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Friday, July 27, 2012

Dinamo deny Ludogorets at the death

GNK Dinamo Zagreb 3-2 PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (agg: 4-3)A Domagoj Vida winner eight minutes into added time earned the Croatian side a place in the third qualifying round and denied the debutants.

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UEFA Champions League debutants PFC Ludogorets Razgrad were denied a place in the third qualifying round by Domagoj Vida's winner eight minutes into added time.

With the score level at 1-1 from the first leg in Bulgaria, Ante Čačić's men had a slight advantage heading into the return. However, a spirited attacking display from the visitors helped them twice take the lead, through Emil Gargorov and Marcelinho. Ante Rukavina cancelled out both goals, and Marcelinho was sent off, but a defiant Ludogorets looked set to progress until Vida's last-gasp intervention.

The visitors started the brighter and were rewarded when captain Gargorov headed in Ivan Stoyanov's free-kick. Dinamo struggled to impose themselves but equalised from a rare foray forward on 33 minutes. Šime Vrsaljko broke down the right and crossed for Rukavina to head in off a post.

Ludogorets continued to impress and were ahead again soon after. Marcelinho capitalised on another excellent Stoyanov set-piece to grab his second of the tie. However, the midfielder was shown a red card on 57 minutes after collecting his second booking. Buoyed by their numerical advantage, Dinamo surged forward and levelled again on the hour through Rukavina, who reacted quickest when Milan Badelj's pass deflected his way.

Despite their pressure, though, a winning goal seemed unlikely until the very last touch of the match, when Vida's terrific header from substitute Ivan Peko's right-wing cross sent the home fans into raptures. The visitors' misery was compounded when Miroslav Ivanov saw red in the aftermath of the goal. Dinamo go through to play Moldova's FC Sheriff in the next round, with the first leg next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vardar yet to peak ahead of BATE decider

"Our best is yet to come," said FK Vardar coach Ilco Gjorgioski as his side look to overturn a 3-2 first-leg deficit in Wednesday's second qualifying round decider against FC BATE Borisov.

FK Vardar coach Ilco Gjorgioski believes his side are yet to reach their peak as they bid to overturn a 3-2 first-leg deficit against FC BATE Borisov on Wednesday.

A 33,000 sell-out crowd is expected at the National Arena Filip II Macedonian for Vardar's first UEFA Champions League game on home soil in nine years, but they have work to do to reach the next round after conceding twice in added time to surrender the initiative in Belarus. "The game in Borisov showed us that we must keep our concentration until the final whistle," said Gjorgioski. "My main goal now is to focus the players' minds, but I know that my players are professionals who will recover from the setback and give it their all."

The 41-year-old coach took charge last summer and led Vardar to a record sixth title. Now Gjorgioski has his sights set on Vardar becoming the first Macedonian side to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage. The Red and Blacks came close in 2003/04 but, having knocked out Barry Town AFC and PFC CSKA Moskva, were eliminated 5-4 on aggregate by AC Sparta Praha in the third qualifying round.

"We've a great chance to get a result which will take us into the next round," added Gjorgioski, who lost to BATE coach Victor Goncharenko twice during his spell in charge of FK Makedonija GP Skopje. "I am sure that this time we will be the side celebrating at the end. The psychological advantage will be with BATE and we're going to be under pressure, but I'm convinced that my players can deal with the challenge. We have our own strengths and our best is yet to come."

Forward Ostoja Stjepanovic, who set up Jovan Kostovski for Vardar's equaliser and scored their second goal in the first leg, echoed his coach's thoughts and is optimistic that his side will progress. "We shouldn't waste our time lamenting the lost opportunity in the first game," he said. "Now we have the challenge of an even more difficult game, but I believe we will go through to the next round."

Vardar spokesman Riste Vlahov told that their supporters will enjoy the occasion as they bid to reach the third qualifying round, where either KS Skënderbeu or Debreceni VSC lie in wait. "It's going to be a spectacular night for the fans," he said. "We're all going to feel the magic of the Champions League."

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Debrecen, Dinamo and Salzburg built to sweating.

Debreceni VSC, FC Salzburg and also GNK Dinamo Zagreb are the heralded groups who've work to try and do in the event the subsequent getting qualification circular ends in Tuesday and Wednesday.

