Arsenal come from four goals down to win 7-5 at Reading

 

Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick as Arsenal produced an incredible comeback in what was probably the most remarkable game in the history of the League Cup to win 7-5 after extra time at Reading.

A Jason Roberts volley, Laurent Koscielny's own goal, Mikele Leigertwood's strike and Noel Hunt's header inside the opening 37 minutes at the Madejski Stadium appeared to be sending former Gunner Brian McDermott's Reading into the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.

But a truly astonishing Arsenal turnaround came as Walcott started and finished, with the final kick of normal time, a stunning fightback at 4-4 with goals either side of headers from substitute Olivier Giroud and Koscielny.

Forgotten man Marouane Chamakh then looked like he had won the tie in extra time but, with the additional half-an-hour almost complete, Pavel Pogrebnyak delivered yet another grand twist with an equaliser at 5-5.

Reading, though, suffered the final heartbreak as first Walcott and then Chamakh settled the 12-goal epic to leave Wenger looking bemused and McDermott inconsolable in the respective dugouts.

It appeared as if it was going to be a most recent stumble from Arsenal, who have been trophyless for seven years, after a nervy win over Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League on Saturday had seemingly only papered over their cracked confidence of defeats by Norwich City and Schalke and a controversial AGM.

It was an explosive start, which should have offered a clue of what was to come, and soon Arsenal were behind as Roberts shook off his marker, Koscielny, inside the six-yard box to slide and meet Hal Robson-Kanu's 12th minute cross.

Wenger's team were rocking as they continued to make a wretched, error-strewn beginning and they found themselves two goals down in the 18th minute, when Koscielny's nightmare first half continued by poking a Garath McCleary cross into his own net.

Things were to get worse for the visitors just two minutes later, with Chamakh, who was making his first start for Arsenal since January among 11 first-team changes, giving the ball away and goalkeeper Damian Martinez making a mess of Leigertwood's soft shot.

But still Arsenal's first-half misery was not complete and in the 38th minute, from another McCleary cross, Hunt's header made it 4-0 to leave some visiting fans seemingly heading for the exits.

Arsenal, though, rescued some hope on the stroke of half-time, when Walcott dinked a finish over Adam Federici and the goal proved to be a turning point in a historic night which saw Wenger's unchanged 11 players emerge for the second half as if they were a different team.

In the 62nd minute, Giroud entered the fray and instantly added to the impetus by expertly heading into the back of the net just two minutes later as Reading began to show the nerves of a squad who sit without a win in the Premier League relegation zone.

Koscielny's 89th minute header from a corner then had McDermott's side really twitching at 4-3 and it proved too much for them to handle, with Walcott scrambling an effort just over the line with the last kick of six minutes added time to set up an extra half-an-hour.

Extra time was therefore required after a quite sensational and, given Arsenal's ineptitude in the first half, totally unpredicted comeback, which gave the visitors the momentum at a time when Reading, who have never beaten their London opponents in any competition, were crumbling.

In the 103rd minute, Chamakh proved to be one of the heroes when hitting an effort from range past the despairing Federici but Pogrebnyak's 116th minute header seemingly set up a penalty shoot-out.

Arsenal had other ideas and Walcott ensured he would keep the match-ball when finishing a Koscielny and Andrey Arshavin-led counter-attack before Chamakh ended any doubts by lobbing in the final goal of the night to secure a breathless 7-5 result.

 

Argentina's derby of derbies ends all-square

 

 

Leonardo Ponzio's early free-kick, which left keeper Agustin Orion groping at thin air, put River -  promoted last season a year after their first ever relegation stunned fans across the nation - into an opening-minute lead.

And things looked even better for Matias Almeyda's men when Uruguayan Rodrigo Mora made it 2-0 midway through the second half at River's Monumental Stadium after former France star David Trezeguet linked-up with Carlos Sanchez.

But another Uruguayan, Santiago Silva, reduced the arrears with a 75th-minute penalty following German Pezzella's foul on Santiago Silva, before Walter Erviti rescued a point in the first minute of stoppage time.

The point left Boca in fifth place, three points ahead of their Buenos Aires rivals.

River had to reshuffle the pack with Almeyda having to take off defender Ramiro Funes Mori and Martin Aguirre after they suffered knee injuries in the opening period as 50,000 ferociously partisan fans looked on.

Leandro Gonzalez Pirez replaced Mori after just four minutes while Ariel Rojas came on for Aguirre just nine minutes later, disrupting River's solid start.

Although Boca will be the happier with the draw, in what was the first meeting of the pair in 17 months, a title challenge has not materialised so far this season as they trail leaders Newell's Old Boys by seven points after 12 games.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Belgrano Cordoba climbed to third spot courtesy of a 1-0 home triumph over bottom club Union Santa Fe.

Substitute Cesar Pereyra netted the game's only goal midway through the second half - shortly after the visitors had had defender Bruno Bianchi sent off.

Lanus were also 1-0 winners, Mario Regueiro's 58th-minute strike enough to sink Argentinos Juniors and lift the victors to fifth.

 

 

Syrian kickboxing team shines in Iran

  The men's national kickboxing team have returned home after taking part in the Iran Kickboxing Championship.

The national team scored a remarkable result as they managed to capture seven varied medals(2 gold,4 silver and one bronze medal) in the full contact discipline.

Some 32 nations took part in the said event.

