League Cup wrap: Chelsea claim nine-goal thriller

Chelsea have exacted revenge on Manchester United courtesy of a 5-4 extra-time win in the League Cup, having trailed on three occasions.

For the second time in four days Chelsea and Manchester United played out a thriller at Stamford Bridge, with the hosts gaining some revenge for their 3-2 Premier League defeat by booking their spot in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.

After the chaos of the weekend, it was perhaps little surprise that the first half was a frenetic affair, played at great pace, with goals, bookings, a penalty and the visitors from Manchester once again heading into the break 2-1 ahead.

Yet there was more than a hint of farce about United’s opening goal with Petr Cech’s short kick out to Romeu allowing Anderson to nick the ball off the Spaniard and find Ryan Giggs who finished clinically to open the scoring.

The goal sparked Chelsea into life, and by the half hour mark they were level.

The lively Victor Moses burst into the box only to be brought down by Alexander Buttner, giving the referee an easy decision to point to the spot and David Luiz made no mistake.

But Chelsea fell behind once again just minutes before the break with Anderson passing to Javier Hernandez and the Mexican finished smartly past Cech for his sixth goal in nine appearances against the Blues.

Just seven minutes into the second half, Mata’s corner was thundered home by Gary Cahill to make the score 2-2.

Nani gave Manchester United the lead again in the 59th minute and Chelsea had to wait until the fourth minute of stoppage time and a penalty from Eden Hazard to equalise.

Chelsea struck twice in extra time through Daniel Sturridge and Ramires and although Giggs converted a 120th-minute penalty, the home team held on for victory.

In other League Cup results on Wednesday, Norwich struck twice in the last six minutes to defeat Tottenham 2-1, while Swansea gave former manager Brendan Rodgers a headache with a 3-1 win away to Liverpool.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Serie A wrap: Inter continue hot streak

Inter Milan have won their eighth-straight match in all competitions, knocking off Sampdoria 3-2 despite going behind in the first half.

Gianni Munari gave the visitors from Genoa the lead in the 20th minute but three goals after the break from an Antonio Cassano-inspired Inter side ensured victory, even though Eder pulled one back for Sampdoria in second-half stoppage time.

Down by a goal at half-time, Diego Milito equalised for Inter in the 52nd minute when he burst onto a through ball, got inside the area and then expertly placed himself in front of Sampdoria defender Andrea Costa, who bundled him over.

The referee pointed to the spot and sent Costa off, while Milito made no mistake from the spot.

In the 69th minute, Inter took the lead when Cassano sprinted down the middle of the pitch towards goal, waited for Sampdoria’s defenders to attack him and then slipped the ball through to Rodrigo Palacio, who produced a fine finish.

Fredy Guarin also benefited from Cassano’s creativity, receiving a cut back from the 30-year-old Italian forward in the 81st minute before driving past an opponent and smashing the ball into the bottom corner.

The win has taken Inter into second position in the Serie A standings ahead of Napoli, who lost 1-0 away to Atalanta on Wednesday.

Atalanta’s Carlos Carmona scored the only goal of the game in the 19th minute and consigned Napoli to their third loss in four matches in all competitions.

Napoli have now dropped six points behind league leaders Juventus, who needed a 92nd-minute goal from Paul Pogba to snatch victory against Bologna.

Fabio Quagliarella gave Juventus the lead at home in the 54th minute but Saphir Tadir’s 71st-minute goal looked to have secured a point for Bologna until Pogba struck in stoppage time.

Sebastian Giovinco twisted past an opponent on the left wing before sending an in-swinging cross into the box and Pogba got his head to the ball to score, sparking wild celebrations at Juventus Arena.

Lazio had to come from behind to grab a 1-1 draw at home against Torino, while Roma again threw away a lead as they lost 3-2 away to Parma.

In other Serie A results, Cagliari defeated Siena 4-2, Chievo won 2-0 over Pescara and Udinese drew 2-2 at home against Catania.

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AFC Champions League wrap: Ulsan to meet Al Ahli in final

South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai will entertain Saudi Arabian team Al Ahli in the final of the AFC Champions League.

Ulsan advanced to the decider after accounting for Uzbekistani outfit Bunyodkor 5-1 on aggregate.

Kim Ho-Gon’s men, who won 3-1 in Tashkent last week, secured their berth with a 2-0 victory in the second leg at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium.

Second-half goals from Kim Shin-Wook and Lee Keun-Ho sealed the result, with Ulsan becoming the fourth K-League club in a row to reach the final.

“I stressed before the game that even though we had won the away match, the players should not be careless and the players had the determination to qualify for the final,” Kim Ho-Gon said.

“We expected Bunyodkor would play offensively and we tried to counter that with more offensive tactics.”

