Campeonato Paulista wrap: Sao Paulo denied, Mirassol snare league lead

Sao Paulo were denied victory by a late Palmeiras goal in their 1-1 draw in the Campeonato Paulista on Sunday.

The hosts at Estadio Cicero Pompeu de Toldedo took the lead when Fernandinho found the back of the net in the 25th minute, but allowed Palmeiras back into the contest when Alex Silva was shown a red card just prior to the hour mark.

The visitors capitalised on their numerical advantage when Adriano netted the equaliser in the 84th minute, ensuring Palmeiras maintained their two-point buffer on Sao Paulo in third place.

Ituano FC snapped a run of three losses with a 3-1 triumph over Botafogo at the Estadio Romildo Vitor Gomes Ferreira.

Eder Sciola’s penalty kick was followed by a Jonata Escobar goal inside the first 30 minutes, before Jefferson’s 69th minute strike ensured the hosts of victory.

Mirassol claimed top spot on the table with a 2-0 win over Paulista at Estadio Dr Jayme Pinheiro de Ulhoa Cintra.

Noroeste and Sao Caetano played out a 0-0 draw, while Portuguesa’s home clash with Bragantino also ended scoreless.

Mon 28 February, 2011
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Liga Sagres wrap: Last-gasp win for Benfica, Lisbon stunned

Benfica were forced to come from behind to beat Maritimo 2-1 to reduce their gap to leaders Porto to eight points on Sunday.

The league’s 13th-placed side stunned the title contenders when Angolan striker Djalma scored in the 76th minute, which threatened to all but end Benfica’s hopes of a championship defence.

But Eduardo Salvio equalised for Benfica, before a 90th minute winner to Fabio Coentrao completed the quick turnaround for the hosts.

Strugglers Portimonense racked up just their third win of the league season when they beat Beira-Mar 1-0 away at the Estadio Municipal de Aveiro.

Ricardo Pessoa’s 64th minute penalty was enough to see the visitors snare the three points.

Joao Tomas went from hero to villain in Rio Ave’s 1-0 win over Uniao de Leiria at Estadio do Rio Ave Futebol Clube.

Tomas scored the game’s only goal in the 10th minute, but was sent off in the dying stages of the match.

Nacional upset third-placed Sporting Lisbon 1-0, denying them with just ten men for the final half-hour.

Mateus scored the winner in the 20th minute, before Joao Aurelio was given his marching orders in the 63rd minute.

Mon 28 February, 2011
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La Liga wrap: Villarreal held, Levante ease relegation worry

Racing Santander held fourth-placed Villarreal to their fourth league match without a win following their 2-2 La Liga draw on Sunday.

But Racing were unlucky not to take all three points having led for the majority of the match before Nilmar pegged back the hosts at Campos de Sport de El Sardinero with a 90th minute equaliser.

Racing led after just three minutes when Ariel Nahuelpan scored from a Pinillos assist, but Marco Ruben found an equaliser for Villarreal in the 66th minute.

Not to be denied, the hosts found what seemed to be the winner two minutes later when Giovani dos Santos scored, before Brazilian Nilmar stole a point for Villarreal.

Levante skipped clear of relegation danger with a 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Osasuna at Estadio Cuidad de Valencia.

Osasuna’s Walter Pandiani opened the scoring in the 41st minute, but Levante produced a quick reply through Ballesteros.

Felipe Caicedo scored the eventual winner in the 50th minute for the home side, moving them three points clear of the drop zone.

In other results, Hercules and Getafe played out a 0-0 draw, while third-placed Valencia came from behind to stun Athletic Bilbao at Estadio San Mames 2-1.

Mon 28 February, 2011
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Ligue 1 wrap: Lille regain top spot, PSG stay in touch

Lille climbed back to the top of Ligue 1 despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Lyon on Sunday.

Rudi Garcia’s side were shuffled back into second spot courtesy of Rennes’ 2-0 win over Lens on Saturday, but were on track to hit back and reclaim the league lead when Moussa Sow scored in the ninth minute at the Stadium Nord Lille Metropole.

But Swede Kim Kallstrom pegged back the home side with a 28th minute goal, earning fifth-placed Lyon a point.

The result sees Lille regain top spot from Rennes by account of goal difference.

