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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hiddink leaves door open for possible Chelsea return


BRUSSELS — Guus Hiddink left the possibility of a return to Chelsea open on Friday and his future with Turkey uncertain.

News photo
Never say never: Turkey coach Guus Hiddink led Chelsea to the F.A. Cup during his interim tenure with the club in 2009. AP PHOTO

The Dutchman put a hand over his heart when recollections of Chelsea came up and said "it was a beautiful time." Despite his contract with Turkey until next year, he did not rule out reliving them soon.

When asked after Turkey's 1-1 draw with Belgium late Friday whether he would be in charge of its next Euro 2012 qualifier in September, he said "we'll see."

"There is nothing certain," he said.

Team captain John Terry said he would welcome back Hiddink, who has remained as a Chelsea adviser since winning the F.A. Cup in 2009. Carlo Ancelotti was fired last month after his second season at Stamford Bridge ended without a trophy.

"At my age, when some issues can come up we can always talk," Hiddink said.

Turkey is in a hot race for second place in Group A of Euro 2012, the kind of international challenge Hiddink has always thrived on since he took South Korea into the semifinals of World Cup 2002 and Australia into the second round four years later.

Stanford Bridge though also still tugs at his heart.

Hiddink, 64, insisted only one thing was certain as of next week. He was going on holiday, happy to see how his future would play out.

He certainly did not show any detachment from Turkey's national team, trying to bring any question about his future back to Friday's game, which he was lucky to escape with a draw after Belgium's Axel Witsel missed a late penalty.

"We were lucky that it was missed," Hiddink said. "We can be happy with the result."

Behind runaway leader Germany with a perfect 18 points, Belgium held on to second place with 11 points from seven games, with Turkey totaling 10 points from six. Second place almost certainly assures a playoff spot for the finals.

Whatever happens, Hiddink took a philosophical approach. "My future is more behind me than in front of me."

Germany stays unbeaten


LONDON — Germany and Italy moved closer to a place at the 2012 European Championship with victories Friday, while France's progress stalled against Belarus.

Mario Gomez kept Germany's perfect record in Group A intact with a first-half goal and a late winner in a 2-1 victory over Austria, while Italy cruised to a 3-0 win over Estonia in Group C.

France remains atop Group D despite a 1-1 draw at Belarus.

Giuseppe Rossi, who scored 32 goals for Villarreal last season, put Italy ahead after being set by Cassano, who doubled the lead before halftime from a Riccardo Montolivo pass.

Giampaolo Pazzini added a third goal by finishing off a counterattack in the 68th minute, while Rossi and Andrea Pirlo also hit the post in a dazzling display.

Italy is five points ahead of Slovenia, which beat Faroe Islands 2-0 despite having Marko Suler sent off after 25 minutes.

Serbia is eight points back and Estonia nine points behind.

In Group A, Bayern Munich striker Gomez put Germany ahead just before the break, scoring from close range after Austria's defense failed to clear the ball after a corner kick.

Austria equalized in the 50th when Germany's Arne Friedrich tried to clear a cross by David Alaba before it reached Martin Harnik but could only deflect the ball past 'keeper Manuel Neuer. But Gomez struck an 89th-minute winner, steering home a cross by captain Philipp Lahm to claim his 18th goal for Germany.

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