Wednesday 21 March 2018

Pogrebnyak hits target for Russia

Pavel Pogrebnyak's second-half goal gave Russia a 1-0 win over Serbia in their friendly last night.

The Stuttgart striker scored for Ireland's Group B rivals after 'keeper Bojan Jorgacevic failed to block Roman Pavlyuchenko's powerful shot from outside the box in the 53rd minute.

Andrei Arshavin was injured in a first-half collision and was substituted by Diniayar Bilyaletdinov.

Russia, tied with Ireland and Slovakia at the top of the group, host Macedonia (September 2) and Ireland four days later. Slovakia defeated Austria 2-1 with Juraj Kucka and Robert Jez scoring in the first half.

Torres blow for Blues

Italy substitute Alberto Aquilani scored a late goal in their 2-1 victory over an understrength Spain as Fernando Torres was forced off after only 14 minutes with a slight concussion in last night's friendly.

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has a nervous wait to hear the extent of Torres's injury ahead of the Premier League's kick-off with the Spanish striker taken for further tests at a nearby hospital.

Italy were already 1-0 ahead when Torres was withdrawn after Riccardo Montolivo lifted a shot over charging goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Spain equalized from a penalty by Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso in the 36th.

Back with Liverpool after a season on loan at Juventus, Aquilani's decisive shot was deflected in by Spain defender Raul Albiol in the 84th minute.

Many of the 50,000 fans came to see Antonio Cassano, who is from Bari, and usual Italy captain Buffon allowed Cassano to wear the captain's armband for the occasion.

Crouch stand off

Stoke City will have to match Peter Crouch's £80,000-a-week wages to have any hope of signing the England striker from Tottenham.

Despite reports that Crouch had signed for Stoke, the player has had no firm offer even though there has been contact between Spurs and Stoke.

Crouch has two years left on his deal and would be looking for a four-year contract at his current rate if he was even to consider a move.

Stoke can offer Crouch about £50,000 a week which will not be enough to get him to the table. They are closer to a deal for Wilson Palacios, the Spurs midfielder. The Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, is thought to be offering the pair for £20m.

Injury horror for Bebe

Manchester United's on-loan winger Bebe has torn his anterior cruciate ligament, Turkish club Besiktas have announced.

Bebe is set to be out for six months after suffering the injuring while playing for Portugal U-21s in Slovakia last night.

Besiktas said: "A scan has shown an anterior cruciate ligament tear to his left knee and he will be unable to play for six months.

"Surgery is required and we have contacted Manchester United and there will be a joint decision about where the operation will be done."

Irish Independent

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