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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Manchester United and Arsenal win to close in on Chelsea

Manchester United and Arsenal closed the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea with big victories over struggling sides Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth.

Defending champions United beat Wigan 5-0 at Old Trafford while Arsenal were never troubled by bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth and won 4-1 at Fratton Park.

Man United raced into a 3-0 lead by halftime with goals from Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Rafael before Dimitar Berbatov added the fourth soon after the break. Antonio Valencia scored United's fifth against his old club 15 minutes from time.

Arsenal also had the points wrapped up by the break thanks to goals from Eduardo, whose free-kick took a huge deflection off Younes Kaboul, and Samir Nasri.

Aaron Ramsey added a third while Alex Song Billong headed a superb fourth nine minutes from time, after Nadir Belhadj had netted a consolation for the home side.

Chelsea lead the table with 45 points from 20 matches, followed by United on 43 and Arsenal on 41 with a game in hand.

Wellington Phoenix beat Central Coast 2-0 in Australia

The Wellington Phoenix snapped a four-match winless streak by beating the Central Coast Mariners with a deserved 2-0 A-League victory in Gosford on New Years Eve.

Two second half strikes by England-born Barbados international Paul Infill enabled the Phoenix to take the points and move into seventh on the table, one point out of the play-off zone on 25.

Ifill had broke a scoreless deadlock two minutes after halftime when he won a penalty after being brought down with his back to goal by a clumsy Pedj Bojic. The striker slotted the ball home to open the scoring.

And a well timed move into the box by midfielder Adrian Caceres provided the killer blow in the 80th minute when he drew three defenders before back heeling to Ifill who gave keeper Andrew Redmayne no chance for a second time in the contest.

The Phoenix next play Brisbane Roar, at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on January 9th.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mark Hughes initial favourite for vacant Bolton Wanderers managers job

Mark Hughes is the opening favourite with Paddy Power to be the next Bolton manager following Gary Megson’s sacking today.

Hughes is 11/4 for a quick return to management following his recent exit at Manchester City with Alan Curbishley the next name in the frame at 6/1.

Other out of work managers seen as possible contenders include Paul Jewell and Darren Ferguson both at 13/2 with Steve Coppell, Kevin Keegan and Gareth Southgate at 14s, 16s and 20s, respectively. Former Bolton players Gary Speed and Peter Reid are 28/1 and 40/1.

Paddy Power, said: "Hughes is the favourite for a quick return to the Premier League but is it a job that is going to attract him after the millions he had at his disposal at Man City?

It may be that the likes of Alan Curbishley and Gary Speed are picked up by punters as more fitting of the Bolton mould.

One thing is for sure, this market is going to see some ups and downs over the next few days as managers rule themselves in or out."

Paul Jewell has stormed into favouritism at 11/4 (3.75), with Peter Reid now second at 13/2 (5.50). Mark Hughes is now 3rd favourite at 6/1 (7.00)

Next Permanent Bolton Manager Betting

11/4 Jewell (from 13/2)
13/2 Reid (from 40/1)
6/1 Hughes (from 11/4)
9/1 D Ferguson (from 13/2)
10/1 Curbishley (from 6/1)

(see all the latest Bolton Wanderers Next Manager Betting odds at Paddy Power)

Relegation Latest

2/5 Hull
5/13 Portsmouth
Evs Burnley
11/10 Wolves
13/5 West Ham
3/1 Bolton
9/2 Wigan
7/1 Bar

Gary Megson sacked as manager of Bolton Wanderers

Gary Megson has finally been sacked as manager of Bolton Wanderers - as the club continues to struggle against relegation.

Bolton fans have disliked Megson from the moment he was chosen to replace Sammy Lee just over two years ago. Indeed, there were even anti-Megson demonstrations ahead of his first game in charge, a UEFA Cup tie against Sporting Braga.

It seems they preferred the negative but effective football of Sam Allardyce who had taken Bolton to a Carling Cup final and subsequent European football in the UEFA Cup.

That ill-feeling continued right though to his last game in charge, against Hull on Tuesday night, when a controversial decision to replace goalscorer Ivan Klasnic was followed by an equalising goal from the visitors that ultimately proved to be the last milestone of Megson's time in charge.

Chief executive Phil Gartside knew that situation was unsustainable over the long-term and, after tossing away a two-goal lead at the Reebok Stadium last night, has decided to act.

Megson becomes the third Premier League boss to lose his job this season, and the second in less than a fortnight following Mark Hughes' exit from Manchester City.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool - Torres strikes for Liverpool at the end

Fernando Torres scored a 93rd-minute winner as Liverpool claimed a dramatic late victory over Aston Villa.

The Reds' season of frustration looked set to continue as Villa produced a spirited display in snowy conditions. Steven Gerrard went close, Pepe Reina denied Stewart Downing and Gabriel Agbonlahor, and John Carew headed wide.

The game was very evenly contested with the sides splitting posession 51%-49% in Liverpool's favour, and Liverpool edging the shot count 12-11.

A draw beckoned but Torres raced on to a ricochet around the edge of the Villa penalty area, and slotted in to stun Villa Park.

The Spaniard's strike provided a pulsating end to a disappointing encounter and Liverpool's joy at snatching a morale-boosting three points was clear for all to see.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Manchester City owner now wants to buy Real Madrid

Manchester City's owner Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been sensationally linked with a billion pound swoop to buy Real Madrid.

According to reports in Spanish newspaper AS (which admitedly does routinely print a load of bullsh!t and acts as a Real Madrid publicity machine), Sheikh Mansour has been prompted to set up a meeting with Real President Florentino Perez early in 2010, and he is reportedly prepared to pay 1 billion euros for the La Liga giants.

The Madrid newspaper, however, say that such a deal would be near impossible because the club would need the permission from their shareholding fans to change its legal statutes, which would then pave the way for any deal to go through.

Real Madrid currently have two of the world's most high profile players in Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo on their books, but had to go into significant debt in order to pay ther transfer fees.

But reports that suggest Sheikh Mansour is willing to take on all the debts and could entice the Real Madrid fans to back the surprise bid.

Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa - Fabregas makes the difference at the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas came off the bench to inspire the Gunners to a 3-0 win over Aston Villa which hauls them back into the title race.

Fabregas, who had been out with a hamstring problem, netted a superb free-kick on 65 minutes and then scored a fine breakaway goal before being substituted after appearing to re-injure the hamstring.

Abou Diaby netted a third in stoppage time at Emirates Stadium, curling in a low effort from the edge of the area after a powerful run.

Villa - who had already beaten Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool this season - looked dangerous on the break but could not make the most of their best spell of pressure midway through the second half.

Arsene Wenger's men are now just four points behind leaders Chelsea, and with a match in hand on the sides around them.


Team          PL  GD PTS 
1 Chelsea     19 +28  42 
2 Man Utd     19 +22  40 
3 Arsenal     18 +27  38 
4 Aston Villa 19 +12  35 
5 Tottenham   19 +18  34 
6 Man City    18  +8  32 
7 Liverpool   19 +11  30 
8 Birmingham  19  +1  29 
9 Fulham      18  +6  27 
10 Sunderland 19  -3  22

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Schumacher return to F1 confirmed

The announcement of Michael Schumacher's return to F1 driving is now out on several mainstream news sites.

Schumacher retired at the end of 2006, and will be 41 when he starts racing again.

Michael Schumacher to return to F1 racing with Mercedes

The BBC Sport website is reporting that seven-times Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher will come out of retirement to race for Mercedes next year.

Schumacher will partner compatriot Nico Rosberg in the team that won the drivers' and constructors' titles in 2009 in its former guise as Brawn.

The German newspaper Bild is reporting that Schumacher signed a one-year deal and it is likely he will have the option to continue beyond 2010 if his returns goes well.

Schumacher will reportedly earn £6.2m after signing up to reunite with Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, who masterminded all seven of his titles, the first two with Benetton in 1994-5 and the subsequent five with Ferrari from 2000-4.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Lionel Messi wins Fifa World Player of the Year award

Barcelona football Lionel Messi has been named Fifa World Footballer of the Year to complete a stunning 2009 for the Argentine forward.

The 22-year-old, who helped Barca win the Club World Cup on Saturday - their sixth trophy of the year - also won the Ballon d'Or award this year.

In a vote by captains and head coaches of the men's and women's national teams, Messi won 1,073 votes, Ronaldo 352, Xavi 196, Kaka 190 and Iniesta 134.

Messi becomes the first Argentine to win the award, which was inaugurated in 1991, and it completes a stunning year for the brilliant winger.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Man City sack manager Mark Hughes, name Roberto Mancini as replacement

Manchester City have sacked Mark Hughes after 18 months in charge and named Roberto Mancini as his successor, with Brian Kidd as assistant.

News of Hughes' departure came via a statement, issued just two hours after the 4-3 home win over Sunderland. The Welshman had been appointed in June 2008, replacing Sven-Goran Eriksson.

But despite spending heavily on the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Joleon Lescott and Carlos Tevez, results have not satisfied City's ambitious owners.

Assistant coaches Mark Bowen, Eddie Niedzwiecki, Kevin Hitchcock and Glyn Hodges have also left the club.

