Friday, September 23, 2011

Europe and America prepare for Solheim Cup showdown

American Solheim Cup team member Michelle Wie is introduced to the media ahead of this weekend's showdown
American Solheim Cup team member Michelle Wie is introduced to the media ahead of this weekend's showdown

  • Europe and the United States begin the 12th edition of golf's Solheim Cup on Friday
  • The American women are aiming to win the title for a fourth successive time this weekend
  • The action starts at the Killeen Castle Resort in Ireland with the opening fourballs
(CNN) -- The United States are aiming to win the Solheim Cup for a fourth successive occasion when they face Europe in the 12th edition of the women's team golf tournament, which begins at the Killeen Castle Golf Resort in Ireland on Friday.
The competition, an exact replica of the men's Ryder Cup, begins on Friday morning with four foursomes, where the players alternate playing the same ball, before the afternoon's four fourballs -- which sees each player playing their own ball.
Saturday's two sessions then follow exactly the same format, before Sunday's 12 individual singles, which will determine the winners.
With a total of 28 points up for grabs, the winning team is the first to reach 14 1/2 points, with the Americans securing 16-12 triumphs in Illinois in 2009 and Sweden in 2007.
I think I have a good blend in my team and I am very happy with the way the draw has worked out
Alison Nicholas
Alison Nicholas, who is captaining Europe for a second time following their 2009 defeat, has paired Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist in the opening foursomes match -- with the Swedish duo lining up against Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr.
The English duo of Karen Stupples and Melissa Reid face Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome in the second of the foursomes, while the third sees veteran Scot Catriona Matthew and Spanish rookie Azahara Munoz against Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford.
And Friday's morning session is completed by Suzann Pettersen of Norway and Sweden's Sophie Gustafson facing Brittany Lang and Juli Inkster -- who becomes the oldest-ever Solheim Cup player at the age of 51.
The United States lead Europe 8-3 overall and both Nicholas and her American counterpart Rosie Jones are aware of the need to get a good start in the competition.
Nicholas told the official Solheim Cup website: "I think I have a good blend in my team and I am very happy with the way the draw has worked out.
"Catriona, for instance, is a great leader and gets on so well with everyone. She has lots of experience and I think she will make a great pairing with Azahara. They are both steady players."
The United States come into the match as favorites to retain their title, with four of the world's top 10 amongst their ranks.
"I've put Michelle and Cristie out first because they are both good leaders," Jones told the official website.
"They have played a lot together and had success. I want them to get out there and put up a point."
She continued: "I've got heavy hitters in every match. I have a master plan and I'm going to stick to it as much as possible. But you have to wait and see how the matches go and maybe adjust."
European team: (number of previous Solheim Cup appearances in brackets)
Melissa Reid (Eng) (-)
Laura Davies (Eng) (11)
Karen Stupples (Eng) (1)
Suzann Pettersen (Nor) (5)
Sophie Gustafson (Swe) (7)
Maria Hjorth (Swe) (4)
Anna Nordqvist (Swe) (1)
Caroline Hedwall (Swe) (-)
Catriona Matthew (Sco) (4)
Azahara Munoz (Sp) (-)
Sandra Gal (Ger) (-)
Christel Boeljon (Net) (-)

United States team:
Michelle Wie (1)
Julie Inkster (8)
Cristie Kerr (5)
Paula Creamer (3)
Angela Stanford (3)
Brittany Lang (1)
Brittany Lincicome (2)
Morgan Pressel (2)
Christina Kim (2)
Vicky Hurst (-)
Ryann O'Toole (-)
Stacy Lewis (-)

Djokovic deposes Nadal in U.S. Open epic

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic celebrates after his grueling victory over Rafael Nadal in the 2011 U.S. Open final.
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic celebrates after his grueling victory over Rafael Nadal in the 2011 U.S. Open final.
  • Novak Djokovic wins the U.S. Open for the first time, ending Rafael Nadal's reign
  • Serbia's world No. 1 triumphs 6-2 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-1 in final lasting more than four hours
  • The 24-year-old avenges defeat by the Spaniard in last year's final in New York
  • Djokovic wins his third grand slam title of 2011, with Nadal claiming the other major
(CNN) -- World No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal for the sixth consecutive time to win his first U.S. Open title in dramatic style on Monday and avenge last year's final defeat by the Spaniard.
The Serbian triumphed in an epic lasting four hours and 10 minutes, defying his tiring body after Nadal fought magnificently to take the match to a fourth set.
The 6-2 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-1 scoreline did not reflect the intensity and closeness of the match in New York, the climax of the tennis season's fourth and final major tournament.
Both players battled to a standstill, but Djokovic had the edge when it mattered most as he claimed his fourth Grand Slam title and third this year, winning 146 points to Nadal's 122 .
Novak Djokovic wins 4th Grand Slam title
The 24-year-old is now all-but certain to be the first player other than Nadal or Roger Federer to hold the year-end top ranking since Andy Roddick in 2003, and also took home the winner's check of $1.8 million.
As he did in the Wimbledon final in early July, Djokovic shell-shocked Nadal with his powerhouse play and subtle skills, coming back from 2-0 down in the first two sets.
Nadal did not relinquish his title without a fight, but was unable to convert eight of his 14 break-points in a see-saw match featuring many titanic rallies that thrilled the capacity crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Novak has been doing unbelievable things. What he has done this year will be impossible to repeat
--Rafael Nadal
"I'm disappointed to lose, but Novak has been doing unbelievable things. What he has done this year will be impossible to repeat," world No. 2 said on-court after the match.
"We pushed our bodies to the limits. I tried to play aggressive but he was making fantastic comebacks. I fought for every ball."
Djokovic capitalized on 11 of his 26 break points, firing 55 winners to 32 while making 51 unforced errors to Nadal's 37.
Djokovic served for the title at 6-5 in the 84-minute third set, but Nadal broke back and took the tie-break in commanding style with just under three and a half hours on the clock.
Djokovic needed treatment on his back before winning the opening game of the fourth set, then took a full medical timeout before breaking Nadal's serve.
The halt in action seemed to extinguish the Mallorcan's renewed energy, and he fell to his 10th defeat in 15 hard-court encounters with Djokovic, who reduced his career deficit against Nadal to 13-16 as he won his 10th title of 2011.
It was third time lucky for Djokovic, who was beaten by Federer in the 2007 final at Flushing Meadows.

Motorsport: Stoner claims eighth win

Casey Stoner on his way to victory in the Grand Prix of Aragon in Spain
Casey Stoner on his way to victory in the Grand Prix of Aragon in Spain

  • Casey Stoner closing on MotoGP title after eighth win of the season
  • Honda star eases to victory in the Grand Prix of Aragon
  • Reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo can only manage third place
  • Stoner 44 points clear of Lorenzo with just four races remaining of 2011 season
(CNN) -- Casey Stoner took a further step toward his second MotoGP world title with an impressive win in the Grand Prix of Aragon in Spain Sunday.
The Australian powered his Repsol Honda to a pole to finish line victory, his eighth of a dominant season with his teammate Dani Pedrosa of Spain in second place.
Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo finished third at the Motorland circuit on his Yamaha and now trails Stoner by 44 points with just four races left of the season.
Stoner had slipped to third behind Lorenzo after starting from pole in the previous round in San Marino, but made no mistake this time after recovering from an indifferent start .
"I wanted to get to the front as soon as possible as the bike has been working perfect all weekend and it was our race to lose, so I tried to get in front and pull a gap," he told the official MotoGP website.
Lorenzo was content with his podium position which kept his slim title hopes still alive.
"We are still fighting for the championship and that's the most important thing, we are going to Japan (Motegi GP) with hope still alive," he said.
Marco Simoncelli took fourth with American Ben Spies, who briefly led, back in fifth.
Simoncelli's fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso crashed out on the first lap while Valentino Rossi struggled to 10th of 13 finishers on his Ducati.
Stoner was with Ducati when he won his first world title in 2007.
Home pair Marc Marquez and Nicolas Terol won the supporting Moto2 and 125cc races.

