Coupe de la Ligue wrap: Nice score rare win

Nice picked up their first victory of the season against a badly depleted Toulouse side to move into the last 16 of the Coupe de la Ligue.

Nice had to do things the hard way away from home, coming from a goal down to win 2-1 at the Stadium Municipal in Toulouse.

The home side started the game much the stronger of the two outfits and deservedly moved into the lead when debutant Jean-David Beauguel forced the ball home.

Somewhat against the run of play, Renato Civelli headed the equaliser after he was left unmarked from a free kick, and early in the second period, a stunning volley from Anthony Mounier settled the game in Nice’s favour.

After reaching the final of the Coupe de la Ligue last season, Montpellier came within a whisker of an early elimination this season against Ligue 2 new boys Amiens.

They needed a penalty shootout to overcome the second tier side having already fought back from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw in regular time.

Playing at home, Montpellier missed their first two penalties of the shoot-out, yet from the brink of success, Amiens contrived to fail with three successive kicks, allowing the hosts to claim a remarkable success.

A thrilling encounter saw Saint-Etienne eliminate Bordeaux 3-1 at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

Benoit Tremoulinas atoned for his early own goal by scoring for Bordeax in the 10th minute to make it 1-1, but further goals from Bakary Sako and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed it for Sait-Etienne.

Elsewhere, Ligue 2 outfit Le Mans claimed a 1-0 win over top-flight Ajaccio, Caen edged Brest 3-2 thanks to a late goal from Kandia Traore, Dijon won by a similar score line over Valenciennes and Sedan beat Nantes 2-0.

Wed 31 August, 2011
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Santon grateful for Mourinho support

Newcastle United signing Davide Santon has thanked former Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho for his guidance during his spell at the club.

The 20-year-old joined the St James’ Park outfit from Inter on Tuesday on a five-year-deal, having fallen out of favour at San Siro.

The full-back had only positive things to say about current Real Madrid manager Mourinho and said he was impressed by new boss Alan Pardew.

He told the Evening Chronicle: “I must say a big thank you to Mr Jose Mourinho. He has been really important for me.”

“He has taught me to give 100 per cent out on the pitch and other important things. He has been really important to my career. I can only thank him.”

“Alan Pardew has been fantastic with me. I was really impressed with him when I met him for the first time.”

“I really like him because he wants to speak to players as men. Now I want to show him exactly what I can do on the pitch. It is a big desire for me to do well at this club.”

The Italian defender, who has seven caps for his country, came through the ranks at Inter but a lack of first-team football meant he was open to a move.

“When Newcastle asked me to move here I said ‘yes’ straight away. The proposal of Newcastle and the timing was perfect,” he added.

“I have signed for five years for that very reason – I want to grow up with this team. The team can grow together and win things and I hope we can do that often.”

“We need time and I know that. I am happy to be here and I hope to win a trophy.”

Wed 31 August, 2011
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Transfer wrap: Forlan completes Inter switch, Diego to Atletico

Copa America winner Diego Forlan has finalised his five-million-euro deal to Serie A giants Inter Milan.

Uruguay stiker Forlan, 32, heads to the San Siro on a two-year deal from La Liga club Atletico Madrid, with whom he won the Europa League in 2010.

Inter strengthened their attacking options further on Wednesday with the capture of Argentine striker Mauro Zarate on a season-long loan from Serie A rivals Lazio.

The 24-year-old departs Rome after the arrivals of Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cisse reduced his chances of making Edy Reja’s first team.

Atletico have somewhat compensated for the loss of Forlan by sealing a loan deal for Wolfsburg midfielder Diego.

The Brazilian playmaker has agreed to a season-long switch to the Spanish capital just one year after arriving at Wolfsburg from Juventus.

Diego, who cost the Bundesliga club 15.5 million euros, endured a frustrating campaign at the Volkswagen Arena and became surplus to requirements at the club after a spat with coach Felix Magath.

