Wright-Phillips makes perfect return to City

Shaun Wright-Phillips celebrated his 8.5-million-pound return to Manchester City with a double in Sunday's 3-0 win at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.

Back at Eastlands after a frustrating three year spell with Chelsea the 26-year-old winger struck twice in the space of eight second half minutes after Steven Ireland had put Mark Hughes' side into a first half injury time lead.

Wright-Phillips, who has signed a four year contract, moved back to City with one aim – to boost his England credentials and this performance will certainly not have damaged his standing with Fabio Capello.

Sunday's match united two former Manchester United teammates in Hughes and Sunderland manager Roy Keane.

Djibril Cisse, who produced a goal on his first start for his new club in last week's 2-1 upset of Spurs, was making his home debut for Sunderland.

Also in Keane's starting line-up was Steed Malbranque, back after an ankle injury, and Kieran Richardson and Grant Leadbitter in place of Daryl Murphy and Dean Whitehead.

Manchester City, fresh from their UEFA Cup penalty heroics in midweek, handed a debut to Wright-Phillips. Vincent Kompany and Dietmar Hamann were also back in the side while Martin Petrov was sidelined.

Sunderland were quickly into their stride and almost grabbed an 11th minute goal when Pascal Chimbonda's deflected cross bounced off the bar.

City were fortunate to escape again in the 45th minute when El-Hadji Diouf snuck in a header at the far post only for the ball to flirt with the goalmouth.

Then largely against the run of play City broke the stalemate.

Sunderland's Danny Collins was inadvertently responsible for the goal when the Wales defender blocked a cross from the right. The ball fell straight at the feet of Ireland who shot past keeper Craig Gordon.

Micah Richards, who was knocked unconscious after a clash of heads in City's 3-0 drubbing of West Ham last week, picked up a knock in the first period and was replaced by Tal Ben-Haim at the start of the second half.

On 50 minutes Wright-Phillips then capped his return to his old club with City's second goal.

Helped in no small way by some lax defending the unmarked winger side-footed the ball past Gordon after Jo's initial effort spun across the goalline.

Eight minutes later Wright-Phillips killed off the game with a deft touch, allowing Michael Ball's long pass to bounce one before flicking the ball past Gordon with the edge of his right boot.

A distinctly unhappy-looking Keane responded by making a triple substitution – hauling off Cisse, Diouf and Leadbetter and bringing on Anthony Stokes, David Healy and Daryl Murphy.

But the damage was done with City jumping up into second and Sunderland slipping to one off the bottom.

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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Ronaldinho dazzles but Milan stunned by Bologna

Ronaldinho sparkled on his debut but could not prevent AC Milan slumping to a dismal 2-1 home defeat to Serie A newboys Bologna in their opener at the San Siro on Sunday.

It was a poor start for scudetto hopefuls as AS Roma were held 1-1 at home to 10-man Napoli while Jose Mourinho's first game in charge of Inter Milan on Saturday night ended in a 1-1 stalemate at Sampdoria.

But it was in Milan where the real drama took place as Carlo Ancelotti handed debuts to Gianluca Zambrotta and Mathieu Flamini as well as Ronaldinho.

Marco Di Vaio gave the visitors a shock lead on 18 minutes after the ball fell kindly to him in the box.

Just before the half hour mark Zambrotta and Ronaldinho combined but the Brazilian headed the full-back's cross straight at goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli from just six yards out.

Ronaldinho was at the centre of everything that was good for Milan and it was his cross that Massimo Ambrosini headed home to restore parity on 41 minutes.

The Brazilian magician then flicked the ball over the defence for veteran striker Filippo Inzaghi to run onto but after rounding Antonioli he couldn't turn his shot from a tight angle inside the post.

After the break it was a similar story with Ronaldinho teeing up Inzaghi and then second-half substitute Andrei Shevchenko, back from a two-year nightmare at Chelsea, but neither could beat Antonioli.

And Francesco Valiani won it for Bologna 11 minutes from time with a thunderbolt from 25 yards out into the top righthand corner.

