Preston shock Wolves
Wolverhampton’s dominance of the Championship was shaken on Saturday as Preston stunned the leaders 3-1 at Molineux. Mick McCarthy’s team are now four points clear of second placed Reading, who hammered Watford 4-0 on Friday, following their meltdown to play-off chasing North End. The hosts squandered the lead given to them in the 20th minute when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake pounced on a mistake by Preston goalkeeper Andy Lonergan. Preston equalized four minutes later through former Wolves striker Stephen Elliott and defender Sean St Ledger nudged the visitors ahead four minutes before the interval. Elliott, who left Wolves in September, sealed Preston’s best win of the season when he slotted home in the 61st minute to hand McCarthy’s men only their second defeat in 14 matches. “Preston gifted us one goal and we gifted them three,” McCarthy said. “When we cock up, we do it big style.”
Kuwait send Iraq packing
Asian Cup champions Iraq drew 1-1 with Kuwait on Saturday to confirm their shock exit from the eight-nation Gulf Cup where they finished at the bottom of Group A with just a single point. Iraq had already lost 4-0 to hosts Oman and 3-1 against Bahrain and had no hope of making the semi-finals leaving just pride at stake against the nine-time winners. Kuwait made it to the semi-finals as runners-up behind Oman who finished the group on top with seven points from three matches. Oman beat Bahrain 2-0. Badr al Maymani scored from a 15th minute free-kick with Fawzi Basheer adding the second after the interval.
Wintry weather hits games
Wintry weather meant three league matches were postponed on Saturday following a week-long controversy over the kick-off time of 8pm on a weekend where temperatures plunged below freezing. Nancy versus Nice and Le Mans against Lille were called off on Saturday while Valenciennes versus Caen was postponed on Friday. Half of the 10 second division matches were postponed and nine of 10 in the third-flight were cancelled as low temperatures caused havoc with the schedules. Valenciennes coach Antoine Kombouare said the 8pm kick-off time on Friday was the reason the match had to be called off. “Perhaps we could have played at 3pm,” Kombouare had said. Football League president Frederic Thiriez said on Thursday, referring to Valenciennes: “Certain people have discovered it’s cold in winter. What amateurism.” The Auxerre versus Marseille fixture started as scheduled but not before the visiting club’s president Pape Diouf told Auxerre president Jean-Claude Hamel that he did not want to play on a frozen pitch. “You can’t play on this pitch. If you want the three points, I give them to you,” Diouf told Hamel in front of TV cameras. Marseille went on to win 2-0.
Sporting sink Maritimo
Simon Vukcevic and Liedson scored to lead Sporting to a 2-0 victory over Maritimo on Saturday. Montenegro forward Vukcevic opened in the 11th minute before Brazilian striker Liedson confirmed the victory in the 82nd after pouncing to score from a rebound. Sporting, unbeaten in six with only one goal conceded in that span, head the Liga Sagres with 29 points from 14 games. FC Porto, which had 27 points from 13 games, were looking to reclaim top spot yesterday with a victory against Trofense. In Saturday’s other match, Guimaraes and Amadora drew 0-0.