Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Suarez Fires Uruguay Into Final

Luis Suarez netted a second-half double to secure a 2-0 victory over 10-man Peru and send Uruguay into the Copa America final.

Liverpool striker Suarez scored twice in five minutes shortly after half-time in La Plata to keep Uruguay's hopes of securing a record 15th South American title alive.

Suarez netted his first on 52 minutes after Peru goalkeeper Raul Fernandez spilled a speculative Diego Forlan shot.

The 24-year-old then ran onto a long pass, before rounding Fernandez, to roll in the simplest of second goals and seal a place in Sunday's final where Uruguay will meet the winner of Wednesday's semi-final between Paraguay and Venezuela.

Peru's night was further soured with skipper Juan Manuel Vargas shown a straight red card on 68 minutes after he elbowed Sebastian Coates in the face.

The teams had shared a 1-1 draw in the group stages. However, Uruguay always looked the more likely to progress to the final as the 14-times winners handled the occasion far better.

It did not take long for Uruguay to establish their threat and only their poor finishing cost them a first-half opener.

Suarez was the chief culprit in the first 45 minutes as he wastefully blazed over after Diego Lugano nodded down a Forlan free-kick while Alvaro Pereira shinned a glorious chance at Fernandez from close quarters.

Peru almost stole a goal against the run of play after 25 minutes when Vargas fizzed in a low cross that just evaded the outstretched legs of two attackers.

Uruguay responded by putting the ball in the net just before the break, only for the 'goal' to be chalked off after Pereira strayed offside to reach Lugano's flick-on.

Any frustration Uruguay had about reaching the break on level terms were quickly dispelled by Suarez as he displayed the predatory instincts that prompted Liverpool to pay £23million for his services in January.

He opened the scoring on 52 minutes when he was quickest to react after Fernandez failed to grasp Forlan's 35-yard drive, squeezing his shot in from a tight angle.

Suarez's finishing skills were then on show again soon after when he ran onto a long ball and coolly rounded the onrushing Fernandez, who was left exposed by his defence, before rolling the ball into the net.

Any hopes of a Peru recovery looked remote and they were made almost impossible by the indiscipline of their skipper Vargas, who inexplicably elbowed Coates in the face right in front of the referee.

Peru did almost pull a goal back when Muslera had to scramble to gather after he had mis-handled a fierce drive from Jose Paolo Guerrero, but Suarez's double was enough to send Uruguay into the Sunday's showpiece in Buenos Aires.

Liverpool Eyeing Deal For Bueno

Liverpool is targeting Mexican wonderkid Marco Bueno as they continue to build their squad ahead of the new season.

Buoyed by the success of Mexican striker Javier Hernandez after his move to Manchester United, Liverpool are reportedly in talks with Bueno's club Pachuca and are ready to offer the 17-year-old a five-year deal at Anfield.

Pachuca vice-president Andres Fassi was quoted as saying: "We are conducting negotiations with Liverpool and possibly, on August 1, Marco Bueno will pay a visit to Liverpool.

"We have already practically closed negotiations with them. They want to buy 100% of the rights.''

Bueno won the Under-17 World Cup with Mexico earlier this month and has been linked with a move aboard after his impressive displays in the competition.

Liverpool Pursuit Of Peruvian Star Takes Another Twist

Liverpool's reported pursuit of Fiorentina's Juan Manuel Vargas could be scuppered by Aston Villa, it has been claimed.

According to, the Reds have been interested in the acquisition of the Peru captain, but Villa are considering making a formal move for the 27-year-old.

Villa are said to have identified Vargas as a potential replacement for Stewart Downing, who joined Liverpool for £20 million last week.

A versatile left-sided player, Vargas was alleged to have been considered by Liverpool as a potential candidate to fill their problematic full-back position.

It is more likely however; that Liverpool would have rather Vargas for a more advanced role so, after Downing moved to Anfield, a move for the former would perhaps now be unlikely.

Tottenham are also credited with interest in Vargas as Harry Redknapp looks to bring more incisive forward options to White Hart Lane during the transfer window.

The Spurs boss, however, has been told by chairman Daniel Levy that he must sell before significant investment can be made, with the likes of Robbie Keane and Wilson Palacious tipped to leave the club.

Villa, meanwhile, have also been chasing Wigan winger Charles N'Zogbia - a one time target for Liverpool - to succeed Downing.

