Quick Report: Fulham 2-1 Hamburg

(GSM) – Fulham have dramatically advanced to the Europa League final after coming from a goal down in the second half to beat Hamburg 2-1 on the night and on aggregate.

Mladen Petric fired the visitors in front with a critical away goal in the 22nd minute when he curled in a phenomenal free kick beyond Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from 30 yards.

Hamburg seemed totally in control until just before the hour mark, when hobbled Fulham striker Bobby Zamora was replaced by Clint Dempsey.

Eleven minutes later, Fulham pulled the score level when Simon Davies scored a fine goal on two touches – the first to elude Guy Demel and the second to slot past goalkeeper Frank Rost.

Then, in the 76th minute, Fulham completed the turnaround off a corner kick when Davies effort deflected out into the path of Zoltan Gera for a calm finish.

Ruud van Nistelrooy missed a late shot in stoppage time, but Hamburg had been completely deflated by the goals.

Fulham now advance to the Europa League final which is held this season, ironically, in Hamburg.

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed

Fulham reach Europa League final

Fulham reached the Europa League final on Thursday when they defeated Hamburg 2-1 in the second leg of their semi-final at Craven Cottage.

Fulham will face either Liverpool or Atletico Madrid in the final in Hamburg on May 12.

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed

French star Cisse says will stay at Panathinaikos

French striker Djibril Cisse assured Panathinaikos fans Thursday that he would honor his contract with the current Greek champions.

“I have a four-year contract. I will remain here,” the 29-year-old, the leading scorer in the Greek Super League this season, told reporters.

Cisse’s remarks came as rumors circulated in Greece that the French international striker was interested in transferring to another team.

“The fans have not stopped showing their support for us,” said Cisse, whose 29 goals in his first season in Greece helped Panathinaikos win the double.

Last June Cisse signed a four-year contract with the Athens club in what was the most expensive transfer in the country’s soccer history.

Press reports said Cisse’s transfer from Marseille cost the Greek club a total of 20 million euros.

Cisse reportedly earns 2.5 million euros a year, plus bonuses.

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed

Are Ajax on their way back to the top?

AJAXI recently wrote an article about FC Twente boss Steve McLaren. The team who are challenging McLaren’s side for the Dutch title this season are Dutch giants Ajax.

If Twente slip up and Ajax beat NEC away from home then Ajax will claim their first Eredivisie title in six years.

Doldrums

Ajax have struggled in the Eredivisie in recent years after previously being a dominant force in the Dutch game. The Dutch league has changed immensely in recent years with the likes of FC Twente and AZ Alkmaar emerging as major players in the title race.

Twente and AZ’s emergence’s were a breath of fresh air for the league but it was also a big shock for the big three in Holland of Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord. They got complacent and have been punished for it.

History

Ajax will always be remembered as European giants. The history of the club is up there with the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan and Liverpool in European football. The club have won the European Cup four times in their history and won the competition in three consecutive seasons in the seventies.

Those glory years in the seventies were inspired by brilliant Dutch international Johan Cruyff. He was the player who inspired Total Football and is widely regarded as one of the best footballers ever. Ajax will probably never see a better player appear in their shirt but the club now need the same sort of inspiration he gave the team.

Improvement

This season has seen an improvement under former-Tottenham boss Martin Jol. The club finished 2nd in the Eredivisie last season but trailed champions AZ Alkmaar by far more points than they currently trail leaders FC Twente.

Jol is a good coach and seems to have found an ideal club. He was criticised by while at Tottenham for not helping them for fourth, yet until this season Tottenham have not looked like a club capable of challenging for such a lofty position.

Jol is now showing what a good manager he is and will probably head back to one of Europe’s top leagues if he is successful with Ajax, after previously managing Bundesliga side Hamburg. It didn’t quite work out for him at Hamburg but he should be encouraged by his stint at the Amsterdam Arena.

