Rennes dump out Troyes
Romain Alessandrini’s late winner sent Stade Rennais into the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals after a 2-1 home success against ES Troyes AC on Thursday. Midfielder Alessandrini poked the ball home on 88 minutes after goalkeeper Yohann Thuram-Ulien had parried away a Vincent Pajot header into his path as the hosts booked a place in the last four against Montpellier Herault. AS Saint-Etienne take on LOSC Lille Metropole in the other semi-final. Rennes started brightly, with Jonathan Pitroipa latching onto a Julien Feret cross to make it 1-0 from close range. The 17-year-old Corentin Jean equalized for the visitors in the 22nd minute with a fine low shot from inside the box and Troyes produced a battling display until they cracked in the closing stages.
Rodgers counsels Sterling
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has warned 17-year-old sensation Raheem Sterling he would be “foolish” not to reach a swift agreement on committing his future to Anfield. Sterling has been one of Liverpool’s few bright spots in a stuttering season, but Rodgers insisted the skillful winger cannot expect a huge leap in wages just yet. Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre held further talks with Sterling’s advisers earlier this week and the club insisted a deal would be struck soon. The Merseyside club has offered an estimated ￡20,000 (US$32,100) a week to Sterling, who turns 18 on Dec. 8, but according to reports the player’s representatives want double that.
Dempsey ratchets up tension
Tottenham Hotspur’s Clint Dempsey has increased the tension ahead of his side’s Premier League game against Fulham by saying that his former club did not give him the recognition he deserved. Today, Tottenham and Dempsey make the short journey across London to Fulham, the club where he scored 50 goals in 184 league matches from 2007 to last season. Despite a number of players swapping between Tottenham and Fulham, Dempsey’s comments — and the way in which he left the club — are likely to ensure he is the one most targeted by the home fans. “If you always felt valued and appreciated enough, I don’t think you’d ever leave, but it came to a point where I didn’t feel valued and appreciated,” Dempsey said on Thursday. “Not by the fans, but by other situations. That’s just the way things went.” Dempsey scored 21 league goals in his first three-and-a-half seasons at Craven Cottage, before adding 29 more in his final two campaigns, winning Fulham’s Player of the Season award.
Striker asks for boots back
International striker Mfanzile Ndzimandze has begged disgruntled fans to return his boots, which were seized after his team’s worst drubbing in decades. The boots were taken at the weekend, when fans of Ndzimandze’s team the Mbabane Highlanders went berserk after a humiliating 5-1 defeat against underdogs the Malanti Chiefs. “I really want my Nike boots back,” the player said on Thursday. Ndzimandze had been one of a group of players trying to protect team manager Sipho Xaba from rampaging supporters at the Somhlolo National Stadium after the side’s worst defeat in 22 years. “The fans wanted to assault the players and we ran to the mini-bus to get protection,” Ndzimandze said. The loss placed the team, once a giant of Swazi soccer, deep in the relegation zone. Ndzimandze said taking his boots would not help, because they were not responsible for the team’s troubles.