Anderlecht Step Up Move For Milan Jovanovic

Our-of-favour Liverpool striker Milan Jovanovic looks to be edging closer towards sealing a move to Belgian giants Anderlecht.

The Serbian forward’s stock in the country is still high after a hugely successful stint with Standard Liege before he made the switch to Anfield, and Jovanovic and his representatives met with Anderlecht president Herman Van Holsbeeck yesterday to discuss personal terms; the talks were a continuation of earlier discussions between the two parties.

Jovanovic has been told that he can leave Liverpool for free after failing to break into the Merseyside club’s starting eleven last season.

The forward, nicknamed "the snake", due to his quick footwork, failed to settle off the pitch in England and also struggled to convince first Roy Hodgson and then his successor in the Anfield dugout, Kenny Dalglish, that he was worthy of an extended run in the team.

Jovanovic soon went on record as lamenting that his decision to join the Reds had been the wrong one; the Serbia international turned down a move to Real Madrid to join the English giants.

While Anderlecht remains in pole position for Jovanovic, the player has announced that four clubs have made concrete offers for his services. Belgium though appeals to the 30-year-old and the Jupiler League holds many fond memories.

Rennes Seal Mavinga Deal

Rennes has confirmed they have completed the signing of Chris Mavinga from Liverpool on a four-year deal. reported earlier on Tuesday that Mavinga was expected to undergo a medical and join Rennes this week.

And the French club has announced they have secured the services of the 20-year-old left-back.

The fee is undisclosed but it is believed Liverpool will receive in the region of €1million for Mavinga, who failed to make a first-team appearance for the Reds.

The French youngster spent the second half of last season on loan at Belgian champions Genk and is currently in Colombia, where he will be competing in the Under-20 World Cup later this month.

Mavinga returns to France after leaving the Paris St Germain youth set-up for Liverpool in 2009.

He becomes Rennes' fourth summer signing after the arrival of goalkeeper Benoit Costil, and midfielders Julien Feret and Jonathan Pitroipa.

The Brittany outfit, who finished sixth in Ligue 1 last season, have also confirmed that 28-year-old centre-back and captain Kader Mangane has agreed a one-year contract extension, tying him to the club until June 2014.

Peter Gulacsi Joins Hull City On Loan

Liverpool's Peter Gulacsi has joined Hull City on loan for the 2011/12 season.

The young goalkeeper is yet to represent the club in a competitive match since joining in 2008 and manager Kenny Dalglish last week signed Brazilian Alexander Doni to provide back-up to first choice Pepe Reina, meaning Gulacsi's chances of finding first-team minutes have diminshed further.

The Hungarian has also signed an extension to his current deal at Liverpool, after spending part of last season on loan at Tranmere Rovers.

He made his last appearance for Liverpool as a second-half substitute on Saturday against a Malaysia XI in a 6-3 win.

Liverpool FC Move Came Too Early For Me, Says Conor Thomas

Coventry City wonderkid Conor Thomas says his shock move to Liverpool FC came too early for him.

The former Coundon Court schoolboy, who played for Christ the King before being signed up by the Sky Blues as a kid, revealed his move to the Premier League club – which proved controversial at the time – came completely out of the blue.

“When it first happened it was all so quick and I didn’t get a lot of time to think about it, and was just told what to do,” said the player.

It was this loan move - with a view to a £1 million permanent deal - prompted the resignation of Gary Hoffman as vice-chairman, who was opposed to the deal along with then chairman Ray Ranson.

Thomas had only just made his full City debut against Birmingham in the FA Cup last January when Aidy Boothroyd called him in to his office.

“We had a recovery session on the Sunday and then trained on the Monday ahead of the Tuesday game at Forest and I was called in to see the gaffer at lunchtime,” said the teenager who said he felt a mixture of shock, excitement and nerves when he was told.
“He just asked to speak to my agent and my mum because a deal had been agreed for me to go to Liverpool.

"He told me a car was picking me up to go up there, he said thanks for everything and good luck, shook my hand and that was it.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was feeling a bit of everything and just needed to speak to someone to calm me down really.

"I spoke to my mum and dad and everything was going through my mind because it had all happened so quickly.”

Thomas played and trained with the Reds’ reserves and trained with the first team on seven occasions during his loan stint which was cut a few weeks short by a hamstring injury and the mutual decision to return to City.

“On my first day of training up at Melwood, Kenny Dalglish introduced me to Steven Gerrard and all the lads and because he is skipper he has a duty to make everyone welcome and stuff,” he said.

