Month: April 2014

Prutton unsure of future

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On loan Coventry midfielder David Prutton says he is unsure where he’ll be playing his club football next season after confirming he is yet to speak with the powers that be at Coventry City.

Prutton, 32, signed for the Sky Blues on loan in March from Championship club Sheffield Wednesday and has made 5 appearances for the Midlands club.

The midfielder had previously scored 1 goal in 10 for Wednesday earlier on in the season.

He’s had playing spells at Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Leeds United along with Colchester United, Swindon Town and Scunthorpe United which has seen him ply his trade in England’s top three divisions.

Along with this, Prutton also has 25 England under 21 caps to his name.

The Coventry loanee is out of contract in the Summer and a contract extention with Sheffield Wednesday looks unlikely as this is his second loan spell away from Sheffield since he signed on at Hillsborough in 2011.

Coventry’s lack of funds may also restrict their chances of signing many players on permanent deal, especially Prutton who may demand high wages due to his top flight experience.

“Hopefully I’ll be playing football somewhere – but, as for where, I really don’t know,” he told BBC Coventry and Warwickshire radio..

“My situation mirrors thousands of footballers in that you get to end the of the season and see where you are.”

Prutton will be hoping for contract talks when Coventry secure their place in League 1 for next season which they will do should they defeat Champions Wolves on Saturday.

A huge achievement for Coventry as they started the season on minus 10 points.

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The 10 most important goals in Chelsea’s history

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As Chelsea go into the home straight of the season in search of winning a double of both the Premier League and Champions League, I decided to look back on some famous Chelsea moments and perhaps the current crop can take any inspiration  from past heroes and the top goals in Chelsea’s History.

10: David Webb vs Leeds United (FA Cup Final, 1970)

Chelsea’s first FA Cup triumph came in dramatic circumstances. The Blues looked defeated at Wembley after Mick Jones made it 1-2 to Leeds in the 84th minute but Ian Hutchinson hit back two minutes later to force the final to a replay that would be played at Old Trafford 18 days later.

The rematch in Manchester was no less exciting either. Leeds took the lead again, Jones again with the goal but Chelsea icon Peter Osgood levelled with 12 minutes to go before David Webb scored in extra time to bring the world’s oldest football cup competition to Chelsea for the first time ever.

Chelsea had to wait another 27 years before they would win the cup again but since then have become somewhat FA Cup specialists, winning further finals in 2000, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

9: John Terry vs Barcelona (Champions League Round of 16 second leg, 2005)

Captain.Leader.Legend. Those are the three words used to describe Chelsea skipper John Terry on banners that can be found all over Stamford Bridge and on this famous night in West London, Terry proved why.

Barcelona travelled to London leading thanks to a 2-1 win at the Nou Camp thanks to goals from Maxi Lopez and Samuel Eto’o after Juliano Belletti scored an own goal following a Damien Duff cross.

It was Chelsea who started the second leg on the front foot though as they raced into a 3-0 lead on the night with Eidur Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard and Damien Duff all grabbing goals inside the first twenty minutes.

The Catalans fought back with Ronaldinho grabbing a brace, one a routine penalty, the other an exquisite finish, dummying the ball multiple times and then toe poking it past Petr Cech from the edge of the area to put Barcelona in control, the travelling Spaniards going through on away goals.

Captain fantastic John Terry headed in from a corner with quarter of an hour remaining to save the hosts and spark celebratory scenes at full time with Jose Mourinho not hiding his delight at overcoming the club he loves to hate. Chelsea would go on to eliminate Bayern Munich 6-5 on aggregate in the Quarters before controversially losing to Liverpool in the Semis.

8:  Steven Gerrard’s own goal (Carling Cup final, 2005)

Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Chelsea also saw the arrival of a fair few trophies at SW6. Two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one Community Shield were joined by two League Cup wins, the first of which came in February 2005. Mourinho’s first trophy win in English football.

