Torres nets brace as Chelsea see off Sunderland in Premier League


Rafa Benitez had insisted ahead of kick-off that he had not given up hope of winning the Premier League title and his players responded with a stylish performance as the Blues closed the gap on second-placed Manchester City to four points.

Torres was the star of the show with two goals in the first half, while Juan Mata added a third early in the second half and Adam Johnson's fantastic strike proved to be little more than a consolation for a Sunderland side now in the relegation zone.

Best of the Match:

 Man of the match: Fernando Torres. An excellent early goal lifted Torres' confidence and he calmly added a second from the penalty spot, before playing a crucial role in setting up the third as he shot against the crossbar.

 Goal of the match: Chelsea broke the deadlock thanks to a flowing move as Eden Hazard latched on to a Victor Moses pass and delivered a clever cross for Torres to turn home in style.

Save of the match: Petr Cech pulled off a few excellent saves, including a tremendous late effort when he dived away to turn Connor Wickham's low shot round the post.

 Moment of the match: Torres letting David Luiz know that he wanted to take the penalty summed up his confidence, and he made no mistake as Chelsea took a commanding two-goal lead on the stroke of half-time.

Talking point: Is Fernando Torres on his way back to top form? Can Martin O'Neill lead Sunderland away from relegation trouble?

Chelsea were quickly into their stride and Eden Hazard had a confident penalty appeal waved away before Torres expertly turned home the Belgian's cross with a well-controlled first-time volley after a flowing move in the 11th minute.

Oriol Romeu soon had to go off through injury and Sunderland started to gain a foothold in the match, with Stephane Sessegnon's ferocious long-range effort stinging the palms of Petr Cech and Craig Gardner also lashing an effort wide.

With Gardner and Johnson starting to make an impression, the Blues were forced on to the back foot at times and, although they tried to hit their hosts on the counter, O'Neill's men were beginning to dominate.

However, disaster struck deep into injury time when Sweden international Sebastian Larsson needlessly brought down Ramires in the area and Torres stepped up to stroke home the penalty.

Any hopes of a fightback were dashed within four minutes of the restart when Phil Bardsley miscontrolled a cross and the ball ran to Torres, who was denied a hat-trick by the crossbar.

Sadly for Sunderland, the rebound dropped invitingly for Mata to make it 3-0 and wrap up the victory with 41 minutes still to play.

It could have been four three minutes later when Mata rolled the ball into the path of Moses, who drilled a right-foot effort wide of the far post.

Sunderland responded and England international Johnson embarrassed keeper Cech with a 66th-minute shot he really should have repelled.

Cech had to produce a number of other saves as the Black Cats tried to get back into the game, while Gardner hit the bar at the death.

However, as a crowd of 39,273 left the Stadium of Light, it was those heading south who were wearing the smiles, leaving those closer to home to contemplate a run which now extends to just two Premier League victories in 23 attempts.

Michael Owen blames Liverpool for his injury strewn career

  Michael Owen has echoed former manager Alex Ferguson's opinion by blaming Liverpool for his injury ravaged career.

The former England international reckons he was overused as a youngster at Anfield where he would play '80-odd games a year'.

Owen made his Liverpool debut as a 17-year-old but wishes he could have played less games after seeing Ferguson's cotton-wool treatment of youngsters coming through at Old Trafford.

The Manchester United boss has suggested that Owen could have remained injury free had he been handled better in his youth.

"Sir Alex had made some comments suggesting that I would have been a better player had I been managed more effectively in the early part of my career," said Owen on his official website.

"I have to agree with most of what he said except the usage of the word 'better'. In my opinion, had I been managed differently I would have been at my best for longer as opposed to being a better player.

"As a youngster, I was considered exceptional and in many ways, that was to my detriment. While I was playing every game available to me, there was another young kid in the Liverpool academy called Steven Gerrard who was also showing huge potential.

"Unlike me, who was playing 80-odd games a year, Stevie just couldn't stay fit. I am convinced that this played to his advantage in the long run. I couldn't get enough of it. I would play a full season with Liverpool and then once the season was over, while everyone wrapped their best youngsters up to have a summer break, I was jetting off to play for England, sometimes playing three years above my age group at the highest level. This continued for a few years. I played week in, week out without a break, for years."

