Real Sociedad thrash Elche
Antoine Griezmann scored a hat-trick on Monday to help Real Sociedad beat Elche 4-0 in La Liga. The 22-year-old French midfielder put the hosts ahead in the fourth minute with a lob over goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez that defender Damian Suarez then pushed into his own net while trying to clear the ball. Eight minutes later, Griezmann doubled his tally with a header that Rodriguez could only watch as it went past him. Carlos Vela displayed great skill when he dribbled through four defenders, chested the ball down and unleashed a powerful shot to score the third in the 50th minute. Griezmann completed his hat-trick with his 15th goal of the season when he pounced on Rodriguez’s clearance in the 74th minute.
Pirlo voted player of season
Juventus great Andrea Pirlo was named Serie A player of the 2012-2013 season on Monday by his fellow players. The 34-year-old Juventus playmaker — a pivotal player in the Italy national side that won the 2006 World Cup and is set for another appearance in the finals in Brazil later this year — said the award meant a lot because it came from his fellow players. The former Brescia, Inter and AC Milan star — nicknamed Mozart by the Juventus fans for his supreme talent — was also named in the team of the season. “The fact the vote was by my colleagues makes it extra special,” he said, before adding he would be remaining with Serie A champions Juventus. “That is for sure,” added Pirlo, who was also Serie A player of the year in 2011-2012. Aside from him the team featured unpredictable Italian striker Mario Balotelli and Uruguayan international Edinson Cavani, who had a superb season for SSC Napoli, before leaving for French champions Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
Swansea sign David Ngog
French striker David Ngog was back in the English Premier League on Monday after signing for Swansea City from English second-tier club Bolton Wanderers for an undisclosed fee. The 24-year-old, whose Bolton contract was due to expire at the end of the season, missed Wanderers’ FA Cup tie against Swansea’s Welsh rivals Cardiff City at the weekend. Ngog completed a medical at Swansea on Monday and his arrival is a welcome boost for Swans manager Michael Laudrup, who is looking to reduce the club’s reliance on Wilfried Bony, with last season’s top scorer Michu still struggling with an ankle injury. Ngog arrives at the Liberty Stadium in good form, having scored three goals in his past four appearances for Bolton, whom he joined from Liverpool in 2011. Bolton, adjusting to life in the Championship, are keen to cut their wage bill after last year’s accounts showed a huge net debt of more than ￡160 million (US$265 million).
Anelka reveals Lazio interest
French striker Nicolas Anelka thanked SS Lazio for their interest on Monday, but said he wanted to stay with West Bromwich Albion despite the furore over his “quenelle” goal celebration. There has been speculation Anelka could leave the Premier League side and bow out of English soccer completely after being hit with a Football Association charge after making a gesture condemned in France as anti-Semitic. Anelka has requested a formal hearing to contest the charge, which could see him banned for a minimum of five matches. The 34-year-old revealed the Italian club’s interest, but in a message on his Twitter account said he had done nothing wrong and wanted to remain in England.