Messi on song as Barca ease into Copa quarters

first_imgRelatedPosts Suarez agrees Atletico terms Barca president Bartomeu says he won’t go to war anymore with Messi Messi scores twice in Barca friendly A Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona eased past Leganes 5-0 on Thursday to reach the Copa del Rey quarter-finals. Leganes, second-bottom of La Liga, made a number of changes from the side that secured a 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid at the weekend and a full-strength Barca took advantage. Last season’s Copa runners-up went ahead after four minutes when Nelson Semedo raced onto Messi’s through ball and squared for Antoine Griezmann to finish from close range. Griezmann was denied a second after a lengthy VAR stoppage deemed the French forward offside in the build-up. Messi turned provider when Clement Lenglet nodded in from a corner to double the Catalan side’s advantage. The Argentine added a deflected third on the hour before rounding off the scoring in the final minute after substitute Arthur had netted the fourth. Barca joined Real Madrid, Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao, Granada, Real Sociedad and holders Valencia in the pot for Friday’s draw. Sevilla visit second tier Mirandes later on Thursday in the final round of 16 game. Reuters/NAN.Tags: Antoine GriezmannBarcelonaLeganesLionel MessiNelson Semedolast_img read more

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Ole: Ighalo can fire United to Champions League finish

first_imgRelatedPosts Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ Aguero could be out of action until November, Guardiola says UCL: Benfica kicked out by player who left club one week earlier + other results Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United’s January additions can help the team find the consistency they need to secure a Champions League spot. United signed Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo in the transfer window to boost a squad contesting a fierce battle for a top-four place in the Premier League. Solskjaer’s side have enjoyed the highs of an away win at Manchester City and a league double over Chelsea, while they are the only team to have held champions-elect Liverpool to a draw. But United fans have also had to endure embarrassing defeats at home to Crystal Palace and Burnley, and away losses at the likes of Bournemouth and Watford during this campaign. “We’ve had a few disappointing games, definitely,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports. “We’ve had inconsistent periods, we’ve had some great highs, great games… loads of games we’ve played really exciting football. And then we’ve let ourselves down in games we’ve dominated.” However, United are unbeaten since adding Fernandes and Ighalo to their squad last month, with the former having scored in each of his last two appearances. “That little spark he’s given us, he’s come in and the feeling around the place is better, ” Solskjaer said about the Portugal international. “He plays forward passes, he takes chances. He loses the ball a few times but he’s one of the players who looks good when he loses the ball because it’s a good attempt, and he wins the ball back. Delighted with him. “Odion as well, he’s given us something extra. We’ve missed that type of striker who has been in and around the box and having some tap ins. “We’ve had to score more or less perfect goals to score. We don’t need that now. “We’ve got players who can strike the ball from outside, we’ve got a striker in the box so I feel we’re getting closer and closer to that consistency.” United’s next four scheduled league games are all against teams battling for Europe, starting with Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park – a ground where Solskjaer’s side were thrashed 4-0 last season. But United go into the clash with Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton on the back of a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions that has included six clean sheets. “I don’t want to speak too much about last year’s game because I can see a totally different squad now,” the United boss added. “It’s a reminder for us that going to Goodison Park is always tough and you have to earn the right to get anything. I think Carlo has also got his team playing really, really well. “We’ve had a great improvement in our defending, consistency in clean sheets, a foundation to play from. But we can’t get carried away. “We’ve got close to the top four but we’re not there. Everton, City, Tottenham, Sheffield United, they’re our next four league games.”Tags: Manchester CityOdion IghaloOle Gunnar SolskjaerUEFA Champions Leaguelast_img read more

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Bale blasts late winner in Saints defeat

