Premier League: Norwich City 2 Reading 1

20 April 2013 18:13

Norwich City took an enormous step away from the relegation zone and kept Reading rooted to the bottom of the table with a 2-1 win.

The first half was largely lacking in quality, although both sides created a smattering of chances at Carrow Road on Saturday.

The encounter improved in the second half as Ryan and then Elliott Bennett scored within moments of each other before Garath McCleary scored what proved to be a consolation for Reading.

Reading are 10 points from safety and almost certain to be relegated, while Norwich jump to 13th and seven points clear of Wigan.

The home side started the stronger and went close in the fourth minute when Elliott Bennett shot just wide.

Norwich were enjoying almost total domination and nearly took the lead in the 12th minute, as Javier Garrido hit a low shot that had Alex McCarthy scrambling.

But Reading began to exert more influence on proceedings as the half went on as they took the sting out of Norwich’s early pressure.

The visitors created their best chance in the 42nd minute as a driven Adrian Mariappa cross was turned over the bar by Pavel Pogrebnyak with the goal gaping.

Moments later, Norwich created a good chance as Kei Kamara took advantage of a knockdown to hammer a shot that was saved well by McCarthy.

The home side began the second half as they ended the first, with Kamara forcing a good save from McCarthy after a superb break forward.

Norwich took the lead in the 50th minute, as a Robert Snodgrass corner caused havoc in the Reading penalty area and substitute Ryan Bennett was on hand to sweep home.

Just two minutes later, Norwich had a second as a cross found Grant Holt’s head with McCarthy uncertain in the challenge, and Elliott Bennett put away the chance.

The hosts conceded in the 72nd minute slightly against the run of play as McCleary let fly with an ambitious shot that Mark Bunn could only parry into his own net.

Reading were given hope by their goal as they went searching for the crucial equaliser, but Norwich clung on for an important win.

Premier League: Swansea City 0 Southampton 0

20 April 2013 18:06

Southampton added a point to their late surge for a top-half finish in the Premier League with a scoreless draw at Swansea on Saturday.

The hosts started well but failed to create any clear-cut chances, before Southampton came back into the game and tested Michel Vorm on a number of occasions, as well as having a goal disallowed, in a largely uninspiring first half.

The second period was much the same as neither side really tested the opposition’s goalkeeper – though Nathan Dyer did see an effort blocked off the line.

Swansea dominated the opening 15 minutes as they looked comfortable and relaxed in possession.

Dyer in particular caused Southampton problems on the right wing, and produced numerous decent deliveries, but Michael Laudrup’s side failed to create any clear openings.

Jack Cork – who was making his 100th appearance for Southampton – forced Vorm into a decent save from a strike from range, but it was the hosts that continued to see the better of the play.

However, their final ball was still lacking and Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc had little to do apart from handle some dangerous crosses.

As the game passed the 20 minute mark the visiting side managed to get more of a foothold in the contest. Jay Rodriguez called Vorm into action again with a half volley, but chances largely remained few and far between as the two sides matched each other.

And with the momentum behind them Mauricio Pochettino’s side turned up the pressure as the half came to a close. Rickie Lambert’s free kick was acrobatically kept away from the top corner by Vorm, before Adam Lallana had a goal ruled out as he was adjudged to have fouled the hosts’ goalkeeper before tapping home from close range.

Wayne Routledge replaced the quiet Luke Moore for Swansea at the break – with Michu shifting up front – and it almost paid dividends instantly as the winger crossed for the Spaniard who headed just over Boruc’s bar.

Despite the early chance the second half continued as the first ended, with little goal-mouth action. It was Swansea again who did finally carve out another chance – though they were helped largely by a miss-placed Lallana pass – as Maya Yoshida blocked Dyer’s shot off the line.

Swansea managed to mount some meaningful pressure in the last 20 minutes, and created a sight at goal after some neat play in midfield but Jonathan de Guzman was denied by a fantastic stop by Boruc’s boot.

