added: "At Chelsea, We had half a seat thrown on the pitch, coins, lighters, and nothing done about it. It's a problem."
A City spokesman said CCTV footage of the incident was being reviewed.
The crowd trouble detracted from a compelling fixture. Two Rooney goals gave United a commanding lead but City equalised through Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta.
However, Van Persie, who City tried to sign in the summer, converted a dramatic free-kick in the 92nd minute, which deflected off Samir Nasri.
It was City's first Premier League defeat of the season.

Joe Cole scores as Liverpool snatch win at West Ham

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Liverpool scored two goals in four second-half minutes, including one from Joe Cole, to come from behind and snatch a 3-2 win over West Ham in the Premier League at Upton Park.
Glen Johnson fired a sensational opening goal into the far top corner but West Ham were in front by the break through a Mark Noble penalty - awarded for handball against Joe Allen - and Steven Gerrard's first ever Premier League own-goal.
Liverpool, playing with Jonjo Shelvey as a 'false nine' as Luis Suarez was suspended, lacked a cutting edge for most of the game.
However Joe Cole, appearing from the bench, fired an equaliser with 24 minutes left, and soon after a James Collins own-goal under pressure from Shelvey at the near post put Liverpool ahead.
They move above Norwich and West Ham on goal difference into 10th.
With Andy Carroll injured, Carlton Cole started up front for West Ham while there was no place for Yossi Benayoun.
Liverpool were the better side early on, with Johnson afforded acres of space attacking from right-back. He took advantage on 11 minutes, cutting in and able to fire for goal from 30 yards with his right foot - and picking out the top corner beautifully.
Three minutes later he found Sterling inside the box, but the young winger fired wide despite having time and space following a decent first touch.
West Ham were direct but also looked to use their wingers, with Matt Jarvis on the left causing the most problems as the half wore on. On one such occasion only excellent defending from a retreating Daniel Agger prevented Carlton Cole from finishing inside the six-yard box.
Liverpool were unhappy at the award of the penalty in the 36th minute, as Allen could do little to prevent Guy Demel's volley striking his hand. It was close to his head, so the decision could have gone either way.
Noble despatched the spot-kick into the bottom corner and Upton Park began to lift off.
Within seven minutes, the East London faithful were celebrating going in front. A quick free-kick was taken short to Jarvis on the left - most of them were pumped into the box - and the one-cap England winger opted on this occasion to shift the ball on to his right foot to cross. Gerrard was first to the ball, but he was travelling backwards and only succeeded in directing it inside the near post.
Joe Cole had replaced the injured Jose Enrique halfway through the first half and also operated on the left of midfield in front of left-back and erstwhile winger Stewart Downing, with Sterling on the right.
In the second period the Reds, still lacking a man at the point of the attack, were more fluid on the ball which allowed Sterling to move around more and Downing to get forward. On 67 minutes the latter squared for Cole, who allowed the ball to run through him and along the face of the box where Sterling forced a rare save out of Jussi Jaaskelainen with a rising drive.
Soon afterwards Sterling and Downing combined again with the latter's cross headed wide of the near post by the falling Shelvey.
And six minutes further on, the goal Liverpool had suddenly threatened materialised. Sterling found Cole inside the box on the left and he fired inside the far post with his left foot.
They were not finished: on 79 minutes Jordan Henderson, on for Lucas eight minutes beforehand, crossed low from the right and Shelvey looked to have looped the ball over Jaaskelainen while stretching. In fact, the ball came off Collins's toe and not Shelvey at all, but he certainly celebrated as if he has notched his second Premier League goal for the club in 41 appearances.
With two minutes of normal time remaining Jaaskelainen was sharp to emerge from his box and deny Sterling as West Ham left space at the back, and in injury time Shelvey was denied what looked a definite penalty as Winston Reid sent him crashing to the deck.
We are told that Brendan Rodgers is building something at Liverpool - he may well be, but it will be difficult to tell what his side is capable of when they must play without a recognised striker. The three goals on Sunday will give them a lift, but they paper over the attacking cracks somewhat.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Matt Jarvis (West Ham) - Was a constant threat to Liverpool all afternoon and forced the own-goal from Gerrard.
PLAYER RATINGS
West Ham: Jaaskelainen 6, Reid 5, Collins 6, Demel 6, O'Brien 6, Noble 7, Nolan 6, Diame 7, Jarvis 8, Taylor 7, Cole 6. Subs: McCartney 6, Tomkins 6, Maiga 6.
Liverpool: Reina 7, Johnson 8, Skrtel 7, Agger 7, Enrique 6, Lucas 6, Allen 5, Gerrard 6, Downing 6, Sterling 7, Shelvey 6. Subs: Cole 7, Henderson 6, Coates 6.

