Iaquinta earns Juve a point against Belarus minnows

Belarus underdogs BATE Borisov chalked up their first point in the Champions League with a 2-2 draw against Italy's Juventus in this Group H tie here on Tuesday.

BATE, spurred on by the sold out 40,000-seater Dynamo at Minsk, seized the initiative by pinning Juventus back and clinching a 2-0 advantage in the first half an hour.

Sergei Kryvets put the Belarus minnows into a 17th minute lead, beating the Juventus defence on a breakaway to receive a slicing pass from Igor Stasevich and sending the ball into the net after rounding helpless keeeper Alexander Manninger.

Six minutes later Stasevich made it 2-0 for BATE, when he headed the ball in from the edge of the six-yard box after teammate Pavel Nekhaichik's precise left-handed cross.

Juventus pulled level before the break through Vincenzo Iaquinta, who netted a double scoring both times from Sebastian Giovinco's precise passes in the 29th minute and in first half injury time.

After the interval neither team managed to gain supremacy in midfield to leave BATE with a well deserved point.

Real Madrid, who beat 2-1 Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg earlier in the day, top the table with six points after two matches, two points ahead of Juventus.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Berbatov hits brace to end Danish dreams

Manchester United dashed hopes of a Danish fairy tale after Dimitar Berbatov scored his first two goals for the club in a 3-0 victory over Aalborg here on Tuesday.

Home manager Bruce Rioch had promised that an Aalborg win would trigger an “earthquake” in the 10,800-capacity Energi Nord Arena.

But a first-half strike from Wayne Rooney and Berbatov's second-half brace secured a comfortable away victory that kick-starts the holders' Champions League campaign after a disappointing goalless draw in their opener against Villarreal.

United's offensive strategy rattled Rioch's team as Sir Alex Ferguson's side took charge of the game immediately, nearly scoring twice within the first 10 minutes.

Rooney's back-heeled through-ball to Ronaldo forced home 'keeper Karim Zazinto into a hurried clearance which hit the Portuguese winger and ballooned into the air.

Former Tottenham striker Berbatov was the first to react but sliced his volley wide.

Two minutes later Nani swung a dangerous corner into the penalty area which reached captain Rio Ferdinand unmarked at the far post.

The England defender caught his volley sweetly but found Zaza equal to the task once more, the linesman waving away suggestions that the ball had crossed the line.

The Reds received a blow in the 11th minute when experienced midfielder Paul Scholes was carried off with suspected knee ligament damage.

The home fans were anxious that the pattern of the match had been set, and were heartened by a dangerous incursion into the visitors' half.

AaB left-back Thomas Enevoldsen made an adventurous surge down the left wing before curling a wicked low ball across the six-yard area.

Polish striker Marek Saganowski failed narrowly to connect but the ball fell to winger Jeppe Curth, whose shot was blocked by an alert Patrice Evra.

The home fans' respite was brief as the English visitors continued to threaten.

Ex-Fluminense defender Rafael was the next United player to come close with a ferocious long-range drive which seemed to move markedly in the air, causing Zaza to fend off tentatively.

A goal for the Red Devils seemed inevitable so it proved in the 22nd minute when Rooney kept a cool head to register his 12th goal in the Champions League proper.

Veteran winger Ryan Giggs, Scholes's replacement, slipped a cute pass inside defender Michael Beauchamp which Rooney collected before finishing neatly under Zaza.

The Danes responded immediately and would have scored had Ferdinand not produced a last-ditch tackle to deny right-back Kasper Bogelund.

Ronaldo came close to doubling the lead on two occasions but his first attempt went over the crossbar and the second was palmed away by the overworked Zaza.

Any thoughts of a giant-killing act were dashed 10 minutes after half-time when Bulgarian forward Berbatov showed finally why Ferguson splashed out 30.75 million pounds on him on transfer deadline day.

The fomer Bayer Leverkusen striker had defender Steve Olfers to thank after a suicidal pass across his own 18-yard line presented him with the ball, but his thunderous drive into the bottom corner of the goal was all his own work.

Rioch's men seemed resigned to their fate as United continued to create chances, Ronadlo and substitute Tevez both coming close to scoring a third.

After waiting over three games to break his duck, Berbatov made it two with a fine volley.

Ronaldo jinked his way down the right-wing before delivering a floted cross which the Bulgarian guided expertly over his shouloder and into the goal.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Real beat unlucky Zenit to make it two from two

Real Madrid maintained their unbeaten start in the Champions League group stage with a 2-1 win over Zenit St Petersburg here on Tuesday making it the first time in five years they have won their opening two matches.

UEFA Cup and Super Cup holders Zenit, coached by Dutchman Dick Advocaat, welcomed back star striker Andrei Arshavin, who was missing for their opening Group H loss to Juventus.

Real coach Bernd Schuster, who was having to make do without injured midfielder Guti, started Raul on the bench as he and his multi-millionaire squad went in search of a follow up win after seeing off BATE Borisov of Belarus a fortnight ago.

