Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kamara and Slane sign up as Celts

Diomansy Kamara joins Celtic
Kamara previously played under Mowbray at West Brom

Celtic have signed Fulham striker Diomansy Kamara on loan until the end of the season and have the option to buy the player.

The 29-year-old Senegal international previously played under Celtic manager Tony Mowbray at West Brom.

He has won more than 40 caps for his country, scoring nine goals.

Mowbray has also completed the signing of Paul Slane from Motherwell. Despite his club's efforts to keep him, Slane, 18, joins Celtic on a four-year deal.

Motherwell are unhappy at losing a product of their youth system at such an early stage in his career.

A statement by Motherwell chairman John Boyle on the club website said: "We have tried and tried to get Paul to sign a long-term contract but much to our extreme disappointment, he has continually refused.

"We have offered the player improved competitive terms in line with other progressing youngsters at the club but both personally and through his agent, he has refused.

"Paul has been at the club for six years and we have financed his development and nurtured his talent, culminating in his senior debut at the end of last season.

"We have also stuck by and supported him over those years through both personal issues and injury and felt we were due some degree of loyalty for our efforts. Sadly he has chosen to refuse our offers and move on to Celtic."

Geremi completes Newcastle exit

Geremi reached the last eight of the Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon

Newcastle United have confirmed that midfielder Geremi has joined Turkish side Ankaragucu, following lengthy talks to complete the deal.

There had been confusion surrounding the move after the player was presented to supporters of the Turkish club before a deal had been reached.

However, following his involvement with Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, the clubs have now reached agreement.

His last appearance for Newcastle came against Scunthorpe in October.

Since coming to Tyneside in July 2007, the Cameroon international has made 54 appearances, scoring three goals.

Geremi's career in Europe began with Turkish side Genclerbirligi after spells in his home country and in South America, before a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

At the Bernabeu he was a two-time Champions League winner, while also receiving a nomination for the Ballon D'Or in 2000.


Middlesbrough brought the player to England on a season-long loan and he impressed at the Riverside, helping to stabilise the Teessiders' place in the Premier League.

Form there prompted Chelsea to take him to Stamford Bridge but he made just 48 starts in four seasons and eventually joined the Magpies on a free transfer, where again his appearances were limited due to injury and poor form.

He remains a regular for Cameroon, having amassed more than 100 caps and was a member of Paul Le Guen's squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, losing in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Egypt.

Minister seeks answers over Terry

John Terry
Will Terry be wearing the England armband this summer in South Africa?

Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe wants talks with the Football Association over the suitability of Chelsea's John Terry as England captain.

The defender is under scrutiny after an alleged affair with the ex-girlfriend of former team-mate Wayne Bridge.

Terry has been backed by his club but pressure is growing for England manager Fabio Capello to appoint a new skipper.

"If these allegations are proven, it calls into question his role as England captain," Sutcliffe said.

Despite ongoing newspaper revelations about Terry's private life over the weekend, the 29-year-old has been assured by Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti that he will remain club captain.

However, there are are increasing concerns over Terry being skipper of the national team with England little more than four months away from starting their World Cup campaign against United States on 13 June.

England have a home friendly with Egypt on 3 March as part of their World Cup preparations, and with the Euro 2012 qualification draw taking place on Sunday in Warsaw, Capello is likely to reveal his feelings over the next few days.

And although the FA has so far declined to comment on the situation, Sutcliffe said he will be meeting with the governing body to request an explanation.

"On the field John Terry is a fantastic player and a good England captain, but to be the captain of England you have got to have wider responsibilities for the country," Sutcliffe insisted.


"I speak to the FA on a regular basis, so I will be asking what their viewpoint is and we will see what comes of it."

However, former FA chief executive David Davies told BBC Radio 5 live's Breakfast that he believed the Italian, widely regarded as a strict disciplinarian, should be the one to decide on Terry's future in an England shirt.

"In this situation, as perhaps never before, Capello is the FA and he has to take the decision," Davies said. "I think he is absolutely the right person to be asked to take that decision."

After Terry's goal helped Premier League leaders Chelsea overcome Burnley 2-1 on Saturday, Blues boss Ancelotti insisted the centre-half had the full support of his club colleagues.

The pressure on Terry increased over the weekend with extensive coverage in the Sunday newspapers about his alleged relationship with model Vanessa Perroncel.

Bridge, 29, who has separated from Perroncel and now plays for Manchester City, said he would not comment on the reports for the sake of the couple's son.