Al Ahli won their semi-final against Al Ittihad 2-1 on aggregate to qualify for the final against which will be hosted by Ulsan on November 10.

In an all-Saudi Arabia clash, Al Ahli entered Wednesday’s game trailing by a goal on aggregate after Al Ittihad won 1-0 at home on October 23.

But Al Ahli dominated their home leg with Brazilian striker Victor Simoes creating their first serious chance, smashing a shot against the joint of the post and crossbar after a fine turn on the edge of the penalty area.

The home team, who sit eighth in the Saudi Arabia Pro League, compared to Al Ittihad’s fourth spot, continued to have the best goal-scoring opportunities but did not hit the front until the 43rd minute when Motaz Al Musa got on the end of a corner to head the ball into the net from close range.

It was a similar story in the second half with Al Ittihad trying to hold on and Al Ahli failing to convert their chances but eventually the home side triumphed when Simoes got on the end of a long pass out of defence and slotted his left-foot shot into the bottom corner in the 83rd minute.

The winner of the AFC Champions League final will take part in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December with the likes of Chelsea, Corinthians, Monterrey and Auckland City.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Trapattoni plays down reports of interference

Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni says his authority has not been undermined by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

The 73-year-old Italian’s position came under severe pressure following a disappointing Euro 2012 campaign and a humiliating 6-1 World Cup qualifying defeat to Germany earlier this month.

Following the subsequent win over the Faroe Islands, the FAI backed Trapattoni, but also met with him to discuss “issues that needed to be addressed”, believed to be his preference to watch league games on DVD rather than attend in person, and his communication style.

“Someone making suggestions doesn’t take authority away from me,” he told reporters.

“I understand the responsibility of the FAI. Suggestions – no problems. I have the authority with my team.

“Some say my English is not very good. I ask the players and they all say they understand. There are only 100 or 200 words in football: ‘win, deserve, lose’, unfortunately.

“I can fly every Saturday. Sometimes the players might not play. We ask them and they don’t know. I see many games at home, I drive in England to the pitch, they don’t play. Sometimes, the driver has to change (direction) after 100 kilometres.”

The former Juventus coach also confirmed Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan will definitely play a part in the friendly against Greece on November 14, but LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane will be rested.

“Sure, (Hoolahan) will play, I’m not sure if it’s the first or second half, we will decide. I spoke with Keane (about being rested), ‘no problem’, he said.”

When asked how Sweden’s comeback to draw with Germany affected the dynamic of the group, Trapattoni said: “I think (the difference is) only one point for us. Obviously, it was better when Germany were leading (but) we have 90 minutes against Sweden.

“This 4-0, 4-4. I have no doubt about the truth (of it). (Sweden) played a very good game. What happened? Many German players played in Champions League before, they play many games (so they could be tired).”

Ireland are third in Group C of World Cup qualifying after picking up six points from three games.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Okore attracting European interest; Messi cannot imagine leaving Barca

Nordsjaelland defender Jores Okore is reportedly attracting interest from several clubs across Europe, according to his agent Nikola Juric.

Okore, 20, has performed very well for Nordsjaelland in the UEFA Champions League this season.

At 20, Okore is already a Denmark international, and a member of Denmark’s 2014 World Cup qualifying squad. He was an unused substitute in the Danes’ 1-1 draw to Bulgaria on 12 October and as well as their 1-3 defeat to the Azzurri four days later.

The 20-year-old Denmark international’s performances in the Champions League have had a clear impact on the interest from European clubs, claims Juric.

“There has always been interest, but it has become more intense after the Champions League matches,” he told Sporten.dk.

“The sporting aspect is the most important. Playing time is very important. The club should adore him and you should be able to notice that they want him.

“It’s nice with the interest, but we agreed that we shall only discuss it when something serious comes.”

Okore has started all three Champions League matches for Nordsjaelland this term, including the Danish club’s improbable draw against Italian champions Juventus at Farum Park on 23 October.

The Wild Tigers actually took the lead in the 50th minute through Mikkel Beckmann, but Mirko Vucinic equalized in the 81st minute to prevent disaster for the defending Serie A champions.

Nordsjaelland and Jorges Okore will travel to the Juventus Stadium to take on the Bianconeri in the second leg on 7 November.

Messi cannot imagine leaving Barca

FC Barcelona icon Lionel Messi has revealed that he cannot imagine ever leaving the Blaugrana, with moneybags Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain thought to have big enough wallets to make an official move for the Argentina ace, Sky Sports understands.

“Leaving Barca to join a club like PSG? I have the best team-mates in the world. Each year we are fighting for titles,” said Messi.

“Barcelona is a wonderful city too. Barca is the club where I have grown. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine myself leaving.”

Messi and his Real Madrid counterpart Cristiano Ronaldo continue to net goals at a pace that would even impress the best FIFA 13 gamer.

