Premier League managerial pair blast squad and referee following final match

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Paolo Di Canio and Andre Villas-Boas took to the media following their teams’ Premier League finale to voice displeasure with how their final fixture played out.

Tottenham defeated Sunderland 1-0 on Gareth Bale’s late strike from long range, but it wasn’t enough to send Spurs to the Champions League.

Spurs boss Villas-Boas believed if his side had been given a penalty decision in the opening minutes, it would have put pressure on Arsenal and could have changed the outcome of not just Spurs match but the Gunners as well, who ultimately won 1-0 to grab the 4th position.

Villas-Boas said, “The penalty was decisive. I don’t want to put the spotlight on the referee, but I think it would have been absolutely decisive in these kind of fixtures where emotions are felt very, very strongly. Obviously certainly be felt at Newcastle. It could have potentially changed the nature of the other game and it would certainly have changed the running of our one.”

The Spurs manager continued to say there was a conference call in January where he spoke with referees about decisions involving Gareth Bale.

Sunderland boss Di Canio ripped his team’s discipline following the match, with the outrage centered around defender Phil Bardsley’s controversial photo which appeared on the internet.  With Sunderland’s safety assured following Wigan’s loss to Arsenal midweek, Bardsley and teammates went out to celebrate, but Di Canio believes this disrespected the club.  Bardsley was pictured laying on a casino floor covered in 50-pound notes.

Di Canio ranted, “It’s obvious. How I can play a player that probably is blurry for three, four days after what’s happened? More important I want to deliver a very clear message since the beginning that there is not excuse to behave like he did. If we don’t punish this kind of behaviour, how do [the academy players] grow up? Thinking they can laugh about what they saw on the website picture? Maybe they think it’s fantastic; to be like a gangster. But what mentality are we going to deliver?”

He continued to say he found the situation worse than his former job at Swindon Town. “I thought that at Swindon, League Two, arrogant, ignorant footballers in some way so they don’t know exactly because they’ve not had many chances to stay at the top level. I have to tell you unfortunately I found a worse environment in terms of discipline in this club.”

Finally, going forward, Di Canio believes changes are necessary. “They can’t stay with me, people who behave like that” he said. “I told them that we can win or draw [at Spurs] – or lose with dignity, respecting the club’s name and the fans that will follow us at the game. “Otherwise I will reduce their holiday. I will give them only the minimum I can give them, which is four weeks – 28 days, instead of probably 38 or 40. Because in some way we have to start a change of mentality. I am going to sit at the table with the chairman. Obviously if we want to have a different future in terms of results we need to bring in good players but with a professional ethic.”

Lippi leads China over SKorea 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Marcello Lippi earned his biggest victory since taking over as coach of China’s national soccer team, leading his squad to a 1-0 victory over South Korea on Thursday in a World Cup qualifier.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]

The coach, who led his native Italy to the World Cup title in 2006, was hired by China in October.

Yu Dabao scored the lone goal at Helong Stadium in Changsha with a header in the 34th minute, giving China only its second victory over South Korea in 32 matches.

China spent much of the second half defending with the visitors piling on the pressure. Ki Seung-yeung and Ji Dong-won both went close for South Korea but could not find a way past China goalkeeper Zeng Cheng.

South Korea has 10 points from six matches in Group A and is still on course to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. China, which last qualified for the World Cup in 2002, has five points.

Only the top two teams from the six-nation group qualify automatically. The third-place team will head to the playoffs.

CONMEBOL wrap: Brazil routs Uruguay, Messi guides Argentina past Chile

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A roundup of Thursday’s action from around CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying…

[ MORE: USMNT looks to build momentum against Honduras in WCQ ]

Paulinho‘s hat-trick helped bring Brazil back from an early deficit as the Selecao topped Uruguay, 4-1. Edinson Cavani put the hosts ahead after nine minutes from the penalty spot, but it was Paulinho that answered 10 minutes later for his first of the night. Neymar also tallied for the Brazilians, who continue to lead CONMEBOL qualifying with 30 points.

Lionel Messi scored in the first half to help lift Argentina over Chile, 1-0. The Barcelona attacker scored after 16 minutes when Angel di Maria was taken down inside the Chilean area by José Fuenzalida. Chile was held to just one shot on target throughout, and the loss leaves the reigning Copa America winners on the outside looking in at the top five.