Terry is set go to the World Cup in South Africa as captain, while Bridge, who has not played since December because of injury, is also likely to be selected in Capello's squad as understudy to another former Chelsea team-mate, Ashley Cole.

Speaking on BBC's Match of the Day 2, former England defender Lee Dixon thinks England should have a new skipper with the tournament just four months away.

Terry captaincy in doubt - Lawrenson

"I think John Terry should do the honourable thing and maybe resign as captain of England and take it out of Capello's hands," said Dixon.

"What happens when the England squad is announced? Is Bridge going to be in the squad, he's already said he doesn't want to be in the squad with John Terry, so I think Capello's got a bit of time to think about it and then make a decision."

Terry won a gagging order last week preventing the public learning about an alleged affair, but the injunction was lifted by the High Court on Friday.

National newspapers named the father-of-two, who is married to Toni Poole, in their Saturday editions as having a relationship with Perroncel.

And there were further revelations about the alleged affair in Sunday's national newspapers.

Manchester City players Carlos Tevez, Nigel de Jong and Stephen Ireland wore T-shirts with the words "Team Bridge" in support of their team-mate during their 2-0 win over Portsmouth on Sunday.

Former England captain Alan Shearer described Terry as a "fantastic leader" and said: "We do not know all the facts, so it would be wrong to suggest anything. What I do know is that John Terry is a fantastic leader and a very good footballer.

"I do not know him as a person - I have just played against him. Only John Terry and Fabio Capello will be able to tell in the coming weeks if it (the allegations) affects the captaincy."

Pakistan chief selector resigns

Pakistan's Kamran Akmal
Kamran Akmal could lead Pakistan in the Twenty20 game against Australia

Pakistan chief of selectors Iqbal Qasim has resigned from his post following a disastrous tour of Australia.

The team lost all three Tests and the five one-day matches and had Shahid Afridi banned for biting the ball.

"After the clean sweep in the Test and one-day series, I don't think it is my moral duty to remain the chief selector," he said.

Whoever takes the chief of selectors role will be the fourth incumbent in the past 12 months.

Qasim, who played in 50 Tests between 1976 and 1988, added: "I am very disappointed, like millions of Pakistanis. As I am responsible for the selection of the team, I quit.

"The selection committee, which I headed, did its best to select the best possible teams, but they did not live up to the expectations of the fans who are badly hurt."

Qasim's decision to leave his post has left Pakistan with a major problem ahead of Friday's Twenty20 clash with Australia in Melbourne.


With captain Mohammed Yousuf already on his way home with a knee injury and Afridi suspended for two matches, Pakistan now have three days to find someone who can appoint a captain before a decision on who takes charge of the team on the field can be made.

With Younus Khan retired from international Twenty20, wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal could find himself in line for the captaincy role.

It would be a return to fortune for Kamran who was dropped from the third Test in Hobart after a poor performance behind the stumps in the previous match.

Mercedes unveil car at first test

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Valencia

Michael Schumacher poses with the new Mercedes
Schumacher poses with the new Mercedes in Valencia

Michael Schumacher helped Mercedes lift the lid on their 2010 car at a low-key launch in Valencia on Monday.

The seven-time champion and team-mate Nico Rosberg posed with the silver and turquoise car at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo where testing begins at 1000 GMT.

Rosberg will be first to run the MGP W01 in the morning session before Schumacher takes over later on Monday.

The three-day session is the first of four in February before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 14.

German car maker Mercedes bought out the Brawn GP team last year following its victories in both the drivers' and constructors' championships.

Schumacher, who turned 41 in January, has returned to the sport after a three-year retirement.

He originally quit F1 in 2006, leaving Ferrari after winning five of his seven world titles with the Italian marque between 2001 and 2004.

Of the front-runners, only Red Bull is missing in Spain, with Renault and Sauber having unveiled their new cars on Sunday and Toro Rosso doing so later on Monday.

Live - Transfer deadline day

Transfer window - closes at 1700 GMT (England) and midnight (Scotland)


To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide). (Not all contributions can be used)

By Jonathan Stevenson

0734: I just cannot watch Manchester United's third goal against Arsenal without screaming at my telly for Gael Clichy to go and get a tackle in. Can someone please find out today what he was doing? As for the best moments of the weekend - look no further than two magical pieces of skill; one from Guti for Real Madrid, one from United's Nani. The four-lettered man is king.

From Donnie, Pompey, via text to 81111: "I'm out in the cold queuing for Southampton tickets, all our players are about to be sold and yet deadline day is still the best day of the year."