Ancelotti claimed his team had merely been unlucky.

“I'm optimistic, we were unlucky. It was a strange and unusual match but I think they are the surprise of the day,” he said.

“I don't think we were missing much in the team, we attacked for 90 minutes and were punished by the two chances Bologna had.

“We could have been more compact and together but from a physical perspective we couldn't have done any more than that.”

Roma were no less disappointing than Milan as they were held by a team that played more than half an hour with 10 men.

The hosts went in front when Alberto Aquilani ran onto a delicate chip over the defence from Daniele De Rossi and took the ball down on his chest before firing home.

Despite having Fabian Santacroce sent off on 54 minutes, Napoli were level soon after through Slovakia midfielder Marek Hamsik.

Roma's Brazilian goalkeeper Doni then had to make several smart saves to keep the scores level before new-signing Jeremy Menez of France had a double opportunity to win it for the hosts late on but fluffed his lines.

On Saturday, Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Inter a first half lead in Genoa but Samp fought back after the break to earn a point through Gennaro Delvecchio.

Mourinho didn't seem too upset after the game, though.

“The result was fair because we weren't able to close out the match but a draw at a difficult ground is not a big drama,” he told Sky Sport. “I'm not super happy but the team didn't play badly.”

Lazio are the early pacesetters as they came from behind to win 4-1 at 10-man Cagliari.

Torino are also off to a fine start with a 3-0 home victory against newly-promoted Lecce while Chievo marked their return to the top flight with a 2-1 success over Reggina.

Fiorentina host Juventus in the clash of the day in Florence later on Sunday evening.

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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Berbatov could stay admits Ramos

Juande Ramos has admitted Dimitar Berbatov could still be a Tottenham player when the transfer window shuts on Monday.

Ramos left Berbatov out of his squad for Sunday’s draw at Chelsea because he remains convinced the Bulgaria striker is not in the right frame of mind to play while he continues to demand a move to Manchester United.

The Spurs boss conceded he had no idea where Berbatov was but refused to rule out the possibility that his star striker could remain at White Hart Lane.

“If he is still in the squad, yes he could play for us. If not, he won’t,” Ramos said. “I don’t know where he was because he was not here. He was not in the right state of mind to play.

“The problem is the money is not for me, it is for the club.”

With Berbatov out of the way, Spurs dug deep to claim their first point of the campaign. But Ramos refused to put the blame on Berbatov for his side’s slow start to the season.

“We never put any blame on Berbatov for the last two results,” Ramos said. “He wasn’t there on the park so it was those on the park, it was those on the pitch that were to blame and it was the same players that are responsible for putting in that great performance today and getting a fantastic result.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari revealed Arsene Wenger inquired about signing Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou recently.

Scolari turned down Arsenal’s bid but the Chelsea manager believes Wenger’s interest in Kalou proves he can be a valuable member of his squad.

“If you ask Arsene Wenger, he wants Kalou as a centre forward and Arsene is an intelligent man. I need to follow this way,” Scolari said.

“He wanted Kalou one, two or three months ago when we started negotiations for some players. I said no. You know what players I want and now you know what players Arsene wants.

“If he loves Kalou as a number nine I try it sometimes. But I have (Nicolas) Anelka, (Didier) Drogba and (Franco) Di Santo.”

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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Newcastle move to keep Owen

Newcastle United have offered am improved three-year contract to Michael Owen in a bid to keep the England striker at St James Park.

There had been growing speculation that the 28-year-old former Liverpool and Real Madrid goal-scorer could leave Tyneside on a free transfer at the end of the season.

A club spokesman said: “Newcastle United can confirm that captain Michael Owen has been offered an extended and improved three-year contract.

“The proposed terms of the new deal include an increased salary for Michael and demonstrate the club’s commitment to keeping him.

“The club hopes that this enhanced contract offer will keep him at St James’ Park.”

Reports during the week suggested that Keegan had been told at a meeting with owner Mike Ashley that Owen would be offered only a one-year extension and a reduced salary.