It was Liverpool who made the perfect start though with John Arne Riise opening the scoring after just 45 seconds but Chelsea restored parity after transfer target Steven Gerrard headed into his own net without any challenge from a Chelsea player from a Ricardo Carvalho freekick.

Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman would both score in extra time to ultimately win the cup for Chelsea with Antonio Nunez getting a late consolation for Liverpool but if it wasn’t for Gerrard’s own goal from what was a half chance at best, the Blues would have headed back to London trophy-less.

7: Branislav Ivanovic vs Napoli (Champions League Round of 16 second leg, 2012)

The 2011/2012 Champions League campaign will stay in the memories of Chelsea fans for a lifetime, games full of nerves, tension and pure determination led the Blues to their first ever Champions League crown. And it all started one dramatic night at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea trailed the Italians 3-1 after a lacklustre defensive display in Naples but Juan Mata’s away goal kept the Londoners’ hopes of qualifying very much alive, a 2-0 victory was all that was needed to secure their place in the next round.

By the time the two sides met back on English shores, Andre Villas Boas had been sacked and replaced by the Assistant Manager he brought to the club, Roberto Di Matteo.

Didier Drogba made sure half the job was done when he powered a header past Morgan Di Sanctis in the Napoli goal while John Terry also headed in, following a corner.

Gokhan Inler scored a magnificent controlled volley to turn the tie back in Napoli’s favour but Chelsea’s all time record goalscorer Lampard scored a penalty to force the tie into extra time.

With the tie slowly edging towards a penalty shootout, Branislav Ivanovic surged forwards and blasted home Drogba’s low cross just before half time in the first period of extra time to send Chelsea through to the Quarter Finals.

6: Didier Drogba vs Manchester United (Premier League, 2010)

Carlo Ancelotti’s debut season in the Premier League, winning an FA Cup and Premier League double, the latter was helped largely in a winner takes all match at Old Trafford, that Chelsea won, albeit in fairly controversial circumstances.

Joe Cole had given Chelsea an early lead in Manchester but it was Drogba’s goal that would seal the three points. The Ivorian was clearly in an offside position but the goal stood nevertheless. The United fans were understandably angry, however Federico Macheda’s goal soon after to drag the score back to 1-2 had more than a hit of handball to it.

5: Ramires vs Barcelona (Champions League Semi Final second leg, 2012)

In what was undoubtedly the highlight of Chelsea’s run to their maided Champions League glory (other than the final), Ramires scored one of the most important and aesthetically pleasing goals in the club’s history.

Chelsea were already two goals and a man down when Lampard’s ambitious through ball landed at the feet of Ramires who scored a delicious first time chip over Victor Valdes who was far too far off his line to put the tie back in Chelsea’s favour.

Fernando Torres sealed the aggregate win when he rounded Valdes and slotted in for 2-2 on the night in injury time and perhaps cruelly stole the headlines from Ramires who scored the more important goal.

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4: Frank Lampard vs Bolton (Premier League, 2005)

The moment. The moment Chelsea proved they were a force to be reckoned with. In what was an incredible season for Chelsea in the club’s first year under Jose Mourinho, the Blues had only lost one game all season (Manchester City away) and on the 30th of April 2005, a Lampard brace won the club their first league title in 50 years.

A long Petr Cech free-kick was headed on by Gudjohnsen, the ball bounced by Jarosik and then Drogba headed it onto Lampard who shrugged off Vincent Candela and then smashed the ball past Jussi Jaaskelainen for 0-1 for jubilant celebrations for the opener on the hour mark.

Chelsea’s record goalscorer sealed the win with a second 15 minutes from a Bolton corner was exploited and Chelsea hit them on the counter attack. Lampard had a clear run starting from just inside the Bolton half and ran with it before rounding Jaaskelainen and sealing the win and league title.