Tony Pulis manager of Stoke City talks to substitute Michael Owen Potty: Owen hasn't been able to nail a regular place at Stoke

The 32-year-old also feels his worst hamstring injury, suffered against Leeds United in 1999, was not treated properly and deprived him of a longer career at the top of his game.

"My body made me pay for pushing it to the limit too often," he explained. "My hamstring snapped in two and it was at that point that my ability to perform unimpeded was finished. It didn't have to be that way. My rehabilitation was compromised due to our physio leaving the club that summer and not being replaced until the following season and with no regular medical care during such a critical time, a routine injury was destined to restrict me for the rest of my career.

"It is due to this factor (confirmed by many medical experts), that I have suffered multiple injuries since. People laugh when I say that I am not naturally injury prone. It is my genuine opinion that I have become injury prone due to overplaying at a young age, suffering an injury as a result and then having a dreadful rehabilitation at such a critical time."

Bench warmer: Owen spent most of his time at United as an unused substitute

Owen played 316 games for club and country ahead of his 24th birthday. In comparison Ryan Giggs (112), Paul Scholes (123) and David Beckham (184) were handled with care by Ferguson.

"I certainly feel I played 'Too Much Too Soon' [the name of Owen's blog]. I cringe when I look back on a quote I came out with after Gerard Houllier 'rested' me for a game. 'I will rest when I'm 40' I muttered in an interview," he added.

"How wrong could I be? You can't force nature and nature has certainly forced me to "rest" far more than I would have wanted in the second half of my career. Looking back on my career thinking what might have been there is no doubt I would have won more honours had I signed for Manchester United as a youngster.

Source :Daily Mirror


Sir Alex Ferguson targets derby victory over Manchester City

Sir Alex Ferguson says victory against Manchester City on Sunday would be one of his side's "best-ever results".

Premier League leaders Manchester United travel to the Etihad Stadium three points clear of champions City, whose European adventure ended in midweek after finishing bottom of their UEFA Champions' League group.

Ferguson also expressed concern over his fragile defence and challenged his side to learn from their error-strewn display at Reading last weekend.

"If we win it will be one of our best-ever results," Ferguson told MUTV.

"They are a really good, powerful team with massive players.

"It won't be easy and if we defend like we did at Reading we'll be in trouble.

"The important thing for us is to take lessons from the mistakes we're making and do something about it. We need to find a solution."

"If we win it will be one of our best-ever results."
Sir Alex Ferguson Quotes of the week

With Chelsea and Arsenal sliding off the pace in recent weeks, there have been suggestions it could turn out to be straight battle between the two Manchester clubs this season.

But Ferguson, who has a fitness doubt over Tom Cleverley, is not buying into that assessment.

"At this time in the season you can't really say it's a two-horse race," he said.

"If you think back we were 12 points behind Chelsea at one point and when Arsenal beat us in the league in 1998 we were 11 points clear."

Soccer stars protest Gaza bombing

A group of soccer stars have called for "Israel" to be stripped of hosting rights for a top European age-grade tournament next year following last month's bomb attacks on Gaza.

More than 60 players including Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba signed a petition which was posted on the website of former English Premier League and Spanish La Liga striker Fredi Kanoute.

"We, as European football players, express our solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom," the statement said.

"The latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza, resulting in the death of over a hundred civilians, was yet another stain on the world's conscience."

It cited reports of a bomb attack by Israeli forces on a football stadium in Gaza on November 10, which killed four teenage players, and said that two players from the club Al Amari had been detained in Israel "without charge or trial" since February.

"It is unacceptable that children are killed while they play football. Israel hosting the UEFA Under-21 European Championship, in these circumstances, will be seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values," the statement said.

"Despite the recent ceasefire, Palestinians are still forced to endure a desperate existence under occupation, they must be protected by the international community. All people have the right to a life of dignity, freedom and security. We hope that a just settlement will finally emerge."


