Tag Archives: cech

Martin Samuel: Why Milton Keynes Dons methods could make us play like Brazil

Small is beautiful at Milton Keynes… and it could make us play like Brazil

Victory Shield. Seyi Ojo went to Liverpool at 14 for a reported 1.5million. They must be doing something right. What they are doing, it seems, is evolving ideas. Micciche experiments with pitch sizes, with team numbers.

Not in any conventional way. Small areas, small teams, is the modern concept, and that alone is progress.

The days of a 10-year-old standing forlornly in the same size goal as Petr Cech, barely able to clear his penalty area with a goal-kick in ankle-deep mud, are thankfully over.

Contrasting styles: Brazil (above) and England (below) prepare for Wednesday night's friendly

Contrasting styles: Brazil (above) and England (below) prepare for Wednesday night's friendly

Contrasting styles: Brazil (above) and England (below) prepare for Wednesday night's friendly

The Football Association has, at last, addressed the in-built flaws in youth football and we should feel the benefits over the next 10 years.

The popular wisdom favours small-sided games in tight spaces. The logic is irrefutable. Players get more touches, more shots, more runs and more scoring opportunities playing four versus four than 11 versus 11.

Their ball skills are improved by
technical five-a-sides, rather than a war of attrition on a man’s size
pitch that promotes only the most athletically dominant.

What Micciche is attempting is stage
two. In the dome at Woughton Park worlds collide. Micciche has his
Under 16 MK Dons team playing 11-a-side, but on a reduced pitch 60
yards long by 40 wide. He has cones on the touchline marking two
invisible offside lines to compress play into the middle third. There is
no time, there is no space. To survive in this game, you really have to
be able to play.

Coaching guru: Micciche's ideas have seen MK Dons' academy flourish

Coaching guru: Micciche's ideas have seen MK Dons' academy flourish

An MK Dons kid is trapped on the near
touchline, ball at his feet, two lads bearing down on him. He gets out
of it with a lovely reverse pass.

‘You see, that, to me, is a goal,’ Micciche says. ‘At this age, you can swing your boot and the ball goes in, and everyone says “well done”. But it’s not necessarily progress, there’s no development. To see him do that, inside, I feel like we’ve scored, because he wouldn’t have tried it six months ago.’

Micciche, as his name suggests, grew up watching Serie A football on a giant satellite dish at home. Roberto Baggio was his man. He is not as steeped in the blood and thunder of English football as his contemporaries.

It is no surprise, either, that he started at Crystal Palace where John Cartwright was academy manager.

Cartwright, now retired, has been
advocating variations of games played in tight spaces for a long time.
From Palace, Micciche moved to Tottenham Hotspur working with Chris
Ramsey before arriving at Milton Keynes under director of youth Mike
Dove, who gave him a blank canvas.

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There are five pitches of varying sizes at Woughton Park and academy players of all ages get to use every one. Team numbers vary, too. Each player gets a turn training and playing with boys between one and three years older, and all have a homework file with a list of improvements. The most radical thoughts, however, involve space.

‘A lot of coaches don’t like limiting the space,’ admits Micciche. ‘They think it looks messy. Sometimes it does because we’re asking a lot technically. You might not always get quality, but when you do it is the highest quality.

‘And when they go out onto a full-size pitch again, it feels as if they have got all the time in the world.’
We watched a game together. Milton Keynes Dons versus Forest School. Pitch dimensions of 60 x 40 yards, two quarters nine-a-side, two quarters 11-a-side to feel the difference.

Players who looked competent when the team numbers were reduced were suddenly tested as room on the pitch shrank. There was a surprising impact physically.

‘It speeds the game up, but players then need to hold off defenders because they haven’t the space to simply outrun them,’ Micciche explains. ‘Also, in order to work through a compact space, they will need to move their feet and body quickly.

‘The intensity is great so they need to react and think faster. It becomes exhausting, but it makes them clever at finding space.’

A shot rattles against a crossbar.

‘The game has shifted,’ Micciche continues. ‘Nobody gets the ball in splendid isolation any more. It’s like rush hour in midfield, you might get 20 players in 40 yards of space, and the defenders are as fast and athletic as the forwards.

‘We need to recreate what these players are going to face in the future.’

The last time Brazil visited England, in
2007, the performance of Kaka in the heart of the play stood out. No
matter how many opponents surrounded him, he demanded the ball and his
team-mates were happy to provide it. He always found a pass. Spain and
Barcelona have that same quality.