Motorsport: Stoner claims pole in Spain

World Championship leader Casey Stoner on his way to pole position at the Aragon MotoGP
World Championship leader Casey Stoner on his way to pole position at the Aragon MotoGP

  • Casey Stoner claims pole for Aragon MotoGP in Spain
  • Stoner leads world championship from Jorge Lorenzo
  • Lorenzo to start on second row as he bids to cut 35-point gap
  • Valentino Rossi only manages 13th after crash on his Ducati
(CNN) -- Championship leader Casey Stoner claimed pole position Saturday for the Aragon MotoGP in Spain as he set a new lap record on the Motorland circuit.
The Australian powered his Honda to a time of one minute 48.165 seconds, almost half a second better than his own record set at the corresponding race 12 months ago.
The Repsol Honda rider will be joined on the front row by his teammate Dani Pedrosa of Spain and Yamaha's U.S. star Ben Spies.
It was a very eventful qualifying session for us
Casey Stoner
Stoner was taking pole for the ninth time out of 14 races so far and will looking to build on the 35-point lead he holds over defending champion Jorge Lorenzo of Spain.
Lorenzo will start on the second row with Italian pair Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli, but will take heart from his performance in the last race, the San Marino GP, where he beat Stoner into second place.
Ducati's former world champion Nicky Hayden was seventh fastest, but the American's illustrious teammate Valentino Rossi crashed in the opening 15 minutes of qualifying and could only manage 13th best.
MotoGP newcomer Karel Abraham of the Czech Republic took a fine eighth spot ahead of Honda's Hiroshi Aoyama in ninth and France's Randy de Puniet in 10th.
But it was a story of Stoner domination in qualifying yet again and he might have gone even faster but for a miscalculation at the end of the session where he ended up needing to lay down his bike to avoid going into the wall.
"It was a very eventful qualifying session for us," he told the official MotoGP website.
"Everything has been going very well this weekend, we have a good feeling with the bike and I'm feeling great," he added.

The New Musketeers: France's fantastic four bid for Davis Cup glory By Gary Morley, CNN

From left: Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet, Rene Lacoste and Jean Borotra won the Davis Cup six times between 1927 and 1932. From left: Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet, Rene Lacoste and Jean Borotra won the Davis Cup six times between 1927 and 1932.
The Four Musketeers

  • France seeking to reach the final of the Davis Cup for second year in a row
  • Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet , Gilles Simon dubbed "New Musketeers"
  • They are striving to emulate the achievements of four famous compatriots
  • Rene Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Jean Borotra and "Toto" Brugnon dominated world tennis
(CNN) -- Known as "The Four Musketeers," they won fame and fortune on courts across western Europe in a golden era of style and glamor. Some 80 years later, a new quartet of dashing young men is seeking to make a similar mark for France.
Rene Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Jean Borotra and Jacques "Toto" Brugnon were collectively unbeatable in the 1920s and early 1930s, dominating world tennis for almost a decade and establishing France as a major power in the sport.
Named after a film version of the classic Alexandre Dumas novel, they ended U.S. supremacy in the prestigious Davis Cup teams competition, winning it six years in a row, and claimed 43 grand slam singles and doubles titles between them.
The famous Roland Garros venue was built in Paris to host the following year's Davis Cup defense, after their famous victory in Philadelphia in 1927, and the French Open's men's singles trophy was named after them.
After their demise, France had to wait 59 long years for another Davis Cup triumph, and it has been a decade since its last -- and ninth overall -- title. The last Frenchman to win a grand slam was Yannick Noah, in Paris in 1983.
But a modern group of players, dubbed "The New Musketeers" by national sports newspaper L'Equipe, are striving to carve their own place in history.

The New Four Musketeers?
Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet were ranked in the world's top 13 after this month's U.S. Open, raising hopes that they can do better than when similarly placed as fresh-faced youngsters in 2008.
Last year they took France to the final of the Davis Cup, losing to Novak Djokovic's Serbia, and this weekend they will travel to Spain, the home nation of the world No.1's predecessor Rafael Nadal, in a bid to again reach the title decider.
Victory in Spain would likely set up a rematch with the Serbs, who host Argentina in the other semifinal -- with the champions undoubtedly fired up by Djokovic's U.S. Open triumph.
"When you don't have goals, when you don't have dreams, you are already dead. And this is a dream to win against Spain, in Spain," Tsonga told CNN's Open Court.
When you don't have goals, when you don't have dreams, you are already dead
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
In 2008, he lost to Djokovic in the Australian Open final, and this year he was beaten by the Serb in the Wimbledon semifinals before falling to Roger Federer in the last eight in New York.
The all-action 26-year-old will spearhead France's challenge on clay in Cordoba, with world No. 7 Monfils ruled out due to a knee injury following his second-round exit at Flushing Meadows.
While he and his colleagues have all been ranked in the top 10, they are painfully aware they must take the next step and win major titles before they can be talked of in the same way as their more illustrious compatriots.
"We have to win the Davis Cup first," Monfils said. "And then, we try to win a grand slam ... but I think we need two or three Davis Cups and then maybe we can be like musketeers."
The original foursome came from very different backgrounds, with Lacoste the most famous after establishing a fashion label once his glittering playing career had finished as well as inventing the steel tennis racket.
"Lacoste came from a very wealthy family," veteran American sports journalist Bud Collins told CNN.
"His father manufactured automobiles and he fell in love with tennis when he visited some relatives in England. His father said what are you going to do with yourself? Rene said: 'I want to be a tennis player.' His father said: 'Okay, but only if you can be the best.' "
I think we need two or three Davis Cups and then maybe we can be like musketeers
Gael Monfils
Borotra moved into politics during World War Two, serving as General Commissioner to Sports in the Vichy government during the Nazi occupation before being arrested by the Gestapo in 1942. He lived to the age of 95 and founded the International Fair Play Committee.
"He was very gallant. He came from the Basque region and he was called 'the Bounding Basque,' " Collins said.
Cochet, nicknamed "the Ball Boy of Lyon" due to his role before becoming a successful player, was a world No. 1 like Lacoste and won seven grand slam singles titles.
Brugnon was a doubles specialist who won 12 major titles in that discipline and died in 1978 aged 83 -- two years after they were simultaneously inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame.
Of the new breed, most was expected of Gasquet -- a child prodigy who ranked as high as seventh in 2007, but has been rebuilding his career since a three-month absence in 2009 after testing positive for cocaine.
"Gasquet really had a rough time in that he was on the cover of magazines when he was nine, 10 years old," Collins said of a player who won the French Open mixed doubles title as a teenager in 2004.
"In France, they were so excited about him, but it didn't help him. Too much was expected. With the other guys, if they got together, they can pull the best out of him, because he should be the best player."
For Richard it was really difficult because he was really good really early, and all the pressure was on him
Tsonga on Gasquet
Tsonga also tipped his colleague to continue his recent improvement.
"Richard is really, really talented. I think he has improved a lot these past couple of months. He's tougher in his head and I think he's going to play well in the future," he said.
"For him it was really difficult because he was really good really early, and all the pressure was on him. It's not easy when you are young. For me it was completely different and I think far more easy."
Collins calls Tsonga, whose father is Congolese, "probably the most exciting in the team."
"He just goes all out, diving for the ball, everything. At Wimbledon, losing the first two sets to Roger Federer ... that never happened before. Federer never lost the final-set match. And Tsonga is appealing, he looks like Muhammad Ali, he's terrific."
Paris-born Monfils is another larger than life character, with his tattoos and dark, good looks from his Caribbean heritage -- his mother is from Martinique, his father Guadeloupe.
"Oh he's exciting," Collins said. "When he's gonna lose, he jumps in the stands, he's gonna do push-ups -- dive for ball, which he certainly will.
"And he's got a comical outlook on things -- you know, he's a real prize. But then again, he's this guy who doesn't quite make it."
Everybody wants us to do something very good. That's why they call us this (musketeers). But for sure we don't deserve it
Gilles Simon
Monfils said a passion for tennis is their biggest bond.
"We are all different -- really different because we come different parts of France," he said.
"Tennis is the only thing we have in common. We have tennis and that's it. For us it's a passion, I think, and this is why we are friends."
All four players live in Switzerland, and Gasquet said their friendly rivalry is helping them to progress.
"They are my friends, so it's very good. We try to win the Davis Cup this year," the 25-year-old said.
"It's really nice to have them on the tour with me. It's a nice competition between us because when one is playing good, we try to do the same."
While Monfils and Tsonga make headlines with their athletic, never-say-die displays, and Gasquet with his undoubted talent, Simon is the quiet achiever of the group.
Ranked as high as sixth in 2009 and a nine-time winner on the ATP Tour, the slightly-built 26-year-old relies more on guile and baseline tenacity.
"He's very smart. He can run for hours and hours," Gasquet said. "It's very hard to play with him on a baseline.
"You don't see him like Jo or Gael. He's not very muscular. But he's very, very tough to beat."
Despite being aware of the feats of the original foursome from an early age -- statues commemorate the players at Roland Garros -- Monfils said he and his colleagues are not consciously trying to emulate them.
"Right now, I don't really think about 'to be a musketeer,' about the history. When you finish your career maybe you can say, 'Ah they were maybe the next musketeers.' Right now, you know, I don't think about it."
Simon agrees.
"We manage to beat Rafa and Roger sometimes, and Novak also. And it's a good generation -- we are good players but still there are far better players than us on the tour," he said.
"And we just try to win one slam also, because the last one was Yannick Noah in 1983. It's 30 years ago. So, everybody wants us to do something very good. That's why they call us this (musketeers). But for sure we don't deserve it."