Last-gasp Everton stun Spurs to go fourth

1:57 AM Posted by Moto Musashi No comments

Everton scored twice in injury time to come from behind and beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the Premier League at Goodison Park.
With a quarter of an hour remaining in a scrappy match on Merseyside, USA international Dempsey hit a long-range effort off Sylvain Distin that looped in over Tim Howard.
But as 90 minutes ticked past, a fine header from Steven Pienaar levelled for the hosts, before Nikica Jelavic scored a poacher’s finish at the death to put the Toffees fourth ahead of Spurs on goal difference.
Everton had arguably edged the match in terms of chances, but Spurs – led by Moussa Dembele – had the better of the passing stats and created some decent chances.
David Moyes’s side welcomed back Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman after several games out with injury, while Darron Gibson stood in for skipper Phil Neville.
Spurs meanwhile were missing talismanic winger Gareth Bale, out with a hamstring injury, with a formation switch seeing Emmanuel Adebayor partner Jermain Defoe up front.
Genuine chances were mostly limited by effective defending, the best of them falling to Everton as Hugo Lloris made an excellent stop at the feet of Jelavic, while Steven Caulker blocked a goal-bound finish from Leon Osman.
Boos rang out after the half-time whistle was blown, although they were misdirected at referee Kevin Friend, with replays showing he was correct to reject two penalty appeals from Everton late in the half - Dempsey took a Jan Vertonghen clearance on the chest while William Gallas kept his arms by his side when a Pienaar shot spun up into his midriff.
There was a half-time change for the Toffees as Mirallas was replaced by Steven Naismith, a precautionary measure with the Belgian feeling the hamstring that had kept him out for four matches.
Naismith’s first act was to put a close-range reaction finish wide after a low follow-up drive from Leighton Baines, whose free-kick had been blocked, while Jelavic had an effort blocked by a flying Gallas as Everton started the second half with intent.
Spurs responded with a spell of possession that yielded a string of corners and a Vertonghen free-kick that Tim Howard tipped over.
Chances were at a premium after that initial burst of activity, Osman firing one effort well over as neither keeper was tested around the hour mark.
The hosts were not helped by an ineffectual performance by usual danger-man Marouane Fellaini, who struggled to make an impact as Sandro hassled and harried him in midfield, with Gallas and Caulker largely managing his aerial threat up front.
The game was starting to get punctuated by niggly fouls, and was begging for a stroke of luck or lapse in concentration by one of the two well-marshalled defences.
A lapse did come as a poor clearance by Gallas landed to Osman, but Lloris did well to save his low drive; it was the stroke of luck that broke the deadlock as a long-range shot from Dempsey took a wicked deflection off Distin, leaving Howard for dead as it diverted into the goal.
Spurs then went defensive as they sought to resist the home side’s late rally, but they almost doubled their lead when Gylfi Sigurdsson hit the bar after a counter attack.
But the visitors paid the price for beckoning Everton as, after a fine run and cross from Coleman, Pienaar flew in with a rare header that flew past an unsighted Lloris and into the bottom right.
Everton were not content with the point, piling men forward as the fourth official signalled at least four minutes of stoppage time.
Their bravery was rewarded as, after an attempted bicycle kick from substitute Vellios dropped on the edge of the six-yard box, Jelavic reacted quickest to stroke the finish past Lloris.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Seamus Coleman (Everton): Had a fine game on his return from injury, causing endless problems with his attacking runs down the right, and getting the assist for Pienaar’s goal with an excellent cross.
PLAYER RATINGS
EVERTON: Howard 6, Coleman 8, Baines 6, Jagielka 7, Distin 7, Osman 6, Pienaar 7, Gibson 6, Fellaini 6, Mirallas 7, Jelavic 7; Subs: Heitinga N/A, Naismith 6, Vellios N/A
TOTTENHAM: Lloris 7, Walker 6, Gallas 7, Caulker 7, Vertonghen 6, Lennon 6, Sandro 7, Dembele 7, Dempsey 7, Adebayor 6, Defoe 6; Subs: Huddlestone 6, Falque N/A, Sigurdsson 7