Star man: Kaka was outstanding for Brazil at Wembley in 2007

Star man: Kaka was outstanding for Brazil at Wembley in 2007

‘We fail under pressure,’ Micciche adds. ‘That is a fundamental problem in English football. Once the game becomes tight, our approach lets us down.’

The first time Micciche tried out his theories, the opponents were a big Championship club. ‘It was an Under 12 game, a friendly, and I brought the dimensions of the pitch in, used smaller goals,’ he recalls. ‘We were 4-1 down at half-time and a couple of our kids were in tears.

‘I said that this type of football was going to ask different questions of them, that they had to think about how they would answer those questions.

‘We turned it around, and won in the second half. The next day they put in a complaint about us.’

Perhaps that is why as well as the standard league fixtures — MK Dons win some and lose some, like all academy teams — Micciche is happy to accept fixtures from stronger clubs, strong schools or even good men’s amateur teams.

Quick thinking: Micciche advocates playing on pitches of different sizes to help youngsters develop

Quick thinking: Micciche advocates playing on pitches of different sizes to help youngsters develop

‘It is important to play in as many
types of football as possible, with and against players of different
strengths and abilities,’ he says. ‘You need to challenge them all the
time. Sometimes we won’t have as many players on the field as the
opposition, or I’ll take my Under 16s to play a proper men’s team.
People say, “you can’t do that” but they learn from it.’

It is possible that, after tonight, it will again be said that English footballers are inferior. That the technique of the Brazilians is a class away.

There will be analysis and much you will have heard before.

Too many foreign players in the Premier League, an absence of passion for international football. We could tuck it away in a file marked: The Usual.

So explain this. Increasingly, there are foreign coaches who have passed through the English game, like Gus Poyet at Brighton and Hove Albion or Roberto Martinez at Wigan Athletic.

Pointing the way: Roberto Martinez has brought fluid, passing football to Swansea and Wigan

Pointing the way: Roberto Martinez has brought fluid, passing football to Swansea and Wigan

And their teams play. Martinez is the father of modern Swansea City, Poyet has taken Brighton to the brink of the Championship play-off places.

Neither developed teams in the lower leagues that were stuffed full of foreign imports. They took local players and improved them technically.

Martinez signed Ashley Williams from Stockport County. Will Buckley, one of Brighton’s leading lights, came from Rochdale via Watford.

Martinez and Poyet encouraged bog standard Football League players to play a high quality game. So why can’t this be done in international football, with players of twice the ability No doubt we’ll be asking those questions later.

Although if we did it earlier, the answers might be easier to find.

Hypocrisy rules for forgetful Joey

Joey Barton was sent off for Marseille at the weekend and took to his favourite medium to voice his displeasure. ‘Players who roll around when nobody touches them should be banned,’ he wrote. ‘I hate cheats.’ Gervinho of Arsenal, sent off after Barton play-acted, may have views on this subject. And if he can stop laughing he will surely give them to us.

Crying wolf: Barton sees red for Marseille (above) ... just as Gervinho did for Arsenal in 2011

Crying wolf: Barton sees red for Marseille (above) … just as Gervinho did for Arsenal in 2011 (below)

Crying wolf: Barton sees red for Marseille (above) ... just as Gervinho did for Arsenal in 2011 (below)

Sturridge highlights our problem with diving

On television and in just about every newspaper, Daniel Sturridge was the man of the match after Liverpool’s draw with Manchester City. And he did have an outstanding game. He also, however, committed one of the most blatant dives of the season, for which he was booked. If that had been Luis Suarez, the chorus of disapproval would have been deafening.

Instead, Sturridge collected his bottle of champagne and his printed accolades without too much fuss. So let’s not pretend we really care about cheating in football. If it mattered to us, there is no way Sturridge could have been the hero.

(And one last thing, there was also no reason for Liverpool to put the ball into touch on Edin Dzeko’s behalf on Sunday. That Sturridge scored Liverpool’s first goal while the Manchester City striker lay stricken is of no consequence. He wasn’t seriously hurt and there was no fear of head trauma. If City had won possession and wanted to put the ball out, up to them. But Liverpool had every right to play to the whistle, and Roberto Mancini’s complaints are groundless).

