Premier League: Aston Villa 1 West Brom 1

Darren Bent came off the bench to clinch a hard-earned 1-1 draw for Aston Villa against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Both teams cancelled each other out in a scrappy first half but the contest came alive after the break as Paul Lambert’s side fought back after the visitors got their noses in front.

Shane Long put the visitors ahead in the West Midlands derby at Villa Park early in the second half before Bent earned his team a point on 80 minutes.

Long had the best of the early chances and should have done better with a free header from six yards after James Morrison towered above a static Villa defence to pick out the Irishman with a headed pass.

Fabian Delph was fortunate to escape with just a booking after a dangerous lunging challenge on Chris Brunt but Villa gradually took a foothold in midfield and Australian attacker Brett Holman was finding plenty of space just outside West Brom’s penalty area.

Ben Foster was forced into action as he tipped Holman’s 30-yard thunderbolt just over the bar and, soon after, the Aussie screwed another effort wide of the target after good work from Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Injuries to captain Brunt and Billy Jones before the break did not help Steve Clarke’s men as both were substituted prior to half-time.

West Brom came out firing after the interval and gave a warning of what was to come when Long netted, but his effort was ruled offside.

Villa failed to heed the warning and on 51 minutes they were punished when Morrison beat the offside trap to send in a cross that Ron Vlaar could only divert into the path of Long, who scored from close range.

Lambert made three substitutions in five minutes soon after and two of them were involved in the leveller.

Barry Bannan’s cross was headed on by Vlaar and then Ciaran Clark’s volley was blocked – only for Bent to strike from close range.

In a grandstand finish, Bent almost claimed the points for Villa but he scooped a 20-yard effort just wide.

West Brom emerged from being under pressure to almost to grab the spoils but Romelu Lukaku’s angled drive was blocked by Brad Guzan as the sides took a point each.

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed

Bundesliga wrap: Frankfurt march on

Two goals in five minutes from Alexander Meier extended Eintracht Frankfurt’s unbeaten start to the season.

But Frankfurt did not have things all their own way at the Commerzbank Arena on Sunday as they had to come from behind to beat SC Freiburg 2-1.

Following a goalless half, Max Kruse put the visitors in front in the 50th minute and despite Frankfurt having a goal ruled out for offside, Meier netted twice to earn the home side the points.

Karim Guede’s red card in stoppage time rubbed salt into Freiburg’s wounds and capped a frustrating afternoon for the visitors.

Meanwhile, first-half goals by Costa Rica defender Junior Diaz and Hungarian striker Adam Szalai have given Mainz a 2-0 win at Wolfsburg.

The goals, both created by midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz, enabled the struggling Mainz to collect their second league win of the season and move them to a comfortable mid-table position.

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed

Serie A wrap: Napoli push Juve hard

Napoli maintained the pressure on Serie A champions Juventus with a 1-0 win at Sampdoria, while Lazio prevailed at home to Siena.

Edinson Cavani scored the decisive goal for Napoli in the 68th minute of Sunday’s clash after Marek Hamsik was brought down by Daniele Gastaldello in the Sampdoria box, resulting in a penalty.

Gastaldello was sent off for receiving a second caution and had barely left the pitch as Cavani fired the ball past Sampdoria goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who had little chance of making a save.

Like Juventus, Napoli have five wins and a draw after six games, though Antonio Conte’s side remain on top with a superior goal difference.

Elsewhere, Ederson and Cristian Ledesma got on the scoresheet as Lazio clinched a 2-1 victory at the Stadio Olimpico.

The win saw Lazio climb to third with 12 points, while Sampdoria dropped to fourth on 10 points.

Fabrizio Miccoli netted a hat-trick as Palermo recorded their first win of the season by beating Chievo 4-1 at home.

Cagliari remain rooted to the bottom of the table without a victory after going down to Pescara 2-1 at home.

Meanwhile, Bologna accounted for Catania 4-0 at home, while Torino thumped Atalanta 5-1 away.

