Tag Archives: fireworks

Joey Barton plays for Marseille behind closed doors

Barton blasts 'farmer's field' after Marseille beat Bastia behind closed doors

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UPDATED:

00:13 GMT, 13 December 2012

Joey Barton helped Marseille to a 2-1 win against Bastia last night – but there was no-one in the stands to see it.

Bastia were forced to play the match behind closed doors after their clash with Ajaccio in October descended into chaos.

The Corsican derby was stopped for five minutes after fans of both teams started fighting and threw fireworks following a mass brawl on the pitch.

Helping hand: Joey Barton's Marseille beat Bastia to continue to keep in touch with the league leaders

Helping hand: Joey Barton's Marseille beat Bastia to continue to keep in touch with the league leaders

Mathieu Valbuena deservedly put Marseille ahead with a
superb volley from just inside the box in the 15th minute.

Andre Ayew doubled the lead from the penalty spot on 70
minutes after goalkeeper Landry Bonnefoi had fouled his younger brother Jordan.

Empty: Bastia were forced to play behind closed doors after trouble in their match with Ajaccio

Empty: Bastia were forced to play behind closed doors after trouble in their match with Ajaccio

Locked out: Fans were forced to watch the match on a big screen outside the ground

Locked out: Fans were forced to watch the match on a big screen outside the ground

Anthony Modeste scored a late goal but Bastia did not go on
to worry the visitors, who clinched their sixth away league win and also
welcomed back striker Andre-Pierre Gignac six weeks after he suffered a broken
foot.

Barton later tweeted: 'Great 3 points on that farmers field. No fans in the stadium but loads outside throwing fireworks. Freezing cold showers as well.'

Marseille are third in Ligue One, level on points with Paris Saint-Germain.

Taking aim: Wahbi Khazri of Bastia (left) lines up a shot during his side's defeat

Taking aim: Wahbi Khazri of Bastia (left) lines up a shot during his side's defeat

Man City legend Francis Lee: My top player was on 15 grand a week when I was chairman blimey, academy lads are on that now

Legend Lee who paved way to Etihad reflects on City's incredible journey: My top player was on 15 grand a week – blimey, academy lads are on that now

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UPDATED:

23:01 GMT, 8 December 2012

Francis Lee can pinpoint the moment he realised being the chairman of Manchester City might send him round the bend. Watching his team thrashed at Old Trafford, Lee was aghast by what he saw when Andrei Kanchelskis scored a fifth United goal in a 5-0 victory.

'A couple of United players were laughing – so were the defenders of Manchester City. I thought “Oh Christ, I can't believe that”,' he said. 'It was a little giggle and a shrug of the shoulders as if to say “Oh, that is five”. Kanchelskis got three that night and our left-back still thought he'd had a good game!

Flamboyant: Former City chairman Francis Lee

Flamboyant: Former City chairman Francis Lee

'They were the bad old days. We spent too much money on a new stand and infrastructure when we should have spent it on players. And our managers weren't very good, although I've got to take responsibility for appointing them.'

Franny on Balotelli

What's he done wrong exactly Plenty of players today do far worse than a few problems with fireworks. I played with a guy called Tony Coleman at City. He'd come into training still in his dinner jacket and tie, smelling of vodka. The manager had to introduce a rule just for TC: any player spotted out after midnight on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday would be fined two weeks' wages.

Nobody packed inside the Etihad Stadium for the Manchester derby between the two best teams in the country knows Manchester City like Lee.

As a barrel-chested, prolific centre-forward, he earned cult status for winning the League Championship, FA Cup and European Cup-winners' Cup in consecutive seasons under manager Joe Mercer and his colourful coach, Malcolm Allison.

Then, having made a fortune in business, he returned to City as chairman in 1994, when they were a financial basket-case rather than Premier League superpower.

Back then, there were no Abu Dhabi millions to spend. Instead, Lee put in charge Alan Ball, whose team shielded the ball when they needed to score to avoid relegation, Steve Coppell, who quit after 28 days, and Frank Clark, whose job was to take City out of the old First Division. Clark succeeded – not by getting the club promoted back to the Premier League but by getting them relegated to the third tier of English football.

Lee, by nature an optimist and extrovert, was moved to say: 'If cups were awarded for cock-ups, you would not be able to move in City's boardroom.'

Legend: Lee in his playing days

Legend: Lee in his playing days

Looking back now to those turbulent times, Lee still has to pinch himself at how the club has changed in little more than a decade.