“I am convinced that Diego will play a prominent role at Atletico. I wish him well,” Magath told Wolfsburg’s website.

Magath has brought in Belarus midfielder Alexander Hleb as Diego’s replacement, after striking a loan deal with La Liga and European champions Barcelona.

The 30-year-old former Arsenal player, under contract with Barcelona until 2012, has spent loan spells at Stuttgart and Birmingham over the last two seasons.

Wed 31 August, 2011
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Whose going where on transfer deadline day? Part two

I reviewed some of the possible deals of transfer deadline day earlier today. As always there have been some interesting deals already concluded.

Here are just some of the deals completed on deadline day:

Scott Parker (West Ham to Tottenham)

England international midfielder Scott Parker has completed his move to Tottenham for a fee in the region of £5million. The 30 year-old is away on international duty with the Three Lions but the deal has now been concluded.

Andre Santos (Fenerbahce to Arsenal)

The Brazilian international full-back has joined the Gunners for a fee in the region of £6.2million. The 28 year-old has won 22 caps at international level. He is a very experienced player, having played in the Champions League for the Turkish champions.

Joe Cole (Liverpool to Lille)

The former-England international midfielder has decided to move to the French champions, despite late interest from Premier League side Aston Villa. Cole had fallen out of favour at Anfield and had been frozen out at Anfield.

Zdenek Grygera (Juventus to Fulham)

The Cottagers have completed the signing of the experienced defender on a free transfer, after his Italian club agreed to cancel his contract. The 31 year-old has Champions League experience and has made 52 appearances for the Czech Republic international side.

David Bentley (Tottenham to West Ham)

The right winger will drop down a division to play for the Hammers after falling out of favour at Tottenham. When he moved to Spurs from Blackburn he was highly rated and in and around the England setup.

The winger will be hoping to reignite his career at Upton Park. Bentley has joined Sam Allardyce’s team on a season-long loan deal.

Henri Lansbury (Arsenal to West Ham)

The Arsenal youngster also arrives on a season-long loan deal. The 20 year-old arrives at the Boleyn Ground, despite the Gunners being short on midfield numbers. The England under-21 international spent last season out on-loan at Norwich and will gain valuable first team experience with the Hammers.

Mauro Zarate (Lazio to Inter)

An interesting transfer from Italy sees Inter signing Lazio striker Mauro Zarate on a season-long loan deal, with a view to a permanent transfer in the summer. The Argentinian has a reputation for being brilliant, yet inconsistent. If he can find consistency then he could be a superb signing for the Nerazzurri.

Shaun Maloney (Celtic to Wigan)

The 28 year-old winger has joined Wigan for a fee believed to be £1million. The Scottish international is very versatile and has previously spent time in the Premier League with Aston Villa. He will be hoping his second spell in English football is more successful than his first spell.

Owen Hargreaves (Unattached to Manchester City)

The former-Manchester United midfielder has joined City on a free transfer. The 30 year-old has endured a nightmare four years through injury and famously released a video on YouTube to prove his fitness this summer.

Diego (Wolfsburg to Atletico Madrid)

The Brazilian midfield playmaker Diego has joined the Spaniards on a season-long loan deal. The 26 year-old is highly rated but he is also highly temperamental. He moved to Juventus for big money but failed to make an impact in Turin. A move to the Bundesliga and Wolfsburg has failed to reignite his career.

Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid to Inter)

Inter Milan have signed the former-Manchester United striker for a fee believed to be in the region of £5million. The 32 year-old has been prolific in the Spanish La Liga but has fallen out of favour with the Atletico fans.

Expected

More deals are expected to be completely in the next few hours. Here are the biggest ones:

Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios (Tottenham to Stoke)

The pair are expected to join the Potters for a combined fee of £20million. Crouch is currently at Stoke’s training ground having a medical. When that is completed the double is expected to go through.

