Belgian First Division wrap: Trio still out in front

19 August 2012 00:22

Club Brugge, Anderlecht and Zulte-Waregem continue to set the pace in the Belgian First Division after recording victories on Saturday.

Club Brugge overcame a gallant Beerschot outfit 3-1 in front of 24,000 spectators at the Jan Breydelstadion.

Carlos Bacca got the hosts off to the perfect start on 19 minutes but Beerschot eventually levelled proceedings through Stijn Wuytens in the 47th minute.

Jonathan Blondel restored Club Brugge’s one goal advantage with 15 minutes left on the clock before Thomas Meunier rounded out the victory in stoppage time.

Defending champions Anderlecht were also made to work for all three points in their 2-1 win at home to Mons.

Former Liverpool attacker Milan Jovanovic put Anderlecht ahead with two minutes remaining in the first half but the lead lasted 11 minutes into the second as Mustapha Jarju hit the back of the net on 56 minutes.

Anderlecht hit the front again in the 69th minute through Aleksandr Iakovenko and it proved to be the decisive goal.

Two second-half goals from Jens Naessens and Ivan Lendric guided Zulte-Waregem to a 2-0 win against visiting Kortrijk.

In other results on Saturday, OH Leuven trailed twice against Cercle Brugge but fought back to win 3-2 and record their first victory of the season.

Lokeren climbed up to fourth position after accounting for Mechelen 2-1, while Lierse left it late to claim a share of the spoils at home to Genk.

City set to offer Balotelli new contract

19 August 2012 00:05

Mario Balotelli is reportedly set to be rewarded for his growing status by being offered a new contract by Manchester City.

The headline-grabbing striker’s current agreement runs until 2015 but City officials want to bring forward talks on a new deal to early in the New Year, according to Goal.com.

The Premier League champions resisted a 40-million-pound offer from big-spending Paris-Saint Germain this summer as well as sustained interest from the Serie A elite.

Balotelli’s two-year spell at the Etihad Stadium has been littered with controversy on and off the field, with manager Roberto Mancini having made no attempt to hide his frustration at his countryman’s antics.

But City are wary of allowing the Italy international’s contract to run into its final two years, when his sale-on value will begin to considerably diminish.

It is understood that the club are preparing to rocket the forward, who turned 22 last week, towards the top end of their pay scale.

Balotelli is currently on 110,000 pounds a week and negotiations are likely to centre on the player joining the likes of David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez in the top bracket of City earners on around 200,000 pounds per week.

The forward is represented by super-agent Mino Raiola, who stated that the player is now worth 200 million pounds following his impressive displays at Euro 2012.

He also masterminded Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 29-million-pound switch from AC Milan to PSG this summer.

Balotelli insists that he is happy in Manchester but has refused to rule out a move back to his homeland or one of the Spanish giants in the next couple of years.

There is also genuine City concern that Balotelli’s cash-strapped admirers will urge the player to sit tight and continue to keep all his options open.

But City’s top brass are in no mood to sell and, although the Abu Dhabi owners make it a general rule not to open contract renegotiations during the season, they want to lay down an early marker in January, steeling themselves for what could be protracted talks.

Ligue 1 wrap: Lyon unbeaten, Montpellier struggle

18 August 2012 23:36

Lyon made it two wins from two in Ligue 1 after accounting for Troyes 4-1, while defending champions Montpellier suffered a shock defeat.

Remi Garde’s men had beaten Rennes in their opening match last weekend and continued their unbeaten start to the season on Saturday thanks to a second-half brace from Bafetimbi Gomis.

The first half produced little and it was not until the second that the match sprung into life.

Jean-Christophe Bahebeck gave Troyes the lead a minute into the second half, however Gomis restored parity four minutes later after Lisando Lopez had missed a penalty only moments earlier.

Brazilian international Michel Bastos put Lyon ahead in the 65th minute before Troyes were reduced to 10 men when Julien Faussurier received his marching for a reckless tackle on Cris.

The points were eventually sealed in the final minutes through Lopez and Gomis.

