Prandelli proud of Italy

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli praised his team’s character after they claimed third place at the Confederations Cup on Sunday.

Edinson Cavani’s brace helped Uruguay draw 2-2 with Italy after 120 minutes, but Gianluigi Buffon was the hero as Prandelli’s men won the shootout 3-2.

Prandelli hailed his players for their efforts after a long season and said their spirit was the key to their fine run in Brazil.

“We deserve this third-place finish because we have played well during the tournament and have improved throughout the competition,” he said.

“We played extremely well in the first half, but having played two days we had substantial problems.

“It was the first time in my career that I didn’t know what to do as I had eight players on the pitch asking to be substituted. This made it quite difficult.

“The most important aspect of this team is the character we showed, we wanted to stay in the game, and suffered a reasonable amount in order to achieve this.

“We were rewarded with the win on penalties, which is always a little bit of a lottery.”

Buffon, who was unable to save a penalty in Italy’s shootout loss to Spain in the semi-finals, kept out spot-kicks from Diego Forlan, Martin Caceres and Walter Gargano.

He was delighted to contribute to the victory and said Italy needed to keep their strong squad together ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

“It is certainly disappointing that I was not able to save a penalty against Spain,” Buffon said.

“However, I am extremely happy to have had the chance to enjoy this moment with some fantastic team-mates and have been through the experience of this tournament with a great group.

“We are a very tight-knit group of players and I think this one of our strengths.

“Mr Prandelli has understood this, we (the players) have understood this and I believe those close to us have as well.

“Now, we will do all we can to ensure this group remains as strong as it is now, because having 23 players like ours available to you is a great luxury and must be protected.”

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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Brazil 3-0 Spain: Fantastic Fred seals Confederations Cup

Two goals from Fred and a stunning Neymar finish saw Brazil claim their third straight Confederations Cup title in emphatic fashion, as they brushed Spain aside 3-0 in the final on Sunday.

The tournament hosts were in supreme form inside a raucous Maracana, ripping the reigning world and European champions to shreds to end their 29-match unbeaten run, and claim the trophy for the fourth time, alongside their triumphs of 2009, 2005 and 1997.

Fred needed only 90 seconds to open the scoring, before a thumping second from Neymar moments before the break rounded off an excellent first half for Brazil.

The onslaught continued two minutes after the restart when Fred put another past a shell-shocked Spain, who showed their ineptitude at both ends when Sergio Ramos lashed a penalty wide.

Gerard Pique’s 68th minute red card ended any fleeting hopes of a comeback from la Roja, as Brazil’s win sparked wild celebrations in the stands and saw Spain lose by three goals in a competitive game for the first time since 1985.
The fans had the Maracana rocking long before kick-off, and barely two minutes in, the home side nearly blew the roof off the famous stadium when they took the lead.
Oscar delivered a ball into the box which Fred, Iker Casillas, Alvaro Arbeloa and Pique all challenged. A goalmouth scramble ensued and, despite laying on the turf, the Fluminense man reacted quickest to poke home.
Fred very nearly set Oscar up for the second within minutes when he flicked across the box from Neymar’s cross, but Chelsea’s young playmaker drilled agonisingly wide.
Paulinho then made Casillas work hard to keep the deficit at one with a cheeky lob after robbing Andres Iniesta, with the Spain keeper backpedalling to get a hand to the attempt.
Vicente Del Bosque’s side were simply struggling to cope with the tenacity and energy in Brazil’s play, which was matched every step of the way by the fervour raining down from the stands.
And Arbeloa nearly committed a fatal mistake when he flattened Neymar on the halfway line, but with the fans baying for blood, only a yellow card was issued to the defender.
Spain finally showed signs of life when Iniesta’s rasping drive forced Julio Cesar to push around the post, but it was an aberration amid Brazil’s dominance, and Casillas had to stand tall again to stop Fred from point blank range.
However, it was then the hosts’ turn to live on the edge when an outrageous goal-line clearance from David Luiz denied Pedro a sure-fire goal after Mata’s pass put him one-on-one with Cesar.
But with half-time approaching, Brazil would get their deserved second. Oscar drew the attention of the defence on the edge of the box and deftly slipped in Neymar, who unleashed an unstoppable shot into the back of the net.
And two minutes after the interval, the hosts struck again. Hulk’s fantastic diagonal ball was cleverly dummied by Neymar, leaving Fred to finish coolly into the bottom corner.
Spain were handed a glimmer of hope with a penalty after Marcelo clumsily challenged substitute Jesus Navas, but Ramos extinguished that optimism almost instantly with a wild spot-kick that flew wide.
And they were finished for good when Pique stuck out a leg in vain to bring down the onrushing Neymar, earning the Barcelona defender a straight red card as the last man.
It was party time inside the Maracana, with the irrepressible Neymar driving past defenders with ease, and substitute Jo coming close to a fourth with a powerful strike that was saved by Casillas.
Spain had a few chances to restore a little pride, but Pedro was denied excellently from close range by Cesar, who did equally well to push away a curling Villa effort with only minutes remaining.
But it just was not la Roja’s night, with the final whistle signalling what had been an inevitability for some time as the Brazil celebrations kicked off in earnest.
The question now is whether the Selecao can ride this wave of momentum all the way onto the biggest stage of them all at World Cup 2014.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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Sako: Let me speak with Fulham