first_img The pressure was on Bale to deliver after a brilliant week for the Welshman, but for most of the game he disappointed. The 23-year-old, who won the PFA Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, and FWA Footballer of the Year awards this week, was marked out of the game for most of what was largely a dull and uninspiring match. Bale flitted between positions, his touch was often poor, and he offered little to help Spurs on the attack. That was until the 86th minute. The forward found space 25 yards out, picked the ball off substitute Lewis Holtby and unleashed a peach of a shot which beat the out-stretched Artur Boruc. The strike brought his tally for the season to 30 – double his previous best – and also meant Bale became the first Tottenham player since Jurgen Klinsmann to register 20 league goals in a season. The victory piled the pressure on Arsenal and Chelsea, in the battle for top-four spots in the Barclays Premier League, ahead of Spurs’ huge clash against the Blues on Wednesday night, but it was a cruel blow for Southampton, who deserved at least a point from the game. After a half-hour delay due to a chemical spillage on the M25, Tottenham started brightly, going on the attack from the first whistle. Jermain Defoe almost opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he drove into the side-netting. The home side’s high line left them vulnerable, though, and Southampton took full advantage. Hugo Lloris had tipped a brilliant Rickie Lambert free-kick in the first half on to a post, and the Saints dominated most of game, but they remained far from safety following Wigan’s win at West Brom. Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas looked to Emmanuel Adebayor for inspiration, the Togolese coming on for an injured Aaron Lennon with half an hour left. The hosts’ hopes of salvaging a win looked to be slipping away until the 86th minute, when Bale collected the ball off Holtby and fired a 25-yard shot past a sprawling Boruc. Bale had said earlier this week that he would mute his celebration out of respect to his former club, but the 23-year-old could not resist, racing over to the corner before being mobbed by his delighted team-mates. Gareth Bale rounded off a remarkable week by firing Tottenham to a dramatic last-gasp 1-0 win against Southampton.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Pellegrini to start in South Africa

first_imgManchester City have confirmed Manuel Pellegrini’s first game as manager will be against South African outfit Supersport United in Pretoria on July 14. The Blues will also face AmaZulu FC on July 18 in Durban on a two-match tour as part of the Nelson Mandela Football Invitational. City chief executive Ferran Soriano confirmed: “As well as competing in two games we have chosen Durban as our base for our training camp. It is an exciting time for the club as Manuel Pellegrini takes charge of the team for the first time.” Press Associationcenter_img After their stay in South Africa, City will head to Hong Kong, where they will compete alongside Sunderland and Tottenham in the bi-annual Premier League Asia Trophy. They will also face old boy Mario Balotelli when they take on AC Milan in the Audi Cup before wrapping up their pre-season programme with a trip to Helsinki on August 10, when they will take on fellow Champions League challengers Arsenal. last_img read more

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Lafferty completes Palermo move

first_img The 25-year-old Northern Ireland international scored five Super League goals in a single season with Sion, who were managed for part of the 2012-13 campaign by recently-appointed Rosanero coach Gennaro Gattuso. A statement published on Palermo’s official website read: “Palermo announce the signing of Kyle Lafferty from Sion. The Northern Irish striker has signed a three-year contract.” Lafferty moved to Switzerland from Ibrox during the fall-out from Rangers’ transferral to Charles Green’s newco following the club’s liquidation in June 2012. The Enniskillen-born forward had scored 31 league goals in 104 appearances across four seasons with the Glasgow club after leaving Burnley for £3million in 2008. During his medical on Thursday, Lafferty revealed he had been close to agreeing a move to Sicily from Sion in the last transfer window. “I’m delighted to be here,” he said. “Palermo tried to sign me in January but unfortunately we couldn’t close the deal. Now I can’t wait to get started. “When I was younger I watched a lot of Italian football and I know there’s a very passionate fanbase here at Palermo.” Former Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty has joined Serie B side Palermo from Sion on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Pellegrini praise for strike pair

first_img Aguero and Negredo have struck up a fearsome partnership in the opening months of the season and have already scored nine league goals between them. Aguero is leading the way with 13 in all competitions after a hot run of form that has seen him score nine in his last seven games. Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has hailed the “incredible” Sergio Aguero and strike partner Alvaro Negredo but wants to share out praise for their goals. Four of those came in three Barclays Premier League games in October and were enough to earn him the player of the month award. Pellegrini said: “It is absolutely well deserved. Sergio has had an incredible last month. “I always thought he was incredible because he is a top player, but now he is in a great moment.” Negredo has linked well with Aguero since his £20million summer move from Sevilla and his performances are keeping Edin Dzeko out of the starting line-up. The Spaniard scored a hat-trick while Aguero grabbed the other two in the 5-2 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow in midweek. Yet Pellegrini insists there is much more to the goals than simply the form of the front two. He said: “It is not only Aguero and Negredo – the team is playing very well. “All the midfielders – (David) Silva, (Samir) Nasri, (Yaya) Toure, Fernandinho – are really playing very well. “The way the team plays I also think benefits both of them.” City are in good heart after their victory over CSKA took them into the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time. They now turn their attention back to the Premier League and this weekend’s trip to struggling Sunderland. Last weekend’s 7-0 thrashing of Norwich at the Etihad Stadium was a powerful reminder of their force but their away form has so far been indifferent. City have collected just four points from five games on the road but Pellegrini will continue to approach all games in the same manner. He said: “I think about different things – one is the Premier League, one is Champions League. “We finished with the Champions League last Tuesday now we must think about the Premier League. “But we don’t need to change the mind. We are always involved in both competitions exactly the same. “Normally teams do not play the same way away as at home, it is different, but not in our case.” City must also overcome their recent poor record at the Stadium of Light, having lost 1-0 on each of their last three visits. Pellegrini is not concerning himself with what happened before his appointment. He said: “I never think what happened in the past. In the future all the games are different. “We are going to Sunderland. They are playing well now with Gustavo Poyet and they will be a difficult team to beat.” City are without playmaker Silva, who suffered a calf injury against CSKA and could be out for up to four weeks. Influential captain Vincent Kompany also remains on the sidelines with a calf problem but he could return after the upcoming international break to face Tottenham on November 24. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Ole loving managerial challenge