While HJK Helsinki, Neftçi PFK, FK Partizan, AEL Limassol FC, NK Maribor in addition to Molde FK are very well placed heading to the subsequent legs of these UEFA Champions Category being approved circular scarves, famous brands FC Salzburg, Debreceni VSC in addition to GNK Dinamo Zagreb even now get lots of function to complete.

Salzburg had been suffer from the shocks of the round when their score drop from 1-0 first-leg destroy by simply ten-time champs involving Luxembourg F91 Dudelange last week. The Austrian side, where their coach Roger Schmidt classed their performance throughout Dudelange as "unacceptable", now need to have success on home soil so as to stay the stand involving arranging a meeting with Maribor or maybe FK Željezničar inside the 3 rd qualifying round. The Slovenian title holders have a 4-1 advantages to defend.

Debrecen, who featured in the 2009/10 group stage, also lost 1-0 first time out. Their vanquishers were KS Skënderbeu – a first European win for the Albanian side – and they now face an uphill struggle to take on FC BATE Borisov or FK Vardar in the next round. BATE were 2-1 down going into added time in the first leg but emerged with a dramatic 3-2 victory.

Dinamo, meanwhile, are looking to build on a 1-1 draw with Bulgarian champions PFC Ludogorets Razgrad and secure a third qualifying round tie against either Ulisses FC or FC Sheriff, with the Moldovan outfit 1-0 to the good as it stands.

Helsinki have a far more comfortable lead to fall back on having triumphed 7-0 against KR Reykjavík. Elsewhere, Neftçi, Partizan, AEL and Molde hold three-goal advantages over FC Zestafoni, Valletta FC, Linfield FC and FK Ventspils respectively.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

B36 look to cause first 2012/13 upset

Faroese champions B36 Tórshavn will look to cause an upset when the first qualifying round concludes on Tuesday, with Linfield FC looking to atone for a 0-0 draw in the first leg.

 The first qualifying round of the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League concludes on Tuesday, with B36 Tórshavn looking to complete an upset against Linfield FC.

The Faroese champions caused something of an upset in the first leg in Belfast, with goalkeeper Meinhardt Joensen saving a first-half penalty from Peter Thompson and Lukasz Cieslewicz hitting the woodwork as B36 broke late on. "I'm very well satisfied," said coach Mikkjal Thomassen. "Our goal was to get a result that meant that we still had a chance to go through, and we have that now."

The job remains half done, though, and B36 need a positive result at the Gundadalur Stadium to make it through to the second qualifying round, where they would take on Cypriot titleholders AEL Limassol FC. Thomassen is under no illusions as to what his side can expect. "It will still be a tremendously tough task," he said. "We are playing against a team that are of a higher standard to us, so there is no doubt we have to be at our very best if we are to have any chance."

Having made a two-hour charter flight up to the Faroe Islands, David Jeffrey's Northern Irish league champions are hoping their journey will not be in vain, with goalkeeper Alan Blayney hoping to play a part after an injury gave his understudy Ross Glendinning a chance in the first leg. "There is no doubt we were the better side in the first leg and it was unfortunate that we missed so many chances," Blayney said. "It was just one of those nights but I think we can definitely score in Torshavn."

Midfielder Ross Clarke concurred: "B36 started off really well in the first leg but we dominated the game after that. We created a lot of chances and if we can do the same in the second leg then hopefully we can take one."

Linfield have not missed a European season since 2003/04, but the only tie they have won since was against FK Ventspils on away goals in the first qualifying round of the 2005/06 UEFA Cup. B36 last made it through a round of UEFA club competition in 2006/07, when victory against Birkirkara FC of Malta over two legs set them up for a meeting with Turkish giants Fenerbahçe SK. They lost 4-0 in Istanbul and 5-0 back at home.

While the B36 v Linfield game remains too close to call, no great upsets are expected in the night's other second legs. San Marino's SP Tre Penne are 7-0 down as they welcome F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg, while Valletta FC head to Andorra to take on FC Lusitans holding an 8-0 lead from the first leg. Footballing catastrophes notwithstanding, Dudelange should meet FC Salzburg in the second qualifying round, while Valletta have a date pencilled in with FK Partizan.

Monday, July 9, 2012

FIFA Approves Use of Goal Line Technology

FIFA joins the 21st century!