From GMMJohnson on Twitter: "I am off to St James' Park to look out for all the new signings who do not actually go to the ground!"

0725: Worth an early mention that although the deadline for English clubs is 1700 GMT, for Scottish ones it's midnight. So, for example, Birmingham cannot buy Kris Boyd from Rangers after 1700 GMT, but Rangers could re-sign Barry Ferguson from Birmingham up until midnight. Clear as mud? Good. The times are different around Europe and it's the buying club that is important time-wise.

0722: Roman Pavlyuchenko to Arsenal... hmm... You know what Luke - I love it. Shall we run with it for a bit and see what happens? Maybe after yesterday Arsene Wenger will realise there's no point having four stunningly gifted midfielders if they haven't got a striker to play around. Andrey Arshavin v Wes Brown in the air = shambles.

From Luke, Wales, via text on 81111: "I think yesterday showed it is paramount that Arsenal add a striker in some form. I'll get slated, but Roman Pavlychenko on loan would be an improvement."

0716: Actually, hold the phone already. Spanish newspaper AS is reporting that Man City's Fernando Gago chase is over after Real Madrid rejected a 15m euro bid from the Eastlands club. Spoilsports.

0708: Oh yeah - the 606 messageboard isn't ready for business until 0900 GMT, so texts and tweets will have to do for now.

0705: The day is almost totally dependant on your involvement. Please, please, bring your A-game and get in the deadline day mixer:
Text me on 81111 (UK) and +44 7786200666 (worldwide);
Tweet me to your latest chat right here;
Get involved in the debate on 606.
I need you today perhaps more than ever. Especially if it's dull.

0700: I know, I know - the last one was rubbish. But where there's life, there's hope. And if there's even a 1% chance we will get a repeat of Monday 1 September, 2008, then the next 12 hours will be worth every second. A very warm - not to mention early - welcome to transfer deadline day. For the next half a day, I'm not moving.

Crane claims win at Torrey Pines

-13 B Crane (US) -12 M Leishman (Aus), M Sim (US), B Snedeker (US) Selected others: -11 E Els (SA) -10 L Glover (US) -8 P Mickelson (US) -6 J Rose (Eng) -5 M Laird (Sco) -1 L Donald (Eng)

Ben Crane
Crane's victory was his third on the PGA Tour

American Ben Crane carded a final-round 70 to win the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines by a single stroke.

Crane, 33, finished on 13 under par overall, with Australian pair Marc Leishman and Michael Sim and American Brandt Snedeker all on 12 under.

South Africa's Ernie Els scored a 69 to finish on 11 under, one ahead of US Open champion Lucas Glover (72).

Phil Mickelson (73) was seven under, England's Justin Rose (70) six under and Scot Martin Laird (68) five under.

Ferguson praises 'maturing' Nani

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson's side are now within a point of leaders Chelsea

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Nani is finally starting to realise his potential after his display in the 3-1 win at Arsenal.

The 23-year-old Portugal winger, who reportedly criticised Ferguson's management earlier this season, set up two goals in an impressive performance.

"Maturity is why we're seeing the best of him now," said Ferguson.

"His last three games have been absolutely first class but today was his best."

Signed from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2007, Nani has taken some time to settle in at Old Trafford.

It seemed his future at the club could have been in doubt after he made only two appearances between the start of November and the end of 2009.

But Nani has started four of United's last five matches and Ferguson believes his character is transforming as well as his form.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

"He's a very shy boy and maybe his personality is getting stronger to play for us every week. Today was an example of that maturity," said the Scot.

Ferguson believes his side's ability on the break proved crucial in exposing Arsenal's weaknesses.

Park Ji-Sung and Wayne Rooney both scored from slick passing raids that caught the Gunners short in defence.

"Counter-attack has always been a part of our game," stated Ferguson.

"Arsenal play a lot of good football and get to the edge of the box regularly, so if you can get the ball you've got a chance against them."

Manchester United's Nani
Nani's pace tormented Arsenal left-back Gael Clichy

Rooney's strike took his tally to seven from United's last five matches and it also means he has scored 100 Premier League goals - only the 18th player to do so.

The England international is five goals clear at the top of the Premier League scoring charts, having already amassed more than last season's top scorer Nicolas Anelka managed in the whole of that campaign.

"Rooney was the key player in the sense they just couldn't handle him," added Ferguson.

"Everything was played towards him, in front of him or behind them and he was on to it every time."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger preferred to focus on his own side's shortcomings.

