Campeonato Paulista wrap: Corinthians coast into semis

29 April 2013 02:00

Corinthians put Ponte Preta to the sword on Sunday, to set up a Campeonato Paulista semi-final with Sao Paulo.

Tite’s men wrapped up a 4-0 win away at the Estadio Moises Lucarelli, to earn a final-four berth.

First-half goals to Romarinho and Emerson Sheik had Corinthians 2-0 up at the interval, before Paolo Guerrero’s penalty 11 minutes after the interval spelled the end for Ponte Preta.

Alexandre Pato added a fourth in the 89th minute, after the former Milan man rounded the Ponte Preta goalkeeper to tuck away the icing on the cake for Corinthians.

Sao Paulo await them in the semis, after they beat Penapolense at home 1-0.

They earned the victory courtesy of an own goal from Penapolense defender Jailton in the 72nd minute.

Mogi Mirim and Santos will go head to head in the other semi-final, with both matches set to take place on Sunday.

Belgian First Division wrap: Leaders Zulte lose, Lestienne brace for Brugge

29 April 2013 01:41

A second-half penalty from Paul-Jose M’Poku has handed Standard Liege a 1-0 win over Belgian First Division leaders Zulte-Waregem.

M’Poku won and converted the penalty two minutes into the second half at Stade Maurice Dufrasne to take Standard into third position in the Belgian First Division’s championship playoffs standings, two points behind Zulte.

Standard almost opened the scoring in the seventh minute in front of their home fans but were denied by a brilliant save from Zulte goalkeeper Sebastien Bruzzese.

French midfielder Frederic Bulot curled a pin-point free-kick to Kanu at the back post and the Brazilian defender powered his header on target only to see Bruzzese tip the ball away where it was cleared by Zulte’s defence.

In the 18th minute, Zulte midfielder Bruno Godeau went close with a curling shot from the edge of the penalty area and the visitors were left to rue that miss just after half-time.

M’Poku drove into the penalty area from the left wing with Ibrahima Conte chasing him frantically.

Zulte full-back Karel D’Haene moved in front of M’Poku and as the 21-year-old winger tried to duck inside, Conte clipped his legs and he tumbled to the ground, forcing the referee to point to the spot.

M’Poku sent Bruzzese the wrong way and the home side led.

In the 66th minute, the visitors went closest to an equaliser when a right-wing cross found Thorgan Hazard at the back post but the younger brother of Chelsea’s Eden smashed his strike just wide.

Sunday’s win took Standard to 38 points, behind Zulte (40 points) and Anderlecht (39), while the Liege-based side stayed ahead of Club Brugge (37) with four rounds remaining this season.

Brugge had earlier knocked off Anderlecht 2-1 thanks to a double from winger Maxime Lestienne.

The pint-sized 20-year-old gave Brugge the lead in the 15th minute when he drifted in from the left to slot the ball home after a chipped pass from Ryan Donk.

And Lestienne wrapped up his brace just after the hour mark with a brilliant strike, cutting in from the right-hand touchline and curling his shot inside the far post.

Massimo Bruno handed Anderlecht a lifeline with a neat header from Dieumerci Mbokani’s cross but the visitors were unable to notch an equaliser.

Bale crowned PFA player of the year

29 April 2013 00:52

Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale has been named the English Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) player of the year.

Bale, who also won in 2011, claimed the peer-review award ahead of Manchester United duo Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick, as well as Chelsea pair Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.

The 23-year-old Welsh forward also became the third player to win both the PFA’s top prize and the young player of the year award in the same season, following on from Andy Gray (1977) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2007).

Bale also joined Ronaldo as one of five players to have claimed the PFA’s player of the year award twice, alongside Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer and Mark Hughes.

Having scored 19 goals in the English Premier League so far this season, Bale only sits behind van Persie (25 goals) and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez (23) on the goal-scoring charts.

Tottenham’s powerful attacker has played 29 of his club’s 34 Premier League matches in this campaign and his season has been defined by the ability to score crucial late goals to claim points.

Bale triumphed over Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke and Hazard in the young player of the year award.

