Twente stunned by Utrecht
Twente had defender Rasmus Bengtsson sent off before halftime and wasted the chance to close the gap on leaders PSV Eindhoven after a surprise 4-2 home defeat to Utrecht on Sunday. Utrecht’s new signing Jens Toornstra opened the scoring on 32 minutes, netted a rebound after goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov blocked a Jacob Mulenga header. Twente were reduced to 10 men just before the break when Swede Bengtsson hauled down Cedric van der Gun and Mulenga doubled Utrecht’s lead from the penalty spot. Serbian Dusan Tadic pulled one back for Twente 11 minutes after the break with a fine chip, but midway through the second half Dave Bulthuis restored the two-goal lead with a header. Tadic converted a penalty to make it 3-2 on 73 minutes, but the hosts’ hopes of salvaging a point were quickly ended when Mike van der Hoorn sealed Utrecht’s fourth successive win. PSV, 7-0 winners over ADO Den Haag on Saturday, are top with 46 points, three above Ajax, who cruised to a 3-0 win at VVV-Venlo. Twente slipped to third on 42 points.
Michel sees leaders lose
Olympiakos slipped to their first league defeat of the season, a 3-2 home loss to Atromitos, on Sunday in front of Spanish coach Michel, who was appointed as the new coach of the Greek champions shortly after the game. Former Sevilla coach Michel has signed an 18-month deal and was to be officially unveiled yesterday. “Olympiakos would like to announce that the new coach of the team, the Spaniard Michel, will be presented to the media,” the club said in a short statement. The 49-year-old former Spain international was sacked by Sevilla on Jan. 14 following a poor run of form and replaces interim coach Antonis Nikopolidis, who took over at Olympiakos last month following the sudden departure of Leonardo Jardim. Nikopolidis will remain at the club as part of coaching staff. Olympiakos spurned a 2-1 halftime lead against Atromitos having recovered from going a goal behind with strikes from Rafik Djebbour and Djamel Abdoun. Thanasis Karagounis’ superb long-range strike three minutes after the break pulled the determined visitors level, before an equally breathtaking effort from Elini Dimoutsos 10 minutes from time sealed a surprise win.
Benfica grab share of lead
SL Benfica beat visiting Vitoria de Setubal 3-0 on Sunday to maintain their undefeated record and a share of the league lead along with Porto. Both Benfica and Porto have identical records of 14 wins and three draws, and enjoy a 15-point gap over third-placed SC Braga after they drew 3-3 at SC Beira-Mar on Sunday. Enzo Perez opened the scoring five minutes in for Benfica. Brazilian striker Lima doubled the hosts’ lead in the 48th minute and Rodrigo Moreno capped the comfortable win in the 55th. Elsewhere, it was Gil Vicente 4, CS Maritimo 2; CD Nacional 1, Moreirense 2; and SC Olhanense 0, Academica 0.
Gerrard wins fans’ vote
Steven Gerrard was on Sunday named as England’s player of the year for last year after winning more than 40 percent of a fans’ vote, the Football Association announced. The Liverpool star edged out Danny Welbeck and Ashley Cole to clinch the award. England captain Gerrard chalked up his 100th international appearance in the meeting with Sweden in November last year. “I still feel fresh, looking forward to the next game as much as my debut. Every time you put the England shirt on, it is a proud moment,” the midfielder said.