The Gunners were unbeaten in their 10 previous league games but Sunday's result leaves them five points off leaders Chelsea, having played a game more.


"We gave them too much room. We were naive. It is difficult to say straight after the game why we were not at our level," said Wenger.

"It is too early to analyse but I believe there are some mental reasons.

"It is a massive blow and a massive disappointment. The players wanted to win, they are really down. We have to recover from that. That is part of top-level football."

Cairo delight at African Cup win

By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Cairo

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian football fans took to the streets of Cairo to celebrate their team's victory in the final of the African Cup of Nations.


Supporters took to the streets of Cairo to celebrate the win over Ghana

Their victory over Ghana makes it an unprecedented three titles in a row.

As soon as referee Koman Coulibaly, from Mali, had blown the final whistle, an all-night street party was under way in the capital.

The night sky filled with the sound of horns and fireworks, and the Egyptian flag was proudly displayed from almost every car that took to the streets.

"I am so proud of my team," said a delighted Walid Hassan.

"We have won the African Cup three times in a row now and this is a record, something that should make every Egyptian proud," he said.

Outside the Al-Ahly club, one of the two big Cairo teams, a crowd had gathered to celebrate together.

"Masr! Masr!" they screamed: "Egypt, Egypt!"

"We will party all night and tomorrow night, it's wonderful. We played really well throughout the tournament and I'm so excited," remarked Loma, leaning from the window of a car, her face painted red, white and black.

"Winning was very important for us," agreed Ahmad Yousef. "We have shown the world what a fantastic team we are."

Palpable relief

Thousands of fans watched the match on a big screen in the national stadium.

There was tension throughout.

This win makes it a little bit better, but we had high hopes of competing in this World Cup
Reem Abu Tabl

The Egyptians - overwhelming favourites against a much younger, inexperienced Ghana - knew it was theirs to lose; and only minutes before super-sub Gado had scored his sublime winner, the Ghanaians had gone close on a couple of occasions.

The relief in the cafe where we were watching was palpable.

This was a final between two of the most successful nations in the African Cup.

Egypt, who have stretched their record-breaking unbeaten run at the Nations Cup to 19 games since 2004, have now won seven titles, with Ghana and Cameroon languishing far behind, on four.

And it was Egypt that dominated this year's tournament.

They beat the fancied teams like Nigeria and Cameroon, they scored 15 goals, conceding only two, and along the way they humiliated Algeria - who only two months ago before had beaten them in an ugly World Cup eliminator.

So satisfying was that 4-0 semi-final win over Algeria and the way in which the Algerians had imploded - three Algerians players were sent off - that, to most Egyptians, this had felt like the final after the final; beating the Algerians was always going to be more important than winning the tournament itself.

"This win makes it a little bit better, but we had high hopes of competing in this World Cup," said Reem Abu Tabl, who watched the match with her children.

"It's tough luck and hugely disappointing in my view that the undefeated African champions will not be there," she added.

"But this proves we are the best in Africa," said Michelle. "And it was so important to win well."

'Best of luck'

There are some, however, who wish the Algerians luck in the World Cup.

Egyptian soccer fans watching the Ghana-Egypt game on television in Cairo
Egypt was the favourite to win the match

Mohamed Walid said: "We are the African champions, that is fine for us. But we wish Algeria - the only Arab country competing in South Africa - all the best this summer. God willing, they will do us proud."

There was high praise also for the long-time Egyptian coach, Hassan Shehata, who has lifted his team after the disappointment of the past two months, and guided them to victory, even with some of his best players injured.

"We thank Mr Hassan for his professionalism," said Sherine Talab.

"He took criticism after the Algeria game but he has moulded this team into such a strong side and the country is rightly proud of him and his players."

There is no doubt that the thousands of Egyptian supporters who will flock to the airport to welcome their victorious team home, would swap all of the euphoria for a place in the World Cup finals later this year.

But perhaps the manner in which they have performed in this tournament will, at least, restore some national pride.

Benitez dismisses Juventus deal

Rafael Benitez
Benitez says his priority is to secure a top-four Premier League finish

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has issued a statement dismissing reports he is to join Juventus and reaffirmed his commitment to the Anfield club.

Several Italian papers claimed the Spaniard had agreed terms to take over at the Turin giants in the summer.

But in a statement, Benitez, 49, sought to quash the continued speculation.

"Contrary to reports in the Italian media this weekend, I want to make it absolutely clear I have no agreement with Juventus," Benitez said.

"I have not and will not be meeting Juventus or their representatives or any other club.

