Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Inter push away Barca

Internazional Milano defeated FC Barcelona today in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, the final score 1-0 for Barca at Camp Nou. The previous leg was won by Inter at the San Siro by the score of 3-1. Inter win 3-2 on aggregate and are through to the final where they will face Bayern Munich.

Inter were down to 10 men (thanks to Thiago Motta) just before the end of the first half, yet were able to retain aggregate win. Players such as Cristian Chivu, Diego Milito, Sneijder, and others did much for Inter in this match. Pique scored a great goal in the 84th minute to give Barcelona a bit of hope in sight. Barca even scored in stoppage time thanks to Bojan but because of a handball by a Barcelona player, it did not count. Report:
The Italian champions survived Thiago Motta's early red card and Gerard Piqué's late goal to reach a first final since 1972.

 Barcelona dethroned by resilient Inter

An immense display of intelligent defending and sheer determination took FC Internazionale Milano into the European Champion Clubs' Cup final for the first time since 1972 and ended FC Barcelona's hopes of becoming the first team to defend the UEFA Champions League.

Once again José Mourinho's tactics proved decisive, Inter overcoming the loss of Goran Pandev minutes before kick-off plus the dismissal of former Barcelona midfielder Thiago Motta after 28 minutes and even a fine 84th-minute goal from Gerard Piqué. That late strike was the only moment when it looked as if Inter, who gave everything to protect their 3-1 first-leg lead, were not going to thwart the reigning European and world champions at every turn as they look to win the trophy for the third time.

The atmosphere had been febrile for an hour before kick-off, although amid the tension there were warm embraces between Xavi Hernàndez, Samuel Eto'o and Víctor Valdés. There was no let-up in the intensity on the pitch, however, although Inter had been forced into an emergency reshuffle even before Motta's red card. Pandev broke down in the warm-up and Mourinho opted for Cristian Chivu as his replacement.

Inter's counterattacking tactics meant that there were often nine white shirts behind the ball while the European champions tested their version of safe-breaking skills. Try as they might it was impossible to unpick the Italian champions although Pedro Rodríguez darted in front of Motta and Maicon to prod Daniel Alves' cross narrowly wide. Inter's response was instant. An excellent combination between Diego Milito and Wesley Sneijder down the right sucked Seydou Keita, an experimental left-back, towards the danger and so suddenly that Eto'o was alone with the ball in sight of goal. Only the timely arrivals of Gabriel Milito and Pedro spared Barcelona.

Then came five minutes that made Inter's task even harder. Motta had already been booked but his use of an outstretched hand on the face of Sergio Busquets brought him a straight red card in the 28th minute. As Inter looked to reorganise yet again, it was another Brazilian who came to their rescue. Yaya Touré released Lionel Messi and the competition's leading scorer bent in a vicious drive which Júlio César finger-tipped round the post.

Even though it needed an immense diving block by Samuel to prevent Zlatan Ibrahimović getting off shot just before the break, Inter were impressive. Diego Milito and Sneijder worked tirelessly to win possession and always stretched the home side when they had the ball. The degree to which Inter remained largely untroubled was shown as Guardiola first replaced Ibrahimović with Bojan Krkić, then urged Piqué to push up as an auxiliary centre-forward. Another striker, Jeffrén, followed as time began to ebb away and Inter's relentless blocking and retreating forced the normally slick Barcelona to shoot wastefully from distance.

Searching for inspiration Messi drifted left and curved in a cross which, at last, eluded Samuel only for Bojan to nudge a free header past the post. Then came the breakthrough. Xavi slipped a trademark pass to Piqué, he turned substitute Ivàn Córdoba and slid a shot into the open net. It proved too little too late for the holders, however, Inter holding out for the remaining six minutes plus added time to end their reign and set up a meeting with FC Bayern München on 22 May.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lyon hold firm to oust Bordeaux

FC Girondins de Bordeaux 1-0 Olympique Lyonnais (agg: 2-3)
Marouane Chamakh's goal at the end of the first half was not enough to prevent the visitors reaching the semi-finals for the first time.