A Manchester City statement read :

"A return of two wins in 11 Premier League games is clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed and set".

"Sheikh Mansour and the board felt that there was no evidence that the situation would fundamentally change."

"This is a particularly difficult announcement given the personal investment over the past 15 months on all sides and we would like to put on record our respect for and thanks to Mark Hughes and we wish him the best in his future career."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Liverpool get Romanian side Unirea Urziceni in Europa League Draw

Liverpool will play Romanian side Unirea Urziceni in the last 32 of the Europa League.

City rivals Everton have been handed a clash with Sporting Lisbon - a side who topped their Europa League group which also included Hertha Berlin, Heerenveen and FK Ventspils.

Fulham fared the worst of the English sides in Friday afternoon's draw - they must face Shakhtar Donetsk, who won last season's UEFA Cup.

Last 32 draw
Rubin Kazan v Hapoel Tel Aviv
Athletic Bilbao v Anderlecht
FC Copenhagen v Marseille
Panathinaikos v Roma
Atletico Madrid v Galatasaray
Ajax v Juventus
Club Brugge v Valencia
Fulham v Shakhtar Donetsk
Liverpool v Unirea Urziceni
Hamburg v PSV Eindhoven
Villarreal v Wolfsburg
Standard Liege v FC Salzburg
FC Twente v Werder Bremen
Lille v Fenerbahce
Everton v Sporting Lisbon
Hertha Berlin v Benfica

First legs to be played on February 18 and second legs on February 25.

Mark Hughes time at Man City looks to be up in May 2010

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes had better start keeping his eyes out for his next job if Guus Hiddink's agent is to be believed.

Hiddink's agent, Cees Van Nieuwenhuizen, told the Daily Telegraph when asked if he has spoken to the English club's chief executive Garry Cook: "Yes, I did. Definitely. I had a call because I have been working with Garry for 12 years since we worked together at Nike.

"He (Cook) asked me if it would be worthwhile having a meeting to discuss the future and what might happen next summer. But I told him that Guus was contracted to Russia."

Reports suggest Hiddink, who guided Chelsea to an FA Cup win as interim manager in the second half of last season, is prepared to consider his future in February.

City were comfortably beaten 3-0 at White Hart Lane to cast doubts over their top-four credentials and the security of their manager's job.

Current boss Mark Hughes is under increasing pressure after his side slipped to eighth in the Premier League following Wednesday's defeat at Tottenham.

Champions League Draw - Man United get AC Milan, Chelsea face Inter, Arsenal v Porto

AC Milan v MAN UTD
Lyon v Real Madrid
CSKA Moscow v Sevilla
Bayern Munich v Fiorentina
Inter Milan v CHELSEA
Olympiakos v Bordeaux
Stuttgart v Barcelona

The first-leg ties will be played on 16, 17, 23 or 24 February. The return games will be played on either 9, 10, 16 or 17 March.

Liverpool are not seeded for Europa League draw

Liverpool will not be seeded for the Europa League knockout stage draw which takes place in Switzerland on Friday.

The Reds enter at the round of 32 stage after being eliminated from the Champions League in the group stages.

Liverpool join fellow Premier League sides Fulham and Everton, who are also unseeded, in the draw.

A Uefa spokesman said: "The 12 group winners from the Europa League and the best four third-placed sides from the Champions League are the top-16 seeds."

Liverpool moved into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group, but their poor goal difference means they miss out on a seeding.

Fellow English clubs Everton and Fulham are also unseeded after finishing second in their groups.

Top 16 seeds :
A: RSC Anderlecht (BEL)
B: Valencia CF (ESP)
C: Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC (ISR)
D: Sporting Clube de Portugal (POR)
E: AS Roma (ITA)
F: Galatasaray AS (TUR)
G: FC Salzburg (AUT)
H: Fenerbahce SK (TUR)
I: SL Benfica (POR)
J: FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
K: PSV Eindhoven (NED)
L: Werder Bremen (GER)
FC Unirea Urziceni (ROU) *
Juventus (ITA)*
VfL Wolfsburg (GER)*
Olympique de Marseille (FRA)*

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tiger Woods likely to spend Christmas with his mom

The only bird Tiger Woods will be tucking into this Christmas will be a juicy turkey according to bookies Paddy Power who are betting 2/5 that the troubled golfer will spend the holidays with his mother.

According to reports, Tiger's stunning wife Elin is planning to spend the holidays in her native Sweden with everybody except her husband. If those rumours are true it leaves the world Number One with little choice and speculation has already begun as to where he’ll opt to keep the head down.

At home in the US is the most likely destination, particularly if a visit to mom is on the cards, while it's 3/1 that Tiger follows his family to Sweden. There are even reports that Tiger will escape to Ireland for the festive period.

Sharon McHugh, spokesperson for Paddy Power said: "It looks like Tiger is not out of the woods yet and the only bird he'll be stuffing this Christmas will be the turkey at mom's house!"

There are two betting markets for Tiger Woods at Paddy Power ...

Which woman will Tiger spend Christmas with?
2/5 Kultida Woods (his mom)
7/4 Elin Nordegren
18/1 Rachel Uchitel
20/1 Jessica Simpson
20/1 Jamie Grubbs
20/1 Joslyn James
25/1 Jamie Jungers
25/1 Kalika Moquin
33/1 Cori Rist
33/1 Mindy Lawton
33/1 Loredana Jolie
40/1 Holly Sampson
40/1 Julie Postle
50/1 Theresa Rogers
100/1 Oprah

Where will Tiger spend Christmas?
1/4 US
3/1 Sweden
8/1 Dubai
10/1 Ireland
12/1 Belize
14/1 Barbados
18/1 Mexico
20/1 England
50/1 Scotland
100/1 Wales
500/1 North Pole

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Henrik Larsson is back in football - as a manager

Former Celtic and Barcelona striker Henrik Larsson has been appointed manager of Swedish second division side Landskrona Bois.

Larsson is now 38 and retired as a player in October after finishing his career with Helsingborgs.

Larsson was capped 106 times by Sweden and won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006 in a 2-1 win over Arsenal in Paris.

He also won two Primera Division titles with Barcelona, four Scottish Premier League crowns while at Celtic and was part of the Manchester United squad that won the Premier League in 2007.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Portsmouth deny planning to go into administration

Portsmouth have issued a strongly worded statement denying rumours they are planning to go into financial administration.

Speculation over the club's finances increased after it was revealed last week that the players had been paid late for a second time this season.

A transfer embargo is currently in force because of debts to other clubs and yet Portsmouth desperately need to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window because half a dozen players will be absent at the African Cup of Nations.

More at the BBC Sports website

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Champions League Group stages complete - 16 teams for second round named

The lineup for the UEFA Champions League first knockout round was completed on Wednesday when the group stage concluded with holders Barcelona, Inter Milan, VfB Stuttgart and Olympiacos taking the final four places.

Generally, the group winners are the stronger section with the five shorted priced sides in the Winners group, but with Inter Milan, Olympique Lyon and Bayern Munich lurking as dangerous runners-up opponents.

Group winners
Bordeaux (FRA)
Manchester United (ENG)
Real Madrid (ESP)
Chelsea (ENG)
ACF Fiorentina (ITA)
FC Barcelona (ESP)
Sevilla (ESP)
Arsenal (ENG)

Group runners-up
Bayern Munchen (GER)
CSKA Moskva (RUS)
AC Milan (ITA)
FC Porto (POR)
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)
Internazionale Milano (ITA)
VfB Stuttgart (GER)
Olympiacos (GRE)

Knockout Draw
The draw will take place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland at 12.00CET on Friday 18 December.

The UEFA Champions League first knockout round first-leg ties will take place on 16/17 and 23/24 February 2010 (with two games each day) with the second legs to be played on 9/10 and 16/17 March.

Outright Winner Betting Odds :
Barcelona 4.50 @ Betfred
Chelsea 5.00 @ Eurobet
Real Madrid 7.00 @ Bet365
Manchester United 9.00 @ Ladbrokes
Arsenal 11.00 @ Eurobet
Internazionale Milano 17.00 @ Eurobet
Sevilla 21.00 @ Centrebet
Bayern Munchen 23.00 @ Centrebet
AC Milan 23.00 @ Bet365

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Manchester United win in Wolfsburg while Bayern Munich thrash Juventus

Bayern Munich clinched their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a come-from-behind 4-1 victory over Juventus which saw the Italians eliminated.

Bayern earned the win at Juventus despite the Serie A side taking an early lead in Turin through David Trezeguet.

Bayern goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt levelled from the penalty spot and Ivica Olic put the visitors in front seven minutes into the second half.

Late goals from Mario Gomez and Anatoliy Tymoschuk sealed the German side's progression - to leave Juventus with the consolation of a Europa League place.


Michael Owen scored a hat-trick as Manchester United made light of their injury woes to record a 3-1 win over German champions Wolfsburg.

Edin Dzeko's 56th-minute header cancelled out Owen's first-half opener, but the English international struck twice in the closing stages of the second half to leave Wolfsburg contemplating a place in the UEFA Europa League.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Who's going to make the top four in England this season?

