Monday, January 28, 2008

Essien steers hosts Ghana to last eight

ACCRA, Ghana -- Premier League pair Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari scored as Ghana progressed to the quarterfinals of the African Nations Cup as group winners following a 2-0 victory over Morocco.

Chelsea midfielder Essien was on target as hosts Ghana reached the African Nations Cup last eight.

The win means the hosts top their group with a 100 percent record and will be joined in the last eight by Guinea, who progressed despite an unimpressive 1-1 draw with Namibia in Sekondi.
Chelsea midfielder Essien was the inspiration behind Ghana, driving the team forward and putting them ahead after 26 minutes when he chipped in a free-kick.
He then set up the second for Portsmouth's Muntari who fired in a 15-meter shot at the near post on the stroke of half-time.
Soulemayne Youla put Guinea ahead after 62 minutes when he slid the ball home from an acute angle having squandered a clear cut chance in the first half.
Namibia levelled 10 minutes from time when Brian Brendell's long-range shot took a couple of bounces on the bobbly pitch and into the net.
The draw meant Guinea edged out Morocco by a point as they recovered from defeat in their first game to

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Contador in yellow after stage 17

CASTELSARRASIN, France (Reuters) -- Spaniard Alberto Contador officially took the overall lead of the Tour de France after Thursday's 17th stage, which started without previous yellow jersey holder Michael Rasmussen and the Cofidis team.

Rasmussen was sacked by his Rabobank team, who said he had lied about his training whereabouts, and the Dane was not at the start of the stage.
In line with race regulations, no one wore the yellow jersey during the 188.5km stage won by Italian Daniele Bennati.
Contador, the Paris-Nice winner, finished in the bunch and has a lead of one minute and 53 seconds over Australian Cadel Evans, who is unlikely to close the gap in Saturday's decisive time trial from Cognac to Angouleme.
"It is strange to take yellow in such circumstances," Contador told reporters. "But it can happen, sometimes it is because the leader has crashed."
Asked if he thought Rasmussen's exclusion was fair, the 24-year-old said: "I am not here to judge him. It is the decision made by his team and I am not aware enough of the situation to judge what happened."
Contador believes he is now favorite to win the Tour, although he admits he is likely to lose time to Evans on the final time trial. "Of course, it depends on the day. It is over 55km, it's a long way to go and the jersey will be hard to keep.
"But if you look at the results of the last time trial, I have my chance and I will do anything I can to keep it." Contador finished last Saturday's time trial in Albi 1:04 behind Predictor Lotto rider Evans.
Rasmussen had led the race since taking the eighth stage and had also won on Wednesday. His Rabobank team decided to continue in the Tour although Russian Denis Menchov quit halfway through the stage from Pau to Castelsarrasin.
Lampre rider Benatti outsprinted German Markus Fothen of the Gerolsteiner team to win on Thursday and Swiss Martin Elminger came home third for the AG2r team.
"We have to fight against doping. I hope the sport will see the end of the tunnel because I think there are riders who do their job honestly," Benatti told reporters.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hushovd sprints to Tour stage win

JOIGNY, France (Reuters) -- Norway's Thor Hushovd claimed his first victory of the year when he clinched the fourth stage of the Tour de France, a 193km trek from Villers-Cotterets to Joigny on Wednesday.

The Credit Agricole rider, who won the green jersey in 2005, launched the bunch sprint 350 meters from the finish line to edge Barloworld's South African rider Robert Hunter.
Spaniard Oscar Freire, who has yet to win a stage this year, was third for the Rabobank team.
Hushovd's fifth victory on the Tour means the Norwegian leapfrogs German Andreas Kloeden for second place overall thanks to time bonuses, with Briton David Millar now out of the top three.
Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who finished safely in the main pack, retained the leader's yellow jersey.
"It was a pretty cool day because the team did the job even though there was some wind," Cancellara told a news conference.
Belgian Tom Boonen was a disappointing eighth in the stage but retained the green jersey.
Hushovd, who won last year's opening prologue and the closing sprint on the Champs-Elysees, paid tribute to Australian team-mate Julian Dean, who piloted him through the pack in the final kilometer.
"He is the best in the world to launch the sprints," said Hushovd.
Frenchman Matthieu Sprick launched a breakaway after 30km and was followed by compatriot Sylvain Chavanel, Spaniards Juan Antonio Flecha and Gorka Verdugo, and Germany's Christian Knees.
The fugitives built a four-minute gap but were swallowed by the peloton with just 7km remaining.
The Caisse d'Epargne team were reduced to eight men after Spaniard Xavier Zandio retired with a fractured collarbone following a crash early in the stage.
"He fractured his right collarbone, he really cannot go on," said manager Jose-Luis Jaimerena. "It is a huge loss for the team because he is a rider who can work on any type of course. It's a pity."
Another rider, Remy di Gregorio of the Francaise des Jeux team, was involved in the crash and sustained an elbow injury.
Di Gregorio, however, managed to reach the finish line almost eight minutes after Hushovd.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tipsarevic sends Gonzalez crashing

