Thursday 8 December 2016

In brief: Postiga the Portugal hero

Published 05/06/2011 | 05:00

A second-half goal from Helder Postiga gave Portugal a 1-0 win over Norway in a 2012 European Championship qualifier and tied them together at the top of Group H yesterday.

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Postiga poked in a Nani cross in the 53rd minute as Portugal took almost an hour to break down the visitors. Both teams have 10 points with three qualifying matches to go.

Meanwhile, Israel beat hosts Latvia 2-1 yesterday -- with first-half goals from Yossi Benayoun and Tal Ben Haim -- to stay among the leaders in Group F.

Captain Benayoun, back in the starting line-up after several months out injured, scored in the 23rd minute after being set up by defender Tomer Hemed following a low cross into the area. Ben Haim added the second goal in the 43rd minute from the penalty spot after fellow defender Yuval Shpungin was brought down.

In the same group Greece beat Malta 3-1 to stay in contention -- with the goals coming from a Giannis Fetfatzidis brace and Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Michael Mifsud replied for Malta.

Elsewhere, in Group H Denmark came away with the points in Iceland after a 2-0 victory, with Christian Eriksen hitting a double, while in Group G Bulgaria snatched a 1-1 draw on their visit to Montenegro. Radomir Djalovic opened the scoring for the hosts, with Ivelin Popov earning Bulgaria a share of the points.

Austin banned by Concacaf

The power struggle at Concacaf continued yesterday after acting president Lisle Austin was provisionally banned for an alleged rule violation.

The Barbados official had been acting as president of the North, Central American and Caribbean governing body in Jack Warner's absence. FIFA's ethics committee suspended Warner from all football-related activity pending the outcome of a full inquiry into bribery accusations made by fellow executive committee member Chuck Blazer.

Austin was drafted in as Concacaf chief but, according to a statement on www.concacaf.com, he has now been suspended, with Honduran official Alfredo Hawit appointed in his place.

Argentina face fixing inquiry

Argentina's 4-1 friendly defeat to Nigeria is being investigated for possible match-fixing, FIFA said yesterday.

"FIFA can confirm this match between Nigeria and Argentina was one that we had an active interest in, and forms part of a wider ongoing FIFA investigation," said a statement. The match, played in Abuja on Wednesday, is the highest-profile game to come under suspicion. Argentina's goal came from a soft penalty awarded in the seventh minute of injury-time.

Hughton hopes for club return

Chris Hughton is ready for a return to management -- and hoping for an opportunity at "the highest level possible".

The 52-year-old has been out of work since Newcastle showed him the door in December, with the Magpies lying 11th in the Premier League table at the time.

Hughton yesterday said he has enjoyed the break -- but with three Premier League teams currently managerless he is hoping for a return to the game soon.

"I've enjoyed the period of time I've had out... but I feel I've been ready for quite some time. I've always said I'd like to get back in at the right time and at the highest level possible," he said.

Chelsea, Fulham and Aston Villa are all seeking a new manager and Hughton admitted: "I don't think there are many people who wouldn't be interested in those jobs. Maybe those clubs will have people in mind but of course I'd be interested. But there is a process that takes place and I'm aware of that."

Brazil play out dull Dutch tie

Brazil and the Netherlands played out a scoreless draw in a friendly in Goiania yesterday.

After a sluggish first half in which Brazil seldom penetrated, the home side appeared energised in the second spell. However the Netherlands often took the attack into Brazil territory and forced some brilliant saves by Julio Cesar before 30,000 people at Serra Dourada Stadium.

The match was the first between the pair since the Dutch eliminated Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals last year. The Dutch and Romania (Tuesday) friendlies are preparation by Brazil for its Copa America title defence next month in Argentina.

SFA to appeal for refs calm

Referee Craig Thomson will use his new role at the Scottish Football Association to speak to Old Firm bosses Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist among others in a bid to help officials in Scotland return to some sort of anonymity next season.

Replacement referees had to be flown in last November when grade one Scottish officials withdrew their services following criticism and questions over their integrity from clubs.

Referees were in the spotlight over a number of decisions, most of which involved Celtic and Rangers, with the most high-profile being the incident at Tannadice in October in which referee Dougie McDonald reversed a penalty decision for the Hoops.

"As well as getting new referees into the game it is also going to give us the chance to go into clubs and speak to them on a more informal basis and it's not just one club, it is all the clubs in Scottish football," Thomson said.

"So we are hoping to break down any barriers which are perceived to be there, see what their problems and concerns are and hope to address them and create a better relationship."

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