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Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009

Ibrahimovic scores in debut as Barca routs Gijon

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in his debut on Monday night as Barcelona began its Spanish League title defense with a 3-0 victory over Sporting Gijon.

The Sweden striker dived low in the 82nd minute to head in Daniel Alves' deflected cross to round out the scoring.

Earlier, Bojan Krkic and Seydou Keita had also scored on headers at Nou Camp, where the Catalan club opened its season without star forward Lionel Messi who had traveled to Argentina to prepare for Saturday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Brazil.

Keita flicked on a corner toward the far post in the 17th minute and Krkic headed home to open the scoring. The Mali midfielder then met Alves' swinging cross in the 42nd to beat Juan Pablo with another powerful header.

"Every rival is important, so it was important to win today," Alves said.

But Barcelona also learned that it will be without Krkic for two to three weeks with a leg injury that forced the teenage striker off in the 80th minute.

New signing Dmytro Chygrynskiy watched on from the stands after the Catalan club completed the Ukraine defender's $36 million transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk earlier on Monday.

Maxwell also made his debut alongside former Inter Milan teammate Ibrahimovic, but was replaced by Eric Abidal in the 57th minute with a leg injury.

Barcelona paid $95 million and sent leading striker Samuel Eto'o to Inter Milan in order to bring in Ibrahimovic, and it was certainly a relief to the crowd, the Sweden striker and his teammates when he opened his account.

"He just arrived, he needed to find his rhythm, know his teammates," Alves said. "But we always knew the goals would come because of his quality."

Morimoto ruled out

Kyodo News

Catania striker Takayuki Morimoto has pulled out of Japan's squad for the upcoming friendlies against the Dutch national team and Ghana because of injury, the Japan Football Association said Tuesday.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada had said before the team left for the Netherlands on Monday that the 21-year-old was doubtful as he had been experiencing discomfort in his left thigh.

Morimoto had been set to join up with the team and make his senior international debut after being called up by Okada last Friday.

The Beijing Olympic forward scored for Catania on the opening day of the season in the Serie A but was kept on the bench in Sunday's 2-1 defeat away to Parma.

Spalletti quits Roma

ROME (AP) Luciano Spalletti resigned as AS Roma's coach Tuesday after the team opened its Serie A season with two losses.

Former Chelsea and Juventus boss Claudio Ranieri is expected to replace Spalletti.

Roma lost 3-2 to Genoa in its first game of the new season and was beaten 3-1 by Juventus on Sunday.

"I offered my resignation and the club accepted, so my professional relationship with Roma is finished," Spalletti said upon leaving a meeting with Roma president Rosella Sensi, Italian media reported.

Ranieri met with Sensi immediately before Spalletti and was expected to be named Roma's new coach later Tuesday.

Ranieri was fired as Juventus' coach with two games remaining last season. The Rome-born Ranieri began his playing career with Roma, but only played six games for the club.

Spalletti was earning $5.1 million per season and had a contract with Roma through June, 2011. It wasn't immediately clear what type of financial arrangement he made with Roma to facilitate his departure. Roma has struggled financially in recent seasons.

Vieira thinking MLS

PARIS (AP) Former World Cup winner Patrick Vieira is contemplating a move to Major League Soccer in the United States after his European career is over.

The 33-year-old Inter Milan midfielder, whose contract expires in a year, has been hampered by injuries for the past two seasons. Last week, France coach Raymond Domenech omitted him for two upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Vieira was given limited playing time last season by Inter coach Jose Mourinho and will have to fight for his place this season again.

"It's something I'm thinking about," Vieira said on RTL French radio when asked about the possibility to finish his career in the United States.



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