The Spaniards, who travelled to Saint Petersburg in buoyant form having won their last four league games, were rewarded for coming out of the blocks smartly with an own goal from Tomas Hubocan in the fourth minute.

Rafael van der Vaart set up the attack when hurtling down the right, the recently recruited Dutch international helped considerably when his marker Igor Denisov slipped allowing him to cross with the hapless Hubocan diverting the ball past Zenit keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev.

In the 21st minute Real keeper and captain Iker Casillas did well to block Konstantin Zyranov's shot but three minutes later positive-minded Zenit were back level.

The man responsible was Danny, who signed for a Russian record 30 million euros from Dynamo Moscow in August.

The Caracas-born Portuguese midfielder latched on to Arshavin's floating left-footed cross to flick the ball past Casillas into the bottom left corner.

In a freeflowing first half Real, nine-time European champions, pulled ahead for the second time in the 31st minute.

Van der Vaart pounced on a loose ball only to see his shot from the edge of the area be partially blocked but unfortunately for Zenit the ball fell at the feet of Ruud van Nistelrooy, whose left-footed strike flew past Malafeev.

A flurry of activity at either end in the run-up to the break failed to change the scoreline.

Van der Vaart made way for Javi Garcia on the hour, that change followed a frantic spell of attack from Zenit featuring shots from Hubocan and Radek Sirl.

Advocaat, who celebrated his 61st birthday on Saturday at a private party with Russia Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was born in Saint Petersburg, then made two changes.

Hubocan came off for Alejandro Domniguez and Fatih Tekke was introduced for Pavel Pogrebnyak.

Arshavin, a target for Premier league side Tottenham over the summer, had a shot blocked in the 76th minute.

Then three minutes later the player who burst onto the international stage at Euro 2008 had Casillas beaten only for his close range angled shot to hit the far post.

Robben made way for former Feyenoord left wing Royston Drenthe with eight minutes on the clock with the closing stages dominated by the Russians.

Danny should have got the elusive equaliser in stoppage time but his shot from in front of goal went the wrong side of the crossbar.

The result in Saint Petersburg left Real Madrid sitting atop the table on six points ahead of Group H's later game between Juventus and Borisov.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Quick Report: Arsenal crush Porto, Fener held by Dynamo

Arsenal crushed FC Porto at Emirates Stadium while Fenerbahçe and Dynamo Kyiv held each other to a goalless draw.

Both Arsenal and Porto created chances in the entertaining opening phase in London, but the home side were first to take advantage as Robin van Persie scored from an Adebayor pass.

Favors were returned just before the break as Adebayor headed home from a Van Persie corner.

And the Dutchman added a second to his account right after the break to end the away side’s hopes. Adebayor made it 4-0 from the penalty spot in the 71st minute.

Fenerbahçe hoped to achieve a win over Dynamo Kyiv but the Ukrainians held their Turkish hosts to a scoreless draw.

Arsenal lead Group G with four points from two games, followed by Porto with three points. Dynamo follow with two, and Fenerbahçe are last with just one point.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Quick Report: Real victorious at Zenit

Real Madrid maintain their perfect record in the Champions League group phase, with a 1-2 victory at Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday.

The match was played about two hours earlier than usual, due to Russia’s time zone.

The unfortunate Hubocan beat his own goalkeeper to give Real Madrid a 0-1 lead in the 4th minute, but the home side came back through Danny in the 25th minute.

Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy had the last say though, and scored what turned out to be the winning goal just after the half hour mark.

Madrid lead Group H with six points from two games, while Zenit’s position after today also depends on the other game, between BATE Borisov and Juventus.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Maniche ruled out of Champions League clash

Atletico Madrid's seasoned Portuguese veteran Maniche was on Tuesday ruled out of Wednesday's Champions League clash with French side Marseille because of a shoulder injury according to the club's Mexican coach Javier Aguirre.

Maniche will be replaced by Miguel in midfield while Dutch international defender John Heitinga should return in defence after recovering from muscle pain.

Former French international goalkeeper Gregory Coupet looks set to miss out as Argentinian Leo Franco is likely to play, as he did in their opening 3-0 Champions League win over Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Price drop at Newcastle. Now a snip at £300 million!

It is reported that the price to take Newcastle United off Mike Ashley’s hands has been considerably reduced.

Instead of having to pay the original asking price of £450 million, it is believed that you could now buy the club for the bargain price of between £280 million and £300 million.

A price of £300m would still leave Ashley with a tidy profit of £50 million for his years work, so I wouldn’t want anyone to worry about him!

(Source – BBC)

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Reds to head scramble for Owen

Liverpool are already mulling over making a sensational move to bring Newcastle striker Michael Owen back to Anfield.

Owen’s contract at St James’ Park expires at the end of the season and so far this term the striker has made no moves to extend his deal.

