Toure wants to be blue for life

13 December 2012 13:49

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has claimed he would love nothing more than to finish his career at the Etihad Stadium.

The powerful Ivorian has become one of the most sought-after players in Europe following a series of robust performances in the middle of the park and he was instrumental in City’s title winning side last season.

Roberto Mancini’s side have endured a difficult start to the defence of their title, suffering a last-gasp 3-2 defeat to neighbours Manchester United while also slumping out of the Champions League without a win in Group D, but that has not put the former Barcelona man off.

“I would love to end my career here,” Toure told the club’s official website.

“Nobody knows what the next step is in football and I believe that if you stop dreaming, you should stop playing football, but this is where I want to be.

“When I first arrived at City, every time I went to sleep I would dream about us winning something and about us being the best team in whatever competition we take part in.

“I believe I have to work harder all the time to improve and stay at the top level with this club. I will give my all every time I play and I will never forget how the fans have treated me here so nothing would give me greater pleasure than to finish my career as a Manchester City player.”

Toure picked up a knock in the defeat against United on Sunday, but is likely to return to the midfield at St James’ Park, where his double last season helped City to their first top-flight title since 1967-68.

Mancini’s side memorably clinched the title in the dying seconds of the season, but Toure has set his sights on European domination in spite of their early elimination this time round.

“We want to make history and that was part of my plan when I first signed – to make history – and we’ve made a start but there is so many more chapters to be written,” added the Ivorian.

“I’m really enjoying my football here and I’m playing in front of the most amazing fans I’ve ever come across.

“Ending my playing career at City would be unbelievable, but I know it won’t be easy because we want to win everything and the club is always looking to improve.

“There is no other place I would rather finish with and I want to continue winning titles and trophies with City. I believe we are just at the beginning of our journey.”

FIFA Club World Cup: Monterrey 1 Chelsea 3

13 December 2012 13:48

Chelsea coasted into the final of the FIFA Club World Cup with a 3-1 victory over Monterrey at the International Stadium in Yokohama.

The attacking midfield triumvirate of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata sparkled as the Champions League holders eased to the win in the semi-final clash.

A well-taken first-half finish from Mata gave the Blues the lead, before a deflected Fernando Torres strike and an own goal from Darvin Chavez promptly after half-time helped see off the challenge of the CONCACAF champions, although Aldo De Nigris did score a superb consolation late on for the Mexican side.

A bright start from the west London side was rewarded in the 17th minute when Mata opened the scoring in style with a sweeping finish after an intricate passing move involving Ashley Cole and Oscar on the left-hand side.

The Blues had come close to taking the lead on three occasions prior to the former Valencia man breaking the deadlock, with David Luiz, Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic all threatening.

Luiz, in particular, impressed for Chelsea, the Brazil international looking comfortable playing in an unfamiliar midfield role in the absence of Oriol Romeu, after the Masia graduate suffered knee ligament damage against Sunderland on Saturday.

Monterrey grew into the game after going behind, with Jesus Corona’s pace and trickery posing Cesar Azpilicueta problems down the left, and but for some wasteful finishing from De Nigris the Mexican side could well have equalised before the break.

Whatever Benitez said to his side during the interval seemed to do the trick as they came racing out of the blocks, scoring twice before the second half was five minutes old.

Torres made it 2-0 just 20 seconds after the restart following a blistering run and pass from Hazard down the left. The striker’s shot appeared to be going way off target before it took a considerable deflection and flew into the back of the net.

Chelsea then added a third moments later courtesy of an own goal from Chavez. The former Atletico Madrid forward was involved once more, it was his enticing through-ball that set up Mata, who then looked to pass to Oscar before the intervention of Chavez did the youngster’s work for him by diverting the ball past Jonathan Orozco.

The two goals in quick succession had appeared to have knocked the wind out of Monterrey’s sails before De Nigris smashed home a consolation goal in added time at the end of the second half to make it 3-1.

Benitez now has a chance to equal Pep Guardiola’s achievement by winning a second Club World Cup when Chelsea take on Corinthians in the final on December 16.

Benitez won the tournament with Inter back in 2010.

Farina delays Del Piero decision

13 December 2012 04:17

Sydney FC coach Frank Farina will make a late call on Alessandro Del Piero’s availability for Saturday’s Sydney derby at Allianz Stadium.

Del Piero is struggling with a recurring hamstring injury that kept him out of last week’s 2-1 win away to Wellington.

The Italian did not train with the team on Thursday, but he did have a light session on his own and Farina is hopeful he’ll play a part in the match.

“You’d like to be in a situation where there was no question about him playing, but there is still that little bit of doubt there,” Farina said.

“But we’ve still got 48 hours.”

