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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FA Cup 6th round draw complete after replays.

FA Cup holders Chelsea will play Stoke City in the Quarter-finals after the Potters beat Manchester City 3-1 after extra-time in Wednesday nights replay.

Replay results :
Aston Villa 3-1 Crystal Palace
Stoke City 3-1 Manchester City (AET)
Tottenham 4-0 Bolton Wanderers
West Brom 2-3 Reading (AET)

The quarter-final ties will be played on the weekend of 6 and 7 March.

Chelsea v Stoke City
Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur
Reading v Aston Villa
Portsmouth v Birmingham City

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Will the AFC head Bin Hammam see sense and give the Wellington Phoenix a football lifeline?

While the Wellington Phoenix continue to go from strength to strength on the football field - a large dark cloud looms in the shape of AFC boss Mohammad Bin Hammam.

Currently, all the Australian A-League sides have a contract on the table for a 10-year license - except one team of course. The Phoenix have been offered a one-year license extension because of jurisdictional problems brought up by Bin Hammam and the AFC.

Ever since New Zealand had the audacity to beat AFC side Bahrain 1-0 in a two-legged World Cup Qualification playoff, Bin Hammam has had his eyes fixed upon the Wellington Phoenix club that provides a much needed professional route for New Zealand's fledgling football talent.

Significantly, The Phoenix have a large number of local New Zealand players within the squad, and are providing vital professional football experience to New zealand players and thus improving the skill levels of the New Zealand national side.

And THAT is a concern to Bin Hammam and the Asian Football Confederation which had previously assumed that having 4 direct qualifiers to the World Cup plus a playoff against the Oceania Confederation was the same thing as having FIVE direct qualifiers.

Bahrain's demise at the hands of New Zealand was a shock to the Gulf, and the whole of the AFC, and within weeks Bin Hammam was saying that the Phoenix should not be playing in the A-League, or if they contractually must, then they should not be allowed to classify New Zealand players as "locals", only Australian players can be "local".

There - clearly within view - is Mr Bin Hammam's real objective. To prevent New Zealand football from developing. To prevent New Zealand being a threat to Asian football.

It's pure self-interest of course - but why should we be surprised?

Self-interest and cronyism is the way that FIFA has been running itself for the last dozen years under the reign of Sepp Blatter - who survived a leadership vote on the strength of African Confederation backing in 1998 and promptly "arranged" for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa - (ahem) after failing in 2000 when New Zealand's Charlie Dempsey scuttled the 2006 World Cup bid and voted for Germany instead.

There are those that say that Bin Hammam may be the man who finally replaces Blatter, when the Swiss 74 year-old's grasping hands are finally wrenched from the crown and cahflow of the FIFA presidency, and so Bin Hammam is a powerful man to deal with.

Football Federation Australia (FFA), who run the A-League have been arguing for the continuation of the Phoenix, and the positive effects on football within this remote geographic region, but with a bid for the 2018 or 2022 finals coming up - will the FFA really want to cross swords with this future football power-broker ?

Mr Bin Hammam visits Australia this week, and FFA chairman Frank Lowy has a a couple of clear points to make. Stick with the Kiwis and explain why it makes sense for the Phoenix to play professional football in this region - and to negotiate AFC support for an Australian World Cup Finals hosting bid.

Let's hope that the two aims are not mutually exclusive, and that footballing common-sense will prevail, but with the murky politics and vast sums of money that move in World Football today that's only a 50/50 chance.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Feb 20-21st : Barca and Real Madrid score big wins to maintain status quo

The big two clubs in Sapin, Barcelona and Real Madrid, has no problems getting back to winning ways in La Liga, while third placed Valencia play Getafe on Monday night.

Real Madrid 6-2 Villarreal

Real Madrid answered their critics following the midweek Champions League defeat at Lyon and eased some of the pressure on coach Manuel Pellegrini with a thumping 6-2 victory over Villarreal on Sunday night.

Gonzalo Higuain and Kaka both scored twice to help Madrid bounce back from their poor showing in France and keep the gap to Primera Division leaders Barcelona at two points.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted a trademark free-kick with a Xabi Alonso penalty completing the rout.

Barcelona 4-0 Racing Santander

Barcelona strolled to an easy 4-0 victory over Racing Santander on a night of firsts at the Nou Camp.

Pep Guardiola's side brushed aside a disappointing Racing outfit with ease, with a fine first-half performance.

Andres Iniesta gave the Catalans the lead with his first goal of the season following poor defending by Racing after just seven minutes.

