Kompany┬┤s Belgium duty irks Mancini

28 March 2013 12:47

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has slammed Belgium coach Marc Wilmots for playing Vincent Kompany for Belgium in midweek.

The defender has been sidelined since January through a calf injury and was due to return in City’s clash with Newcastle on Saturday.

However, Kompany played the full 90 minutes of his country’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Macedonia on Tuesday, and his premature return has angered Mancini.

“I don’t agree with this,” the Italian told reporters. “International managers should understand the situation.

“He didn’t play for us for 60 days, but he goes and plays for (Belgium).”

The 26-year-old Kompany did not sustain any further injury while on international duty,.

City are 15 points behind Manchester United in the Premier League table with nine games remaining.

Belgium sit atop their World Cup qualification group.

A-League: Brisbane Roar 3 Sydney 1

28 March 2013 12:14

Brisbane Roar stormed into the A-League finals series with a 3-1 win over Sydney FC in their high-stakes encounter on Thursday night.

The defending champions are now guaranteed to finish in fifth place on the table, while the Sky Blues will spend a nervous Easter weekend waiting on other results to decide their fate.

A glaring error from former Italy international Alessandro Del Piero resulted in Besart Berisha opening the scoring in the 29th minute at Suncorp Stadium.

The Roar profited a second time from a Sydney mistake after the break, with Steven Lustica the player to double their advantage.

The in-form Ivan Franjic curled in a third for Brisbane late on, before Del Piero scored a consolation goal for Sydney from the penalty spot.

The Roar started the better side and after eight minutes Thomas Broich sent a swerving free-kick just wide of the post from almost the same spot he scored from in open play the previous week against Melbourne Heart.

Sydney had the first shot on target a short while later when Brisbane failed to effectively clear a corner and Ali Abbas fired in a tricky ball from wide on the left which Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo saved.

Roar midfielder Luke Brattan just missed the target from 25 metres, sending a first-time shot low and just wide of Ivan Necevski’s right post.

A wayward Del Piero backwards pass in the 29th minute gifted Brisbane the first goal of the night, as Broich swooped on the loose ball and played a cross to Berisha, who hit the middle of the net for his 14th goal of the season.

Three minutes later, midfielder Terry Antonis galloped into space and fired a shot at goal which narrowly missed the target.

Joel Griffiths had the best chance of the first half for Sydney when he leapt for an Abbas cross at the back post, but Theo scrambled to slap the ball clear.

Del Piero nearly atoned for his earlier error with an audacious chip from a tough angle to the left of goal. Theo couldn’t reach the dipping shot, but it fell just to the right of goal.

Griffiths once again came close to an equaliser just after the break, but his close-range header was well saved by Theo.

Brisbane doubled their advantage in the 51st minute, and once again the goal came from a sloppy Sydney pass. Sebastian Ryall sent a ball out of defence straight to Berisha, and the Albanian teed up Lustica who made no mistake with the finish.

In the 65th minute, Sky Blues defender Ryall could have dragged his side back into the contest, but his header from a Del Piero cross bounced agonisingly wide of the Roar goal.

Franjic sealed the win for his side with a superb effort from just inside the area which curled over Necevski and into the top right corner.

Sydney pulled a goal back with six minutes remaining of regular time, as Roar defender James Donachie tangled with Griffiths just inside the area and the referee pointed to the spot.

Del Piero made it 3-1, but Sydney were unable to beat Theo for a second time in the few minutes that remained.

Sahin pleased with Real stint

28 March 2013 12:09

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin insists he did not fail during his spell away from the Bundesliga at Real Madrid.

The midfielder left Dortmund for Real in 2011, but failed to secure regular first-team action under Jose Mourinho.

He also endured an unsuccessful loan spell at Liverpool in the first half of this season before returning to Germany.

Of his time in Spain, Sahin said he has fond memories of working with Mourinho

“It was an honour to work with Mourinho. He was always honest to me and treated me fairly. He always said everything to me in private,” Sahin was quoted as saying by Sport Bild.

“From the outside, people will perhaps say that I failed abroad. It was simply not meant to be, though, and I also played my part in it.”

Sahin has made eight Bundesliga appearances since his return to Dortmund, scoring two goals in the process.

Hodgson has Ferdinand┬┤s health at heart

28 March 2013 11:14

England manager Roy Hodgson says he must work closely with Manchester United in order to help Rio Ferdinand prolong his international career.

The centre-back pulled out of the Three Lions squad ahead of the World Cup qualifying double-header against San Marino and Montenegro citing the need to follow an intricate ‘pre-planned fitness programme’.

And, though Hodgson refused to concede that the 34-year-old’s presence was missed as his side drew 1-1 in Podgorica, he talked up the need to regularly consult the Red Devils over his fitness.

“First of all, I would say the two centre-backs did very well,” Hodgson said.

“(Chris) Smalling was excellent and Joleon Lescott did a very good job as well. I would have thought if there were two players who deserve to come out of this game with credit and without any negativity it’s the two centre-backs.

“So, therefore, there’s no interest for me discussing someone who is not here. Furthermore, if (Ferdinand) is going to play in future games there will have to be further discussions, not least of all in relation to his fitness programme and his club.

“I have absolutely nothing to add from when it first came up and, certainly today.

“I think it would be extremely unfair to suggest it was the performance of Smalling and Lescott which has culminated in us drawing the game rather than winning the game.”

Wenger backs Arsenal for top-four berth

28 March 2013 11:01

Arsene Wenger says he still believes Arsenal will secure Champions League football next season by finishing in the top four this term.

The Gunners currently sit in fifth place on the Premier League table, four points behind north London rivals Tottenham who occupy the fourth and final automatic qualification spot.

The Frenchman’s side have a game in hand over their neighbours, though, and the 63-year-old insisted if his players carry their recent form into their remaining fixtures then a top-four finish is achievable.

“If we are consistent in the last nine games, we’ll do it,” he said on Thursday.

“We want to continue our form. (The) Bayern and Swansea results are a good inspiration for that.”

Reading, who are second-bottom in the league table, visit the Emirates on Saturday in what is Nigel Adkins’ first game in charge since replacing sacked Brian McDermott.

Wenger sent his sympathies to the former Royals boss, but indicated he is pleased to see the ex-Southampton manager, who was relieved of his duties at St Mary’s in January, given another chance in the top flight.

“It’s sad to see (McDermott) go,” he added. “It’s good to see [Adkins] back and that he gets a chance again.”

Wenger confirmed that influential midfielder Jack Wilshere will miss the clash against Reading through injury.

The 21-year-old pulled out of Roy Hodgson’s England squad for their recent World Cup qualification double-header against San Marino and Montenegro after suffering from a recurrence of the ankle injury that kept him sidelined for 16 months last season.

“We deferred his rehab and gave him an extra week’s rest. Medically, it was wise to do it,” Wenger said.

“Wilshere will still be out. (Theo) Walcott is injured, (Abou) Diaby has a problem we will have to check and (Kieran) Gibbs has been ill.”

“We have a good relationship (with England). Walcott’s injury was an accident.”

After goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was forced to apologise for his father’s public comments criticising Wenger for his handling of the Poland international, the Frenchman dismissed suggestions that his time at the club was coming to an end.

He added: “He’s nearly played 100 games for this club. That is fantastic. He has a very good future and has accumulated a lot of experience.”