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Friday, Sep. 23, 2011

Inter hires Ranieri to replace Gasperini

AP

MILAN, Italy — Inter Milan reportedly reached an agreement with Claudio Ranieri to replace the fired Gian Piero Gasperini on Wednesday.

The Gazzetta dello Sport and the ANSA news agency said Ranieri was set to sign a two-year deal, although the club did not make an official announcement.

Inter announced Gasperini's removal earlier, a day after a humiliating 3-1 loss to newly promoted Novara. That left Inter with one point from three Serie A games and winless under Gasperini.

The 2010 Italian champions lost 1-0 to Turkish side Trabzonspor in the Champions League last week, and were beaten by AC Milan in the Italian Super Cup last month to begin Gasperini's short reign.

Ranieri has previously managed Chelsea, Juventus and — most recently — Roma.

Ranieri had been working as a commentator for RAI, Italian state TV.

Ranieri took over Roma at a similar stage in 2009, after Luciano Spalletti resigned following two losses to open the season. Ranieri resigned from Roma in February after the squad lost four consecutive matches.

Inter thanked Gasperini for his work and said it was sorry things did not work out. Daniele Bernazzani and Giuseppe Baresi were named temporary coaches before the apparent deal for Ranieri.

"Results dictate everything," said Gasperini, who took over in June. "I really regret it, and I think everyone regrets it."

Heading into a meeting to decide Gasperini's fate, club president Massimo Moratti made clear he was not pleased with Inter's performance and that there was little other choice but to let Gasperini go.

"His situation seems very difficult, from all points of view," Moratti said.

Speaking of the Novara loss, he added: "When you lose like this, in the end there was nothing to like."

Against Novara — which was making its home debut after a 55-year absence from the top division — Inter made a series of defensive errors and its midfielders were unable to keep up with their opponents' pace.

Inter has a busy schedule in the coming days, playing at Bologna on Saturday then traveling to Russia three days later to face CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, with a big match against Napoli at San Siro the following weekend.

Gasperini led Genoa up from the second division in 2007, then qualified the club for the Europa League with a fifth-place finish in 2009, but was fired in November after gaining only 11 points in the first 10 matches of last season.

Gasperini was Inter's third coach since Jose Mourinho left for Real Madrid after winning Serie A, the Italian Cup and the Champions League in 2010.

Rafa Benitez struggled during the first half of last season and was replaced by Leonardo, who then unexpectedly left for an executive position at Paris Saint-Germain in June.

Valencia holds Barcelona

AP

VALENCIA, Spain — Cesc Fabregas scored for the fourth straight league game to salvage a 2-2 draw for Barcelona at Valencia as the defending champions avoided defeat on a night when top rival Real Madrid had a 0-0 draw at Racing Santander on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi continued his prolific partnership with the former Arsenal player by setting him up for the 77th-minute equalizer as the Catalans twice rallied from deficits.

While Barcelona salvaged a point, Madrid staggered to a lackluster result on the Cantabrian coast, marking the first time the Spanish powerhouse has played consecutive league games without a win since the arrival of coach Jose Mourinho.

Valencia remained the overnight leader with 10 points, one better than Malaga which beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0.

Hargreaves scores in win

AP

LONDON — Owen Hargreaves marked his return to competitive soccer with a debut goal for Manchester City in a 2-0 win Wednesday over defending champion Birmingham in the League Cup.

The England midfielder, who struggled through three injury-filled years before being released by City's neighbor Manchester United in the offseason, fired in City's opener from 25 meters in the third-round victory over the cup holders.

Hargreaves, who has had operations on both knees in recent years, managed to complete 57 minutes before being substituted. It was the Canadian-born player's longest appearance since completing United's match against Chelsea exactly three years ago.



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