Paris Saint-Germain moved into fourth on the table with a 2-1 win over Toulouse.

The home side at Parc des Princes were cruising after Sylvain Armand and Mathieu Bodmer scored in the first half, and the momentum was well and truly with the Parisians after Paulo Machado had missed an earlier penalty for Toulouse.

Franck Tabanou pulled a goal back for the 11th-placed Toulouse, but it did not save them from a third straight defeat.

Andre Ayew was the hero as Marseille came from behind to win 2-1 away to Nancy.

Ayew had earlier cancelled out Julien Feret’s opener at the Stade Marcel Picot, before netting an 87th minute winner that ensured his side maintain third place on the table.

Sun 27 February, 2011
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Belgian First Division: Sint-Truiden 0 Cercle Brugge 3

Cercle Brugge thrashed Sint-Truiden 3-0 to consolidate eighth spot in the Belgian First Division on Sunday.

The visitors at Stayen took the lead in the 39th minute when Tony Sergeant found the back of the net, before a brace in three second-half minutes from Reynaldo ensured Brugge of a runaway victory.

The victors moved to 39 points on the table, four behind sixth-placed Lokeren, who hold a European spot.

Sint-Truiden remain just two points outside the relegation zone in 13th place.

Sun 27 February, 2011
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Title hopes fading, says Mancini

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini voiced his frustrations after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Fulham effectively ended his side’s title hopes.

Mario Balotelli gave City the lead in the 26th minute before Damian Duff secured a deserved point for the Cottagers with an equaliser just after the interval.

City are now 10 points behind arch rivals and Premier League leaders Manchester United, and when asked if Sunday’s result put his side out of title contention, Mancini told Sky Sports: “Now for us it is difficult in this moment I think.”

Speaking of the stalemate against Mark Hughes’ side, the Italian manager said: “The performance was so, so. I think that we didn’t play well but in the first half we scored one goal.”

“It is normal but when you score one goal, you finish the first half one-nil and you should start better the second half but it is possible that when you play every day – and at this moment we have a lot of players injured – we have some problems.”

The final whistle was followed by some drama between the two managers, as Mancini failed to lean into his handshake or make eye contact with Hughes, which caught the ire of the Fulham boss.

Mancini, despite seemingly being the protagonist, said it was not the first time he met with an angry Hughes.

“Always I think, I don’t know. He seemed (angry in) the first game in London but I don’t know,” Mancini said.

Hughes said he was disappointed with Mancini’s behaviour.

“Well I was a little bit disappointed at the end,” he said.

“Listen, I was disappointed with the performance of my team when we last played Man City, we lost 4-1, but I acknowledged that Man City on the day were the better team and I acknowledged that with my handshake and I just felt maybe Man City’s manager just didn’t really offer his hand with any sincerity so that’s why I reacted a little bit. So I apologise if I upset anybody.”

Sun 27 February, 2011
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Carling Cup final: Arsenal 1 Birmingham 2

Arsenal’s six-year wait to win a trophy continues after Birmingham City’s Obafemi Martins scored an 89th minute winner at Wembley on Sunday.

Martins late clincher came from a defensive blunder between Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and centre-half Laurent Koscielny.

The match was billed as the moment when Arsenal would finally be able to celebrate for the first time since lifting the FA Cup in 2005.

But instead underdogs Birmingham clinched a dramatic victory to win the club’s first trophy since 1963 and deny Arsene Wenger’s side yet again.

Former Newcastle striker Martins sent Birmingham fans home delirious with his late winner. He celebrated with a series of somersaults.

Arsenal, without injured captain Cesc Fabregas and winger Theo Walcott, dominated much of the second half and created a string of chances – with Birmingham keeper Ben Foster named man of the match.

But Birmingham can say they deserved to lift the trophy after a battling display.

Nikola Zigic headed them in front on 28 minutes before Robin van Persie equalised with a fine volley, set by Andriy Arshavin, following a superb Arsenal breakway move

Arsenal then forced Foster into some fine saves, notably from Samir Nasri, but Fahey also hit the post for Birmingham.

All Arsenal’s work was undone when Szczesny spilled Zigic’s knockdown after Koscielny’s mis-kick and Martins had a simple task to tap the ball home with a minute left.