Wolves winger Bakary Sako has pleaded with his club to allow him to hold talks with Fulham over a move to the Premier League.

The 25-year-old is seeking a move away from Molineux after the side were relegated to League One and he has generated interest from the top flight.

However, his asking price of £4 million is reportedly too high and he has voiced his disappointment over not being able to speak with Fulham.

“When I joined Wolves, the club said to me the aim was to reach the Premier League together,” he said.

“I am sad that this has not happened, but I gave everything and have always been respectful to the club.

“At the first meeting, I sat with (the former Wolves manager) Stale Solbakken and Jez Moxey and they told me if we didn’t get promoted, the club would let me go.

“I was told I could speak to Fulham and now I don’t understand the delay. I would like things to be sorted out.”

The Frenchman scored nine goals in 36 appearances for Wolves last season and was voted player of the year following his move from Saint-Etienne in 2012.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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Dutch prospect Maher to join PSV

PSV Eindhoven have agreed a deal to sign highly rated 19-year-old Adam Maher from AZ Alkmaar.

The midfielder will sign a five-year deal at the Philips Stadion and join up with the rest of the squad on July 8, once he completes his medical.

Maher, who will become Phillip Cocu’s third signing as PSV boss, was linked with a move to Ajax but talks broke down with the Eredivisie champions and PSV technical manager Marcel Brands acknowledged that the club are “very happy” to have him on board.

“It is a long-cherished desire to get him,” Brands told PSV’s official website.

“With him we have a very talented Dutch player… that fits into the philosophy of PSV.”

Maher has made four appearances for his country and won the Dutch Football Talent of the Year award in 2011-12.

He also scored against PSV for his former club in the KNVB Beker final in May which Alkmaar went on to win 2-1.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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Blackpool accept bid for Ince; ASM sign Anthony Martial

Blackpool F.C. have accepted a 'massive' offer from Cardiff City F.C. for highly-rated winger Tom Ince.

Blackpool F.C. have accepted a ‘massive’ offer from Premier League newcomers Cardiff City F.C. for highly-rated England Under-21 international winger Tom Ince, Sky Sports understands.

The Bluebirds’ bid is believed to be worth £8 million, according to Sky sources.

Ince, 21, joined Blackpool from Liverpool on a two-year deal in August 2011, and has since established himself as one of the best young talents in English football.

Over the past two seasons, the 21-year-old ace — who has been linked with a number of English Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur in recent times — has bagged 26 goals in 88 appearances in all competitions for the Seasiders.

“Cardiff have come in massively for Thomas and the chairman has accepted their offer,” revealed Blackpool boss Paul Ince. “I’m not sure what the offer is as I’ve been away.

“It’s a case of when he comes back, we’ll sit down and see what we want to do.

“He loves it here and has told me he’s in no rush to leave the club.

“I think it’s 50/50 at the moment. It’s a tricky one for me – ideally you want your son to be playing in the Premier League, but you also want him to be playing for you.

“I wouldn’t put my hat on it that he’ll be playing in the Premier League this year.”

Now then, should he stay or should he go?

This should be an easy decision in all honestly: go.

In other news, Blackpool are planning to test the free agent market this summer by offering a number of players trials at Bloomfield Road.

ASM sign Anthony Martial

French moneybags AS Monaco FC have completed the signing of Olympique Lyonnais starlet Anthony Martial for a fee of €5 million on a three-year contract, Sky Sports reports.

Martial, 17, made his first-team debut for Lyon against Israeli Premier League champions Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona F.C. in the UEFA Europa League on 6 December 2012, replacing compatriot Yassine Benzia.

The 17-year-old striker went on to make four first-team appearances for Les Gones last season, while scoring five goals in 11 league appearances for the Olympique Lyonnais reserves.

Lyon claim to have been forced into selling Martial after failing agree a deal to sell Bafetimbi Gomis, who is reportedly attracting interest from Welsh rivals Cardiff City and League Cup winners Swansea City.

“Having not been able to complete the move of any player approached for a transfer by 30 June, notably Bafetimbi Gomis, the club considered Monaco’s offer for Anthony Martial,” read a statement on the club’s official website.