Udinese and Genoa played out a 0-0 stalemate in Udine.

More to follow….

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed

Torres: I don´t need a rest

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres has made it clear to manager Roberto Di Matteo that he is in no need of a rest.

The Spaniard, whose goal in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal was his fifth in all competitions this season, has started every game up front for Chelsea this campaign, with Daniel Sturridge injured and new signing Victor Moses on the bench.

But the former Liverpool man is adamant that he is more than happy to continue playing as many games as possible.

“I’ve been resting last season too many games, so I’m fresh now. I’m feeling good,” Torres told Chelsea TV.

“If you have great players, you have to use them. That gives you more chances to score and to win.”

The 28-year-old scored the opener at the Emirates Stadium as Chelsea secured a hard-fought win against an Arsenal side that were previously unbeaten in the league.

Torres said Di Matteo’s men had found the perfect blend.

“Arsenal are a great team in possession but we were not scared to keep the ball,” he said.

“Also, this is the best way to defend, and this is one of the main reasons why Chelsea are not conceding too many goals, because we have the ball and we do it with quality.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed

´Improving´ Noble targets England call-up

West Ham midfielder Mark Noble is hoping to force his way into the England squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

The 25-year-old midfielder, an Upton Park youth product, has helped the newly promoted West Ham to 10th position in the English Premier League after five games and was rewarded on Tuesday for his recent run of form with a new three-year deal.

And Noble, who has represented his country at all youth levels, insists that his primary goal is now to graduate to the senior national side, who take on San Marino and Poland in upcoming qualifiers.

“That’s my aim. I’m still only 25,” the West Ham vice-captain told reporters.

“The football I’m playing at the minute, I’m hoping that I can carry on improving, because mentally and physically I’m two or three times better a player than I was two, three years ago.

“The form that I’ve been in lately, I’m still hoping to get into that squad. If I carry on playing the way I am, hopefully it’ll happen sooner rather than later.”

Noble feels that he has enjoyed a new lease of life ever since West Ham boss Sam Allardyce gave him a new role of screening the back four.

“I like it there,” he said.

“In fact, I was told about ProZone stats the other day that showed I made more tackles than anyone else in the Premier League.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed

Shaqiri urges Bayern to keep their focus

Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri has urged his team-mates to keep focused after their superb start to the season.

The Bundesliga giants maintained their 100 percent record in the league with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Werder Bremen, while they saw off Valencia 2-1 in their opening Champions League encounter.

Switzerland starlet Shaqiri is thrilled with the way his side have begun the campaign after the disappointment of last term, but has warned they must not lose their concentration in the coming weeks.

When asked if they would win the title on their current form, he told bundesliga.com: “Of course I hope so, but there is still a long way to go.

“At the moment, things are going well. We are top of the table and things are looking good, but we all know how quickly things can change in football. This is just how things stand at the moment.

“Of course the statistics look positive, but what is important for us is that we are top at the end.

“For that to happen, we have to keep our concentration and keep working as we have been doing so far.

“We have the Champions League again in a few days and so the next game is always on the horizon.”

Bayern were struggling to break down a resilient Bremen side until Shaqiri’s introduction, and the former Basel winger was delighted to have made an impact his team.

“A will to win made the difference in the end,” he said.

“In the first half, there was a lack of clear opportunities on both sides. It was also tough to create chances because Bremen were very defensive.

“In the second half, we wanted to change things and of course we are delighted that we scored two goals without conceding any.

“When I am on the pitch, I always want to give my best and give everything for the team. I think all the players feel the same.

“Every game is emotional when you win. It was hard graft in Bremen, but in the end we were more clinical than they were.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed

Keane to be named Kasimpasa boss

Roy Keane is set to be named as the new manager of Turkish Super Lig club Kasimpasa, according to the club’s vice-president.

The former Manchester United midfielder has been working as a pundit for ITV since he was sacked by Ipswich Town nearly two years ago.

Hasan Hilmi Oksuz told AA: “We reached an agreement with Keane. He will be in Istanbul tomorrow if nothing extraordinary happens.