FIFA, international football’s governing body, has announced that it will proceed with plans to implement goal line technology after nine months of rigorous testing. Development comes from two separate organizations. Hawk-eye, a camera-based technology well-known for its use in cricket and tennis, will work alongside the censor-based GoalRef technology of German and Danish origin.
Now that the door has been opened for use of such technologies, there is no doubt other tech developers will be interested in creating systems of their own.
FIFA already plans to implement the goal line technology at in Brazil for the Consideration Cup during the summer of 2013, as well as the World Cup Finals in 2014. The organization may option to retain use of the five-official system, which plants two additional referees at each goal-line to officiate. This system was put in place during this year’s Euro 2012 competition, but was met with some harsh criticism from owners, players, and fans due to goal controversy during the Ukraine v England match.

Several officials, including EUFA president Michel Platini, admittedly stated these goal-line refs are more in place to officiate penalty box behavior than reviewing the goal-line itself. Platini went on to question where we draw the line, fearing next we will hear demand for technology to encroach on offside calls and penalty kicks as well. The two systems can however work together for mutual benefit.
Officiating bodies seeking to implement these systems are advised to contact the manufacturer to discuss time-frames and prices prior to installation. All systems to be implemented will also need to be reviewed and approved by FIFA before finally being accepted for use in match play. Some officials estimate we will see these systems put in to use as soon as half-way through next season.
As good as it may sound, these systems come with a hefty price tag, leaving only the more wealthy clubs in a position to implement them.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea boss unconcerned by Guardiola talk

New Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo insists he does not fear the "shadow" of Pep Guardiola.

The Italian was given a two-year deal last month after winning the Champions League and FA Cup as interim boss.

Di Matteo is not concerned about ex-Barcelona coach Guardiola being linked with the job and is comfortable with being judged on results.

"I've lived with speculation from day one so I don't feel any shadow behind me or above me," Di Matteo said.

"I've been in football all my life and I clearly know that managers are judged by results and it's no different for me than anyone else.

"Speculation is there every day. I've lived with it pretty well, I'll continue to do my job, trying to do as well as I can and everyone else can say and write what they want."

Di Matteo, who was Andre Villas-Boas' assistant until the Portuguese was sacked in March, maintains he was never worried about the delay in his appointment.

The former West Brom and MK Dons manager was given the job on a permanent basis almost a month after guiding Chelsea to their first-ever Champions League title.

He added: "There was no time limit on it. We were always in touch and in contact and there was holiday time and a break that was much needed so it wasn't a question of not talking."

Di Matteo is also comfortable with the expectations that the impressive finish to last season have brought.

He hinted that new signings Eden Hazard and Marko Marin will be joined by further additions before the transfer window closes.

Di Matteo said: "With Chelsea you are always looking to be competing and be in the frame to win something at the end of the season so I think that will be the key.

"We have a good team, we have an experienced team with some fresh players in it and I'm very confident for next season. The priority is to challenge."


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Soccer-European season kicks off after 48-hour break

(Reuters) - The new European season kicked off with three embarrassingly one-sided matches and two goalless draws on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after Spain won Euro 2012.

Malta captain Michael Mifsud produced the outstanding performance of the evening with four goals as Valletta crushed hapless Lusitans of Andorra 8-0 in one of three Champions League first qualifying round first-leg ties.

Lusitans, who won the Andorran league for the first time last season, were quickly in trouble as Jonathan Caruana gave Valletta a fourth minute lead.

Former Kaiserslautern, Lillestrom, Coventry City and Barnsley forward Mifsud and Brazilian striker Jhonnattann, signed from Volta Redonda earlier this year, added two goals apiece as the hosts raced to a 5-0 lead after only 23 minutes.

Mifsud made it 6-0 and completed his hat-trick on the stroke of halftime and added another to his tally with a solo goal in the 70th minute before Edmond Agius rounded off the scoring two minutes later.
Luxemburg's FC Dudelange, who got the 2012-13 season rolling as their game kicked off first, thumped San Marino's Tre Penne 7-0 while Northern Ireland's Linfield were held to a goalless draw by B36 Torshavn from the Faroe Islands.

Dudelange's match kicked off only two days after Spain lifted the Euro 2012 trophy in Kiev to bring the curtain down on the previous season.

