Belgian First Division wrap: Berrier stars for Zulte-Waregem

5 August 2012 21:19

Zulte-Waregem maintained their 100 percent record in the Belgian Pro-League at the expense of nine-man Gent on Sunday.

Gent went into the match with a commanding record, having scored 17 goals in a seven-game unbeaten streak but that came to an abrupt end at the Regenboogstadion as Zulte-Waregem ran out 3-1 victors.

Macedonian striker Aleksandar Trajkovski got the ball rolling for Zulte-Waregem after nine minutes and Franck Berrier joined in on the stroke of half-time to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.

Berrier, with the assistance of Trajkovski added his second and the hosts third three minutes into the second half.

Gent’s day got a lot worse when Mamoutou N’Diaye was dismissed for a second bookable offence on 55 minutes.

Jordan Remacle pulled a goal back for Gent with just over 20 minutes of football left to play but it proved no more than a consolation as Zulte-Waregem cruised to their second win of the season.

Meanwhile, OH Leuven and Genk shared the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Stadion Den Dreef.

Genk were down to 10 men after Khaleem Hyland received a 35th-minute red card but Christian Benteke found the back of the net to give the visitors an unexpected half-time lead.

And with 20 minutes left on the clock, former Rangers midfielder Thomas Buffel scored to make it 2-0.

But OH Leuven refused to surrender and were soon level as Stefan Gislason reduced Genk’s advantage to one on 76 minutes before Ibou Sawaneh equalised from the spot seven minutes later.

The result leaves both sides still searching for their first three points of the season.

Mourinho backs Khedira and Coentrao

5 August 2012 20:42

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has defended holding midfielder Sami Khedira, whom he feels is the best player in his position.

The Germany international arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2010 after a successful World Cup campaign in South Africa, and has since gone onto become an important part of Los Blancos’ first-team plans, forming an effective midfield partnership with Xabi Alonso.

However, Khedira does not receive enough credit in Mourinho’s eyes, and feels left-back Fabio Coentrao suffers from the same fate.

“I cannot understand why Khedira and Coentrao are criticised all the time in Spain,” he told Spox.

“This is because the media are always looking to write something negative. I currently do not know any other player that is better than Sami in his position.”

Mourinho also spoke briefly about the situation of Kaka, who is being lined up for a return to AC Milan, and the trainer admits the midfielder’s mental state is not helping matters.

“He is a great professional, but it does not help when your head is not straight,” he told Record.

“If he decides to stay, he will help us as he did last year when (Angel) Di Maria and (Mesut) Oezil were injured and he was our No.10.

“But if he decides to leave, we will respect his decision.”

Meanwhile, Marca reports that the former Chelsea and Inter boss rejected the chance to sign Santi Cazorla from Villarreal last summer.

The publication claims president Florentino Perez offered the Spain international to Mourinho, but the 49-year-old decided against it as he felt the midfielder was overpriced.

Cazorla eventually joined Malaga for 21 million euros and helped the Andalucian side to a Champions League place in his debut season, but now appears destined for a move to Arsenal following the club’s financial problems.

Mancini: City on track for Chelsea curtain-raiser

5 August 2012 18:14

Roberto Mancini says Manchester City’s friendly victory over Wolfsburg was important ahead of the Community Shield match against Chelsea.

Reigning English Premier League champions City beat the Bundesliga side 2-0 on Saturday thanks to goals from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero at the Volkswagen Arena.

“I am always pleased when we win because I think that it is important to play well,” Mancini told the City website.

“It is important to put in a good performance and I thought this evening, without a lot of (first-choice) players, we played well, we scored two goals and I think this was very important.”

According to Mancini, Euro 2012 has affected his team’s pre-season preparations, as he had not yet been able to work with his full squad.

“In a year when there is a World Cup or European Championship it is very difficult to put together a team,” he said.

“I think we start to work with all players next Tuesday and it’s a very, very strange situation but we hope we work well and I think we will do well in the future.”

As league champions, City take on FA Cup winners Chelsea on August 12 in the Community Shield at Villa Park, and Mancini is looking forward to the occasion.

“I think that it is important that all the team is working very well, because now we have one week to decide the team for an important cup against a top team like Chelsea,” he said.

“We know that it will be a difficult game because Chelsea won the Champions League last year, they are a top team with fantastic players but I think we will have a good game.

“I am happy, it was really difficult (against Wolfsburg) because we didn’t have all our players, but now we start and in one week we play this important game.”

Ankle surgery for Gomez

5 August 2012 18:13

Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez will have surgery on an ankle injury.

Gomez suffered the injury in the Liga Total! Cup semi-final shoot-out defeat to Werder Bremen on Saturday.

The 27-year-old was stretchered off just before the half-time whistle at the Imtech Arena in Hamburg, where it was later discovered that he would require an operation to rectify the problem.

Speaking on Sunday, Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer admitted: “He is not good. He needs surgery. Then we’ll see how long he’s out for.”

The match finished 2-2, with Bremen winning the penalty shootout 4-2.

The Germany striker follows the likes of Rafinha (torn knee ligament), Diego Contento (hairline foot fracture) and David Alaba (stress foot fracture) on the club’s treatment table with long-term injuries.

SPL: Dundee United 3 Hibernian 0

5 August 2012 17:51

Dundee United got their Scottish Premier League campaign off to the best possible start, beating a lacklustre Hibernian 3-0 on Sunday.

Goals from Johnny Russell, Jon Daly and substitute Michael Gardyne secured all three points in front of 7,267 fans at Tannadice Park and extended their unbeaten run against Hibernian to seven matches, a streak stretching back to May 2010.

United drew 2-2 with Russian club Dinamo Moscow in their Europa League first leg match midweek and manager Peter Houston named an unchanged side for Sunday’s match.

And it paid immediate dividends as Russell fired past Hibernian goalkeeper Ben Williams after three minutes.

Williams was in the thick of the action again moments later after the former Manchester United trainee failed to deal with Russell’s shot but fortunately for the goalkeeper, the ball went wide for a corner.

The score remained the same at half-time and despite United’s dominance it was not until the 74th minute that they doubled their advantage.

Gary Mackay-Steven unleashed a powerful strike which deflected off the head of Daly and into the net.

The home side added a third deep into stoppage time courtesy of a goal from summer signing Gardyne, who was played in by midfielder John Rankin.