First half goals lead Sporting past Guimaraes

Sporting Lisbon bounced back from their Champions League defeat by Barcelona and moved into third place in the Portuguese Liga Sagres with a 2-0 win over Vitoria Guimaraes.

Helder Postiga put the home side in the lead after just eight minutes and Liedson added a second to double the advantage in the 21st.

Action in Portugal continues on Monday when Benfica have a chance of moving into first place. The Lisbon side will need to beat Vitoria Setubal to do so.

Current leaders Leixoes were held to a 1-1 draw by Naval Primeiro de Maio on Friday.

Sun 30 November, 2008
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Brugge back in first place after win over Germinal

Club Brugge move back into first place in the Belgian Eerste Klasse with an easy 3-0 win over Germinal Beerschot.

Venezuelan midfielder Ronald Vargas put Brugge in the lead on 21 minutes and Wesley Sonck added another two to his season tally, in the 48th and 72nd minutes.

Standard de Liege failed to defend their second place with a goalless draw at KV Mechelen. To make things worse, the visitors had Sarr sent off in added time.

Brugge now have a two-points advantage over RSC Anderlecht, who in turn are one point ahead of Standard.

Sun 30 November, 2008
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Sao Paulo’s celebrations postponed by Fluminense

Sao Paulo FC had their championship celebrations postponed by Fluminense, who held the Brazilian Serie A leaders to a 1-1 draw on Sunday. Gremio beat Ipatinga 1-4 and reduce the gap to three points with one match to go.

Fluminense, who have had a disappointing season, faced the task of keeping Sao Paulo from winning the title today and succeeded. Tartá opened the score for ‘Flu’ on 50 minutes and Borges equalised seven minutes later wasn’t enough for the hosts to secure the championship.

Gremio began the day at five points from Sao Paulo but their 1-4 win at Ipatinga reduces the difference to three.

Ipatinga did take the lead through Pablo Escobar in the fifth minute but goals from Marcel, Jean, again Marcel and Leo earned the Porto Alegre outfit a comfortable win.

The Serie seems all but decided though as Sao Paulo have a goal record of plus 29 while Gremio have to do with plus 22.

Next week, Sao Paulo get another opportunity to decide the season at Goias Goiania, while Gremio host Atlético Belo Horizonte.

Sun 30 November, 2008
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Galatasaray too strong for Haceteppe

Galatasaray remained close to the top of the Turkish Super League thanks to a 3-1 victory over relegation candidates Haceteppe SK.

Sandro did put the underdogs ahead on 33 minutes but Czech striker Milan Baros struck back to level just before the break and converted a penalty close to the hour mark.

And the forward wasn’t done yet as he netted a third to complete his hat-trick in the 72nd minute.

Haceteppe ended the match with only nine players on the pitch as Tozo was sent off in the first half, followed by Teli in the second.

‘Gala’ are now fourth in the Turkish league, at four points from leaders Trabzonspor. Besiktas and Sivasspor are second and third respectively.

Sun 30 November, 2008
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Olympiakos beat Panionios to defend lead

Olympiakos Piraeus successfully defended their lead in the Greek Super League with a 4-1 win over Panionios.

Belluschi put the home side ahead on 32 minutes and Diogo doubled the advantage in the 52nd.

And the Athens outfit continued to trouble their opponents with Mitroglou adding goals in the 78th and 80th minutes. Goundoulakis got a consolation goal for Panionios with three minutes to go.

Olympiakos maintain a gap of four points with second-placed PAOK Saloniki, who in turn have a four-points advantage over AO Xanthi.

Sun 30 November, 2008
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Villarreal keep up pressure

Under-strength Villarreal moved into second place in the table with a 2-1 victory over bottom-placed Recreativo Huelva who have now lost four games on the trot.

Despite missing seven players including influential midfielder Marcos Senna, Villarreal had just enough to overcome a Recreativo side who are in danger of losing touch with the teams above them.

Villarreal were fortunate to go ahead when Santi Cazorla's shot from outside the area went in off a defender after 26 minutes. There were good chances for both sides before Ariel Ibagaza doubled the lead with a well-struck free-kick.

With seven minutes to go Recre pulled a goal back through a penalty converted by Adrian Colunga after Pascal Cygan brought down Marco Ruben but it was to be only a consolation.

Deportivo la Coruna moved into a UEFA Cup place after beating Almeria with Joan Verdu scoring the only goal of the game.

Almeria were on the back foot after the sending off of Alvaro Negredo for elbowing Albert Lopo and they were lucky to survive a penalty which Verdu hit against the post but it was Verdu who made amends with 15 minutes to go.

Valladolid continued their good form which has seen them beat Real Madrid and Villarreal in the last fortnight with a convincing 3-0 win over Mallorca.

Garcia Calvo gave them the lead after 28 minutes after the keeper could only parry a Pedro Leon shot.

Valladolid keeper Sergio Asenjo kept the Mallorca attack at bay with some solid blocks before the home side won with goals from Vivar Dorado and Henok Goitom on target.

At the other end of the table, Athletic Bilbao moved out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win over fellow strugglers Numancia.