“The club completed Anthony Martial’s move for five million euros plus an important share on a future transfer.”

Nonetheless, a transfer fee of €5 million plus a significant share on a future sale is not a bad return on investment for a 17-year-old.

Good sale for Lyon. Good buy for Monaco.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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Friendly: TSV 1 Bayern Munich 9

Bayern Munich racked up their 24th goal in just two games under Pep Guardiola with a 9-1 win over TSV Regen on Sunday.

The reigning European champions were barely tested by the provincial side in a pre-season fixture organised to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Regen’s founding.

And a hat-trick from Julian Green (his second in as many games), two strikes from Patrick Weirauch and goals from Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos, Emre Can and Alessandro Schoepf saw them cruise home.

The game did offer up a rare moment of joy for the home fans in the sixth minute when Daniel Kopp gave Regen a shock lead, but it was all one-way traffic from then on.

It took Mueller until the 32nd minute to bring matters level, before Weirauch grabbed a brace to add to that strike by the 36th minute as the first half drew to a close with the Bundesliga champions 3-1 up.

Having spoken about his desire to try Franck Ribery in a central role in the build-up to the match, manager Guardiola opted to move the Frenchman back out wide for the second period.

And that tactical switch appeared to work wonders as Green grabbed the first of his trio of goals just two minutes after the restart.

The American then added to his tally with an hour on the clock, before Turkish-German midfielder Can got in on the act three minutes later to take the score to 6-1.

Bayern were not finished there, as Schoepf netted before Green completed his hat-trick and Kroos finalised the rout with six minutes remaining.

The result comes off the back of a 15-1 win over Wildenau on Saturday, though tougher tests are yet to come for Guardiola in pre-season.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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Thai Premier League Wrap: Buriram advantage slashed

Buriram United saw their lead at the top of the Thai Premier League cut to just two points after a disappointing 0-0 draw with TOT.

Scott Cooper’s side remain unbeaten after 16 outings in the 2013 edition of the competition, but allowed Muang Thong United to gain ground as they failed to beat 10th-placed TOT away from home on Saturday.

And Muang Thong made the most of that result 24 hours later as they cruised to a 2-1 victory against Chainat at the Khao Plong Stadium.

Piyaphon Buntao and Mario Gjurovski grabbed United’s first-half goals, with Michael Byrne netting a late consolation for the eighth-placed hosts.

There was also movement just below the league’s top two teams as Suphanburi leapt into fourth place courtesy of a 2-1 win over Songkhla United in which Pairote Sokam and Bireme Diouf grabbed the crucial goals.

Chonburi then failed to spark against mid-table Osotspa, being held to a disappointing goalless draw at home and relinquishing fourth spot in the process.

There were also several interesting developments at the bottom of the Thai Premier League, with the battle against relegation heating up significantly.

Fresh off the back of a surprise win over Chonburi, Samut Songkhram earned just their third away point of the season by holding Ratchaburi to a 0-0 draw on Sunday.

The two teams are now separated by only a point in 15th and 14th respectively.

That result meant that Chiangrai United, who occupy the final relegation spot, slipped two points short of safety after suffering a 2-1 away loss to Bangkok United on Saturday.

Heiko Scholz’s men looked on track to earn a crucial draw after Leo Da Silva cancelled out Chatchai Kumpraya’s opener, but were left sorely disappointed when Romain Gasmi struck in the 80th minute to hand the hosts the points.

Also on Sunday, 17thh-placed Pattaya United also saw their hopes of escaping the bottom three shrink as they slipped to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Police United at home.

Elsewhere, sixth-placed Army United moved just three points short of BEC Tero Sasana in fifth by beating Rene Desaeyere’s side 2-1 thanks to Mongkol Tossagri’s 92nd-minute winner.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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Lyon blame Gomis for Martial sale

Lyon have claimed Bafetimbi Gomis’ inability to negotiate a move away has forced them to sell promising forward Anthony Martial to Monaco.

Gomis is considered surplus to requirements at the Stade de Gerland but rejected moves to both Swansea and Cardiff after fees had been agreed with Lyon.

And the Ligue 1 club have now accused the 27-year-old of creating a situation whereby the sale of the highly rated Martial became a necessity.

“Having not been able to complete the move of any player approached for a transfer by June 30, notably Bafetimbi Gomis, the club considered Monaco’s offer for Anthony Martial,” a statement read.

“The club completed Anthony Martial’s move for five million euros plus an important share on a future transfer.”

Gomis joined Lyon from Troyes in 2009 and has scored 74 goals in 189 appearances for the French club.