Thierry Henry, handed a rare start by Guardiola after being frozen out in recent weeks, scored the second goal from a free-kick with his first of 2010, and Rafael Marquez added a brilliant third with his first of the campaign from another set-piece 11 minutes before half-time.

Youngster Thiago Alcantara then added a fourth with his first career goal in the closing stages.

Real Mallorca 1-3 Sevilla

Real Mallorca's perfect home record ended as Sevilla fought back from an early goal to win an incident-packed game with three red cards, by three goals to one.

Mallorca could hardly have had a better start in their latest clash with Mario Suarez putting them ahead in just the fifth minute.

However, that advantage was shortlived as Sevilla deservedly drew level in the 23rd minute when Jesus Navas capitalised on a misjudgement from Mallorca goalkeeper Dudu Aouate to score.

Visiting striker Alvaro Negredo and Mallorca defender Ivan Ramis both then saw red and it was Sevilla who took control in the second half, aided by another error by Aouate.

The Israel international advanced too far from his line as Ivica Dragutinovic's free-kick from near the right touchline curled in towards the net, and he found himself stranded as the ball cleared him and found the top corner.

Sevilla made it 3-1 through substitute Diego Perotti and also had Didier Zokora dismissed late on for a second yellow card.

Spanish Liga BBVA Top Six Standings

Team        Pl  W D L Fr Ag Pts 
Barcelona   23 18-4-1 57:13  58 
Real Madrid 23 18-2-3 59:17  56 
Valencia    22 12-7-3 39:21  43 
Sevilla     23 13-3-7 36:25  42 
Deportivo   23 11-5-7 26:25  38 
Mallorca    23 11-4-8 36:27  37

Feb 19-21st : Leverkusen and Bayern Munich held to draws

A round-up of the top results in Germany's Bundesliga over the weekend.

Werder Bremen 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen returned to the top of the table with a point in a 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen.

Eren Derdiyok put Leverkusen ahead in the 29th minute but Claudio Pizarro equalised five minutes later. Toni Kroos put Leverkusen back in front in the 57th minute but Per Mertesacker earned Bremen a draw in stoppage time.

The point still extended Leverkusen's unbeaten record to 23 games, equalling the record set by their own coach, Jupp Heynckes, in the 1988/89 season with Bayern.

Nurnberg 1-1 Bayern Munich

Bayern went temporarily top of the table despite their winning run came to an end with a 1-1 draw at Nurnberg.

Bayern looked set for a 14th consecutive victory in all competitions when Thomas Muller gave them the lead after 38 minutes, but Ilkay Gundogan levelled nine minutes into the second period to hand Nurnberg an impressive point.

Wolfsburg 2-1 Schalke

Wolfsburg dealt a blow to Schalke title hopes with a 2-1 win on Sunday.

Wolfsburg took the lead through Kevin Kuranyi on the half-hour mark.

It stayed that way until 19 minutes from time when Grafite headed the equaliser. And Wolfsburg wrapped up the win six minutes later as the striker grabbed his second.

Hamburg 0-0 Entract Frankfurt

Hamburg failed to follow up their Europa League victory over PSV Eindhoven with another win in the Bundesliga as they maintained their unwanted record as Germany's draw specialists, being held 0-0 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.

The swift return to action following Thursday's win against the Dutch giants was clearly not to Hamburg's suiting as they failed to find a goal and had to settle for a 10th draw in 23 German league outings this season.

Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Hannover

Borussia Dortmund ended a three-match losing streak with a comfortable 4-1 win at home to Hannover.

Neven Subotic scored a late first-half opener before an own goal and Nelson Haedo Valdez's strike made it 3-0. Arouna Kone pulled one back late on before Kevin Grosskreutz completed the rout.

German Bundesliga Top Six Standings

Team              Pl  W  D L Fr Ag Pts 
Bayer Leverkusen  23 13 10 0 50:20  49 
Bayern Munich     23 14  7 2 49:20  49 
Schalke 04        23 13  6 4 34:17  45 
Hamburg           23 10 10 3 43:25  40 
Borussia Dortmund 23 11  6 6 35:30  39 
Werder Bremen     23  9  8 6 46:28  35 

Feb 20-21st : 9-man Inter Milan held by Sampdoria but still lead Serie A

Inter Milan 0-0 Sampdoria

Leaders Inter Milan had Walter Samuel and Ivan Cordoba sent off in a bad-tempered goalless draw with Sampdoria at the San Siro.

Inter found themselves down to nine men with 52 minutes to play following the dismissals of Samuel and Cordoba, while referee Paolo Tagliavento also sent off Sampdoria's Giampaolo Pazzini midway through the second half.

