King Eric takes the Throne at the New York Cosmos

January 19, 2011 – As part of the revival of the world’s most legendary soccer club, The New York Cosmos today announced that iconic footballer Eric Cantona has been persuaded to come back into the game as Director of Soccer with overall responsibility for all soccer-related matters, which will include the proposed first team.

Despite many attempts by numerous soccer clubs to lure the Manchester United Player of the Century back into the limelight since leaving in 1997 – until now, no one has been successful. Cantona’s new role at The New York Cosmos will see him exercising the innovative leadership and cutting-edge creativity that he is known for, towards implementing the club’s vision and philosophy in all areas of soccer operations. This announcement comes on the heels of the recent signing of Cobi Jones as his Associate Director of Soccer and Ambassador. Together, Cantona and Jones will carry forth the club’s legacy and integrity while developing and attracting world-class soccer talent from all areas of the globe.

Cantona has been credited with making a substantial contribution during his time at Manchester United (1992-1997), which included four Premier League Championships (1993, 1994, 1996, 1997). Today, Manchester United is the most valuable club in the world (Forbes, April 2010).
Throughout Cantona’s 14 years as a professional, he played in France for Auxerre, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier and Nimes. He later went to England to play one season for Leeds United – winning a Championship during the 1991-1992 season – before joining Manchester United, where he would spend the rest of his career until retiring in 1997.

“Three years ago, when I first had the idea of reviving The New York Cosmos, I couldn’t have dreamt that we’d be able to attract an icon the likes of Eric Cantona,” says Paul Kemsley, Chairman of The New York Cosmos. “It’s a personal thrill for me, as he was one of my heroes during the 1990’s and is a further endorsement to the tremendous global attraction and power that The New York Cosmos carries. Our name already resonates throughout the world and so will our football team.”

Says Eric Cantona, “I am very honored to join the legendary club New York Cosmos. It’s a big project, a wonderful project. The Cosmos are very strong, beautifully made, with a great past. It’s kind of a mix between football and art.  In addition to my artistic engagements, I will do everything that I can to help us first find our way to regain the #1 position in the United States, and then for us to become one of the best clubs in the world over the coming years.”
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Man City after Belgian starlet Lukaku

The agent of Belgian starlet Romelu Lukaku has confirmed that Manchester City have joined the race to sign the highly-rated youngster.

Romelu Lukaku: 17-year old Anderlecht striker has 13 goals in 20 games this season

Lukaku, 17, has been playing first team football for Anderlecht since he was 16-years-old and is already a regular for Belgium at international level.

Almost every major club in Europe, including all of England's big clubs, have been tracking the striker, who has scored 13 goals in 20 games this season.

Christophe Henrotay, Lukaku's agent, told Belgian Sport magazine: "I have very good contacts with Manchester City, but they are only one of the clubs to ask about him. There is no concrete offer or agreement.

"City did ask me to be keep informed, if other clubs insisted on him," Henrotay continued. "If someone leaves Manchester City, it is not impossible things could be accelerated - but you have seen the attackers there, but there is also the other clubs who are interested."
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Spalletti flattered by Russia link

Zenit St Petersburg boss Luciano Spalletti has claimed he would be happy to coach Russia one day if he is offered the chance.

Luciano Spalletti, Zenit St. Petersburg manager

Spalletti has been suggested as the No. 1 candidate to succeed national team coach Dick Advocaat, whose contract with the Russian Federation expires after Euro 2012.

When asked about those reports in the Russian media, Spalletti said to Italian news agency Ansa: ''I'm happy about that, and proud. It's something I would certainly be interested in.''

Spalletti, 51, joined Zenit in December 2009 and last year led them to the Russian league and cup double. The former Roma coach, who was earlier this season linked with a move to Inter Milan, is under contract with Zenit until June 2012 and is happy at the club.

''They made me feel at home immediately,'' he said. ''We're working well and my team has started playing some great football.''

Russia are top of Euro 2012 qualifying Group B, two points clear of Ireland.
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This Weekend's Top Matches in England, Spain, Italy, and Romania - Scores and Full Match Highlights

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham - Nasri displaying his expertise with the ball

Chelsea 1-1 Everton - Beckford scoring a dramatic equalizer near the end and his second goal in the Premier League

Osasuna 0-3 Barcelona - Messi and Pedro hitting in goals for Barca in style

Fiorentina 1-0 Cagliari - Mutu, back from injury, scores a smashing header to give the Viola 3 points

Otelul Galati 1-0 Sportul Studentesc - Pena nets a fantastic goal for the Liga I leaders
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Russia wins the 2018 World Cup Bid and Qatar will host the WC in 2022

The Russian delegation celebrate their appointment as 2018 hosts in Zurich

The 2018 FIFA World Cup finals will be hosted by Russia. The decision was taken by the FIFA Executive Committee in a vote in Zurich today.
Four European candidates – Belgium/Netherlands, England, Portugal/Spain and Russia – were in the running, following a bidding process which began in January 2009. The last FIFA World Cup to be held in Europe took place in Germany in 2006.

