Arbeloa re-signs with Real

1 August 2012 11:55

Alvaro Arbeloa has signed a two-year extension on his Real Madrid contract that will keep him at the Santiago Bernabeu until 2016.

The 29-year-old is a product of the Madrid youth academy, but left the club for Deportivo La Coruna in the summer of 2006 after failing to secure regular first-team action in the Spanish capital.

However, Arbeloa returned to Real in 2009 after a two-and-a-half-year spell with Liverpool, and has since developed into an important member of Jose Mourinho’s team.

“I am very happy with my new contract. For me, it’s an honour to be part of Real Madrid,” Arbeloa said.

“Signing a two-year extension to my existing deal is a source of joy for me. I am delighted with the club’s faith in me, and I am looking forward to continue playing here.”

The right-back has made 123 official appearances for Madrid, scoring three goals.

Gourlay unmoved by Chelsea´s early poor form

1 August 2012 11:36

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay is unconcerned by the Blues’ mixed pre-season results.

Gourlay said the superior fitness of MLS players and the extended absence of some stars due to international duty are reasons for Chelsea’s inconsistent form.

Roberto Di Matteo’s team beat Seattle Sounders 4-2 in the first fixture of their pre-season tour of the United States, but have since drawn with Paris Saint-Germain and lost to the MLS All-Stars and AC Milan.

Gourlay, however, shrugged off worries about Chelsea’s displays and said that the squad was focused purely on preparing for the Community Shield and the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

“It’s a question better aimed at Roberto (Di Matteo), but we need to understand that this is pre-season training and we have been getting ourselves ready against teams who are midway through their seasons in Seattle Sounders and the MLS All-Stars, whereas we are just getting there,” he told the club’s official website.

“We’ve had players filtering back into the team, some guys have been with the squad a few days, others only just over a week, so it is very difficult to get things right immediately.

“People expect us to win every game we play, but it can’t always be like that, and in pre-season we have other measures, such as the intensity of training which has been very, very good.

“Results will come, of course the fans always like to see us win, even in pre-season, but more important is that we are ready for the Community Shield and the start of the Barclays Premier League a week later when we play Wigan.”

Gourlay reiterated the Blues’ desire to add to the squad before the start of the season, targeting ‘one or two areas’ for strengthening.

“The situation is that we are still looking to potentially strengthen the side,” he said.

“The manager feels there are maybe one or two areas where we may need to strengthen but that will only happen if we find the right personnel to bring in.

“We are already very strong and have a big squad, but if we feel there are players out there who can strengthen the side in the right position, we will continue to do so but it has to be the right player at the right cost, because both these things are very important.

“However, if we have to go with the pool we have now then we are in a very strong position going into the season.”

Despite suffering a couple of defeats, Gourlay was pleased with how the visit had panned out and felt the fitness gained would stand the club in good stead as the new season approaches.

“Overall I think everything came together well,” he said.

“It is always difficult when you are planning four different cities in two weeks, but everything came together and while one or two people felt the performances weren’t great it’s more about getting the team together and the fitness levels up. I am sure the results will follow, so overall, a very, very good trip.”

Mancini warns Johnson to improve

1 August 2012 11:47

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has told Adam Johnson he must improve if he is to play regularly for England.

Despite being one of Fabio Capello’s favourites, the winger failed to make Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for Euro 2012 – who citied his lack of match action in the Premier League as the main reason.

However, Maninci has dismissed that notion – instead insisting that Johnson would need to become more consistent if he is to feature for both club and country.

“Adam is in my plans. It’s not my fault he didn’t play at the Euros,” he said, after watching Johnson score in the 3-1 victory over a Malaysia XI.

“For the national team manager, it’s difficult to choose a final squad of 23 players.

“Adam is a very good player and probably deserved to go, because under Capello he played regularly.

“But Adam found himself in the same situation as Micah Richards, who is also a good player.

“Some players seem to think that when they don’t play, it’s the manager’s fault.

“Adam is good enough to play at a top club, but he has to play at the highest level all the time, not sometimes up and sometimes down.”