Fernando Llorente scored both goals, a header after just six minutes and then a strike on the half-hour mark, against a Numancia side who lacked a finishing touch.

The gloss was taken off Bilbao's win though with a late sending-off for defender Xabier Etxeitia for his second bookable offence.

Espanyol meanwhile lost 1-0 at home to Sporting Gijon and hosts' coach Bartolomeo Marquez's job is now hanging in the balance with the team on the edge of the relegation zone.

They fell to a fine first-half strike by Carmelo Gonzalez.

A flurry of late goals saw Malaga beat Osasuna 4-2 after the visitors had initially come back from a two-goal deficit.

Antonio Apono and Nabil Baha gave Malaga the lead after the break before Osasuna levelled through Javad Nekounam and Miguel Flano but Malaga battled forward once again and won the game with strikes from Albert Luque and Eliseu Pereira.

Late Sunday, Valencia take on Real Betis needing a win to reinforce their own championship ambitions.

Valencia have lost ground after straight losses to Racing Santander and Sporting Gijon while Betis team have won their last three games away from home.

In the late game, Atletico Madrid welcome back fans to the Calderon after playing behind closed doors for their Champions League game in mid-week due to a UEFA punishment. They play a Racing Santander side who are also in the battle for a place in Europe next season.

Saturday, Barcelona extended their lead at the top as a fine brace from Lionel Messi helped them to a 3-0 victory in Sevilla, while Real Madrid lost 3-1 at Getafe.

In a high-tempo match, Samuel Eto'o gave Barcelona the lead after 20 minutes but it was Messi who stole the show in the second half. He ran onto a ball from midfield and volleyed into the corner from 25 yards to extend Barca's lead after 78 minutes and then he completed his brace in injury time, rounding the keeper before slotting home.

Sevilla's night was made worse by the controversial dismissal of Luis Fabiano for elbowing Sergio Busquets.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola was pleased at the way Barca stepped up a gear in the second half.

“These are important points against a very strong rival. In the first half we were sloppy and took a lot of risks but after the break we were a lot better and more organised.”

Sun 30 November, 2008
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Scolari in ref rage as Chelsea crash against Arsenal

Luiz Felipe Scolari launched a scathing attack on referee Mike Dean and his officials after Chelsea's 2-1 defeat against Arsenal on Sunday.

Scolari was furious that Robin van Persie wasn't given offside when he ran clear to score Arsenal's equaliser at Stamford Bridge.

That proved to be the turning point as van Persie scored again three minutes later to hand Chelsea only their second loss in the Premier League this season.

Chelsea struggled to build up any momentum for long periods but Blues boss Scolari claimed Dean and his linesmen played a key role in the defeat.

“Chelsea and the referee (were responsible for the defeat) because Arsenal scored the first goal one metre in front of our players and in the first half the same linesman gave (Salomon) Kalou offside when it was not,” said the Blues boss.

“It is important to speak to the people about this. If we play and the referee gives two things against my team sometimes it is difficult to win.

“Ok I make mistakes but we needed a man to come to Stamford Bridge as a referee for both sides, not for one side.”

For the third time this season, Chelsea were unable to beat one of their main title rivals at home.

After drawing with Manchester United and losing to Liverpool and now Arsenal, Scolari is becoming concerned with Chelsea's lack of cutting edge.

“It's our problem in the last three games. We score one goal but only have one or two good chances. We don't shoot in or outside the area. We don't build enough play,” he said.

While Scolari was left to count the cost of a lacklustre display, Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal's victory could give a vital boost to his players' morale after a rocky period.

Arsenal are now seven points behind Chelsea and Wenger said: “We are still not close enough but we can gain belief. We have beaten Man Utd and Chelsea. That shows we have potential.

“To come here and win is fantastic for the team. We had chances and they had very few. We had the quality and we were on top in the second half,” Wenger said.

“We have fantastic character in this side. We have now to be humble and come back and work hard.

“We were 1-0 down and still won the game. There is no better test of character.”

Van Persie, reportedly one of the players William Gallas was most unhappy about during his recent rant against his team-mates, couldn't have picked a better moment to score his first goals in five matches.

But the Dutch striker insisted the team deserved all the credit. “It is not my day, it is the team's day. It was a big win,” he said.

In the last 20 minutes we showed a lot of character and discipline so the whole squad deserve big compliments.

“Playing against Chelsea on their ground, when you go 1-0 down you know it is going to be really difficult. To come back says it all.

“If you win a game like that it gives you a lot of confidence and that is what we need at the moment.”

Sun 30 November, 2008
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Marseille held as Ligue 1 big boys struggle for goals

Marseille followed up their mid-week Champions League elimination with a frustrating 0-0 draw at Toulouse in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

The result extended the Mediterranean side's winless streak to four games, having drawn 2-2 at home to Lille and lost 3-2 at home to Lorient prior to the 1-0 defeat at Liverpool on Wednesday night.

The point takes Marseille up to second, ahead of Nice on goal difference, but means that they remain six points behind leaders Lyon.

