FA charge Sunderland
Sunderland were charged by the Football Association on Wednesday with failing to control their players during a recent Premier League draw with title contenders Manchester City. The charge related to an incident in the 43rd minute of the 3-3 draw at Eastlands on Saturday, when Sunderland players reacted angrily after referee Phil Dowd awarded a penalty following Craig Gardner’s challenge on Edin Dzeko. Mario Balotelli scored from the spot to bring the hosts level and later scored again as City recovered from 3-1 down to rescue a point. Sunderland have until 4pm on Wednesday next week to respond to the charge.
Real great dies aged 81
Former Real Madrid player Jose Maria Zarraga, who won five European Cups with the club between 1956 and 1960, died on Tuesday at the age of 81. The Basque midfielder played for Madrid from 1949 to 1962 and also won six La Liga titles, one Spanish Cup and one Intercontinental Cup. Zarraga played alongside such greats as Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas, and won eight international caps for Spain. Madrid’s players wore a black armband as a mark of respect in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against APOEL Nicosia at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Monterrey, Santos advance
Defending champions Monterrey booked a return trip to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw against fellow Mexican club Pumas. Angel Reyna scored in the 35th minute for Monterrey, who advanced with a 4-1 aggregate victory after a 3-0 first-leg win. Antonio Garcia scored in the 71st minute for Pumas. Monterrey is scheduled to host Mexican Clausura leaders Santos in the first leg of the final on April 17, with the return leg slated for April 24. Santos thrashed Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC 6-2 in Torreon to advance 7-3 on aggregate.
Gold Coast exit A-League
Gold Coast United were axed from the A-League yesterday, but the national competition will remain at 10 teams following this week’s announcement of a new Western Sydney franchise. Football Federation Australia (FFA) said their level of public and corporate support fell below the minimum requirements for a professional club. The future of Gold Coast United was thrown into doubt after the FFA stripped billionaire miner Clive Palmer of his ownership license in February for contravening competition regulations.
Ranties on target for Pirates
Orlando Pirates joined Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the Premiership league table on Wednesday after Tokelo Ranties scored the only goal in their win over AmaZulu. Ranties put Pirates ahead after just five minutes and they held their advantage at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban as AmaZulu missed a string of chances, which keeps them hanging midtable. Sundowns were held to a goalless draw by Golden Arrows, but despite their fifth game without a win still cling to the top spot ahead of Pirates on goal difference. Meanwhile, Free State Stars renewed their title hopes by climbing to fourth after a 2-1 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic. David Mathebula netted his ninth goal of the season in the third minute for Moroka Swallows, who whipped Bidvest Wits 3-0.