Llorente saddened by fan criticism

17 September 2012 04:50

Fernando Llorente remains upset with fans’ comments regarding his potential exit from Athletic Bilbao.

The Spain Euro 2012 winner has dealt with months of speculation over his future but believes no-one should begrudge him a move to another club after everything he has given to the club.

Llorente has been at Bilbao since 2005 and has made over 200 appearances for the club. He was a revelation last year in a new system under coach Marcelo Bielsa, netting 30 goals in all competitions.

His latest goal came upon his return to the Bilbao side in a 3-3 draw against Espanyol on Sunday.

“It hurts that people have turned against me. It hurts that they doubt me, I’ve always given everything for Athletic”, Llorente told radio station Cadena SER.

“Even if at some point in my career I don’t play with Athletic, it will always be my team. It’s personal. The club have given me everything, it’s where I grew up from the time I was a boy.

“If for whatever reason I leave here, nobody should be annoyed with me. It’s a personal decision that people should respect”.

On the subject of his future, the Spaniard admitted he would assess things in the near future.

“In January I’m free to talk, but I want to forget about that and help the team. The less people talk about me the better,” he said.

Brazil Serie A wrap: Mineiro fall to Nautico, Neymar stars for Santos

17 September 2012 04:28

Atletico Mineiro missed a chance to climb to the top of the Serie A table, while a Neymar brace saw Santos account for Coritiba on Sunday.

Mineiro, led by former world player of the year Ronaldinho in search of their first championship title since 1971, would have overhauled league leaders Fluminense with a win away to Nautico Recife.

But the hosts, despite the dismissal of Josa Dos Santos in the dying stages, held on for a 1-0 victory courtesy of Elierce Souza’s strike in the 49th minute.

The result leaves Mineiro in second, two points behind Fluminense, who suffered a shock loss at home to lowly Atletico Goianiense on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Brazil forward Neymar scored twice in the second half as Santos came from behind for a 2-1 win at Coritiba.

Deivid opened the scoring for the home side on nine minutes before Neymar struck in the 71st and 83rd minutes to hand Santos their second consecutive win.

In other matches, third-placed Gremio were held to a 1-1 draw at Flamengo.

The visitors took the lead through Marcelo Moreno in the 18th minute but were left disappointed as substitute Oliveira Adryan ensured the points were shared on 62 minutes.

Goals from Romarinho on 22 minutes and Paulinho on 54 minutes handed Corinthians a 2-0 victory at cellar-dwellers Palmeiras, who had Michel Luan sent off for a second caution in the 26th minute.

Fourth-placed Vasco da Gama and Cruzeiro played out a 1-1 draw, while Internacional rallied from two goals down to clinch a 2-2 draw at home to Sport Recife.

Strikes from Santos Helder in the 73rd minute and Claudio Pitbull on the stroke of full-time secured Bahia a 2-1 win at home to Figueirense, who took the lead through Julio Cesar on 33 minutes but were unable to hold on for the victory.

Wenger: Szczesny still number one

17 September 2012 03:13

Arsene Wenger said Wojciech Szczesny will continue as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper despite making an error against Southampton.

Szczesny, returning after a two-game absence due to a rib injury, looked uncertain throughout and was directly at fault for Southampton’s only goal when he failed to collect a routine high ball into the box, spilling it straight to Danny Fox who duly blasted in the first goal Arsenal have conceded so far this season.

However, the young goalkeeper retains the faith of his manager, with Wenger insisting Szczesny will continue in goal for the Gunners.

“Wojciech is number one unless I change my mind. That is clear. That’s why he came back in goal,” he told the club’s official website.

“You cannot change a goalkeeper every time he makes a simple mistake, because then you have three bad keepers. The confidence is needed.”

Wenger went on to acknowledge the role played by Vito Mannone’s form in Szczesny’s absence as a cause for the latter’s poor performance on Saturday.

“It’s a special position where confidence is needed,” the 62-year-old said.

“Maybe he put himself a little bit under pressure because he knows Mannone played well at Stoke and at Liverpool. I think he played better in the second half.”

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Stramaccioni delighted with Torino triumph

17 September 2012 02:32

Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni believes his side have silenced the critics after they overcome Torino 2-0 to move into fifth place on Sunday.

The Nerrazurri grabbed all three points after goals from Diego Milito and Antonio Cassano sealed victory in the Stadio Olimpico.

The result provided much needed respite after Stramaccioni’s side were beaten 3-1 at home by Roma before the international break, and the former youth coach believes this comprehensive victory proves Inter are a well-prepared, efficient outfit.

“I think we prepared the game very well against a side with clear characteristics,” Stramaccioni said.

“We kept the ball for most of the match and controlled the opposition forwards. In the second half we gave away the ball in too many dangerous positions and the tide could’ve turned at that point.

“It was important for us to get the win after our setback against Roma, especially as Torino were one of the form teams.”

The Roman also commented on Wesley Sneijder’s adverse reaction to being substituted, insisting all was well with the playmaker.

“It’s only normal that he’d be angry,” he said.

“Sneijder is an important player and he’d love to play every game to the end, but he had played for Holland this week and I also wanted to send a message to the team by introducing another striker.

“I didn’t want us to be pegged back.”

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AC Milan a work in progress, says de Jong

17 September 2012 01:56

AC Milan’s summer arrival Nigel de Jong is optimistic about his stint at the club, but admits they are still a work in progress.

The departures of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have left the Rossoneri struggling with speculation continuing over Massimiliano Allegri’s future at the club after Milan’s worst start at home for over 80 years.

Netherlands international de Jong, who was brought to the club on loan from Manchester City late in the transfer window, wants the fans to play an integral role in the team achieving results – starting with Anderlecht in the Champions League on Tuesday.

“I’m always optimistic and that’s why I’m here. Milan is always Milan and we have to play to win and get results,” the Dutchman told AS.

“Fans are our 12th man and they’re important for us. I understand it’s difficult to wait but the team is in the rebuilding process.

“To me it’s not important about my own performance but the team’s one and we have to learn by our mistakes. Tuesday we will play against Anderlecht and we have to win to start in the right way.

On the Serie A giants’ shock loss to Atalanta on Saturday, a game in which the midfielder made his debut, de Jong remarked: “When you play against teams like Atalanta they become fearless, but we have to make the match ours.

“Anderlecht will be a tough match, if we win we will make the first step in the right direction.”