Marseille's Steve Mandana was the first goalkeeper to be called into action at Stade Municipal when he pushed away a firm header from Toulouse central midfielder Etienne Capoue after 15 minutes.

Eric Gerets's side bossed possession in the first half and came closest to breaking the deadlock when Mamadou Niang's close-range effort from Ronald Zubar's flick-on was kept out by Toulouse keeper Cedric Carrasso.

Marseille's frustrations mounted as the game wore on, with Gerets introducing Mamadou Samassa and Mathieu Valbuena in place of Hatem Ben Arfa and Karim Ziani just before the hour in a bid to bolster his side's attacking impetus.

The visitors piled on the pressure in the game's closing stages, with Valbuena flashing a volley wide in the last minute of normal time, but Toulouse held firm.

Elsewhere, Saint Etienne brought a seven-game losing streak in the league to an end with a 2-1 victory at Nancy that fired them out of the relegation zone.

The visitors took the lead after just seven minutes when on-loan Portuguese midfielder Paulo Machado fired in a thumping 30-yard free-kick that deceived home keeper Gennaro Bracigliano.

Three minutes before the break Les Verts made their first-half dominance count when David Gigliotti slotted home after Bracigliano had saved from France international striker Bafetimbi Gomis.

Things took a turn for the worse for the home side when Bracigliano was dismissed for up-ending Gigliotti inside the penalty area in the 55th minute, but Gomis wasted the chance to make the game safe by putting his spot-kick wide.

Nancy set up a nervy last fifteen minutes when Issiar Dia got away from Blaise Matuidi before finishing neatly past Jeremie Janot, but it wasn't enough to prevent Alain Perrin from claiming his first win as St Etienne coach.

Fourth faces fifth in the big game of the weekend later on Sunday evening, with Rennes welcoming Paris St Germain to the Stade de la Route de Lorient.

In Saturday's action, a depleted Lyon side were held to a goalless draw at home to Valenciennes, who sank to the bottom of the table despite the point earned at a sodden Stade Gerland.

Second-placed Nice missed out on the chance to close the gap on Lyon when their game at home to Grenoble was called off due to a waterlogged pitch, while last season's runners-up Bordeaux drew 0-0 at second-bottom Sochaux.

Sun 30 November, 2008
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Hamburg miss out on fourth, Hoffenheim stay top

Hamburg were held 1-1 at VfL Bochum on Sunday to miss out on fourth in the Bundesliga while Bayern Munich went second in the table over the weekend to set up a key clash with league leaders Hoffenheim on Friday.

A goal from Bochum's Slovakia striker Stanislav Sestak in the 39th minute shocked Martin Jol-coached Hamburg before the guests were rescued by striker Ivica Olic who slotted home 20 minutes from time.

The draw keeps the north German club fifth in the table while Bochum are three from bottom, but they just missed out on a deserved win when Sestak hit the post in the last ten minutes which denied him a second.

Ex-Germany defender Markus Babbel enjoyed a winning start to his tenure as Stuttgart coach when as his side picked up their first win in six games with a 2-0 win over Schalke to leave his side 10th in the table.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann saved a 16th minute penalty from Schalke's Peru striker Jefferson Farfan to keep the scores level with his side badly in need of league points.

With time running out Czech Republic midfielder Jan Simak lobbed Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer 11 minutes from time to put Stuttgart ahead before Germany striker Mario Gomez made the result safe with a strike on 83 minutes.

It gives Babbel a confidence-boosting win having succeeded Armin Veh as head coach last weekend.

Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg also battled away to a 0-0 draw.

On Saturday, surprise package Hoffenheim stayed top after a 3-0 home win over Arminia Bielefeld but Bayern Munich remain in hot pursuit with a 2-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern will draw level on points with Hoffenheim at the top of the table if they beat the leaders at Munich's Allianz Arena on Friday.

League top scorer Vedad Ibisevic, with the Bosnian's 17th of the season, and Carlos Eduardo scored inside the opening 11 minutes before Francisco Copado netted a last-minute spotkick to make it 11 league wins and 34 points from 15 games for Hoffenheim.

Bayern are now second, three points adrift, after Luca Toni, with a header, and Miroslav Klose scored after the break to move them above a Bayer Leverkusen side who had stood third at start of play.

Third are Hertha Berlin, a point behind Bayern after the Berliners beat Cologne 2-1 on Friday.

Chelsea misfit Claudio Pizarro managed the individual exploit of the day with a hat-trick as his Werder Bremen thrashed Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 on the River Weser.

Sun 30 November, 2008
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David Navarro taken to hospital after knock on head

Mallorca defender David Navarro has been transported to a nearby hospital after clashing with teammate Josemi in the Primera Division match with Villarreal.

Navarro and Josemi were both trying to get to the ball in a challenge with Valladolid’s Goitom. Navarro then received a knock on the head and although medics first tried to fix him up in order to continue, it soon became clear that he couldn’t.

The player was taken to a Valladolid hospital, accompanied by both Valladolid’s and Mallorca’s team doctor.

Although a major injury isn’t likely, the defender is currently undergoing tests in order to rule out anything serious.

Sun 30 November, 2008
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