Sun, Aug 09, 2009 - Page 18 News List

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AGENCIES

■ENGLAND

Boro held by the Blades

Relegated Middlesbrough and defeated play-off finalists Sheffield United fought out a drab 0-0 draw on Friday as the new English Championship season endured a low-key start. Boro, playing outside the Premier League for the first time in 11 years, struggled to find any rhythm in the first half at the Riverside Stadium, with the visitors seeing Danny Coyne save well from Keith Treacy. Middlesbrough’s best openings were half-chances, with Mark Yeates and Adam Johnson causing problems before the game fizzled out.

■ENGLAND

Villa sign defender Beye

English Premier League side Aston Villa signed Senegalese international defender Habib Beye from relegated Newcastle United on Friday on a three-year deal, the Premier League club said. The 31-year-old had appeared to be on the brink of joining Hull City on Thursday, before Villa boss Martin O’Neill made his move. Beye, who spent four years with Marseille before joining Newcastle in 2007, is Villa’s third major signing of the summer, following Stewart Downing from Middlesbrough and Fabian Delph, who was tempted away from Leeds United. “I think Villa is a great football club,” Beye told the club’s official Web site. “I was really happy when my agent told me Villa were interested. I just said: ‘Get it done.’”

■SCOTLAND

Livingston refuse to play

Crisis-hit Livingston have plunged the Scottish League into chaos by refusing to play yesterday’s third division match with East Stirling in protest at their demotion from the first division. The Scottish Football League (SFL) relegated Livingston on Wednesday for breaching the league’s insolvency rules, but the club decided on Friday to appeal the sanction. As a result, Livingston said they would not play a third division fixture until their case was heard. An appeal was expected to also see a postponement of the matches involving Airdrie United and Cowdenbeath, who had been promoted to the first and second divisions respectively as a result of Livingston’s relegation. Instead, the SFL announced on Friday morning that Ross County v Airdrie, Cowdenbeath v Arbroath and East Stirling v Livingston would all go ahead, but the results would be void if Livingston’s appeal proved successful.

■SPAIN

Valencia reject Mata offer

Cash-strapped Valencia have refused an offer of more than 20 million euros (US$28 million) from European champions Barcelona for their Spanish international winger Juan Mata, Spanish media reported on Friday. Valencia president Manuel Llorente told the 21-year-old player’s agent earlier on Friday that the club did not want to let him go and was in no position to offer him a higher salary, the online editions of sports daily Marca said.

■NETHERLANDS

Alkmaar record first win

Champions AZ Alkmaar beat Sparta Rotterdam 2-0 in the Dutch league on Friday after losing their opening fixture at Heracles Almelo. Belgium striker Moussa Dembele opened the scoring for Alkmaar after six minutes when he netted a pass from last year’s Dutch league top scorer Mounir El Hamdaoui. Alkmaar were still not at their best and missed several chances, but after 64 minutes captain Stijn Schaars set up El Hamdaoui to double their lead and seal the victory. In Friday’s other match, NEC Nijmegen also registered their first win of the season by beating Heerenveen 4-1.

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