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3: Didier Drogba vs Bayern Munich (Champions League Final, 2012)

Since Roman Abravomich’s takeover in 2003, the aim for him was for his Chelsea time to lift Europe’s most elite prize: The Champions League. In 2012, his ambition finally came to fruition.

Thomas Muller almost dashed the dreams though when his 82nd minute header looked to have won the final for Bayern, who were playing on their own ground.

The Blues had a “never say die” attitude throughout tournament though with most members of the squad heading towards the closing stages of their careers with limited chances of winning the continental competition.

Drogba was one of them and his trademark powerful header two minutes before the final whistle from Mata’s corner to send the final to extra time and ultimately penalties, where another special Drogba goal would come.

2: Didier Drogba’s penalty vs Bayern Munich (Champions League Final, 2012)

Unbelievably, Drogba almost scuppered his own chances of being the match winning hero. During extra time he was the one who fouled Franck Ribery for the penalty which former Blue Arjen Robben had saved by Cech.

Following the miss, it appeared that Chelsea’s glory was written in the stars.

Penalties had been cruel to Chelsea in the past (losing all of their previous Champions League shoot outs ) including one in the 2008 final, while penalties had been kind to Bayern (winning all of their previous penalty face offs) including winning the 2001 final against Valencia thanks to the the dreaded spot-kicks.

The history book was thrown out the window though as due to Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger missing their penalties, Didier Drogba was left to tuck home the winner which he did with consumate ease, taking just two steps and then sweeping it

1: Jesper Gronkjaer vs Liverpool (Premier League 2003)

The most important goal in Chelsea history? Ahead goals that won the club two league titles and it’s first Champions League? The goal that made it all possible.

Russian billionaire Roman Abravomich was travelling London looking to buy a football club. Tottenham Hotspur had caught his eye until he noticed cash-strapped Chelsea had a do or die clash with Liverpool to determine the final Champions League spot on the last day of the season at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues led Gerard Houllier’s Liverbirds by a single point going into the game so only a point was needed so when Marcel Desailly’s header cancelled out Sami Hyypia’s opener, the place was theirs.

It was Gronkjaer’s goal though that would secure all three points for Chelsea and secure their place in Europe’s top tournament for the next season.

The Dane scored an impressive winner, collecting Mario Melchiot’s pass, taking one touch away from his marker and then curling in from a tight angle to score the goal that would transform Chelsea into a World superpower financed by one of the richest men on the planet.

Without the goal, Liverpool may have grabbed the winner themselves, leaving Chelsea to play UEFA Cup football yet again. And who knows? Maybe it could have been Tottenham who would have become one of the most successful teams in the last ten years instead.

Real Madrid beat rivals Barcelona 1-2 to seal Copa del Rey win

Real Madrid defeated arch rivals Barcelona 1-2 to secure a first Copa del Rey victory since 2011 thanks to Angel Di Maria and Gareth Bale scoring either side of a Marc Bartra header as Lionel Messi’s goal drought continues.

Real Madrid opened the scoring after just ten minutes when one of their stand out performers of the season Angel Di Maria fired past Pinto for the first goal of the game.

It came after a neat passing move from Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Isco started the build up by picking out Gareth Bale situated on the halfway line, he switched the ball over to the left to Karim Benzema who in-turn set Di Maria free and he had the relatively easy task of brushing away the Barcelona back-line before scoring. Pinto perhaps should have done better with the shot after he got a hand to it.

Bale scored a sensational winner when he used his strength and speed to power past Bartra and then nutmeg Pinto to restore Madrid’s lead. Bale’s was the best player on the pitch and deserved his goal, fitting it was the winner too. Filling the gap left by Ronaldo’s absence perfectly.

Barca almost forced the final into extra time late on but Neymar’s shot came back off the post to save Madrid’s skin.

Barcelona levelled the scoring when Lionel Messi’s corner was headed in by young defender Marc Barta after some poor marking from Pepe allowed the Spaniard to have a free header. Iker Casillas was well beaten.