Despite the numerical advantage, Samp could not find their way past a resilient Inter side who secured Mourinho's 130th home league match without defeat, stretching across spells with Porto, Chelsea and Inter.

AS Roma 1-0 Catania

Mirko Vucinic's first-half goal earned Roma a 1-0 win at home to Catania on Sunday and moved them to within five points of Serie A leaders Inter Milan.

The Montenegrin scored in the 18th minute as the Giallorossi won for the seventh game running in the league.

Bari 0-2 AC Milan

AC Milan, who have a game in hand on the top two, are two points further back after a 2-0 win at Bari.

Marco Borriello opened the scoring two minutes before the break and Alexandre Pato doubled the advantage in the 69th minute as Leonardo's side bounced back from their Champions League defeat to Manchester United in midweek.

Bologna 1-2 Juventus

Goals from Diego and Antonio Candreva gave Juventus back-to-back league wins for the first time since November with a 2-1 success at Bologna.

Diego's early goal for the Old Lady was cancelled out in the 50th minute by Antonio Busce before substitute Candreva sealed the points midway through the second half to continue Juve's improvement under Alberto Zaccheroni.

Palermo 3-1 Lazio

Palermo claimed a 3-1 win at home to Lazio to move up to fifth - level on points with Napoli and Sampdoria in sixth and seventh.

Abel Hernandez opened the scoring within a minute, Fabrizio Miccoli added a second from the spot midway through the first half and Antonio Nocerino made it 3-0 after 75 minutes.

Aleksandar Kolarov pulled one back three minutes later for struggling Lazio, but it was no more than a consolation.

Italian Serie A Top Six Standings

Team        Pl  W  D L Fr Ag Pts 
Inter Milan 25 16  7 2 49 20  55 
AS Roma     25 15  5 5 43 27  50 
AC Milan    24 14  6 4 41 24  48 
Juventus    25 12  5 8 40 33  41 
Palermo     25 11  7 7 35 31  40 
Napoli      25 10 10 5 32 30  40

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chelsea short price to win EPL title after Manchester Utd stumble

UK bookmaker Betfred make Chelsea the 8/15 favourites to win this season's Premier League after moving four points clear of nearest challengers Manchester United.

Chelsea won 2-0 at struggling Wolves in their 3pm kick-off - taking full advantage of the Man United's lunchtime defeat at Everton.

United are now at 9/4 at BetFred to retain the title ahead of their home fixture against West Ham on Tuesday night.

Third-place Arsenal moved to 55 points - two points behind United - after a 2-0 win at home to Sunderland. With 11 games left to play the Gunners are now a 13/2 chance at BetFred to win their first league title in six years.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

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Gooner Rant - Attention Mr Wenger - Goalkeeper available - has own gloves

FFS ... having watched that display in Portugal ...

I'm 45 now, and having retired from football I have developed what would be tactfully known as a bit of a beer gut now!

But - Mr Wenger, I am letting it be known that I have boots, I have goal keeping gloves, and having played 2-3 games in goal for my pub team, I have no doubt that I could do a better job than that clown in goal tonight...

As a "free agent" who has not played for anyone this season I'm available for transfer outside of the window. Give me a call mate - and I'll pop down to the Emirates Stadium for the second leg.

Meet up at 7pm outside the gate for a 7:45 kickoff yeah? I'll be the one in the green Jag - could you bring a parking pass with you?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Feb 12th-14th : Napoli hold Inter Milan but Inter are still 7 points clear

A round-up of the top action in Italy this weekend.

Napoli 0-0 Inter Milan

Leaders Inter Milan were held to a goalless draw by Napoli, meaning their lead at the end of the weekend stands at seven points over Roma.

Hosts Napoli had enough chances to win several games and struck the woodwork twice - via Marek Hamsik and Fabio Quagliarella - on a frustrating night against the defending champions.

Inter also hit the frame of the goal through Sulley Muntari and improved in the second half to claim a point.

As a result of their point, Napoli move back up to fourth and keep their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League alive.

AS Roma 4-1 Palermo

On Saturday, Roma moved back up to second place in the table with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Palermo.

Having dropped down the standings after AC Milan beat Udinese on Friday night, Roma wasted no time in taking second spot back.

A Cesare Bovo own goal in the 33rd minute set them on their way to victory with a scoreline that was far more convincing than their performance at the Stadio Olimpico.

Julio Baptista added the second in the 53rd minute before Matteo Brighi got his name on the scoresheet 10 minutes later.

