Laudrup labels Carroll dismissal ´harsh´

Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup believes West Ham striker Andy Carroll’s dismissal in the Welsh side’s 2-0 defeat was “a bit harsh”.

Carroll was dismissed in the 59th minute at Upton Park on Saturday following a seemingly innocuous aerial challenge with Chico Flores.

The England international’s flailing arm brushed Flores’ head after the duel, and referee Howard Webb immediately produced a straight red card to end the forward’s first home start of the season early.

West Ham were two up at the time of the incident, with Carroll having had a major impact by setting up both of captain Kevin Nolan’s first-half goals with typically adroit headed knock-downs.

Sam Allardyce confirmed after the game that West Ham will appeal the sending off, and his Swansea counterpart Laudrup admitted he felt Carroll had been unlucky.

“I thought it was a bit harsh,” said the Dane.

“The referee – a well-known international – had no doubts showing the red card, (but) my personal opinion is that it was contact without much more.”

When asked if Flores had made too much of the incident, Laudrup replied: “I can’t say, maybe he did. But again the referee must have seen the elbow that Carroll gave and judged that he did it on purpose.

“As far as I know the rules say if there’s an intention, that’s enough.

“I don’t know if he wanted to get him sent off. I have to talk to him about his intention.”

Laudrup went on to say that Swansea found it difficult to cope with West Ham’s direct style, but rued their failure to deal with the hosts’ focal point of the Carroll-Nolan partnership.

“We struggled with them physically – we knew with the return of Carroll the game would be direct,” he added.

“It’s a little disappointing that the first goal came from a situation we had analysed and talked about a lot before the game.

“I knew at 2-0 it would be very difficult as West Ham would close the game down.”

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Pardew: Let´s be United

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has called on the fans and media to unite behind the club after their shock 2-0 win over Chelsea.

The build-up to the St James’ Park fixture was marred by off-the-field issues after the club banned a series of local newspapers for what they deemed to be excessive coverage of a protest march against controversial owner Mike Ashley ahead of the match against Liverpool last month.

Newcastle’s fans have protested against Ashley at regular intervals during his six-and-a-half-year stint at the club, but Pardew has called on everyone to pull in the one direction following Saturday’s triumph.

Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy scored in the last 25 minutes as Newcastle won just their second home match of the season, delighting Pardew.

“We have got great spirit in the group. I think we’ve played well,” Pardew told BT Sport.

“We are together and this win is for Mike Ashley and all our Newcastle fans. Trust me, he is a fan. I’m pleased for the club.

“We’ve had to make a stand for the local press – we want them to be with us. I’m pleased for everyone associated with Newcastle.

“In the last few games, we’ve been playing well. We proved that today. Sometimes you don’t get breaks but we did here.”

Gouffran’s opener – scored in the 68th minute – came after he nodded in Yohan Cabaye’s excellent free-kick.

The goal came despite Chelsea controlling the first half, and was the turning point, as Newcastle went on to add to their lead.

Pardew said he had always planned for his side to sit back in the opening stages, and was pleased that their strategy had paid off.

“He (Cabaye) has got a fantastic shape on that shot he hits. He hit that exactly on the money and Gouf (Gouffran) was brave,” he added.

“Because we had exerted so much energy (against Manchester City in the League Cup) in midweek, we decided to be cautious from the start.

“We maybe let them have too much of the ball. But in the second half we knew we could exert pressure and the crowd would get behind us. That’s what happened.”

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Martinez lauds match-winner Pienaar

Roberto Martinez was indebted to some Steven Pienaar “magic” after the midfielder scored Everton’s winner against Hull with his first touch.

Former Tottenham man Pienaar struck just 10 seconds after coming on to give the home side a 2-1 victory at Goodison Park.

Kevin Mirallas put Everton in front and Yannick Sagbo equalised on the half-hour mark, before South African Pienaar scored the winner on his return from injury.

Martinez said: “Steven Pienaar brings something really special to our team. The way he works with Leighton Baines and the way he can find space.

“It was key for him to be fully fit, we knew he couldn’t play the 90 minutes but the impact he had on the game was terrific. It was very important for us to have that little bit of magic to get that second goal.”

Arouna Kone could have put the icing on the cake for the hosts when he struck the post, but Martinez was still able to reflect on a job well done.

He added: “It was a professional win, very satisfying. I was really worried before the game, it was a tricky fixture as we had so many players representing their nations that we only had a couple of days to prepare for the game and that’s always a really difficult factor.

“I thought we started the game very well, the first 10-12 minutes we started with a tempo and with the quality we wanted. After scoring the first goal it became a scrappy affair and obviously Hull City are a team that will always put you under threat.

“I thought (in) the second half we controlled the game much better, we kept a very good clean sheet and then we got the goal that we needed.

“The third goal would have been a terrific moment for Arouna Kone with the way he’s been working behind the scenes. He deserved that finish, hitting the post made it a more anxious finish than it should have been.”