Gareth Bale was the man where much of the Real Madrid attention was based around due to Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo out of the final with a hamstring injury and it was the Welshman who started the game the brightest.

In what was a cagey first half with the two Spanish giants having just three shots on target between them, Bale was the catalyst in Madrid having the brighter opening period. The former Tottenham man had two decent chances before Di Maria scored, first Bale shot wide from a tight angle five minutes in, and then Javier Mascherano blocked one of his efforts wide a minute later.

Barcelona’s best chance of the half came when Lionel Messi shot wide just before the break.

Bale started the second 45 just as he started the first, two minutes after the interval he struck wide of Pinto’s post from outside the area.

Madrid had the better of the early stages in the second period. Bale, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema all having half chances as the Galacticos pushed for the killer second goal with Barcelona looking lacklustre and not looking like the dangerous attacking side that they were under Pep Guardiola and Tito Villanova.

The Catalans did make Madrid’s cup competition goalkeeper Iker Casillas work slightly when an ambitions strike by Mark Bartra was palmed out unconvincingly for a corner.

Real had a goal disallowed soon after when Bale headed into an ungaurded net after challenging Pinto unfairly when the ball was in the air.  The corner being a result of a good Pinto save as Benzema tried to beat the Spanish stopper at his near post.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men left the Mestalla as Copa del Rey Champions and will now swap their attentions to the Champions League and La Liga as they seek to complete a famous treble.

David Kitson hints at retirement

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Oxford United striker Dave Kitson has announced he is “leaning towards” retiring from football in the Summer.

34-year-old Kitson has also had playing spells at Cambridge United, Reading, Stoke City, Middlesbrough, Portsmouth and Sheffield United.

He told BBC Oxford “I think I could go on for another season, it’s just having the motivation to do it.”

The Hitchin born striker has netted four goals in 32 games for League 2 side Oxford United this season as the U’s are looking to secure a play off place.

He lost out on winning the League 1 play offs with Sheffield United last season as they lost to Yeovil in their Semi Final.

Kitson is keen to win the League 2 play offs with Oxford and thanks to Oxford’s 0-2 win over Plymouth at Home Park at the weekend, a game which Kitson scored in, the chances of them securing a place in the top 7 this season looks more likely.

“I want to play to win something and we have the chance to win something. Sport is about being successful and it’s about your kids looking up to you.

“We’ve got a real chance to do that. I was gutted not to win anything with Sheffield United when we got to the play-offs [in 2013]“.

Kitson has only won one trophy in his 13 year career, when Reading convincingly won the Championship title in 2006.

Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City

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Liverpool defeated title rivals Manchester City 3-2 at Anfield thanks to Phillipe Coutinho’s late winner on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster as Jordan Henderson saw red in the second half.

Brendan Rodgers’ side opened the scoring with the first chance of the match. Luis Suarez held off Martin Demichelis well before playing a pinpoint pass to Raheem Sterling who broke free of Vincent Kompany.

The Belgian had a lapse in concentration and failed to pick up his marker. The young England winger Sterling showed fantastic composure in front of goal, skipping away from Joe Hart and then slotting home the opener after just six minutes.

Manchester City’s afternoon got worse soon after when Yaya Toure landed awkwardly following a wayward shot from long range and was replaced by Javi Garcia soon after.

Liverpool doubled their lead 20 minutes later when Sterling’s corner was headed in by Skrtel after a second example of poor marking from Kompany. An uncharacteristic poor performance from the Manchester City captain.

Edin Dzeko had a decent shout for a penalty on 33 minutes when he was tripped by Mamadou Sakho but referee Mark Clattenburg ruled that there was no wrong doing.

Liverpool had a penalty shout of their own in the second half when Suarez went down following an altercation with Kompany. Referee Clattenburg waved play on to the dismay of many Liverpool fans.

