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Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009

Al Ittihad finishes off Nagoya in ACL semis

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad moved into the Asian Champions League final Wednesday with a 2-1 win away against Nagoya Grampus in the second leg of the semifinals.

News photo
Push the ball: Grampus forward Keiji Tamada tries to keep the ball, competing with an Al Ittihad player during the second leg of Asian Champions League semifinals in Nagoya on Wednesday. With a 2-1 win, Al Ittihad advanced to the final. KYODO PHOTO

Two-time champions Al Ittihad went through 8-3 on aggregate and will meet the winner of a later semifinal between Umm Salal of Qatar and South Korea's Pohang Steelers. Pohang hold a 2-0 lead from the first leg.

The final will be held at Tokyo's National Stadium on Nov. 7, with the winners clinching a spot at the World Club Cup in Abu Dhabi in December.

Nagoya were left with a mountain to climb after a 6-2 defeat in Jeddah last week, but the home side enjoyed the better of the first half and nearly opened the scoring when Australian striker Josh Kennedy headed against the crossbar.

However, the Saudis dealt Nagoya a knockout blow shortly before the interval when Saleh Al Saqri struck after Toru Hasegawa could only parry Mohammed Noor's flick.

Amine Chermiti added a second for the visitors and although substitute Keita Sugimoto pulled one back with a spectacular overhead kick, it was scant consolation for Dragan Stojkovic's men, who were aiming to become the third Japanese club in a row to win Asia's premier club competition.

"I think we made a good game and had a good mentality," said Stojkovic. "Unfortunately we lost but I am very satisfied with the behavior of my players today."

"This is the maximum of Grampus. To be in the best four, it is a really good result."

Ishikawa's year over

Kyodo News

Japan midfielder Naohiro Ishikawa will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus damage in his left knee, FC Tokyo said Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Ishikawa, who underwent endoscopic surgery on the knee in Saitama the same day, will be hospitalized for about a week and will need six weeks to make a full recovery.

United, Spurs win

LONDON (AP) Manchester United and Tottenham each won 2-0 to progress to the quarterfinals of England's League Cup on Tuesday.

Danny Wellbeck and Michael Owen scored to give defending champion United victory at lowly Barnsley in a match marred by crowd trouble, while Tottenham beat Premier League rival Everton through goals by Tom Huddlestone and Robbie Keane.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan saved four penalties, including three in the shootout, to give Aston Villa a 3-1 shootout win at Sunderland, Blackburn conceded two equalizers before beating Peterborough 5-2, and Portsmouth showed the sort of form it needs to get off the bottom of the Premier League by beating Stoke 4-0.

Real humiliated

MADRID (AP) Real Madrid was upset 4-0 by third-division side Alcorcon in a Copa del Rey round-of-32 match.

The result reflected the run of play, with the tiny team from a Madrid suburb outplaying the European giant.

The return leg will be played on Nov. 10.

With a string of poor results recently, including a home defeat to AC Milan and a scoreless draw against Sporting Gijon last week, Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini was already under pressure before this game.

Real Madrid director general Jorge Valdano apologized to fans afterward.

"We have to learn a lesson about humility," he said. "I'm convinced that our group of very good players and professionals will turn this result around." When asked whether the Chilean coach's future at the club was in doubt, Valdano replied: "It's not the moment to answer that question."

Newcastle off market

NEWCASTLE , England (AP) Newcastle owner Mike Ashley took the club off the market Tuesday after failing to find a buyer and is looking to sell the naming rights to the team's St. James' Park stadium.

Having failed to sell at a reduced price of £80 million ($131 million) a club he bought for £134 million two years ago while it was still in the English Premier League, Ashley is seeking bids from sponsors to rename the ground from next season.

Newcastle has played at St. James' Park since 1892.



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