Pellegrini: I have a verbal contract with City

30 May 2013 00:02

Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini says he has already reached a verbal agreement to take over as Manchester City manager.

The Chilean has been strongly linked with the vacant post since Roberto Mancini was dismissed earlier this month following their FA Cup final defeat at the hands of Wigan.

And Pellegrini, who has already revealed that he will leave the Andalusian club at the end of the Spanish season, has now provided the strongest indication yet that he will be the man to succeed the Italian at the helm.

“I have a verbal agreement with them and I hope it is carried out,” he told Spanish television station Canal Sur.

“As of today, I don’t have a signed contract.

“It is true that Manchester City have shown a lot of interest that I become their coach and I have had conversations with them.

“Until things have been signed, you cannot say everything is completely done.”

Malaga will bring their La Liga campaign to a close when they meet Barcelona on Sunday and are looking to secure a sixth-placed finish.

International Friendly: England 1 Republic of Ireland 1

29 May 2013 23:00

England were held to a 1-1 draw by the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on Wednesday in the sides’ first meeting since 1995.

Shane Long gave the visitors the perfect start to the friendly encounter, directing a header home after an incredible leap above the England defence inside the first quarter of an hour .

And, though Frank Lampard soon levelled from close range, Ireland evidenced their character, producing a dogged defensive display to earn a share of the spoils.

England had earlier named Ashley Cole as captain of a team which contained both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Daniel Sturridge, in recognition of the 100th cap the full-back earned against Brazil back in February.

Ireland, meanwhile, started with Robbie Keane up front and Premier League stars James McCarthy, Shane Long and Jonathan Walters all involved.

Both teams contributed little to what was an unsurprisingly fractious start to the contest, with the Wembley crowd seeing little in the way of goalscoring opportunities.

But there was a sizeable twist with just 13 minutes on the clock, as the visitors took a shock lead. West Brom striker Long leapt above Glen Johnson to glance a superb right-wing delivery from Everton’s Seamus Coleman past Joe Hart and into the corner of the net.

That lead lasted little more than eight minutes, though, as Chelsea’s record goalscorer Lampard demonstrated his finishing prowess by prodding home from close range after Sturridge’s low cross had deflected off John O’Shea and Sean St. Ledger.

The hosts suffered a blow just after the half-hour mark which somewhat sullied their lead, as Sturridge was forced off due to injury and replaced by Jermain Defoe.

But England went close again soon after through Oxlade-Chamberlain, who hit a half-chance straight at David Forde to ensure the teams went in at the break level.

Roy Hodgson made two changes at the interval, Phil Jones replacing Johnson at right-back and Ben Foster coming in for Hart in goal.

And England looked decidedly brighter as a result, only being denied the lead when Coleman desperately cleared a Walcott cross over his own bar after the winger had latched onto a delicately placed ball from Rooney.

Lampard hit another effort wide of the goal and Walcott forced a strong save from Forde in the immediate aftermath, but Giovanni Trapattoni’s charges continued to hold firm.

Still, England refused to give up hope of taking victory and, if not for the reflexes of Forde, they would have succeeded in their task.

The Millwall stopper proved to be the saviour for the visitors, producing two fine late saves from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott to preserve the stalemate and send the Irish fans home happy.

International Friendly: Germany 4 Ecuador 2

29 May 2013 22:52

Germany made it nine games unbeaten with a comfortable 4-2 victory against Ecuador at the FAU Football Stadium, Florida, on Wednesday.

Ecuador were themselves on a fine run of form, having gone nine games without defeat, their last loss coming almost a year ago against Argentina on June 2.

But they were completely outclassed by a highly dominant German side, with Lukas Podolski particularly impressive in a central striking role.

Podolski and Lars Bender grabbed two goals each in the first half-half, with the former scoring immediately from the kick-off.