Youth

Ajax has a famous youth system and Jol’s team features many players from that setup, the likes of Gregory van der Wiel, Toby Alderweireld and Siem De Jong all coming through the ranks at the club. The successful side of the mid nineties was also built on youngsters from the academy and these players could form the foundation for future success.

Money

However Ajax are a victim of their own success regarding young talent. The club produce top youngsters but the minute they show any talent they are whisked away. The club cannot afford to keep their top players because of a perennial lack of resources.

The Eredivisie doesn’t attract the same television revenue as the Premier League or La Liga. This means they can’t keep hold of their top talent. Their current top talent is striker Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan striker has already hit 40 goals in all competitions and is considered one of the hottest properties in Europe. Chelsea are said to be considering a bid for the striker and Jol could lose his top player.

The Ajax manager will always have the problem of trying to build a team with his top players moving to bigger clubs in Europe. Ajax simply can’t compete with the Spanish, English and Italian sides. Even in their glory days Ajax were struggling financially and they are still struggling today.

Hope

Suarez has given the Ajax fans hope by saying that he is happy to stay in Amsterdam for the foreseeable future. The question is can the club turn down a big offer this summer? It would be a major plus for Martin Jol as he looks to restore Ajax back to their rightful place at the top of the Eredivisie if Suarez was to stay at the club.

If he can keep the core of his squad together this summer and maybe add a few players to it then maybe they could make a bigger impact on European football next season. First thing is first for Ajax though as on Sunday they could win the Eredivisie title for the 30th time. If they can then the resurgence could be in full swing.

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed

Argentinian footballers summoned over false passports

Four Argentinian footballers suspected of having used false Italian passports to play in Europe have been summoned to appear before a judge here at an as-yet-undetermined date, a legal source said.

Diego Placente, who plays for French champions Bordeaux, Zaragoza goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo, Panathinaikos midfielder Sebastian Leto and Boca Juniors defender Juan Forlin all received summons along with Forlin’s father Hugo.

They are all accused of having used false Italian passports to play in Europe without taking up a quota place for overseas players.

Federal judge Norberto Oyarbide said the summons were based on a report from the Italian consul general in Buenos Aires that the passports used were “false”.

Oyarbide had not yet fixed a date for a hearing.

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed

Gladiator meets galactico: Crowe´s a Ronaldo fan

Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe admitted he was a great fan of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo on Thursday during a visit to the Spanish club.

“I was definitely looking forward to meeting Ronaldo because obviously he is one of the best players to have ever played the game,” the Hollywood star told the club’s television station after meeting the players and receiving a Real shirt with his name emblazoned on the back.

“I always check out La Liga table to see where Barcelona and Real Madrid stand, you have a great team,” added Crowe, who gave each player a cap from his South Sydney Rabbitohs, a rugby team he owns in Australia.

“It was fun man. Obviously Real Madrid is a legendary club.”

The New Zealand-born actor had his picture taken with Ronaldo as well as with defenders Alvaro Arbeloa and Pepe, striker Raul Gonzalez and midfielder Guti.

Crowe was in the Spanish capital to promote his latest film “Robin Hood” which he produced and stars in.

Crowe, naturalized Australian, won the Academy Award for best actor in 2001 for “Gladiator,” and has also starred in such films as “A Beautiful Mind” and “Cinderella Man.”

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed

No Hart breaks for Mancini

(GSM) – Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says he respects Birmingham City’s decision not to allow Joe Hart to be recalled. City had hoped Birmingham would give Hart the green light to return to Eastlands early after Shay Given dislocated his shoulder against Arsenal last weekend.

City were granted a special permission by the Premier League to get a goalkeeper and the club was able to add Sunderland’s Marton Fulop. However, although City were reportedly disappointed that they could not get Hart back from Birmingham, Mancini has respect for Birmingham’s decision.

“It is an emergency for us,” said Mancini. “We tried to get Joe but Birmingham said no. I respect that decision.