Booked: Sturridge looks to the floor after taking a tumble against Man City

Booked: Sturridge looks to the floor after taking a tumble against Man City

Wolves must realise they're in a dogfight

As Wolverhampton Wanderers plummeted towards the Championship last season, chief executive officer Jez Moxey insisted the club had the foundations in place for success. ‘This season will not create a situation where we are knocked off course from our medium to long-term objectives,’ he soothed.

Objective No 1 was to establish Wolves in the Premier League. At last look, Wolves were two points off relegation from tier two, 21st of 24. They have been passed by Ipswich Town, managed by Mick McCarthy, the manager they sacked a year ago.

On the day McCarthy took over at Portman Road, Ipswich were bottom and Wolves eighth. Still, it’s good to know the executive management have a plan. Otherwise, it would be easy to imagine they don’t know what they are doing.

Alarming slide: Wolves are just two points clear of safety in the Championship

Alarming slide: Wolves are just two points clear of safety in the Championship

Lock up Gillingham yob and put the ref on gardening leave

There is a very simple solution to the attack on Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper Jordan Archer at the Priestfield Stadium on Monday night. It’s called five years. If the punishment on the Gillingham fan who jumped Archer was appalling, nobody would ever do it again.

As for referee Roger East, who booked Archer for kicking the ball away in frustration, even though he showed admirable restraint towards the pitch invader in the aftermath, he should be given the rest of the season off to consider his actions. Anyone so out of touch with human emotion should not be in charge of anything more testing than the roses in his garden.

Attack: Jordan Archer was jumped by a teenage Gillingham 'fan'

Attack: Jordan Archer was jumped by a teenage Gillingham 'fan'

BCCI stoop to new low

Responding to the 2-1 home Test defeat, the Board of Control for Cricket in India have banned a group of English county players from gaining experience on the spinning wickets of the subcontinent. The Global Cricket School in Pune has been told that no foreign cricketers can use the facilities without permission. The performance of Joe Root in the final Test in Nagpur appears to have been the clincher. Lovely, aren’t they And yet still cricket kowtows to the BCCI.

Frank Lampard snubbed by Chelsea after reaching goalscoring landmark

Lampard snubbed by Chelsea as club refuse to
acknowledge record AND edit out glowing praise from Cech

By
Laurie Whitwell

PUBLISHED:

12:12 GMT, 14 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:45 GMT, 14 January 2013

Frank Lampard has been dealt a remarkable snub by Chelsea after scoring the goal which took him outright second on the club’s all-time scoring list.

There is no mention of him moving to 194 goals to surpass Kerry Dixon on the official website and an interview in which Petr Cech praised the 34-year-old has been edited to cut out mention of the midfielder’s ‘loyalty’, ‘importance’, and being ‘as good as ever’.

Snubbed: Lampard moved into second place on Chelsea's all-time scoring list on Saturday

Snubbed: Lampard moved into second place on Chelsea's all-time scoring list on Saturday

An interview with Lampard is available
online but in it he refers mainly to the cold conditions at Stoke and
the team’s performance in the 4-0 victory.

Meanwhile, in a separate article, Cech is quoted as saying: ‘Frank had a very good game and could have added another of his trademark goals because he had two chances inside the box, and I think everybody had a fantastic game.

‘Frank may not start every game but if he plays he plays well with his quality and his experience.’

On his way: Lampard is set to leave Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of the season

On his way: Lampard is set to leave Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of the season

The goalkeeper’s further acclaim on Lampard, and his service to the club, from the same interview with reporters is omitted.

‘I have known him for a long time,’ Cech
also said. ‘He has been a fantastic player for the club. And, of
course, he has stayed for years at the same club. Bad times, good times –
mostly good times – but that shows the loyalty of the player.’

Cech added: ‘Is he as good as ever The team have changed, and so has his age, but he is still important.’

Sealed with a kiss: Chelsea beat Stoke 4-0 at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday

Sealed with a kiss: Chelsea beat Stoke 4-0 at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday

Mention was made of Lampard equalling Dixon with a goal at Southampton in an earlier piece, so this latest development seems even more peculiar. Rafael Benitez was equally muted in post-match discussions on the England midfielder's feat, preferring instead to praise Brazilian Ramires.

Lampard is eight goals behind all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling but will only have the rest of the season to try to catch him as Chelsea have made clear they will not offer him a new deal.