The Citizens halved the deficit just before the hour mark when David Silva tapped home from close range following a beautiful passing move. Substitute James Milner played a neat one-two with Fernandinho before setting up Silva who had the easy task of making it 2-1.

City supporters had to wait just five minutes for their leveller. Milner played in Silva on the left side of the box whose cutback pass across goal deflected off Glen Johnson which caught Mignolet flat footed and deflected into the net to level the scores.

Liverpool regained the lead when Coutinho fired home the winner with an accurate first time finish past the despairing Joe Hart 12 minutes from time from the centre of the area into the bottom right corner of the goal.

The second half was an edgy affair with City enjoying the majority of the play. A real Dr.Jekell and Mr.Hyde performance from Liverpool who dominated the first 45, with City only causing the hosts problems towards the end of the half.

City’s best chance of the first period came from a corner just before half time. Simon Mignolet drifted too far off his line and was beaten in the air by Kompany. Sterling cleared the ball off the line first before Glen Johnson headed it away from danger.

Fernandinho came even closer seconds later. In space, he managed to get a shot away and was only denied by a superb fingertip stop by Mignolet and shortly afterwards, an eventful first half came to an end.

Suarez was fortunate not to see red in the second half when he dived following an incident with Demichelis but Referee Mark Clattenburg decided not to book the Urugayan despite awarding Manchester City the free kick.

With the home side holding onto their narrow lead, Jordan Henderson was sent off three minutes into five added on when he went overboard on a challenge and fouled Samir Nasri. He will miss three of Liverpool’s four remaining games.

Martin Skrtel was incredibly fortunate not to give away a penalty in the very last minute as he used to his hand to clear a deep cross into the Liverpool box. Clattenburg failed to spot the incident in what was a bad refereeing performance by him.

Blackpool decline my fault – Oyston

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Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston concedes it is his fault that the Tangerines are in decline as the club are facing a relegation battle from this season’s Championship.

Oyston’s Blackpool are currently 20th in the table, three points above the bottom three with five matches of the season remaining.

Just three seasons ago the Lancashire club were in the Premiership.

Supporters’ groups have been protesting about the Blackpool chairman for a number of months, most recently at Tuesday’s 1-3 home defeat to promotion chasing Derby.

They believe Oyston has invested a limited amount in Blackpool since their relegation from the top flight.

“I’m the head of the company and I’m the one to blame,” Oyston told BBC Radio Lancashire.

“We’ve done what we can. All we can do is get the best from the players.

“We’re not planning for either eventuality. We’ll wait and see exactly how we finish before we put concrete plans in place, in certain areas anyway.”

Under Paul Ince, Blackpool were in the top 6 until the beginning of December, but then a 17 winless run led to Ince’s sacking with the Tangerines lying in 14th.

Barry Ferguson was appointed as his replacement but has failed to inspire Blackpool back into the top half, winning just two of his 15 games in charge.

Oyston was quick to shift the blame from Ferguson however.

“Barry’s tried to bring people in and improve us, and on the whole he’s done well with that.

“It’s counter-productive to make Barry the focus of people’s wrath. If they need someone to shout at, that person should be me. The fans have every right.

“They (the fans) pay their money every year and that gives them the right to have an opinion and express it.”

Ecuador: A history at World Cups.

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Ecuador don’t go into this Summer’s World Cup as one of the pre tournament favourites but one aim they will have is to make this the best World Cup in their limited history.

The South American side chose not to enter the first three World Cups in Uruguay, Italy and France while the 1942 and 1946 World Cups were cancelled due to the second World War.

This meant that the 1950 World Cup would be the first Ecuador would compete in in their history. Or it would have been, if Ecuador didn’t withdraw from the tournament.

Ecuador had to wait 52 years before they would grace the World Cup, 2002 was finally their year.

The tournament, held in two countries for the first time ever or since (Japan and South Korea), was won by Brazil. Ecuador were drawn into Group G with Mexico, Italy and Croatia.