Mohammad Khureis finished first in the 75 kg discipline after overcoming a Turkish counterpart in the final. Shihab Muqdad,Khureis's teammate, also clinched a gold after beating a Kuwaiti opponent in the final.

Those who came second in their categories were:Mohammad Hourani(81 kg) who lost to a Turkish counterpart in the final.

Mohahammad Kharouki lost to a Turkish player in the final.Rateb Hatahit (85 kg) lost to a player from Finland and the last bronze was taken by the national team (team competition). Akram Madabi  came third in the 67 kg category.

Manar Bizra,chairman of the Kick boxing Federation, was quoted as saying:" the event witnessed tough competitions as the strongest players from Iran,Finland,Tajikistan,Turkey and Uzbekistan showed their prowess  in the said event. Our players lived up to expectations".

 

M.Daoud

                                                                                                     

 

 

United reshuffle as Braga come calling

 

Sir Alex Ferguson is prepared to make changes to his defence and midfield for Manchester United FC's UEFA Champions League Group H encounter with an SC Braga side who have taken plenty of confidence from an eye-catching 2-0 victory at Galatasaray AŞ on matchday two – earning praise from the Red Devils' manager in the process.

 United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson

For me, Braga are better away from home and they proved that with their 2-0 win at Galatasaray. So, once again it looks like counterattacking football will play a big part, which we also saw in our first game here against Galatasaray. They caused us problems but we managed to hold out until half-time and took a hold of the game in the second period. I'll be leaving out Rio [Ferdinand] and Patrice Evra, and a couple of the older players, in light of the game on Sunday [against Chelsea FC].

 We've had some success with a [midfield] diamond recently, while at this club we've always had a tradition of playing with wide players. We've got Ashley Young back, Nani, [Antonio] Valencia and [Ryan] Giggs, who are all wide players, while we've got plenty of options in central midfield too.

We actually rested players on Saturday like [Shinji] Kagawa and [Tom] Cleverley, both who've been playing very well – so "I wouldn't say we're underestimating Braga at all. I think the level of the game in England and Europe is so high now, that making yourself unpredictable can be a strength." When it comes to United, teams will now have to think: 'Are they going to play with two out wide? Or with a midfield diamond?' With players like Kagawa, Cleverley and Giggs, they can give us that flexibility.

Weekend result

Saturday: United 4-2 Stoke City FC (Rooney 27 65, Van Persie 44, Welbeck 65; Rooney og 11, Kightly 58)

De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Scholes, Carrick; Van Persie, Rooney, Welbeck.

 • Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck both struck their first club goals of the season. Rooney also put through his own net for the first time in his career.

 Team news

Nemanja Vidić remains sidelined with a knee injury, but Ashley Young is back from knee injury.

 Braga

Coach José Peseiro

Sir Alex Ferguson praised Braga very highly only a few days ago, so he doesn't underestimate us. He's got an excellent squad with plenty of talent to choose from, while he also said earlier today that he rested players especially for this game. They're one of the best teams in the world and don't tend to suffer much when they make changes, so it'll be very tough whoever they put out.

 We've got good players and a good team too, so we're going to be trying to win. But if we can't win then a draw is a good result too. We'll need to defend well, try and keep hold of the ball and keep believing we are capable of winning. Of course, we don't have the same resources as United, but I have complete faith in the players I've got. It doesn't do the coach or players any good at all if you start thinking any other way.

 "Any praise from someone like Alex Ferguson is fantastic, but our players won't need any extra motivation – they'll get more than enough when playing in a stadium like this."

 I spent a fortnight here when Carlos Queiroz was here and I spoke to Alex about Nani, because I think at the time he was trying to decide who to sign between Yuri Zhirkov and Nani. We spoke about him three or four times and later United invited me to the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow, as Queiroz told me they appreciated that I'd given them good information about Nani.

 

Benzema learns to stave off pressure

 When you wear No9 for Real Madrid CF, pressure is just something you have to live with. When the spotlight has become white hot Karim Benzema has looked to his family to escape the glare. On the occasions when his game has faltered, he could always rely on his mother to insist that he was still worthy of the famous white shirt.

These days, he looks to the younger members of the Benzema clan to bolster his confidence. "Pressure has been part of my life since I was at Lyon, though it is more intense here because this is the best club in the world," he said. "I don't take the pressure into the game with me, otherwise I would freeze and wouldn't be able to play at all. I get rid of it by chatting with my little brother."

When he plays without tension, the results are there for all to see. In the three years since Benzema left Olympique Lyonnais for Madrid he has evolved into a more complete, more serene, attacker. His support network within the club, which includes coach José Mourinho, Zinédine Zidane and club president Florentino Pérez, has

Mourinho has helped Benzema overcome his stage fright with a mixture of man-management and tactics. Benzema says the Portuguese has made him consider his psychology during a match. "The coach made me work a lot on the mental part of my game," said the 24-year-old. "I'm now stronger in this respect. I've had many ups and downs since I arrived in Madrid, but I'm still here. Mourinho is a great coach and he's supporting me."

Benzema is in optimistic mood as he prepares for the next UEFA Champions League match, at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. Is the experience any different to other games? "It's about the environment. There is more pressure." So does he have a special routine or does someone help him prepare mentally? "No, I have no one for that," he concludes. "I am just here with my little brother, my agent and we have a laugh."