"I have a long-term contract with Liverpool and I'll repeat what I said on Friday that I am happy here and my only focus is to do my job as well as I can to get the team back into to the top four, beginning with the derby against Everton."

Reports in Italy on Sunday said Benitez had made a verbal agreement with Juventus about taking over in June.


It was claimed that officials from the Turin club were in talks with Benitez's lawyers, who would then negotiate his release from his contract at Liverpool, which runs until 2014.

The Italian side sacked manager Ciro Ferrara on Friday and appointed Alberto Zaccheroni as caretaker until the end of the season.

Benitez had previously refused to rule out the switch, admitting on Friday that he was "proud" to be linked to the Italian club.

Sunday's statement gives Liverpool fans more clarity about their manager's thinking, just as results appear to be improving.

The 2-0 victory over Bolton on Saturday was the Reds' sixth straight league game without defeat, suggesting the Spaniard may yet come good on his much-maligned "guarantee" of a top-four finish.

However, he remains under pressure following early exits from the Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup and the failure to mount a title challenge.

The Reds, currently 13 points adrift of league leaders Chelsea, host Merseyside rivals Everton on Saturday.

Smooth Higgins claims Welsh Open

John Higgins

Higgins beats defending champion Carter (UK users only)

John Higgins beat defending champion Ali Carter 9-4 in the Welsh Open final.

Higgins, the reigning world champion who overcame Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi-finals, surged into a 5-0 lead.

The Scot built up breaks of 95, 101, 137 and 81 as he punished Essex's Carter ruthlessly for any mistakes and led 6-2 going into the evening session.

The next four frames were evenly shared before Higgins snared the first frame after the mid-session interval with a superbly confident break of 76.

Higgins said afterwards: "I was delighted with the way I played for the first five frames. That was the best I'd ever felt really. I was just properly zoned in.

"It's hard to win any tournament these days with the quality of players around but I'm over the moon about winning the Welsh Open for a second time [having previously lifted the crown in 2000].

"The crowd here are one of the best. The Newport Centre is a great arena to play in."

The 11th frame, won by Carter, proved to be an extraordinary potting exhibition. Higgins opened with a break of 72, before missing a tough frame ball after potting nine reds and nine blacks as he set his sights on a 147 maximum.

Carter stepped to the table to coolly pot the six remaining reds and the colours for a break of 73 to win the frame by a single point.

That was as good as it got for Carter, however. The faintest sniff of a comeback appeared on the cards at 7-4, but Higgins won three in a row to seal his crown.

Carter said: "I was under all sorts of pressure and I was just glad to make a game of it. I would have been glad to get back to 7-5, but he's done me 9-4 in the end.

"The crowd have been great this week and I am disappointed I couldn't keep my title, but I had a good go."

What is the world's most watched annual sporting event?

Andres Iniesta
Barcelona's Andres Iniesta soaks up Champions League glory

Uefa's Champions League final has for the first time replaced the NFL's Super Bowl as the most-watched annual sports event, according to a survey.

The Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United last May drew an audience of 109 million.

February's Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals attracted three million less.

The yearly report from Initiative Futures Sports and Entertainment found both events continue to grow.

Formula 1's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was in third place with an average of 54 million, while the men's 100 metres final from the athletics world championships - featuring a world record from Usain Bolt - was fourth with 33 million.

With 2009 featuring neither a summer Olympic Games nor a World Cup it offered a chance to measure the two biggest annual sporting events.

While the Super Bowl's audience was overwhelmingly domestic, Uefa's product appears to be doing better in the battle for viewers globally.

"The Champions League has been better able to exploit the large burgeoning populations of the Asia-Pacific region," said Kevin Alavay, the report's director.

"While the Super Bowl has secured free-to-air broadcasting deals in a number of important European markets such as the UK, France and Germany, its distribution and popularity in the key Asia-Pacific region lags far behind the Champions League."


The report, in its seventh year, is based on official data from national bodies and measures "at-home viewing".

Alavay said the continued growth of the Super Bowl and the Champions League final was particularly impressive in a time of fragmentation in television audiences caused by digitalisation.

Slick Man Utd punish sloppy Arsenal

Arsenal   1 - 3   Man Utd

nani and Wayne Rooney celebrate for Manchester United
Nani and Wayne Rooney combined superbly in a blistering attacking display

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at the Emirates

Manchester United outclassed Arsenal at the Emirates to maintain the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea - and brutally expose Arsene Wenger's title ambitions.