Snooker - Selby beats Murphy to lift UK Championship

1:56 AM Posted by Moto Musashi No comments

Selby claimed a cheque of £125,000 for the tournament win, a record prize fee for the championship, while Murphy collected £50,000 as runner-up.
The two finalists could not be separated in their initial eight-frame session, and after the first four of the evening remained tied at six wins each.
"I am over the moon and it means a great deal. It makes it even more special to beat someone of Shaun's class," Selby said.
"It was a strange game, it was not pretty. I was twitching all over the place.
"I never really give in until the last ball is potted and that is me all over. If I was not like that, I would not have got to the final."
Murphy began with a brilliant 65 clearance to steal a 5-4 lead despite Selby's early run to 58, but the Leicester man took a scrappy 10th and used a 46 break to edge the 11th to turn the see-saw final back around.
Murphy used two 30+ breaks to seal the 12th and level once again, but it would be his last frame of the contest and the end of their all-day parity.
The 2008 UK title-holder failed to capitalise on several chances to punish Selby mistakes, and an aborted comeback attempt following a Selby 51 was followed by 'The Jester', matching his friend's earlier 98 break for his first two-frame advantage of the match.
An inexplicable missed blue was Murphy's biggest chance to stop the rot after Selby recorded a spell of 44 in frame 15, and after Selby moved three clear he held off a late Murphy attempt to force snookers to seal the match and the title.
First session report:
Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy shared four frames apiece in the opening session of their UK Championship final at York's Barbican Centre.
The world number one and world number four split the opening eight frames of their final, with Selby taking the final two to avoid allowing 2008 winner Murphy to run away with a sizeable lead.
'The Jester From Leicester' returns to the summit of the rankings at the expense of Judd Trump by virtue of making the final in York, and is aiming to win the second-biggest tournament of the snooker season for the very first time.
The two Englishmen slowly found their break-building groove as the session wore on, with Murphy grinding his way to the opening frame before Selby's 54 made it 1-1 after 'The Magician' went in-off at 43 whilst trying to double his advantage.
Selby then added a run to 66 to get his nose in front, only for Murphy to rack up a 83 break to keep the two men neck-and-neck heading into their 15-minute mid-session interval.
The brief break from the baize did not quell Murphy's momentum, however, and a 98 clearance was the closest the afternoon session came to seeing a century break.
A freakish series of fortunate occurrences allowed the 2005 world champion to create a two-frame chasm for the first time, as a fluked final yellow and equally unplanned snooker on the brown stumped Selby's fight-back attempts.
But Selby would have the last laugh, pulling the seventh frame back with a knock of 76 for 4-3 before two 30+ visits in frame eight were enough to close proceedings at 4-4 from 4-2 down.

