Arsenal lose Song to Barca
Arsenal midfielder Alex Song is the latest star player to leave the Emirates Stadium after Barcelona agreed a deal to sign the Cameroon star on Saturday. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has already lost striker Robin van Persie to Manchester United and Arsenal’s hopes of a successful campaign suffered another blow with Barca luring Song to the Camp Nou. The north London club, without a trophy for seven years, confirmed they had accepted Barca’s offer for Song just minutes after Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Sunderland. “Arsenal Football Club can confirm that terms have been agreed for the transfer of Alex Song to Barcelona,” an Arsenal statement read. Barca then revealed they had agreed to pay ￡15 million (US$23.5 million) for Song, who will have a release clause of 80 million euros (US$98.6 million) inserted in his contract.
Berliner stun Hoffenheim
Fourth-tier side Berliner AK 07 produced the shock of the German Cup first round on Saturday with a 4-0 home victory over Bundesliga club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, while holders Borussia Dortmund began their defense of the competition with a straightforward 3-0 win at fourth-tier side Oberneuland. Berliner played with a zip and purpose that caught their visitors, 11th in the Bundesliga last season, off guard. Metin Cakmak opened the scoring after two minutes following a mixup in the Hoffenheim defense, with Justin Gerlach finishing off a neat counterattacking move to double the lead just past the half-hour mark. Kevin Kruschke made it 3-0 before halftime, with Cakmak getting his second, and Berliner’s fourth, early in the second half. Dortmund took the lead after 10 minutes with a Marco Reus goal, before Jakub Blaszczykowski doubled their advantage and Ivan Perisic grabbed a third late in the second half. Top-tier clubs Bayer 04 Leverkusen (4-0 at Carl Zeiss Jena), SC Freiburg (2-1 at Viktoria Hamburg), VfB Stuttgart (5-0 at SV Falkensee-Finkenkrug) and Borussia Moenchengladbach (2-0 at Alemannia Aachen) all made it through without too many problems.
Spartak rally to go second
Nine-time champions Spartak Moscow battled back from a goal down to beat Rubin Kazan 2-1 on Saturday and move into second place in the first division. Brazilian midfielder Borges Romulo and Dmitry Kombarov scored for Spartak after Israeli star Bebars Natcho had put Rubin in front. “It was a difficult match,” Spartak coach Unai Emery said. “We started well, but later lost the initiative and allowed Rubin to score. Luckily, our substitutes strengthened our play and we managed to grab the initiative back and win.” Lokomotiv Moscow went third with a 2-0 win over Volga at Nizhny Novgorod. Lokomotiv substitute Felipe Caicedo scored with a header and Denis Glushakov added the second with four minutes to go.
Rangers fans beat record
Rangers manager Ally McCoist paid tribute to the troubled club’s fans after 49,118 packed into Ibrox to watch Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing of East Stirling, a world-record attendance for fourth tier soccer. “It was quite unbelievable really,” McCoist said. “It was fantastic. It’s a statement and it’s really encouraging. When you’re getting support like that from the fans, you can only go one way and we must go forward.” Rangers smashed the previous record crowd at that level — set in 1961 when 37,774 watched Crystal Palace’s English fourth-tier clash against south London rivals Millwall.