Thibaut Courtois is likely to stay at Chelsea next season

Chelsea set to keep Courtois at Stamford Bridge next season… but Barca are sniffing around

|

UPDATED:

13:37 GMT, 23 December 2012

Chelsea are intending to keep goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois at Stamford Bridge after his loan spell with Atletico Madrid ends, but they will have to wrestle him away from the lure of Barcelona.

The 20-year old remains in Madrid until the summer and, although his current deal with the Blues expires in 2016, he could earn a big pay rise if he agrees new terms.

He was snapped up for just six million euros (4.9m) from Genk in August 2011 and is now in his second loan spell with Atletico, succeeding David de Gea after his transfer to Manchester United.

Highly rated: Thibaut Courtois has impressed in his displays for Atletico Madrid

Highly rated: Thibaut Courtois has impressed in his displays for Atletico Madrid

The Belgian stopper kept 15 clean sheets over 38 appearances last year and helped Los Rojiblancos to finish fifth in La Liga.

After his impressive year, Courtois requested an extended loan period, which Chelsea agreed to, but his performances have sparked interest from Barcelona.

Chelsea regard him as a long-term successor to Petr Cech and him staying with the club next season could mean both deputies Ross Turnbull and Hilario are off-loaded.

David Luiz in midfield is masterstroke by Rafa Benitez – Martin Samuel

Benitez moves up in the world! Blues reach final after Rafa pulls off Luiz masterstroke

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 13 December 2012

FINAL COUNTDOWN

Chelsea will now play Brazilian team Corinthians in Sunday's final. You can follow all the build up and action with Mail Online.

Chelsea
stand one game from being crowned world champions but if further proof
were needed that FIFA's Club World Cup remains a dysfunctional
tournament, here it was.

A
semi-final mismatch, played in front of a half-empty stadium with an
atmosphere so quiet it was possible to hear Petr Cech's instructions to
his defenders, is no recommendation for a competition that remains sadly
unloved, despite its best intentions.

Scroll down for video

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

MATCH FACTS

MONTERREY: OrOrozco, Perez (Osorio 58), Mier, Basanta, Chavez, Meza (Solis 83), Ayovi, Cardozo, Corona, Delgado (Carreno 83), De Nigris.

Goals: De Nigris 90+2.

CHELSEA: Cech, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole, Mikel, Luiz (Lampard 63), Mata (Ferreira 74), Oscar, Hazard, Torres (Moses 79).

Goals: Mata 17, Torres 46, Chavez OG 48.

Attendance: 36,648

Referee: Carlos Vera (Ecuador)

Apart from one shock in 2010 when an
African team, Mazembe, made the final at the expense of Internacional of
Brazil, this is basically the old Intercontinental Cup with a new
ballgown.

We know the only tie that really
aspires to excellence is the meeting of the champions of Europe and
South America, but the competition goes through the tortuous process of
eliminating the rest of the world first, and then makes the also-rans
play off for the dubious privilege of finishing third to eighth.
Thrilling.

Even so, from the perspective of
Chelsea and their manager Rafael Benitez, this is FIFA's problem to
resolve. They can only beat what is in front of them and on Thursday
that was Monterrey, champions of CONCACAF but currently 10th in Mexico's
first division.

Number Juan: Chelsea took the lead on 17 minutes through Juan Mata's low drive

Number Juan: Chelsea took the lead on 17 minutes through Juan Mata's low drive

Number Juan: Chelsea took the lead on 17 minutes through Juan Mata's low drive

Thinking of you: Mata paid tribute to countryman Oriol Romeu, who was ruled out for the season recently

Thinking of you: Mata paid tribute to countryman Oriol Romeu, who was ruled out for the season recently

'YOU'RE NOT WELCOME HERE'

Despite
them being fewer than 1,000 in number at the Yokohama International
Stadium, Chelsea fans could still be heard taunting interim boss Rafael
Benitez with cries for former boss Roberto Di Matteo.

Predictably, Chelsea were a
different class. Faster, stronger, more astute, the scoreline does not
reflect the reality of the contest because they had eased into training
mode long before the final whistle and Monterrey's goal came in
second-half added time.

The stickler in Benitez still
disapproved but he will have been happy with the ease of Chelsea's
progression, having fretted over jet-lag and a lack of preparation
earlier in the week. It transpired only cursory regard for the Mexicans
was required.

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Benitez made one change to accommodate Monterrey's strength at playing between the lines and it won the game.

David Luiz, in a midfield role, was a
revelation. The knot of travelling Chelsea fans still expressed their
contempt for their interim manager but neutrals are increasingly
impressed.