The declaration was Signed by:

Gael Angoula, Bastia Sporting Club (France)

Karim Ait-Fana, Montpellier HSC (France)

André Ayew, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Jordan Ayew, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Demba Ba, Newcastle United( UK)

Abdoulaye Baldé, AC Lumezzane (Italia)

Chahir Belghazouani, AC Ajaccio (France)

Leon Best, Blackburn Rovers Football Club(UK)

Ryad Boudebouz, Football Club Sochaux Montbéliard (France)

Yacine Brahimi, Granada Football Club (Spain)

Jonathan Bru, Melbourne Victory (Australia)

Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle United (UK)

Aatif Chahechouche, Sivasspor Kulübü (Turkey)

Pascal Chimbonda, Doncaster Rovers Football Club (UK)

Papiss Cissé, Newcastle United (UK)

Omar Daf, Football Club Sochaux Montbéliard (France)

Issiar Dia, Lekhwiya (Qatar)

Abou Diaby, Arsenal Football Club (UK)

Alou Diarra, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Soulaymane Diawara, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Samba Diakité, Queens Park Rangers (UK)

Pape Diop, West Ham United (UK)

Abdoulaye Doucouré, Stade Rennais Football Club (France)

Didier Drogba, Shanghaï Shenhua (China)

Ibrahim Duplus, Football Club Sochaux Montbéliard (France)

Soudani El-Arabi Hilal, Vitoria Sport Club Guimares (Portugall)

Jires Kembo Ekoko, Al Ain Football Club (United Arab Emirates)

Nathan Ellington, Ipswich Town Football Club (UK)

Rod Fanni, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Doudou Jacques Faty, Sivassport Kulübü (Turkey)

Ricardo Faty, AC Ajaccio (France)

Chris Gadi, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Remi Gomis, FC Valenciennes (France)

Florent Hanin, SC Braga (Portugal)

Eden Hazard, Chelsea Football Club (UK)

Charles Kaboré, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Diomansy Kamara, Eskisehispor Kulübü (Turkey)

Frédéric Kanouté, Beijin Guoan (China)

Anthony Le Tallec, AJ Auxerre (France)

Djamal Mahamat, Sporting Braga (Portugal)

Steve Mandanda, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Kader Manganne, Al Hilal Riyad Football Club (Saudi Arabia)

Sylvain Marveaux, Newcastle United (UK)

Nicolas Maurice-Belay, FC Girondins de Bordeaux(France)

Cheikh M’bengué, Toulouse Football Club (France)

Jérémy Menez, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (France)

Arnold Mvuemba, Olympique Lyonnais (France)

Laurent Nardol, Chartres Football Club (France)

Mahamadou N’diaye, Vitoria Sport Club Guimares (Portugal)

Mamadou Niang, Al-Sadd SC (Qatar)

Mbaye Niang, SM Caen (France)

Fabrice Numeric, FK Slovan Duslo Sala (Slovakia)

Billel Omrani, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Lamine Sané, FC Girondins de Bordeaux (France)

Mamady Sidibé, Stoke City Football Club (UK)

Momo Sissoko, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (France)

Cheikh Tioté, Newcastle United (UK)

AdamaTraoré, Melbourne Victory (Australia)

Armand Traoré, Queen Park Rangers FC (UK)

Djimi Traore, Olympique de Marseille (France)

Moussa Sow, Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü (Turkey)

Hassan Yebda, Granada Football Club (Spain)


Grand Prix Equidia Life to Ahmad Saber Hamcho at Gucci Paris Masters




It was Ahmad Saber Hamcho who raced to victory in the two star Grand Prix Equidia Life on Sunday. The Syrian rider was one of eleven riders that made it to the jump-off, after clearing the first round thirteen fence track that included a tricky triple combination at 8abc with an oxer - vertical - oxer and a combination at 12ab as the penultimate challenge.

German rider Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst was first to go in the jump-off on the lovely 8 year old Balermo (Baloubet du Rouet x Silvio I). Unfortunately the second fence fell to the ground, and Alois was left with four faults. The first clear came two riders later from Ahmad Saber Hamcho, who produced an incredible fast round on the sky-high jumping Quintus 81 (Quick Star x Grannus) - racing to the final fence and crossing the finish line on a lightning fast 36.76 seconds.

Nobody could match the time set by Ahmad; Albert Zoer came the closest on Wollie Bollie (Cantos x Zuidhorn) with a clear round at 38.14 seconds - ending as runner-up. French rider Anne Sophie Godart was pushed down to third by the Dutch rider, she produced a clear round at 38.53 seconds on Carlitto van´t Zorgvliet (Burggraaf x Cheenook).

It is worth noting that Hamcho was the first ever Syrian equestrian to participate in the 2012 Olympic Games which was staged in London.

Hamcho achieved remarkable results in the said event especially in the first round.