Martial, meanwhile, made his first-team debut in the UEFA Europa League in December 2012, one day after his 17th birthday.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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Kalou: First months at Lille were difficult

Lille forward Salomon Kalou has admitted that his first few months at the club were tough.

The Ivorian moved to the Ligue 1 side from Chelsea at the start of last season and helped secure a sixth-place finish for his new side.

However, things did not get off to the best of starts for Kalou and his team-mates, which meant that he and his fellow new arrivals became targets for blame.

“The first couple of months were difficult because, like I say, it’s never easy to come into a new country,” the 27-year-old told The Green Soccer Journal.

“You have to adapt to the new life, on and off the pitch, you have to get to know your new team. It didn’t start off well, the team wasn’t getting together and winning games. And when this happens the newcomers are targeted, which is normal, you are new on the team so you have to bring something new.

“But I can say the second half of the season has started very well because we are winning games, the team is playing so well, everyone is fitting in and I think all the new players adapt very well.”

Kalou made 31 appearances for Lille in his first season, scoring 16 goals in all competitions.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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FIFA Confederations Cup: Uruguay 2 Italy 2 (2-3 pen)

Italy claimed third place in the FIFA Confederations Cup with a win on penalties against Uruguay at the Arena Fonte Nova on Sunday.

Italy went ahead through Davide Astori midway through the first half before Edinson Cavani grabbed the first of his brace shortly after the break.

However, two beatifully crafted free-kicks, first from Alessandro Diamanti and then courtesy of Cavani, ensured that the match went to penalties, with Gianluigi Buffon saving three to help the Italians to third place.

For Italy, Andrea Pirlo and Andrea Barzagli missed out due to injury, while Stephan El Shaaraway and Diamanti were chosen to join Alberto Gilardino in a front three.

Uruguay kept faith with the formidable striking trio of Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan and Cavani as they looked to break down an Italian defence that had become the first to shut out Spain in 16 games during the sem-final.

Cesare Prandelli’s side made the stronger start to the game, with Antonio Candreva involved in two good chances early on.

The Euro 2012 finalists then took the lead after 23 minutes through Astori, following a bizarre series of events when a Diamanti free kick hit the crossbar and cannoned back off Fernando Muslera in the Uruguay goal.

The ball bounced along the line and into the path of Astori, who prodded it over the line to put the Italians ahead.

Goalline technology was used to determine whether or not the ball had crossed the line before Astori made contact – the first time the new system has been called into action in a major tournament.

Uruguay looked to bounce back straight away as Suarez struck a shot into the side netting four minutes later, before Cavani had the ball in the net, only to see his effort ruled out for offside.

Despite the pressure, Italy’s defence stood firm to ensure that they went in at the break a goal to the good.

The scores were level 13 minutes into the second half, when Walter Gargano drove into the Italy half and played in Cavani, with the Napoli forward keeping his composure to sidefoot neatly past Buffon.

Forlan should have put his side ahead after 67 minutes when his deflected shot sat up nicely for a second attempt. However, Buffon was equal to it and ensured the score remained level.

However, Diamanti’s left foot again proved effective for the Italians after 73 minutes. Not content with having a big say in his side’s opener, he curled a superb free-kick past the helpless Muslera.

Napoli man Cavani, not to be outdone, then showed exactly why the likes of Chelsea are keen on securing his signature with a free-kick of equal quality. The forward grabbed his second of the match, beating Buffon with a beautifully measured effort from just outside the box to set up a grandstand finish with 12 minutes to go.

With the game set to go into extra time, Italy were awarded a free-kick in the 91st minute but Candreva’s delivery was disappointing and drifted harmlessly wide, ensuring the sides would play an extra 30 minutes.

Italy enjoyed much of the possession as the first half extra time got under way, with both sides looking weary as they struggled to fashion opportunities.

Cavani came within sight of a one-on-one with Buffon at the end of the first period, before the second got under way with an early blow for Italy who lost midfielder Riccardo Montolivo to a second yellow card.

Suarez hit a fierce shot over the crossbar in the 113th minute as Uruguay piled on the pressure before Cavani flashed an effort wide a minute later.

Just a minute from time, the pair each had another great opportunity to seal the game but Suarez saw his effort saved while Cavani was ruled offside, meaning that penalties decided who would finish in third place.

Forlan got his side off to the worst possible start in the shootout, seeing his effort saved by Buffon, before Alberto Aquilani put Italy ahead. Cavani then made it one each with a cool sidefoot past the goalkeeper with El Shaaraway sending Muslera the wrong way to keep Italy ahead.

Suarez dispatched his spot-kick before Mattia De Sciglio’s was saved to level matters. There was to be another twist ahead as Martin Caceres’ penalty was saved before Emanuele Giaccherini scored. Gargano then saw his strike saved by Buffon to ensure Italy took the honours.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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