Without doubt, Chelsea's defence is
tighter, undeniably, Fernando Torres is scoring again and Benitez's
deployment of Luiz was a masterstroke.

Considering the amount of argument,
tactical and technical, that swirls around elite football clubs, to come
up with an original plan that, once seen, looks so obvious, is no mean
feat.

Plenty have said Luiz could be a
defensive midfielder, but Benitez took that simple strategy a stage
further. He made him a defensive midfield player who attacks.

Luiz, as a central defender, is
unreliable, everyone knows that. He wants to get forward. So move him
forward, and play him in front of the back four. Yes, but it's not as
easy as that.

Deserting the defensive midfield
position is as fatal in modern football as going for a wander at centre
half. Benitez stopped playing Steven Gerrard centrally for precisely
this reason.

If Luiz was holding and went
walkabout, opponents would be straight into Chelsea's defensive line.
What to do Benitez resolved that issue with a tactical nuance. He left
John Mikel Obi as the prime holding player and gave Luiz limited freedom
to roam and create when Chelsea were in possession.

Star man: Luiz was a revelation at the heart of Chelsea's midfield

Star man: Luiz was a revelation at the heart of Chelsea's midfield

Defending, he bolstered his side's
presence and his quickness, of foot and thought, was a tremendous
positive. Yet when Monterrey's moves broke down, Luiz came into his
own, supporting the attack and playing the best passes of the game, two
of which should have ended in goals.

He may have to rein in a little
against superior opponents – like Corinthians – but this performance
felt like a lightbulb sparking over those impressive curls. This was
Luiz's perfect role. It was no coincidence that when he left the field after 63 minutes he was replaced by Frank Lampard.

Bought to their knees: Fernando Torres' bright start to the second half finished off Monterrey's challenge

Bought to their knees: Fernando Torres' bright start to the second half finished off Monterrey's challenge

Bought to their knees: Fernando Torres' bright start to the second half finished off Monterrey's challenge

Benitez may have found a radical and realistic solution to the Lampard succession conundrum. It was an option, he admitted.

'I know David from Benfica, where he
was playing centre back, left back, right back, midfield, in many
positions,' Benitez said.

'I knew they were quick and intricate
in that area between the lines, with players coming in from the left,
so I wanted to put someone in there who could stop them.

'David is quick, can regain the ball a
lot and, at the same time, play passes to our players. We needed energy
in there, and David is a good passer with good energy. He did well.'

Darvin Chavez

Job done: Chelsea wrapped up victory when Darvin Chavez diverted the ball into his own goal

Job done: Chelsea wrapped up victory when Darvin Chavez diverted the ball into his own goal

It took Luiz four minutes to turn up
on the edge of Monterrey's area and have a shot, and two more to play
arguably the finest pass of the game to give Eden Hazard a chance one on
one, which he squandered.

Luiz also hit a great ball to Torres
shortly before half-time but by then Chelsea were a goal up and in
charge, and his failure to make the most of it was not greeted with the
usual anguish.

The English side's opener came from a
quite exquisite move, involving a backheel by Hazard that put in Ashley
Cole, who squared for Juan Mata to finish.

Time to smile: Rafael Benitez was relaxed on the touchline as his team earned their place in the final

Time to smile: Rafael Benitez was relaxed on the touchline as his team earned their place in the final

From there, Monterrey were as good as done. The three minutes after half-time ended the game as a contest.

Just 17 seconds after the restart,
Chelsea went further ahead. Hazard broke down the left flank and found
Torres, whose shot was deflected past goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco.

Little more than two minutes later a
superb Torres cross picked out Mata, who cut the ball back only for
central defender Darvin Chavez to bundle it into his own net.

Chavez said before the game that he
hoped Premier League scouts would be watching; after that debacle he
must have been thankful the game went live only on the BBC HD channel.

... and most of the local support got behind him, though those from London cheered for Di Matteo

… and most of the local support got behind him, though those from London cheered for Di Matteo

... and most of the local support got behind him, though those from London cheered for Di Matteo

Monterrey coach Victor Vucetich, who
had predicted, rightly, that Chelsea would score, knew the size of his
task. Monterrey played in Blackpool's colours, but there the resemblance
ended. Blackpool would have given Chelsea more of a game.

'We had to play a perfect match to win today,' Vucetich said. 'We knew Chelsea were much stronger.'

