Raul Meireles signs new deal with Porto

Raul Meireles and FC Porto have reached a new agreement. The player will now remain at the club until the end of the 2012-13 season.

The 26-year-old joined Porto from Boavista in 2004 and worked himself up to form a key part of the team. This season, the player appeared in all of the club’s Champions League games.

The midfielder’s contract was initially set to expire in 2012.

Porto aim to reach new deals with several other players ahead of next season, including Argentinian forward Lisandro Lopez.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Robben fit for Spanish ‘Clasico’

Arjen Robben appears to be fit in time to participate in Real Madrid’s league match with leaders FC Barcelona this Saturday.

The Dutchman suffered a calf injury against Getafe two weeks ago and missed last week’s game with Sevilla.

The player did wear a bandage in training this Thursday, but completed the session without problems. As such, team doctors conclude that Robben is indeed fit in time to face Madrid’s arch rivals.

The gap between the two sides in the Primera Division stands at five points, and the ‘Clasico’ could either mean a big step toward the championship for Barcelona or new chances for Real Madrid.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Mexican teams to play Libertadores games in Colombia

San Luis and Chivas Guadalajara, the two remaining Mexican teams in the Copa Libertadores, will have to play their next home game in Colombia because of the swine flu outbreak.

Several clubs, namely Uruguayan sides Nacional and Defensor Sporting had expressed their concerns, refusing to travel to Mexico should they be drawn with a team of that country.

As a result, continental confederation CONMEBOL decided to relocate the second-round matches involving San Luis and Chivas. Both sides will now play their home games at Bogota’s El Campin stadium, on the same day.

The virus has left a serious mark on football in Mexico. Several tournaments were cancelled and leagues games are to be played behind closed doors this weekend.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Ivankovic takes over at FYR Macedonia

Croatian Branko Ivankovic is the new manager of the FYR Macedonia national team, replacing Katanec who left the job last month.

Ivankovic began his managing career in 1991 and has since coached clubs as NK Varteks, Hannover 96 and NK Dinamo Zagreb. At the international level, the manager led Iran from 2003 to 2006.

At FYROM, Ivankovic faces the tough task of giving the side new motivation and hope for a World Cup berth.

The Macedonians are currently in fourth place in Group 9 of the European World Cup qualifiers, at four points from second-placed Scotland. FYROM do have a game in hand.

Ivankovic should make his debut in a home match with Norway on June 6th.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Darren Bent out for two weeks

Tottenham Hotspur are without Darren Bent for at least two weeks. The striker suffered a medial ligament injury in last weekend’s defeat to Manchester United.

Bent did finish the match but later tests pointed out how severe the injury is. As a result, the player will miss Spurs’ games with West Bromwich Albion, Everton and possible the match with Manchester City. The Londoners finish their season away to Liverpool.

The 25-year-old forms a key part of Tottenham’s squad this season, having scored twelve goals in 32 games.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Trochowski strike puts Hamburg in driving seat

Germany winger Piotr Trochowski drew first blood for Hamburg in the first-leg of the all-German UEFA Cup semi-final as his winning goal sealed a 1-0 win at Bundesliga rivals Werder Bremen on Thursday.

This was the second of four derbies between the north Germany neighbours who have met each other in the German Cup last week, play twice in consecutive weeks in the UEFA Cup before meeting again in the Bundesliga on May 10.

It was sweet revenge for visitors Hamburg after their German Cup semi-final heart-break the previous week at the hands of Bremen.

Goalkeeper Tim Wiese had been Werder’s hero the week before when his three consecutive saves in the penalty shoot-out at Hamburg knocked the hosts out of the German Cup and put his side in the final on May 30.

Not since 1989 have two German teams reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and this was this first time in 26 years Hamburg have reached a Euro semi-final since they beat Juventus 1-0 to win the 1983 European Cup.

Hamburg went ahead here when midfielder Guy Demel crossed the ball in from the right and Trochowski headed home from close-range giving Wiese no chance on 28 minutes.

It was 1-0 to the guests at half-time and Hamburg’s Bayern Munich-bound striker Ivica Olic had the chance to put his side further ahead when he broke into acres of space just after the hour mark, but fired straight at Wiese.

Moments later Peru striker Jose Paolo Guerrero earned himself a yellow card and will be suspended from the return leg at Hamburg’s HSH Nordbank Arena next Thursday.

With time running out, Werder raised the tempo to try and earn an all-important away goal, but Hamburg goalkeeper Frank Rost was not to be beaten.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Quick Report: Werder Bremen 0-1 Hamburger SV

Hamburger SV are a big step closer to the final of the 2009 UEFA Cup, beating Werder Bremen 0-1 in the opening leg of the semi finals.