Sir Alex Ferguson's champions unleashed a devastating display of sweeping, counter-attacking football inspired by the brilliance of Wayne Rooney and Nani.

Wenger had outlined the importance of the meeting with United in the context of the battle to win the Premier League, and by the final whistle saw his hopes placed in painful perspective by a masterful United.

United now stand only one point behind Chelsea having played a game more, but the manner of this victory will send out the message that no-one will find it easy to wrest the title away from Ferguson's side.

MUFC 1902

Nani, so long a figure of frustration at Old Trafford, has rarely performed with more threat and finesse than he did in the first 45 minutes here as he ran Gael Clichy ragged and ensured United had established a two-goal lead by the interval.

He baffled Arsenal with a stunning piece of trickery that forced uncertain Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia to turn his cross into his own net after 33 minutes and then set up Rooney's 100th Premier League goal four minutes later.

United caught Arsenal cold as they turned defence into attack, Rooney sprinting from just outside his own area to take a return pass from Park and finish in style.

Ji-Sung Park graphically illustrated the gulf between Arsenal and United just after half-time when he took advantage of a path lack of resistance to run unchallenged from inside his own half to beat Almunia.

Thomas Vermaelen's deflected shot late on set up an Arsenal rally of sorts, but the scoreline barely reflects United's superiority as they gave the Gunners a painful lesson in ruthless, cutting edge football.

Ji-Sung Park scores for Manchesetr United
Park's goal was his first of the season

United boss Ferguson opted for Nani ahead of £15m summer signing Antonio Valencia - and the success of the decision was probably beyond all his expectations as the Portuguese winger tortured Arsenal.

Andrey Arshavin offered early optimism for Arsenal's fans with a couple of trademark twisting runs and shots off target - but they turned out to be a false dawn as United soon moved into a different class to Arsenal.

William Gallas needed to make timely interventions as United's crisp passing threatened to carve United open, with Nani the primary source of danger as he proved simply too fast and too clever for Clichy.

And when Nani helped fashion United's opener after 33 minutes, it was the signal for a blistering passage of play that saw Arsenal's hopes of getting anything from such a crucial game disintegrate.

Nani tricked his way past Cesc Fabregas into the area with sleight of foot worthy of his celebrated former United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, although Almunia should have done a lot better than palm the ball in with a feeble attempt at clearance.

United topped that for quality four minutes later with a goal that, for Arsenal, bore the grim hallmarks of Ronaldo's third goal in the Champions League semi-final second leg at The Emirates last season.

Rooney, not far from the edge of his own penalty area, released the rampaging Nani down the right-flank, and arrived at the other end of the pitch on cue to drill a low finish past Almunia and send Ferguson out of his technical area and along the touchline in sheer delight.

Andrey Arshavin
Arshavin squandered several openings for the hosts

Nani should have made it three when Rooney found him unmarked at the far post, but his goalbound shot took a crucial touch of Vermaelen that went undetected by referee Chris Foy and flew wide.

If Arsenal had any hope of mounting a fightback they were emphatically snuffed out seven minutes after the interval in a manner that would have been as embarrassing for Wenger as it was satisfying for Ferguson.

Park ran from just inside his own half, free from any Arsenal challenge, and accepted what was almost an open invitation to slip the simplest of finishes past the exposed Almunia.

Vermaelen gave the discontented Arsenal fans a moment of cheer after 80 minutes when his shot was deflected out of the reach of Edwin van der Sar by Jonny Evans - and there were even further opportunities to set up the unlikely prospect of a thrilling finale.

Gallas headed wide of an open goal and Vermaelen saw a shot blocked by Patrice Evra, but Rooney displayed a rare moment of fallibility by wasting the opportunity to give the score a more realistic appearance, shooting wide in stoppage time.

Live text and stats


Sunday, 31 January 2010

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Arsenal 1-3 Man Utd R
(HT 0-2)
  • Vermaelen 80
  • Almunia (og) 33
  • Rooney 37
  • Park 52