Even so, Monterrey scored, in injury
time after Cole appeared to knock off for a late supper and Aldo de
Nigris travelled down the right unchallenged before finishing smartly
across Cech.

Those that know Benitez say as much
time will be spent revisiting that little lapse as glorying in the
performance that preceded it. He knows from bitter experience that one
chance, against the run of play, can decide this tournament – as it did
for Sao Paulo against Liverpool in 2005 – and if he wants to parlay his
interim appointment into a permanent one, the first stage is to
demonstrate he is a manager who wins the big matches.

'When I talk about a winning mentality, always it is the little details that make the difference,' he said.

'It's not easy with a new manager,
six days and two games, but now the team knows what we want to do. They
have more confidence and are enjoying their football.

'They have to think about winning in style and they have to keep their concentration for 90 minutes.'

If it was as easy as that, of course,
Chelsea would not be on their fourth manager in two and a half seasons.
Then again, if they could play Monterrey every week, Claudio Ranieri
would still be in the job.

VIDEO: Watch Graham Chadwick's latest video blog of the Blues in Yokohama…

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VIDEO: Rafa is pleased with the team's performance…

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Frank Lampard praises Eden Hazard

Lampard lauds debutant Hazard after Belgian inspires Chelsea to win over Wigan

|

UPDATED:

15:41 GMT, 19 August 2012

Frank Lampard hailed the brilliance of Chelsea debutant Eden Hazard after he played a key role in the Blues' 2-0 win over Wigan at the DW Stadium.

The Belgian was a big-money summer signing from Lille and made an instant impression for the European champions in their Barclays Premier League opener, creating the first goal for full-back Branislav Ivanovic with a clever turn and weighted through-ball before winning the penalty which Lampard converted.

Lampard told Sky Sports: 'He (Hazard) was brilliant. It's a young age to come into the Premier League, no matter how good of a player you are.

Dream start: Eden Hazard (second left) celebrates with Frank Lampard (right) as Chelsea beat Wigan

Dream start: Eden Hazard (second left) celebrates with Frank Lampard (right) as Chelsea beat Wigan

'He showed the quality he has with the spin and the ball to put Ivanovic through and he showed great speed to get away from his man for the penalty. He was great to play with.'

Lampard was happy to start the season with a win, adding: 'It was a great start to the game. You always want to get a win on the opening day of the season. Coming here, with the way they finished last season, was always going to be tough.'

Wigan created chances of their own with Victor Moses forcing two saves from Petr Cech and Jordi Gomez twice going close for the Lancashire outfit.

Roberto Di Matteo was happy to get the season under way with a win and was delighted by the impact of new signing Hazard.

'Hazard was outstanding, he produced a lot of quality. He was a big threat and was difficult to mark. He managed to get away from his man and it was very pleasant to watch him today.' Di Matteo said.

Felled: Wigan's Ivan Ramis gives away a penalty by fouling Hazard (centre) inside the area

Felled: Wigan's Ivan Ramis gives away a penalty by fouling Hazard (centre) inside the area

'It was perfect today that we managed to score the two goals early on, it settled a lot of nerves. We prepared the team well for the fixture and they were looking to get a quick start today.'

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez refused to comment on speculation that Victor Moses could be set to join Chelsea.

'I dont think that's an issue, there are no offers on the table matching his valuation so it's an easy answer.' Martinez said.

'Nothing is going to be decided today. He started a bit slow but I felt he grew into the game after that and started to look his normal penetrating self and he's an important player for this team.'

Contrasting fortunes: Roberto Martinez (right) has work do to but Roberto Di Matteo will be content

Contrasting fortunes: Roberto Martinez (right) has work do to but Roberto Di Matteo will be content

The Spaniard was pleased with the reaction of his side to going behind early but felt the damage was already done.

'I don't think it takes too much to realise we didn't start well enough. We didn't have the intensity you need to compete well in this league We had a pre-season tempo and when you do that you put yourself in a difficult position.

'But the reaction was incredible, I was so so pleased with the character we showed. We had real intensity and you could see Chelsea using their experience at the end, wasting a lot of time.'

Czech Republic v Poland and Greece v Russia – EURO 2012 LIVE

EURO 2012 LIVE: Czech Republic v Poland and Greece v Russia – all the action as it happens

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UPDATED:

18:59 GMT, 16 June 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of Euro 2012 as co-hosts Poland look stay in the tournament as they take on Czech Republic and Russia look to make the knock-out stages with a draw or better against Greece.

