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Monday, June 29, 2009

Brazil Perform Great Escape to Win Confed Cup

Brazil 3-2 USA

Brazil defended their Confederations Cup title on Sunday with a crushing come-from-behind 3-2 victory to inflict a cruel loss on tenacious underdogs the United States.

The five-time world champions looked out for the count after Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan put the Americans two up at half-time but they bounced back with a Luis Fabiano brace drawing them level with 16 minutes left.

It set the scene for an exciting finale and captain Lucio made it a memorable night with a powerful header from an Elano corner with six minutes remaining.

The victory sparked wild celebrations on the bench with Brazil now having won a gruelling seven games over the past 20 days - five at the Confederations Cup and two in World Cup qualifying.

It was their third Confederations Cup crown following triumphs in 1997 and 2005 and coach Dunga was a happy man.

"All the players were very concentrated on what needed to be done. I told them at half-time that we needed an early goal and to play the game we play. We wanted to win. We were very determined," said Dunga, the World Cup winning captain from 1994.

"It is difficult to overcome a 2-0 deficit but if you have committed players who always want to win then it is possible.

"If we can win this we can do much more in the future. I believe in these players."

Brazil had won 14 of their 15 previous encounters with the US and beaten Bob Bradley's men 3-0 in the group stages. But since that match the US fortunes changed dramatically.

After trouncing Egypt 3-0 to sneak into the knockout rounds on goals scored after finishing equal of points and goal difference with Italy, they shocked European champions Spain 2-0 in the semi-finals.

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But their luck ran out against Brazil.

"That defeat really hurt," said Bradley.

"I'm extremely proud of my players, but it still feels pretty lousy to let this one get away.

"I hope though that people around the world see we have good team and great players and it is a big step forward."

On a cold winter's night, his giantkillers began in an attacking mood with Fulham's Dempsey making the first attempt on goal with a long distance strike that fizzed wide.

Brazil started feeding the ball to Maicon on the right and he lofted several crosses into the box that put the US under pressure before Real Madrid's new signing Kaka, the man-of-the-match, glanced a header wide.

But it was the US who stunned Brazil after 10 minutes.

West Ham's Jonathan Spector fed Dempsey with a defence-splitting through ball and the number eight cleverly put his shot under the diving Julio Cesar.

Brazil immediately charged back with Robinho attempting to angle a side-footed shot past Everton stopper Tim Howard but the United States kept up the pressure and Dempsey went close once again.

It was end to end stuff and Felipe Melo forced a fine save from Howard before the US pounced again with a lightening quick counter-attack.

The dangerous Landon Donovan picked the ball up in his own half and found the sprinting Charlie Davies on the left.

It was two against two and the US came off better with Davies returning the ball to Donovan who crashed it into the net after 27 minutes.

Brazil looked hard for a way back but Howard was a rock and they went to the break needing something special.

Fabinao provided it seconds after the restart when he caught the US napping, turning well from 17 yards to beat Howard and get his team back in the match.

Maicon had two good opportunities to draw them level as Brazil pressed with searching passes into the US box, while Kaka saw a header go agonisingly close when Howard pushed the ball onto the bar.

The US had lost composure and it was a desperate rearguard action with the equalisier inevitable. It came when Kaka crossed from the left and Robinho's shot hit the bar only for Fabiano to meet the rebound.

Brazil were on a mission and it was no surprise when Lucio bagged the winner to break American hearts.

Earlier, Spain clinched the third-place playoff 3-2 in an extra-time thriller against South Africa with unsettled Liverpool star Xabi Alonso netting the winner.

( AFP )

Highlights :

Real Madrid Offer 32 Million Euros for Benzema

Real Madrid have offered 32 million euros for Lyon striker Karim Benzema after switching their attention to the France international from Valencia forward David Villa, Marca sports daily reported on Sunday.

Marca said the French have yet to respond to Real's offer but last week Bernard Lacombe, adviser to Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas, told Marca that "nothing is impossible and if we receive a good offer we will not close the door to anyone."

Lyon's director of communication Olivier Blanc said merely that "the only news is Real Madrid contacted Olympique Lyon a few days ago to discuss Karim Benzema."