Craig Bellamy (Manchester City to Liverpool)

The temperamental striker was believed to be heading to QPR, according to reports this morning but in a late twist he is currently on Merseyside having a medical ahead of a season-long loan move to Liverpool.

Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City to QPR)

The former-England winger is at QPR to attempt to complete a move to Loftus Road. The 29 year-old is having a medical at the club and is expected to sign a three year deal. Wright-Phillips was also wanted by Bolton and Wigan.

Surprises

With a few hours left before the transfer window shuts there is still time for a few surprise moves to happen. Stay tuned to Soccernews, as our writers keep you up to date with all the transfers.

Who is the best signing of the transfer window?

Wed 31 August, 2011
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Euro 2012 qualifying preview: Germany v Austria

Germany could become the first team to qualify for the Euro 2012 finals if they beat neighbours Austria on Friday.

Joachim Loew’s side are unbeaten so far in group A, with seven wins from as many matches, and would seal their spot in next year’s competition with victory in Gelsenkirchen.

Mario Gomez will be missing for the tie though, after the striker injured his thigh scoring a hat-trick for Bayern Munich in their 3-0 win over Kaiserslautern on Saturday.

Barring a shock, Germany should have little trouble in booking their place for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

The three-time European champions are 10 points clear of second-placed Belgium, and only Turkey, who have a game in hand over the top two sides, could overtake them in the standings.

Loew’s men will be hoping to avoid a repeat of their qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 when they won just one of their last four matches and were forced into the play-offs.

Austria, meanwhile, must beat Germany if they are to have any hope of reaching the finals.

But history is not in their favour, with Germany having won the last eight encounters between the two sides, including a 2-1 victory in their last qualifying game in Vienna on June 3.

Wed 31 August, 2011
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Wales focus for Ramsey, Bale

Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale will look to put dismal club performances behind them when they line up for Wales against Montenegro on Friday.

Wales captain Ramsey could do nothing to prevent his Arsenal team from being demolished 8-2 at Old Trafford by Manchester United on Sunday, while Bale was similarly helpless as his Spurs outfit were humbled 5-1 at home by Manchester City.

And although Wales are out of the running for Euro 2012 qualification, languishing at the bottom of Group G without a point, both men will be keen to make a statement against Montenegro in Cardiff.

Wales manager Gary Speed has just one win from his five competitive games in charge – a 2-0 Nations Cup victory over Northern Ireland in May – but he does have a full squad to choose from, with stars such as Ramsey, Bale and Craig Bellamy all available.

Bellamy, however, was not available to train on Wednesday, as he left the camp to talk terms over a move to Liverpool.

Montenegro will be a tough proposition for Wales, as they sit level on points with England at the top of Group G and are looking to qualify for their first major tournament as an independent nation.

Wed 31 August, 2011
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Hart not underestimating Bulgaria

England goalkeeper Joe Hart expects a stern for his country when they travel to Sofia to face Bulgaria in Euro 2012 qualifying on Friday.

With three games left to play in qualifying, England are on top of Group F, but only on goal difference from Montenegro, with both sides locked on 11 points from their five games.

England follow Friday’s game with a home fixture against Wales at Wembley on Tuesday.

And with Bulgaria in need of a win to keep their own hopes of qualification for the tournament alive, Manchester City gloveman Hart expects the hosts to throw everything at their more-fancied rivals.

“We’ve got to the more the business end of the group where wins are vital and it’s going to be tough in Bulgaria,” Hart said.

“It’s really tight at the moment. There’s a few of us that can qualify. I’d imagine Montenegro are looking to get another positive result. Bulgaria, Switzerland – everyone wants to win.”

“But it’s a game we are looking forward to. I think we’ve got a lot of players in good form at the moment and we’re going to go out there and try and win the game as best we can.”

Also on Friday, Montenegro travel to Cardiff to battle Wales, who are already out of contention after losing their opening four matches.

