Coupe de France: Lens 2 Epinal 0

Lens advanced to the Coupe de France quarter-finals with a comfortable 2-0 win over third tier side Epinal on Thursday.

Lens advanced to the Coupe de France quarter-finals with a comfortable 2-0 win over third tier side Epinal on Thursday.

The Ligue 2 side struck twice in the opening 21 minutes at Stade Bollaert-Delelis, setting up a last-eight meeting with Bordeaux.

Pierrick Valdivia netted first from the penalty spot before an Abaga Mangan own goal made life even more difficult for the struggling Championnat National outfit.

Epinal, who are 19th in the third tier of French football, made the worst possible start as a handball in the area gave the hosts the opportunity to score from the penalty spot.

Valdivia made no mistake with his effort before a Mangan own goal doubled Lens’ advantage in the 21st minute.

Lens had chances to add to their tally, most notably when Deme N’Diaye had an opportunity from the penalty spot just after the hour-mark, but his effort hit the post.

But it mattered little as they secured a comfortable win to advance.
Thu 28 February, 2013
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Coupe de France: Lens 2 Epinal 0

Lens advanced to the Coupe de France quarter-finals with a comfortable 2-0 win over third tier side Epinal on Thursday.

Lens advanced to the Coupe de France quarter-finals with a comfortable 2-0 win over third tier side Epinal on Thursday.

The Ligue 2 side struck twice in the opening 21 minutes at Stade Bollaert-Delelis, setting up a last-eight meeting with Bordeaux.

Pierrick Valdivia netted first from the penalty spot before an Abaga Mangan own goal made life even more difficult for the struggling Championnat National outfit.

Epinal, who are 19th in the third tier of French football, made the worst possible start as a handball in the area gave the hosts the opportunity to score from the penalty spot.

Valdivia made no mistake with his effort before a Mangan own goal doubled Lens’ advantage in the 21st minute.

Lens had chances to add to their tally, most notably when Deme N’Diaye had an opportunity from the penalty spot just after the hour-mark, but his effort hit the post.

But it mattered little as they secured a comfortable win to advance.
Thu 28 February, 2013
RSS Feed

Coupe de France: Lens 2 Epinal 0

Lens advanced to the Coupe de France quarter-finals with a comfortable 2-0 win over third tier side Epinal on Thursday.

Lens advanced to the Coupe de France quarter-finals with a comfortable 2-0 win over third tier side Epinal on Thursday.

The Ligue 2 side struck twice in the opening 21 minutes at Stade Bollaert-Delelis, setting up a last-eight meeting with Bordeaux.

Pierrick Valdivia netted first from the penalty spot before an Abaga Mangan own goal made life even more difficult for the struggling Championnat National outfit.

Epinal, who are 19th in the third tier of French football, made the worst possible start as a handball in the area gave the hosts the opportunity to score from the penalty spot.

Valdivia made no mistake with his effort before a Mangan own goal doubled Lens’ advantage in the 21st minute.

Lens had chances to add to their tally, most notably when Deme N’Diaye had an opportunity from the penalty spot just after the hour-mark, but his effort hit the post.

But it mattered little as they secured a comfortable win to advance.
Thu 28 February, 2013
RSS Feed

Coupe de France: Lens 2 Epinal 0

Lens advanced to the Coupe de France quarter-finals with a comfortable 2-0 win over third tier side Epinal on Thursday.

Lens advanced to the Coupe de France quarter-finals with a comfortable 2-0 win over third tier side Epinal on Thursday.

The Ligue 2 side struck twice in the opening 21 minutes at Stade Bollaert-Delelis, setting up a last-eight meeting with Bordeaux.

Pierrick Valdivia netted first from the penalty spot before an Abaga Mangan own goal made life even more difficult for the struggling Championnat National outfit.

Epinal, who are 19th in the third tier of French football, made the worst possible start as a handball in the area gave the hosts the opportunity to score from the penalty spot.

Valdivia made no mistake with his effort before a Mangan own goal doubled Lens’ advantage in the 21st minute.

Lens had chances to add to their tally, most notably when Deme N’Diaye had an opportunity from the penalty spot just after the hour-mark, but his effort hit the post.

But it mattered little as they secured a comfortable win to advance.
Thu 28 February, 2013
RSS Feed

Belgian First Division: Cercle Brugge 0 Club Brugge 3

Cercle Brugge’s troubles in the Belgian First Division worsened with a 3-0 loss to rivals Club Brugge on Thursday.