It was heartbreak for last season’s success story Montpellier, who conceded two late goals to lose 2-1 at Lorient.

Montpellier were held to a 1-1 draw by Toulouse in their opening game and looked on track for maximum points on Saturday when Emanuel Herrera hit the back of the net on 37 minutes.

However, Lorient struck twice deep into stoppage time to snatch an unlikely victory.

Alain Traore levelled the match in the 92nd minute before former Arsenal striker Jeremie Aliadiere struck the winning goal two minutes later.

Meanwhile, Saint-Etienne are still searching for their first points of the season following a 2-1 loss to Toulouse at Stadium Municipal.

Tottenham target Etienne Capoue opened the scoring for the hosts on 35 minutes and Wissam Ben Yedder doubled Toulouse’s advantage on the hour mark.

Max Gradel converted a penalty for Saint-Etienne but it proved little more than a consolation.

In other results on Saturday, Bastia joined Lyon atop of the table after coming from behind to beat Reims 2-1, Brest edged Evian TG 1-0 and Nice held Valenciennes to a goalless draw.

Eredivisie wrap: High five for PSV, Twente go top

18 August 2012 23:18

PSV Eindhoven routed Roda JC 5-0 as Utrecht also scored a decisive win in the Eredivisie on Saturday night.

Last year’s third-place finishers PSV scored four goals in the second half to signal their title credentials early in the season.

Kevin Strootman opened the scoring for the home side in the first half with Ola Toivonen doubling PSV’s advantage four minutes after half-time.

From there the floodgates opened with an Abel Tamata own goal in the 76th minute and two late goals from Jeremain Lens and Georginio Wijnaldum completing the carnage.

FC Twente remain unbeaten this season after claiming their second win in a 1-0 away victory over NAC Breda. A Leroy Fer strike in the 51st minute was the difference between the sides as Twente climbed to the top of the table.

Utrecht recorded an encouraging come-from-behind 3-1 away win over VVV.

Yanic Wildschut gave VVV the perfect start after scoring in the 26th minute but Nana Asare levelled proceedings three minutes before half-time. Second-half goals from Cedric van der Gun and Alexander Gerndt were enough to seal the win for Utrecht.

Newly-promoted Zwolle were unable to get past Vitesse, losing 1-0 at home with Renato Ibarra scoring the winner in the 62nd minute.

Feyenoord moved up to third on the Eredivisie table after holding Heerenveen to a 1-1 draw.

McDermott satisfied with opening draw

18 August 2012 23:05

Reading manager Brian McDermott says it was vital his team managed to snatch a point against Stoke City on Saturday.

A late penalty from Adam le Fondre saw the newly promoted side clinch a 1-1 draw at the Madejski Stadium on the opening day of the English Premier League season.

With trips to Chelsea and Sunderland to follow in the next week, McDermott was delighted to get on the board in their first game of the campaign.

“It’s a strange thing to say but, psychologically, it’s important that we got that result today,” he said.

“We know we can compete. We’ve done that today – there’s no doubt about that. So it’s important to get a result and we have got a result today.”

Michael Kightly had given the visitors a 34th-minute lead after Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici spilled his tame effort into his own net.

Dermott backed Federici, who played a key role in helping Reading get promoted, to bounce back from the blunder.

“We all make errors. I make errors most days. He’s a great character, he works really, really hard each and every day,” McDermott said.

“He’s a top professional and he’s saved us many, many times, and he will do in the future.

“He was upset but that’s part of life. You have to overcome your disappointments quickly and he’ll do that.”

The decision to award Reading the late penalty did not sit well with Stoke City manager Tony Pulis.

Referee Kevin Friend had allowed play to continue after Dean Whitehead’s rash tackle, but opted to award the spot-kick having ruled there was no advantage for the hosts.

“I’ll speak to (referees’ chief) Mike Riley on Monday and find out how long they’re going to give,” Pulis said.

“They either play on or they call it back. It gives the advantage to the attacking team, so it’s a good rule.

“It’s just being consistent. Where does it start? Where does it end?”