Manchester City are in the race for a top-four Premier League finish, according to bookmakers after a weekend of twists and turns in the chase for Champions League places.

Everton were the last team to dislodge the 'big four' of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, back in 2004/05

And while Chelsea (not backable), Man United (1.01) and Arsenal (1.17) are short prices for retaining their places the race is on for the fourth spot.

Liverpool are even-money, Manchester City are 6/5 shots after their thrilling 2-1 victory over Chelsea on Saturday, while Spurs, who currently occupy fourth place, are now out to 9/4 for one of those coveted top-four slots after drawing at Everton.

Current standings :
Chelsea --- Pl 15 Pts 36
Man Utd --- Pl 15 Pts 34
Arsenal --- Pl 14 Pts 28
Spurs ----- Pl 15 Pts 27
Villa ----- Pl 15 Pts 26
Man City -- Pl 14 Pts 25
Liverpool - Pl 15 Pts 24

Top Four Betting Odds at Paddy Power
Manchester United 1.01 @ Paddy Power
Arsenal 1.17 @ Paddy Power
Liverpool 2.00 @ Paddy Power
Manchester City 2.20 @ Paddy Power
Tottenham Hotspur 3.50 @ Paddy Power
Aston Villa 6.50 @ Paddy Power

Sunday Football - Fulham beat Sunderland : Everton and Spurs share points

Fulham striker Bobby Zamora fired his club back into the top half of the table with a 1-0 win over Sunderland at Craven Cottage.

It means Fulham leapfrog over Sunderland into eighth, with their form reliant on home performances: they have not lost on their own turf since September.

Tottenham lost a two-goal lead and then missed an injury-time penalty to draw 2-2 at Everton.

Jermain Defoe opened the scoring just after the break and the points appeared safe when Michael Dawson doubled the lead on the hour.

But goals from Louis Saha and Tim Cahill levelled the scores before Defoe's weak spot-kick was saved by Tim Howard after Tony Hibbert had brought down Wilson Palacios.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Juventus beat inter Milan 2-1 while AC Milan thrash Sampdoria 3-0

Juve beat leaders Inter 2-1 as Mourinho sent off
Claudio Marchisio scored a superb goal gave 10-man Juventus a 2-1 win over leaders Inter Milan in an enthralling game on Saturday.

Italy midfielder Marchisio danced past Walter Samuel and chipped the ball over Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar just before the hour mark to inflict Inter’s second league defeat this term.

Juventus took the lead after 20 minutes when Diego's free kick was headed on by Giorgio Chiellini and the ball deflected in off Inter's Lucio.

Inter manager Jose Mourinho sarcastically applauded the referee after the goal for awarding the free kick and was immediately sent to the stands by the referee.

Inter Milan equalised after 26 minutes when a Dejan Stankovic’s cross was headed in by an unmarked Samuel Eto'o.

Second-placed Milan overpower Sampdoria 3-0
AC Milan scored three goals in the first 23 minutes to seal an easy victory over Sampdoria.

Ronaldinho set up the first two goals but then went off with a minor hamstring strain with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League clash at FC Zurich, where a win will put Milan through.

Striker Marco Borriello headed in the Brazilian's cross after just two minutes for his fourth league goal of the season.

Ronaldinho, playing on the left of a new three-man attack, then laid the ball off for midfielder Clarence Seedorf score just inside the box after 21 minutes.

Alexandre Pato scored soon after to secure a fifth straight league win for Leonardo’s side, who have recovered from a shaky start to the campaign.

Friday, December 04, 2009

FIFA 2010 World Cup Final Draw for South Africa Completed

England have been drawn to face the United States, Algeria and Slovenia in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Five-time champions Brazil face Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea in arguably the strongest group.

Holders Italy were drawn with Slovakia, Paraguay and New Zealand and and three-time winners Germany will take on Serbia, Ghana and Australia.










Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Man City through to Carling Cup semi-final - and will face Manchester United

Manchester City deservedly sealed a place in the Carling Cup semi-final after beating a youthful Arsenal side 3-0 at Eastlands.

Over 46,000 fans turned out to see a strong Manchester City side take on Arsenal's young gunners, and while Arsenal dominated possession (61%-39%), the kids never looked like having the experience to open up City.

The game was still scoreless at the break, Carlos Tevez's spectacular strike five minutes after half-time put City on the path into the last four and a stunning angled drive from Shaun Wright-Phillips sealed the victory for Mark Hughes' side.

Substitute Vladimir Weiss wrapped up City's triumph a minute from time.

Arsenal side :
21 Fabianski
18 Silvestre
27 Eboue
30 Traore
37 Eastmond (Watt 68)
07 Rosicky
16 Ramsey
17 Song Billong
19 Wilshere
32 Merida
12 Vela

24 Mannone,
34 Bartley,
42 Gilbert,
35 Coquelin,
41 Frimpong,
48 Randall,
54 Watt

Carling Cup Quarter-Final Results :
Blackburn 3-3 Chelsea (Blackburn win 4-3 on pens)
Man City 3-0 Arsenal
Man United 2-0 Tottenham
Portsmouth 2-4 Aston Villa

Carling Cup Semi-final draw:
Manchester City v Manchester United
Blackburn Rovers v Aston Villa

First legs to be played week commencing January 4 and second legs week commencing January 18.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Barcelona star Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Or award

Barcelona's Lionel Messi has won the acclaimed Ballon d'Or award after being named European Footballer of the Year.

French magazine France Football said the Argentina forward beat 2008 winner Cristiano Ronaldo into second place by a massive margin - 473 points to 233.

Messi, 22, won the treble of Champions League, the Spanish championship and Spanish cup with Barcelona last season.

Third and fourth place in the voting were Messi's Barcelona team-mates, midfielders Xavi (170 points) and Andres Iniesta (149).

Striker Samuel Eto'o, who left Barcelona for Inter Milan during the close-season, was fifth.

Messi becomes the sixth Barcelona player to take the award but the first since Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho in 2005.

2000 - Luis Figo (Portugal),
2001 - Michael Owen (England),
2002 - Ronaldo,
2003 - Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic),
2004 - Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine),
2005 - Ronaldinho (Brazil),
2006 - Fabio Cannavaro (Italy),
2007 - Kaka (Brazil),
2008 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).

Paddy Power Christmas Countdown - White Christmas ?

Top Irish bookmaker Paddy Power was today inundated with bets on a white Christmas as Ireland woke up to bitter temperatures and frost covered grounds.

The odds on a single snowflake falling in Dublin on Christmas Day were cut to 9/2 from 5/1 after an avalanche of bets flooded in on the festive market. Further north, the Paddy Power odds on Belfast waking up to a blanket of snow were also cut to 7/2 from 4/1.

Ireland's last "official" white Christmas was in 2004. This year, a single snowflake registered in Dublin airport on the 25th December could cost the bookie in excess of €75,000.

Sharon McHugh, spokesperson for Paddy Power said: "We always witness a flood of bets the minute a bit of ice forms on the ground. It's been five years since we last saw a white Christmas so punters might just get their wish this year!"

White Christmas in different Cities ...
Evens Chicago
11/10 Boston
11/10 Berlin
13/8 New York
3/1 Glasgow
7/2 Belfast
4/1 London
9/2 Dublin
5/1 Cardiff
11/2 Manchester
6/1 Cork
8/1 Paris
10/1 Madrid
12/1 Barcelona

Check out the latest odds using any of the Paddy Power links and then choosing Novelty Bets -> Weather from their menu or ...

TRy this direct link to the Paddy Power Novelty Betting Page and choose Weather ... if they haven't moved it again !

Sunday, November 29, 2009

England FA Cup Third round draw

The draw for the third round of the FA Cup has been made with the games to be played on January 2nd and 3rd.

Three all-Premier League ties came out of the hat in the draw for the third round, they were :
West Ham United v Arsenal,
Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers
Wigan Athletic v Hull City.

The full draw (lower league teams indicated in brackets, ML = minor league) :
Tottenham v Peterborough United (II)
Brentford (III) v Doncaster Rovers (II)
Middlesbrough (II) v Manchester City
Stoke City v York City (ML)
Notts County (IV) v Forest Green Rovers (ML)
Huddersfield Town (III) v West Bromwich Albion (II)
Sheffield United (II) v Queen's Park Rangers (II)
Milton Keynes Dons (III) v Burnley
Chelsea v Watford (II)
Nottingham Forest (II) v Birmingham City
Preston North End (II) v Colchester United (III)
West Ham United v Arsenal
Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers
Portsmouth v Coventry City (II)
Wigan Athletic v Hull City
Everton v Carlisle United (III)
Sheffield Wednesday (II) v Crystal Palace (II)
Blackpool (II) v Ipswich Town (II)
Fulham v Swindon Town (III)
Scunthorpe United (II) v Barnsley (II)
Bristol City (II) v Cardiff City (II)
Reading (II) v Liverpool
Plymouth Argyle (II) v Newcastle United (II)
Leicester City (II) v Swansea City (II)
Bolton Wanderers v Lincoln City (IV)
Accrington Stanley (IV)/Barnet (IV) v Gillingham (III)
Manchester United v Kettering Town (ML)/Leeds United (III)
Staines Town (ML)/Millwall (III) v Derby County (II)
Southampton (III) v Rotherham United (IV)/Luton Town (ML)
Stockport County (III)/Torquay United (IV) v Brighton & Hove Albion (III)
Sunderland V Oxford United (ML)/Barrow (ML)
Tranmere Rovers (III)/Aldershot Town (IV) v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Saturday, November 28, 2009

All Blacks overrun France 39-12 to win rugby test in Marseille

New Zealand completed their unbeaten tour of Europe with a superb display to thrash France 39-12 in Marseille on Saturday evening.