Fabrizio Miccoli reduced the arrears with a dubious penalty in the 80th minute but a stunning strike from John-Arne Riise three minutes later secured the win for Claudio Ranieri's in-form Giallorossi.

AC Milan 3-2 Udinese

Ronaldinho inspired AC Milan to a 3-2 victory over Udinese, warming them up for the visit of Manchester United in the Champions League on Tuesday with three more Serie A points.

Although the Brazilian did not put his own name on the scoresheet, he set up all three goals.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored the first after seven minutes and substitute Alexandre Pato added the second five minutes before the break.

Antonio Floro Flores gave Udinese hope with a goal on the stroke of half-time before Huntelaar's second in the 57th minute restored the home side's two-goal advantage.

Antonio Di Natale pulled Udinese back into the game in the 86th minute, but they could not find an equaliser.

Sampdoria 2-0 Fiorentina

Sampdoria gabbed their fourth win as they downed an out-of-sorts Fiorentina 2-0.

Franco Semioli put the Blucerchiati on their way to victory in the 16th minute and Giampaolo Pazzini sealed the win in the 40th minute with his first goal against his former club.

Fiorentina are languishing in 11th position and struggling for form ahead of a testing Champions League tie against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Juventus 3-2 Genoa

A disputed penalty allowed Juventus to win their first game under coach Alberto Zaccheroni as they came from behind to earn a 3-2 victory against Genoa.

Genoa went ahead with a goal from captain Marco Rossi in the 16th minute, but Amauri brought the Bianconeri level shortly before the break.

Alessandro Del Piero put the home team in front after an hour, but Rossi struck back immediately with an equaliser Genoa more than deserved.

However, the game was decided in the 78th minute by a penalty earned and converted by Del Piero, although doubts remain whether it should have been a spot-kick in the first place.

Italian Serie A Top Six Standings

Team        Pl  W D L Fr Ag Pts 
Inter Milan 24 16-6-2 49:20  54 
Roma        24 14-5-5 42:27  47 
AC Milan    23 13-6-4 39:24  45 
Napoli      24 10-9-5 32:27  39 
Sampdoria   24 11-6-7 32:31  39 
Juventus    24 11-5-8 38:32  38

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feb 12th-14th : Leverkusen lead Munich by +1 goal difference

A round-up of the weekend's football in Germany.

Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Wolfsburg

Leaders Bayer Leverkusen were made to sweat against Wolfsburg before securing a 2-1 win at the BayArena.

Stefan Reinartz put the home team ahead in the 48th minute before an own goal from the luckless Andre Lenz doubled their advantage in the 68th minute.

A goal from Edin Dzeko 10 minutes from time had Leverkusen panicking, but they managed to hold on.

Bayern Munich 3-1 Borussia Dortmund

Bayern Munich moved back level with Leverkusen at the top of the Bundesliga and improved their goal difference in the process with a solid 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.

Mohamed Zidan put the visitors ahead in the fifth minute but Mark van Bommel equalised midway through the opening period.

Arjen Robben put Bayern ahead five minutes into the second half before Mario Gomez's goal ensured there is now only one goal between the leaders Leverkusen and Bayern at the top of the table.

Schalke 2-0 Cologne

Schalke moved to within three points of the top of the Bundesliga with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Cologne at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen.

Goals from Joel Matip and Jefferson Farfan secured the win as the Royal Blues prepare for a run of winnable fixtures that could decide their fate in the title chase with games against Wolfsburg, Borussia Dortmund, Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich on the horizon.

Stuttgart 1-3 Hamburg

Ruud van Nistelrooy scored his first goals for Hamburg to inspire his new club to a 3-1 win at in-form Stuttgart.

The veteran Holland striker joined the club from Real Madrid last month and, in only his second appearance, proved his quality as he stepped off the bench to score a match-winning double.

Marcus Berg had opened the scoring for the visitors after 23 minutes before Christian Trasch equalised 10 minutes after half-time.

Van Nistelrooy, who was given a brief debut in Hamburg's 3-3 draw with Cologne last week, was introduced in the 65th minute and 10 minutes later he was on target to open his account before firing in a second two minutes after that to ensure the win.

German Bundesliga Top Six Standings

Team              Pl  W D L Fr Ag Pts 
Bayer Leverkusen  22 13-9-0 48:18  48 
Bayern Munich     22 14-6-2 48:19  48 
Schalke 04        22 13-6-3 33:15  45 
Hamburg SV        22 10-9-3 43:25  39 
Borussia Dortmund 22 10-6-6 31:29  36 
Werder Bremen     22  9-7-6 44:26  34 

Feb 13th-14th : Barcelona lose but still head La Liga

A round-up of the football action in Spain over the weekend.