Follow me on Twitter: @JamesAndrew_ or send me an e-mail to: [email protected]

GROUP A – LATEST

Czech Republic 0 Poland 0

Greece 0 Russia 0

10mins: Another chance for Poland, this time Boenisch fires wide after a corner is only half cleared.

8mins: Another chance for Poland, this time Robert Lewandowski is played through but fires his shot wide. Good chance for the Poles

6mins: Poland go close again with Obraniak firing just wide with a free-kick from the corner of the area, Cech was happy to let the ball fly wide.

5mins: In the other game, Greece, who have to win, seem to be taking the game to Russia.

3mins: Let off for Poland as the Czech Republic should have taken the lead through Vaclav Pilar who fluffed his shot when in front of goal. Chances at both ends

2mins: Chance for Poland, a free kick is played into the Czech area and Dudka has an over head kick which goes just wide of Petr Cech's goal

7.45pm: We are off in both games, Greece get the game underway while Poland kick off the other game

7.43pm: From OptaJoe on Twitter: Petr Cech has conceded five goals from only six shots on target faced so far in Euro 2012.

7.40pm: The anthems are being sung by both sets of players in the two games.

7.35pm: We are just 10 minutes away from kick off.

7.30pm A stat from @InfostradaLive:

Greece have only scored goals through substitutes at Euro 2012: Salpingidis against Poland and Gekas against Czech Republic. Both players have earned a place in the starting line-up today.

7.15pm: Wojciech Szczesny is available again for Poland after his suspension following his red card against Greece in the opening day, but coach Franciszek Smuda has opted to keep faith with Przemyslaw Tyton in goal.

7.12pm: And here are the teams from the other game in Group A:
Czech Republic: Cech, Gebre Selassie, Sivok, Kadlec, Limbersky, Hubschman, Plasil, Jiracek, Kolar, Pilar, Baros.
Subs: Lastuvka, Suchy, Hubnik, Necid, Rezek, Rosicky, Petrzela, Rajtoral, Pekhart, Lafata, Darida, Drobny.
Poland: Tyton, Piszczek, Wasilewski, Perquis, Boenisch, Dudka, Polanski, Blaszczykowski, Murawski, Obraniak, Lewandowski.
Subs: Szczesny, Wojtkowiak, Kaminski, Matuszczyk, Rybus, Wawrzyniak, Sobiech, Mierzejewski, Wolski, Grosicki, Brozek, Sandomierski.
Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland)

Ready and waiting: A Poland fans gets ready for the game in Wroclaw

Ready and waiting: A Poland fans gets ready for the game in Wroclaw

Time to deliver: Greece fans cheer prior to the game in Warsaw

Time to deliver: Greece fans cheer prior to the game in Warsaw

7.10pm: The teams are in:
Greece: Sifakis, Torosidis, Papastathopoulos, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Tzavelas, Katsouranis, Maniatis, Salpingidis, Karagounis, Samaras, Gekas.
Subs: Chalkias, Malezas, Makos, Liberopoulos, Mitroglou, Fotakis, Ninis, Holebas, Fortounis, Fetfatzidis, Tzorvas.
Russia: Malafeev, Aniukov, Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Shirokov, Denisov, Glushakov, Dzagoev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin.
Subs: Akinfeev, Sharonov, Izmailov, Pavlyuchenko, Kombarov, Granat, Pogrebnyak, Nababkin, Semshov, Shunin.
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)

7.05pm: No confirmed team news yet, but there are rumours that Czech Republic's Tomas Rosicky has not made the starting XI for the game against Poland, confirmation when we get it.

7.00pm: Good evening and welcome to live coverage of tonight's final games in Group A.

The task is simple for hosts Poland, win against Czech Republic and they are through, anything else and they are out.

Russia need just a point against Greece to make the quarter finals where as the the 2004 winners know anything other than a win will see them heading home.

Ready to go: Russia striker Andrey Arshavin is hoping to guide his side into the knock out stages of Euro 2012

Ready to go: Russia striker Andrey Arshavin is hoping to guide his side into the knock out stages of Euro 2012

Chelsea keeper Petrr Cech: All the pressure is on Bayern

All the pressure is on Bayern, claims Chelsea keeper Cech

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UPDATED:

13:47 GMT, 15 May 2012

Safe hands: Petr Cech

Safe hands: Petr Cech

Petr Cech says Chelsea are happy to be classed as underdogs in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

The Blues have already upset the odds to beat Barcelona and book their place in Saturday's final.