The hosts put a number of late moves together but failed to break down a hard-working Southampton defence, while Vorm then denied substitute Emmanuel Mayuka from grabbing a win for the visitors.

Milan fate not Conte´s concern

20 April 2013 17:53

Juventus coach Antonio Conte insists that the chance to condemn Milan to third place in Serie A is not a source of motivation for his side.

Conte’s side are 11 points clear of second-placed Napoli with six games to play, while Milan are a further four points behind in third.

A win for Juve against Milan on Sunday would would further dent the latter’s chances of catching Napoli, but Conte says his side are solely focussed on their own priorities.

“Our only motivation is to earn the three points so we can get even closer to the Scudetto,” Conte told reporters.

“We have no pleasure in making Milan finish third, as it is provincial to think about your opponents that way.

“We must look only at our own situation. It won’t be easy to win, as Milan are as strong as we are and want to prove it.

“They are working well, because it wasn’t easy to rebuild and replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva.”

Conte also revealed that Giorgio Chiellini could return to the first team if he proves himself to be fit this weekend.

“Chiellini trained with the side yesterday and seems to be in decent shape,” the 43-year-old continued.

“We’ll see, but if he is fit then obviously Chiellini will play. He is an exceptional defender and if he’s fit then I very rarely leave him out.”

Portsmouth deducted 10 points

20 April 2013 17:06

Portsmouth will have a 10-point deduction imposed this season after they came out of administration on Friday.

The club had been in administration since February 17, 2012, and came close to being liquidated before the Pompey Supporters’ Trust successfully completed a takeover.

Portsmouth feared the points deduction would be carried over into next season but to their relief the Football League announced the punishment would come into effect straight away.

Iain McInnes, chairman of Portsmouth Community Football Club, said in a statement: “We are grateful to the league for confirming this punishment will be activated in the current season.”

An out-of-court settlement between the former owners and administrators allowed the handover of the south-coast club who have already been relegated from League One.

“I would like to welcome the Pompey Supporters’ Trust to the Football League and pay tribute to their efforts to save their club,” Football League chairman Greg Clarke told reporters.

“They have galvanised the Club’s fans and the City of Portsmouth behind their cause and ensured that it continues to have a professional football club.

“However, the hard work is only just beginning and we will continue working with the new owners to help them establish a sustainable future for Portsmouth Football Club, so that it can put its long running financial troubles behind it for good.

“This has been an extremely challenging situation for the Football League, given the level of debt, the length of the administration and the issues surrounding the ownership of Fratton Park.

“I take my hat off to everyone involved, as it has taken significant amounts of hard work, clear thinking and resolve to achieve this outcome.

“Finally, I would like to pay tribute to Portsmouth supporters for giving their financial backing to the Trust’s rescue plan and for turning out in force throughout the administration as it has kept the club in business. Hopefully, this marks the start of a better future.”

Villa: I have a good relationship with Messi

20 April 2013 16:51

Barcelona forward David Villa says he has a positive working relationship with team-mate Lionel Messi.

The first half of the season saw suggestions the Spanish forward and Argentine attacker were not getting along.

But the former Valencia striker said disagreements between the pair had been blown out of proportion.

“I have a good relationship with Messi,” Villa told reporters on Saturday.

“We are past all those perceived verbal clashes. Some things that have happened are normal for football matches. People tend to look at us with a magnifying glass.”

In addition to his comments about Messi, Villa moved to set the record straight regarding another element of his Barca career – whether he will leave the club in the near future.

“I’m happy right now,” he said.

“I have a contract and both supporters and the club recognise my work. There will be time for talk about any transfer (in the off-season).”

Villa said Barca would need to up their game if they are going to overcome Bayern Munich to reach the Champions League final this season.

“We all have to improve. We’ll need to bring more to the table to defeat Bayern in the semi-final. We know their strengths and have to work out how to capitalise on their weaknesses,” he said.