Tennis: Serbia out as Djokovic retires

Novak Djokovic collapses in a heap before retiring injured in his Davis Cup rubber against Juan Martin Del Potro
Novak Djokovic collapses in a heap before retiring injured in his Davis Cup rubber against Juan Martin Del Potro

  • Holders Serbia exit Davis Cup at semifinal stage to Argentina
  • Serbia's World No.1 Novak Djokovic retires from his rubber against Juan Martin Del Potro
  • Del Potro's win gives Argentina winning 3-1 lead in Belgrade
  • Rafael Nadal secures Spain's passage to the final as he beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
(CNN) -- Davis Cup holders Serbia exited this year's competition as their world number one Novak Djokovic was forced to retire from his crucial rubber against Juan Martin Del Potro with a back injury.
Djokovic, who sat out the opening round of singles matches, was trailing a set and 3-0 when he called it a day in front of a partisan home crowd in the Belgrade Arena.
Del Potro's victory gave Argentina an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the tie, ending home hopes after Nenad Zimonjic and Viktor Troicki had pulled Serbia back into contention with their doubles victory Saturday.
They will play Spain in the final after Rafael Nadal gave them a winning 3-1 lead over France with a crushing straight sets win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on the clay in Cordoba.
I am not angry, just sad and disappointed, as I really believed I could endure the match and win it
Novak Djokovic
France, like Serbia, had won the doubles rubber to trail 2-1, but Nadal, beaten by Djokovic in the U.S. Open final last week, showed no signs of fatigue with a 6-0 6-2 6-4 victory.
It was the second success of the weekend for Nadal, who beat Richard Gasquet in the opening singles matches, backed up by David Ferrer's win over Gilles Simon.
Tsonga, who beat Nadal at Queen's Club earlier this year, was no match for the world number two on his favorite surface and despite a brief rally in the third set was beaten in a little over two hours.
Gasquet was to play Fernando Verdasco in the final dead rubber. The victory avenged Spain's 5-0 whitewash by France in last year's quarterfinals.
France went on to reach the final where they were beaten by a resurgent Serbia in the final, with Djokovic leading the way as he embarked on his incredible unbeaten run and victory in three of this year's four grand slams.
But Sunday saw one of his few setbacks in 2011, visibly struggling after losing a tight first set tiebreak 7-5. 2009 U.S Open champion Del Potro showed no mercy and quickly broke at the start of the second to take control.
Djokovic, who had needed treatment for his back while beating Nadal at Flushing Meadows, admitted after his defeat that he had taken a risk in attempting to lift his country back into the tie.
"I was not even 60 percent ready, but we have accepted that risk although we knew that my injury could worsen," he told the official Davis Cup website.
"I am not angry, just sad and disappointed, as I really believed I could endure the match and win it, but against a player who pulled in 80 percent of his first serve, that was impossible," Djokovic added.
He will now have further tests to examine the extent of his injury ahead of lucrative end of year tournaments which culminate in the ATP Tour Finals in London.
Meanwhile, Argentina will travel to Spain for December's final in a repeat of the 2008 title match which the Spanish won in Mar del Plata.

Euro giants falter as Barca, Real and Milan draw

Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas celebrates scoring his late equalizer
Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas celebrates scoring his late equalizer

  • Both Barcelona and Real Madrid draw in La Liga
  • Real Madrid held to a dull 0-0 draw against Racing Santander
  • Barcelona came from behind to draw 2-2 with Valencia
  • In Serie A, AC Milan also draw
(CNN) -- Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid were both held in La Liga as they battled to unconvincing draws.
Real Madrid failed to score for a second consecutive game as they were held 0-0 by Racing Santander. Coach Jose Mourinho could do little to inject some life into his team as they struggled to break down a spirited Racing defense.
In fact it was Racing who could have taken the lead after Oscar Serrano's superb strike was only kept out by a stunning finger-tip save by goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
The draw followed Real's 1-0 defeat to Levante and leaves them seventh in the league.
I'm happy because the lads played well
AC Milan coach Massimilano Allegri
"This was a different match to that against Levante as here it felt as though there was only one side looking to win the game," Mourinho told AFP.
"It is a worrying situation as we have now lost five points from two games away from home. It would be wrong to say one player hasn't scored or another one has failed but as a team we weren't at our best although we tried."
Meanwhile Barcelona were lucky to grab a 2-2 draw with Valencia, La Liga's early, surprise pace-setters.
In a chaotic 11 first half minutes Eric Abidal gifted Valencia the lead when he deflected a low cross from the left into his own net. Pedro soon equalized for Barcelona but a few moments later Pablo Hernandez tapped in to restore Valencia's well-deserved advantage.
But the match turned on what may well be the miss of the season when Roberto Soldado, totally unmarked and in the middle of an empty net, somehow slid in and diverted the ball past the left hand post.
In the second half Barcelona probed in their typically patient fashion before Cesc Fabregas scored his fourth goal of the season. The match finished 2-2.
Elsewhere Atletico Madrid won 4-0 win against Sporting Gijon. Big money summer signing Falcao scored twice, taking his tally to five goals in two games. Qatar-owned Malaga beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 whilst Levante followed their impressive victory over Real Madrid with all three points against Rayo Vallecano, beating them 2-1.
In Italy AC Milan needed a 63rd minute goal from teenage substitute Stephan el Shaarawy to earn a 1-1 draw against Udinese. The result means that both Milan clubs have yet to record a win this season. Tuesday night saw Inter Milan lose 3-1 to newly-promoted Novara and coach Gian Piero Gasperini lose his job.
But AC Milan coach Massimilano Allegri insisted that he was happy with his team's performance.
"We played well right up until the end and only risked conceding on the counter," he told AFP.
"It's normal that it's not nice looking at the table but the important thing is how you play. I'm happy because the lads played well and took risks by trying to score."
Genoa currently lead Serie A on goals scored after beating Catania 3-0.