Atletico Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

Barcelona suffered their first Primera Liga loss of the season on Sunday, slumping to a 2-1 defeat at Atletico Madrid.

Pep Guardiola's men were second best for long periods against an Atletico side who established a 2-0 lead inside 23 minutes thanks to a clinical Diego Forlan strike and a wonderful free-kick from Simao Sabrosa.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic halved the deficit within four minutes but Atletico deservedly held on to secure an impressive win and do city rivals Real Madrid a huge favour in the title race.

Xerez 0-3 Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice on his return from suspension as Real Madrid scored midwway through the second half to beat bottom club Xerez 3-0 away and put the pressure on Barca.

Real dominated virtually throughout on a stodgy pitch, but had to be patient as Xerez held out for more than an hour.

Alvaro Arbeloa finally put Madrid in front after 64 minutes, before Ronaldo's quick brace finished off the spirited Andalusians.

Sporting Gijon 1-1 Valencia

Valencia came from behind to secure a point at Sporting Gijon in a 1-1 draw, but were unable to find a winner.

Sporting Gijon put their recent woes behind them as they took a fifth-minute lead through Diego Castro.

And Valencia, despite constant pressure which saw them twice rattle the woodwork, were unable to find a way through until Juan Mata's leveller 14 minutes from time.

Sevilla 1-0 OSasuna

Sevilla moved back into the Champions League qualifying spots with a 1-0 win against Osasuna.

But it was another unconvincing perfornace, however Sevilla grabbed the only goal came after 35 minutes courtesy of the prolific Luis Fabiano.

Spanish La Liga Top Six

Team        Pl  W D L Fr Ag Pts 
Barcelona   22 17-4-1 53:13  55 
Real Madrid 22 17-2-3 53:15  53 
Valencia    22 12-7-3 39:21  43 
Sevilla     22 12-3-7 33:24  39 
Mallorca    21 11-4-6 35:23  37 
Deportivo   22 10-5-7 24:24  35

Feb 13th-14th : PSV Eindhoven on top of Dutch Eredivisie

A round-up of the weekend of football in Holland.

Hercules 0-1 PSV Eindhoven

Ola Toivonen grabbed the only goal 13 minutes into the second half as PSV Eindhoven re-established their three-point advantage at the top of the Eredivisie with a hard-fought win at Heracles Almelo on Sunday.

PSV improved after a disappointing first half and shortly after Martin Pieckenhagen saved well to keep out Ibrahim Afellay's 20-yard drive, they took the lead.

Balazs Dzsudzsak's corner from the right was met by Toivonen and he found the top left-hand corner with a firm header from five yards out.

Vitesse Arnham 1-2 FC Twente

FC Twente scored twice in the final 10 minutes - including an injury-time winner - as they came from behind to beat Vitesse Arnhem 2-1 and move to within three points of the top.

Vitesse were on course to inflict only a second defeat of the season on Twente after Paul Verhaegh's 50th-minute opener but Bryan Ruiz levelled on the counter-attack in the 82nd minute.

Ronnie Stam then grabbed a dramatic winner in the 92nd minute to keep Twente's title challenge on track.

Heerenveen 0-2 Ajax Amsterdam

Second-half goals from Dennis Rommedahl and Luis Suarez guided Ajax to a 2-0 victory at Heerenveen as they continued their pursuit of the top two.

Rommedahl put the Amsterdam side ahead four minutes after half-time with a close-range shot before Suarez wrapped up the points a minute from time as Ajax claimed their sixth away win of the season.

FC Utrecht 0-0 Feyenoord

Referee Tom van Sichem stole the limelight in an otherwise forgettable Eredivisie goalless draw between between FC Utrecht and Feyenoord.

The official called a temporary halt to proceedings 10 minutes from the end because of abusive chants aimed at him from the home crowd.

Play eventually resumed after Utrecht home boss Ton du Chatinier pleaded with the fans over the tannoy to stop, but neither side could force a breakthrough.

Dutch Eredivisie Top Six

Team       Pl  W D L  Fr Ag Pts 
PSV        23 19-4-0  52:14  61 
FC Twente  23 18-4-1  44:19  58 
Ajax       23 16-4-3  65:17  52 
Feyenoord  23 12-7-4  33:19  43 
Heracles   23 11-3-9  31:32  36 
AZ Alkmaar 23 11-2-10 37:25  35 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Man United Ryan Giggs out for a month with fractured arm

Manchester United have been dealt an injury blow, with Ryan Giggs ruled out for four weeks with a fractured arm.