Their first ever game at a World Cup wasn’t an inspiring one, losing to Italy 2-0 with Christian Vieri grabbing a brace in Sapporo. Ecuador would lose their second game too, this time to Mexico 2-1. Although the result wasn’t what they wanted, Ecuador were proud that they scored their first ever goal at a World Cup finals. Agustin Delgado (at Southampton at the time) giving the Yellows the lead after just five minutes.

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La Tri took confidence from that and grabbed their first ever World Cup win in their final game, a 1-0 win over Croatia. Edison Mendez scoring the winner three minutes after the half time break.

Ecuador crashed out their group, finishing bottom, but they would have better success four years later, in Germany.

They were drawn into Group A with the World Cup holders Germany, Costa Rica and Poland and it was the latter who they faced first.

Carlos Tenorio and Delgado scored as Ecuador ran out 0-2 winners over Poland in Gelsenkirchen. Their second game would secure their place in the last 16, making Germany ’06 their finest ever performance at a World Cup.

A comfortable 3-0 win over Costa Rica secured another three points for the South Americans with Tenorio and Delgado netting again before Ivan Kaviedes made it three.

Two wins in two wins for them and Germany meant that both teams had already qualified for the next round with one game to spare. A “winner takes all clash” to decide the group winner ended in a comfortable 0-3 win to Germany. A Miroslav Klose double and Lukas Podolski providing the goals.

Ecuador finished runners up in their group which meant their last 16 tie would be against the Group B winners, England.

It would be England who would progress to the Quarter Finals however thanks to a trademark David Beckham free kick on the hour mark to send Ecuador home.

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The Yellows didn’t qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa so this Summer’s World Cup in Brazil will be just their third appearance at a World Cup finals.

They will be hoping that home continent advantage will be a boost to them as they hope to qualify from their group of France, Switzerland and Honduras to go at least one better than their World Cup best performance of the last 16.

 

 

 

Ecuador Key Man Watch: Antonio Valencia

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Following the tragic death of Christian Benitez, Antonio Valencia’s role of Ecuador captain has become even more of vital importance. If Ecuador are going to have any success in Brazil this Summer, Valencia needs to be at the top of his game.

Ecuador have been drawn into Group E and are joined by Switzerland, Honduras and one time World Cup winners France.

Group E is one of the most unpredictable groups this season. Although many consider France the strongest team, Switzerland have the highest ranking of the four at the time of writing (7th) while France are ranked 19th, Ecuador 23rd and Honduras 36th.

What works in Ecuador’s favour is they play Switzerland and then Honduras before France so they have a good chance to get some early points on the board.

If Ecuador are going to have any realistic chance of qualifying from their group and even perhaps progressing even further, Antonio Valencia will be key to any success.

The Manchester United winger/full back has been an ever present for the faltering Red Devils this season. Despite the Premier League outfit performing well below expectations, Valencia has produced some decent performances in a red shirt.

For a footballing nation as small as Ecuador, having a player such as Valencia who plays for one of the world’s biggest football clubs, he is a key figure in the dressing room.

Following his 2009 move from Wigan, Valencia has won a number of trophies. Two Premier League titles, one League Cup and two Community Shields along with reaching the Champions League final on one occasion.

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Ecuador are not renown for having footballers making a big impact on what is often described as the world’s best league. Other Ecuadorians to feature in the Premiership include Felipe Caicedo who flopped at Valencia’s club rivals Manchester City, the late Christian Benitez who featured for Birmingham and Segundo Castillo who had a short spell at Everton. Caicedo and Castillo will also be looking to impress in Brazil.

The Tri Colour dressing room will look to Valencia’s vast experience for inspiration as Ecuador look to qualify from their group in Brazil. If they do so, it would be only the second time in their history having reached the last 16 in Germany 2006.

 

 

Ecuador’s Route to Brazil

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Ecuador find themselves making the trip across the continent of South America for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after finishing 4th in a table of the nine. The “CONMEBOL” zone of qualification normally features 10 teams but due to host nation Brazil qualifying automatically, they didn’t need to participate this time around.

