Inter shakes off Cassano distraction for 3-2 win

Updated 04 March 2013
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Inter shakes off Cassano distraction for 3-2 win

ROME: Inter Milan came back from two goals down to beat Catania 3-2 in Serie A yesterday, shaking off a horrendous first half and Antonio Cassano’s latest outburst of bad behavior.
The pre-match buildup was centered on a training scuffle between Cassano and Inter manager Andrea Stramaccioni, and Cassano was left off the squad for the match in Sicily.
Cassano has had run-ins with authority figures throughout his career, from Fabio Capello at Roma and Real Madrid to former Sampdoria president Riccardo Garrone during his time with the Genoa-based club.
Having already lost another forward, Diego Milito, for the season with a knee injury, Cassano’s absence weighed heavily.
Not surprisingly, Inter appeared distracted at the start and Gonzalo Bergessio put Catania ahead seven minutes in at the Massimino stadium after Inter defender Juan Jesus left him the ball deep inside the area.
Catania doubled its lead in the 19th following another defensive lapse with Giovanni Marchese left free to head in.
However, Inter organized itself in the second half, which began with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic thwarting two more Catania chances.
Ricky Alvarez scored for Inter in the 51st, heading in a cross from Rodrigo Palacio, and Palacio equalized in the 70th, heading in a cross from Alvara Perreira.
Palacio then scored the winner in the second minute of added time after getting set up by Esteban Cambiasso inside the area.
Inter moved into a tie for fourth with Lazio, 12 points behind Serie A leader Juventus.
Fiorentina is next in sixth after beating visiting Chievo Verona 2-1 with a 78th-minute strike from newly signed Argentine forward Marcelo Larrondo.
Manuel Pasqual had put Fiorentina ahead in the fourth, Ghana midfielder Isaac Cofie equalized for Chievo in the 38th and Larrondo decided the match with a close-range header, reacting quickly to redirect another header from Luca Toni.
Elsewhere, Udinese won 1-0 at Pescara with Antonio Di Natale scoring his 15th of the season; and Sampdoria beat visiting Parma 1-0 with a 58th-minute goal from Mauro Icardi, the 20-year-old Argentine forward who has scored eight goals since January; Also, Bologna beat Cagliari 3-0 with goals from Saphir Taider, Alessandro Diamanti and Cristian Pasquato; and Giacomo Bonaventura scored twice as Atalanta won 2-0 at Siena, which remained tied for last with Pescara and Palermo.
Earlier in the lunchtime fixture, Palermo drew 0-0 at Torino.
Later, Roma aims for its third consecutive win against Genoa.
On Friday, Juventus drew 1-1 at second-place Napoli, and on Saturday AC Milan beat Lazio 3-0 to jump ahead of the Roman club into third place.


Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

Updated 29 min 21 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

  • Squad of 28 to be based in Zurich
  • Friendlies on the horizon against Italy and Peru

Juan Antonio Pizzi has taken a 28-man squad to Zurich for the final stage of the Green Falcons’ World Cup preparations.
The party flew out of Jeddah late last night and landed in Switzerland early this morning. There they will be joined by Fahad Al-Muwallad and Salem Al-Dawsari who will fly in from Spain after playing for Levante and Villarreal on Saturday night.
The three-week training camp in the Swiss resort town of Bad Ragaz gives Pizzi the chance to get stuck into some intense tactical and physical work with his players and decide which five players to leave out of his squad. He must whittle down his list down to 23 by June 4, which gives the players get two final chances to stake their claim for a seat on the plane in friendlies against Italy on May 28 and Peru on June 3. By the time they play Germany in Leverkusen on June 8, Pizzi will have named his party for the assignment in Russia.
Pizzi is clearly much nearer knowing who he will take as he has only made minor changes to the squad he named for the recent wins against Greece and Algeria.
Al-Ittihad goalkeeper Assaf Al-Qarni replaces his club teammate Fawaz Al-Qarni as the fourth stopper in the squad, as Pizzi looks settled on retaining Al-Ahli duo Yasser Al-Mosaileem and Mohammed Al-Owais in addition to Al-Hilal’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf. One of those four will fail to make the cut as no team takes four goalkeepers to the World Cup.
There were no changes in the backline where the former Chile boss is opting for harmony. Eight of the nine defenders called up ply their trade at Al-Hilal or Al-Ahli, while Al-Nassr’s Omar Hawsawi rounds off the selection. One defender might have to make way and Al-Hilal teammates Mohammad Jahfali and Ali Al-Bulayhi could well find themselves vying for one spot on the plane to Moscow.
Abdullah Otayf and Taisir Al-Jassim look to be firm favorites to make the starting XI in the base of midfield, while the third central spot is up for grabs. Hussein Al-Moqahwi has regularly featured in that position, but Salman Al-Faraj’s return from a long injury saw him start both friendlies in the Spain training camp. Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari could emerge as the more conservative midfield enforcer against stronger sides.
The center of the pitch is where the most intense battle of positions will take place. As many as three midfielders could be left behind come June 4. Ibrahim Ghaleb has already been left out and he may be joined by Al-Shabab duo Hattan Bahebri and Abdulla Al-Khaibari. One of Mohammad Kanno and Mohammed Al Kuwaikbi could be the last man to be dropped in two weeks’ time.
Up front, Harun Kamara, a surprise call-up for the recent friendlies, failed to retain his spot in the squad so Mohannad Assiri and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi will battle it out for the sole striker position.

Squad
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Mosaileem (Al-Ahli); Abdullah Al-Mayouf (Al-Hilal); Assaf Al-Qarni (Al-Ittihad)
Defenders: Motaz Hawsawi, Saeed Al-Muwallad, Mansour Al-Harbi (Al-Ahli); Osama Hawsawi, Mohammed Jahfali, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal); Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr).
Midfielders: Abdullah Al-Khaibari, Hattan Bahebri (Al-Shabab); Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari, Abdulla Otayf, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Kanno, Nawaf Al-Abid (Al-Hilal); Taisir Al-Jassim, Hussein Al-Moqahwi (Al-Ahli); Mohammed Al-Kuwaikbi (Al-Ettifaq); Salem Al-Dawsari (Villarreal); Fahad Al-Muwallad (Levante); Yahya Al-Shehri (Leganes)
Forwards: Mohammed Al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr); Mohannad Assiri (Al-Ahli)