Ligue 1 wrap: Marseille notch another win

26 August 2012 23:54

Marseille have continued their perfect start to the Ligue 1 season with a 1-0 win over Montpellier, while Paris Saint-Germain drew again.

A second-half goal from Marseille’s Andre-Pierre Gignac continued Montpellier’s dreadful defence of their Ligue 1 title with the reigning champions having secured just one point in three games.

In front of their home crowd on Sunday, Montpellier went closest in the first half when Younes Belhanda hit the bar in the 37th minute, although if the Moroccan midfielder had scored it would have been ruled out because one of his teammates was offside.

Gignac almost scored a couple of minutes later when he headed Mathieu Valbuena’s cross just over but he did not miss in the 77th minute.

In a rapid counter-attack, Morgan Amalfitano passed to Gignac on the left wing and the 26-year-old striker cut inside before beating Montpellier’s goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren at the near post.

Marseille lead Ligue 1 with nine points, two clear of Lyon, Valenciennes and Toulouse.

In Paris, PSG made it three draws to start the new season after being held 0-0 by Bordeaux.

The big-spending capital club dominated possession at home but completed their second match in a row without scoring and PSG’s fans made it clear they were unimpressed, booing their team off the pitch.

PSG had 13 shots but just four on target, while Bordeaux had their chances on the break with 10 attempts on goal, although Paris’ goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu only needed to make two saves.

In the other Ligue 1 match, St Etienne smashed Brest 4-0 with Pierre Aubameyang playing a role in all four goals.

The 23-year-old Gabonese striker scored the first and last goals, while his shot came off the post for Romain Hamouma’s tap-in, which made it 2-0.

Aubameyang also flicked on a cross to Josua Guilavogui for St Etienne’s third goal of the match.

Belgian First Division wrap: Vazquez powers Brugge to win

26 August 2012 23:00

Spanish midfielder Victor Vazquez has starred as Club Brugge defeated Mons 3-1 to move back to the top of the Belgian First Division.

Brugge had dropped to third on the table thanks to results from earlier in the week but a brilliant second-half performance from Vazquez ensured they took the points away to Mons.

The visitors from Brugge took the lead in the 60th minute when Vazquez set up Mohamed Tchite to score.

Mons hit back five minutes later with a penalty from Mustapha Jarju and the home side looked like they might hold on for a draw until the final 12 minutes.

In the 78th minute, Vazquez grabbed a goal and seven minutes later the 25-year-old Spaniard created another for Carlos Bacca to ensure Brugge’s victory.

The win puts Brugge to the top of the Belgian First Division table with 13 points, ahead of Anderlecht (11) and a trio of clubs on 10.

One of those clubs, Standard Liege, also won on Sunday, knocking off visiting Mechelen 3-2.

In an action-packed second half, Liege scored three goals in nine minutes to go 3-0 ahead before Mechelen hit the back of the net twice to ensure a nervous finish for the home side.

Yoni Buyens scored Liege’s first in the 56th minute followed by a goal from Imoh Ezekiel and a penalty from Ignacio Gonzalez.

But Mechelen made it interesting with a 67th-minute strike from Mads Junker before Thomas Enevoldsen scored in the third minute of injury time to draw within one goal of Liege, who held on for their third-straight victory.

In other Belgian First Division results, Gent defeated Lokeren 2-1 and Genk won 2-0 over Zulte-Waregem.

Mancini: Defence needs to improve

26 August 2012 21:46

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini demanded improvement from his defence after they conceded two goals for the fourth consecutive game.

City came back from a goal down twice against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday to earn a 2-2 draw.

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel gave his side the lead 11 minutes before half-time before Yaya Toure equalised just past the hour mark.

A superb Luis Suarez free-kick three minutes later looked to have earned the Reds three points, but Skrtel went from hero to villain 10 minutes from the end with a dreadful backpass that allowed Carlos Tevez to secure City a point.

The Premier League champions conceded twice on the final day of last season, and have done so in all three games this campaign, including the Community Shield clash against Chelsea.

Mancini called for this run to end, while also complaining about the free-kick awarded to Liverpool which led to the Reds’ second goal.

“I think that it’s time we finished conceding two goals every game”, he told Sky Sports.

“Before this (happens) we need to work. Today the two goals were set-pieces, the second goal wasn’t a free-kick, it was like the goal we conceded here last year, but we do need to improve.”

The 47-year-old did praise his team’s character though, saying he was pleased with the manner in which his players fought back despite ending up with what he feels is a disappointing result.

“I’m disappointed because when you don’t win you are always disappointed,” he said.

“But you know that at Anfield it is difficult to play and in the end if you go and take one point like today, go two times down and score two goals, yeah, we showed good character.”

Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, refused to blame Skrtel for costing his side the win.

“There’s no blame to Martin Skrtel, I’d rather have players wanting to get on to the ball,” Rodgers said.

“The courage he has to get on the football and try to play is what is the most important thing.”

Despite the draw, Rodgers was buoyed by the performance of his team.

“It was a brilliant performance I thought,” he said. “There were a lot of questions asked of the team coming into such a big game but I thought the players were incredible and sometimes the best team doesn’t win, and I think we were the better team.

“From what I’ve seen today, last week was a one-off and today I thought they were terrific.”

Rosell: Neymar not in Messi´s league

26 August 2012 21:25

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell says it is far too early to compare Brazilian wunderkind Neymar with Lionel Messi.

Speaking to Catalan daily newspaper Avui, Rosell explained that no player in the world can match the Argentine superstar because the 25-year-old is simply a unique talent.

Skilful attacker Neymar has been likened to the three-time World Player of the Year, but Rosell said this should not be the case.

“(Neymar) has an extraordinary future, but I don’t think that any player in the world can be compared to Messi. Messi is unique and unrepeatable,” he said.

Rosell went on to speak about the Spanish Supercopa second leg in Madrid on Wednesday.

“Madrid are always expected to be very competitive and it will be very difficult there,” he said. “We are two great clubs with different styles of management.

“If I start to dream then that isn’t helpful. How many titles can we win? I hope for all of them. We are ready to play for this league and to fight to win it back.”

Torres thrilled to be playing with Hazard

26 August 2012 21:18

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres has hailed new signing Eden Hazard, saying it is a ‘privilege’ to play alongside the Belgian.

Both players were on target in Chelsea’s 2-0 win against Newcastle on Saturday as the Blues maintained their 100 percent start to the season and their grip on top spot in the Premier League.

Hazard netted from the spot after Torres had been fouled in the box, before turning provider as the Spaniard doubled the lead.

“A player like him can make a difference,” Torres told Chelsea’s website. “It is a privilege for a striker to have a player like him or Juan (Mata), Oscar or Lamps (Frank Lampard) behind you.

“It is difficult to start winning games when you change your style but we are doing it and we must be proud of that.”

Despite his own impressive start to the season, Torres insisted that Chelsea topping the Premier League with three successive wins was of far more importance.

“Two-nil at the end is the main thing, you helped the team by scoring and winning the penalty for Eden and that is good,” Torres said.

“Always the striker has to score and I have said many times it was one of the things I wanted to improve and I have done so far this season.

“We are enjoying ourselves, we are having a really good start to the season and I think the fans are enjoying it too.

“We are playing really good football for the moment, so let’s build on this momentum.”