Man Utd


Ref: FoyAtt: 60,091


  • Arsenal 48%
  • Man Utd 52%

Attempts on target

  • Arsenal 7
  • Man Utd 5

Attempts off target

  • Arsenal 11
  • Man Utd 6


  • Arsenal 8
  • Man Utd 5


  • Arsenal 9
  • Man Utd 12
  • Final Result
  • Full Time
  • 90:00+5:04 The match has reached full-time.
  • 90:00+4:43 Foul by Antonio Valencia on Alexandre Song Billong, free kick awarded. Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.
  • 90:00+3:38 Wayne Rooney produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.
  • 90:00+2:13 Andrey Arshavin gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rafael Da Silva. Darren Fletcher restarts play with the free kick.
  • 90:00+0:36 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Antonio Valencia by Andrey Arshavin. Direct free kick taken by Wes Brown.
  • 89:29 William Gallas produces a headed effort from deep inside the six-yard box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
  • 88:29 Substitution Luis Nani goes off and Dimitar Berbatov comes on.
  • 88:09 Andrey Arshavin takes a shot. Blocked by Rafael Da Silva.
  • 87:51 Short corner worked by Francesc Fabregas.
  • 86:53 Luis Nani crosses the ball.
  • 86:03 Inswinging corner taken by Ryan Giggs.
  • 86:03 Substitution Antonio Valencia on for Ji-Sung Park.
  • 85:02 Corner taken by Francesc Fabregas from the left by-line, Thomas Vermaelen takes a shot. Blocked by Patrice Evra.
  • 83:46 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ryan Giggs.
  • 82:16 Effort on goal by Luis Nani from outside the box goes harmlessly over the bar.
  • 81:20 Francesc Fabregas takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, Theo Walcott takes a shot. Blocked by Jonathan Evans.
  • 79:05 GOAL - Thomas VermaelenArsenal 1 - 3 Man Utd Thomas Vermaelen finds the back of the net with a goal from the edge of the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Arsenal 1-3 Man Utd.
  • 78:51 Andrey Arshavin fouled by Wes Brown, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Francesc Fabregas.
  • 75:33 Gael Clichy sends in a cross, Headed effort from the edge of the area by Nicklas Bendtner goes wide of the right-hand post.
  • 74:29 Shot by Wayne Rooney from deep inside the penalty area misses wide to the left of the target.
  • 73:23 Corner taken by Francesc Fabregas played to the near post, clearance made by Luis Nani.
  • 71:19 Substitution Bacary Sagna goes off and Nicklas Bendtner comes on.
  • 70:59 Substitution (Arsenal) makes a substitution, with Emmanuel Eboue coming on for Tomas Rosicky.
  • 70:29 Substitution Ryan Giggs on for Paul Scholes.
  • 69:32 Wayne Rooney crosses the ball, clearance by Thomas Vermaelen.
  • 69:15 Francesc Fabregas sends in a cross.
  • 68:48 Corner taken by Francesc Fabregas from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Patrice Evra.
  • 68:22 The ball is sent over by Wayne Rooney.
  • 67:17 Free kick awarded for a foul by Paul Scholes on Andrey Arshavin. Free kick taken by Francesc Fabregas.
  • 67:02 Jonathan Evans challenges Andrey Arshavin unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Bacary Sagna.
  • 65:24 Centre by Luis Nani, save by Manuel Almunia.
  • 65:00 Foul by Samir Nasri on Jonathan Evans, free kick awarded. Jonathan Evans takes the free kick.
  • 63:31 Effort from the edge of the area by Francesc Fabregas goes wide of the left-hand post.
  • 63:08 Bacary Sagna decides to take the corner short.
  • 62:48 Luis Nani concedes a free kick for a foul on Alexandre Song Billong. Andrey Arshavin takes the direct free kick.
  • 60:21 Substitution Theo Walcott is brought on as a substitute for Neves Denilson.
  • 59:19 Effort from the edge of the box by Alexandre Song Billong goes wide of the left-hand upright.
  • 58:10 Corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani, save made by Manuel Almunia.
  • 57:06 Alexandre Song Billong takes a shot. Edwin Van der Sar makes a save.
  • 56:00 Francesc Fabregas takes a shot. Save by Edwin Van der Sar.
  • 55:40 Wes Brown challenges Francesc Fabregas unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Alexandre Song Billong.
  • 53:50 Effort on goal by Francesc Fabregas from outside the penalty box goes harmlessly over the bar.
  • 51:32 Assist by Michael Carrick.
  • 51:32 GOAL - Ji-Sung ParkArsenal 0 - 3 Man Utd Ji-Sung Park finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Arsenal 0-3 Man Utd.
  • 50:50 Free kick awarded for a foul by Rafael Da Silva on Andrey Arshavin. Gael Clichy restarts play with the free kick.
  • 49:09 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Manuel Almunia makes a save.
  • 48:10 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Luis Nani.