The 28-year-old is understandably disillusioned with his football, despite interim boss Joe Kinnear continuing to name the England marksman as Newcastle captain.

The Magpies are next to bottom in the Premier League and football odds of 5.0 to be relegated, without a full-time boss and currently up for sale – leaving Owen with some serious thinking to do about his future.

Owen, who has scored 21 goals in 48 appearances for Newcastle, is believed to have been messed around by Toon officials after holding preliminary talks about his future some time ago and now it’s understood he has his mind set on a move away from the beleaguered club.

Liverpool are keen to strengthen their forward line as Rafa Benitez aims to build a squad that compete seriously for the Premier League title and in Europe. Benitez is keen to line up talks with Owen in January – when he will be able to negotiate a lucrative Bosman-style free-transfer move.

The former Real Madrid ace netted 118 goals in 216 appearances for the Merseysiders before leaving for Madrid in 2004 for £8million.

He will be welcomed back with open arms by Liverpool fans and linking up with Spanish hot-shot Fernando Torres would be a prospect that Owen would relish and a partnership that would get him firmly back in the plans of England boss Fabio Capello.

Money-bags Premier League rivals Manchester City are also set to show an interest in the Chester-born striker, but an emotional return to Anfield, the club where he started his professional career at 16, looks Owen’s likely destination.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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FIFA, UEFA don´t recognise new head of Polish FA

Football’s top governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA, said Tuesday they do not recognise a new administrator appointed by the Polish Olympic Committee to head the country’s scandal-mired PZPN football federation.

The decision by the tribunal of the Polish Olympic Committee, which oversees sports in Poland, to dismiss PZPN head Michal Listkiewicz was made at the request of Sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki.

Drzewiecki said Monday he had acted because of “a lack of effectiveness in the fight against corruption”.

But in a joint statement, UEFA and FIFA said that they “do not recognise either the decision by the arbitration court of the Polish National Olympic Committee, or the appointment of an ‘administrator’ of the PZPN”.

“FIFA and UEFA continue to recognise the current leadership of the PZPN chaired by Michal Listkiewicz as the only legitimate authority to run football in Poland and to represent it internationally,” the statement added.

The two bodies said they would immediately start joint consultations on measures to be taken surrounding football in Poland, which will be proposed at the next FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich on October 23-24.

Polish football has been marred for over three years by repeated match-fixing scandals, with 120 individuals already prosecuted or facing trial, and a handful of clubs from various divisions have been relegated as punishment for graft.

The country will be joint hosts with Ukraine of the next European football championships in 2012.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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More to come from Reds, Benitez warns PSV

Rafael Benitez has predicted that his Liverpool team can still take their game to another level despite their flying start to the season.

The Reds are second in the Premier League — behind Chelsea only on goal difference — after an unbeaten start to their domestic campaign.

Even though they have not won the league since 1990, there is a growing feeling of optimism around Anfield after early season victories over their bitter rivals Manchester United and Everton.

And ahead of their first home Champions League game against PSV Einhoven, they are looking comfortable in their group after a 2-1 win at Marseille in the opening round of fixtures.

The Spaniard is satisfied with the way his team have started the season but thinks that several factors mean that there is still more to come.

He said: “We had some critics at the beginning of the season who were saying 'you are not playing well' and 'you are not losing but' and I was trying to explain why.

“We had some players at the European Championships, the Spanish players were there until the final and then we had the Olympics. It was really difficult trying to keep the team together training every day.

“These things affect the performance of the players, the understanding of the players and their condition. Now, little by little we are improving and I think that we have room for more improvement and that's the most positive thing.

“We can improve physically, and tactically we are well organised and the understanding between players like Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane, if we have these players playing games and training together, the team will improve a little bit more.

“Every year we are signing two or three good players with quality. If every year you can sign a Javier Mascherano, a Daniel Agger, a Pepe Reina or a Torres, the squad is improving every year.”

Swiss full-back Philipp Degen, who broke two ribs in the 2-1 League Cup win over Crewe last week, is Liverpool's only absentee ahead of the game at Anfield, with Javier Mascherano having overcome a calf problem.

While Benitez maintains circumstances are different, he will pick his strongest team against the Dutch side after the problems Liverpool experienced in qualifying from their group last term.

The Reds picked up just one point in their opening three matches, putting them at serious risk of not reaching the knock-out phase.

Benitez will not be taking any chances against Huub Stevens' team, despite PSV having lost their opening game 3-0 at home to Atletico Madrid.

He added: “We have the experience of last season and after three games we had one point. Now we have played one game, have three points and we're in a much better position.

“I would like to be after two more games almost qualified but you have to win every game. After three games if you're on nine points you've almost qualified but that is 'almost' and you have to be 100 percent sure.

“For the fans it's important to enjoy it and you can understand why they might be saying 'we can win this and we can win that'.

“It's part of the game but it's more important that the players are focused and they're working hard.”

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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