Benitez jeered as Chelsea holds Manchester City

Updated 26 November 2012
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Benitez jeered as Chelsea holds Manchester City

LONDON: Interim manager Rafael Benitez was given a hostile welcome by Chelsea fans angry at Roberto Di Matteo’s sacking when the Spaniard, serenaded with jeers, began his Stamford Bridge reign with a 0-0 draw against Manchester City yesterday.
Chelsea axed the popular Di Matteo on Wednesday — hours after their Champions League defeat by Juventus, which continued their poor run of results, and appointed the former Liverpool man for the rest of the season.
Benitez’s arrival in the dugout shortly before kickoff was greeted by boos with home fans continuing to chant Di Matteo’s name throughout the first half.
Chelsea, now without a Premier League win in five games, improved after a sluggish opening period but created few openings to test City keeper Joe Hart.
City, knocked off top spot by Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, closed to within one point in second while Chelsea are fourth, five points behind the leaders.
Jermain Defoe’s double, including a superb first-half strike, and Gareth Bale’s goal just before the hour jolted Tottenham Hotspur out of the doldrums with a 3-1 London derby victory over West Ham United at White Hart Lane.
Southampton moved out of the bottom three with a 2-0 home victory over Newcastle United, ensuring an unhappy return to the south coast club for former Saints manager Alan Pardew, whose Newcastle side are struggling to match last season’s exploits which carried them to a fifth-place finish.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was also unable to get one over former club Swansea City on his return to Wales as the Anfield side continued their mediocre Premier League start with a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium.


Saudi Arabia set to face Uruguay veterans in key World Cup clash

Updated 4 min 39 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia set to face Uruguay veterans in key World Cup clash

  • Carlos Sanchez and Cristian Rodriguez set to start for Oscar Tabarez's side
  • Green Falcon are seeking redemption after Russia thrashing

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia: Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez is poised to hand starting places to veteran opening-game substitutes Carlos Sanchez and Cristian Rodriguez when they meet Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
With the reputation of being a midfield hardman, Rodriguez — whose nickname “The Onion” was passed on from his father — has appeared for his country more than 100 times. He played at Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, Porto and Atletico Madrid before returning home to top-flight Penarol. Sanchez has won 33 caps but has not started for his country since March last year. They both came off the bench before the hour mark against Egypt and helped change the game.
“What’s important is that we won our opening game ... and that we win the next one,” Rodriguez said.
An avid horse rider and kickboxer, he is proudly old-school and views video review as an enemy of spontaneity.
“Personally, I don’t like VAR because the Uruguayan — well, Latin American — style relies on being fast-footed,” Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t help us. It does help referees, though, especially when there are serious fouls.”
The two-time champions are aware of the Russian tournament’s potential for upsets and they were pushed hard by Egypt on Friday.
“This is a very balanced World Cup,” Rodriguez said. “Nobody really expected results like the ones with from Argentina and Brazil.”
Those perennial contenders were held to draws in their opening games.
Another surprise came in Uruguay’s Group A, when Russia shook off a shaky recent record to thrash Saudi Arabia 5-0 in Moscow.
The game, attended by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, forced the Saudi team and coach Juan Antonio Pizzi into damage control. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has gone through three national team coaches in the past year. Its vice president, Nawaf Al-Tamayat, publicly scolded players’ “confusion and distractedness” and described the loss as being beyond “an honorable level.” Pizzi called the defeat a “shameful situation.”
The feeling is that the humiliation by Russia may force Pizzi to abandon his ambitions of fielding an attack-minded team for a more conservative lineup, but the Green Falcons only play one up top and need a positive result if they are to get out of the group.