The All Blacks were finally able to break the test try shackles that they've experienced in the Northern Hemisphere to score five tries to nil.

Sitiveni Sivivatu's fine try gave the All Blacks an early 7-3 lead.

Julien Dupuy edged France 9-7 ahead but Mils Muliania's spectacular try and a Jerome Kaino try ensured the visitors had a 22-12 half-time lead.

Cory Jane scored a solo effort after the break and Conrad Smith also crossed as the visitors confirmed their status as the world's number one-ranked team.

The victory means New Zealand will head back to the southern hemisphere, after a final outing against the Barbarians at Twickenham, with four Test wins out of four in Europe, having beaten Wales 19-12, England 19-6 and Italy 20-6 in the lead-up to the Test against France.

Arsenal v Chelsea Team News

Venue : Emirates Stadium
Date : Sunday, 29 November
Kick-off : 1600 GMT

Arsenal will be without left-back Kieran Gibbs, who suffered a fractured metatarsal in the Champions League win over Standard Liege in midweek.

William Gallas is expected to be fit after suffering a blow to the head in the same match, while Theo Walcott is pushing for a starting berth.

Doubtful: Clichy (back), Diaby (calf), Fabianski (thigh)

Injured: Bendtner (groin), Djourou (knee), Gibbs (foot), Van Persie (ankle), Wilshere (ankle)

Chelsea hope to have Frank Lampard available following the midfielder's recovery from a torn thigh muscle.

Deco and Michael Ballack may feature after returning from injury in midweek.

Doubtful : Drogba (chest), Lampard (thigh)

Injured : Bosingwa (knee)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Which is the best bookmaker for best lines and high payouts?

It's a question that I get asked all the time - "Which is the best bookmaker?" ...

The answer does depend a lot on what YOU want to bet on - but over the next few weeks I'm going to try to answer this question with a series of answers ...

But let's start this week with which bookmaker has the sharpest pencil, the lowest over-round, the "best odds".

I've kept records of betting prices at the bookmakers that we recommend and monitor for four major domestic leagues, England, Italy, Spain and Germany, as well as the Champions League and Internetional football.

I've been doing it since 1999, and have a lot of data, over 10,000 matches in all, and I've crunched the numbers to get the "typical payout odds".

And the best sportsbook out there should not surprised regular readers of our site it is .... PinnacleSports (registered in the Netherland Antilles) with a 97.4% payout - or an over-round of just 2.6%.

We've banged on about PinnacleSports for years, they have an extremely sharp pencil when it comes to prices on sports bets, espescially on long-odds outsiders, so if you fancy an underdog then PinnacleSports is a must visit site.

However, there are a few downsides to Pinnaclesports operation.

Firstly, despite the fact that the sportsbook is set up for American players, and focuses on a lot of US sports (and mainstream European football) PinnacleSports no longer accepts US based players.

UK and European players seem to be put off by the clunkiness of the website, the lack of local telephone support, the lack of any joining bonus, and the fact that if you want to withdraw more than once per month then PinnacleSports will hit a $15 fee onto subsequent withdrawals.

But that notwithstanding, sharp punters (who are outside the US) should definately have an account with PinnacleSports and put up with the minor foibles - as they are a very competitive site.

(Read our full page review of PinnacleSports Sportsbook here)

So who were the best of the rest?

Well the number #2 site was the BETFAIR Exchange at 96.1% payout (after commission) - a very good site - especially for betting in-running - although I found that volumes and prices can be a bit scratchy early in the week, and even 24-48 hours before the game.

(Our full review of the Betfair Betting Exchange is here)

In the #3 spot was the first UK bookmaker, as Bet365 Bookmaker took the honours with a 93.5% payout. When you consider that Bet365 also offer a £100 to £200 joining bonus - depending on your country and timing of special offers then it's clear that they've a good all-round choice.

(Read the full page Bet365 Bookmaker review here)

Betting destination #4 was Betsson Exchange and Sportsbook with a solid 92.0% payout. With 17 different language sites, and lots of bonuses, Betsson are the top European odds destination.

(Read more about the Bettson Betting Exchange and Sportsbook here)

And rounding out the top five, at #5 was Canbet, a quality book who are registered in both the UK and Australia, and with an average payout of 91.6% are giving punters a fair deal.

(Read the full Canbet Sportsbook review here)

Here's a full list of the bookmakers and sportsbooks in the review and their payout rates over the last five years for the major leagues ...

Pinnacle Sports 97.4%
Betfair exchange 96.1%
Bet365 93.5%
Betsson exchange 92.0%
Canbet 91.6%
Centrebet 91.4%
NordicBet 90.9%
BoDog 90.9%
Unibet 90.8%
EuroBet 90.5%
Betfred 90.4%
Ladbrokes 90.0%
Paddy Power 90.0%
Victor Chandler 89.5%
Interwetten 87.5% 86.8%

Now remember, this is not an overall rating, it does not consider things like customer serice, join bonuses, scope and variety of sports offered and many other items.

It should also be pointed out that overall payout percentages are not always the most important thing for ALL punters. For instance if you like to bet on short-priced favourites then Interwetten are a top choice - because they nearly always hold a top price on big name teams.

The 87.5% rating for Interwetten simply reflects that they never seem to give a big price on the underdogs, so if you prefer longshot bets then you need to look elsewhere - #1 PinnacleSports and #2 Betfair spring to mind !

So checkout our main bookmaker and sportsbook guide on site or my best bookmaker awards page if you want further information on which bookmaker might best suit you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Barcelona beat Inter Milan 2-0 in Champions League to move to top of Group F

Barcelona bounced back from the brink of elimination when the evening started to take charge of Group F thanks to a Xavi Hernandez-inspired victory over Internazionale Milano.

The holders laid on their most complete performance, by some distance, since that fabulous day in May last year when they defeated Manchester United 2-0 to lift the trophy in Rome.

Their first goal came straight from the training ground. Xavi bent a corner to the near post, Thierry Henry flicked it on to the far, and Pique bullishly held off Thiago Motta to stab home.

For the second goal, Iniesta clipped an inside pass to Xavi, whose cushioned volley was measured to land between two defenders and meet the run of Daniel Alves. Alves dinked the ball to the far post and Pedro raced in to volley home.

Barcelona v Inter Milan match report at

Group F     Pld Pts 
Barcelona    5   8 
Inter Milan  5   6 
Rubin Kazan  5   6 
Dynamo Kyiv  5   5 

Liverpool win in Hungary but Fiorentina beat Lyon to eliminate the Reds.

Liverpool supplied the win they needed as a minimum requirement in Budapest, but their evening ended in misery as victory for ACF Fiorentina against Olympique Lyonnais knocked the Merseyside club out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stage.

Debrecen 0-1 Liverpool
Missing the injured Fernando Torres for this must-win occasion, Liverpool's travelling supporters were asked to place faith in lone forward Ngog, who delivered with the only goal of the game in the 4th minute.

Debreceni v Liverpool match report at

ACF Fiorentina 1-0 Olympique Lyonnais
But ACF Fiorentina are through to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in ten years after overcoming Olympique Lyonnais in Florence, with Juan Vargas ensuring the Serie A side qualified from Group E converting a first-half penalty.

Fiorentina v Olympique Lyon match report at

Group E   Pld Pts 
Fiorentina  5 12 
Lyon        5 10 
Liverpool   5  7 
Debrecen    5  0 
Check out the Gooners Guide to the Champions League for more betting advice

Arsenal ease through to Champions League knockout stages with 2-0 win

Arsenal eased to a comfortable 2-0 victory over R. Standard de Liege that ensured the London side finished top of Group H.

First-half goals from Samir Nasri and Denilson set Arsenal on their way to a convincing success which confirmed the north London side qualified for the last 16 as winners of the section with one game still to play.

Arsenal were temporarily down to nine men in the 33rd minute after a nasty clash heads of heads between Gallas and Arshavin as they both went for a Fabregas cross, and the Russian playmaker was still off the pitch a couple of minutes later when Arsenal went in front.

Vermaelen launched a long ball forward from just inside the Arsenal half, defender Landry Mulemo slipped over and Nasri scooted through to steer the ball past Sinan Bolat.

Further chances promptly came Arsenal's way when Nasri dinked the ball through for Arshavin, who sent a rasping shot just wide, while Fabregas had no better luck with an angled effort that rolled just beyond the far post.