Cercle Brugge’s troubles in the Belgian First Division worsened with a 3-0 loss to rivals Club Brugge on Thursday.

Foeke Booy’s men slumped to their sixth straight loss with the defeat at Jan Breydel Stadion, leaving them six points behind second-last Beerschot.

Oscar Duarte, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe were on the scoresheet for Club Brugge, who jumped into fourth with the victory.

The visitors needed until the 44th minute to break the deadlock in the Brugge derby as Duarte got on the end of a Victor Vazquez set-piece to head in the opener.

Club Brugge needed until the first minute of additional time to seal the points through former Chelsea forward Gudjohnsen.

The substitute, and former Cercle star, applied a smart finish with the outside of his left foot in a one-on-one with Jo Coppens.

Odjidja-Ofoe got a third for Juan Garrido’s side, curling an effort into the far corner after a well-worked team move.
Thu 28 February, 2013
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Klopp: Dortmund can pressure Bayern

Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp hopes his side can make life difficult for Bayern Munich despite the huge gap atop the Bundesliga.

Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp hopes his side can make life difficult for Bayern Munich despite the huge gap atop the Bundesliga.

Jupp Heynckes’ men appear to be cruising to the title, sitting 17 points clear of the defending champions after losing just once in 23 league outings.

Bayern also knocked Dortmund out of the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday as Arjen Robben’s goal fired them to a 1-0 win in the quarter-finals.

Klopp said the gap in the Bundesliga was similar to many leagues around Europe, but wants his team to make Bayern work for the title in the final 11 matches of the campaign.

“We’d never questioned the balance of power in German football. We’d only played football in the past. We’ll carry on with that,” he said.

“Until now, we haven’t succeeded in keeping the gap within reach. It’s an extraordinarily large margin, but that’s similar to many European leagues.

“I don’t know if in Italy the people think that the power relation in Italian football is cleared, only because Juve is far at the top of the league. Or Manchester United for example.

“I believe that the only tight league is the French. And in France everybody is working on that, it won’t get as tight as this year.

“At the moment it’s like money makes the world go around. We will try to keep making things very uncomfortable for them – more uncomfortable than yesterday.”

Klopp’s men have a chance to cut the gap to 14 points when they face Hannover on Saturday before Bayern play a day later.

The 45-year-old said Dortmund deserved to lose in the cup but wants them to move on and focus on Hannover.

“It was a deserved loss. We did some things OK, but some things were not – many things that we could improve,” Klopp said.

“But the match is over, so the competition will start in the next year. Now we have to focus on Hannover.

“To be honest, it’s not difficult. That’s the only thing we have to be concerned about.”
Thu 28 February, 2013
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Juventus date not imperative, says Mazzarri

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri has spoken about the importance of his side’s clash against Juventus, but believes it is not a title decider.

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri has spoken about the importance of his side’s clash against Juventus, but believes it is not a title decider.

With Juventus sitting six points clear atop the Serie A, Friday’s encounter at the Stadio San Paolo is crucial for Napoli, who must avoid defeat.

But with 11 league games remaining after the clash, Mazzarri said there was a long way to go, regardless of the result.

“I wouldn’t define it a game that’s worth the Scudetto, first of all because we still have 11 games to play and anything can happen in the future,” he said.

“After tomorrow’s game we can gain another 33 points in 11 games, but another part of me is saying it will be an important match, really emotional and a great show.

“Games against Juventus have always represented something special for Napoli supporters and we all feel the importance of the game, but we’re also used to it because we’ve already played against them many times.

“Sometimes with positive results and sometimes with negative ones, but we already some great moments.”

Juventus coach Antonio Conte also played down the importance of the encounter in his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

Mazzarri said his side wanted to attack Juventus but could be forced to adjust if Conte’s men get on the front foot early.

“Napoli lead the game when they can. We attack when the opponent will allow us to attack, as we have seen against Sampdoria or against Udinese,” he said.

“We attack much more than our opponent, when we manage, but then there are strong opponents that don’t allow our attacking attitude and in those cases we are forced to defend.

“The important thing is to always give all that we have and all that we can.”
Thu 28 February, 2013
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Hyypia hopeful of Champions League

Bayer Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia is wary of the ‘dangerous’ Stuttgart side his team will face in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Bayer Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia is wary of the ‘dangerous’ Stuttgart side his team will face in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Third-placed Leverkusen can focus on their league campaign after suffering a 3-1 aggregate loss to Benfica in the Europa League round-of-32.