Matches are scheduled to be played in: Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod, Podolsk, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, St Petersburg, Volgograd, Yaroslavl and Moscow, where the final will be contested at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Europe was assured of welcoming the 2018 FIFA World Cup on its soil after the withdrawal of the last candidate committee from a non-European association was announced in mid-October. Brazil hosts the finals in 2014.

The 2022 edition will be staged in Qatar following a second vote by the FIFA Executive Committee. Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, Qatar and the United States were the five candidates.

"I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Russia," said UEFA president Michel Platini. "The choice was particularly difficult because all of the bids, without exception, were of exceptional quality, as were the presentations made today. It was really professional and we felt a genuine passion from each of the candidates. They would all have deserved to win and UEFA is proud of its six national associations.

"Now, we are all going to support and help Russia, to enable us to experience the finest of World Cups in Europe in 2018. Congratulations as well to Qatar. I am certain that they will also be equal to the task of organising an unforgettable World Cup in 2022."

What do you have to say about this? Share your thoughts with the world by posting a comment below!
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Europa League - Steaua and Liverpool share the points in Group K and the Reds go through to the round of 32

FC Steaua Bucureşti 1-1 Liverpool FCThe English side reached the round of 32 while their hosts remain best placed to join them after a draw in Bucharest.

Roy Hodgson enjoying the performance of his young Liverpool players in Bucharest

Liverpool FC edged into the round of 32 as Group K winners with a 1-1 draw at FC Steaua Bucureşti that kept them three points ahead of their closest challengers.

Milan Jovanović's first European goal for the Reds after 19 minutes broke the deadlock but the Army Men battled back with Éder Bonfim levelling after an error by Pepe Reina just past the hour as Steaua retained second spot in Group K, two points ahead of their final opponents, SSC Napoli.

Liverpool made ten changes from the side beaten by Tottenham Hotspur FC on Sunday and the unfamiliarity in their ranks doubtless contributed to a disjointed opening. The first chance arrived after 15 minutes and it was a fine one that Steaua spurned as Eric Bicfalvi headed over Romeo Surdu's cross from close range.

Roy Hodgson's men made them pay for that profligacy as Ryan Babel wrong-footed the home rearguard and crossed for Jovanović to head expertly into the corner. The visitors then appeared content to play on the counterattack and were comfortable until the stroke of half-time when Bogdan Stancu escaped the attentions of Sotiris Kyrgiakos only to slice wide from close range.

Marius Lacatus's charges were brighter early in the second half but only fashioned one opportunity of note when Cristian Tănase crossed and Geraldo Alves's header was smothered by an alert Reina. The goalkeeper was not so composed on 61 minutes, however, when substitute Stanislav Angelov's centre was nodded tamely towards goal by Bonfim only for the Spain custodian to allow it to slide between his legs.

Kyrgiakos nearly restored Liverpool's lead when he out-jumped Ciprian Tătăruşanu only for his header to clip the bar while Bănel Nicoliţă narrowly missed the near post for Steaua with a 20-metre drive and Stancu the top corner with a curling effort. But with a draw in the other group match maintaining the status quo, both sides settled for a share of the spoils.

Elsewhere in Europe...

Utrecht - Napoli 3-3
Edinson Cavani helped himself to a treble as SSC Napoli fought back from 3-1 down to both hold and eliminate FC Utrecht. Liverpool cannot be surpassed at the summit after drawing 1-1 away to an FC Steaua Bucureşti side who remain in second but need to avoid defeat in Italy to prevent being overtaken at the last by Napoli.

Dortmund 3-0 FC Karpaty Lviv
The Bundesliga leaders thrashed the Ukrainian underdogs in a spectacular match for the home team, giving the German club a chance to progress in the tournament if they win in Seville in two weeks time. Goal scorers were Shinji Kagawa (5'), Mats Hummels (49'), and Robert Lewandowski (89'). All were assisted by Nuri Sahin.

Rapid Vienna 1-3 FC Porto
Thanks to the prolific Colombian striker, Falcao, Porto defeated Rapid Vienna in Austria by 2 goal margin. The Colombian star scored a hat-trick (42', 86', 88') and put in a marvelous performance for his Portuguese side and the whole club and the fans are delighted with him. The home side's Christopher Tremmel put Rapid Vienna in the lead in the 39th minute but just 3 minutes later Falcao began his team's incredible comeback.