Sun 27 February, 2011
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Bundesliga wrap: Draw costly for Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen missed a chance to cut Borussia Dortmund’s lead in the Bundesliga to 10 points after they were held to a 2-2 draw at Werder Bremen.

Leverkusen were sitting pretty in Sunday’s game, with goals from Eren Derdiyok and Simon Rolfes handing them a 2-0 lead.

But an own goal from Stefan Kiessling with eight minutes left brought Bremen back into the contest and an injury time equaliser from Sebastian Prodl claimed a point for the hosts.

The result means Dortmund, who defeated Bayern Munich 3-1 on Saturday, lead the Bundesliga by 12 points from Leverkusen with 10 games still to play.

In Sunday’s other game, Stuttgart registered a much-needed victory with a 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at Commerzbank Arena.

It was a remarkable win for Stuttgart, who had to play with 10 men for 75 minutes after their captain Mathieu Delpierre was given a straight red card for elbowing Frankfurt defender Maik Franz.

But second half goals from Martin Harnik and Ralf Fahrmann were enough to give Stuttgart all three points, although they remain in the relegation zone and are three points from safety.

Sun 27 February, 2011
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Scottish Premier League wrap: Sutton shocks Celtic

A brace from striker John Sutton lifted Motherwell to a shock 2-0 Scottish Premier League win over Celtic on Sunday.

The result ended a 17-match unbeaten streak for Celtic, and with second-placed Rangers prevailing 4-0 at home against St Johnstone, they saw their lead at the top of the league cut to five points.

Sutton handed Motherwell the lead in the third minute when he capitalised on a blunder by Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew, who tried to shepherd the ball through to goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

But Sutton nipped in ahead of Forster, rounding the ‘keeper before slotting home a cool finish.

Sutton doubled Motherwell’s lead from the penalty spot four minutes after the interval after Emilio Izaguirre was ruled to have fouled Keith Lasley inside the box.

Celtic poured on the pressure in a bid to salvage something from the game, but on the rare occasions they did carve out clear chances Motherwell goalkeeper Darren Randolph was able to deny the Glasgow side.

In Sunday’s other game, Rangers enjoyed a 4-0 win at Ibrox over St Johnstone, thanks to a double from Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic.

Jelavic opened the scoring after just two minutes when he drilled a shot past Peter Enckelman in the St Johnstone goal, and Kyle Lafferty made it 2-0 just before half-time when he rose well to head home.

Defender Sasa Papac was on the end of a lovely back heel from Jelavic before slotting a neat shot past Enckelman, and Jelavic scored his second in injury time to wrap up a convincing win for the champions.

Rangers’ win moves them within five points of Celtic, and they have two games in hand over their fierce rivals.

Sun 27 February, 2011
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Grant praises Hammers – and Parker

West Ham boss Avram Grant has hailed his side’s 3-1 win over Liverpool at Upton Park on Sunday as one of the best of their season.

Goals from Scott Parker, Demba Ba and Carlton Cole powered West Ham to the crucial victory and, although they are still in the relegation zone on goal difference, the display could prove to be a big moment in their survival fight.

Grant was delighted with the result, and reserved special praise for Parker who he revealed had battled a shoulder complaint in the lead-up to the game.

“We’ve had good performances before but today we were more consistent,” Grant said. “It’s one of the best.”

“Scott was very close to not playing. He is a special guy – he showed great spirit for us. He damaged his shoulder in training but we didn’t want to lose him.”

“Scotty is the best example of team spirit – he couldn’t even walk after training but he wanted to play. He needed an injection but it was his choice to play.”

“It doesn’t matter how much you earn or what your girlfriend is like – he is old fashioned. It’s a game of passion and although I’ve known him less than a year, I like him very much.”

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish saw his side suffer their first loss since going down 2-1 at Blackpool on January 12, and the Scot said he had few complaints about Sunday’s defeat.

“The players have done fantastic up until here and I suppose there was always going to be some time when we lost a game,” Dalglish said.

“I am disappointed with the result, we started comfortably at the start but when they got the goal it gave them something to believe in.”

“They are fighting for survival so it doesn’t surprise us. They got lot of belief from their goal.”

“It’s not just losing, it’s the way we played as well. We deserved to lose.”

Sun 27 February, 2011
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