Sport overcomes politics as Turkey hosts Israelis amid rising tensions

Only a dozen of Maccabi Tel Aviv's fans attended the game, barely populating the largely empty away section.
Only a dozen of Maccabi Tel Aviv's fans attended the game, barely populating the largely empty away section.

  • Clash between football teams from Turkey and Israeli passes peacefully in Istanbul
  • There had been fears that Maccabi Tel Aviv's players and fans would be attacked
  • Besiktas supporters insist they have no problem with Israelis, but wanted to win
  • Just a dozen Maccabi fans attended the match, played amid rising political tension
Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) -- They traveled to Istanbul amid fears that mob violence might erupt as relations between two once-friendly nations turned ugly.
But if Maccabi Tel Aviv and the Israeli club's supporters received any trouble from the people of Turkey last week, it was only on the football pitch.
After a 5-1 trouncing at the hands of Istanbul's Besiktas, Maccabi safely returned to Tel Aviv the next day as concerns that the team and its fans would be in danger proved unfounded.
The Europa League match appeared to be a perfect convergence of sports and politics, coming as relations between Israel and Turkey reached an all-time low.
Less than two weeks before the match, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expelled the Israeli ambassador over the Middle Eastern country's refusal to apologize for a naval commando raid on the SS Mavi Marmara, on which nine Turkish activists were killed as they made their way to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Days later, Turkey broke off military ties with Israel -- and Jerusalem announced the formation of a naval alliance with Greece, Turkey's historical enemy.
Erdogan has since threatened to deploy Turkish warships to escort the next Gaza Flotilla and to increase Turkish naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean to counter Israeli "bullying practices" in the area.

Turkey vs. Israel in football
Turkey quickly became a state where Israelis no longer feel welcome, just as Maccabi Tel Aviv headed to Istanbul for a match against a team renowned for having some of the wildest fans in Turkish soccer.
Elif Batuman, a regular contributor to The New Yorker and a writer-in-residence at Koc University, described the Besiktas squad as "the more working-class team."
"Of the three main Istanbul teams, Besiktas is kind of the underdog. They have the least money, the most run-down stadium," she said.
"With the other two big Istanbul teams (Galatasaray and Fenerbahce), the stadiums don't have any particular ties to their neighborhoods, and the fan bases are more spread out. They call themselves the neighborhood team, the people's team."
Ahead of a talk on Turkish soccer at an art gallery in central Istanbul the day before the match, Batuman described Besiktas supporters as being tied not only to the neighborhood but also, to some extent, to a political way of life.
Israel isn't our problem, it's the country's problem. Every Besiktas game is crazy
Kemal Yuksel
"They're the most political of the soccer teams: they support Greenpeace, they do blood drives, they're environmentalists. They're definitely not pro-American, the ones I've talked to, but they say they don't dislike Americans, only American policy. They are also definitely not pro-Israel and they support the Palestinians."
He said the match against Maccabi, the most successful club in Israel, was "clearly seen as a rallying event."
The Israeli media aired reports that Maccabi players who serve in the Israel Defense Forces reserves were banned from taking part in the game out of fear for their safety. The report turned out to be false, but was in keeping with a general sense in Israel that the team was heading straight into the lion's den at the worst possible moment, prompting calls for the game to be canceled or forfeited.
By mid-afternoon on Thursday, Besiktas fans began pouring into a square in the heart of their neighborhood, a short walk from the stadium. Cheering and downing copious amounts of Efes Pilsen beer, they locked arms and sang about the evils of the hated Fenerbahce and the beauty of all that is Besiktas.
Those Besiktas supporters spoken to at the pre-game drink-up did not appear to have the Gaza Strip or the Mavi Marmara on their minds, and were completely indifferent to the presence of an Israeli reporter scribbling on a notepad in their midst.
They're the most political of the soccer teams: they support Greenpeace, they do blood drives, they're environmentalists
Elif Batuman on Besiktas fans
"We hate Fenerbahce, not Israel," said Kazim, a student from Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, who also said he did not believe the war of words between the Turkish PM and Netanyahu gave the game any extra meaning.
Kemal Yuksel, a student at the Istanbul Technical University said the Besiktas fans are "just interested in football, not politics."
"We live for Besiktas and it doesn't matter what country you're from -- we want to beat you," he said. "Israel isn't our problem, it's the country's problem. Every Besiktas game is crazy, doesn't matter if we play Maccabi or anyone else."
At the same time that the Besiktas fans were pounding pre-game lagers, a crowd of around 200 people marched from Taksim Square in central Istanbul to the Inonu stadium, vowing not to forget or forgive the Mavi Marmara incident. Wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the pictures of the nine Turkish activists and with some protesters carrying flags of the Lebanese Shi'ite militia Hezbollah, they made their way towards the stadium without arrest or incident.
The protest was a repeat of sorts of a smaller gathering held the night before outside the Divan hotel where the Maccabi players were staying. A crowd of about 20 people waving Palestinian flags stood in silence across from the hotel for a couple of hours before filing away into the night.
Meanwhile, a block further down the street past the Divan hotel, three street-walkers of unclear gender plied their wares, drawing slightly more interest from passersby than the nearby anti-Israel protest.
We told everyone we were Israeli. No-one gave us any trouble whatsoever
Israel Mukhtar
Like everywhere else the Maccabi players traveled during their visit, the Divan was under heavy police protection. Outside the hotel, two armored police vans were parked at the ready, with officers in front of the vehicles with sub-machine guns. Around a dozen other police officers stood in formation next to the vans, but were not wearing riot gear. Next to the vehicles, a police sedan idled, while a single officer napped in the front seat.
The heightened security continued inside the stadium, where dozens of riot police circled the field and plainclothes police and security officials kept a constant watch on the event.
Once the match kicked off, it took only three minutes for Besiktas forward Hugo Almeida to put his team on the board with the first of his two goals. Maccabi answered soon after halftime through forward Roi Kehane, but the visitors never threatened again and Besiktas rolled to a 5-1 victory before a raucous home crowd.
The 12 hardy Maccabi Tel Aviv fans who attended the game, protected by at least 20 police per head, were seated in the fenced-off visitors' section, which was book-ended on the left and right by two sections of empty seats patrolled by stadium security.
One of those Israeli fans who made the trip to Istanbul was Israel Mukhtar, 45, who was in town on his first-ever trip abroad with the Maccabi squad.
"We went all around the markets and the nightclubs [in Istanbul] and we told everyone we were Israeli. No-one gave us any trouble whatsoever," Mukhtar said, adding "all of the security was well done and we never felt a threat for a second, I didn't even see a single Palestinian flag."
Mukhtar and his friends, nearly all of whom were middle-aged men who seemed to know each other prior to the trip, said the danger inherent in the match was overblown by the Israeli media.
They praised the professionalism of Turkish security forces, and expressed their feelings that the diplomatic tension between the two countries is on the upper levels of their respective government, and not reflected in a visceral hatred from people on the streets of Turkey's largest city -- as opposed to Cairo, for instance, where a mob ransacked the embassy a week earlier forcing the Israeli staff to flee in drag under evacuation by Egyptian commandos.
Even with the final score of the match reflecting an on-field massacre of the Israeli visitors, Mukhtar said he was not disappointed by his decision to attend the match.
"To be honest, it made me proud to be Israeli. To know that out of 6 million people (in Israel), you're one of only 12 who was willing to come ... I think it means something."

Coach Rangnick quits Schalke position citing 'fatigue'

Ralf Rangnick has quit his job as Schalke coach after just six months in the position.
Ralf Rangnick has quit his job as Schalke coach after just six months in the position.

  • Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick has quit his position citing fatigue
  • Rangnick had been in charge for just six months after replacing Felix Magath
  • The 53-year-old becomes the second Bundesliga coach to lose his job this season
  • Hamburg sacked Michael Oenning earlier this week after a poor start to the season
(CNN) -- Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick has quit the German Bundesliga club after just six months in charge, citing fatigue syndrome as the reason for his decision.
The 53-year-old Rangnick took over from Felix Magath on March 17, and steered the club to the Champions League semifinals last season, before then winning the German Cup courtesy of a 5-0 thrashing of second division side Duisburg in the final.
Rangnick issued a statement on Schalke's official website, saying: After long and careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that I need a break.
"This has been an incredibly difficult decision for me to take but my current energy levels are not enough to be successful or drive forward the footballing development of the team and the club."
This has been an incredibly difficult decision for me to take but my current energy levels are not enough to be successful
Ralf Rangnick
He added: "I am therefore taking this step also in the interest of my team, whom I wish every success for the rest of the season."
Speaking about Rangnick's decision, general manager Horst Heldt told the official website: Ralf Rangnick's decision deserves the highest respect.
"We certainly share the view that health should take priority over any professional goals and challenges. Ralf will now withdraw from the game completely until further notice to allow him to make the best possible use of the time off he needs."
Meanwhile, team doctor Thorsten Rarreck told reporters: "He realised enough is enough. This is very brave of him. I know lots of people who in the same situation would have thought they have to go on.
"It will take him a few months to recover, but unlike depression, burn-out is reversible," he added.
Rangnick becomes the second Bundesliga coach this week to lose his job, after Hamburg sacked Michael Oenning on Monday after their poor start to the season.

Ranieri replaces Gasperini at Inter Milan

Inter Milan are the 12th club of Claudio Ranieri's 24-year coaching career.
Inter Milan are the 12th club of Claudio Ranieri's 24-year coaching career.

  • Inter Milan have appointed Claudio Ranieri as their new coach
  • Ranieri arrives just 24 hours after Gian Piero Gasperini exited the club
  • Inter have made a winless start to the Italian Serie A season
  • Roma and Siena are still without a win after drawing 1-1 on Thursday
(CNN) -- Veteran coach Claudio Ranieri has been given the chance to restore Inter Milan's fortunes following the short, unsuccessful tenure of Gian Piero Gasperini at the Italian club.
Ranieri has previously been in charge of big European teams such as Juventus, Chelsea, Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Napoli, but has been out of work since leaving Inter's Serie A rivals Roma in February after a run of poor results.
He takes over a team in turmoil, with Gasperini sacked on Wednesday following a 3-1 defeat by newly-promoted Novara -- Inter's second in three league matches. Gasperini, 53, is the only coach in Inter's history to leave without winning a game.
The three-time European champions also lost to archrivals AC Milan in the Italian Super Cup and to Turkish outfit Trabzonspor in the Champions League group stage opener.

Inter Milan manager sacked
"Claudio Ranieri has officially become the new coach of Inter. He has signed a contract binding him to the club June 30, 2013," Inter's official website reported on Thursday.
"Everyone at F.C. Internazionale has the pleasure of welcoming Claudio Ranieri and his staff and wishing them well."
Ranieri, whose only major managerial honors are the 1996 Italian Cup with Fiorentina and 1999 Spanish Cup at Valencia, said he wants to improve the current squad's mentality.
"I think I will need to talk a lot with the squad, the mental aspect is very important," the 59-year-old told Italian television channel RAI Sport.
"Inter are a great team. We have to pick up the pace after this false start. The players are there and we have everything to lift the team. Gasperini had every right to try to execute his ideas; he tried to make his system work with all his strength, but without success.
Inter are a great team. We have to pick up the pace after this false start
Claudio Ranieri
"I do not think he can be criticized, he tried to implement his ideas until the end. For me, every system can bring victories -- if Inter have always played in a specific way, there must be a reason."
Known as the "The Tinkerman" from his time at Chelsea when he constantly rotated his team, Ranieri refused to make any promises of success this season as Inter seek a 19th Serie A crown.
"I do not like to promise things. I want the best from these players, who have so much to give."
His appointment means that Inter have now had four different coaches since current Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho left the San Siro in May 2010.
Mourinho guided Inter to a historic treble, which included a first European Cup in 35 years, before being replaced by the Spaniard Rafael Benitez after leaving for the Bernabeu stadium.
Benitez, who led Liverpool to Champions League success in 2005, was sacked in December 2010 despite taking Inter to victory at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Former AC Milan coach Leonardo took over from Benitez and guided Inter to a second-place finish in Serie A last season, before his move to France's Paris St. Germain as director of football led to ex-Genoa boss Gasperini being appointed in June.
Ranieri's first match in charge of his new team will be Saturday's league trip to Bologna.
Meanwhile, the one Serie A match played on Thursday saw Roma and Siena draw 1-1 at the Olympic Stadium.
Daniel Osvaldo put Roma ahead in the 25th minute when he tapped home Marco Borriello's pull back .
But the visitors levelled with just two minutes remaining when Roberto Vitiello netted from a rebound after Franco Brienza's effort crashed against the post.
The result means both sides are still waiting for their first victory of the season, having drawn two of their opening three games.
In Spain, an injury time goal from Walter Pandiani gave Espanyol a 1-0 success over Getafe, who have now lost threee successive Primera Liga matches.

Manchester United hit back over Owen Hargreaves treatment claims

Sir Alex Ferguson defends 'fantastic' Man Utd medical staff
Manchester United have defended their medical treatment of Owen Hargreaves after he said he felt like a "guinea pig" while recovering from injury.
The midfielder, who barely played in his last three seasons at Old Trafford, has alleged his comeback was affected by a course of pain-killing injections.
"I've had to be a guinea pig for a lot of treatments," said Hargreaves, who joined Manchester City in the summer.
A United statement said: "The club gave him the best possible care."
It added: "The club is as disappointed as anyone he was not able to play a part in the team's success [over the last three years].
"It has shared all the medical records with Manchester City and is comfortable with the actions taken by its medical staff at each step of his many attempts at rehabilitation.
"Manchester United has some of the best sports medical staff in world sport."
Reds boss Sir Alex Ferguson last year admitted to having concerns over Hargreaves' ability to make a successful comeback from his injury problems.
But he said on Friday: "Our doctor and his five physios are fantastic.


  • 2007-08 - 34
  • 2008-09 - 3
  • 2009-10 - 1 (93rd minute substitute in penultimate game of season)
  • 2010-11 - 1 (Substitued after six minutes due to injury)
"As far as I am concerned my medical staff are one of the main reasons why we have been so successful over the last few years.
"Do you think we would be successful if they were not 100% brilliant? That is my opinion and that is more important than what anyone else has to say about it."
Hargreaves, 30, spent four seasons at Old Trafford but persistent tendinitis meant the player had to have double knee surgery during the 2008-09 season.
However, he revealed the problems began in his first season at United, following his £17m move from German side Bayern Munich.
"I received some injections and my tendon was never the same," he said in an interview with several national newspapers.
"I tried to get back on my feet and [United's medical staff] said my tendon was good, but it felt like I was made of glass.
"[The injections] obviously had a huge impact. With hindsight, I probably should not have had them. It's difficult."

