Reus: ´We have big plans´

13 October 2012 03:33

Marco Reus has warned Germany’s rivals they still have plenty of improvement in them after a 6-1 thrashing of Republic of Ireland.

The Borussia Dortmund star scored his team’s first two goals in Dublin as Germany made it three wins from three in their bid to qualify for World Cup 2014.

Reus was also adamant that he deserved a first-half penalty for a foul by John O’Shea.

“We have big plans,” he is quoted as saying by Sportschau.

“The coach prepared us very well. We were in control of the match from the beginning, but unfortunately chances were not forthcoming.

“In the first half, it was certainly a penalty. There’s no two ways about it.”

Marcel Schmelzer put in a far better showing for his country after a disastrous performance against Austria a month ago, but said that he did not let words of criticism affect him.

“I was pleased with Reus’ leadership, but the whole team supported me well. I will say nothing about the criticism before the game, but I’m happy about getting all three points here in Ireland,” he said.

“If I didn’t have so much support, I couldn’t have concentrated on the game properly.”

Bastian Schweinsteiger, meanwhile, saluted his defensive colleagues for dealing with Ireland’s aerial game, and believes his side are on their way to another major tournament.

“We put in a very focused performance. I think everyone did a fine job. For the defence, it wasn’t easy to deal with the long balls,” he said.

“We are well on our way.”

Three goals not enough for Van Gaal

13 October 2012 03:08

Louis van Gaal was bullish after the Netherlands saw off Andorra 3-0 on Friday night, complaining that the scoreline was not to his liking.

A routine win for the Dutch saw Rafael van der Vaart, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ruben Schaken, on his debut, all score for the hosts as Andorra were undone by two first-half goals and a third early in the second period.

But the 61-year-old coach hoped for a better team performance and more goals, considering their lowly opposition.

“I said before the match that it would be difficult for us to open up the game,” Van Gaal said.

“These teams like Andorra always play very defensively, so that makes it a hard task. My prediction came true, because we won 3-0 and that’s not enough.

“We tried to push through. I can also be satisfied because of my wingers, Schaken and (Jeremain) Lens. They both played a good game.”

Dirk Kuyt came into the squad for his first appearance under Van Gaal, something that the coach remarked upon after the match.

“I don’t bring him in to be friendly towards Kuyt. He knows that he has a lot of competition for his position up front. He gets his minutes, just like tonight. You don’t have to search for something behind this,” said Van Gaal.

Turning his attention to the Netherlands’ next game – away to Romania, who lie second in Group D on equal points with Oranje, in Bucharest – the former Barcelona and Ajax boss played down any suggestions that Arjen Robben may be fit enough to play a role.

“I don’t think Robben can play. We hear about his condition tomorrow. Then we’ll also decide if some players from the Under-21 squad will come to Romania,” he said.

“Unfortunately, Romania won against Turkey. I hoped for a draw, because that was the best (result) in my opinion. Now we have a difficult match in Bucharest next Tuesday.”

Meanwhile, former Tottenham attacking midfielder Van der Vaart played his 101st match for the Netherlands by taking to the pitch against Andorra, and he crowned the occasion with a goal.

“I realise it wasn’t a great match, but personally, it was nice to score. Of course, the opponent wasn’t very good, but we’ve tried to make more of it. There wasn’t much space for us, though,” he said.

Prandelli happy with tough Armenia win

13 October 2012 02:40

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said he was satisfied with his side’s hard-fought 3-1 victory over Armenia on Friday night.

The Azzurri took the lead through Andrea Pirlo but Henrik Mkhitaryan levelled the scores before second-half goals from Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo ensured three points for the Euro 2012 finalists.

Prandelli said his team did struggle at times against their unfancied opposition but also felt they deserved credit for battling it out and ultimately producing a valuable World Cup qualifying win on Armenian soil.

“We struggled to get things going at times, but overall I’m satisfied,” Prandelli told reporters after the match.

“I can’t say this enough: this is a tough group. But we played a great game and showed some character.”

Prandelli’s side face Denmark on Tuesday and sit top of Group B after three games, on seven points after wins over Malta and Armenia and a draw against Bulgaria.

The Italian coach also complained about the Armenian goal, after Mkhitaryan levelled proceedings following a clash of heads between Christian Maggio and Davit Manoyan.