The only goal of the match came after 28 minutes. Polish-born Piotr Trochowski stood at the far post to head home from a Guy Demel cross. Keeper Tim Wiese got his fingers to it but the header was too powerful to be parried.

In the second half, Bremen applied more pressure on their opponent in the hunt for an equaliser. However, Martin Jol’s men held on to their narrow but possibly vital lead.

Based on the performance in the second half, Bremen were the slightly better side in this game and will be highly disappointed with the defeat.

The second leg will be played in Hamburg on May 7th.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Fernandinho saves Shakhtar in all-Ukraine showdown

Shakhtar Donetsk will take a slight advantage into the second leg of their UEFA Cup semi-final against fellow Ukrainians Dynamo Kiev after drawing 1-1 against them here in the first leg on Thursday.

Fernandinho equalised team-mate Dmytro Chygrynskiy’s first-half own goal to make Shakhtar favourites to become the first Ukrainian side to qualify for a major European final since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Shakhtar are the reigning Ukrainian champions but Dynamo lead the current domestic standings by 12 points from their rivals and it was the home side who drew first blood when Chygrynskiy deflected Oleksandr Aliyev’s driven free-kick into his own net in the 22nd minute.

Neither side had shown much attacking endeavour in a muted opening and the visitors didn’t threaten until Brazilian winger Fernandinho tested Dynamo goalkeeper Stanyslav Bohush with a low shot on the half-hour mark.

Bohush then raced from his line to deny Luiz Adriano as Shakhtar grew bolder, but in first-half injury time Dynamo almost increased their lead when Correa’s deflected strike brushed the right-hand upright.

Artem Milevskiy glanced a header wide from another Aliyev set-piece in the early stages of the second period before defender Ognjen Vukojevic diverted an Aliyev long-ranger inches wide shortly afterwards.

Dynamo were firmly in the ascendancy, but in the 68th minute three of Shakhtar’s Brazilian contingent combined to craft a priceless equaliser.

Jadson sprang the offside trap with a pass to substitute Willian on the right and his low cross was slid home by Fernandinho, putting Shakhtar firmly in the driving seat prior to the second leg on May 7.

The winners of the tie will play either Werder Bremen or Hamburg, who face off in the first leg of their all-German semi-final later on Thursday evening.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Appeal court reverses Juve fan ban

The Italian Olympic Committee’s (Coni) appeal court on Thursday overturned a sanction imposed against Juventus after a section of their fans racially abused Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli.

The Italian Football League had ordered Juve to play their next home league match, against Lecce on Sunday, behind closed doors as punishment for their failure to react to the racist chanting during the 1-1 draw earlier this month.

Juventus appealed and after Italy’s Federal Court of Justice upheld the ban, they took it to the High Court, claiming that the sanction was too harsh.

Balotelli, 18, whose parents are Ghanaian but who was raised in Italy, was abused by some home fans after they became irritated with his on-field behaviour.

Juve may yet have to play a game behind closed doors as the High Court will review the case on May 15 before making a final decision.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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I´m not apologising, says Mourinho

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho on Thursday refused to apologise for comments he made earlier this season claiming none of his team’s Serie A rivals would win any trophies.

Mourinho angered the likes of AC Milan and Juventus after his team were knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United when he said Inter would definitely win the scudetto while the others would finish the season empty-handed.

However, Milan’s recent resurgence has made Inter’s hold on this season’s championship look a little less concrete, even if they do still enjoy a commanding seven point lead with five games remaining.

“If I’m proved wrong and Milan end the season with the title, I’ll ask for forgiveness,” said Mourinho in response to claims from Milan’s Massimo Ambrosini earlier in the day that the Portuguese should apologise for what he said.

He also hit back at Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani’s claim that the title race would be closer if Adriano’s handball in scoring Inter’s winning goal against Milan in February had been disallowed.

“They say that without Adriano’s goal… well without many things the championship could have been very different,” added Mourinho.

“Coaches make mistakes just as do players and referees. And then there’s the injuries.

“You have to talk about everything not just what suits you. That derby could have finished three or four nil if Milan had finished the game with 10 men (Mourinho believed they should have had a player dismissed).

“They have to say that they won the first derby (1-0) in September due to a goal that was offside.

“They’ve had a penalty in practically every match they’ve played. If I speak, I’ll have to speak about many things and it’s not worth it.

“At the end of the season the best team always wins even if it’s a normal championship with human errors. There’s only a little while longer to wait, we’re not lacking very much.”

Thu 30 April, 2009
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