[The injections] obviously had a huge impact. With hindsight, I probably should not have had them
Owen Hargreaves
Hargreaves also suggested that he was pressured to play in a Premier League game against Wolves last season.
It was the first game he had started since September 2008, but it proved to be his last for the club as he limped off just five minutes into the game.
"I said, 'I think I've got a bit of a muscle problem here'," Hargreaves said.
"I was surprised it didn't go in the warm-up. I wasn't going to sprint, which sounds comical.
"I was just going to try to get through 45 minutes because that would have been a start.
"But I didn't even last five. I wasn't surprised because I had said to them that I had a hamstring problem, which I obviously did have."
Hargreaves, who was released by United in June, made his City debt on Wednesday, scoring in their 2-0 Carling Cup victory over Birmingham.
He revealed in March 2010 his concerns at some of the medical treatment he was receiving.
Asked whether he was unhappy with the treatment, Hargreaves replied: "Yes, absolutely you could say that. Not everybody's right.
"People make mistakes, that's part of life, and (when) it involves you, you're not too happy about it. Especially when, in the end, I miss almost two full seasons for Man United."
Owen Hargreaves

Rugby World Cup 2011: Guscott on NZ v France & Scotland v Argentina

Key men (clockwise from top left): New Zealand fly-half Carter, France counterpart Parra, Argentina number 10 Contepomi and Scotland full-back Paterson Key men (clockwise from top left): New Zealand fly-half Carter, France counterpart Parra, Argentina number 10 Contepomi and Scotland's Paterson THE CONTEXT - WHY ARE THESE TWO MATCHES SO IMPORTANT?
France and New Zealand have plenty of World Cup history between them, with Les Bleus stunning the All Blacks in the knockout stages in both 1999 and 2007.
Saturday's game is not life and death as the losers should still go through to the last eight - and will then be in arguably the easier half of the draw.
But with New Zealand hosting this year's event and the two past defeats looming large, there is huge pressure on the All Blacks to deliver in Auckland.
In the other game, an Argentina defeat would mean they could not reach the last eight, while if Scotland lost they would then need to beat the auld enemy, England, to reach the knockout stages.
THE BUILD-UP - WHAT SHAPE IS EACH TEAM IN? There is a lot of tension surrounding the All Blacks because of the media frenzy in New Zealand, but anyone expecting another shock should be under no illusions - this New Zealand side, at home in a World Cup, will be damned difficult to beat.
France celebrate defeating New Zealand at the 2007 World Cup France's 2007 victory in the last eight stunned the rugby world There's a lot being made of the history between the two teams and although it's true France have been their bogey team in the past, that's been in the knockout stages.
France's mindset is hard to fathom because coach Marc Lievremont has selected the team as only he can.
Putting Morgan Parra, normally a scrum-half, at fly-half is extraordinary. None of us should be surprised, given Lievremont's erratic selection history, but it is still beyond belief.
There has been a strange selection in the other game as well, where coach Andy Robinson has dropped captain Alastair Kellock from the second row.
It has been suggested this is to beef up the Scotland pack but you can't pick your leader and then, when it comes to the most important game, leave him out.
Argentina go into the match full of confidence, although much rests on captain and fly-half Felipe Contepomi - he has been declared fit to play, but it will be a gamble.
If he is not 100% it will be too much of a risk to field him because you cannot afford to lose a leader, goal kicker and playmaker. One hit in the ribs and he could be off.
TACTICS - WHAT GAMEPLAN CAN WE EXPECT FROM EACH SIDE? First and foremost, New Zealand have to get past that French pack, because if the All Blacks do have a weakness it is up front.
We saw South Africa control them up front in their second Tri-Nations meeting and the Wallabies had the upper hand in that area in the final game of the tournament.
Rather than play a pick-and-go game like they tried when they lost to Australia, the All Blacks should play a quick, high-tempo game and try to unsettle a French side that hasn't played together much.
Ma'a Nonu on the attack for the All Blacks Nonu has seen off the challenge of Williams to start at inside centre Nobody tends to come off well against the All Blacks' backline. They've got Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith in the centres, with Sonny Bill Williams on the bench, and their combination with fly-half Dan Carter works beautifully, while there's also plenty of weaponry out wide.
France have good backs of their own, notably winger Vincent Clerc, but they don't have settled combinations because Lievremont keeps changing things - I'm at a bit of a loss really as to what he's thinking.
The pack will be as forthright as always and New Zealand may do well to get any change out of them.
In the other game, Scotland boss Robinson has made no secret of the fact that he has picked a ball-handling team - including Ruaridh Jackson at fly-half - to move Argentina around.
However, it's not that easy to execute a gameplan if you haven't got the ball and it will be an interesting contrast in style between Argentine grunt and a team trying to play a bit more football.
Although they only pulled away late on, I was impressed by Scotland against Romania. They played with a good tempo, and if they can reproduce that they should do OK.
KEY PLAYERS - WHO ARE THE MAIN MEN IN AUCKLAND & WELLINGTON? France's key man is Parra - we're all waiting to see what he'll do. He's up against Dan Carter and we've got a pretty good idea what he'll produce.


"The handsome glass cabinet that has been built to house Carter's memorabilia is testament to one of the stellar All Black careers."
Read the rest of the blog here
Beware writing Parra off. The Clermont player turned out at fly-half on occasion for former club Bourgoin and could have quite an accomplished game at 10 - he just doesn't play there often enough to be able to say that with confidence.
Scotland's key man will be kicker Chris Paterson, because in a tight game you need to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Contempomi is Argentina's main man, not just as a leader and playmaker but also as a goal kicker. If he doesn't make it then whoever replaces him will have to shoulder a huge amount of pressure.
PREDICTION - SO WHO'S GOING TO WIN THEN? New Zealand should be too strong for France. There's been no indication from Les Bleus that they're going to produce the phenomenal display that will be needed to beat the All Blacks.
It's impossible for New Zealand not to have their past World Cup defeats by France on their minds because that is all anyone is talking about - we know how intense a rugby nation they are.


  • 1987: NZ 29-9 France (final)
  • 1999: France 43-31 NZ (SF)
  • 2007: France 20-18 NZ (QF)
If they were to lose this time it would just leave them with what looks like an easier draw, rather than an early exit, but I don't think that will be on their minds.
New Zealand will win this by a good 15 points.
In Wellington, the key will be how few errors Scotland make. If they make too many then Argentina, who have a strong set-piece, will deny the Scots the ball and they will struggle.
However, if Scotland execute their gameplan efficiently, they will win, but it should be close.

Sebastian Vettel leads Fernando Alonso in Singapore practice

Singapore Grand Prix

  • Venue: Marina Bay, Singapore
  • Date: 23-25 September
  • Coverage: Saturday 24 September: Third practice 1155-1305 BBC Red Button/BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online; Qualifying 1400-1630 BBC One/BBC Radio 5 live and online; Sunday 25 September: Singapore Grand Prix: 1210-1530 BBC One/Radio 5 live and online; F1 forum: 1530-1630, BBC Red Button/online; Highlights: 1900-2000 BBC Three
Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus
Singapore GP - first practice
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel beat Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to the pace in an incident-packed Friday practice at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Vettel, who can win the world title on Sunday if results go his way, was 0.201 seconds quicker than Alonso, who beat him into second place here last year.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was fastest in first practice but third in the second.
Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button missed half of the afternoon session after going off the track.
Button locked up his brakes heading into Turn 14 and had to take to the escape road after 40 of the 90 minutes.
Button was advised by his race engineer that he could engage reverse gear but he replied: "Not working", before climbing out and walking away, clearly annoyed at the turn of events.
Another man to push beyond the limits of the demanding, bumpy street track here was Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi.
The Swiss ran wide at the exit of the chicane before the final two corners on his run on the faster super-soft tyre, and clouted the wall, taking off his right front wheel and suspension.
Hamilton and Vettel swapped fastest times in the first session, with the Englishman emerging 0.406secs ahead.

We enjoy winning and I think we can be competitive, we have some new parts on the car, we have six races left and we'd like to win them
Martin Whitmarsh McLaren team principal
Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber was third fastest ahead of Alonso.
In the second session, Vettel set the pace from the outset, and after 40 minutes the German was a second faster than anyone else - with team-mate Mark Webber his closest pursuer, with Hamilton third.
Emphasising his superiority, at one point, Hamilton came on the radio to this team to ask: "Where are we?" He was told: "Red Bull 1.6secs quicker than us - most of the time to find is in the final sector."
At that point, Vettel was a massive 0.7secs ahead in the final section, which comprises seven mostly right-angled corners and the final two corners, taken as one double-apex left-hander.
That margin was reduced later on in the session, but Vettel and Red Bull appear to have an advantage over their rivals, particularly on single-lap qualifying pace.
However, Alonso's pace on his race-simulation run with a heavy tank of fuel late in the session was highly impressive and appeared at first glance to be faster than Vettel's.
The first session was delayed twice by problems with the circuit's kerbs, which came loose at several points around the track.
The session started 30 minutes later and was shortened to an hour after loose kerbs were found following a support race, and a recurrence caused a five-minute stoppage towards the end of the session, too.
Governing body the FIA removed the kerbs on the apex of Turn 13 in a successful effort to prevent the problem recurring in the second session.