Franny on City's dream signing

Some fans might not like it
but I'd go out and try to buy
Cristiano Ronaldo. He can win
a game at the drop of a hat
even when he's having a
moan. When you line up
against someone like
Ronaldo, you wouldn't have
a clue how to stop him. He can
play on either wing
and is unplayable on
his day.

'I didn't pay a lot for City because it was completely skint. The top earner in my time was Georgi Kinkladze on about 15 grand a week. Blimey, the Academy lads are on that now. The turnover was 4.5million when I became chairman. When I left in 1998 it was over 30m – now it is 240m.'

On Sunday, Roberto Mancini has the most expensive Premier League squad in history to choose from, part an overall 1billion investment from Sheik Mansour since he bought City in 2008.

Lee's largest single purchase was 3.75m for Portsmouth striker Lee Bradbury, a deal that still gives him nightmares. Bradbury played just 40 matches, scoring 10 goals before being sold to Crystal Palace for half the amount Lee had paid.

Lee recalled: 'I asked our manager, Frank Clark, if he was sure because it was a lot of money. He said ''Yes, this lad could be the next Alan Shearer''. I saw his debut in pre-season at Burnley and he never looked to get into the six-yard box like a lead striker should. I went home afterwards and my wife, Gill, said “What is it, you look fed up” I said “This new striker, I don't fancy him, honestly''.'

It had been different in Lee's playing heyday during the Swinging Sixties when United and City battled for trophies. Once the matches were over, rival players would go out clubbing together.

'Manchester was a fantastic place to go out in,' says Lee. 'There were 10 clubs with world-class cabaret and comedians. You'd go in and Tom Jones might be singing, or Shirley Bassey or Engelbert Humperdinck. The United lads would go to the same places. Besty (George Best) was always in Blinkers or Mr Smiths. He was a prize asset for any club who could have him in there regularly because he used to pack it out with young girls who all fancied becoming his wife, which was a big mountain to climb. Some of the younger players used to follow on, hoping to get a few of his cast-offs.'

Nightmare: City paid 3.75m for Lee Bradbury

Nightmare: City paid 3.75m for Lee Bradbury

The charismatic Allison was as likely to join his players for a night out as punish them, a practice it is hard to imagine current manager Mancini adopting, given his reputation for keeping his distance from his squad. But Lee, who played for the ultimate disciplinarian Sir Alf Ramsey at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, does not see any problem with City's Italian manager.

Franny on England

I'd like to see David Moyes as our next manager. He's done wonders with relatively limited resources at Everton and that's basically the same situation he'd have with England. People say we can't appoint him because he's Scottish. Why not We've had an Italian, a Swede and a half-Dutchman.

'You don't have to be popular with the players to be a good manager or coach,' he insists. 'Alf Ramsey was never the life and soul of the party. He would turn to anybody – no matter how big a name – and say “Look, if you don't start pulling your socks up, you can kiss this bloody international squad goodbye”. If Alf gave you a rollocking, you knew you had been told off.

'He accused me twice of going to the Sportsman's Club in Tottenham Court Road and getting drunk. It wasn't me because I'd never been there in my life – but he said if he ever got proof, he would drop me like a stone.

Impressive: Lee would have liked to have played with Sergio Aguero

Impressive: Lee would have liked to have played with Sergio Aguero

'City haven't lost a League game
since April. They beat West Brom with 10 men this season. That doesn't
happen if the players don't have attitude and spirit. The Champions
League has been a learning curve but it's a higher grade of football.
The tempo is very high and didn't suit one or two of the current
players. It'll take time to readjust.'

Six of the best Manchester derbies

Man United 0 Man Cit y 1
April 27, 1974

United would have gone down anyway, no matter what the result of this game. But defeat by their old rivals confirmed it – and Denis Law scored with a cheeky back-heel that merely twisted the knife a little bit more.

Man Cit y 5 Man United 1
September 23, 1989

Sir Alex Ferguson claimed this was the worst defeat of his career. Under pressure and struggling to make an impact, the Scot's new-look side were dismantled by a rampant, newly-promoted City. David Oldfield scored twice, with Trevor Morley and Ian Bishop also finding the net before Andy Hinchcliffe completed the rout. Mark Hughes was United's scorer.

Man City 2 Man United 3
November 7, 1993

Two-up through a Niall Quinn double, City supporters were in ecstasy at half-time. But Eric Cantona pulled one back straight after the break, then equalised before Roy Keane completed a comeback to remember.