Lyon hold firm to oust Bordeaux

Olympique Lyonnais withstood a barrage of pressure to clinch a gritty aggregate win against FC Girondins de Bordeaux and book their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg, the visitors defended with fierce determination to protect their advantage, although it took another sensational Hugo Lloris save in the closing moments to ultimately seal the triumph. Marouane Chamakh had halved the deficit with his fifth European goal of the season just before the break, setting up a thrilling second half in which Les Girondins poured forward relentlessly. Lyon stood firm, however, thus ensuring they will compete in a semi-final after falling in the last eight three times in the previous six years.

Les Marine et Blanc entered the contest boasting a perfect home record in this season's competition yet three defeats from their last three outings was clearly playing on the French champions' confidence. As Laurent Blanc's men struggled to find their passing game, OL warmed to the task and twice threatened to extend their aggregate lead early on. Michel Bastos rifled a powerful free-kick narrowly wide and Bafétimbi Gomis nodded César Delgado's corner over before the hosts gradually got a foothold.

Not surprisingly, when Bordeaux stirred on 18 minutes the danger came from a free-kick. Wendel's superb delivery from the right drew Lloris off his line but Yoann Gourcuff failed to add to Bordeaux's 11 set-piece goals this term, glancing his header over. The opening brought the crowd to life, though, and suddenly the momentum was firmly with Bordeaux. Only a series of towering headers from Cris kept Claude Puel's side afloat as Benoît Trémoulinas and Wendel fizzed over crosses from either flank.

Les Girondins were out of luck on 44 minutes when former Lyon midfielder Alou Diarra thundered a dipping volley against the crossbar from distance, although the home fans were soon celebrating. Seconds before the interval, the marauding Trémoulinas collected Jussiê's return ball on the left, surged to the byline, and when Jaroslav Plašil flicked on his near-post cross, Chamakh was on hand to force in his second goal of the tie from close range.

If Les Gones were struggling to create chances without their suspended talisman Lisandro, his replacement Gomis was quick to show in the second half. Directly from the restart, the French international broke free on the right side of the penalty area and evaded the advancing Cédric Carrasso, only to shoot tamely at covering defender Marc Planus from a testing angle.

Bastos then fired a volley wide before the French champions seized control and threw everything at Lyon in the last half-hour. Chamakh was a constant menace yet with Cris and Jean-Alain Boumsong typically combative, the Moroccan international could not forge a clear opportunity. Bordeaux always looked capable of scoring the all-important second from a set piece, but for once their favoured weapon failed to deliver. Ludovic Sané headed Gourcuff's corner wide with ten minutes remaining and Lloris pulled off a stunning save from Wendel's header on 87 minutes as time ran out on Bordeaux.

At a glance

What happened
Marouane Chamakh struck on the stroke of half-time but Laurent Blanc's side were unable to find the goal that would have sent them through.

Key moment
With three minutes remaining Wendel sent a bullet header towards the Lyon goal but, not for the first time in the tie, Hugo Lloris pulled off a fabulous save.

Numbers game

Bordeaux won all five of their home games in this season's UEFA Champions League but it was not enough to keep them in the competition. 
One on one
Cris was outmanoeuvred for Chamakh's goal but otherwise held the Moroccan striker in check with a typically combative and imposing display.

Crowd pleaser
In the 44th minute former Lyon midfielder Alou Diarra unleashed a thunderous shot from 25 metres only for the crossbar to intervene.

What it means
After three quarter-finals Lyon are in the semi-finals for the first time – Ligue 1's first representatives in the last four since 2003/04.

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United buckle under Bayern strain & yesterday's UCL results

April 7th 2010

 United buckle under Bayern strain

Manchester United FC 3-2 FC Bayern München
(agg: 4-4, Bayern win on away goals)

United buckle under Bayern strain

A magnificent volley from Arjen Robben capped a stunning Bayern recovery with the home side having taken a 3-0 lead before Rafael's dismissal.

FC Bayern München fought back from three goals down on the night to oust Manchester United FC from the UEFA Champions League on away goals.

On a pulsating evening, United stormed into a three-goal lead through Darron Gibson and a Nani double. Yet Ivica Olić's goal just before the break raised Bayern hopes and after Rafael's 50th-minute dismissal, Bayern capitalised on the extra man thanks to a stunning Arjen Robben volley 16 minutes from time.