“All the senior players were great while I was there and I did enjoy it, but I am glad to be back.

"I was a little star struck at first, being in the same changing room with all those famous faces, with people like Pepe Reina sitting there.

“The big plus for me was playing reserve games nearly every week.

"Obviously you are not guaranteed to play every week here but at Liverpool they have a reserves and Under-18s so you get your minutes on the pitch, but if I had signed I wouldn’t be happy playing reserve football for all that time, and one of the main reasons for coming back was to start enjoying my football again.

“The squad is so massive up there and I was coming back after I had done my hamstring and the gaffer, Andy Thorn, called me and asked me what I wanted to do.

"It was probably three weeks before my time was due to come to an end and I told him I wasn’t really enjoying it and that I’d love to come back.

“And he made a few calls and rang me back ten minutes later and got me back, which I was very pleased about.”

He added: “I think it was a good move but just maybe happened at the wrong time for me.

"I am just coming into the new season wanting to enjoy every minute of training and playing.

"Obviously I hope to be on the bench and come on when I can if the time is right, but as long as I am enjoying my football, that’s the main thing at the minute.”

'I'm Honoured To Take New Role'

Steve Cooper has spoken of his pride at assuming the role of Academy manager.

The former U16 coach has been instrumental in the progress that has been made in Kirkby over the past few years, resulting in a deserved promotion.

Cooper told "Frank McParland has taken on more responsibility and passed on the Academy manager's role to me. I'm very honoured to be in this position and I am well aware of its importance.

"I will now look after the operational side of things in Kirkby but will always maintain a focus on the football side of it because that is the fundamental part of an Academy.

"I plan to remain actively involved in the grassroots football at the facility and will continue to work as hard as possible to ensure we have an Academy to be proud of."

Cooper's installation as Academy manager was one of several changes made at the youth base over the summer, including the appointment of Mike Marsh as U18 boss.

The duo struck up a strong relationship during their time together at U16 level and Cooper has no doubt the former Reds midfielder will be a huge success.

"His progress as a coach was obvious to us all," he said.

"It coincided with the improvement we were making here at the Academy and you could see that he was committed to the vision we have here.

"Everyone knows he played for Liverpool at the highest level, but he rarely refers to it. Obviously he can relate to what the young lads are going through because he's been there and done it - but there's much more to him as a coach than that.

"He has a very modern way of thinking and is an outstanding young coach in his own right. He's also in the fortunate position that means all of his demonstrations are right out of the top drawer!

"So it was a no-brainer that we gave him the U18s job and he is determined to help shape the future of the club."

Steven Gerrard Makes Dreams Come True For Wirral Charity

Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard made dreams come true for a Wirral charity which helps children with cerebral palsy.

The Reds star joined in a group session with six youngsters at Stick ‘n’ Step in Wallasey.

His Steven Gerrard Foundation, established in January to support children with disabilities or with a history of neglect, has donated £5,000 to the group.

He encouraged youngsters to have a kickabout, before signing shirts and photos.

Steven said: “One of my friend’s sons has cerebral palsy and from a young age he’s been going to Stick ‘n’ Step.

“I’ve seen his progress and I know what Stick ’n’ Step does for children with cerebral palsy.

“I know that by supporting this charity the money will be well spent. The kids really progress and improve by coming here.”

Steven chatted freely with the boys and girls, a couple of whom were proudly sporting Liverpool shirts, and helped staff as the youngsters demonstrated their skills.

Cerebral Palsy affects one in every 400 UK children, often due to lack of oxygen in the brain through complications at birth.

It causes over-tightening or over-loosening of the muscles, leading to problems with sitting, standing, walking and talking.

But it does not affect intelligence and the conflict between mental wellbeing and physical disability can often be very frustrating for those with the condition.

But it was all smiles as the Reds captain helped youngsters remove their shoes for a kick around.

One asked whether Gerrard had “ever been sent off”.

Kerry Roe-Ely is a fundraiser at the charity, she said: “They all looked absolutely delighted.

“I’ve never seen them so excited and animated before.

“We take children from all over the North West, we have as many as 70 children coming twice a week.

“We try to get them to achieve through play.”

Kerry, who is originally from Florida, said the charity was “thrilled” to receive the £5,000, which will go towards maintaining the high standards of care and development already in place.

Kerry added: “We have to raise £250,000 every year so £5,000 is a big sum for us.”