PSG 4-2 Sevilla

CSKA Sofia 1-2 Besiktas

CSKA Moskva 5-1 FC Lausanne

Villareal 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Sheriff Tiraspol 1-1 AZ Alkmaar

PAOK 1-1 Club Brugge

Palermo 2-2 Sparta Prague

BATE 1-4 Dinamo Kiev

Atletico Madrid 2-3 Aris
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Europa League - Man City qualifies thanks to Balotelli and Johnson

Manchester City 3-0 Salzburg

Balotelli Nets Brace To Secure Qualification For Mancini’s Side

Manchester City are one of the final 32 clubs to remain in the Europa League following the group stage after they defeated Austrian club FC RB Salzburg 3-0 at the City of Manchester Stadium.

With Juventus drawing 1-1 against Lech Poznan, Roberto Mancini’s side have qualified with a game to spare and are now at the top of Group A before their final match against the Italian club based in Torino.

The home team started well, dominating the game in possession and passing, while the attacking pair of Mario Balotelli and Jo were creating many goal scoring opportunities early on (and throughout the rest of the game as well).

Balotelli spurned a glorious chance early on, following a wonderful through pass by Patrick Vieira. The Italian burst forward towards goal but instead of slipping in Jo, which would have given the Brazilian striker an easy finish, the ex-Inter striker had a go at the opposing keeper (Gerhard Tremmel) but it was easily saved.

Mario Balotelli celebrating with Jo after scoring a goal

Just minutes later, Balotelli displayed the brilliance which prompted City to pay a reported £24 million for him in the summer as he opened the scoring. Another piece of prolonged build-up play by the hosts gave Pablo Zabaleta space on the left wing to cross, and his ball found the Italian who effortlessly guided his volley past Tremmel.

Salzburg offered little in attack and the visitors were reduced to speculative pot shots for the majority of the opening half, which barely troubled Shay Given, who had been given a rare outing by Mancini.

Balotelli began to show his temperament as the half progressed and frustratingly for Mancini, the 20-year-old’s antics were affecting City’s chances to extend the scoreline.

After an excellent chipped pass from Adam Johnson, the Italian raced through and showed natural strength in brushing off Franz Schiemer but as he got closer to goal, the Italian went without any hint of a challenge in a bid to win a penalty. The referee wasn’t conned and Balotelli spurned the opportunity to grab a brace before the interval.

City’s midfield barely had to move out of second gear and the tenacity of James Milner, combined with the vision and execution of Vieira’s passing ability, created plenty of attacking opportunities for the hosts.

Shaun Wright-Phillips was also given the opportunity to shine and whilst proving long spells on the sidelines will not decrease your pace, his crossing was erratic. As a stark contrast, Adam Johnson had little of the ball but his delivery was consistently accurate.

The last chance of the half fell to Milner as the midfielder showed a rare burst of pace and raced through on goal but screwed his shot narrowly wide.

City resumed proceedings in a similar fashion to the opening half, and immediately Wright-Phillips, who had switched flanks with Johnson, burst down the left but once again his final ball was disappointing as the England international failed to pick out Balotelli with his cutback.

It continued to become one-way traffic and even the visitors struggled to take control of the game with a man advantage, after Johnson slipped off the pitch for a few minutes.

The pressure finally amounted to City doubling their advantage after Johnson slipped in Vieira, whose scuffed shot fell nicely into the path of Balotelli and the striker, whose subsequent celebrations were strangely muted, was left with a simple side-footed finish past Tremmel.

Salburg responded by prompting Given to make his first save of the evening, albeit after 70 minutes of play. Stefan Hierlander's 30-yard shot skimmed across the fine Eastlands surface but the Irish goalkeeper was a match to the effort and was able to tip the ball around the post.

As City continued their snowy stroll, the home fans turned their attentions to Salzburg substitute Alan, and the Brazilian was subject to cheers every time he touched the ball and chants of ‘Alan, give us a wave’ rendered the midfielder bemused.

But the City fans were given one final cheer as Johnson wrapped up the game thirteen minutes from time in exquisite fashion. After jinking in from the left touchline, the midfielder breezed past two players and his right-footed finish curled sublimely past the Salzburg goalkeeper.

The hosts comfortably regained control of possession and managed to see out the match without any further drama. The ease of victory, as well as ensuring progression to the next round, will undoubtedly place City as one of the favorites to lift the trophy in challenge to the current holders (Atletico Madrid).
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