Messi breaks goals record as Barcelona beat Betis

1:54 AM Posted by Moto Musashi No comments


Lionel Messi broke Gerd Mueller’s record for goals in a calendar year as he scored his 86th of 2012 in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Real Betis.
The Argentina international had been doubtful for the game with a knee injury but was named in Barcelona’s starting line-up and scored after just 16 minutes to level Mueller’s 40-year-old record of 85, set while playing for Bayern Munich in 1972.
The World Player of the Year then fired in a second to surpass the German legend as he took just 25 minutes to re-write the record books.
Mueller achieved his record with West Germany and Bayern, but Messi’s 74 for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina have taken him beyond the World Cup winner.
There was a second record for Messi, who now has 191 career Liga goals for Barcelona - more than anyone else in history. The previous record of 190 was held by Cesar Rodriguez, who played for the club in the 1940s and 50s.
Many more should follow for 'the flea', who is widely expected to win the World Player of the Year award for a fourth year running.
The 25-year-old’s first goal saw him dribble the ball beyond a stretched Betis defence before firing across goal and into the bottom corner.
His second was the result of a fabulous exchange with Andres Iniesta, whose backheel was hit first time into the far corner by a rampant Messi.
Messi has scored 56 in La Liga, 13 in the Champions League, three in the Copa del Rey and two in the Spanish Supercopa, with three games still to play before the end of the year.
Mueller, known as the "torpedo", set the record as a 27-year-old, netting 72 for Bayern and 13 for West Germany.
Barcelona maintained their six-point lead in La Liga but did not have things all their own way against fifth-placed Betis.
Iniesta came close to extending the Catalans' lead with an impudent first-half chip but Barca were pegged back when Ruben Castro was allowed the freedom of the penalty area to curl beyond Victor Valdes.
Barca found themselves under pressure for much of the second-half, and after Valdes had almost dropped the ball at the feet of Castro, a Betis corner flicked off Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique on to the inside of the post before trickling to safety.
Pedro should have made the game safe but was denied by Adrian as he went one-on-one with the goalkeeper, before Betis substitute Alejandro Pozuelo struck the post with a thunderous drive.
Messi almost completed his hat-trick late on when he turned superbly in the area, only to see Adrian push his effort onto the post. Jordi Alba then fired the rebound against the top of the bar when it looked easier to score.
Barca held on for their eighth successive away win this season, but the evening was all about Messi who further cemented his position as one of the game’s all-time greats.

Premier League - Van Persie scores injury-time winner in chaotic Manchester derby