James Rodriguez rescued Colombia on Thursday as the Real Madrid winger capitalized off of his penalty-kick rebound to give Los Cafeteros a 1-0 win over Bolivia. Goalkeeper Carlos Lampe did his best to preserve a draw for the visitors, recording six saves on the afternoon, however, it wasn’t enough to tame Colombia.

Meanwhile, Paraguay knocked off Ecuador, 2-1, behind goals from Bruno Valdez and Junior Alonso. The visitors pulled a goal back in the 70th minute when Felipe Caicedo converted from the penalty spot, but it wasn’t enough for Ecuador.

Peru battled back with two second-half goals to preserve a 2-2 draw against Venezuela on the road. The hosts got out to a 2-0 advantage before halftime when Mikel Villanueva and Romulu Otero scored for Venezuela, however, the Peruvians struck back in the second stanza to knick a point. Andre Carrillo and Paolo Guerrero scored in the 46th and 64th minutes, respectively, for Peru.


Thursday’s results

Colombia 1-0 Bolivia
Paraguay 2-1 Ecuador
Uruguay 1-4 Brazil
Argentina 1-0 Chile
Venezuela 2-2 Peru


Updated CONMEBOL table

  1. Brazil — 9-3-1 — 30 pts.
  2. Uruguay — 7-2-4 — 23 pts.
  3. Argentina — 6-4-3 — 22 pts.
  4. Colombia — 6-3-4 — 21 pts.
  5. Ecuador — 6-2-4 — 20 pts.
  6. Chile — 6-2-5 — 20 pts.
  7. Paraguay — 5-3-5 — 18 pts.
  8. Peru — 4-3-6 — 15 pts.
  9. Bolivia — 2-1-9 — 7 pts.
  10. Venezuela — 1-3-9 — 6 pts.

Ex-Disney CEO Eisner eyes English soccer club Portsmouth

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PORTSMOUTH, England (AP) Michael Eisner, the former chief executive of The Walt Disney Co., is in talks to buy English soccer club Portsmouth.

The fourth-tier club says it has entered into a 70-day exclusivity agreement with Eisner for takeover talks to take place.

Eisner wrote on Twitter: “Exciting times! Looking forward to coming over and meeting you all. Good luck against Newport County on Saturday!!”

Portsmouth, which is based on the south coast, spent beyond its means in the pursuit of glory. The team endured financial turmoil in the years following its 2008 FA Cup win, sinking from the Premier League to the fourth tier.

After entering bankruptcy protection, Portsmouth was rescued by the fans through a trust in 2013.

CONCACAF: USMNT, Trinidad & Tobago seek first points of Hexagonal

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Through two rounds of play in the Hexagonal, everything has gone according to plan for Mexico and Costa Rica.

Not so much though for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]

While Los Ticos and El Tri currently sit in the top two positions of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the U.S. is left at the bottom and faces a difficult match against Honduras when play resumes on Friday night.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras match ]

Mexico and Costa Rica will face off at the Estadio Azteca in the second of Friday’s three slated qualifiers, and while both nations surely expect to reach the World Cup in Russia, both CONCACAF heavyweights have the opportunity to put their stamp on the group.

For Costa Rica, a victory could potentially open up a five-point gap over El Tri, while a win for Mexico would bring Juan Carlos Osorio’s side the opportunity leap over their Central American foes.

Friday’s action will kick off at 7 p.m. though when third place Panama travels to Trinidad & Tobago, who seeks its first points of the Hex. Trinidad will be led by captain Kenwyne Jones of Atlanta United as well as Minnesota United midfielder Kevin Molino, with the duo scoring a combined 39 international goals for the Soca Warriors.

Below is the schedule and current table ahead of Friday’s CONCACAF matches as the region turns its attention to Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal.


Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama — 7 p.m. ET

Mexico vs. Costa Rica — 9:50 p.m. ET

USMNT vs. Honduras — 10:30 p.m. ET (PREVIEW)


1. Costa Rica — 2-0-0 — 6 pts.
2. Mexico — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
3. Panama — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
4. Honduras — 1-0-1 — 3 pts.
5. Trinidad & Tobago — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.
6. USMNT — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.