"Benzema and Olympique Lyon confirmed his initial desire is to stay another year with Lyon," Blanc said, adding that was also the club's preference.

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Manchester United are also admirers of Benzema but Real have decided to swoop now given the reluctance of Valencia's new chairman Manuel Llorente to sell them Spain striker Villa.

Real chairman Florentino Perez, who has already landed Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka this summer for huge fees, has twice met with Benzema's agent Karim Djaziri, first in Madrid then Geneva, Marca reported last Wednesday as the chase hotted up.

As well as a cash deal, media reports in Spain say Real and Lyon could look at a part-exchange in the shape of either Real's Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar or his compatriot, winger Arjen Robben.

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( AFP )

Eto'o Mulling 'Stratospheric' Man City Offer

MADRID - Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o is considering a "stratospheric offer" that could make him the best paid player in the world, according to the Spanish club's president Joan Laporta.

Asked in a radio interview about interest from Premier League club Manchester City, Laporta said the Cameroon striker would find it hard to refuse an offer he also described as "enormous".

"He has a stratospheric offer from another club that would make him the best paid player in the world," Laporta told radio station iCat FM.

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Laporta added: "It's becoming clear that he has an offer that's enormous. I believe he wants to stay and I'd like him to ... but an offer like this is very hard to turn down."

Barcelona are negotiating with Eto'o over a possible extension to his contract, which runs out next year.

Manchester City, owned by Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, have already spent big money to sign Gareth Barry and Roque Santa Cruz for next season.

Barcelona are interested in Valencia forward David Villa while Laporta said a deal for the 20-year-old Keirrison of Palmeiras was close to being agreed.

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( Reuters )

Alonso Free Kick Gives Spain Third in Confederations Cup

Spain 3-2 South Africa (*ET)

RUSTENBURG - Spain secured third place at the Confederations Cup on Sunday when Xabi Alonso curled home a long-range free kick to give them a 3-2 win over hosts South Africa after extra time.

Alonso's 107th minute effort evaded both his own strikers and the home defence to settle a thrilling match that produced several twists.

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South African substitute Katlego Mphela forced the game into extra time with a ferocious free kick at the end of 90 minutes, having put the team in front in the 73rd.

Goals in the 88th and 89th minutes from Daniel Guiza had put the European champions 2-1 up heading into stoppage time.

( Mark Gleeson / Reuters )

Highlights :

Inter Loan Jiménez to West Ham

Chilean playmaker Luis Jiménez has joined West Ham United FC on a one-year loan from Italian champions FC Internazionale Milano, pledging to do "everthing possible to do a good job for the club".

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Contract option
The London club will have the option of signing the 25-year-old on a permanent basis when his loan expires next summer. Jiménez moved to Italy to join Ternana Calcio in 2002, and had spells on loan at ACF Fiorentina and S.S. Lazio before a third temporary move led to a permanent deal with Inter. However, after a successful loan spell in 2007/08, last season saw the player – nicknamed 'The Wizard' – hampered by injuries. The 20-times capped international said of his new challenge: "I can't promise anything but I am going to everything possible to do a good job for the club."

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( UEFA )

Nakamura Joins Sahar at Espanyol

Spanish side RCD Espanyol have agreed a two-year deal with Celtic FC's Japanese midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura the day after signing Israeli striker Ben Sahar from Chelsea FC.

Scottish success
The 30-year-old Nakamura will sign terms with Mauricio Pochettino's side subject to successfully completing a medical early next month. Nakamura is leaving Celtic as a free agent after a fruitful four seasons with the club where - along with scoring 29 goals in 128 league appearances - he collected three Premier League titles, a Scottish Cup and two League Cup winners' medals and was named Scottish Player of the Year in 2007.

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New signings
The former Reggina Calcio player will team up with new Espanyol signings Joan Verdú and Ben Sahar at the Parakeets new stadium in Cornella de Llobregat. The 19-year-old Sahar, Israel's youngest international when he made his debut at the age of 17 in February 2007, signed a four-year contract with the Barcelona-based club on Monday.

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( UEFA )

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