Hughes pans Barton reports
New Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes has slammed reports he is ready to sell club captain Joey Barton. Several Sunday newspapers claimed that Hughes, who took over at Loftus Road last Tuesday, is willing to off-load former Manchester City and Newcastle United midfielder Barton. “I saw that and I think it’s one of those maybe mischief-making Sunday stories,” Hughes said. “From my point of view, there’s certainly no suggestion that we are thinking in those terms. He is captain of the club, I have reiterated that this week. Joey is a quality player and we are looking to bring quality in, not to get those type of players out of the building.” QPR have been linked with a host of signings since the transfer window opened, with Chelsea defender Alex and Blackburn Rovers centerback Christopher Samba both on the club’s wanted list. “ Asked about Congo star Samba, Hughes said: “It’s common knowledge we’ve put in a bid for Chris Samba. We have a number of players we would like to bring to the club. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Directors attacked by fans
Fiorentina’s directors had to be saved by police after coming under attack from a group of angry fans following the club’s 1-0 defeat at home to rock-bottom Lecce on Sunday. Following the game, fans tried to invade the VIP stand, and directors were subjected to insults and spat on. Fans also tried to get into the team’s dressing room, where they were repelled by police, and they blocked the exits used by directors and players. Club president Andrea della Valle avoided the unpleasant scenes as he watched the second half from inside the stadium, but executive president Mario Cognigni was spat on as he tried to flee to safety and another director, Paolo Panerai, refused to leave his seat in the VIP section. During the game, fans demanded the club spend some money and told the players to “go to work.”
Braga close in on leaders
Braga beat Sporting 2-1 on Sunday to move ahead of their opponents and into sole possession of third place in the league. Helder Barbosa scored off Lima’s cross for Braga’s 51st-minute opener. Lima added what proved to be the winner in the 64th minute, before substitute Andre Carrillo halved the deficit for the visitors in the 74th minute. The win lifted Braga to within six points of second-placed Porto, who are a further two points adrift of leaders Benfica. Sporting have only won once in their past seven games in all competitions. Also on Sunday, it was Nacional 2, Leiria 2; Olhanense 2, Beira Mar 1; and Academica 0, Guimaraes 2.
Greens have last laugh
Panathinaikos, who said referee Ilias Spathas’ decision to allow Sunday’s game to go ahead on PAS Giannena’s frozen pitch was “farcical comedy,” had the last laugh as they recorded a 1-0 victory. A goal by Brazilian Cleyton helped second-placed Panathinaikos keep up the pressure on Olympiakos Piraeus at the top of the league. The start was delayed by 40 minutes because parts of the pitch were frozen and the teams struggled to get their passing game going in sub-zero temperatures. Cleyton broke the deadlock with an acrobatic overhead effort in the 85th minute. “It was a difficult game, with difficult conditions for both sets of players,” he told reporters after the Greens moved within four points of Olympiakos with two games in hand. “We couldn’t really play football on this pitch in the condition it was in, but we managed to get ourselves in front and ... that’s all that matters.”