The Sky Blues will be boosted by the return of Terry Antonis and Brett Emerton, who missed the last two matches while on national duty with the Socceroos in Hong Kong.

Sydney remain at the bottom of the ladder, but are only three points behind fourth-placed Western Sydney Wanderers FC.

Farina knows it will take a lot more work to start climbing up the ladder.

“Look we’re still bottom, so we’re looking up – looking up at everyone else,” he said.

“We’ve got to talk about winning games of football, or picking up points.

“We’ve done that the past two weeks and as long as we continue to do that we’ll rise up the table.”

Sydney will be without Terry McFlynn on Saturday as he is serving a one-match ban for his red card last week, with either Emerton, Antonis or Hagi Gligor the likely replacement.

But Farina indicated that might be the only change to the side that beat Wellington.

“No one really deserves to miss out from last weekend, but that decision will be made tomorrow after the final session,” Farina said.

Copa Sudamericana final: Sao Paulo 2 Tigre 0 (match abandoned)

13 December 2012 04:13

Sao Paulo have been crowned Copa Sudamericana champions after Tigre refused to finish the final’s second leg amid chaotic scenes in Brazil.

After the scoreless first leg at Tigre’s home ground in Buenos Aires was marred by a first-half brawl between both sets of players that resulted in each side being reduced to 10 players, the second leg in Brazil also involved red cards and then failed to resume after half-time.

Tigre, via their official Twitter account, claimed their players were attacked by security staff in the tunnels at Sao Paulo’s stadium during the half-time break.

Reports have also claimed Tigre goalkeeper Damian Albil had a gun pointed at his chest during the alleged altercation on Wednesday.

After almost half an hour of confusion and waiting for Tigre to come out of their changing room, the referee called the game off and Sao Paulo celebrated winning the Copa Sudamericana title for the first time in the club’s history.

However, it remains unclear whether the Brazilian club will keep the title as Tigre are almost certain to appeal the decision.

In a tense first half, Lucas Moura gave Sao Paulo the lead in the 23rd minute when he pounced on a loose ball to score from the edge of the penalty area.

Just five minutes later and it was 2-0 when Moura slid a pass to Osvaldo who beat Albil one-on-one.

As the referee whistled for half-time at Estadio Cicero Pompeu de Toledo in Sao Paulo, players and coaching staff from both sides came together in a furious verbal slanging match, interspersed by pushing and shoving.

Sao Paulo’s Paulo Miranda and Angel Gaston Diaz of Tigre were handed straight red cards as a result of the fracas but it was after the on-pitch altercation that the visitors were apparently attacked out of sight of fans and media.

Roar hit raw nerve with Thompson

13 December 2012 04:06

Melbourne Victory striker Archie Thompson denies the club is embarking on a revenge mission against Brisbane Roar on Saturday.

Just two games into Ange Postecoglou’s reign, his former Roar side put Victory to the sword at Suncorp Stadium, thumping them 5-0.

Since then the sides’ fortunes have contrasted starkly – with Victory charging up the A-League table with five wins and a draw from their past eight games, while Roar are slumped in ninth place after a poor run of form.

Although he admitted the dressing room was like a morgue for days after the Round 2 thrashing, Thompson said revenge over Brisbane is not a primary motivator this weekend.

“I’ve been (with the Socceroos) away for the last two weeks. It’s not about them it’s about us. We’ve been playing some decent football over the last couple of weeks,” Thompson said after training at Gosch’s Paddock on Thursday.

“(It was like) a morgue, as expected – 5-0, biggest loss in our club’s history. The boys were disappointed because they were all really up for that game, being against a champion team against Brisbane.

“They’re (Brisbane) up against the wall at the moment. I think I saw (Erik) Paartalu talking about how it could be a defining game for them, so they’re going to be up for it too – it’s going to be an exciting match.”

Thompson said he was not overly concerned by the Round 2 defeat, and said Victory were always confident they would turn their early-season woes around.

“It was only Round 2. If you start thinking ‘we lost a Round 2 match, that’s the end of our season’ well, that’s not the attitude we should be having,” he said.

“We always knew that we were going to get better. It was a matter of time. Now we’re coming to terms with how everyone plays, and you can see it starting to work on the weekend.”

The evergreen 34-year-old said he had enjoyed his time away with the Socceroos in Hong Kong, where his four goals helped his country qualify for next year’s East Asian Cup, but conceded he had found the workload tough.

“It was great, it was good to qualify for a tournament next year,” Thompson said.

“But last week was tough. Four games in a week, it’s hard yakka, it doesn’t matter what opposition you’re playing against.

“And today, coming to training, I got put in the starting line-up – I tell you, I almost substituted myself out of it,” he joked.