The Argentina international has tallied 13 goals and four assists in nine La Liga matches this season, while adding seven goals and two assists in 2014 World Cup qualifying matches for his country.

Furthermore, he scored two in two in the Spanish Super Cup and has added two goals and two assists in three Champions League appearances.

Last and certainly least important, he’s netted seven goals in three friendlies for Argentina in 2012-13. That’s an astonishing total of 31 goals and eight assists in 26 appearances (25 starts) for club and country this season. Unstoppable.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Son uncertain on Hamburg future

Hamburg’s Heung-Min Son says he does not know if he will sign a contract extension with the Bundesliga club.

The South Korean’s existing deal expires in 2014 and the striker is not certain about his future, but said he is enjoying life at the Imtech Arena.

“I am as yet unaware whether I am to sign a new deal with Hamburg this winter,” Son told the Hamburg Morgenpost.

“Still, there is no doubt that I am very happy with my current situation at Hamburg. I like the club and I love the fans as much as they love me.”

Son has scored five goals in nine Bundesliga appearances this season, his side sit seventh with 13 points from nine games.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Blackburn name Berg as manager

Former Blackburn Rovers favourite Henning Berg is the Championship club’s new manager.

Club owners Venky’s will be hoping Berg can lead Blackburn back into the Premier League after a disastrous spell under Steve Kean which saw the side relegated.

The Norwegian centre-back enjoyed two spells as a player at the Lancashire club, making more than 200 appearances between 1993-1997 and 2000-2003.

A statement on the club’s website on Wednesday read: “Blackburn Rovers can confirm that Henning Berg has accepted the role of manager. Henning, a former player over two spells at the club, is set to be unveiled to the media in the morning.”

Despite a strong start to the 2012-13 campaign with Rovers third in the Championship, Kean decided to leave after describing his position at the club as ‘untenable’.

Blackburn now sit fifth in the table with 23 points after 13 games, only two short of an automatic promotion spot, and five points behind leaders Cardiff.

Berg’s last managerial role was at Norwegian side Lillestrom. He took over in 2008 but was sacked in October last year after gaining only one point in eight games.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Distin unhappy at Suarez tackle

Everton defender Sylvain Distin has accused Liverpool’s Luis Suarez of almost breaking his ankle during the Merseyside derby on October 28.

Uruguay international Suarez was booked after a late challenge on Distin during the 2-2 English Premier League draw at Goodison Park.

Suarez insisted he did not intend to hurt Distin, claiming the contact was a result of his own studs being caught in the turf.

Distin’s tweeted: “Thanks for the concern. My ankle is all good considering it could have been broken.”

Suarez courted controversy earlier in the game by celebrating Liverpool’s first goal with a mock dive in front of David Moyes following pre-match comments from the Everton manager accusing Liverpool’s star striker of simulation.

And Moyes believes the striker could have been sent off for his tackle on Distin.

“It’s over the top, down the back of the leg. (Suarez) was a very lucky man to stay on the pitch for his tackle,” he told the BBC.

However, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers disagreed with Moyes’ interpretation, insisting the tackle was clumsy rather than malicious.

“I didn’t think it was a red card,” he said.

“Sometimes you get that with a striker, when they are just a fraction late. They are trying to time it just as they pass it.”

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Mourinho defends feeder club policy

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has defended his unwillingness to promote players from Castilla, the club’s B team.

Mourinho believes Real and the feeder club are tactically different and it would be too difficult to promote players.

The Spanish champions are struggling with an injury crisis at left-back, but the Portuguese coach has opted to use midfielder Michael Essien as a makeshift defender rather than Nacho, who came through the ranks at the Bernebeu.

“We play with a different system, they have another model,” he told reporters.

“There are Castilla players that play in positions that do not exist in the first team, like Jose (Rodriguez) who plays as a ‘nine and a half’.

“Also, our wide players play further forward, and in Castilla they play a 4-4-2. There is limited common ground in terms of the style of play, and the kids are the ones who end up paying the price.”

Mourinho has however, called up three youngsters, Jose Rodriguez, Alex and Ruben Yanez to the squad to face Alcoyano in Copa Del Rey on Wednesday, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil rested.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Kuzmanovic staying at Stuttgart – agent

Marko Naletilic, the agent of Stuttgart midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic has denied any club has made an offer for his client’s services.

Numerous clubs, including Sevilla, are reportedly interested in the Serbia international, however, his representative is yet to talk to any suitors.

“I have not been out to do any formal talking yet,” Naletilic told EstadioDeportivo.

“Not with Sevilla or with any other club. Personally, I feel it is way too early to discuss the Zdravko’s future.”

Kuzmanovic has become a mainstay for Stuttgart since his switch from Fiorentina in 2009.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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