first_img But when they met subsequently, Bruce light-heartedly attempted to steer the Norwegian away from a life in the dugout. It was never a tip Solksjaer was likely to take, as he coached the Red Devils reserves and then began his career as a number one with Molde. He may now be in charge of the Premier League’s second-bottom side, but the 40-year-old is still content with his decision. “I don’t really know Brucey that well because he left before I came to United, but we’ve met a few times,” he said. “We never got to know each other as players but I remember he said to me a few years ago about management ‘don’t even think about it because it’s too stressful’. “But I enjoy it, I love it. You could have an easy life – it’s not like you have to work because you’ve made your money – but that’s not me.” Solskjaer even suspects Bruce is having a good time again, having put a disappointing end to his Sunderland reign behind him by leading Hull back to the top flight. The Tigers are the best-placed of the three promoted teams heading into the weekend fixtures, with Crystal Palace a point behind them and the Bluebirds a further four adrift. Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is glad he ignored Steve Bruce’s advice to avoid a career in coaching. The two former Manchester United favourites come face-to-face for the first time on Saturday in a match that both see as a big chance to bank three important points in the Barclays Premier League relegation battle. The pair never crossed paths at Old Trafford, with Bruce leaving United in 1996, just before Solksjaer arrived. Press Association “I’ve always looked up to ex-Manchester United players who have done well and the way he has bounced back, having had ups and downs…he seems to be enjoying it,” said the Cardiff boss. “I’m not surprised how well they’ve done. But if we win we’ll only have two points to make up on them. “If you look at the situation they’re in and we’re in, there’s not too much between us, which you’d expect for teams coming up from the Championship.” Manager Steve Bruce believes Hull’s season could hit new highs in the next three days, but is praying injuries do not ruin the fun. The Tigers can give their survival hopes a major shot in the arm on Saturday before a quick turnaround sees them host Brighton in Monday night’s FA Cup fifth-round replay. Bruce is ill at ease with the idea of playing twice in little more than 48 hours but accepts that two victories would leave his side with plenty to look forward to. Barclays Premier League safety is the priority, and would move one step closer to reality with success in South Wales, while a home quarter-final draw against Sunderland awaits the winners of the cup clash. “Can we get to 30 points and be in a cup quarter-final by Monday? It’s all to play for and it would be a terrific boost for us all,” he said. “It’s a big game every week for us, from the day we started at Chelsea to our first home game. They’re all big games and Cardiff is another one. “We could open up a huge margin over them, (effectively) nine points if you count the goal difference, then there’s the chance to play for a home quarter-final. “We’re not exactly steeped in history and tradition of going to FA Cup finals or semi-finals, so it would be terrific for everyone concerned. “Why can’t we mount a challenge on two fronts?” Despite his enthusiasm, Bruce concedes that the prospect of injuries remains an issue, particularly with so little recovery time between outings. The Brighton clash cannot be played on Tuesday or Wednesday due to UEFA guidelines on Champions League weeks, meaning both sides will be crossing their fingers for a clean bill of health as well as a positive result. “It’s not easy playing Saturday, Monday; I think that’s ridiculous,” said Bruce. “It baffles me. Footballers could play every day but they can’t play with the same intensity. “It’s like asking an athlete to run a race and then do it again the next day in the same time. It won’t happen. “The thing you have to guard against, that we all worry about, is if you play more games you pick up injuries. “Very rarely does it happen in training, most of them come taking part in games. If you put your first 11 out and lose two or three of them for the run in, you’ve got problems.” last_img read more

