Fritz apologises to fans after DFB-Pokal humiliation

4 August 2013 23:45

Werder Bremen captain Clemens Fritz has apologised to fans after his side were dumped out of the DFB-Pokal by FC Saarbrucken on Sunday.

Extra-time goals from Tim Stegerer and Marcel Ziemer handed the third-tier outfit a shock 3-1 win, consigning Werder to their third consecutive first-round exit in the process.

The travelling supporters attempted to the storm the pitch at the Ludwigsparkstadion after the game, but Fritz insisted their anger was understandable.

“We can only apologise to the fans,” he told Bild. “You are traveling on a Sunday to support us, and we cannot pull off a win against a third-division club.

“It is clear that they are angry and disappointed. We have to put up with that.”

Fritz’s sentiments were echoed by manager Robin Dutt, who was overseeing his first competitive fixture as Werder Bremen boss in Saarbrucken.

“It’s my job to talk and face the fans,” Dutt said.

“The fans were really upset. It’s not the first defeat in the first round.”

Bremen were not the only Bundesliga team to fall at the first hurdle on Sunday, with three other teams exiting at the first-round stage.

Borussia Monchenglabach were beaten on penalties by Darmstadt following a goalless draw, Sandhausen overcame Nurnberg in a shoot-out after extra-time ended all square at 1-1, and Eintracht Braunschweig were beaten 2-1 at Arminia Bielefeld.

Elsewhere, Hamburg eased to a 4-0 win at Schott Jena, Stuttgart secured a 2-0 triumph over Dynamo Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt won by the same scoreline against Illertissen.

Neymar has anaemia, Barcelona confirm

4 August 2013 23:20

Barcelona have confirmed that new signing Neymar has developed anaemia but say that they are not worried by the forward’s condition.

The Brazilian, who joined Barcelona from Santos for €57 million in May, was diagnosed with a low red blood cell count following a recent operation on his tonsils.

But Barcelona’s director of football, Andoni Zubizarreta, has insisted that the 21-year-old’s condition is something the club will manage and is not overly serious.

“We would have liked him to have been in perfect conditions, but not many players arrive perfect for the pre-season,” Zubizarreta said.

“We’ll help make sure he’s in the right condition. It’s not a concern.

“There are quite a few days left before the league starts, although it is unlikely that he’ll be 100 per cent adapted (to Barcelona’s style) by then.

“But we can clearly see that he’s quickly getting a grasp of our type of football.”

Neymar made his Barcelona debut in a 2-2 friendly draw against Lechia Gdansk on Tuesday before appearing off the bench in an 8-0 win over Santos on Friday.

Barcelona begin the defence of their Spanish top flight title with a home fixture against Levante on October 18.

Zubizarreta: United no longer pushing for Fabregas

4 August 2013 22:02

Barcelona director of football Andoni Zubizarreta has claimed that Manchester United’s pursuit of Cesc Fabregas is over.

The 26-year-old had been the subject of a lengthy chase by new United boss David Moyes, who is looking to strengthen his midfield ahead of the start of the 2013-14 campaign.

But Zubizarreta has insisted that Barcelona have no desire to sell Fabregas, and says the reigning Spanish champions’ stance has been accepted by their English counterparts.

“We’re counting on Cesc,” he said. “I said that on the day of Tito (Vilanova)’s presentation, and also on the day of Tata (Martino)’s.

“He is an extraordinary player who creates, finishes and gets into the right positions. We’re delighted with him, he’s the Barca number four.

“He is a player that has a contract with us… United said they understand our position and won’t be pushing us any more.”

Fabregas, who previously spent eight years in England with Arsenal, scored 11 goals in 30 starts in La Liga last term.

CAF Champions League Wrap: Pirates sink Al Ahly, Leopards maul Zamalek

4 August 2013 21:23

Orlando Pirates moved to the top of CAF Champions League Group A with a comfortable 3-0 win over Al Ahly.

The South African outfit were always in command against their Egyptian opponents in a clash moved from Cairo to El Gouna because of security concerns.

Striker Thandani Ntshumayelo gave Orlando the lead 12 minutes into the contest with a clinical finish from close range.

Al Ahly were then gifted a chance to level matters on 37 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after Andile Jali felled attacker Ahmed Abdul Zaher.

However, Walid Solimann could not convert from the spot, with Senzo Meyiwa making a brilliant save in the Orlando goal.

Al Ahly’s fortunes worsened when Zaher was sent off in first half injury time for a second bookable offence, and from that point on there was no way back for the hosts.

The Pirates subsequently wrapped things thanks to Jali’s 73rd-minute penalty and Sifiso Myeni’s goal three minutes later.

AC Leopards sit level on points with Orlando in second, after the Congolese club edged past Zamalek 1-0.

Zamalek’s chances were dealt a blow in the 35th minute when Mahmoud Fathalla was dismissed after collecting his second yellow card for handling in the area.

That indiscretion gifted Leopards the chance to seize the advantage, and midfielder Tychique Ntela Kalema made no mistake as he converted from 12 yards to net what proved to be the winner.

Eredivisie Wrap: Zwolle stun Feyenoord, Vitesse ease past Heracles

4 August 2013 21:09

Feyenoord were beaten in their Eredivisie season opener after one of their own players scored late to give PEC Zwolle a 2-1 win on Sunday.

Guyon Fernandez moved to Zwolle for the 2013-14 campaign on a loan deal after struggling to establish himself at De Kuip.

And he came back to haunt his employers in the 92nd minute of their first league game of 2013-14 with a drilled right-footed effort that handed Zwolle the points.

This came just five minutes after Feyenoord’s Ruben Schaken had cancelled out Mateusz Klich’s 65th-minute opener.

There were no such troubles for Vitesse Arnhem, however, as they comfortably dispatched Heracles 3-1.

Midfielder Kelvin Leerdam put Vitesse in front after 27 minutes, deflecting a Theo Janssen strike into the net, before Norwegian Marcus Pedersen doubled the advantage four minutes later.

Vitesse lost striker Wilfried Bony and midfielder Marco van Ginkel in the close-season, but they were still able to produce an impressive performance. Ecuardorian forward Renato Ibarra put the gloss on the victory late on, before substitute Matthew Amoah grabbed an injury-time consolation for Heracles.

Go Ahead Eagles made a solid start to life back in the top flight as they held Utrecht to a 1-1 draw at the Stadion Galgenwaard.

Utrecht looked to be on their way to three points when defender David Bulthuis headed home after 15 minutes.

However, the visitors demonstrated superb resolve and tied things a minute into the second half, attacker Xander Houtkoop sliding a cool finish under Robbin Ruiter to secure a share of the spoils.

Newly-promoted Cambuur also got off the mark in their first game, last season’s Eerste Divisie champions playing out a 0-0 stalemate with NAC Breda in Leeuwarden.