Although Sir Alex Ferguson sounded optimistic immediately after United's draw at Aston Villa, the way Giggs held his right arm after the second-half collision with Steve Sidwell and the fact he left for an X-ray with his arm in a sling suggested bad news was on its way.

On Thursday afternoon it was announced that Giggs will miss both legs of the Champions League encounter with AC Milan, the Carling Cup final against Villa at Wembley on February 28, plus a sequence of key Premier League matches.

The only good news is that a four-week absence suggests the damage is relatively minor and Giggs should be back before the crunch encounter with Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 31.

It provides Ferguson with a double headache in terms of his wide players because Nani must now serve a three-match ban following his dismissal for a reckless tackle on Stiliyan Petrov.

Ashley Cole out for 3 months with fractured ankle

Chelsea defender Ashley Cole fractured his ankle in Wednesday night's 2-1 defeat at Everton and will be out for at least 3 months.

The England left-back is almost certainly out for the remainder of the domestic season and his place in Fabio Capello's squad for the World Cup finals in South Africa this summer will depend entirely on his rehabilitation programme.

Cole's injury will provide Wayne Bridge with the chance to become Capello's first-choice left-back. Bridge has been at the centre of a media storm involving his former Stamford Bridge team-mate John Terry in recent weeks.

Terry was stripped of the England captaincy by Capello after newspaper allegations he had an affair with Bridge's ex-girlfriend - one-time French lingerie model Vanessa Perroncel.
And recently Cheryl Cole was reported as worrying that her husband Ashley might want a piece of Ms Perroncel himself.

So, maybe it looks like the boot is on the other foot now, and while Ashley Cole is in rehab he'd better watch - John Terry might be round in a flash to "help out" Cheryl!

Monday, February 08, 2010

New Orleans Saints win Super Bowl - beating Colts 31-17

The New Orleans Saints completed a fairytale run to Super Bowl glory by shocking the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Miami on Sunday.

Indianapolis, trying to win their second Super Bowl in four seasons, started confidently and Matt Stover booted a 38-yard field goal to give them the early edge.

And when Peyton Manning hit Pierre Garcon with a 19-yard scoring pass to cap a 96-yard drive (equalling the longest in Super Bowl history) they appeared to be in control.

Quarter Time : Indianpolis 10-0

New Orleans trailed 10-0 after the first quarter, but took control from that moment on to dominate the favoured Colts.

The Saints, with Sean Payton and his staff calling an inspired game, totally dominated the second period to get right back in the hunt.

They only had two Garrett Hartley field goals to show for outgaining the Colts 143 yards to 15 in the quarter, but it would have been more if Pierre Thomas hadn't been stopped by Gary Brackett on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line.

Half Time : Indianpolis 10-6

New Orleans took the game by the scruff of the neck right at the start of the second half, going for a short onside kick and recovering it.

That set the Saints up to go 58 yards in six plays on a scoring drive capped by a 16-yard screen pass from Brees to that man Thomas.

The Colts though struck right back, going 76 yards in 10 plays as Joseph Addai rumbled in from four yards out.

New Orleans responded with another Hartley field goal - his third of the day from more than 40 yards out - to pull within one point at 17-16 - before a dramatic final period.

Three Quarter Time : Indianapolis 17-16

Colts kicker Stover missed a 51-yard field goal which gave the Saints great field position at their own 41, and Brees immediately capitalised.

With the quarterback and his wide receivers in perfect rhythm, they marched 59 yards in nine plays with Brees capping the drive by hitting Jeremy Shockey on a slant from two yards out to take the lead.

Lance Moore's amazing reception for the two-point conversion was called good after the Saints challenged the ruling of incomplete, and New Orleans were in front 24-17.

Manning still had more than five minutes to pull off a memorable comeback, and he quickly drove the Colts to the New Orleans 31.

But then Tracy Porter stepped in front of a pass intended for Reggie Wayne and returned it 74 yards to put the result beyond any doubt.

Final Score : New Orleans 31-17

Drew Brees hit on 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two scores en route to being voted the game's most valuable player. Brees equalled the Super Bowl record for completions as the Saints notched an emotional victory five years on from Hurricane Katrina.

Feb 6-7th : Spanish top three all win in La Liga

The race in Spain remains a two club affer as Barcelona remained five points clear of second-placed Real Madrid at the summit after both teams won.