“We had to get someone because I have no idea when Shay will be back and apart from Gunner Nielsen, we only had a 15-year-old.

“I will check the players in training and decide who plays on Saturday.”

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed

Mancini not anticipating axe if City miss top four

Roberto Mancini has made it clear he does not expect to be sacked as Manchester City boss if he fails in his quest to turn Abu Dhabi’s petrodollars into the footballing hard currency of a place in the Champions League.

Mancini was installed as City manager in December after the club’s owners lost faith in his predecessor Mark Hughes’s ability to deliver a top four finish in the Premier League.

City currently lie sixth and meetings with Aston Villa on Saturday and Tottenham four days later will determine if Mancini can succeed where Hughes was deemed to have failed.

Whatever happens, Mancini does not believe he should be regarded as a failure if results do not go City’s way.

“No, I don’t think I will have failed,” he said. “We want to finish fourth and that is what we are working for.

“But we have improved a lot in the last five months and we must improve more if we want to be a good team. I think the owners can see that.”

Mancini believes he would benefit from having a full pre-season with his players.

“When you work with a team in pre-season it is easier to do your job,” he said.

“I imagine I will still be Manchester City manager. I hope so. I have a contract. I don’t decide but I think I will be.”

Mancini has already begun identifying summer transfer targets – Hamburg’s Jerome Boateng is among them – but he denied planning to jettison some of Hughes’s signings, including Emmanuel Adebayor, Wayne Bridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

“I have had meetings with the club about players for the future but I never said there were players I did not want,” Mancini said.

Adebayor is struggling to shake off a thigh problem, while former Villa midfielder Gareth Barry is doubtful for the encounter with his former club after picking up a hamstring injury.

Mancini must also decide whether to draft Marton Fulop straight into his starting line-up following his arrival on an emergency loan from Sunderland.

Fulop was signed on Wednesday after efforts to get Joe Hart back from his loan spell at Birmingham failed.

Hart was City’s first choice to replace Shay Given, who dislocated his shoulder at Arsenal on Sunday, but the deal was blocked by the Premier League, leaving Faroe Islands international Gunner Nielsen as the Blues only fit goalkeeper.

Mancini admitted he could understand Birmingham’s position.

“It is an emergency for us,” said Mancini. “We tried to get Joe but Birmingham said no. I respect that decision.

“We had to get someone because I have no idea when Shay will be back and, apart from Gunner Nielsen, we only had a 15-year-old.

“I will check the players in training and decide who plays on Saturday.”

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed

Bayern appeal Ribery three-match ban

Bayern Munich are appealing Franck Ribery’s three-match ban which would see him miss next month’s Champions League final, UEFA confirmed on Thursday.

The Frenchman was shown a straight red card for treading on the foot of Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez in the first-leg semi-final last Wednesday, which Bayern won 1-0 in Munich.

He then missed Tuesday’s 3-0 second-leg win while serving part of the ban.

UEFA’s decision means he will miss the final in Madrid on May 22, against Italian side Inter Milan.

The appeal date has not yet been fixed.

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed

Bochum sack coach on eve of Bayern clash

Bundesliga strugglers Bochum sacked coach Heiko Herrlich on Thursday, after six months in charge, with immediate effect and just two days before their showdown with league leaders Bayern Munich.

With two games left this season, Bochum are 16th in the table and if they finish in the same position on May 8, they will face a play-off against the team third in the second division for their place in the Bundesliga.

Bochum play Bayern at Munich’s Allianz Arena, then fellow relegation contenders Hanover on May 8 and former Germany international Darius Wosz, who coaches Bochum’s junior team, will step up into a caretaker role.

Having gone ten games without a win, picking up just three points in the process, Bochum’s board have lost patience with Herrlich who was appointed last October.

Bochum have now had four coaches this season after Swiss boss Marcel Koller was sacked in September, just four games into the season, before Frank Heinemann took over as caretaker for five games to be replaced by Herrlich.

Thu 29 April, 2010
RSS Feed