It was a repeat of the Dutchman's decisive goal in the identical away-goals win against ACF Fiorentina in the last 16 and means Bayern can look forward to their first semi-final since 2001, the year of their last European crown when they also beat United at this stage.

The home fans had a lift before kick-off with the news that Wayne Rooney would be starting, just days after Sir Alex Ferguson had said he faced "two to three weeks" out with the ankle injury sustained in the first leg.
United then made a dream start with a third-minute goal involving two other surprise names on the team sheet. Rafael, in for Gary Neville, dispossessed Franck Ribéry and played the ball to Rooney, who laid it on to Gibson. The Northern Irishman, making only his second start of 2010, side-footed a low shot inside the near post from the edge of the box for his first UEFA Champions League goal.

After seven minutes United had their second. Antonio Valencia teased Holger Badstuber out on the right before driving in a low cross that Nani, ghosting beyond the Bayern back line, turned in with a cute flick of his heel. Michael Carrick, with a shot, and Rooney, a header, then went close with Bayern were struggling to live with the pace of United's play, even with Rooney now hobbling. They duly made it 3-0 as Valencia broke down the right and crossed for Nani to drive the ball high into the net.

Two minutes later, however, Bayern pulled a goal back through Olić. Latching onto Thomas Müller's flicked header, the Croatian shrugged aside Michael Carrick and beat Edwin van der Sar from a tight angle.
Louis van Gaal sent on Mario Gómez for Müller at the interval and within five minutes Bayern found themselves with a man advantage when Rafael collected a second yellow for pulling back Ribéry.

With Rooney making way for John O'Shea, Bayern pressed for a second and Van der Sar punched clear a Ribéry drive just before the hour while Gómez skimmed the crossbar with a header. It was not all one-way traffic, not with United's counterattacking threat – twice Butt saved well from Nani, while Carrick and Gibson spurned half-chances.

With 16 minutes remaining, though, Robben broke United's resistance by levelling the aggregate scores at 4-4. Ribéry's corner found him on the edge of the box and the Dutchman drove the ball on the volley past a helpless Van der Sar and into the far corner. For United, the dream of a third successive final was over.

April 6th 2010 

Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal
Short Summary: All of Barca's goals scored by the world's best player, Lionel Messi, and one early goal from the Gunners' Nicklas Bendtner.

CSKA Moskva 0-1 Internazionale
Short Summary: Only goal of the match was scored by Sneijder, launching Inter into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2003.

Click here for more details and football articles at SWU

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Chivu will meet Messi in the semi finals of the Champions League

Romanian international Cristi Chivu is the only Romanian player to play in the semi finals of the Champions League after his team Inter Milan beat CSKA Moscow last night (Tues).

Wesley Sneijder scored for Inter in the sixth minute qualifying his team for the semifinals.

Inter Milan is the first team to qualify for the semi finals, after Barcelona who humiliated Arsenal London by 4-1, all four goals being scored by Lionel Messi.

Defender Cristi Chivu was back on the pitch only two weeks ago, after having undergone head surgery in January.

He had suffered a fractured skull during a match his team won against Chievo on 6 January in Italian Series A play. Chivu, 29, injured his head in a duel with Sergio Pellissier.

Another Romanian in the Bundesliga

Another Romanian could be set to play in the Bundesliga, it was revealed today (Tues).

Football player Paul Parvulescu, from Gaz Metan Medias, is going to be transferred to Hoffenheim, according to Prosport.

Parvulescu, 21, is reportedly in discussions to sign a contract for five seasons and the Romanian club will get 1.5 million Euros, Prosport wrote, quoting sources from the club. The transfer has not been confirmed officially.

Currently, Romanian Ciprian Marica is playing for VfB Stuttgart.

Another Romanian, Alexandru Ionita, from Rapid, has signed a three and a half years contract with FC Koln, starting this summer.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mutu wanted by Al-Sadd

Romanian striker Adrian Mutu has been offered a king-size salary of 6 million Euros per season in Qatar by Al-Sadd, Calciomercato revealed today (Tues).
The Fiorentina striker is among ten players the club wants to sell in the summer along with Frey, Vargas and Pasqual.