The Spanish speaking country of Ecuador made a promising start to qualification with a 2-0 win over Venezuela in their national stadium ‘Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa’ thanks to goals from Jaime Ayovi and Christian Benitez. The latter tragically died following a cardiac arrest in July of 2013.

“Chucho” will be a big miss for “La Tri” (Tri Colour) having bagged four goals in qualifying and was seen as the main man in Ecuador’s future successes.

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Benitez would net again in Ecuador’s next win, again at home, following an away loss at the hands of Paraguay. Peru were the second team victim to Ecuador at the Olimpico Atahualpa as the Yellows ran out 2-0 winners with Edison Mendez grabbing the first goal.

Argentina would bring Ecuador back down to Earth though with a 4-0 trouncing in Buenos Aires with goals coming from Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, and of course, Lionel Messi.

La Tri got back to winning ways though with a 1-0 home win over Colombia with Benitez getting his third goal in qualification. That was followed up by a second successive 1-0 win, this time over Bolivia. Ex Manchester City man Felipe Caicedo slotting home the winner from the penalty spot.

He scored his second penalty in two games in Ecuador’s next game, a 1-1 draw in Uruguay, opening the scoring before Edinson Cavani levelled the game 25 minutes from time.

Caicedo added a further two goals to his tally after Ecuador got another three points this time at home to Chile. One of Caicedo’s brace was another penalty, his third in three games. Secundo Castillo completed the scoring in added time as Ecuador ran out 3-1 winners, with Chile taking the lead.

Castillo scored his second in qualifying in a 1-1 away draw to Venezuela before Ecuador continued their rich home form with a 4-1 demolition of Paraguay. Caicedo and Benitez scored either side of a Jefferson Montero double after Luis Nery Caballero had given Los Guaraníes the lead in Quito.

Ecuador’s next two games would be less successful however. A 1-0 away loss to Peru was followed by a 1-1 home draw against Argentina. Castillo cancelling out an early Aguero penalty.

Their bad form would continue into September of last year. A second 1-0 away loss on the bounce, this time at the hands of Colombia, came before an away draw in Bolivia. Caicedo scoring his fourth penalty.

The most crucial game of Ecuador’s qualification was to come next; Uruguay at home. Ecuador secured a 1-0 win over Luis Suarez and co with Montero netting after half an hour. This left Tri Colour three points ahead of their qualification rivals and meant that despite Uruguay beating Argentina 3-2 and Ecuador losing 2-1 in Chile on the final day, Ecuador qualified in 4th place on with 25 points.

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Uruguay also finished on 25 points but thanks to Ecuador’s superior goal difference (of four), they qualified ahead of Uruguay, while La Celeste (The Sky Blues) finished in 5th and had to face a playoff. They won, convincingly, against Jordan 0-5 on aggregate and we will see both Ecuador and Uruguay in Brazil this Summer.

Portsmouth could receive £1 million if Liverpool secure title victory

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Portsmouth may be owed £1 million if Liverpool win their first league title in 24 years due to a clause in Glen Johnson’s contract.

England International Johnson, 29, joined Anfield from then Premiership club Portsmouth for a fee of £17.5 million back in 2009.

The additional funds would be a welcome to Pompey as the now League 2 club have twice been in administration since Johnson’s departure.

There is a potential stepping stone in the Fratton Park faithful getting a boost to their finances however as they have effectively been reformed as a result of their double administration and ownership changes which has seen them change from Portsmouth City Football Club, to Portsmouth Community Football Club.

Liverpool are currently Premier league leaders while Portsmouth in contrast find themselves languishing in 21st of England’s basement professional division.

Pompey have dispensed of two managers this season, firstly Guy Whittingham in November and then Richard Barker last Thursday and have academy boss Andy Awford in temporary charge.