And Roberto Di Matteo's side will have
to see off Bayern on their own patch if they are to get their hands on
the trophy for the first time.

'It's a final and you would think that the chances are 50-50, but to
play at your own stadium and have your own dressing room is a huge
advantage,' Chelsea keeper Cech told CTK.

'This coincidence of events has made Bayern the favourites. We will try to outsmart them in some way.'

While Cech believes fortune has favoured Bayern, he hopes the expectation they find themselves under will aid Chelsea's cause.

'The final is about how the two teams cope with the pressure,” added the Czech shot-stopper.

'They are the favourites as they play at home but the pressure is bigger on them than it is on us.

'That might be to our advantage, it might be a disadvantage. We will have to wait and see how the match goes.

'Either way, we will try to make their role as favourites as unpleasant as possible. Certainly we are not going there just on a trip. We want to win.'

Andy Carroll insists FA Cup Final header was a goal

Was it a goal Carroll insists header should have been given but Cech says ref was right

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UPDATED:

10:12 GMT, 6 May 2012

Calls for goalline technology to be introduced intensified after Andy Carroll saw his header controversially ruled out late on at Wembley.

The Liverpool substitute insisted he'd scored the goal to get his team back on level terms but it was not awarded by referee Phil Dowd and Chelsea went on to celebrate the FA Cup.

Replays proved to be inconclusive with a split verdict on whether Carroll's effort had completely crossed the line following an outstanding save from Blues keeper Petr Cech.

Was it a goal Andy Carroll's late effort was not awarded while replays proved inconclusive

Was it a goal Andy Carroll's late effort was not awarded while replays and stills (below) proved inconclusive

Over the line: Computer stills show the position of Carroll's header

Cech believed it was not goal but Carroll argued the opposite view, and said his own fine performance was of little consolation.

He said: 'I thought it was over the line. I thought it hit the other side of the bar. We were unlucky. We had a few chances but we couldn't put them away. It wasn't to be.'

Cech, however, was adamant that was the right decision.

He told ITV: 'I don't think it was over the line. If the ball was behind the line I couldn't have kept it out. I'm 100 per cent sure it was not in, and I felt that from the first moment.'

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish backed Carroll but refused to criticise the officials decision even though it cost his side the chance of forcing a comeback.

Yes it was: Carroll felt his header should have been given as Liverpool's equaliser

Yes it was: Carroll felt his header should have been given as Liverpool's equaliser

Oh no it wasn;t: Chelsea keeper Petr Cech insisted his save denied Carroll's effort from completely crossing the line

Oh no it wasn;t: Chelsea keeper Petr Cech insisted his save denied Carroll's effort from completely crossing the line

Dalglish said: 'I thought it was in but if it hasn't gone in then we'll give the officials the credit they deserve.'

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger, meanwhile, admitted they were not good enough for the first hour of their FA Cup final defeat.

The Reds did not seem to come alive until Carroll's introduction in the 55th minute but by then they were 2-0 down to goals from Ramires, in the first half, and Didier Drogba.

Not given: Luis Suarez was cautioned for his protestations

Not given: Luis Suarez was cautioned for his protestations

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But Agger admitted Liverpool paid for their poor start.

'We can't use that (fightback) for much. It simply was not good enough for the first hour and we can only blame ourselves,' said the Denmark defender.

'We definitely were not good enough.

'Andy did really well when he came on and got a lot of balls to work with but sadly it was not enough.'

Debate continued long after the final whistle over whether Carroll's header had actually crossed the line but Agger said he had no idea from his position on the pitch.

What might have been: Carroll and his Liverpool team-mates were dejected after losing the final to Chelsea

What might have been: Carroll and his Liverpool team-mates were dejected after losing the final to Chelsea

'I definitely couldn't see anything because I was at the other end so people watching television will have to decide that.'

Midfielder Jordan Henderson admitted he went up claiming the equalising goal more in hope than expectation.

'I appealed because that is what you have got to do,' said the England Under-21 midfielder, who was at a loss to explain Liverpool's sluggish start.

'I am not sure why we started quite slowly in the first half. In the second half we came out and played some good stuff and we should have got back into the game.

'I think we will be disappointed when we look back.

'We wanted to win this game and we didn't and we are very disappointed.'