The pressure paid off in added time at the end of the first half, when Denilson collected the ball from Kieran Gibbs some 25 metres out and struck a dipping shot that flew over Bolat's flailing arms.

Full match report on the UEFA website - hopefully with goals video to follow.
(videos usually posted after midnight following the matchday)

Monday, November 23, 2009

France v Ireland handball - Ireland guilty of similar case in earlier qualifying

The France v Ireland playoff was a big game, and there is little doubt that the Theirry Henry handball incident was a foul. But does it really need to be added to the list of deadly sporting sins ?

You'd think so after the huge amount of righteous whining going on in the British and Irish media, and on the blogs and the forums ... by anyone and everyone with an axe to grind about Henry, France, Arsenal (who used to be Henry's club), and/or FIFA's unwillingness to have TV replay ...

(OK that last point about TV replays might actually be justified - but let's not derail the blog post this time)

I'm bored with all the ranting ... the xenophobic diatribe dished out by the tabloids who are simply trying to sell newspapers and the politicans who are trying distract from bigger problems ... so I'm going to try to short circuit this issue by demonstating that this Irish side were guilty of a similar thing in earlier qualifying.

From a match report of Ireland v Georgia : World Cup 2010 Qualifier - which Ireland won 2-1 after a very similar dodgy incident.

A long ball found its way to Robbie Keane who seemed to control the ball with his hand only for the referee to let play continue. The ball was then cleared but only as far as Kevin Doyle as it deflected off the Waterford man and into the path of Ucha Lobjanidze. The referee then gave a shrill blast of his whistle for what appeared to be an offside by Keane.

Instead to everyones surprise, Hyytia pointed to the penalty spot and deemed Lobjanidze to have handled the ball. Replays showed that Keane had handled the ball in the lead-up to this decision and that Keane was also offside as play continued.

Here is the video on YouTube where you can see the incident :
Did you find yourself shouting HANDBALL ! at all?

Pretty clear in the video isn't it? Does Mr Keane own up? Does he tell the referee? Does he bollocks!! He quickly accepts the penalty and stands and watches the demonstrations and then scores for Ireland from the spot ... becasue it's a vital incident and an important chance!

... ... sound of the penny dropping ... ...
... ... uncomfortable shuffling of feet ...
... ... oh dear oh dear oh dear ... ...

So WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE between this incident where Ireland benefit and the one with Henry? Nothing! And it's a vital stage in the game with Georgia hanging onto a 1-0 lead. It was a deliberate handball in the buildup to a goal and the player obviously knew it. The ref didn't see it. So nothing is given.

And don't give me the accidental handball claim some have tried. Robbie Keane is a top professional player who knew exactly what he was doing in trying to bring that ball down. This isn't pub football - it's an international match. It WAS Hand-bloody-ball ALRIGHT !

Was it a case of the big Irish bullies conspiring to beat little Georgia - using home advantage to influence a referee? No - It's just football. A handball call that is missed by a referee. This sort of sh!t happens all the time.

But ... I did not HEAR a big fuss after this game. No hoo-haa and demands for replays. In fact this event passed by without comment from mainstream UK and Irish press.

So although the situation at the Stade de France for the France v Ireland playoff it was dramatic and painful for Irish fans (this time) - it was hardly unique ...

So it's not about FIFA conspiracies. It's not about the cheating French. It's not about the fact the Theirry Henry used to play for Arsenal, or "Johnny Foreigner" always cheating (not like our lads) - or anything else ...

... it was just a refereeing error !

So would partisan Irish fans PLEAAAASSSSEEEE just get over it, and move on. And would a few tabloids please publish this story too?!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brazil retain world beach soccer crown beating Switzerland 10-5

The latest FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup ended in familiar fashion on Sunday, with Brazil seeing off Switzerland to collect the trophy for the fourth year running.

The Swiss battled bravely, but with their goalscorer-in-chief Dejan Stankovic having an off-day by his standards, they were unable to match the South Americans superior finishing power.

As Brazil eased off towards the end of the final, Switzerland took advantage to make the scoreline a little more respectable. The five goals they eventually scored were more than the Brazilians had ever conceded in the final before.

By way of consolation, however, the Swiss striker collected the adidas Golden Ball as the outstanding player of the tournament and also made off with the adidas Golden Shoe, awarded to the top scorer.

FINAL : Brazil 10-5 Switzerland
3rd/4th : Portugal 14:7 Uruguay

Visit FIFA's beach soccer mini-site for more

Tottenham 9-1 Wigan ... yes that's NINE-ONE !!!

Jermain Defoe scored five second-half goals as Tottenham humiliated Wigan to record their highest top-flight win.

It is the first time a team has scored nine in a Premier League fixture since Manchester United thrashed Ipswich 9-0 at Old Trafford in 1995.

Tottenham, who move level on points with third-placed Arsenal after their biggest win in 32 years, led 1-0 at the break but the visiting Latics, playing in an orange away strip, were simply blown away in the second half.

Tottenham Goals
Crouch 9
Defoe 51
Defoe 54
Defoe 58
Lennon 64
Defoe 69
Defoe 87
Kirkland (og) 88
Kranjcar 90+4
TEAM          PL GD  Pts  
1 Chelsea     13 +25  33 
2 Man Utd     13 +14  28 
3 Arsenal     12 +21  25 
4 Tottenham   13 +14  25 
5 Aston Villa 13  +8  22 
6 Man City    12  +7  21 
7 Liverpool   13  +9  20 
Read a full match report at the BBC site

Saturday, November 21, 2009

FIFA Beach Soccer Final is Brazil v ... Switzerland ??

Brazil reached the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup final for the fourth year in succession after easily disposing of Portugal, and will now meet the tournament's surprise package Switzerland, who enjoyed a comfortable win over Uruguay in the other semi-final.

Brazil strolled into a 4-0 lead at the end of the first period before running out 8-2 winners over the Europeans.

In the other semi-final, Dejan Stankovic was again the key man for Switzerland, who scored four of the seven team goals against Uruguay, a team renowned for their defensive qualities.

The semi-final results
Portugal 2-8 Brazil
Switzerland 7-4 Uruguay

The final will be played on Sunday evening on the sands of Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, kicking off at 21:00 local time (5pm London)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

World Cup Playoff Betting Highlights at Eurobet

France v Ireland

Robbie Keane to shock the French?
Ireland face France in the 2nd Leg of their World Cup Play-Off. Ireland are 1-0 down after the 1st Leg & need a great effort to book their place in South Africa. Robbie Keane is 10.00 to score first.

Keane 10.00 BEST PRICE at Eurobet . Click to bet !

Slovenia v Russia

Arshavin to end Slovenian hopes?
Russia managed a 2-1 win in their World Cup Play-Off against Slovenia but now face a difficult away trip in the 2nd Leg. Andrei Arshavin is always a danger & he is 8.00 to be the first goalscorer.

Arshavin 8.00 BEST PRICE at Eurobet. Click to bet !

Bosnia - Portugal

Portugal will travel to Bosnia knowing that a ticket for the world cup is far from certain. The Iberians failed to establish a sizeable lead in the first leg as Bosnia produced a resilient performance

Click here for full match odds at Eurobet

Monday, November 16, 2009

2009 FIFA Beach Soccer Finals in Dubai this week

From 16-22 November, Jumeirah Beach in Dubai will be the setting for the fifth FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

France won the inaugural tournament, but since 2006 Brazil have won this annual tournament every year, and in Dubai, will be looking for their fourth consecutive title.

Brazil have not been beaten in the competition since their semi-final defeat to Portugal in 2005, where they lost on penalties after a 6-6 draw.

Switzerland have started the tournament with a 6-5 win over Bahrain, in a format where the traditional powers do not always have the same edge as in the 11-man game.

This was underlined in just the second game of the tournament when Oceania champions Solomon Islands beat Uruguay 7-6, after leading 7-2 with just six minutes to go.

Check out all the action on the beach soccer section of the FIFA website - and you can get bets on this event at Victor Chandler's sportsbook all week.

New Zealand qualifies for 2010 World Cup in South Africa

New Zealand claimed a spot at next year's FIFA World Cup finals with a pulsating win over Bahrain today in the second leg of the Asia/Oceania play-off.

In front of a capacity crowd at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on Saturday night, New Zealand repeated the efforts of the national team of 1982.

The 35,194 fans, the largest crowd to watch a football match in New Zealand, made their presence felt with a continuous stream of noise and support that started well before the opening whistle and continued long after referee Jorge Larrionda blew for full-time.

Striker Rory Fallon powerfully headed home the only goal of the game from a corner in the 44th minute, while goalkeeper Mark Paston also saved a penalty to see the All Whites through to South Africa.

The All Whites held on for a 1-0 win on the night following the goalless draw in Manama on 10 October, to reach their second World Cup Finals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chelsea are now odds on to win English Premier League

Chelsea are odds-on to win the title for the first time this season - at a top price of 10/11 with Canbet - following their 1-0 victory over Manchester United on Sunday.

Manchester Utd and Arsenal are locked together as 10/3 joint second favourites while Manchester City are now fourth favourites following Liverpool's 2-2 draw with Birmingham City.