Hyypia is hopeful his side can seal Champions League qualification for next season but is aware of the threat Stuttgart will pose.

The former Liverpool defender highlighted the danger striker Vedad Ibisevic poses, with the Bosnian having 10 league goals to his name this season.

“Stuttgart is a dangerous team. They play very fast with direct passes,” Hyypia said on Thursday.

“In the offence, there are many dangerous players. Especially Ibisevic is a very good striker.”

Leverkusen’s Europa League exit means they have gone without sustained success in Europe since finishing runners-up in the Champions League in 2001-02.

Hyypia said his pre-season goal of wanting to qualify for Europe remained the same.

“At the beginning of this season, we’ve fixed our target to manage to get into European competition,” he said.

“It was a realistic target and the target hasn’t changed.”

Without European action, Leverkusen will feature in fewer games to finish the season and Hyypia said his side’s preparation would change.

“I think the players are happier when there are more matches than training sessions,” he said.

“For the managers it’s nice to have because you can prepare better for the next game on Saturday.

“Of course, there are different ways to prepare. If you have many games, you’re more tired and you have to do so many things.”
Thu 28 February, 2013
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Conte: Napoli clash not crucial

Juventus coach Antonio Conte has played down the importance of his side’s clash against Napoli in the Serie A on Friday.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte has played down the importance of his side’s clash against Napoli in the Serie A on Friday.

The top-of-the-table clash at the Stadio San Paolo shapes as a crucial one in the title race, with Juve sitting six points clear of their nearest rivals.

Conte said the encounter was just like any other match this season, dismissing suggestions it was a title decider.

“We’re preparing to face an important match, but it will be as important as the forthcoming matches against AC Milan, Inter Milan and Lazio,” he said on Thursday.

“Tomorrow’s match is one of the matches we’ll have to face from now until the end of the championship in order to reach the final objective. We’re calm from this point of view.

“Tomorrow’s match is like any other match. The championship won’t end tomorrow if we win, or if we draw, and I don’t want to name the third case.

“There are still 11 matches to be played and each one is important because every match can assign three points.”

The meeting with Napoli marks the start of a tough run of fixtures for Juventus, who face Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday and Catania on the Sunday.

Conte said he was happy to be alive in so many competitions, insisting he would have it no other way.

“Last year we had more time to prepare for every match, but we prefer this year’s situation,” he said.

“We’re present in three competitions. We made it to the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia and now we’re still competing in the Champions League and battling for the Scudetto, so this is a great situation to be in.

“But we are aware that this means more difficulties for us.”

Conte also played down the controversy surrounding the appointment of referee Daniele Orsato, who has shown five red cards in his past eight matches, for the clash against Napoli.

“It’s not nice to talk about referees. It’s a shame that people always find something to stir up controversy,” he said.

“We have faith in the referees, we know that they can make mistakes and you can get angry with them as we have in the past. I have and paid for it, but it is ugly to start insinuating things.”
Thu 28 February, 2013
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Akpan excited for Everton return

Reading midfielder Hope Akpan is in no doubt his side can avoid relegation this year, despite the club sitting just one point from safety.

Reading midfielder Hope Akpan is in no doubt his side can avoid relegation this year, despite the club sitting just one point from safety.

Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to relegation rivals Wigan saw them slip into 19th place, but the 21-year-old is refusing to be disheartened.

“We can stay up, 100 per cent,” Akpan told BBC Radio.

“We still have that belief.

“Any loss like that is tough to take. Obviously with the position we are in and the position Wigan are in it was even tougher to take. We just need to use that pain to help us get the points we need to stay up.

“It is very tight, there are a lot of games left to play and a lot of points to play for and we need to go into the game with the belief we can win it. We still have that belief.”

Next up for the Royals is a trip to Everton, where Akpan will make his first return as an opposition player to the ground he called home for over a decade.

The Childwall native admitted it will be an emotional occasion, but insisted he is fully focused on performing for Brian McDermott’s side.

“It’s going to be an exciting game for me,” he admitted.

“First and foremost I am a Reading player and that is my main focus. I’m happy to be going back to Goodison Park and am super excited. I was there since I was eight and I had a lot of experiences there but you have to live in the moment.”
Thu 28 February, 2013
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