Tevez could leave City

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has told striker Carlos Tevez that he can leave the club if he is not happy.

The Argentine has admitted that he is unhappy with Mancini’s coaching methods and the two have had an uneasy relationship at Eastlands.

When asked about the former Manchester United striker’s situation at Eastlands, Mancini said: “I don’t know. Tevez has four years left on his contract. But I don’t know. If he’s not happy, it would be better [for him] to change squads.

“If a top player is not happy to stay here, then it’s better for him to go to another team.”

[Source: The Guardian]

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Bolatti rules out leaving Fiorentina

Argentinian international Mario Bolatti insists he has no plans to leave Fiorentina this summer.

The 25-year-old has been linked with a return to Argentina in recent weeks after failing to make an impact at Fiorentina since joining the club in the January transfer window.

“I came to a team that was already assembled and I have a lot of competition [for places] in the team,” Bolatti told ESPN Deportes.

“The important thing is that my relationship with the coach [Cesare Prandelli] is very good. I have dialogue [with him], talking is important at times like this.”

River Plate are one of the clubs reportedly interested in signing Bolatti.

“I have not had any direct communication with them,” Bolatti continued. “I have read about River’s interest, but I’m happy here at Fiorentina. I’ve only had three months here, it’s not a lot of time.”

[Source: ESPN Deportes]

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Universidad de Chile snatch away win in Peru

(GSM) – Universidad de Chile grabbed a bit advantage in their Copa Libertadores round of 16 tie on Thursday as they beat Alianza Lima 1-0 in the first leg in Peru.

Despite pressure from the home side, the visitors from Chile held firm to keep the match scoreless at the break.

The stalemate continued into the second half as both sides’ defensive units did well to thwart the star goalscorers on both sides.

That standoff lasted until the 86th minute, when Universidad striker Diego Rivarola put one past George Forsyth in the Alianza goal to give the visitors a crucial away goal.

The second leg takes place next week in Santiago.

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Thiago Ribeiro hat-trick spurs Cruzeiro win

(GSM) – Thiago Ribeiro scored three times in the first half on Thursday night to lead Cruzeiro to a 3-1 win over Nacional of Montevideo in the first leg of a Copa Libertadores Round of 16 tie.

The striker opened the scoring on seven minutes when he broke through the Nacional defense to put a shot past Rodrigo Múñoz, and he doubled the score 15 minutes later.

It was 3-0 in the 42nd minute when Ribeiro bagged his third, leaving Nacional down in the dumps after a poor opening half.

But there was hope still for Nacional in the 51st minute when Mario Regueiro scored what could be a crucial away goal, reducing the deficit to 3-1.

That would be all the scoring, and there will still be a little doubt when the two sides meet again in a week for the second leg in Uruguay.

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Defensive Libertad hold Once Caldas in Copa Libertadores

(GSM) – The Copa Libertadores tie between Once Caldas and Libertad could still go either way after the first leg ended undecided.

Colombian side Once Caldas dominated most of the Round of Sixteen match, but failed to take advantage of the many opportunities created at Manizales’ Palogrande stadium.

The Paraguayan visitors clearly set a target of defending their goal rather than scoring themselves, and leave the attacking work for the second leg.

The return leg will be played in Paraguay’s capital city Asuncion on May 6.

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Mourinho confirms himself as one of the greats

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho

It is impossible to have no feelings about Jose Mourinho. You really do have to love him or hate him. The one feeling that it is impossible not to have about him is one of enormous respect.

Tactician

Any lingering doubts that anyone may have had about his talent as a manager and tactician must surely have been completely wiped away by Inter’s victory over Barcelona and their first trip to the Champions League final in a couple of generations.

If you add this incredible achievement to the list that is getting longer by the season, you have a record that has every chance of eclipsing anything that has gone before.

Triumph

After taking over as manager of Porto in January 2002 he led them to two Portuguese league titles, two Portuguese cup wins and a Portuguese super cup win. Remarkably, he also led them to a UEFA Cup triumph and then a Champions League victory that defied all the odds. That was six trophies in two seasons.

His success at Porto led to a move to Chelsea in the summer of 2004. In his three seasons at Chelsea he twice won the Premier League title for the club who had waited generations to do so. Add to that an FA Cup and two League Cups and you have another pretty impressive record. His failure to take them beyond the semi-finals of the Champions League was his only real blemish.