Martinez also leapt to the defence of Gareth Barry after Hull boss Steve Bruce described the on-loan midfielder’s challenge on Sone Aluko as “horrific”.

Barry was shown a yellow card as a result of the challenge, having also been involved in a tackle with Danny Graham that resulted in the striker being replaced due to a knee injury.

But Martinez said: “I think there were a few challenges due to the conditions, it was a wet pitch and the rain made it even quicker and there was a couple of challenges.

“There was one on Phil Jagielka in the second half, but I thought the referee understood the conditions to assess the challenges. I think Gareth gets the ball and then he slips away.

“I thought the referee was right to give a yellow card, bearing in mind that was the decision he gave for other challenges in the game.”

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Wales – Macedonia Preview: Coleman to contend with lengthy injury list

Wales boss Chris Coleman has had to contend with a lengthy injury list ahead of his side’s clash with Macedonia in Cardiff on Friday.

Coleman will be without 10 players originally selected in his 23-man squad for the World Cup qualifying match, including Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale and captain Ashley Williams, who have been ruled out with thigh and ankle injuries.

They join the likes of Joe Ledley, Joe Allen and Andrew Crofts on the sidelines although Coleman has been able to reach an agreement for defender James Collins to join up with the squad.

The West Ham centre-back had disputed suggestions that he refused a call-up in September and links up with the squad, while Liverpool’s 16-year-old midfielder Harry Wilson has also been selected.

Established figures Aaron Ramsey and Sam Vokes both missed training on Tuesday and may be doubt, while Lloyd Isgrove, Danny Alfei, James Wilson and Rhoys Wiggins could all make their international debuts.

The fixture sees sixth take on fifth, as both sides seek to avoid finishing bottom of the pile, with Coleman’s men going into the game having lost their last three matches in Group A.

Macedonia are just a point better off than their opponents, sitting in fifth thanks to a draw against Scotland last year.

As well as their lengthening injury list, Wales have also been hit with the news that experienced campaigner Craig Bellamy is to retire after the qualifiers against Macedonia and Belgium.

The 34-year-old Cardiff City forward believes that, despite a disappointing campaign this time around, Wales can become a potent force in international football, provided they can keep their top players fit.

“The quality of players we have, this is not like other teams down the years,” he said.

“We haven’t qualified for major tournaments because the teams have not been good enough, and I have not been good enough, it’s a simple fact.

“We have to get out of that routine of being poor old Wales. Even today people are saying we are unlucky. I am fed up with it.”

Macedonia will look to do the double over Coleman’s side in the Welsh capital, having won the previous meeting 2-1 in Skopje thanks to an Aleksandar Trajkovski goal 10 minutes from time.

While Cedomir Janevski’s side face a winnable tie in their final qualifier, taking on a Serbia side that have won just two of their last seven qualifiers, Friday’s game may be Wales’ last realistic chance of picking up points and moving off the bottom.

Coleman takes his squad to Brussels on Tuesday to face leaders Belgium, who have taken 22 points from a possible 24.

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Ranieri: Moutinho a week away from fitness

Joao Moutinho could make his Monaco debut in the clash against Toulouse on August 23.

The former Porto midfielder, who was signed in the close-season as part of a major spending spree for the club, missed out on the Ligue 1 opener against Bordeaux.

He will also miss Sunday’s clash with Montpellier, but manager Claudio Ranieri hopes to have the Portugal international back for the visit of Alain Casanova’s side.

“Hopefully, he’ll be available next weekend,” the Italian said.

Ranieri also confirmed his interest in bringing Sampdoria goalkeeper Sergio Romero to the Stade Louis II.

“We need a goalkeeper,” he added. “I hope we’ll strike a deal but nothing is done yet.”

The 26-year-old would act as competition for current number one Danijel Subasic.

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Taarabt delighted with Jol link-up

Playing for Martin Jol again was the motivating factor behind Adel Taarabt’s loan switch to Fulham from QPR.

The Moroccan midfielder agreed a temporary switch to Craven Cottage in order to fulfil his wish of playing Premier League football this season.

Dutchman Jol first brought the 24-year-old to England when he signed him for Tottenham from French club Lens in 2007.

And Taarabt said the promise of top-flight football coupled with a reunion with Jol meant Fulham was his preferred destination.

“I know Martin well, he brought me to England when I was 17 years old so when I heard he was interested in me I said I wanted to join Fulham, because the most important thing is the manager,” Taarabt told the club’s official website.

“The club is in London (so) I don’t have to move, and the club is in the Premier League so the two things were very important for me, to play in the Premier League and a manager that really wants me.”

Taarabt is looking forward to linking up with striker Dimitar Berbatov, and sees his best position as an advanced forward.

“I am looking forward to it. I’m a big fan of Dimitar Berbatov because when I was at Tottenham he was already a star and I was just a young kid who just arrived,” he continued.

“So when I went to watch the games he was unbelievable, now I have the chance to play with him hopefully we can understand each other and we can play good together and score some goals.