Switzerland, level with Bulgaria on five points, meet the Balkan nation in Basel on Tuesday.

Wed 31 August, 2011
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Fernando Gago makes last minute switch to Roma

Argentine midfielder Fernando Gago has completed his move to Roma just few minutes before the transfer deadline in Italy.

The Real Madrid midfielder arrives to Roma on loan with an option to buy for €6.5 million at the end of the season.

The deal was wrapped up just few minutes before the 7 p.m. deadline in Italy and was later announced on club’s official website.

Palermo were also linked with a last minute bid for Argentine midfielder, but the player eventually opted for Roma.

The Giallorossi also revealed that they had loaned Matteo Brighi to Atalanta.

Wed 31 August, 2011
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Transfer wrap: Cole lands at Lille, Parker makes Spurs move

French champions Lille have secured the services of Liverpool winger Joe Cole on a season-long loan deal.

The 29-year-old has made just 20 appearances for Liverpool since arriving from Chelsea in July 2010, and has not been used by Reds manager Kenny Dalglish this season.

With places in the Liverpool midfield harder to come by since the arrivals of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, Cole has opted for a loan move to Lille amid the lure of Champions League football.

“With the arrival of England international Joe Cole, LOSC has clearly added to its squad both in quantity and quality,” a statement on Lille’s official website read.

“The club is pleased and proud that the challenges facing us and our project have attracted a player of this magnitude.”

Tottenham have struck a deal with West Ham to bring England international midfielder Scott Parker to White Hart Lane for a fee believed to be in the region of six million pounds.

The 30-year-old Parker handed in a transfer request at Upton Park on Tuesday.

Parker joined West Ham from Newcastle in 2007 and won the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year award last season.

Stoke look set to snare Birmingham striker Cameron Jerome after agreeing a fee with the Midlands club.

Jerome, 25, scored three league goals in 34 appearances for Birmingham last season.

Queens Park Rangers have agreed a fee with Sunderland to sign defender Anton Ferdinand.

Ferdinand, younger brother of Manchester United and England centre back Rio Ferdinand, becomes QPR boss Neil Warnock’s third acquisition in the space of a week following the arrivals of Luke Young and Joey Barton.

In the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg have signed Belarus midfielder Alexander Hleb on a loan deal from La Liga and European champions Barcelona.

The 30-year-old former Arsenal player, under contract with Barcelona until 2012, has spent loan spells at Stuttgart and Birmingham over the last two seasons.

Wed 31 August, 2011
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Sabella has high praise for Messi

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has labeled star man Lionel Messi as currently the best player in the world.

Speaking ahead of an international friendly against Venezuela on Friday, the former Estudiantes boss opined that the 24-year-old’s displays for Barcelona and Argentina cannot be set against each other.

“Messi is the best player in the world both at club and international level. We can’t compare Barcelona and Argentina because the two teams are on different paths,” he said.

“Barca have players who have been playing for years and at Argentina or any other national team, we don’t get to see all the players week in week out so there is no point having a comparison.”

The match will be Argentina’s first under Sabella after the dismissal of his predecessor Sergio Batista.

Sabella confirmed that Messi will be captain during the World Cup qualifiers as well as in Friday’s friendly, and added that the match will allow him to gauge the level of his team before the World Cup qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014 commences.

“Messi will be captain during the qualifiers and hopefully if we qualify for Brazil 2014 he will lead the side there also,” said Sabella.

“I believe it is the start of our journey to the World Cup as it is my first game in charge so we need to give a good performance and build confidence ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.”

Sabella also explained Carlos Tevez’s expulsion from the squad that has travelled to Kolkata, and claimed that the Manchester City attacker is still very much in his plans.

“When I named the squad for this match, Tevez wasn’t in the right shape but he has now started playing for Man City and we are keeping a close eye on his progress. Good players like him are always in my plans,” he said.

Wed 31 August, 2011
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