Liverpool are 5th favourites at a staggering 40/1 at Betfred, while Tottenham are in 6th spot, and loyal Spurs fans can get a best price of 149/1 at Victor Chandler if they REALLY want a bet on Spurs to win the title.

Chelsea 1.91 @ Canbet
Manchester United 4.33 @ Victor Chandler
Arsenal 4.33 @ Eurobet
Manchester City 34.00 @ Ladbrokes
Liverpool 41.00 @ Betfred
Tottenham Hotspur 151.00 @ Victor Chandler

Friday, November 06, 2009

Bookmakers offer bets on whether Phil Ivey wins WSOP 2009!

This Saturday the nine finalists in this year's WSOP (World Series of Poker) will sit down at the final table to battle for glory and a grand prize of $8,546,435.

Among the nine is big favorite Phil Ivey at odds of 5/1 (6.00) who, if he wins, will send many bookmakers crying into their beers over into huge losses. Ivey has a little over 9 million in chips going into the start, far behind the leader Darwin Moon, who has over 58 million.

But as many in the poker world are fully aware, Phil Ivey is the most experienced player at the table, and in such a big tournament experience might just be the key to pulling off a win.

Kim Rud Petersen, spokesman for Nordic Gaming Group (NordicBet), said in a statement that, "A victory for Phil Ivey will cost our company alone hundreds of thousands of dollars in payouts, and I believe it's the same for most bookies in the industry. If Ivey wins, this actually might turn out to be the most expensive poker tournament for bookmakers ever.”"

Nordicbet's starting odds for Ivey were 750/1.

The 'November Nine', as the players at the final table are called, will be battling it out at the Penn and Teller Theater in Las Vegas' Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino.

The latest poll conducted on the official WSOP-site shows that 78.05% of voters think that Ivey will win. Bookmakers are hoping they're wrong.

Here are the updated odds on the winner of this year's WSOP from NordicBet :
4.50 Darvin Moon
5.00 Eric Buchman
6.00 Phil Ivey
6.50 Jeff Shulman
7.00 Steven Begleiter
12.00 Joseph Cada
13.50 James Akenhead
14.00 Kevin Schaffel
17.00 Antoine Saout

visit Nordic Bet now - and get a risk free first bet up to 30 Euros !

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham - Gunners goals speak louder than Keane's empty words

Arsenal forward Robin van Persie struck twice to earn his side bragging rights in north London with a 3-0 victory over Tottenham in the early game.

Spurs have not won a league game against Arsenal since 1999, and they fell away after Van Persie opened the scoring at the Emirates Stadium and Cesc Fabregas added the second less than a minute later.

Van Persie tapped in the third after the break as Arsenal strolled to a comprehensive derby win.

42' [1 - 0] R.v. Persie
43' [2 - 0] C. Fabregas
60' [3 - 0] R.v. Persie

Manchester Utd 2-0 Blackburn - United stay second with workman-like win

Goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney saw Manchester United overcome Blackburn 2-0 at Old Trafford.

Berbatov made the breakthrough with a neat volley in the 55th minute and Rooney sewed the points up two minutes from time.

United should have extended the scoreline but substitute Gabriel Obertan missed two sitters on his league debut.

55' [1 - 0] D. Berbatov
87' [2 - 0] W. Rooney

Bolton 0-4 Chelsea - Blues stay top with comprehensive win

Chelsea remain two points clear at the top of the Premier League thanks to a second 4-0 win of the week over Bolton.

Carlo Ancelotti's side did not have things all their own way this afternoon but they took a decisive lead just before half-time through Frank Lampard's penalty after Jlloyd Samuel saw red for his challenge on Didier Drogba.

Deco netted the second on the hour mark and Zat Knight scored an own goal before Drogba completed the scoring in injury time.

45' [0 - 1] F. Lampard (pen.)
61' [0 - 2] Deco
83' [0 - 3] Z. Knight (o.g.)
90' [0 - 4] D. Drogba

45' J. Samuel

Fulham 3-1 Liverpool - nine man Liverpool lose again

Under-pressure Rafael Benitez endured another day to forget as nine-man Liverpool crashed to a 3-1 defeat against Fulham.

Last week's win over Manchester United ended a run of five successive defeats but that became six from seven as goals from Bobby Zamora, Erik Nevland and Clint Dempsey earned Fulham the points.

Fernando Torres had equalised just before the break but he was substituted in the second half. Nevland restored Fulham's lead and Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher both saw red within three minutes before Dempsey rubbed salt in the wound with the final goal.

24' [1 - 0] B. Zamora
42' [1 - 1] F. Torres
73' [2 - 1] E. Nevland
87' [3 - 1] C. Dempsey

79' P. Degen
82' J. Carragher

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chelsea are Carling Cup favourites after a kind quarter-final draw

Chelsea will travel to Ewood Park to face Blackburn, who they thrashed 5-0 in the Premier League recently.

Chelsea are into 7/4 (3.75) at Bodog, which puts them ahead of Manchester United who are at 4/1 (5.00) at Betfred and Manchester City who are 5/1 (6.00) chances at Ladbrokes after receiving tougher home draws.

Holders Manchester United will take on Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in a repeat of last season's final which the Red Devils won on penalties, while Manchester City also face north London opposition in the shape of Arsenal.

Arsenal are priced at (6/1) 7.00 at Bet365, while Tottenham are out to 7/1 (8.00) at VCBet as both North London sides lengthened after drawn to away ties.

The remaining Carling Cup quarter-final tie in an all-Premier League draw sees Portsmouth host Aston Villa at Fratton Park and that has Villa priced at 10/1 (11.00) at Bodog and Portsmouth 25/1 (26.000 at VCBet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Carling Cup Results : Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City progress

Teenager Fran Merida netted his first Arsenal goal as Arsene Wenger's young Gunners beat Liverpool 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup.

Just back from the Under-20 World Cup with Spain, the 19-year-old former Barcelona trainee drilled in a fine goal in the 18th minute as Wenger's faith in youth was once again justified.

Emiliano Insua equalised for Liverpool in the 26th minute with another scorching shot in an open first half.

Nicklas Bendtner, now a regular in the side but coming back from an injury sustained in a car crash, produced a powerful finish after 50 minutes to put Arsenal into the last eight.


Chelsea cruised into the quarter-finals with an easy 4-0 fourth-round victory over Bolton at Stamford Bridge.

First-half goals from Salomon Kalou and Florent Malouda put the home side in command before Deco and substitute Didier Drogba finished off Gary Megson's side after the break.

Bolton wasted a couple of chances to reduce the arrears but Chelsea were always in control despite the loss of goalkeeper Hilario through injury in the first half.

The win maintained Chelsea's 100% home record under new coach Carlo Ancelotti and even without the likes of rested captain John Terry and his England team-mate Frank Lampard, the Blues continue to look very good at home.


Manchester City cruised into the Carling Cup quarter-finals, brushing aside an outclassed Scunthorpe 5-1.

The Championship side had tried their best at Eastlands in this fourth-round tie, and at one stage produced a fine first-half equaliser from Jonathan Forte after Stephen Ireland had given City an early lead.

But City were ahead by the break through Roque Santa Cruz, and second-half goals from Joleon Lescott, Carlos Tevez and Michael Johnson set the seal on a commanding performance.

Copa Del Rey : Alcoron 4-0 Real Madrid ... WTF ?

Coach Manuel Pellegrini was "very embarrassed" after Real Madrid were crushed 4-0 by third tier village side Alcorcon in the Spanish King's Cup.

Real Madrid fielded a strong team but were 3-0 down to the Segunda Division B club by half-time in the round of 32 first leg.

"There's no reason or explanation for how the team performed. We hope our fans can forgive us," said manager Pellegrini. Real director general Jorge Valdano also apologised to fans but backed under-fire Pellegrini.

"It's difficult and I know how the Madrid supporters must be feeling," Valdano stated on the club's website

Of course the Spanish Cup is played over two legs, and captain Raul has faith his team can make things right in the return meeting against Alcorcon in a fortnight's time. But still ... 0-4 ...

The defeat was Madrid's third loss in their last five competitive games after defeats to Sevilla in La Liga and by AC Milan in the Champions League, and that run has heaped the pressure on new coach Manuel Pellegrini.

Real Madrid's team of shame on Tuesday night was :
Van der Vaart
Guti H.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Manchester United defeat at Liverpool shakes up English title odds

Manchester United are out to 5/2 (3.50) with VC Bet for the Premier League title following their 2-0 defeat at Liverpool.

Liverpool produced a top performance to halt their worst run of defeats in the last 22 years. Fernando Torres scored the first before substitute David Ngog added the second in stoppage-time.

In the frantic final minutes, United had Nemanja Vidic sent off, with Liverpool having Javier Mascherano also red-carded.

Chelsea who hammered Blackburn 5-0 on Saturday evening, lead by two at the top from United are into 7/4 (2.75) at Bodog bookmaker.

Arsenal are 11/2 (6.50) third best at PinnacleSports after somehow letting a two-goal lead slip against West Ham as they drew 2-2 at Upton Park.