Success

After a short break after leaving Chelsea, Mourinho arrived at Inter Milan. The club had won the Serie A title twice in a row but European success was just a distant memory. In his first season he won the Serie A title again and also won the Supercoppa Italiana.

That meant that prior to this season, in just six seasons he had won five league titles in three different countries, seven domestic cup competitions and two European trophies. Fourteen major trophies in six seasons!

Level

This season was all about whether he could finally bring European success to Inter and the victory over Barcelona has done just that. Of course, he still has the little matter of over-coming Bayern Munich, but even if he doesn’t, he has taken Inter to the next level and got them back to where history shows they belong.

Not only has he turned around their European fortunes, but Inter can clinch back-to-back Serie A titles by beating Lazio on Sunday and then claim the Supercoppa Italiana next Wednesday when they take on Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

Whether you like him or not, you simply cannot question that record.

Best

Mourinho believes that his side’s win over Barcelona is his best ever achievement and with most people believing that Barcelona are one of the best club teams the world has ever seen, few could argue.

“For the players, me, the fans, it’s the greatest. I’ve won the Champions League but today was better. It’s been thirty-eight years since Inter played in the final. We were a team of heroes, we sweated blood. I thank everyone who played and who did not play. I thank all the fans, those who were here and those who remained at home. Absolutely incredible things happened. Now is our festival. I want the fans at the airport waiting for these guys.”

Perhaps you could expect the man who is rapidly becoming recognised as the best club manager in the world could one day manage Barcelona, the best team? It simply won’t happen as there is too much history between them.

“I’m not stupid enough to think that this hate can be turned into love. I respect Barca and I’ll never forget what the club gave me in the four years I was here, but something has been created around me that is hard to make positive. It is clear that I will end my career without having coached Barca.”

The next few weeks could well confirm Jose Mourinho as one of the greats of the game. He is likely to move on from Inter at the end of the season and whoever ends up with him as their manager are in for an exciting time. He talks the talk but he walks the walk as well. He is great for the game of football and he is great for whatever team he manages.

I don’t suppose he fancies a little spell at Watford..?

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Benitez wishes fab five to rescue Liverpool

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said that he may need to sign up to five new players after watching his side miss out on the Europa League final.

The five-time European champions defeated Atletico Madrid 2-1 at Anfield in Thursday’s semi-final second leg, but went out on the away goals rule after the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate after extra-time.

Benitez admitted that his squad needed strengthening after a fourth successive season without a trophy.

“The season has not been good enough. It’s clear that we have had some problems,” said the deflated Liverpool manager.

“We have two games left and we have to try and do well in those games.

“We have had too many problems, too many injuries. How extensive in the summer? Maybe we need three, four or five players.”

Benitez, who has been linked with Juventus, again dodged questions about his Anfield future.

Fast approaching his sixth anniversary since taking over the Merseyside club, the Spaniard added: “Am I planning for the future? The future is Chelsea on Sunday. After that it is Hull on the final day of the season.

“I don’t know what will happen in the summer.”

Benitez refused to offer excuses after sloppy defending allowed former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan, who scored the only goal in the first leg, to strike the killer blow in extra-time.

Yossi Benayoun’s goal in the early stages of extra-time looked to have booked Liverpool a ticket to the Hamburg final on May 12 after Alberto Aquilani had broken the deadlock at the end of the first half.

“We were on top for a long time,” added Benitez.

“We knew we had to keep working even after Benayoun had scored. The players were really tired in the end because they had been working so hard.”

Benitez denied suggestions that another trophy-less season would make it harder for the club to attract world-class players especially with the Anfield giants destined to miss out on the Champions League qualifying places.

“Liverpool is a massive club,” added Benitez, whose side have less than 72 hours to regroup before they entertain title hopefuls Chelsea. “We will try and do our best.”

Forlan hailed Atletico’s work ethic after Quique Sanchez Flores’s side, marooned in mid-table in La Liga, booked a Europa Final showdown with Fulham.

“We have a fantastic spirit,” said the Uruguay international. “We kept going to the end even after Liverpool scored their second.”

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Quick report: Liverpool 2-1 Atletico Madrid

(GSM) – Atletico Madrid are through to the final of the UEFA Europa League despite losing 2-1 at Liverpool. Diego Forlan’s extra time goal handed the Spaniards an away goal advantage.

