Stoke City 1-1 Swansea City: Potters deny late chances to preserve point (video)

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Chico Flores’s 52nd minute header allowed Swansea City to claim their second straight result under player-coach Garry Monk, the 1-1 result at Stoke City lifting the team into the Premier League’s top half. The draw also Stoke’s unbeaten run to three games, with a first half goal from Peter Crouch allowing the Potters to move three points clear of the drop.

Crouch opened the scoring in the 17th minute when he put home the rebound of a Peter Odemwingie shot sent off Asmir Begovivc’s right upright. Swansea, controlling possession throughout, equalized through Flores after play following an early second half corner. Close calls late from Wilfried Bony and Jonathan De Guzman were turned away by Ryan Shawcross and Begovic, leaving the teams on even footing come full-time.

The result gives Swansea four points from two games after Michael Laudrup’s departure, moving last year’s League Cup winners 10th in the Premier League. Stoke, having claimed five points in their last three games, sit 14th.

Swansea’s control of possession left the home side seeking their chances in transition, with the Potters’ luck coming good in the 17th minute. After Charlie Adam forced his way through the Swans half, Crouch was able to find  Odemwingie in the right of the penalty area. The Nigerian’s far post shot nailed Michel Vorm’s right upright before careening back to Crouch, who put the rebound off a Stoke defender and into Swansea’s goal.

A chippy first half that left Swans without a shot on target reached half-time with that one-goal margin, but only after players had gone face-to-face multiple times as Swansea attempted to deal with Stoke’s physical play. The most prominent incident came in the 36th minute, with Ashley Williams yellow carded after taking exception to how Adam was defending Nathan Dyer. Having kicked at Dyer from behind twice in a matter of seconds, the Stoke midfielder also went into the book.

Early in the second half, Swansea’s monopoly of possession finally paid off. On the second ball in off a corner kick, Pablo Hernández had what appeared to be a far post shot flicked on by Flores, the Swans defender beating Begovic inside the far post from seven yards out.

Swans continued to control the ball through the remainder of the match, coming close to a winner in the 77th minute when Dyer found Bony alone in front of goal. A moment’s hesitation from the Ivorian allowed Begovic to come out and get a hand on the shot, slowing the chance down enough for Shawcross to clear it off the line.

In the 86th minute, a swerving chance from long distance by De Guzman forced Begovic into a leaping save on what turned out to be the match’s final shot on goal. Swans finished the match with 64 percent possession and a 13-7 edge in shots, but Stoke would put four tries on target to Swansea’s three.


Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Whelan (Guidetti 68′), Adam; Odemwingie, Walters (N’Zonzi 56′), Arnautovic (Assaidi 56′); Crouch

Goals: Crouch (17′)

Swansea City: Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Cañas, Britton (Amat 90′); Dyer (Emnes 82′), Hernández (De Guzman 75′), Routledge; Bony

Goals: Chico (51′)

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

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Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

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Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

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There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?