Man United 5 Man City 0
November 10, 1994

United in their pomp and City beginning their slide to near-oblivion. Russian winger Andrei Kanchelskis scored the first derby hat-trick for 24 years after Cantona and Hughes had put United in command.

Man United 4 Man Cit y 3
September 20, 2009

An extraordinary game, settled by Michael Owen in the sixth minute of stoppage-time. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring after two minutes before Gareth Barry capitalised on a Ben Foster mistake to level. Darren Fletcher and Craig Bellamy each scored twice, with City believing they had earned a share of the spoils – until a Boy's Owen finish in his first start in a United shirt.

Man United 1 Man City 6
October 23, 2011

Mario Balotelli's opener, before revealing that 'Why Always Me' T-shirt, started a rout the like of which had never been seen. The Italian added another, Sergio Aguero put City three up, then, after Darren Fletcher had pulled one back, Edin Dzeko (two, left) and David Silva netted in stoppage-time to condemn United to their

Lee was surrounded by quality in
City's golden era, most notably from his great friend, Mike Summerbee,
and Colin Bell. His own contribution saw him dubbed 'Lee-won-pen'
because of his ability to win and convert penalty-kicks. He would have
relished playing in the current City side, although he has some
interesting advice on how to get the best out of their strikers, who are
well down on last season's huge goals tally.

'I would love to have played with
David Silva,' Lee adds. 'Vincent Kompany is an extremely good player and
the goalkeeper, Joe Hart, is top drawer – in the Peter Schmeichel
class. If you were being pernickety, you might say he could still tidy
up his distribution a bit.

'And I would like to have played up
front with Carlos Tevez or Sergio Aguero. They make life uncomfortable
for defenders but invariably play too close together. I'd like to see
them spread out 20 metres apart, giving defenders nightmares on the
outside and allowing the big feller, Yaya Toure, to bomb through the
gaps in the middle.'

Born and raised in Bolton, Lee was one of the first footballers to break the stereotype that their brains were kept in their boots. He made his first-team debut for his hometown club at 16, thereby putting on hold his training to be a draughtsman.

Encouraged by his father, he pursued an interest in business during his playing days and was rewarded when he sold his toilet-roll manufacturing business, FH Lee, in 1984.

He had not needed the help of an agent to negotiate the contract that made him the best-paid player in England when he joined Derby County in 1976 on wages of 1,000 a week.

The following year he bought the Cheshire home where he still lives, with enough land at the back to run a successful horse-racing stable.

His part in City's history is indelible, and he is proud that he was the chairman at the start of negotiations that would see City leave their Maine Road home for the Commonwealth Games stadium.

'I was at a Premier League meeting and Sir John Hall (Newcastle United's chairman), who was in property, said to me: “You've landed lucky, haven't you”. His information was that Manchester was going to host the Commonwealth Games in the Queen's Golden Jubilee year of 2002, which meant a big, new stadium.

'There was really only going to be one team to go there and it meant City didn't have to spend the same amount as for their own ground. The city council approached us and we worked on that from there.'

The rest, as they say, is history, and at least when Lee walks up to The Etihad today, he will not be worried about another five-goal beating from United.

Tyson Fury to fight Kevin Johnson

Unbeaten Fury to face heavyweight test against 'Kingpin' Johnson in Belfast

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UPDATED:

14:51 GMT, 12 November 2012

Tyson Fury will take another step towards challenging for a world title when he tackles American Kevin Johnson in Belfast on December 1.

Johnson went the distance with WBC world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko three years ago with his only other defeat coming in the Prizefighter tournament earlier this year.

Unbeaten Fury had hoped to fight Denis Boytsov next month but the Russian withdrew, explaining he needed more time to prepare.

True test: Tyson Fury (left) will face Kevin Johnson in Belfast

True test: Tyson Fury (left) will face Kevin Johnson in Belfast

'Johnson is just the kind of opponent that I want at this stage of my career,' Fury said. 'We needed a world class fighter and we have got one and when I take him apart the world will sit up and take notice.

'I’m not going around getting opponents out of graveyards, fighting guys well past their best like some other heavyweights in Britain, I’m taking on Kevin Johnson who has fought for a major world title and been the distance with Vitali Klitschko.