Liverpool are once again shortening in the betting, with the Reds general 10/1 chances, but as high as 12/1 (13.00) at Bodog after getting back to winning ways.

Manchester City were pegged back to 2-2 by Fulham and Mark Hughes' side are out to 14/1 (15.00) with Bet365.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Irish Punters expected to get into Stade de France for World Cup playoff

Patriotic Irish punters have been buoyed by news that French playmaker Franck Ribery may miss Ireland's World Cup playoff.

Bookie Paddy Power has reported a significant increase in betting on Ireland to qualify for the World Cup today. However, France remain red hot favourites to win the two legged playoff at 1/3 with Ireland an unlikely 11/5.

Paddy Power said, "It had been a pretty quiet betting heat until this morning when we had a welcome rush on Ireland. We'd all like to wish Franck Ribery a speedy recovery, just not too speedy! The odds haven't changed just yet but I'd expect them to shorten in the run up to the big Croker clash".

Paddy Power Odds To Qualify for the World Cup
1/3 France
11/5 Ireland

Meanwhile, the bookie is also taking bets on how many Irish fans manage to get inside the Stade de France for the crucial second leg of the playoff following news of a measly 8,000 tickets allocated to us.

The bookie is offering odds of 8/1 that Irish fans blow that amount out of the water and somehow get 30,000 into the Stade de France.

It won't be as easy to get tickets to the Irish leg and it's just 6/4 that the most expensive ticket on Ebay for the match goes for more than €500.

Odds for Number of Irish fans in the Stade de France?
11/10 Under 10,000
3/1     10,001 - 15,000
4/1     15,001 - 20,000
9/2     20,001 - 25,000
6/1     25,001 - 30,000
8/1     Over 30,000

Top Ebay ticket for Croke Leg?
4/1     €200 or Under
6/1     €201 - €300
4/1     €301 - €400
11/4     €401 - €500
6/4     Over €500

Check out all the options at Paddy Power's Betting website now.

Chelsea new Champions League favourites after AC milan stun Real Madrid

Chelsea are as short as 7/2 (4.50) for Champions League glory following their 4-0 mauling of Atletico Madrid replacing previous favourites Real Madrid who slipped to a shock 3-2 defeat at home to AC Milan.

Real Madrid had been voerall favourites after winning their opening two games but they let a 1-0 lead slip against the Italians at the Bernabeu, with young Brazilian striker Pato firing home the winner for AC Milan with two minutes remaining.

Real Madrid are out to 6/1 (7.00) with Betfred while Chelsea have been chopped into 7/2 (4.5) by the same firm after making short work of struggling Atletico.

The Blues maintained their 100% record in Group D thanks to two goals from Salomon Kalou, one from Frank Lampard and a stoppage-time own goal from Luis Perea.

Holders Barcelona remain tied as favourites at a general 7/2 despite the Catalans' shock 2-1 home defeat to Rubin Kazan on Tuesday.

Manchester United are no bigger than 7/1 (8.00) fourth best with bet365 after they edged to a 1-0 victory away to CSKA Moscow.

Antonio Valencia grabbed the vital goal from close range with four minutes remaining to take the Red Devils' tally to nine points from three games.

Gamebookers offer 100% GBP £25 matched bonus

European sportsbook GAMEBOOKERS are offering a a 100% bonus on your first deposit, up to £25, when you open an account during October.

Gif BannersHere's how to claim your bonus:

1) Open an account
2) Make a deposit of at least £25
3) Start betting!

The deposit amount (up to maximum bonus amount) + the bonus amount must be turned over 3 times in our sports-book on odds 2.0 or above before a withdrawal can be paid out.

So a £25 deposit + bonus would need turnover of £150 before withdrawal.

Also note that player accounts opened or funded using Webmoney or Moneybookers will be excluded from this promotion.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

UEFA Champions League Results for Tuesday - Barca beaten!

Rubin Kazan silenced the Nou Camp just two minutes into their Champions League clash with Barcelona as the holders slipped to a shock 2-1 defeat.

Alexander Ryazantsev's 35-yard rocket gave the Russians the lead in the Gro
up F encounter - and left Barca trailing for the first time this season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic levelled in the 48th minute, controlling the ball on his chest and firing home via a post, but there was another twist to come as Gokdeniz Karadeniz grabbed a 73rd-minute winner.


Another major upset looked on the cards at the San Siro as Dynamo Kiev twice led against Inter Milan only for Jose Mourinho's men to fight back to draw 2-2.

Taras Mykhalyk put Dynamo Kiev in front after five minutes and Lucio powered a header into his own net to restore their lead after Dejan Stankovic had levelled.

But Walter Samuel headed in at the right end two minutes after the break to make it 2-2.

Barca, Rubin and Dynamo are now all level on four points, with Inter bottom of the pool on three.



Champions League - Group E
FT Debrecen 3 - 4 Fiorentina
FT Liverpool 1 - 2 Lyon

Champions League - Group F
FT Barcelona 1 - 2 Rubin Kazan
FT Inter Milan 2 - 2 Dynamo Kyiv

Champions League - Group G
FT Rangers 1 - 4 Unirea Urziceni
FT Stuttgart 1 - 3 Sevilla

Champions League - Group H
FT AZ Alkmaar 1 - 1 Arsenal
FT Olympiakos Piraeus 2 - 1 Standard Liege

Clubs         Pld W D L GF A Pts
Olympique Lyon 3 3-0-0 7:1 9
ACF Fiorentina 3 2-0-1 6:4 6
Liverpool FC 3 1-0-2 2:4 3
Debreceni VSC 3 0-0-3 3:9 0

Clubs Pld W D L GF A Pts
FC Barcelona 3 1-1-1 3:2 4
FC Dynamo Kyiv 3 1-1-1 5:5 4
FC Rubin Kazan 3 1-1-1 4:5 4
FC Inter Milano 3 0-3-0 3:3 3

Clubs Pld W D L GF A Pts
Sevilla FC 3 3-0-0 9:2 9
Unirea Urziceni 3 1-1-1 5:4 4
VfB Stuttgart 3 0-2-1 3:5 2
Rangers FC 3 0-1 2 3:9 1

Clubs Pld W D L GF A Pts
Arsenal FC 3 2-1-0 6:3 7
Olympiacos FC 3 2-0-1 3:3 6
AZ Alkmaar 3 0-2-1 2:3 2
Standard Liege 3 0-1 2 4:6 1

Ireland drawn against France in World Cup playoff - rated 11/5 outsiders

THE Republic of Ireland are 11/5 to qualify for the World Cup finals after being paired with France in yesterday's (Mon) play-off draw.

Giovanni Trapattoni's side are 1/3 to miss out ahead of their clash with the 1998 winners.

Ladbrokes spokesman, Nick Weinberg, said:

"The Republic of Ireland will go into the game full of confidence following their performance against Italy. They face a France side that has struggled at times in recent campaigns."

"France inevitably are the favourites, but the Irish will fancy their chances of springing a surprise."


To qualify for 2010 World Cup
France 1/3
Rep of Ire 11/5

Portugal 1/6
Bosnia-H 7/2

Ukraine 5/6
Greece 5/6

Russia 1/6
Slovenia 7/2

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Get a £25 FREE football bet at Ladbrokes

Place a bet of £25 or more at Ladbrokes this month and the UK's biggest bookmaker will match it with a FREE bet up to a value of £25.

Take your pick from a wide range of sporting bets.

Create your Ladbrokes account to start betting now!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Are you a better football tipster than Viv Anderson?

Check it out at Victor Chandler nowBeat Viv is back this weekend with another free to enter competition at Victor Chandler!

The ex England, Nottingham Forest and Arsenal legend has made his predictions and is now challenging you to do the same. The top tipster prize this week is a signed shirt of one of the world's greatest footballers, Brazilian legend Kaka.

Alongside this great prize, Viv and VCBet will also throw in a £100 free bet if you manage to come out on top.

To be in with a chance to win this excellent first prize, select the correct score of the four fixtures below. If you are the overall tipster with the largest points return you will win the signed shirt and a £100 free bet. If you manage to Beat Viv's total return from his predictions you will receive a £5 free bet!

Viv's Predictions.

Aston Villa v Chelsea 1-1 - Great game to kick-off with this Saturday lunch time. Aston Villa are good at home and Chelsea will be well up for this one. I can't see past a score draw with both Agbonlahor and Drogba getting on the score sheet.

Arsenal v Birmingham 4-0 - My old team Arsenal have far too much going forward and are a joy to watch at the Emirates. Birmingham are hardworking but that won't be enough and I feel the Gunners will win this one comfortably.

Man Utd v Bolton 2-0 - Man Utd will miss Wayne Rooney and all his fire power up front but I can't see them slipping up like they did in their last home game against Sunderland. Easy 2-0 winners for me.

Sunderland v Liverpool 2-1 - Sunderland are looking good at the moment and Steve Bruce has got them playing as a team. I think Bent will continue his scoring form and Liverpool are sure to miss their best player in Steven Gerrard. Sunderland to bag the points in this one - 2-1.

So that's the predictions, it's now over to you to beat them at Victor Chandler.