  • 2010 - Fernando Alonso - Ferrari
  • 2009 - Lewis Hamilton - McLaren
  • 2008 - Fernando Alonso - Renault
However, race officials have admitted that they have work to do overnight to ensure the kerbs stay in place during qualifying and the race.
Although his rivals are resigned to the fact that Vettel will win the title sooner or later, Ferrari and McLaren are still determined to beat him as often as possible in the remaining six races.
McLaren have a new rear wing here, and Ferrari a new front wing as they continue to develop their cars.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "We enjoy winning and I think we can be competitive, we have some new parts on the car, we have six races left and we'd like to win them.
"Both the drivers are motivated and I think we can do a decent job.
"Lewis is quite relaxed and I think he's very determined. He has had a difficult season, and he did everything he could to try to stay out of trouble at the last race.
"I told him that was a very disciplined drive but I would like the old Lewis back."

Everton sign US keeper Marcus Hahnemann on short-term deal

    Marcus Hahnemann playing for Wolves Hahnemann began his career in England at Fulham in 1999
    Everton have signed goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann on a short-term deal.
    The 39-year-old, who has been without a club since he was released by Wolves in the summer, has signed a contract at Goodison Park until January.
    Hahnemann has won nine international caps, chiefly as back-up to Everton's first choice stopper Tim Howard.
    Toffees boss David Moyes said: "We have only got two [keepers] so I felt we needed someone. He is experienced and will give us that bit of extra cover."
    Hahnemann will also compete with Jan Mucha for a starting spot.
    "It is difficult when you only have two senior goalkeepers - it only needs one of them to go down and then you are in trouble," Moyes continued.
    "I would have liked to have got somebody before the [transfer] window closed if we could, but there were other priorities at the time.
    "It gives me someone who can help in the reserves and if we get an injury to a goalkeeper, he has got good experience of the Premier League and we can use him as back-up."
    He spent seven years at Reading, helping them win the Championship title in 2005-06 season with a record 106 points.

    IOC chief demands 2012 boxing bribe evidence from BBC

    Claims of 2012 boxing medal fix
    International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has called on the BBC to provide evidence into claims attempts have been made to fix boxing results at the 2012 Olympic Games.
    BBC Newsnight uncovered evidence of secret payments from Azerbaijan to World Series Boxing, to allegedly guarantee two golds.
    "We take every allegation very seriously," said Rogge.
    The International Amateur Boxing Association denies the claim.
    A BBC spokesperson said: "Newsnight has been talking to the authorities and will assist where appropriate."
    AIBA is the international governing body for the sport of boxing recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), while World Series Boxing, a franchised league of professional boxing, is one of its initiatives.
    AIBA is, however, investigating the claims and Rogge added: "We welcome the inquiry by the AIBA and we have asked the BBC to provide evidence."

    Boxing chief denies cash for 2012 Olympic medals deal
    Since the allegations surfaced, AIBA president Wu Ching-kuo has also denounced the BBC claims, saying they are "totally untrue and ludicrous," though he added he would investigate them.
    According to the BBC report, an Azeri national paid $9m (£5.8m) to a WSB competition.
    After the programme was broadcast, AIBA issued a statement saying a loan to WSB had been made by "an Azerbaijani investor... made on a commercial basis and with a view to a commercial return for the investor."
    AIBA said it believed the allegations were made by individuals with an axe to grind and added that the claims "demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the procedures which lead to the award of Olympic boxing medals and the impossibility of influencing these."
    The statement added: "Any suggestion that the loan was made in return for promises of gold medals at the 2012 Olympics is preposterous and utterly untrue."
    A spokesperson for the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE), which is affiliated to AIBA, said: "We are surprised by the allegations. We support AIBA's zero tolerance position on corruption and its decision to hold an investigation."

    Our boxers and coaches are focused solely on competing at the World Championships and will not allow this issue to distract their preparations
    A spokesperson for the British Amateur Boxing Association
    The BBC report cited unnamed "whistleblowers" as having told its reporters they had been informed about a deal by WSB's chief operating officer Ivan Khodabakhsh. The programme also said the money was needed by the WSB because it had run into financial difficulties in the United States.
    Khodabakhsh denied the allegations as "an absolute lie".
    "I deny that I have offered anyone two gold medals or have any understanding that anybody else has offered two gold medals to Azerbaijan," he added.
    Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the British Amateur Boxing Association, which manages the elite GB Boxing programme for the Olympic Games, said: "Our boxers and coaches are focused solely on competing at the World Championships and will not allow this issue to distract their preparations.
    "The squad has performed very well in competitions in 2011 and aims to continue its excellent run."
    Azerbaijan's only boxing medal at the last Olympics in Beijing was a bronze.
    The BBC's report comes just days before the World Amateur Boxing Championships get under way on 26 September in Baku, Azerbaijan.