Antonio Valencia pulled one back for Ecuador before half-time when he wrong footed Rene Adler from inside the penalty area, before Jaime Ayovi headed a free-kick home at the near post in the 84th minute.

Germany named a side without any players from Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund, and handed a debut to Freiburg’s Max Kruse and Sidney Sam of Bayer Leverkusen.

Ecuador included Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia in their starting line-up, as well as former Premier League players Christian Benitez and Felipe Caicedo.

The game started in the best possible way for Joachim Low’s side, when Podolski stole the ball on the edge of the area and fired hard from the left-hand side of the box beyond Maximo Banguera, with the goal reported to be at just nine seconds.

And they doubled their advantage in the fourth minute when Podolski played a tremendous through-ball into the path of Lars Bender, who toe poked beyond Banguera.

With Ecuador reeling Germany pressed hard to find a third, and it arrived through Podolski’s second goal of the game.

A wonderful move was finished when Kruse’s cut-back was swept home by Podolski to the bottom right-hand corner to make it 3-0 after just 17 minutes.

Bender then grabbed his second goal of the game, the ball was laid into his path 20-yards out, and his tame effort squirmed past Bangeura who did not get a strong enough hand on the effort. He shook his head as he should have kept out the shot.

With the game effectively over as a contest, Ecuador started to show more attacking intent with Jefferson Montero hitting the crossbar.

Christian Benitez and Felipe Caicedo both went close, before Valencia finally pulled one back when he slotted home a loose ball from just inside the area to beat Adler.

Both teams traded efforts at the beginning of the second-half as first Valencia’s near-post strike was saved capably by Adler, before Julian Draxler blasted over the bar at the other end.

Montero twice went close in the 58th and 59th minute, first cutting inside before blasting a swerving shot way wide of the post, then forcing an agile stop by Adler.

Heiko Westermaan should have opened up a four goal gap once more, but despite being unmarked he headed Lukas Podolski’s corner over the crossbar.

Ecuador forced another good save from Adler, when a ferocious drive from substitute Renato Ibarra was tipped over by the Hamburg goalkeeper.

Ayovi added a bit of gloss to the scoreline for Ecuador, when he managed to head home at the near post from a right-hand free-kick in the 84th minute. Adler got a hand to the effort but could not keep it out.

Ecuador pushed on to try and gain more goals, but Germany held firm to hold out for victory. They go on to play the United States in a friendly on Sunday.

J.League Wrap: Reds miss chance to close gap

29 May 2013 22:24

Urawa Reds missed the chance to cut the deficit to J.League leaders Omiya Ardija as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Vegalta Sendai.

Urawa surrendered the lead late on in Wednesday’s game at the Saitama Stadium 2002, and now sit five points adrift of Omiya at the top.

Mihailo Petrovic’s men had grasped the advantage ten minutes from the end of normal time, as Yuki Abe converted from the penalty spot.

However, their hopes of increasing the pressure on their title rivals were dashed as Yoshiaki Ota struck in the 88th minute to earn the visitors a surprise point.

Elsewhere in the J.League, Sanfrecce Hiroshima failed to boost their chances of AFC Champions League qualification as they were held to a goalless draw by Kashiwa Reysol.

CSL: Evergrande maintain unbeaten run

29 May 2013 22:19

Guangzhou Evergrande extended their advantage at the top of the Chinese Super League on Wednesday with a 4-0 victory over Guizhou Renhe.

Marcello Lippi’s league leaders maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign as two goals from Huang Bowen led them to their 10th win of the season.

The midfielder scored a 17-minute double late on, pouncing in the box to score his first after 73 minutes when the ball was palmed into his path, before wrapping up the victory in the final minute with a superb free-kick.

Evergrande had earlier got off to the perfect start when captain Zheng Zhi’s powerful effort after 10 minutes gave Renhe goalkeeper Zhang Lie no chance.

Brazilian Elkeson then made it two, beating Lie to Dario Conca’s corner before Huang stole the headlines after the break.