Good luck to all

Thursday, October 08, 2009

£1,000,000 Bingo Bonanza at Bet365

I'm not a big bingo player myself - but I noticed that this bingo promo was going on over at Bet365 when I was on their site placing a few sports bets.

Take part in bet365’s exclusive £1,000,000 Bonanza promotion and you could see your prize money doubled! 

bet365 are matching every win in the evening Bingo Linx games with a bonus over the next 80 days.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Play Poker with Doyle Brunson online this Wednesday

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

World Cup : Watch Ukraine v England LIVE for FREE with Bet365

There's only one place that customers can watch Ukraine v England for free on Saturday 10th October - and that's at bet365 sports bookmaker!

To watch this World Cup qualifier, you simply need to make sure you have a funded bet365 account and you will be able to access the live pictures from Dnepropetrovsk where England will be looking to maintain their 100% record in Group Six when they face Ukraine.

If you haven't yet registered with bet365, hten now is the time to sign-up, with the leading bookmaker - as bet365 are offering all new customers up to £200 in free bets.

You will get a 100% match on your first deposit and you can place your free bets on any sporting market.

The coverage starts at 4.45pm on Saturday with the match kicking off at 5.15pm.

Click here to sign up with bet365 and watch Ukraine v England completely free.

(Note :
This offer is open to customers in the UK and Ireland only.)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

David Tua KOs Shane Cameron in 2nd round

David Tua re-ignited his international boxing career and left some serious doubts hanging over Shane Cameron's competitive future with a stunning win in the heavyweight contest in Hamilton, New Zealand on Saturday night.

Both boxers earned $500,000 for a fight where the pay cheques were the only even things between them.

Tua knocked Cameron down three times - twice in the first round and finally just seven seconds into the second round for a stunning knockout victory. The win was Tua's 50th in professional fights against three losses and a draw.

He has snared Cameron's WBO Oriental and Asian-Pacific belts but it will be more interesting and undoubtedly more valuable to see what the win does for his international rankings.

Even at the age of 37 Tua might still have enough time to earn another crack at a world title. He certainly appears to still have the goods to do the business.

Monday, September 28, 2009

UEFA probe up to 40 suspicious football results

Peter Limacher, UEFA's head of disciplinary services, told a conference in London that the number of matches under investigation by UEFA for suspected match-fixing has reached 40 cases, it has been revealed.

He added that most of the cases were from eastern Europe and involved the early qualifying rounds of the Champions League and UEFA Cup.

A year ago the number of games being investigated was 25, and UEFA announced they were to set up a six-man special investigation unit to look into corruption in their competitions.

Limacher told the World Sports Law Report conference that there were now 40 games where suspicious betting patterns had been identified, 15 of those in the last two years.

Limacher said: "It is mainly clubs from eastern Europe that are being investigated."

In April, the Macedonian club FK Pobeda were banned from European competition for eight years by UEFA after being found guilty of match-fixing against Armenian side FC Pyunik in 2004 - they lost 3-1 at home in a Champions League first qualifying round.

FK Pobeda's president Aleksandar Zabrcanec was banned for life from any football-related activity, as was the player Nikolce Zdraveski.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Arsenal set the Standard after 3-2 win in Liege

After Arsenal came back from two down to beat Standard Liege in Belgium, they were backed up into 5th favourite to win the Champions League.

The Gunners were 2-0 down inside five minutes but goals from Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Vermaelen and Eduardo turned the match on its head and sparked wild celebrations from the visiting fans.

Liverpool meanwhile slipped back after battling to an uninspiring 1-0 win over Hungarian side Debrecen, while Inter Milan and Barcelona held their positions after battling to a 0-0 draw in Milan.

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are vying for favouritism at a best of 4/1 and 5/1.

But English teams occupy the four of the next places in the betting, with Chelsea shortest at 6/1, Manchester United 15/2, Arsenal 11/1, and both Inter Milan and Liverpool on offer at 12s.

5.00 FC Barcelona @ Eurobet
6.00 Real Madrid @ Betfred
7.00 Chelsea @ Bet365
8.50 Manchester United FC @ Victor Chandler
12.00 Arsenal @ Betfred
13.00 Internazionale Milano @ Paddy Power
13.00 Liverpool @ BetFred
26.00 AC Milan @ Victor Chandler
29.00 Bayern Munich @ Ladbrokes

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chelsea still favourites to win English Premier League

Chelsea are the bookmakers title favourites after a late Florent Malouda winner pipped Stoke 2-1 to give the Blues five straight wins to start the season.

Manchester United are second favourites to win the Premier League title following their 3-1 come-from-behind win over Spurs. The Red Devils trailed to an early Jermain Defoe strike but eventually ran out comfortable winners thanks to goals from Ryan Giggs, Anderson and Wayne Rooney.

Liverpool, who saw off Burnley 4-0 at Anfield are third.

It is then Arsenal, Manchester City, and Spurs at a huge 50/1 rounding out the top six.

Chelsea 2.50 @ PinnacleSports
Manchester United 4.50 @ PinnacleSports
Liverpool 8.00 @ Eurobet
Arsenal 13.00 @ Ladbrokes
Manchester City 14.00 @ PinnacleSports
Tottenham Hotspur 51.00 @ Eurobet

Friday, September 11, 2009

Baseball Punters should check out Ladbrokes MLB extra innings offer

MLB Baseball Cash Backs at Ladbrokes

If you place a bet on the moneyline, handicap or run total markets for any fixture during the 2009 MLB season and the game is decided in an extra innings, then you are never a loser at Ladbrokes.

Becasue if a game does go extra innings and your bet does not win then Ladbrokes will match your losing stake with a free bet up to £1000 !!

On average 6 or 7 games each and EVERY week go into extra innings - so surely that sort of insurance is worth having on your side ?!

Check out all baseball markets at Ladbrokes today

(Sorry, no USA based bettors can join or bet at Ladbrokes)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

UEFA getting it wrong again with Eduardo hysteria - Arsenal v Celtic

UEFA announced that its disciplinary unit was studying footage of the incident and had the authority to ban him for two European matches if it felt he had cheated.

The Scenario
In case you missed the incident, on a wet and slippery autumn evening in North London, two players challenging for a football at some pace go to ground in the penalty area - it's a tough call.

We see these situations hundreds of times a season, and all eyes go instantly to the referee, who has to make an instant decision, because the ruling bodies of football (FIFA and UEFA) have decided that use of video replay technology is unacceptable.

The referee, who was behind the action at the time, chooses a penalty (which as Gooner I thought it was at the time too - based on the initial TV angle).

However, for us at home, the subsequent television replays showed that the referee was wrong, and the keeper did not touch Eduardo. But that's a long way from saying that Eduardo cheated and should be banned.

The referee had three possible calls to make :
1) It was a foul and therefore a penalty.
2) There was no foul and was a goalkick - or corner - depending on the last touch
3) Eduardo "simulated" a foul and should receive a yellow card.

We can see in the replay that option #1 is wrong - but unless you are Uri Geller (is he still alive?) and can read minds - I can't see anything in the replay that suggests option #3 is correct either.

Remember, it's wet, the players are moving at pace, and probably most importantly, Eduardo has just come back from an 18 month injury in a similar contact situation. I have no doubt in my mind that he jumped to avoid injury.

How does a possible yellow card become a suspension?
Furthermore, even if the referee had decided upon option #3, the punishment for simulation is NOT a two-match suspension, but a straight YELLOW card. That's it. On the scale of offences committed on the football field - it's at about the same level as taking off your shirt to celebrate a goal.

Given both UEFA and FIFA's reluctance to use TV replays at any level of football to help referees to make correct decisions DURING the game, I'm amazed that they are advocating the use of replays to now go back and turn possible YELLOW CARD offences into SUSPENSIONS.

If the referee calls option #2 then there is no issue to go on with? And if he calls option #3 then it's a yellow card and it's dealt with? But somehow because of a referee call this is now a heinous footballing crime?

Where will it lead us?
Are UEFA also going to use replays to punish every defender that tugs a shirt? That action is a clear and obvious yellow card according to the rules of the game and goes unpunished.

What about verbal abuse of the referee and linemen? Now that UEFA are prepared to be mind readers to determine Eduardo's fate, are UEFA now also going to employ lip readers to apply retrospective yellow cards (and suspensions?) to all players who mouth off at officials - as laid out in the games statutes?

IF this happens then we will soon be watching games that are reduced to 8-a-side or more, and clubs will need to have squads of 50+ players to handle all the additional suspensions!

Obviously my extrapolation of UEFA's intent appears ridiculous, but it is the logical extension of UEFA's new found determination to embrace video technology to clean up the game.

Where did this mandate come from? Why hasn't it been announced? OR perhaps, just perhaps, this is another case of Michel Platini shooting his mouth off again without engaging his brain?

Get a technology grip and move on
Yes, UEFA should be using TV replays for important events DURING the game - but they're not likely to anytime soon.

And this "kangaroo-court" video committee that has been whipped up by the Scottish FA and UEFA as a response to some hysterical reaction will not serve as a suitable substitute.

UEFA president Michel Platini either needs to provide stable, sensible, football based leadership - or else get off the throne.