Liverpool took the lead just before half time with Alberto Aquilani directing the ball past keeper David de Gea after a cross from Yossi Benayoun.

With the aggregate score level, extra time was needed at Anfield with Liverpool doubling their lead after five minutes as Benayoun turned in a right-winged cross from Lucas.

But the home crowd was silenced seven minutes later as poor marking allowed Jose Antonio Reyes to find Diego Forlan in the area, and the Uruguayan blasted it home for 2-1.

Atletico now had the away goal advantage, forcing Liverpool to score another in the remainder of extra time.

But the English could not create much danger near De Gea after Forlan’s goal, which as it turned out was enough to lead his team to the Europa League final against Fulham.

Thu 29 April, 2010
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Helsingborg, Malmö win in Sweden

(GSM) – Helsingborg kept their comfortable lead in the Swedish league following a 1-0 win over AIK on Thursday.

Defending champions AIK are experiencing a horrible season start and are actually in the relegation zone after nine game rounds.

At leaders Helsingborg, Mattias Lindström scored the only goal of the match for the home side in the 37th minute.

Second-placed Malmö remained at five points from the top, beating IFK Göteborg 0-2. Daniel Larsson and Guillermo Molins provided the goals. Malmö did have Ricardinho sent off with a second booking in the 81st minute.

Thu 29 April, 2010
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Fulham clinch dramatic Europa League final spot

Fulham completed their fairytale run to the Europa League final as the unfashionable English club defeated Hamburg 2-1 in the semi-final second leg on Thursday.

Roy Hodgson’s side looked on the verge of elimination when they trailed to Mladen Petric’s first half free-kick with just 21 minutes left at Craven Cottage.

But two goals in seven minutes from Simon Davies and Zoltan Gera sealed a dramatic 2-1 aggregate triumph and a place in the final against either Liverpool or Atletico Madrid at Hamburg’s own Nordbank Arena on May 12.

Hodgson’s team began their European adventure against Lithuania’s FK Vetra way back in July and had already exceeded all expectations in a magical run that included famous victories over holders Shakhtar Donetsk, Italian giants Juventus and German champions Wolfsburg.

The Cottagers had even survived the draining effects of their enforced 18-hour bus journey to Germany in the first leg in Hamburg last week.

Fulham have never won a major honour at home or abroad, but they will play in a first European final after the most significant result in the club’s 131-year history.

With so much at stake, 19-goal leading scorer Bobby Zamora agreed to have a painkilling injection so he could start after missing Sunday’s defeat at Everton with an Achilles injury.

Zamora had a chance to impress watching England coach Fabio Capello, but the former Tottenham forward never looked fit and was unable to convert a golden opportunity in the second minute.

Gera’s flick sent Zamora through on goal yet, with just Frank Rost to beat, he shot straight at the Hamburg goalkeeper before his effort from the rebound was scrambled away for a corner.

It proved a costly miss as Ricardo Moniz’s side gradually took control before going ahead in the 22nd minute.

After Ze Roberto was fouled by Danny Murphy 35 yards from goal, Croatia forward Petric stepped up and unleashed a ferocious free-kick that caught Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer slightly flat-footed at it sped past him.

Now Fulham needed to score twice as a draw would eliminate them on away goals.

Hodgson’s side had recovered from a worse position to go through against Juventus, but the Germans, who had sacked boss Bruno Labbadia earlier in the week, were pushing for a killer second goal and Jonathan Pitropia was narrowly off-target with a powerful drive just before half-time.

Zamora began limping heavily as the match wore on and it was no surprise when he was replaced by American forward Clint Dempsey in the 57th minute.

Dempsey added more verve to the previously subdued Fulham forward line and Damien Duff went close with a first-time shot from Paul Konchesky’s low free-kick.

Fulham were leaving more gaps at the back as they searched for an equaliser and David Jarolim forced Schwarzer to tip over after a quick Hamburg counter-attack.

There was no sign of Fulham throwing in the towel though and Davies brought the hosts right back into the tie 69th minute.

Murphy chipped a defence-splitting pass to Davies and the Welsh midfielder showed great skill to turn Guy Demel before firing past Rost.

Suddenly, Fulham could sense another remarkable European victory and they piled forward.

Their pressure was rewarded in the 76th minute when Davies’s corner ran through to Hungary forward Gera, who kept his composure to control and shoot past Rost as the Craven Cottage faithful went wild.

Thu 29 April, 2010
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