However, the latest offer – formal details of which it is understood are yet to reach Owen’s representatives – represent an improvement on his current salary.

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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“Non vedo l’ora, tornero a fine settembre”

Dopo aver deciso di restare al Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo non vede l`ora di rientrare in campo. Il portoghese, operato lo scorso 7 luglio alla caviglia, ha espresso le sue sensazioni all`agenzia PA, ribadendo il desiderio di essere di nuovo e al piu` presto protagonista in Premier e in Champions League: `Sono molto felice dei miei progressi – ha spiegato – spero di tornare in campo a fine settembre, voglio che questa possibilita` si realizzi`.

Ed ancora: `Io mi sento bene e la convalescenza procede nel migliore dei modi`. Ad operare il talento lusitano e` stato il chirurgo ortopedico olandese Niek Van Dijk, nell`ospedale Amc di Amsterdam. Le previsioni parlavano di un suo ritorno in campo fra la fine di ottobre e l`inizio di novembre, dunque, Cristiano Ronaldo e` in netto anticipo sulla tabella di marcia, per la felicita` di Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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Chelsea frustrated by Bent´s smash and grab raid

Chelsea were forced to settle for a frustrating 1-1 draw against Tottenham on Sunday as Darren Bent staged a smash and grab raid at Stamford Bridge.

Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side dominated for long periods and deservedly went in front through Juliano Belletti’s first half strike.

But Bent punished a mix-up between Frank Lampard and Ricardo Carvalho to poach an equaliser on the stroke of half-time and Chelsea couldn’t break down Spurs again.

While Scolari can have few complaints about his team’s build-up play, their lack of cutting edge in the absence of Didier Drogba needs to be addressed.

Nicolas Anelka was a subdued figure and Scolari must be hoping the Blues can tie up a deal for Real Madrid forward Robinho before Monday’s transfer deadline.

Spurs had won only three of their 14 league matches since beating Chelsea in the League Cup final last season and made the short trip across London bottom of the table after two successive defeats.

They hardly looked like the potential top four challengers many billed them as in pre-season as Luka Modric and David Bentley failed to shine, but Juande Ramos can take heart from the way they scrapped for a point after Bent’s equaliser.

A resolution to the Dimitar Berbatov saga would help. The Bulgarian was missing from the Spurs squad again as Ramos decided he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play while he continues to demand a transfer to Manchester United.

With Michael Ballack and John Obi Mikel injured, Scolari used Brazilian right-back Belletti as a make-shift holding midfielder.

Scolari’s side made a dazzling start. The tone was set by Lampard in the fifth minute. Joe Cole dummied Deco’s pass to Lampard on the edge of the Spurs area and the England midfielder’s sublime chip forced Heurelho Gomes into a superb tip over.

Anelka should have opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Belletti’s pass disected the Spurs defence but the France striker shot wildly over.

Michael Essien went much closer moments later as he surged forward in typcially dynamic fashion before rattling the crossbar with a fierce drive.

Not for the first time, Ramos threw his arms up in disgust at his side’s inability to stem the tide. Spurs were wilting in the face of Chelsea’s fluid passing and relentless pressing.

They finally cracked after 28 minutes. Deco swung in a low corner and, when Bent made a hash of his attempted clearance, Belletti was on hand to volley past Gomes.

It was only Belletti’s third goal for Chelsea and his first since scoring against Spurs back in January.

But incredibly the visitors went in level at half-time after Bent took advantage of a rare misstep from the Blues in the 45th minute.

Lampard nipped in to tackle Modric in midfield and Carvalho failed to close down Bent quickly enough. The Spurs striker pounced on the loose ball, burst in the penalty area and slipped his shot under Petr Cech.

Despite that setback, Chelsea immediately had Spurs back on the defensive after the break.

Essien picked out Ashley Cole and the left-back flashed a shot wide of the far post. Then Lampard tried his luck with another chip which floated over soon after.

