CONCACAF Champions League wrap: Toronto thump Aguila

2 August 2012 14:25

Toronto FC made the perfect start to their CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a 5-1 win over Club Deportivo Aguila.

Toronto, who are languishing in 10th place in the MLS, put their poor domestic form aside with a complete domination of the reigning El Salvadorian champions.

Luis Silva, Reggie Lambe and Terry Dunfield all scored in the first half with Ryan Johnson and Lambe on target again in the second 45 to complete the rout at BMO Field.

Captain Torsten Frings was sensational in the midfield and it was his corner that Silva connected with to head home the opener in the ninth minute.

Silva turned provider eight minutes later when his cut back was expertly finished by Lambe to give the hosts a commanding two-goal advantage.

Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic undid some of his side’s good work when he clumsily fumbled a long-range free kick, with Aguila forward Yaikel Perez on hand to slam home the rebound.

But Dunfield restored the hosts’ two-goal cushion in the 40th minute when he deflected Ashtone Morgan’s pass past oncoming Aguila gloveman Benji Villalobos.

The result was put beyond doubt three minutes in to the second half when Lambe added his second after another fine pass from Morgan.

Johnson completed the scoring four minutes later when he rounded Villalobos to slot into an empty net with Silva the provider.

Toronto sit top of their three-team group with three points and meet Mexican side Santos Laguna in their next match on August 29.

In other matches, Isidro Metapan of El Salvador defeated the Puerto Rico Islanders 3-1.

The Islanders took the lead after 25 minutes through Nicholas Addlery, but a second half hat-trick from Nicolas Munoz saw Isidro Metapan record an impressive victory.

And Mexican side Tigres UANL also won well, scoring two goals in each half to defeat Real Esteli of Nicaragua 4-0.

Rodgers hails veteran Carragher

2 August 2012 13:00

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has heaped praise on Jamie Carragher as he prepares to make his 700th appearance for the club.

Carragher celebrated his 34th birthday in January, but still played 31 times for his club last season despite having fallen behind Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger in the pecking order.

And the Liverpool boss has spoken of his huge admiration for the ‘phenomenal’ Merseyside icon ahead of the expected landmark during the club’s Europa League tie against FC Gomel on Thursday.

“He’s a phenomenal character. I’ve watched him from the outside for many years and to play 700 games at a club as prestigious as this is incredible,” Rodgers told the club’s website.

“The pressures that come with wearing the shirt at this club are vast and for him it’s a way of life. He’s devoted his life to being a football player. He’s 34 now, so it doesn’t get any easier when you are older, but certainly I’ve been very impressed over the course of the pre-season.

“I saw him when he came off during the Tottenham game after an hour and he still looked very fresh and that’s a great testament not only to the work he is putting in every day but also to how he leads his life away from the field with his preparation.

“He’s a model professional and if we can develop kids here like Jamie Carragher and go on to have a career like him then certainly the club won’t go too far wrong.

“He’s a phenomenal player, an incredible character and one that I’m happy to have by my side.”

Valero leaves Villarreal with heavy heart

2 August 2012 12:12

Borja Valero says it was not an easy decision for him to leave Villarreal for Fiorentina after their relegation to the Segunda Division last season.

The Spanish midfielder is set to join Fiorentina after both clubs reached an agreement over a transfer on Wednesday, but he is still shocked with Villarreal’s relegation last term.

“I feel sad to leave a club like Villarreal that has given me so much in so little time. What hurts me most that I leave the team behind in the Segunda Division. I still can’t believe that we were relegated and I hope they return to La Liga right away,” Borja Valero told reporters.

“On the other hand, I am happy with the opportunity to join a good team such as Fiorentina. It will be a new experience for me in a new league. That’s something that’s always exciting for a footballer.

“I opted to move to Italy, because it’s the best option for me. I get the chance to play in one of Europe’s three top leagues again with Fiorentina.”

The 27-year-old made close to 100 official appearances for Villarreal during his two years at the club.

Hitzfeld: Gomez in top class

2 August 2012 11:58

Former Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has declared Mario Gomez is one of the best strikers in the world.

The Bavarian club’s president Uli Hoeness recently said that the 27-year-old should not be regarded as one of world football’s elite marksmen, but the Switzerland boss feels the attacker came of age last season.

“He is one of the best strikers in the world. Mario has had a great season at Bayern with a lot of goals,” Hitzfeld told TZ.

“He was good at Euro 2012 as well. I thought he was about to explode after the game versus Greece, but then he didn’t play. I couldn’t understand that decision.

“There’s no better striker in the Bundesliga. Only (Robert) Lewandowski and (Klaas-Jan) Huntelaar are at a similar level.”

Gomez netted 26 Bundesliga goals last season, as Bayern finished second in the standings.

Keita expresses Barca regret

2 August 2012 11:40

Seydou Keita has spoken out about the way Pep Guardiola treated him during his four-year spell at Barcelona.

The Mali international, who has left Barcelona for Dalian Aerbin, was often praised by his former coach, but had to settle for a place on the bench during his final years at Camp Nou.

“I heard and read all the time that Guardiola really rated me. Everybody thought we had a great relationship, because he was always very positive about me,” Keita told Match.

“However, I never really played much under Pep. That was the only negative thing about my spell at Barcelona.

“I did bring this up with Guardiola when we met face-to-face. I told him that I didn’t appreciate it that he always praised me, but never started a match with me. I will never forget my time at Barca, though.”

Despite his reservations, Keita made over 100 Liga appearances for Barca during his four years at the club.