Sofian Benzouien and Aurelien Joachim both scored twice for the Luxemburg side who have been domestic champions 10 times in the last 13 seasons.

The Champions League will take nearly 10 months to complete, with four qualifying rounds, a group stage and three more rounds of of knockout games, before ending on May 25 with the final at Wembley.
There were also two games in the mind-bogglingly complex Europa League where Gomel won 6-0 at Vikingur in a meeting of the teams who finished third in Belarus and Faroe Islands respectively.

Portadown of Northern Ireland drew 0-0 at Macedonia's Shkendija in the other match, with 35 further ties to be played on Thursday.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Defending champions Spain win Euro 2012 to complete historic treble

(CNN) -- Defending champions Spain claimed an historic third successive major international trophy with a 4-0 rout of Italy in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev Sunday.
It was a breathtaking display from the 2010 World Cup winners, with victory all but sealed by halftime as goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba gave them a 2-0 lead.

Substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata rounded off the emphatic win with two late strikes.
Victory in the final also represents a triumph for 61-year-old coach Vicente Del Bosque, the first man to lead teams to the World Cup, European Championships and European Champions League crowns, the latter with Real Madrid in 2000 and 2002.
"This success in Spanish football is something historic, and now we have to look to the future and try to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil," he told gathered reporters.
But for Italy and their coach Cesare Prandelli it was a bitter end to a tournament which they had earlier graced with their imaginative performances.
"We came up against a terrific side," Prandelli admitted.
Euro 2012 LIVE: Spain vs Italy
La Roja shone brightly from the start and with a cutting edge, despite again starting the match without a recognized striker.
Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez brushed the crossbar with a fierce shot in the 10th minute after dazzling interplay but it did not take long for the pressure to pay off.
Xavi's club teammate Andres Iniesta threaded a perfect pass through for Cesc Fabregas to cross for David Silva to head home on 14 minutes.
Italy, who caused such a shock with a 2-1 win over Germany in the semifinals, responded with a pair of Antonio Cassano efforts, but with Mario Balotelli unable to make much impression they always looked second best.
Spain went further ahead just before halftime and the goal was typical off their all round teamwork.
Defender Jordi Alba exchanged passes with Xavi and burst through the center of the Italian defense before easily beating Gianluigi Buffon.
After the break, Italy responded with a pair of chances for Antonio di Natali, the first a header, the second with a clearer sight of goal only to be denied twice in quick succession by Spain captain Iker Casillas.
Italian hopes of a comeback took a further dent when their final substitute, Thiago Motta, lasted only five minutes before being stretchered off.
Against a tiring team with only 10 men, Spain eventually took full advantage after the introduction of Chelsea's Torres.
Xavi found him with another superb pass and he slotted home the third on 84 minutes, becoming the first man to score in two successive European Championship finals.
He had grabbed the only goal of the 2008 final win over Germany.
Torres then cleverly set up his club teammate Mata to score with virtually his first touch of the ball.
In doing so, Torres clinched the tournament's Golden Boot for his joint leading three goals and that final assist.
It left Casillas to lift the trophy in the magnificent Olympic Stadium, the Real Madrid goalkeeper reveling in yet another showpiece triumph for a team many are calling the greatest in history.
"This is such a truly wonderful moment. The second goal from Jordi (Alba) clinched it really," he told Telecinco television.
"It's been four marvelous years. You might think that a 4-0 margin against Italy means it was easy -- but we have been gradually stepping up as the tournament went along."
Sunday's final set the seal on three weeks of competition in Ukraine and Poland at eight match venues and involving 16 teams.
Twenty four national sides will take their place in the next finals in France in 2016 and they will do well to match the overall high standard of attacking play in Euro 2012.
Incidents of racist chanting and violent clashes between supporters from Poland and Russia marred the group stages, but fears of widespread fan violence proved just fears.
Ukraine's alleged mistreatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko also led to threats of a boycott by European political leaders, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended their quarterfinal victory over Greece.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rayoy were guests at the final, a welcome distraction perhaps from the economic turmoil engulfing their austerity-hit countries in the Eurozone crisis.
More controversially, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was also among the dignitaries, despite being the subject of a European Union travel ban.
His invite sparked a protest from a feminist group in Kiev before the final.