'I am getting closer to a shot at Klitschko myself and I’m going to show Vitali why he has to fight me because when I do a number on Johnson and get him out of there I’ll have done a better job than Vitali did on him.

'I’m really looking forward to fighting again in Belfast, the support I get there is great and to bring such a big fight there is terrific for the fans. Johnson is going to be tough, he’s a hard man but I’ll be in the best shape of my life. The fans can expect fireworks, that’s for sure.'

Challenge: Johnson went the distance with Vitali Klitschko in 2009

Challenge: Johnson went the distance with Vitali Klitschko in 2009

Promoter Mick Hennessy says Johnson is going to be the perfect world class test for Fury at this stage of his career.

'Kevin Johnson has been there and done it and he wants another shot at the world title and he sees Tyson as the route to that, that’s why he has taken the fight,' commented Hennessy.

'He’s a very dangerous opponent, he’s a clever boxer, he’s never been stopped and he can punch so Tyson has his work cut out. But I believe that Tyson is the best heavyweight in the world and he’ll show that again with the way he takes care of Johnson.

'Johnson has been asking for this fight for a long time and we have granted his wish unlike a lot of other fighters who have avoided him as he is a very dangerous fighter over 12 rounds.'

On the up: Tyson Fury

On the up: Tyson Fury

Former world heavyweight title challenger Johnson is coming to Belfast full of confidence with his sights set on railroading Fury’s world title aspirations.

'I'm excited about the opportunity to step into the ring with Tyson Fury on December 1, in Belfast,' he said. 'It's a fight that I've been looking to make for a long time. It's going to be the best American fighter against the best fighter in the UK.

'I give Tyson all the credit in the world for stepping up to the plate and taking the fight. This is the biggest fight of my career since my world title fight against Vitali Klitschko in 2009 and I look forward to giving the fans what they deserve, an action packed, explosive and exciting fight.

'Tyson is a helluva fighter but he's never seen anything like the 'Kingpin' up close and personal. I'm on a mission to claim the heavyweight title and Tyson Fury is in my way.

'I'm not Derek Chisora or Neven Pajkic. I'm the real deal and Tyson will find that out on December 1. Don't blink, its going to be a short night.'

David Moyes frustrated by draw at Fulham

Moyes stunned and frustrated after seeing two points dropped at Fulham

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UPDATED:

18:53 GMT, 3 November 2012

David Moyes was stunned by Everton's failure to win despite overwhelming Fulham throughout in their Barclays Premier League clash at Craven Cottage.

The Toffees, who climb to fourth place in the table, left London with a point after substitute Steve Sidwell fired a 90th-minute equaliser that secured a 2-2 draw.

On it's way: Fulham's Bryan Ruiz (left) curls the free kick that leads to the opening goal

On it's way: Fulham's Bryan Ruiz (left) curls the free kick that leads to the opening goal

It was a sickening outcome for
frustrated Moyes, who watched his side's slick passing and invention
create a host of chances that went begging.

'I can't believe we only got a draw out of that, it's incredible,' the Everton boss said.

'We've played really well this season but that one we should have won. We were terrific at times but couldn't get the goals.

'I'm really frustrated because if I
really want to hang on to the boys at the top I need to win these games
when they come along.

'To win away in the Premier League is really hard for any side and we should have won that comfortably but we didn't.

'Today you'd have to go away saying Everton look as smart as any side. That's the way we've been playing.'

Apart from Bryan Ruiz's seventh
minute free-kick and Sidwell's late strike, Fulham were over-run as
Everton created chance after chance.

Laughing boys: Ruiz (right) celebrates with Damien Duff, after Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard turns the ball into his own net

Laughing boys: Ruiz (right) celebrates with Damien Duff, after Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard turns the ball into his own net

Marouane Fellaini buried two of them,
but Nikica Jelavic, Steven Pienaar and Steven Naismith were among those
who failed to capitalise on the second-half fireworks.

'Give Fulham credit, they kept at it
and their keeper made a couple of saves, but we were incredibly wasteful
in front of goal,' Moyes said.

'We were playing that well last
season, the difference was Nikica was fully firing and at the end of all
that good play he was the one getting us the goals. That's just form,
it comes and goes.

Even with Steven: Pienaar attempts to hold off Fulham's Ruiz

Even with Steven: Pienaar attempts to hold off Fulham's Ruiz

'We went 2-1 up and Steven Naismith misses a couple of good chances to put it out of sight.'

