Belgian First Division: Sporting Charleroi 2 Cercle Brugge 1

20 February 2013 20:35

Sporting Charleroi have fought back to beat Belgian First Division cellar-dwellers Cercle Brugge 2-1 at home on Wednesday.

The hosts at Stade du Pays de Charleroi fell behind early, when Brugge centre-back Gregory Mertens scored his first league goal since May last year in the fifth minute.

But while early signs pointed to Foeke Booy’s men going some way to digging themselves out of their hole at the foot of the Belgian top flight, they would be denied by a brace in the space of 13 minutes from David Pollet before half-time.

The former Lens striker was on target in the 23rd and 36th minutes to send Brugge packing without a point for their efforts – leaving them six points adrift at the bottom of the table.

Meanwhile, Charleroi went level on 30 points with 11th-placed Gent, although they remain 12th due to a significantly inferior goal difference.

Hoeness dampens Bayern transfer talk

20 February 2013 20:30

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness says incoming coach Pep Guardiola is yet to identify any players he wants to bring to the club.

The former Barcelona coach will take over at Allianz Arena next season, prompting a wave of speculation linking the club with the likes of Neymar and Robert Lewandowski.

However, Hoeness has claimed the reports are all untrue, and hinted Bayern may not be tempted to enter the transfer market, having spent heavily prior to the 2012/13 campaign.

“The rumours about the players Guardiola desires are false,” Hoeness told Bild.

“Guardiola has still not called a player he would have liked. There was talk about positions which he considers could be improved on if possible, but he has not named any names.

“When I look at how strong our squad is, I don’t think we need to make too many changes in the summer. I do not think that we will buy anyone in the next few years who is more expensive than (Javi) Martinez,” he added, referring to the acquisition of the Spain international from Athletic Bilbao for a reported fee of 40 million euros in August.

Guardiola led Barcelona to 14 trophies between 2008 and 2012 at Camp Nou and signed an agreement to take over at Bayern in January.

He will replace Jupp Heynckes when the incumbent coach steps down at the end of this season.

Stimac tips Modric to recapture form soon

20 February 2013 19:17

Croatia coach Igor Stimac believes that Luka Modric will begin to reproduce his best form for Real Madrid over the coming weeks.

The former Tottenham man has been struggling to assert himself since moving to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer, but his national team boss is confident he will soon prove his worth.

“I said at the start of the season that he wouldn’t be at his best until the end of February,” Stimac told Marca.

“It was to be expected when you consider that he had to get into top physical shape which, without a pre-season, he did not have.

“Now, at the end of the month, you’ll see an improvement. He has grown stronger from playing matches and training.

“You have to remember that he is adapting to a different kind of football than he played in England.

“In Spain, the style is quicker and maybe he needs to get into his stride. In England, he was a player who was feared by the opposition.

“He has been surprised by how fast the game is in Spain.”

CONCACAF U20 wrap: Corona powers Mexico, Jamaica cruise

20 February 2013 19:08

Three first-half goals have powered Mexico to a comfortable 3-0 win over Curacao in the CONCACAF U20 tournament.

Midfielder Jesus Corona scored a brace in the 22nd and 34th minutes before striker Marco Bueno rounded out the scoring following some excellent team passing on 36 minutes.

This was the first game in Group D with El Salvador the other side in the three-team group.

In Group C, Jamaica scored three times in the second half on their way to a 4-1 win against Puerto Rico.

Jamaica’s Omar Holness opened the scoring in the eighth minute before Puerto Rican striker Reid Strain tied the game up on 22 minutes with the score remaining deadlocked at the break.

But the game was broken open after the restart when defender Damion Lowe put Jamaica ahead before substitute Kendon Anderson scored a brace to snuff out all hope of Puerto Rican fightback.

Group C also features Panama, who are yet to commence their tournament.

Strachan wants swift Fletcher return

20 February 2013 17:11

New Scotland manager Gordon Strachan is keen for captain Darren Fletcher to return to the international fold as soon as possible.

The Manchester United midfielder, who has represented his country 61 times, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery in the hope to resolve his ongoing ulcerative colitis condition.

And while Strachan has sympathy for Fletcher, he is keen to be able to call upon the 29-year-old’s services in the near future.

“The quicker he gets back, the better for Manchester United and for me,” Strachan told BBC Radio Manchester.

“Any problems on the pitch never affect Darren and he’ll deal with the problems he’s got just now in the same way.

“If you look back at Manchester United over the last six or seven years – any time there’s been a big game, Darren’s played in it. As a manager, you pick a side you can trust.”

Strachan also took time out give his opinion on Sir Alex Ferguson’s claims that the current Manchester United squad is better than their treble-winning 1999 counterparts.

Strachan, who played at Old Trafford in the 1980s, said: “Whether you think they’re playing the most stylish football that’s ever been seen, you don’t know, but in terms of winning, it’s as good as you’ve seen.

“If you were picking a team of 11 from the two squads, I think a lot of that 1999 side would be in it, but with the game they’re playing, you probably need a bigger squad.”