Barcelona 2-1 Getafe

Barca maintained their impressive home record with a 2-1 victory over Getafe - despite finishing the game with nine men following the dismissals of Gerard Pique and Rafael Marquez.

Pique was sent off for a cynical lunge on Rafa Lopez after 24 minutes, although Barca were already a goal to the good by then thanks to Lionel Messi's brilliant early strike.

Pep Guardiola's side never really looked in danger, despite Pique's departure, and their dominance finally paid off as Xavi all but sealed a 17th league win of the season in the 67th minute.

Roberto Soldado's stoppage-time penalty pulled a goal back for the visitors after Marquez was sent off for the foul on Kepa Blanco which led to the spot-kick.

Real Madrid 3-0 Espanyol

First-half goals from Sergio Ramos and Kaka put Madrid in control, and substitute Gonzalo Higuain added a brilliant third late on as Manuel Pellegrini's men made it 11 out of 11 at the Bernabeu.

In Saturday's early game in Spain, first-half goals from Ever Banega and David Villa saw Valencia cruise to a 2-0 home win over struggling Real Valladolid to boost their hopes of a return to the Champions League.

Banega struck after eight minutes and Villa added the second just before the half-hour mark to secure the three points for Unai Emery's side and consolidate third place in La Liga after 21 rounds of matches.

Valenica 2-0 Valladolid

Valencia cruised to a 2-0 home win over struggling Real Valladolid to boost their hopes of a return to the Champions League.

Banega struck after eight minutes and Villa added the second just before the half-hour mark to secure the three points for Unai Emery's side and consolidate third place in La Liga after 21 rounds of matches.

Spanish Liga Top Six Standings

Team        Pl  W D L Fr Ag Pts 
Barcelona   21 17-4-0 52:11  55 
Real Madrid 21 16-2-3 50:15  50 
Valencia    21 12-6-3 38:20  42 
Mallorca    21 11-4-6 35:23  37 
Sevilla     21 11-3-7 32:24  36 
Deportivo   21 10-5-6 24:22  35

Feb 6-7th : Bayern Munich grab share of lead in Bundesliga

Bayern Munich moved level on points with leaders Bayer Leverkusen thanks to an impressive 3-1 victory at Wolfsburg.

Wolfsburg 1-3 Bayern Munich

Arjen Robben put Bayern ahead in the second minute and Daniel van Buyten added a second before the break.

The visitors were three up just before the hour when the ball ended up in the home net after Andrea Barzagli attempted to clear under pressure from substitute Franck Ribery.

Grafite missed a penalty but grabbed a late consolation for the struggling champions in the last minute.

Bochum 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen saw their two-point advantage at the summit evaporate as their four-game winning streak ended with a 1-1 draw at Bochum.

Leverkusen went ahead in the 45th minute through Eren Derdiyok, who collected a pass from Stefan Kiessling on the left, turned and struck into the bottom-left corner.

But Bochum equalised in the 68th minute when Lewis Holtby found Zlatko Dedic, who poked the ball past the out-charging goalkeeper.

Freiburg 0-0 Schalke

Schalke twice hit the woodwork and had a goal cruelly disallowed in a 0-0 draw at Freiburg as they missed a chance to gain meaningful ground on leaders Leverkusen.

Kevin Kuranyi hit the post with a header from from eight yards out, although Freiburg hit the goal frame themselves 10 minutes later with Mohamadou Idrissou's header striking the crossbar after a free-kick.

Schalke were robbed of a goal three minutes after the restart as Marcelo Bordon headed off the underside of the crossbar and the ball clearly crossed the goalline, television replays showed.

German Bundesliga Top Eight Teams

Team                Pl  W D L Fr Ag Pts 
Bayer Leverkusen    21 12-9-0 46:17  45 
Bayern Munich       21 13-6-2 45:18  45 
Schalke 04          21 12-6-3 31:15  42 
Hamburg             21  9-9-3 40:24  36 
Borussia Dortmund   21 10-6-5 30:26  36 
Werder Bremen       21  8-7-6 39:25  31 
Eintracht Frankfurt 21  8-7-6 28:29  31 
Mainz               21  8-6-7 25:29  30 

Feb 6-7th : Inter Milan in command on top of Italy Serie A

Inter Milan moved 10 points clear of city rivals AC Milan, and 8 clear at the top of Serie A with a convincing 3-0 victory against in-form Cagliari at the San Siro on Sunday.

Inter Milan 3-0 Cagliari

Winter signing Goran Pandev gave them the perfect start after five minutes' play with Argentinian duo Walter Samuel (20) and Diego Milito (47) wrapping the game up for Jose Mourinho's men.