    Rugby World Cup 2011: News round-up


    • Venues: 11 (nine in North Island, two in South)
    • Dates: Fri 9 Sept - Sun 23 Oct
    • Kick-offs: From 0100 BST - 0930 BST
    • Coverage: Scores & reports on BBC Sport website plus live text commentaries on home nations and other major games; updates on BBC Radio 5 live; watch on ITV; commentary on TalkSport
    School children in Wellington Scots College School students in Wellington perform for the Scotland team but World Cup chiefs have not been so favourable towards Scottish instruments A round-up of the latest news, views and gossip from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
    Former Wales captain Ryan Jones is on course to make his World Cup debut against Namibia in New Plymouth next Monday, after recovering from a calf muscle injury that has sidelined him since the World Cup warm-up fixture with England at Twickenham almost seven weeks ago.
    Zara Phillips has arrived in Auckland, but has yet to see her husband, England centre Mike Tindall, the New Zealand Herald reported on Thursday. The Queen's grand-daughter was pictured at an evening charity event for the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust.
    Pressure is mounting on Rugby World Cup organisers to relax a ban on musical instruments at venues which has prevented bagpipes from being played at Scotland's matches. The NZ Herald reported that an online poll conducted by New Zealand's state television network attracted more than 16,000 responses, of which 71% called for the ban to be rescinded. Officials are being labelled "kiltjoys" for their refusal to allow the pipes.
    Romania captain Marius Tincu is being demoted to the bench as they make dramatic alterations for the England game. Cristian Petre will serve as captain of a side that includes 11 changes.
    Australia captain Will Genia says that his team will change their style of play following their 15-6 defeat against Ireland because they haven't adapted well enough to field-position orientated rugby.
    New Zealand coach Graham Henry isn't ruling out a return for Mils Muliaina in the knockout rounds, even though Israel Dagg has been chosen at full-back for Saturday's game against France.
    After the first 20 of 40 World Cup pool matches the overall success rate for all goalkicks has been recorded at just over 60%. That was made up from a 70% success with conversions and only 56% for penalties, a shade over one successful kick from two penalties, which represents a significantly lower figure than in previous tournaments.
    The International Rugby Board (IRB) dismissed any criticism of the Virtuo ball used in the World Cup, which has a different bladder and valve than the Synergie ball used in the 2007 tournament. "RWCL is extremely satisfied with the performance of the Gilbert Virtuo World Cup match ball," said a spokesman.
    The Virtuo was introduced to Test rugby in 2010 and was used in the Six Nations and Tri-Nations tournaments as well as last year's Autumn internationals. "Every ball sent over for the tournament has been hand checked by our Ball Engineer to ensure that they are identical and that they satisfy the high standards required by a Gilbert match ball," said Richard Gray, sales and marketing director of the British company who have supplied the World Cup's balls since 1995. "The technical changes we have incorporated into the Virtuo ball enable us to inflate each ball to the correct pressure prior to handing over to match officials."
    Fiji flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu has appealed against his three-match suspension for a tip tackle on South Africa's Pat Lambie.
    France winger Vincent Clerc has resumed normal training ahead of Saturday's big match against New Zealand, having been resricted earlier in the week because of deep bruising to his left thigh sustained against Canada last Sunday.
    Japan coach John Kirwan, who has set the team ambitious targets of being a top-eight side by 2015 and reaching the World Cup final when the country hosts the 2019 competition, said urgent improvements need to be made. The Brave Blossoms, who were beaten 31-18 by Tonga, have lost all but one of their last 17 World Cup matches over a 20-year period and ahead of Tuesday's match with Canada Kirwan said: "Too many errors and not protecting the ball at ruck cost us dearly. We need to fix that otherwise the same thing will happen against Canada. We've got to hang on to the ball and be stronger over the ball at ruck."
    A New Zealand cathedral has exhibited a painting depicting a haloed Jesus wearing an All Blacks jersey as he dispenses blessings while clutching a white rugby ball. The Dominian Post report that the painting went on display this week at St Paul's Anglican Cathedral in Wellington and sold within a few days to an Australian collector, with the part of the proceeds given to charity.
    A stray cigarette butt was the cause of the large scrub blaze which alarmed fans and thousands of TV viewers during Japan's match against Tonga, a report said. Flames appeared just behind Northland Events Centre stadium's packed main terrace during the second half on Wednesday. A group of people watching the game from a tree accidentally ignited the scrub fire, which burned about 15 metres from the stadium before being extinguished by firefighters.
    Christchurch resident Jeff Smith was amazed when he looked over his garden fence and saw an All Blacks training session, report. Smith was one of a small group of neighbours who had a bird's eye view over the low fence around the city's Linfield Park. The venue's gate was closed and covered with a black sheet for privacy after All Blacks officials previously complained of being spied on by rival teams. "The security (guard) said, 'We don't want you taking any photos, thank you'," Smith said.

    Formula 1 gossip and rumours from international media

    McLaren's Lewis Hamilton
    Man with a plan: Hamilton wants to get his title back in 2012

    Lewis Hamilton has told Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel: 'I'll get my title back next year'. Vettel could clinch the F1 crown on Sunday but Hamilton, McLaren's 2008 world champion, has promised to come back stronger next season.
    Full story: The Sun
    Ferrari's Fernando Alonso says his team need to get out of the blocks quickly next year to inject some much-needed rivalry into F1 after Vettel's rivals made it too easy for the Red Bull driver this season.
    Full story: Reuters
    Rubens Barrichello says he is not going to waste time worrying about losing his place in F1, amid mounting speculation that former Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen is pushing to replace him at Williams next year.
    Full story: Autosport
    Jenson Button has hit back at Eddie Irvine after the former Ferrari driver this week criticised the McLaren driver as "the best number two" in Formula 1. "Why is Eddie still taking about Formula 1? Is he missing it? It's very sweet, though," said Button. "All I can say is that it was fun winning the World Championship, and I hope to do it again."
    Full story: Daily Express
    McLaren Group executive chairman Ron Dennis has said that his vision for McLaren is that within 10 years F1 will be only 10% of the company's turnover and he will make it a business which measures its turnover in the billions of dollars.
    Full story: James Allen on F1
    This story will be updated throughout the day.

    Everton punch above weight

    David Moyes David Moyes has worked miracles at Goodison Park with limited resources
    Manchester City's game with Everton on Saturday is a battle between the Premier League's "haves" and "have nots", a meeting of contrasts between a club and a manager with riches almost beyond compare in football terms and another with no cash at their disposal.
    Everton have made a habit of getting under City's skin in recent years and have a fine record on their visits to what is now Etihad Stadium.
    It will be tough for them to maintain that sequence but you know David Moyes and his players will fancy their chances.
    Moyes and his City counterpart Roberto Mancini are both dealing with different kind of pressures, but I know which type is preferable.
    Mancini is accompanied by huge expectation because of the money he is able to spend, but the big advantage is that it is all in his hands.
    He has the money to compete for the world's best players and if one signing doesn't work out he can always buy someone else.
    Moyes does not have money and yet, perfectly understandably given their history, Everton and their supporters still have certain expectations of their own.
    They expect to be in the top 10 at least and pushing towards the top six. And yet Moyes has to meet these demands without cash to bring in big names or to work the markets.
    If, say, Wigan simply stay up with no money then Roberto Martinez is a genius. Moyes has to work within that same financial framework and keep Everton well inside that top 10.
    The fact that he does it pretty much every season is a measure of his quality as a manager.

    Moyes has tried, even when losing players such as Mikel Arteta, to get right back to basics and foster a team spirit that says 'we're all in this together'
    The problem is that supporters - and this is their right as they pay their money, back the club and always turn up in their numbers at Goodison Park - want to see new blood and fresh faces.
    Moyes has tried, even when losing players such as Mikel Arteta, to get right back to basics and foster a team spirit that says "we're all in this together".
    This is the message you regularly hear from his team, including Tim Cahill recently.
    It is obvious how important having big money is in achieving success in the Premier League, and in the Champions League if you qualify. If the financial part is missing from the equation it makes life difficult.
    Moyes, however, has managed to build a team that is capable of beating the best.
    Everton were incredibly inconsistent last season, producing football that was very good at times and very poor at others.
    The highs of home victories against the likes of Liverpool, Spurs, City and Chelsea are at least some consolation. Of course Everton want to win trophies, and rightly so, but Moyes has produced a lot of highs in terms of performances and their life is not total doom and gloom.
    If Everton's existence was simply a dull flatlining then there would be problems, but he has got a team that can be a match for pretty well everyone on their day.
    Of course Moyes is an ambitious manager and the worry for Everton is if he starts to feel he has come to a standstill.
    If a club were to offer him the chance to win trophies or reach the top four on a regular basis then there is the danger of him going elsewhere, but that is not happening at the moment and he seems happy at Goodison Park.
    I must admit it does seem strange that no-one has come in to invest in Everton.
    You are talking about a fabulous club with passionate supporters and rich history and tradition but you don't hear any rumours at all about an individual, or even a consortium, coming in.
    Manchester City have no such difficulties and their infrastructure and influence is increasing. You only have to look at the plans for a magnificent new training complex and academy, announced this week.
    Mancini's side have been very impressive this season until the last 30 minutes at Fulham on Sunday.


    • David Moyes joined Everton in 2002
    • He was the 2003, 2005 and 2009 League Managers Association Manager of the Year
    • Everton were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea in the 2009 FA Cup final
    They have moved away from the over-cautious approach that sometimes let them down, although it was a worry that they stopped competing, stopped playing and retreated to the 18-yard line in the closing stages against Fulham.
    City have signed a wonderful player in Sergio Aguero. They have a system with two holding players that has worked away from home and on their own territory they have been going for the throat.
    There will be no alarm bells ringing after a bad half-hour, but the sign of their progression as a team will come if they do experience a bad spell. How will they react? Will they ensure that it is only a blip? This will be the test but you have to say the signs are good.
    I fully expect City to be challenging for the title and the good news is that it's coming, even if it is not this season. These are exciting time for the club.
    Everton's financial future is not so certain, their resources not so lavish - but this just adds another layor of intrigue to events on Saturday lunchtime.
    Alan Hansen was speaking to BBC Sport's Phil McNulty