But his leaving is conditional on the suspension he faces for two positive doping tests. Caciomercato says he will be sold if he gets a suspension of more than 6 months.

His case will be tried by the Italian National Antidoping Court on 19 April.
Italian anti-doping prosecutors have called for a one-year suspension of Romanian international Adrian Mutu after the Fiorentina player was suspended indefinitely in February for failing anti-doping tests.

Mutu, 31, tested positive for sibutramine in tests carried out on 10 January after a match with Bari and on 20 January after a match with Lazio.

Monday, April 5, 2010 apologises to Romanians for racist blunder

The well-known sports website has apologised today (Mon) to Romanians after using a racist term referring to the team Rapid Bucharest.The blunder has been highly criticised by the Romanian sports press, which spotted the Rapid Bucharest team was named "Ciorile vopsite", which means "the painted crows", which is a racist name used for gipsies, called by other team's supporters against the Rapid team.

The article referred to the recent appointment of Ioan Andone as Rapid coach.

The later edit of the article reads:
"Note: An earlier version of this article contained what now realises is an ethnic slur. utterly rejects all forms of racism and ethnic discrimination and apologies deeply and sincerely to readers in Romania and elsewhere for our accidental use of an unacceptable phrase."

The blunder was also pointed out by readers in tens of comments: "Priceless! The ciorile vopsite :))", "Mr. Robin, I'm not a Rapid fan, but I have to tell you that there are "ciori vopsite" all over Romania and a team like Steaua Bucharest , Dinamo Bucharest but other teams too have among their fans a higher percentage of "ciori vopsite" than Rapid Bucharest. Anyway , the word "cioara" is a nasty nickname by which gipsy are called and you may be in big trouble if any of them (romanian or not) intends to sue you in the court of law. If I were you, I'd just ERASE these two words from the article."

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CFR Cluj remains at the top

CFR Cluj remains at the top of the Romanian League I after victory over Gloria Bistrita on Saturday night in Cluj-Napoca.

Yssouf Kone scored for CFR in the first half and kept the team in first place, with 49 points.

Beating Unirea Alba lulia 3-0, Vaslui now take second place in League I, with 47 points.

Steaua Bucharest also won 1-0 against FC Brasov and it is currently in third place, with 46 points.

Romanian scores against PSG

Romanian AJ Auxerre striker Daniel Niculae scored against Paris Saint Germain in a 1-1 home game.

Niculae scored in the opening 11 minutes with PSG’s Sankhare equalising five minutes later.

Niculae's team is currently third in the French championship, after Lyon and Montpellier.

Daniel Niculae has a contract to play for Auxerre until this summer.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Steaua player out for a month

Steaua player Ianos Szekely is out of action for at least a month after sustaining an injury during training, the club announced yesterday (Fri).

Szekely, 26, suffered a knee injury and he will be operated on next week, the club said, but added he is unlikely to be back in the game for at least one month.

Szekely played in 15 matches for Steaua this season and scored five times.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Prosecutors ask for one year suspension of Mutu

Adrian Mutu - Fiorentina (Getty Images)Italian anti-doping prosecutors have requested a one-year suspension of Romanian international Adrian Mutu for doping, they announced yesterday (Weds).

His case was sent to the Italian National Anti-doping Court, which indefinitely suspended the Fiorentina player in February after he had failed anti-doping tests.

Prosecutors have announced that the case was sent to the Italian National Anti-doping Court for admission of responsibility in the breaching of article 2.1 in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.

Prosecutors are asking for a one-year suspension of the Romanian player in accordance with article 10.4 in the WADA Code.

Mutu, 31, tested positive for sibutramine in tests carried out on 10 January after a match with Bari and on 20 January after a match with Lazio.

Mutu scored two goals in the match against Lazio Roma that Fiorentina won by a score of 3-2. His team thereby qualified for the Italy Cup semi-finals.

Sibutramine is an anorectic or appetite suppressant that reduces a person’s desire to eat.

Last year, Mutu was ordered to pay Chelsea more than 14 million GBP in compensation for having tested positive for cocaine in 2004 while playing at Stamford Bridge.

His agent believes that if the ban is longer than 6 months, his career with Fiorentina could well be over.