Martin Jol admitted Fulham had been
taught a lesson, but offered only limited sympathy for Everton failing
to claim the reward they deserved.

'It doesn't mean anything in football
if you don't score the goals,' Jol said. 'They dominated us, all we
could do was try to be positive. They are a very good footballing team.
They are a settled team and know exactly what to do.

Strife of Bryan: Ruiz is closed down by Everton's Leon Osman (left) and John Heitinga

Strife of Bryan: Ruiz is closed down by Everton's Leon Osman (left) and John Heitinga

'Normally we are a good team, but I couldn't see that today. Although we took the lead I still felt they were stronger.

'The only positive thing I can say is that we never gave up.'

Moyes the pity: David Moyes looks pensive on the touchline at Craven Cottage

Moyes the pity: David Moyes looks pensive on the touchline at Craven Cottage

Honest assessment: Martin Jol not pleased with his side's performance

Honest assessment: Martin Jol not pleased with his side's performance

Hair raising: Everton's Marouane Fellaini celebrates scoring the first of his brace

Hair raising: Everton's Marouane Fellaini celebrates scoring the first of his brace

Super sub: Steve Sidwell came off the bench to rescue a point

Super sub: Steve Sidwell came off the bench to rescue a point

Chelsea horror show against Manchester United ref Lee Mason

Expect fireworks! Chelsea plan a freak show for Manchester United in their re-match (but let's hope ref Lee Mason doesn't have a horror show of his own)

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UPDATED:

12:00 GMT, 30 October 2012

We've been used to seeing some horror shows between Chelsea and Manchester United over the years…but now Chelsea are encouraging fans to enter into the fright night experience.

The two clubs meet again on Wednesday night – just four days after their last explosive encounter – this time in the Capital One Cup and young Chelsea supporters are being encouraged to dress for the occasion to try and freak out the opposition.

Chelsea's website is urging supporters to 'scare the United players,' with their Halloween outfits.

How Chelsea's young fans might try to 'scare' Sir Alex Ferguson

How Chelsea's young fans might try to 'scare' Sir Alex Ferguson

A message to the supporters on the club website says: 'Wednesday night sees Chelsea take on Manchester United in the League Cup and it's sure to be a brilliant match, but it also happens to be Halloween – the spookiest night of the year!!

'We want all bridgekids who have tickets for the game to come along early and wear their best Halloween outfits so that we can help scare the United players and help the Blues get a win. Whether you're a 'ghoul-keeper', a 'monster defender' or a 'wicked attacker', we want to see lots of brilliant costumes!

Don't try to pin this one on the referee: another spiky Halloween outfit that could look the part on Chelsea's fright night

Don't try to pin this one on the referee: another spiky Halloween outfit that could look the part on Chelsea's fright night

'Before the game there will be lots of cool Halloween stuff going on in the Family stand, with giveaways, face painters, balloon modellers, our new Match Attax area, and our very own Stamford the Lion!

'Get yourself dressed up – it's going to be FREAKY!'

Referee Lee Mason has been appointed for the potentially explosive re-match.

TRY TO AVOID A HORROR SHOW, REF!

Lee Mason

Lee Mason shows a red

Lee Mason will take charge of the Halloween League Cup tie Stamford Bridge and finds himself back in the spotlight. Here are his credentials. He needs to be ready for fireworks!

1971: Born October 29 in Bolton.

1988: Starts officiating in the Bolton Boys Federation League.

1998: Added to the Football League assistant referees list.

2000: Promoted to the Premier League assistant referees list.

2002: Referees his first professional game – a Football League meeting between Shrewsbury and Exeter.

2003: Becomes a development group referee.

2006: February – Added to the Premier League list, taking charge of his first top-flight game between Middlesbrough and Aston Villa.

May – Referees the League One play-off final.

2009: Suffers a one-week demotion to the role of fourth official following his performance in a game between Liverpool and Fulham.

2012: Makes controversial decision to send off QPR's Shaun Derry in a match with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Derry tangled with Ashley Young, who was offside, with the contact questionable. On appeal, the decision was upheld.

Warrington 18 Leeds 26: Sinfield claims sixth ring after Rhinos punish sloppy Wolves

Warrington 18 Leeds 26: Sinfield claims sixth ring after Rhinos punish sloppy Wolves

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UPDATED:

18:53 GMT, 6 October 2012

Rhinos talisman Kevin Sinfield saw stars after a sickening collision but regained his composure to lift the Super League trophy for the sixth time as underdogs Leeds denied Warrington the double.