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Hammers to stick with Sam

first_img Allardyce has also agreed to recruit a new attacking coach to help the team adopt a more positive style of play. The board will also have more influence on how the club spends “considerable funds” in the transfer market this summer. Joint-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold said: “We have a very clear vision of how we want West Ham United to operate under our joint ownership. “Although not everybody understands the West Ham Way, we do and we respect it as we have been supporters all our lives. We believe this is about a philosophy that is not just about the style of play, but the whole ethos that surrounds the club. “Sam was asked to give us a detailed presentation on his vision for next season and during this he assured us that he can deliver that ethos to West Ham United and we have agreed to support him with the resources that he needs. “We have mapped out a way forward with him that will ensure our much-deserving fans have more to cheer about next season.” Allardyce guided the club to promotion from the Championship at the first attempt in 2012 and secured a 10th-place finish in the team’s first year back in the Premier League. The Hammers struggled with injuries to key players last season, including club-record signing Andy Carroll, and were threatened by relegation for the majority of the campaign. Press Association Three wins over rivals Tottenham and a 13th-place finish did little to appease disappointed supporters, who complained about the team’s defensive style of play. In March, the home fans at Upton Park booed at the final whistle even after the Hammers had beaten Hull 2-1, to which Allardyce responded by cupping his ears in disbelief. The statement concluded: “We are absolutely committed to taking West Ham United to new heights and we want to see the club continue on an upward trajectory next season. “The 2014/15 campaign is crucial to our future and we are confident that Sam has the passion, experience and determination to make sure it is a success.” Allardyce added: “I look forward to taking the club forward and improving the squad for next season to try and achieve the plans we have set out in our very productive meeting last week.” Sam Allardyce will remain as West Ham manager but will have to produce “more entertainment” on the field, the club announced on Tuesday. Allardyce and the West Ham board have held lengthy discussions and it was also made clear to the Hammers boss that his team must aim for “at least a top-10 finish” in the Barclays Premier League next season. A statement released by the club said: “After listening to feedback from supporters, the board have insisted on improvements to the set-up of the playing and backroom staff to ensure the team provides more entertainment next season.” last_img read more

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Newcastle close to Janmaat deal

first_img However, some minor formalities remain to be completed and that means Janmaat will not now be unveiled until Wednesday. His official arrival will be significant for more than one reason as it is likely to trigger Mathieu Debuchy’s departure for Arsenal. Dutchman Janmaat will become Pardew’s fifth summer signing and the second this week after Remy Cabella joined Siem de Jong, Jack Colback and Ayoze Perez at the Magpies. The 24-year-old Feyenoord full-back travelled to Tyneside on Tuesday to undergo a medical and discuss personal terms after the two clubs agreed a fee at the weekend. It appeared an announcement was imminent with a photograph of the player holding a back and white shirt alongside Magpies manager Alan Pardew appearing on Twitter later the same day. Newcastle expect to formally announce Holland international Daryl Janmaat as their fifth summer signing on Wednesday. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Costa promises to boost Blues

first_img Costa carries a heavy burden, with Mourinho bemoaning his strikers last term and Chelsea’s forward recruits having a history of struggling to make a prolonged impression, Didier Drogba aside. Costa told Chelsea TV: “I’d say to the fans that you need to be confident that I personally will fight for this club to make sure we are in contention to win as many trophies as possible “I’m part of a great group here of players and we will do everything we can to give the fans what they want – and that’s titles.” Costa insisted it was a straightforward choice to move to Stamford Bridge. “It was an easy decision for me to make,” he added on chelseafc.com. “We have some of the best players in the world, the best manager in the world and it’s a club with great history. “I want to improve, not only as a player but as an individual, and I believe this is the perfect place for me to do that. That’s the reason I chose Chelsea and why I want to defend this shirt.” Mourinho wants Costa to perform the way he did for Atletico and the striker believes his attributes mean he is suited to the Premier League. Striker Diego Costa has vowed to do his utmost to deliver trophies for Chelsea. “One of the main things he (Mourinho) said was that he doesn’t want me to change,” added Costa, who scored 64 goals in 134 appearances for Atletico. “It was Jose’s and the club’s decision to buy me and the reason they signed me was because of the way I played at Atletico. “I don’t feel I have to change much, I just have to improve fine details to become a better player, hopefully I will have a similar season to the last one.” Another Chelsea striker, Romelu Lukaku, is training with his former club Anderlecht this week in a bid to hit the ground running when he links up with the Blues at the end of the month. The Belgium striker has spent the past two seasons on loan and been linked with a move elsewhere, but could be given an opportunity by Mourinho this term. Press Association The Brazil-born Spain striker joined the Blues from Atletico Madrid, who he helped to a first Primera Division title in 18 years, breaking the duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are chasing a first Barclays Premier League crown since 2010 when the new season kicks off next month. last_img read more

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