“When two players collide heads, you stop play. The referee didn’t do it and that’s why I protested,” Prandelli said.

Bale hopes win over Scotland will ´inspire´ Wales

13 October 2012 02:10

Gareth Bale hopes Wales’ 2-1 victory over Scotland will kick-start their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Chris Coleman’s side had failed to obtain a single point from their first two matches, but a double from the winger – the second a stunning drive from 25 yards – aided his side to a vital three points.

Wales face a tough test in their next encounter against Croatia on Tuesday evening, and the Tottenham man has emphasised the importance Friday’s victory.

“We needed it to kick-start our campaign, and I hope it inspires us,” he told Sky Sports after the match.

“We all knew coming into the game that it was a massive game for us. We had a disappointing result against Serbia and we let ourselves and the fans down.

“We went 1-0 down (against Scotland) but showed character and fought back like men.”

Coleman firmly believes his side deserved to take all three points at the Cardiff City Stadium despite relying on two goals in the final nine minutes to clinch the win.

“To come away with nothing would have been a travesty,” he said.

“Scotland scored against run of play. We were brave, we got caught once or twice, but we moved the ball around well.

“We could have gone in (at half-time) and felt sorry for ourselves, but didn’t. We came out and kept going and chipping away second half. Our players got what they deserved.”

Scotland manager Craig Levein, however, felt that the visitors deserved to take the points, not least because of the referees’ controversial decision to disallow a Steven Fletcher goal.

“One-nil was a difficult score but I did not feel under pressure. I am amazed to have come in and lost, as during the match I didn’t feel we were under any real threat,” he said.

“I’ve not seen the Fletcher goal, but I believe officials got it wrong. As the game panned out that was absolutely crucial, not getting it was a real body blow.”

Rooney proud to be in England´s top five

13 October 2012 01:57

Wayne Rooney says he is proud to be England’s fifth-highest goalscorer as he helped his side to a 5-0 win over San Marino on Friday night.

In front of almost 85,000 people at Wembley, the stand-in captain scored twice in the Three Lions’ World Cup qualifying demolition of San Marino, taking his overall national tally to 31.

That record sees him climb to fifth on the England goalscoring list behind Bobby Charlton (49), Gary Linekar (48), Jimmy Greaves (44) and Michael Owen (40).

His second goal on Friday took him past Alan Shearer, Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney.

“Obviously it’s a great honour for me,” Rooney told ITV.

“There’s some great players there and to be in the England top five goalscorers is something I’m extremely proud of.

“Hopefully there’s many more to come, I’m only 26 still. There’s a long way to go so hopefully I’ll score a lot more.”

Rooney’s brace was matched by his Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain netted England’s fifth.

In the absence of Steven Gerrard through suspension, Rooney led England against San Marino and felt the team could have scored even more.

“We created some good chances and their keeper made some good saves,” Rooney said.

“Maybe there was a bit of poor finishing, but it’s not that easy when they put 10, 11 men behind the ball and defend.

“It’s difficult to break them down at times, and we just had to keep the ball moving quick, create chances, and that’s positive. And obviously, 5-0 isn’t a bad result.”

England manager Roy Hodgson was also delighted with Rooney’s input after the striker vowed to put the petulant on-field acts that have marred his previous international games behind him.

“I don’t know if he’s 26 or 27, but I do know he’s still got years of football left in him if he continues and continues to play the way he is playing at the moment,” Hodgson said.

“I thought all the Manchester United players played with enormous confidence, the interplay between them throughout and of course they were responsible for four of the five goals and Tom Cleverley set up Oxlade-Chamberlain for the fifth.”

Asked whether there had been any doubts about handing Rooney the captaincy, Hodgson replied: “I had no doubt Rooney would be a good captain.

“There was never any question in my mind that he would captain the team well but I’m looking forward to seeing Steven Gerrard back in the team on Tuesday.

“We still have some hope that Frank Lampard’s injury is not that serious so that he will also have a possibility of joining us there,” Hodgson added, referring to a knee complaint Lampard picked up in last week’s Premier League fixture for Chelsea.

“And of course quite a few other players who didn’t start the game today which means we go to Poland with a good squad, a strong squad, a squad which contains some players that will be quite fresh that didn’t play today.”