More to follow

Fireworks: The players walk out at Old Trafford

Fireworks: The players walk out at Old Trafford

Going over: Warrington's Joel Monaghan evades the challenge of Ryan Hall to score second try

Going over: Warrington's Joel Monaghan evades the challenge of Ryan Hall to score second try

High ball: Chris Riley of Warrington Wolves

High ball: Chris Riley of Warrington Wolves

My word: Wolves' Richard Myler dives over to score his side's opening try

My word: Wolves' Richard Myler dives over to score his side's opening try

Big Ben: Jones-Bishop scores second try for Leeds

Big Ben: Jones-Bishop scores second try for Leeds

Alessandro del Piero makes Sydney FC debut

Low turnout and defeat for Italian legend Del Piero as Sydney career starts slowly

PUBLISHED:

11:14 GMT, 6 October 2012

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UPDATED:

11:14 GMT, 6 October 2012

Alessandro del Piero took his first tentative steps in Australian football on the losing team as his new Sydney FC club side was beaten 2-0 by the Wellington Phoenix in the opening round of the 10-team A-League.

Though short on match fitness, the 37-year-old former Juventus and Italy star played 90 minutes in a low-key debut that may not have lived up to the anticipation generated by his arrival in the A-League as its costliest and most high-profile signing.

Perfect 10: Alessandro Del Piero made his Sydney FC debut at Westpac Stadium, but it ended in defeat

Perfect 10: Alessandro Del Piero made his Sydney FC debut at Westpac Stadium, but it ended in defeat

Perfect 10: Alessandro Del Piero made his Sydney FC debut at Westpac Stadium, but it ended in defeat

Del Piero started up front for Sydney but generally dropped back into midfield and provided a series of classy touches in a team that was substantially outplayed.

He had unthreatening shots on goal in the 13th and 76th minutes but hinted at much better things to come when his fitness improves.

Saturday's match was played in wet and cool conditions in front of a crowd of 12,057 fans in a 34,500-capacity stadium that recently hosted a
rugby test between New Zealand and Argentina.

Brave new world: Del Piero moved to Australia after a whole career spent with Italian giants Juventus

Brave new world: Del Piero moved to Australia after a whole career spent with Italian giants Juventus

Brave new world: Del Piero moved to Australia after a whole career spent with Italian giants Juventus

Although his presence wasn't enough to carry Sydney to victory, he showed flashes of skill. He snapped a sharp, right-footed shot over the bar in the 13th minute in his first touch of the match and in the 76th minute, with more time, curled a long-range shot wide of the right-hand post.

In between those efforts he rolled deft passes into the path of teammates, showed the ability to turn and distribute the ball with a first touch that occasionally confounded defenders.

But the fireworks hoped for on his debut fizzled in damp and slippery conditions. And his thunder was stolen by two players making their Wellington debuts.

Forgot to tell the fans: The stadium was barely a third full as the legend made his A-League bow

Forgot to tell the fans: The stadium was barely a third full as the legend made his A-League bow

Forgot to tell the fans: The stadium was barely a third full as the legend made his A-League bow

Striker Stein Huysegems, who failed to score in 15 international matches for Belgium, scored in the 42nd minute of his first A-League match.
Huysegems ran onto a superb through ball from Manny Muscat, paused on the edge of the area and drove his low, left foot shot wide of the keeper.

Teenager Louis Fenton, also making his A-League debut, added a brilliant second goal with a diving header from a Muscat cross in the 74th minute.

Vincent Kompany claims Mario Balotelli is unlucky

Pick a winner, Mario! Kompany brands Balotelli Manchester City's 'unluckiest' player

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UPDATED:

14:34 GMT, 13 September 2012

It’s not often someone stands up for Mario Balotelli’s eccentric actions, but the striker seems to have the backing from one of the most influential people in the Manchester City dressing room – club captain Vincent Kompany.

Balotelli has been caught up in a number of incidents during his two years at the club, including setting his house on fire by fireworks, training ground bust-ups and pranks, as well as infamously having trouble putting on a bib before a Europa League match.

Stretching it: Mario Balotelli (centre) trains with his Manchester City team-mates

Stretching it: Mario Balotelli (centre) trains with his Manchester City team-mates

But Kompany has leapt to the defence of the Italy international, who has resumed full training after being out of action since the end of August following an eye operation.