The result ended a six-game unbeaten run for Massimiliano Allegri's Cagliari, denting their hopes of European qualification.

Bologna 0-0 AC Milan

AC Milan fell 10 points behind city rivals Inter after an uninspiring goalless draw at Bologna.

A win for Leonardo's men was key to their hopes of keeping the pressure on their great rivals in the race for the Scudetto.

But Milan's failure to find the back of the net - although they went very close hitting the woodwork twice - means athat Milan slip back to 3rd on the table.

Fiorentina 0-1 AS Roma

Roma to move second in the table as Mirko Vucinic got the only goal for the game in the 1-0 win at Fiorentina.

The Viola were left empty-handed after one of their most impressive performances of the last few months while Roma extended their excellent run of form to 12 Serie A games without defeat.

Udinese 3-1 Napoli

Antonio di Natale scored twice in injury-time to complete a hat-trick for Udinese in a 3-1 victory against previously in-form Napoli.

Di Natale punished his hometown club, who had goalscorer Christian Maggio sent off just before half-time, to give the Bianconeri a first win in eight Serie A contests.

It provided Gianni De Biasi with a first victory since he took charge on December 22, easing the club's relegation fears and enabling them to put behind them the misery of the midweek Coppa Italia semi-final defeat to Roma.

Serie A Top Eight Team Standings

Team        Pl  W D L Fr Ag Pts 
Inter Milan 22 16-4-2 48:19  52 
Roma        23 13-5-5 38:26  44 
AC Milan    22 12-6-4 36:22  42 
Napoli      23 10-8-5 32:27  38 
Palermo     23 10-7-6 31:26  37 
Sampdoria   23 10-6-7 30:31  36 
Juventus    23 10-5-8 35:30  35 
Genoa       23 10-5-8 36:36  35 

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Super Bowl 1st Touchdown Scorer Market at Centrebet

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Six Nations Rugby Outright Bet - an easy profit

France 2.62 at Paddy Power
Ireland 3.50 at Bet365
Wales 6.00
England 6.00
Scotland 21.00

Make two outright winning bets on France and Ireland to make a profit.

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30-31st Jan : Round-up Of Italy Serie A results

Parma P-P Inter Milan

Inter Milan's match at Parma was postponed due to snow, and has been re-scheduled for February 10th.

AC Milan 1-1 Livorno

AC Milan missed the chance to close the gap on Serie A leaders Inter Milan to six points as they were held to a 1-1 draw by relegation-threatened Livorno on Sunday.

Massimo Ambrosini opened the scoring for Milan in the final minute of the first half but Livorno levelled eight minutes after the break thanks to Cristiano Lucarelli.

Juventus 1-1 Lazio

New Juventus boss Alberto Zaccheroni had to settle for a point at Turin's Stadio Olimpico in his first match in charge as they played out a 1-1 draw with Lazio.

The former Lazio manager saw his team take the lead through Alessandro Del Piero's 70th-minute penalty. However, that was as good as it got for Juve as Stefano Mauri grabbed the equaliser eight minutes later by volleying home a cross from Mauro Zarate.

The result lifted the Turin outfit to fifth in the standings, and leaves Lazio two points clear of the drop zone.

Napoli 0-0 Genoa

On Saturday Napoli were held to a 0-0 draw at the Stadio San Paolo by their bogey team Genoa.

Napoli have not beaten Genoa since both sides returned to the top flight of Italian football two-and-a-half years ago, while their last home victory over the Ligurians dates back over a decade to when the clubs were in Serie B.

Bari 4-2 Palermo

Bari defeated 10-man Palermo 4-2 at the Stadio San Nicola.

Leonardo Bonucci and Edgar Alvarez gave the hosts a two-goal lead within the first seven minutes, but strikes from Edison Cavani and Javier Pastore either side of half-time brought Palermo level.

A red card shown to midfielder Fabio Liverani in the 56th minute tipped the scales back in Bari's favour before a penalty from Paulo Barreto and a fourth goal from Vladimir Koman earned them all three points to get them back in the reckoning for a place in Europe next season.

Italian Serie A Top Six Standings

Team        Pl  W D L Fr Ag Pts 
Inter Milan 21 15-4-2 45 19 49 
AC Milan    21 12-5-4 36 22 41 
AS Roma     22 12-5-5 37 26 41 
Napoli      22 10-8-4 31 24 38 
Juventus    22 10-4-8 34 29 34 
Palermo     22  9-7-6 29 25 34