Archive | August 7, 2015

Southampton reach Europa League play-offs….

Graziano Pelle

Goals from Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane saw Southampton reach the Europa League play-offs with a comprehensive victory over Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem. Italian Pelle fired low into the bottom corner to put Saints into a commanding 4-0 aggregate lead after four minutes. Vitesse struggled to create clear openings but pushed forward late on before Mane settled the night’s result. In the second half Pelle made way for Jay Rodriguez, who came on for a first competitive appearance in 16 months. The 25-year-old forward suffered a knee ligament injury playing against Manchester City in the Premier League in April 2014. Away from the pitch, there were violent clashes between fans before the game, with 50 Dutch supporters and three English arrested. Southampton, competing in European competition for the first time since a first-round exit in the old Uefa Cup in 2003, are now one round from reaching the Europa League group stage. They will find out who they face in the two-legged play-off round after Friday’s draw in Switzerland.

Mayweather defends choosing Berto….

American Floyd Mayweather has defended picking Andre Berto as his opponent in what could be his last ever fight. The unbeaten champion, 38, faces fellow countryman Berto in Las Vegas on 12 September, and could extend his winning run to 49 fights. Berto, 31, a former world champion, was a surprise choice given his fall down boxing’s pecking order in recent years. However, Mayweather told a news conference: “I chose Berto because he’s very exciting.” The final match-up of a six-fight deal with broadcaster Showtime, it could be WBC and WBA welterweight champion Mayweather’s final time in the ring. Many critics accused Mayweather of picking an easy fight on which to cement his unbeaten legacy – Berto has lost three of his last six contests. “Berto is a tough competitor, a former world champion. Every time he goes out he gives it 100%,” said Mayweather. “He’s been given backlash. I’ve been given backlash. But Andre Berto is going to push Floyd Mayweather to the limit.”

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West Ham knocked out of Europa League….

West Ham

West Ham were knocked out of the Europa League in the third qualifying round following a 2-1 defeat by Romanian side Astra Giurgiu to lose 4-3 on aggregate. After letting a two-goal lead slip in the first leg, debutant Manuel Lanzini put the much-changed Hammers ahead. But two goals in four minutes from Astra skipper Constantin Budescu earned the Romanian side victory. Defeat ends a stuttering campaign for Slaven Bilic’s team, who qualified through the Fair Play League. Modibo Maiga missed a late chance to take the game to extra time but with Astra also hitting the post twice, they created better chances at more regular intervals. The result meant the Hammers, in their first European outing since the 2006-07 season, are eliminated from Europe before the start of their domestic season. But with 11 changes made to the side from the first leg, with three players making their debuts, there was an obvious lack of experience on the field and an apparent lack of desperation to save the tie on a hot night in Romania.

Ghana forward Waris joins Lorient….

Abdul Majeed Waris

Ghana international striker Abdul Majeed Waris has completed a transfer to Lorient, the French Ligue 1 club said on Thursday.  The 23-year-old had been expected to join Rennes in a $4.4m (£2.82m) deal from Turkish side Trabzonspor. But at the last hour Lorient trumped their rivals’ bid to snap up the Black Star, who has 19 caps for his country. Waris previously played in France for Valenciennes in 2013/14 where he scored an impressive nine goals in 16 games.

Mohamed Salah joins Roma on loan….

Mohamed Salah

Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah has joined Roma on a season-long loan, with the Italian club given an option to buy the player at any point in the season. The Egypt international joined Chelsea from Swiss side Basel for £11m in January 2014. However, he has played only 19 times for the Blues, scoring two goals. The 23-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Roma’s Serie A rivals Fiorentina, where he scored nine times in 26 games. “Salah is regarded by many as the best Egyptian player in the world right now,” Roma said in a statement on their website. 

CAF will not back Bility’s FIFA bid….

Musa Bility

The Confederation of African Football has declined to back Liberian Football Association president Musa Bility in his bid to become FIFA president. Bility, 48, is one of four men set to stand in next year’s election to replace incumbent Sepp Blatter. “The CAF executive committee decided unanimously not to give Musa Bility the support he requested,” CAF stated. However, Bility told BBC Sport his meeting with the body “was not about CAF endorsing me”. He said: “I’m privileged to have had the opportunity to talk to the entire CAF executive committee, to answer questions – concerns, admirations – all the issues that are wrong with football we discussed. That was a privilege. “I did not go to get a unanimous vote. I was given an opportunity to explain and lay my platform. That’s why I went and I’m happy I got it. “There is a nomination process going on and the door for other people in African remains open. Until that door closes CAF cannot unanimously support me.

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