Kompany said: ‘He’s a great guy. I guess he’s the unluckiest when it comes to being in the public eye.

'Everything he does, the mistakes that he makes that other people do as well, just happen to get caught on camera all the time!’

Back in the swing of things: Balotelli (right) practices with a football along with Jack Rodwell, while Sergio Aguero (below) also continued his rehabilitation from a knee injury

Back in the swing of things: Balotelli (right) practices with a football along with Jack Rodwell, while Sergio Aguero (below) also continued his rehabilitation from a knee injury

Back in the swing of things: Balotelli (right) practices with a football along with Jack Rodwell, while Sergio Aguero (below) also continued his rehabilitation from a knee injury

The Premier League resumes this weekend following the international break and as City prepared for their visit to Stoke, Kompany also admitted to Match of the Day magazine he has learned to adapt to life in Manchester since arriving in 2008.

Kompany reveals all: The Manchester City defender spoke to Match of the Day magazine

Kompany reveals all: The Manchester City defender spoke to Match of the Day magazine

Kompany added: ‘When I first started playing I wasn’t a great defender – I was kind of a quite skilful David Luiz type of player.

‘But I had some injuries and changed the way I played.

'When I got back to full fitness I decided I was getting more out of the new style than when I was doing my fancy tricks and stuff.

‘Even though the weather can be cold, the people in Manchester have always been really warm to me.

'I don’t even feel the rain anymore. It’s been a great city for me, especially the mentality of the people. It’s like nowhere else.

Carl Frampton to fight Steve Molitor in Belfast

Frampton to defend belts against Molitor after Martinez suffers injury blow

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UPDATED:

18:53 GMT, 16 August 2012

Carl Frampton will now face Steve Molitor at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on September 22 after Kiko Martinez withdrew through injury.

The Canadian, a two-time world champion, has stepped in at short notice and will attempt to depose Frampton of his Commonwealth and IBF International super bantamweight titles.

The 32-year-old has promised an explosive night as he bids to make a successful return to these shores.

Change of plan: Carl Frampton will now fight Steve Molitor in Belfast

Change of plan: Carl Frampton will now fight Steve Molitor in Belfast

‘I love fighting across the pond,’ Molitor said. ‘I’m four for four over there and plan on retaining that perfect record.

‘I am excited about fighting Frampton. Although he is not a household name amongst the rest in my division, he is recognised as a future star. Scott Quigg, Kid Galahad, and Carl are all names that are trying to make a name for themselves in the 122lb division, but unfortunately none of them will be making it off the Molitor name.

‘Although I am coming in off of Martinez stepping out, I have been training like a mad man for several months. I am not hungry, I am starving.

‘Stepping up against me as a two-time IBF champion of the world takes balls. I’d like to thank the Irish public in advance for coming out to the show and I have to tell them: “Don’t blink, you’re going to love the fireworks!”’

Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan believes the Canadian has the potential to be a more dangerous proposition for his hot prospect.

Tough test: Molitor is a two-time world champion at super bantamweight

Tough test: Molitor is a two-time world champion at super bantamweight

‘Steve has boxed at a higher level than Kiko so this is a much tougher fight for Carl – but the kind of fight we want him to be in,’ he said. ‘We could’ve looked further down the list of opponents and taken an easier fight but Carl wants to operate at world level and Molitor is certainly there.

‘Most importantly we’ve replaced one great fight with another so the Belfast fans are still going to see an incredible night of boxing topped by a brilliant main event – one that is possibly even more exciting that the Martinez fight and that’s what the fans deserve to see, Carl fighting a world class operator.’

Frampton and Molitor top a stacked bill with Martin Lindsay challenging Lee Selby for the British and Commonwealth featherweight titles. Paul McCloskey is aiming to get back on track after his defeat to DeMarcus Corley in May while Eamonn O’Kane also features alongside unbeaten Belfast prospects Jamie Conlan and Dee Walsh.

Team GB stars Scotty Cardle, Kal Yafai and Martin Ward all continue their pro education in Belfast.

London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt beaten again

London set for fastest 100m ever as Bolt is beaten again and rivals smash 10-second barrier

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 2 July 2012

So, Usain Bolt is not quite the ice-veined winner the world thought he was. Twice in 48 hours he has lost to his apprentice friend Yohan Blake and, suddenly, the Olympics has a race on its hands.

