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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Liverpool, Man City ousted from Europa League

LONDON (AP) Liverpool and Manchester City were eliminated from the Europa League on Thursday night, and Giuseppe Rossi scored his tournament-high eighth goal to help Villarreal advance to the quarterfinals.

News photo
In pursuit: Liverpool's Joe Cole (right) and Braga's Hugo Viana vie for the ball during the second leg of their round of 16 Europa League match in Liverpool, England, on Thursday. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. AP PHOTO

Three Portuguese clubs reached the final eight of Europe's No. 2 club tournament, which doesn't include any English clubs for the first time since 2008 when the competition was known as the UEFA Cup.

Manchester City beat visiting Dynamo Kiev 1-0 as Aleksandar Kolarov scored on a 39th-minute free kick but lost the total-goals series 2-1. City's Mario Balotelli was ejected in the 36th minute for a studs-first tackle on Goran Popov.

Liverpool, starting $56 million acquisition Andy Carroll for the first time, was held to a 0-0 tie by Braga at Anfield, and the five-time European champions were knocked out on 1-0 aggregate.

Rossi, who is from New Jersey, scored his 26th goal overall this season as Villarreal won 2-1 at home over Bayer Leverkusen and advanced to Friday's quarterfinal draw on 5-3 aggregate. Rossi scored the second goal of the match for the Yellow Submarine from 12 yards in the 61st minute.

Porto defeated visiting CSKA Moscow to advance 3-1, and Benfica tied 1-1 at Paris Saint-Germain to advance 3-2.

Twente, with American defender Oguchi Onyewu starting, lost 2-0 at 2008 champion Zenit St. Petersburg but advanced on 3-2 aggregate.

PSV Eindhoven won 1-0 at Glasgow Rangers following a 0-0 tie in the first leg. At the 60-minute mark, Austrian referee Robert Schorgenhofer failed to call a hand ball at the goal line by PSV's Atiba Hutchinson on a shot by American midfielder Maurice Edu.

Spartak Moscow won 3-0 at Ajax and advanced on 4-0 aggregate.

Draw announced

Nyon Switzerland AP Chelsea will play English rival Manchester United and nine-time winner Real Madrid takes on Tottenham in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Favorite Barcelona will meet Shakhtar Donetsk, possibly the weakest team left in Europe's elite club competition, and defending champion Inter Milan was paired with Schalke in Friday's draw.

If three-time European champion Barcelona and Real Madrid both progress, they would meet in the semifinals. They already play each other twice next month, first in the Spanish League and then in the final of the Copa del Rey.

The first legs of the quarterfinals take place on April 5-6, with the return matches a week later.

Blatter's challenger

KUALA LAMPUR (AP) Three months after spearheading Qatar's winning bid for the 2022 World Cup, Mohamed bin Hammam announced his candidacy Friday to replace Sepp Blatter as FIFA president and bring "new blood" into the leadership of world football.

The Asian Football Confederation president said he will challenge the 75-year-old Blatter for the FIFA presidency on June 1 in Zurich, setting the stage for a head-to-head battle against the man who has led the organization for 13 years.

"Today after careful study, consultation and consideration, armed with my love and passion for football, believing that our game is about fair competition, I have decided to contest," said bin Hammam, who would be the first Asian to hold the post if elected. "My chances, I would say, are 50-50."

Blatter, one of the most powerful men in world sports, has not faced a serious challenge to his post since 2002.

The 61-year-old bin Hammam, who ended months of speculation about his intentions during a news conference at AFC headquarters, is seen as a serious contender — especially after playing a pivotal role in brining the 2022 World Cup to his native Qatar.

Tuneup time for Japan

CHICAGO (AP) The Japanese women's soccer team will play two exhibition games against the United States to prepare for the World Cup.

The teams will play May 14 in Columbus, Ohio, and May 18 at Cary, N.C., the U.S. Soccer Federation said Thursday.

USSF spokesman Neil Buethe said planning for the matches started before the earthquake that struck Japan last week.

"Our entire team and staff have great sympathy for the people of Japan following the tragedies that struck their country and we are looking forward to hosting the team here in the United States," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. "We have tremendous respect for the Japanese players, for the way they play the game and for the heart they show on the field, and we will be expecting two excellent matches."

The U.S. defeated Japan 2-1 on March 2 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. The Americans next play April 2 at England.

At the World Cup in Germany, the Americans open against North Korea on June 28, then play Colombia on July 2 and Sweden on July 6. Japan plays New Zealand on June 27. Mexico on July 1 and England on July 5.

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