Alkmaar go six points clear
Moroccan forward Mounir El Hamdaoui’s 15th goal of the season helped AZ Alkmaar beat FC Utrecht 2-0 to move six points clear at the top of the Dutch league on Friday. AZ, seeking their first title in 28 years, have not conceded a goal at home since Aug. 31 and extended their unbeaten run to 14 matches. Striker Ari set up El Hamdaoui in the eighth minute and Demy de Zeeuw netted the second in injury-time off a fast counterattack. AZ Alkmaar have 38 points. Ajax are next with 32, two ahead of FC Twente. Today, defending champions PSV Eindhoven takes on Feyenoord, while UEFA Cup hopefuls Twente play Willem II. Also, NEC Nijmegen host ADO The Hague and Ajax travel to De Graafschap.
Santa Cruz looks for move
Blackburn Rovers striker Roque Santa Cruz has admitted that he would consider leaving the Premier League outfit if “a bigger club came in for me” during next month’s transfer window. New Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce has insisted he wants the 27-year-old Paraguay forward to stay at Ewood Park, but speculation is growing linking him with Manchester City, the club of his former boss Mark Hughes. “Everybody knows my opinion [regarding a possible transfer]. I am happy at Blackburn, but also I want to keep improving my football and remain ambitious,” Santa Cruz told BBC radio on Friday. “My contract with Blackburn is clear and for that I need to continue with the club. But I am looking to again play in a big side that is in Europe and trying to win their league.”
Darcheville to leave Rangers
Rangers striker Jean-Claude Darcheville will join French team Valenciennes on Jan. 1, the Scottish Premier League club revealed on Friday. Darcheville, 33, has opted to leave Ibrox after making just 10 appearances for Walter Smith’s side this season. The former Bordeaux star, who has scored 16 goals in all competitions for Rangers, admits it was hard to turn his back on the Glasgow outfit. “It is a difficult moment for me to leave Rangers, because I played for a year and a half here and I was very happy in Glasgow,” Darcheville told the Rangers Web site.
Xavi signs Barca extension
Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez, voted the best player at Euro 2008, on Friday signed an extension to his contract that will keep him at the club until 2014. “The new deal means that the Barca midfielder will be staying at the club until at least 30 June, 2014, four years more than his original contract, which was due to run out in 2010,” the club said in a statement. His buyout clause has been set at 80 million euros (US$111 million), Barcelona said in a statement. It did not mention the player’s salary, but Spanish media have said he stands to earn 7.5 million euros a year.
Becali transcripts released
Anti-corruption prosecutors on Friday made public transcripts of tapped telephone conversations of the owner of top Romanian side Steaua Bucharest, Gigi Becali, accused of corruption. The transcripts allege that Becali offered cash sums of several thousand euros to players from five clubs as an incentive when playing Steaua’s title rivals Cluj. In the conversations, Becali is heard talking to the main shareholder of Universitatea Craiova, Adrian Mititelu, about “sorting out the Cluj problem” and providing a “case” — presumed filled with cash — for players of Cluj’s city rivals Universitatea Cluj.