“We will benefit from his experiences right into our vision. We believe he can lead this club to the glorious results.”

Kasimpasa are in Turkey’s top flight for just the eighth season in their 91-year history but currently sit second to Galatasaray in the league.

The Istanbul-based club sacked former manager Metin Diyadin, despite him leading them to promotion from the second tier last season and to their lofty position this term.

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed

Spurs deserved their win, says Evra

Manchester United defender Patrice Evra insists his team deserved to lose to Tottenham on Saturday.

The win was Spurs’ first at Old Trafford in 23 years and came after being 2-0 up at the break courtesy of goals from Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale, with Evra bemoaning the United’s performance in the first half.

United rallied in the second half, with Nani and Shinji Kagawa netting, but were left with too much to do as Clint Dempsey hit a third with Andre Villas-Boas’ side claiming the points in a scintillating encounter.

“The result is what happens when you only play for 45 minutes,” Evra told reporters.

“The game is 90 minutes long and we deserved to lose because we only played for 45. To concede three goals at Old Trafford is not good enough.

“The problem is in our heads. It looked like we stayed in the hotel. The first 45 minutes had no speed, no focus, we didn’t win a lot of challenges and we conceded some silly goals.

“Maybe I am hard with myself and the team but we only showed the United face in the second half. This is not enough if we want to win the title.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed

Championship: Nottingham Forest 0 Derby 1

A second-half goal from Craig Bryson has given Derby County a 1-0 derby win over Nottingham Forest in the Championship on Sunday.

The Scottish midfielder netted in the 55th minute of an ill-tempered East Midlands derby at the City Ground.

Bryson’s winner came after Dexter Blackstock was sent off for Forest early in the second half as Derby moved above their rivals to 12th on the table.

There were few chances in the first half as both teams committed several fouls in a fiery opening to the clash.

But the encounter came to life just 30 seconds after the break as Blackstock was sent off for elbowing Richard Keogh as the pair jumped for a header.

Derby needed just 10 minutes to take advantage as Bryson got on the end of a cross from Paul Coutts to open the scoring.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Forest pushed for an equaliser but were denied by goalkeeper Frank Fielding, who saved a Simon Gillett effort late on as Derby held on for their first away win of the season.

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed

Redknapp: Cazorla ´a truly great signing´

Harry Redknapp believes Arsenal’s capture of Santi Cazorla is the best signing in the English Premier League this season.

The ex-Tottenham boss also revealed he wanted to sign the 27-year-old playmaker when he was in charge at White Hart Lane, but was unable to finalise a deal.

“Cazorla is a superb footballer and I think Arsenal have got a real diamond,” Redknapp wrote in The Sun.

“However, much they got for Cesc Fabregas, 40 million pounds or whatever it was, they have managed to replace him for less than half the money.

“I am a huge fan of Cesc, but I honestly don’t think there is anything between the two of them. They’re both top Spanish internationals — and Cazorla will be a truly great signing for the Gunners.

“Probably the best one any side made this summer, in my opinion.”

Cazorla was brought into Emirates Stadium with Robin van Persie facing an exit.

The Dutchman eventually moved to Manchester United and Redknapp believes van Persie could be a difference-maker in this season’s title race.

“If you had to put your life on one man putting the ball in the net, you’d be hard pressed to come up with someone better — and he will be worth another eight, nine or 10 points to United this season,” Redknapp said.

“In my book, that could be the difference between winning the title and not.”

The 65-year-old also hailed Tottenham’s new-boy Jan Vertonghen, who arrived at White Hart Lane shortly after Redknapp’s departure.

“He’s a hell of a player — one of the growing number of Belgians who are tearing up the Premier League,” he said.

“One of the things which has really impressed me about Vertonghen is his mentality — he is such a strong character.

“He’s an established international and is already proving that he’ll have no trouble adapting to the English game. Even if he had cost 12 million pounds, he would be a real steal.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
RSS Feed