Copa Sudamericana wrap: Gremio draw first blood

1 August 2012 10:47

Gremio hold a narrow advantage in their Copa Sudamericana second-round tie with Coritiba after winning the first leg 1-0 on Tuesday.

Forward Andre Lima struck the winning goal for hosts Gremio in the 72nd minute of the match at Estadio Olimpico Monumental, courtesy of an assist from midfielder Leo Gago.

Coritiba must now overhaul the deficit in the second leg of the all-Brazilian clash, which will take place at Estadio Major Antonio Couto Pereira on August 23.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Colombian club Deportes Tolima have one foot in the second round after they won 3-1 at home to Deportivo Lara.

It took hosts Tolima until five minutes before half-time at Estadio Manuel Murillo Toro to open the scoring in the first-round tie, when Robin Ramirez found the back of the net.

And they made it 2-0 just 60 seconds later, with defender Yair Arrechea the man on target.

Jose Torrealba claimed what could prove to be an important away goal for the visitors when he netted on 54 minutes.

But Carlos Preciado restored Tolima’s two-goal cushion six minutes past the hour mark.

In other first-round matches, Chilean side Deportes Iquique downed Nacional of Uruguay 2-0 at home.

Sebastian Ereros and Misael Davila struck in the first half and second half respectively to secure a first-leg victory for the hosts at Estadio Tierra de Campeones.

And Ecuadorians Emelec also hold a narrow lead going into their second leg, after they defeated Universidad San Martin of Peru 1-0 at home.

Midfielder Efren Mera claimed the game’s only goal in the 66th minute at Estadio George Capwell.

Club friendly: New York Red Bulls 1 Tottenham 2

1 August 2012 09:37

Gareth Bale and Gylfi Sigurdsson steered Tottenham to a 2-1 victory in New York on Wednesday.

Kenny Cooper had given the Red Bulls an early lead from the penalty spot, and while Spurs initially struggled to find their rhythm in the opening 45 minutes, the north Londoners soon kicked into gear in the second half as they secured a comfortable win ahead of their return to the UK.

Andre Villas-Boas made six changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Liverpool on Saturday, with Heurelho Gomes replacing Brad Friedel in goal, while Bale – injury free despite Charlie Adam’s much-maligned challenge – was deployed as a lone striker with Harry Kane dropping out of the starting XI.

For the hosts, there was no place for ex-Arsenal forward Thierry Henry in the squad against his old rivals, but Tim Cahill was handed his debut at the Red Bull Arena following his switch from Everton to the MLS last week.

And the Australian midfielder made an immediate impact, finding himself through on goal after latching onto a ball in behind Jan Vertonghen which in turn forced the Belgian centre-back to foul him in the box.

Cahill stepped aside to allow Cooper to take the penalty, and the striker duly converted from the spot to give Red Bulls a 1-0 lead after eight minutes.

Spurs soon rallied, with Bale testing Bill Gaudette from 25 yards with a well-struck free-kick before Tom Huddlestone’s drive from distance stung the goalkeeper’s hands. The Welshman rose well to meet the resulting corner but was unable to guide his header on target.

Villas-Boas introduced Kane, Jermaine Jenas and William Gallas for the second period, with Bale assuming a more fluid role – a move that almost reaped immediate rewards.

The 23-year-old found space down the left-hand flank to whip in a cross which worked its way to Aaron Lennon on the edge of the box, and the wideman drew an acrobatic save from Gaudette with a powerful effort that looked destined for the back of the net.

Yet the shot-stopper was unable to hold out for much longer, with two moments of class turning the game on its head in the space of five minutes.

First, the ever-impressive Bale rose above his marker to guide a header into the top left-hand corner and pull Spurs level on the hour mark, before Sigurdsson burst into life to give the away side the lead.

Having jinked superbly in between the Red Bulls defence, the Icelandic international coolly dispatched the ball past Gaudette in a manner reminiscent of Henry, who was watching on from the bench.

A third goal was not to follow, despite Michael Dawson clattering the bar from the six yards and a late flurry of chances for substitute Andros Townsend.