Now they had something to hold onto, Spurs were happy to soak up the pressure. Carvalho headed over from Lampard’s corner but Chelsea were beginning to run out of ideas.

How Scolari must have wished he had Robinho to call on. Instead he sent on Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou but it made little difference as Spurs battened down the hatches to end Chelsea’s 100 percent start.

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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Zabaleta signs up at Man City

English Premier League outfit Manchester City announced on Sunday they had clinched the transfer from Spanish side Espanyol of Argentinian defender Pablo Zabaleta.

“Manchester City FC can confirm that Argentinian defender Pablo Zabaleta has signed for the club today from Espanyol for an undisclosed fee,” the club said on its mcfc.co.uk website.

Zabaleta signed a five-year contract following the completion of a medical and agreeing personal terms.

He will join new coach Mark Hughes at City fresh from winning a gold medal for his country at the Beijing Olympics. He has also been capped for the full international side during his career.

The purchase of Zabaleta makes it two big signings for Hughes in the last few days following the return of winger Shaun Wright-Phillips from Chelsea on Thursday.

“We feel the addition of Pablo is another great signing for Manchester City,” said Hughes, who joined city from Blackburn in the close season.

“He's young and a winner, with an Olympic gold medal to prove that, but more so he will provide us with great balance in the side.

“I'm very happy to bring him here and hopefully we can get a good result at Sunderland to round off what has been a very satisfactory week indeed for us.”

Zabaleta was quoted as saying: “I am very happy to come here and play in the Premier League. Playing in England has been a lifelong dream which has finally come true by moving to City.”

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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Robinho determined to join Chelsea

Real Madrid's Brazilian striker Robinho said Sunday that his “head was at Chelsea” and that he was determined to leave the Spanish club despite efforts of team bosses to keep him.

“I've already told the president (Ramon Calderon), and coach (Bernd Schuster), management and (the media): my head is there (at Chelsea), I want to play over there,” the 24-year-old said.

“Until now I've never had a problem in the locker room (at Real),” he added.

Robinho, who joined Real in 2005, attacked the Spanish champions for their attitude to him during the summer when his father and agent had been trying to negotiate a new contract for him.

“The club showed little interest in keeping me,” said Robinho of Real who focused their efforts on their failed bid to sign Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

“The problem is that (Real Madrid) did not manage to recruit.

“Schuster isn't my father, he's my coach. He can't make me do anything.”

Real also recently failed in their bid to sign two Spanish internationals Santi Cazorla from Villarreal and David Villa from Valencia.

“I want to leave, nothing more,” he added.

There is very little time left for Robinho to move to London with the transfer window officially closing at midnight on Monday.

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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Real Madrid tried to sign Aguero

Spanish newspaper Sport claims Real Madrid tried to sign Sergio Aguero from local rivals Atletico Madrid last week.

Atletico turned down the bid and told their city rivals that they will have to match Aguero’s buy-out clause of 55 million euros .

Aguero have insisted that he will never play for Real Madrid, due to that it is believed that they are reluctant to meet the buy-out clause.

Real Madrid are desperate to sign a new striker as a replacement for Robinho, who is keen on joining Premiership side Chelsea.

Los Merengues have tried to sign several star players this summer, including David Villa from Valencia and Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

Sport also claims that Manchester United and Inter Milan have considered making a move for the highly rated forward this summer.

[Source: Sport]

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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Robinho: I want to leave Real Madrid

Real Madrid forward Robinho insists he wants to leave the Spanish side before the transfer window closes.

The highly rated Brazilian forward is keen on a move to Premiership side Chelsea, and arranged a press conference on Sunday to say he still wanted to leave Los Merengues.

“I have told Schuster and Pedja that I want to leave the club,” Robinho told reporters at the press conference.

“My agent has gone to the club a thousand times to speak to them and the club has not shown any interest in keeping me.

“Now that the club have failed to sign anyone else, suddenly they want me to stay.”

Chelsea are prepared to pay Robinho €6m-per-year and have so far made two bids for the player.

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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