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Saturday, April 3, 2010

News photo
Reds lose again: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard (left) vies for the ball with Benfica's Maximiliano Pereira in Europa League action on Thursday night. Benfica won 2-1. AP PHOTO

Benfica beats Liverpool; Fabregas out six weeks

LONDON (AP) Benfica defeated five-time European champion Liverpool 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal on Thursday night, getting goals on a pair of second-half penalty kicks by Oscar Cardozo to overcome Daniel Agger's ninth-minute strike.

In Lisbon, Agger sent a backheel into the corner of the net following Steven Gerrard's free kick, but Liverpool played a man short after Ryan Babel's ejection for placing a hand over the face of Luisao and thrusting it after the defender fouled Fernando Torres.

"I was surprised because a foul from behind is more serious," Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said. "It is a big difference when you kick a player from behind to a player touching another in the mouth. It is difficult to understand and impossible to change."

Cardozo scored in the 59th and 79th minutes following a foul by Emiliano Insua and a hand ball by Jamie Carragher.

Fulham won 2-1 at home against German champion Wolfsburg as Bobby Zamora scored in the 59th minute and set up Damien Duff's goal four minutes later. Zamora had been sent home from training a day earlier because he was ill.

American midfielder Clint Dempsey went wide with an excellent chance late in the first half. Alexander Madlung scored off a cross in the 89th minute for Wolfsburg, which could be important going into next Thursday's second leg of the home-and-home, total-goals series.

"You have to take the positives from it," Dempsey said. "We beat a good team tonight. It's unfortunate to have conceded a goal, but we played really well. Hopefully, we can continue that."

By scoring, Wolfsburg could advance on away goals if it wins 1-0 at home to tie the aggregate.

Fabregas sidelined

LONDON (AP) Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas will miss the rest of the Premier League season because of a broken right leg, an injury that jeopardizes his chance of playing for Spain in the World Cup.

Arsenal said Thursday the star midfielder will miss at least six weeks. He cracked his lower right fibula during Wednesday's 2-2 tie with Barcelona in the first leg of a European Champions League quarterfinal.

Arsenal has six more Premier League games before the English season ends May 9. Two days later, World Cup teams submit 30-man preliminary rosters. Squads are cut to 23 by June 1, and Spain opens against Switzerland on June 16.

Among the top players in the Premier League this season along with Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Chelsea's Didier Drogba, Fabregas has 19 goals in 36 games for Arsenal. There is a slim chance he could rejoin the club for the May 22 Champions League final if the Gunners advance.

"Everyone at the club wishes Cesc a full and speedy recovery," Arsenal said in a statement.

While Fabregas is important for Arsenal, he has been an infrequent starter for Spain, which prepares for the World Cup with exhibitions against South Korea on June 3 and Poland on June 8.

No break for Wayne

MANCHESTER , England (AP) Wayne Rooney sustained minor ankle ligament damage and did not break a bone during Manchester United's Champions League loss at Bayern Munich.

While Rooney will miss United's match against Chelsea on Saturday, the Premier League leaders didn't project a time frame for Rooney's return to action.

Rooney, who has 34 goals for the Red Devils this season, hurt his right ankle in the final minute of Tuesday's 2-1 loss in the first leg.

"We're pleased to report that Wayne has not suffered a fracture. The scan revealed only minor ligament damage," United said on its Web site Thursday. "For now, the club is not commenting on how many games Wayne is likely to miss."

Manager Alex Ferguson will provide an update at his weekly Friday news conference.

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