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic doused the fire of Fernando Gonzalez at Wimbledon to reach the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time.
The rugged world number 64, with tattoos on both arms, a stud in his eyebrow and red tennis strings, withstood the most fearsome forehand in tennis and saved a match point before winning 6-3 3-6 6-4 4-6 8-6.
Fifth seed Gonzalez, the Australian Open runner-up, is the biggest casualty so far in the men's draw.
Gonzalez, who beat Tipsarevic at Queen's Club earlier this month, was subdued for long periods and his frustration boiled over when he fluffed a backhand to hand Tipsarevic a two sets to one lead, slamming his racket into the turf.
The slow-burning contest came to life at the end of the fourth when Gonzalez broke at 5-4 to level.
He had his chances to win it. He served for the match at 5-3 in the decider only to be broken and had a match point on Tipsarevic's serve at 6-5 but sent a tame backhand into the net.
Tipsarevic broke for 7-6 coming into the net for a volley and held his nerve to convert his second match point and set up a fourth round match against Spain's former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Gonzalez said the windy conditions had troubled him.
"I never felt one game comfortable on the court because it was like the wrong wind," he said. "It's the same for both players but for my game, I couldn't loosen up. I was really tight. I'm really disappointed with this match today."
Ferrero secured his place in the last 16 with a surprise 3-6 6-3 6-3 7-6 victory over ninth-seeded James Blake.
Spaniard Ferrero, the 20th seed, recovered after going a set down on Court One and held his nerve in the final set, when the American number two forced a tie-break.
Ferrero triumphed in his only match so far with against Tipsarevic, beating him in five sets at the 2006 Australian Open.
Federer continues march
Meanwhile, Roger Federer barely had his feathers ruffled in a 6-1 6-4 7-6 win over Marat Safin, dispelling any pre-match notions that it could be a close encounter.
The world number one broke in the fourth game of the first set and a combination of some over-hitting on the groundstrokes by Safin and some tricky changes of speed by Federer allowed the Swiss to steam to a convincing lead.
Former world number one Safin, who famously beat Federer in a five-set epic on the way to winning the 2005 Australian Open, fought back early in the second and even broke serve.
But the top seed seemed unperturbed. He broke back immediately and again in the seventh game, prompting some characteristic racket-throwing from the volatile Russian before Federer nailed the set with an ace.
The third set went with serve and in the tiebreak Safin's forehand volley into the net gave Federer a mini-break and he served out the remainder to take it 7-4.
"I don't know if I played phenomenal, I just think I played the right way against Marat today," the Swiss told a news conference. "I really kept the balls in play, served well when I had to, moved well, returned pretty good."
Federer, aiming for a fifth successive Wimbledon crown, will face 13th seed Tommy Haas of Germany in the fourth round.
Roddick keeps U.S. hopes alive
Third seed Andy Roddick kept the flag flying for the United States with a 6-3 6-4 7-6 victory over Spain's Fernando Verdasco.
The 24-year-old did not look under any pressure against Verdasco in the first two sets, rattling them off in 58 minutes but the world number 41 then upped his game.
Verdasco broke Roddick in the third set on his way to a 4-1 lead and the American, who won the title at Queen's earlier this month, had to rely on his serve to get him out of trouble.
Roddick broke back for 5-4 when Verdasco put a forehand volley out. The Spaniard then squandered two set points and crumpled in the tiebreak which Roddick won 7-2.
Roddick is the only American left in the men's draw after compatriot Blake's defeat earlier in the day.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Henry poised for move to Barcelona

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Arsenal's French international striker Thierry Henry was poised to join Barcelona on Friday, a source from the Spanish club told CNN.
"In the next several hours Barcelona Football Club will be ready to announce the signing of Thierry Henry from Arsenal Football Club, but it is not official yet," the source said.
"The deal would be worth around 24 million euros (£16m; $32m)and would keep Henry at Barcelona for the next four years.
"There are still some legal details that need to be confirmed. We expect these details to be confirmed and when they are we will issue a release on Barcelona FC's Web site confirming Thierry Henry's signing, probably on Saturday," the source said.
Henry has been with Arsenal since 1999, scoring a club record 226 goals in 364 appearances for the Gunners. He helped the London club win two Premier League titles and four FA Cups.
Henry still had three years left on his contract with the Gunners, but speculation about his departure increased after Arsenal failed to win a trophy last season and finished only fourth in the Premier League for the second year in a row.
Henry acknowledged he was upset that David Dein, who was responsible for bringing manager Arsene Wenger to the club in 1996, quit as vice-chairman of Arsenal.
Wenger, who has led Arsenal to three Premier League and four FA Cup triumphs, has said he has no plans to follow Dein away from the club. But he, too, has been linked with a possible move to Spain
Henry spent much of last season sidelined because of stomach and groin injuries. But he remains one of the game's biggest stars with his ability to score top-quality goals and beat defenses with his fast runs and dribbling.
Henry also helped the Gunners reach the Champions League final in 2006, only for Arsenal to lose to Barcelona.
He was frustrated that Arsenal did not strengthen their playing squad with big names and expressed his disappointment when the Gunners sold Patrick Vieira to Juventus two years ago.
Henry started off his career as a precocious winger with Monaco under Wenger's tutelage in 1994 a year before the latter headed off to Grampus Eight in Japan.
After playing a cameo role in France's World Cup win on home soil in 1998 Henry, a product of the hugely productive French training center at Clairefontaine outside Paris, joined Juventus in 1998 after 28 goals in 129 games for the Monegasques, winning the 1997 French title.
Henry played barely half a season and scored only three goals in 16 starts for the 'Zebras' before heading back to the Riviera for a brief spell.
Arsenal then came calling with Wenger at the helm in 1999 and after the professorial coach turned his protege into a center-forward Henry blossomed into one of the greatest players in the world, scoring more than a goal every other game over eight seasons.
He also won the 2000 European Championship with France and was European Golden boot winner in 2004 and 2005.