1:53 AM Posted by Moto Musashi No comments


Robin van Persie scored an injury-time free-kick as United beat City 3-2 in the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium to move six points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
A Wayne Rooney brace saw United go in 2-0 up at the break only for City to equalise with four minutes left as Pablo Zabaleta slammed home after Yaya Toure had earlier pulled one back.
But Van Persie's free-kick took a deflection off Samir Nasri and flew into the far corner to give United a dramatic win.
The game ended amid chaotic scenes as Rio Ferdinand seemed to be struck by a coin, with blood pouring from his head.
The late incident, which came after more than 90 minutes of heated exchanges and late challenges, is being investigated by the police and FA.
Roberto Mancini started Mario Balotelli alongside Sergio Aguero in attack, with Carlos Tevez left on the bench against his former side and Edin Dzeko again reduced to the role of impact sub. David Silva shrugged off a hamstring injury to start while Gael Clichy and Yaya Toure were back in action after injury and suspension respectively against Borussia Dortmund in midweek.
Tom Cleverley was passed fit to partner Michael Carrick in United's midfield, with Darren Fletcher missing altogether and veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs on the bench. Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic were not deemed fit.
City were the stronger of the two sides in a frantic opening featuring several reckless challenges.
Their first chance fell to Balotelli on 11 minutes, but the Italy star blazed well over after Silva's visionary ball found Clichy who centred from the left byline.
Rooney's first goal on 16 minutes turned the game on its head. Ashley Young, one of two wingers - with Antonio Valencia on the right - employed by Alex Ferguson, won a header on halfway and received the ball back from Van Persie before attacking the left flank and centring low. Rooney's side-footed strike rolled seemingly in slow-motion inside the post with Hart flat-footed.
United looked the more cohesive team unit but it was Aguero who found himself in front of goal on 23 minutes, battering his way through the challenges of several United defenders before curling a low shot that former Atletico Madrid team-mate David De Gea saved comfortably.
There was space galore for both sides. Valencia, hugely impressive for the Red Devils, gave Rafael room on the right to cross for Rooney to finish his second from just outside the six-yard box on 29 minutes.
There were no changes at half-time but when Balotelli tried a backheel four minutes into the second period Mancini had seen enough and barked at Tevez to get ready to come on.
On 58 minutes, with City's pressure beginning to tell, Nasri drilled a low cross to the far post but Ferdinand slid back to deny Aguero.
It could have been 3-0 on the hour mark as Van Persie, quiet for most of the match but involved in much understated link-play, rolled the ball inside on to his right foot and crashes a shot against the inside of the far post. Young finished the rebound, but was deemed marginally offside - it was close - when the initial shot was taken.
And within seconds City were back in it. Tevez's arrowing low drive was stopped by De Gea and the Spaniard again saved from Silva, from point-blank range. However Tevez laid back for Toure to sidefoot into the bottom corner.
Tevez, Aguero, Nasri and Silva all attacked inside an increasingly fraught United box, but Chris Smalling - on for Jonny Evans - Ferdinand and Patrice Evra were imperious. And when the Frenchman was put on his backside by Silva as the Spaniard cut inside, De Gea saved brilliantly by throwing up a shoulder with the ball cannoning off the bar.
'Super-sub' Edin Dzeko came on and within two minutes City were level, although he played no part in the goal. A corner was headed out by Van Persie at the near post and Zabaleta arrived to smash a half-volley into the corner from 18 yards.
Yet it was not over. Tevez was angered when penalised for fighting for the ball inside the United box and booked for dissent. Shortly afterwards he flew back to defend and clipped Rafael accidentally as he cut in from the right.
He escaped a second booking but it gave United a chance with the free-kick - and Van Persie bent it inside the far post via the toe of Nasri's boot two minutes into injury-time.
Nasri may be criticised for shirking his blocking duties as he turned away on the end of the wall.
As United's fans celebrated and City's were enraged, Ferdinand was hit by what seemed to be a coin and after a stoppage the game was finally allowed to end.
There was still time for Tevez to boot Carrick up the backside in front of Alex Ferguson - and somehow escape a second yellow card - before United sealed the win.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) - His clinical first-half brace set the tone for the win, although Van Persie stole the headlines.
PLAYER RATINGS
Manchester City: Hart 6; Zabaleta 8, Nastasic 6, Kompany 6, Clichy 6; Nasri 6, Barry 5, Yaya Toure 7, Silva 7; Aguero 7, Balotelli 5. Subs: Kolo Toure 5, Tevez 7, Dzeko 6.
Manchester United: De Gea 8; Rafael 6, Ferdinand 7, Evans 7, Evra 7; Valencia 8, Cleverley 7, Carrick 6, Young 8; Rooney 9, Van Persie 8. Subs: Jones 6, Smalling 8, Welbeck 6.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Valencia name Valverde new coach

3:15 PM Posted by Moto Musashi No comments

Valencia have agreed to appoint Ernesto Valverde to replace Mauricio Pellegrino as their new coach until the end of the season, the Spanish club said on Monday.
he 48-year-old Spaniard replaces Pellegrino, who was sacked on Saturday after a 5-2 home defeat to Real Sociedad left the side 12th in La Liga.

Valverde led Olympiakos Piraeus to a Greek league and Cup double last season and has extensive experience in La Liga.

He has worked with Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol, who he guided to the UEFA Cup final in 2007 where they lost to Sevilla.

A first spell with Olympiakos yielded a league and Cup double in 2009 and, after a failed six-month spell with Villarreal in the following year, he returned to Greece to win another league title before last season's repeat double.

His first game at the helm will be in the Champions League away at Lille on Wednesday.

Valencia, who are already qualified for the last 16, have a chance to finish top of Group F ahead of Bayern Munich if they can earn more points than last year's finalists.

"It is the first time I have taken charge of a club mid-season and I consider it a tough task," Valverde said after agreeing a six-month deal.

"When a coach takes over in these circumstances it is because there is a crisis and pressure to get results quickly. The most immediate objective is to transmit my ideas to the team and for the players to gain in confidence."

"I have signed for six months because that is what they offered me," said Valverde. "I hope the team demonstrates enough that I will be able to stay for longer."