Paying up to 750 to watch a 100 metres procession came with magic attached. Could Bolt move back the frontiers in 9.4sec How early in the race could he launch into a celebration How much daylight would there be between him and the pursuing world

But the possibilities now are all together more intriguing. Blake, Bolt’s vanquisher in the 100m at the Jamaican trials on Friday and in the 200m on Sunday night, is suddenly the man to beat. A competition rather than a demonstration beckons us.

Second-best: Bolt (above left) is beaten by Blake (above right) again before receiving treatment

Second-best: Bolt (above left) is beaten by Blake (above right) again before receiving treatment

Second-best: Bolt (above left) is beaten by Blake (above right) again before receiving treatment

It changes the nature of the history that could be written in London’s Olympic Stadium on 100m final night, Sunday, August 5.

Yes, we could yet witness Bolt finding how to uncoil those lanky legs off the blocks – he started desperately slowly in Kingston – so he can run the times he has talked of. But more likely we will see the fastest foot race since cavemen learned to walk: eight men traversing the blue-riband distance of sprinting in under 10sec.

This year alone 17 men have managed the feat, led by Blake’s 9.75sec over the weekend. On a warm night in London, without the wind intervening, who would bet against the 2012 cast transcending the 1991 World Championship peak, when six finalists managed to beat the 10sec mark

Our own Linford Christie ran 9.92sec yet finished fourth. Whither British sprinting, whose fastest competitor this year, teenager Adam Gemili, has run 10.08sec. The fireworks that await us in London will be a foreign affair.
Jamaica, with Bolt, Blake and Asafa Powell, and America, with Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey, lead the way. Trinidad, through Keston Bledman and Richard Thompson, promise to be bit-part players in the phenomenon. Europe Christophe Lemaitre, of France, has run sub-10sec, but not this year.

Pole position: Blake has made himself the man to beat

Pole position: Blake has made himself the man to beat

WORLD'S FASTEST MEN

Usain Bolt
Jamaica, 25. Season’s Best: 9.76sec.
The Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19) is the man to beat but Blake proved he is not invincible in the Jamaican trials at the weekend.

Yohan Blake
Jamaica, 22. SB: 9.75. Bolt’s training partner and current 100m world champion. Fourth fastest in history (9.75).

Justin Gatlin
USA, 30. SB: 9.8. Won Olympic gold in 2004 but was then banned for doping. Ran PB of 9.8 to win US trials.

Asafa Powell
Jamaica, 29. SB: 9.85. Third fastest man in history (9.72) and former 100m world record holder.

Keston Bledman
Trinidad, 24. SB: 9.86.
Won silver in the 4x100m in the 2008 Olympics and ran PB of 9.86 last month.

Tyson Gay
USA, 29. SB: 9.86.
Second fastest in history (9.69) but has never won an Olympic medal because of injury.

Ryan Bailey
USA, 23. SB: 9.93.
Finished third in the US trials behind Gay and Gatlin. Ran a PB of 9.88 in 2010.

Richard Thompson
Trinidad, 27. SB: 9.96.
Ran a PB of 9.89 to take silver in Beijing. Qualified for London with a run of 9.96.

Over in Jamaica, Bolt was coming to terms with his fallibility. Defeat in the 200m was more of a jolt than in the 100m. He has not lost at the longer distance, which suits his 6ft 5in frame more naturally, since 2007. He holds the world record that eclipsed Michael Johnson’s unforgettable 1996 gold medal-winning time.

Bolt looked left as the finishing line approached, his face etched into a grimace. Blake ran 19.8sec, winning by 0.03sec.

Bolt embraced Blake, at 22 three years the younger, before lying on the ground to have his right hamstring stretched out, reinforcing my belief that he has not been entirely injury-free this year no matter what his control-freak retinue might have us believe.

Bolt acted cool, of course. ‘I can never be discouraged,’ he said. ‘I’m never worried until my coach gets worried, and my coach isn’t worried.’

Glen Mills, a sturdy man with a gravelly voice reminiscent of Michael Holding, is coach to Bolt and Blake. He is avuncular and not given to panic. ‘Usain has the experience and the ability and has been there before,’ he said.

‘He might be a little off but I’m sure, when the time of delivery comes around, he’ll be on top of his game.’

Jim Hines first broke the 10sec mark in 1968, in the Olympic 100m final at altitude in Mexico City. Eight athletes accomplishing the feat in one London evening would be more than compensation for Bolt spluttering. Even – well, maybe – at 750 for the privilege.