  • 46:06 Gael Clichy crosses the ball, Edwin Van der Sar makes a save.
  • 45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
  • Half Time
  • 45:00+2:02 The ref blows to signal half-time.
  • 45:00+1:06 Alexandre Song Billong has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the goal.
  • 44:56 Michael Carrick has shot on goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
  • 43:42 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Edwin Van der Sar by Andrey Arshavin. Edwin Van der Sar takes the free kick.
  • 42:34 Corner taken by Francesc Fabregas from the left by-line, save by Edwin Van der Sar.
  • 40:14 Luis Nani produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.
  • 38:41 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Darren Fletcher by Alexandre Song Billong. Free kick taken by Michael Carrick.
  • 37:38 Effort from deep inside the area by Andrey Arshavin misses to the right of the target.
  • 36:22 Assist on the goal came from Luis Nani.
  • 36:22 GOAL - Wayne RooneyArsenal 0 - 2 Man Utd Wayne Rooney fires in a goal from inside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Arsenal 0-2 Man Utd.
  • 36:00 Francesc Fabregas takes a shot. Blocked by Patrice Evra.
  • 35:46 Short corner worked by Tomas Rosicky.
  • 34:23 Alexandre Song Billong fouled by Paul Scholes, the ref awards a free kick. Bacary Sagna takes the direct free kick.
  • 32:44 The ball is crossed by Luis Nani.
  • 32:35 Assist on the goal came from Luis Nani.
  • 32:09 GOAL - Manuel AlmuniaArsenal 0 - 1 Man Utd Manuel Almunia concedes an own goal. Arsenal 0-1 Man Utd.
  • Correction - 32:08 The ball is sent over by Luis Nani.
  • 29:44 Unfair challenge on Ji-Sung Park by Bacary Sagna results in a free kick. Edwin Van der Sar takes the free kick.
  • 28:24 Luis Nani takes a shot. Manuel Almunia makes a save.
  • 27:47 Jonathan Evans fouled by Andrey Arshavin, the ref awards a free kick. Jonathan Evans restarts play with the free kick.
  • 27:18 Effort on goal by Luis Nani from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
  • 26:17 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia.
  • 23:50 William Gallas takes a long range shot clearing the bar.
  • 21:22 Free kick awarded for a foul by Patrice Evra on Francesc Fabregas. Free kick crossed right-footed by Francesc Fabregas from right channel.
  • 18:21 Unfair challenge on Andrey Arshavin by Jonathan Evans results in a free kick. Francesc Fabregas restarts play with the free kick.
  • 17:56 Luis Nani gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gael Clichy. Direct free kick taken by Alexandre Song Billong.
  • 16:03 Wes Brown takes the free kick.
  • 16:03 Booking Alexandre Song Billong is shown a yellow card.
  • 15:49 Free kick awarded for a foul by Alexandre Song Billong on Luis Nani.
  • 14:40 Bacary Sagna gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ji-Sung Park. Paul Scholes takes the direct free kick.
  • 14:00 Samir Nasri produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the target.
  • 12:42 Effort from deep inside the area by Andrey Arshavin misses to the right of the goal.
  • 8:27 The ball is crossed by Luis Nani, save made by Manuel Almunia.
  • 7:34 Luis Nani takes a inswinging corner.
  • 5:16 Patrice Evra challenges Tomas Rosicky unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Bacary Sagna.
  • 3:22 Samir Nasri delivers the ball.
  • 2:33 Effort from deep inside the area by Andrey Arshavin misses to the right of the goal.
  • 0:00 The game kicks-off.

Live text and data provided by The Press Association.

Man City players support Bridge

Wayne Bridge in action for Manchester City
Bridge spent almost six years as a team-mate of Terry at Chelsea

Three Manchester City players wore T-shirts with the words "Team Bridge" in support of Wayne Bridge during their victory over Portsmouth on Sunday.

Bridge's ex-girlfriend has been at the centre of a media storm after an alleged affair with the defender's former Chelsea team-mate John Terry.

Carlos Tevez, Stephen Ireland and Nigel de Jong were wearing the T-shirts.

"The players are very close to Wayne," said Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini. "It was a nice gesture."

In a statement on Saturday, England international Bridge, 28, who missed the 2-0 win at Eastlands because of a knee injury, said he would not be commenting about the reports of the alleged affair.

"The reports deal with matters which are of a deeply personal and private nature," he said through his lawyers.

"My primary concern is the welfare of my son. Therefore, I intend to make no comment whatsoever either now or in the future about these reports and ask that my privacy is respected."

Mancini added: "He is a fantastic player and a good guy."