Serie A Wrap: Juventus edge closer to title

28 April 2013 23:42

Juventus need just one point to win Serie A after their 2-0 victory against Turin rivals Torino on Sunday.

Napoli’s 3-0 win over Pescara on Saturday meant it was mathematically impossible for Juve to clinch the title but they have the opportunity to do so next weekend.

Antonio Conte’s side require one draw from their last three fixtures to wrap up a second consecutive Scudetto after Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio netted late goals.

Fiorentina temporarily moved into third place after a 3-0 victory over 10-man Sampdoria, with Juan Cuadrado, Adem Ljajic and Alberto Aquilani on the score-sheet.

However, Milan regained the final European spot after coming from behind to overcome Catania 4-2 thanks to two quick-fire goals from substitute Giampaolo Pazzini and a Mario Balotelli penalty.

Pablo Osvaldo netted a hat-trick as Roma registered a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Siena at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Italian striker struck either side of an Erik Lamela goal during the first half before scoring a tap-in from a fierce Francesco Totti strike in the 67th-minute.

Palermo moved out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win at home to seventh-placed Inter, who lost captain Javier Zanetti to injury.

Genoa also increased their chances of avoiding the drop as a second-half header from Marco Borriello was enough to seal three points at Chievo.

Elsewhere, Parma and Lazio both had goals ruled offside in a game that ended 0-0, Bologna snatched a point in a 1-1 draw with Atalanta, and a solitary goal from Roberto Pereyra gave Udinese their fourth win on the bounce at Cagliari.

Ligue 1: Evian 0 PSG 1

28 April 2013 23:12

PSG opened up a nine-point gap at the top of Ligue 1 with a 1-0 victory over Evian on Sunday.

Javier Pastore scored the only goal of the game, latching on to a Christophe Jallet pass to send a right-footed shot into the left-hand corner of the goal.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ezequiel Lavezzi both should have added goals for PSG but red cards for Marco Verratti and David Beckham made for a tense finale, while Saber Khelifa was sent off after the game had ended.

PSG brought in Jeremy Menez in for Lucas Moura, and Ibrahimovic recovered from a virus in time to make the starting line-up. Evian made just one change, with Yannick Sagbo coming in for Kevin Berigaud.

Ibrahimovic had the first effort on goal for the hosts, as his dipping shot from distance forced a save from Evian goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait.

But it was Evian who generally settled the better of the two sides and twice had opportunities to take the lead as an effort flashed across goal before Sagbo hit a rising effort over the crossbar.

Despite Evian’s early priomise, it was PSG who nearly took the lead in the 17th minute when Ibrahimovic met a Maxwell free-kick only to see his volley parried away for a corner.

Alex was the next to miss an opportunity for the league leaders, meeting an Ezequiel Lavezzi corner but putting his header wide of the goal.

Lavezzi then missed the chance of the half for PSG, shooting wide after a fine through-ball from Ibrahimovic.

PSG started the second half well, and were duly rewarded in the 50th minute with the games’ opening goal.

Jallet found space on the right-hand side just outside the box and his cut-back was met by the onrushing Pastore, who swung an effort beyond the goalkeeper.

Ibrahimovic and Lavezzi then both missed gilt-edged opportunities to double that lead.

A Pastore effort from inside the area rebounded off the crossbar and fell to Ibrahimovic inside the six-yard box but, with the goal gaping, the Swede put his effort over the bar when it looked impossible to miss.

A minute later Lavezzi was put through one-on-one with keeper, but took too much time after rounding the keeper and allowed Cedrid Mongongu to get back and make the block.

Evian almost made them pay for their profligacy when Milos Ninkovic forced a great save from Salvatore Sirigu with a 25-yard free-kick.

And a minute later, Sirigu excelled himself with an unbelievable reflex save from Khelifa’s well-hit half-volley.

Two red cards did little to calm PSG’s nerves, as midfielder Verratti was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence in the 81st minute before Beckham received a straight red for a needless over the ball lunge.

But PSG held on for victory despite their numerical advantage to take a huge step towards the Ligue 1 title.

Five minutes after play had ended, Khelifa was shown a red card for his part in the mass brawl between players which followed the final whistle of a tasty encounter.