“My best position is behind the striker, as a number 10, but I can (also) play on the left, I will do my best wherever I play.”

Thu 1 Jan, 1970
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Klopp optimistic Goetze will return for UEFA Champions League final

Juergen Klopp is hopeful that Mario Goetze will be fit for Borussia Dortmund’s UEFA Champions League final clash with Bayern Munich.





The 20-year-old midfielder, who will move to Bayern for the start of the next Bundesliga campaign, has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Dortmund’s semi-final second-leg against Real Madrid.

After 14 minutes in the Santiago Bernabeu,he tore his hamstring and had to watch on as his team were beaten 2-0, but still progressed to the final at Wembley on 25 May thanks to their 4-1 victory a week earlier at Westfalenstadion.

The Germany international has been undergoing intensive treatment to get him back in time for their first UEFA Champions League final since 1997, and Klopp was optimistic he would be fit to make his 40th appearance for the club this season after resuming training.

“We will intensify training and the plan is that he will begin to train with the team next week,” he said. “Then I hope everything stays as it is, after that we will decide whether it works or not.”

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Jol laments ´frustrating´ decisions

Fulham boss Martin Jol has bemoaned the decisions that went against his side during Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool.

Daniel Sturridge netted a hat-trick as Brendan Rodgers’ men came from a goal down to earn a convincing win at Craven Cottage.

But Jol has cited a Lucas Leiva handball in the box and a poor Glen Johnson tackle on Eyong Enoh as moments which could have turned the match.
“The frustrating thing was that we should have had a couple of decisions for us and that didn’t happen,” he said.
“Just before they scored I think it was a penalty kick, we should have had a corner-kick, maybe a red card.
“First half, 1-0 up, we had a situation in their box five seconds later it was in our goal. So that was the frustrating thing today.”
Fulham have lost six of their last seven games in the Premier League but the Dutchman insists he is not concerned by that run of form due to the opposition his side have faced.
“Sometimes I feel we should count our blessings,” he added.

“We always knew the last seven or eight games – Everton away, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool – could have been a heavy schedule and it was.

“We were happy to be on 40 points the only disappointing thing is that we couldn’t get a result against them and be on 47 points.”
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Dempsey admits Spurs are feeling the pinch

Tottenham midfielder Clint Dempsey admits the players are aware of the growing tension at White Hart Lane in the latter stages of the season.

Spurs beat Arsenal on March 3 to move into third place on the Premier League table and open up a seven-point gap between their rivals – but a return of four points from their following four games has handed the Gunners the chance to overtake Andre Villas-Boas’ side.

Such a slump in form has Tottenham fans fearful of a repeat of last season’s late collapse which saw Arsenal overturn an 11-point disadvantage before Chelsea pipped them to Champions League qualification.

When asked if the mood is affecting the players, Dempsey told reporters: “I don’t know. It’s something that’s been there. It’s been noticeable in the last three home games.

“It’s been tense. I’ve felt like that’s kind of what the atmosphere’s been. That’s the way it’s been the last few games.

“You’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to do everything you can to help the team win. You can only try your best. It’s going to be a fight all the way until the end.”

The United States international is unsure as to why Tottenham’s form has dipped in recent weeks but suggested it could be down to injuries and a congested fixture schedule.

Star man Gareth Bale missed the 2-2 draw with Everton through injury but the club are hopeful of a return against Manchester City on April 21 – although Spurs will also have to navigate their Europa League quarter-final second leg against Basel in the meantime.

“Who’s to say the reason why? Maybe a few injuries, maybe a lot of games. It makes it more interesting for people to watch. It’s a little bit more stressful but it’s a good stress. At least we’re
pushing to try to get that (Champions League) spot. Hopefully we have enough character to get the job done,” he said.

“I thought the boys showed a lot of character to fight back and get a point against Everton. It’s an important point. You would have like to have got three but at least we fought back. We have the quality. It’s about being confident. It will be difficult all the way until the end of the season.”

Thu 1 Jan, 1970
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Kroos pleased with win

Bayern Munich attacker Toni Kroos has admitted his team were not at their best in Tuesday’s Champions League win over Lille.

A Thomas Mueller penalty after 20 minutes helped Bayern to a 1-0 victory despite their below-par performance.

Kroos, 22, is determined for Bayern to record two home wins from their three remaining matches to secure progress.

“Lille played quite a good game, but I think we deserved to win. They put in a lot of tackles, but we managed to control them, scored a goal and deserved to win the game,” he told the UEFA website.

“Of course, we can play better football, but after our defeat against BATE (Borisov on matchday two) we needed to win our next game. On Tuesday evening, we battled.

“Of course, our goal now is to win the home game against LOSC. We won away and now we have two home games left – and we want to go clear in the table in those two home games, but it will be difficult in two weeks against Lille.”

Bayern have collected six points from three games to be level on points with Valencia and BATE in Group F.





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