Mexico give hope in friendly
Mexico, facing a playoff against New Zealand for a FIFA 2014 World Cup berth next month, displayed a vibrant, aggressive game on Wednesday in a 4-2 win over Finland in a friendly. Miguel Herrera, the fourth manager in six weeks tasked with guiding the floundering South American side, on Wednesday used seven players from Club America. Rafael Marquez opened the scoring for Mexico in the 12th minute, followed by Carlos Pena in the 24th, Oribe Peralta in the 47th and Jesus Alonso in the 65th. Despite losing the game, Finland benefited from defensive lapses on Mexico’s part, a flaw Herrera will want to address. Jarkko Hurme scored in the 28th minute for Finland and an own-goal by Juan Carlos Valenzuela in the 56th accounted for Finland’s other goal. Mexico have not missed the World Cup since 1990, but they failed to qualify directly for the 2014 tournament in Brazil, finishing fourth in the six-nation final round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Reims eliminate Monaco
Big-spending AS Monaco, without banned striker Radamel Falcao, were knocked out of the Coupe de France in the third round when they lost 1-0 at Stade de Reims on Wednesday. Midfielder Antoine Devaux headed the only goal in the 34th minute as the principality club suffered their first defeat of the season. Monaco are second in Ligue 1 behind Paris Saint-Germain on goal-difference, while Reims are 10th in the top flight. Elsewhere in the Coupe, Sochaux-Montbeliard beat Montpellier Herault 3-2 in extra-time, while Evian Thonon-Gaillard beat En Avant de Guingamp 2-1. The draw for the last 16 will be made next week.
Costa firm on Spain choice
Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa on Wednesday said chose to play for adopted country Spain instead of birthplace Brazil because everything he has achieved professionally was given to him by the European nation. Costa — top scorer in La Liga this season — signed a formal letter on Tuesday declaring his availability to Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, a move that angered Del Bosque’s Brazil counterpart, Luiz Felipe Scolari. “I devoted a lot of thought to the decision and I hope people respect it and understand that it’s not a rejection of Brazil,” the 25-year-old said. The decision led Scolari to withdraw an invitation for Costa to play in friendlies against Honduras and Chile next month. “He is turning his back on the dream of millions, the dream of representing the five-times world champions at the World Cup in Brazil,” Scolari said.
CSKA sanctioned for racism
CSKA Moscow must close part of their stadium for their Champions League match against Bayern Munich on Nov. 27 following racist abuse hurled at Manchester City’s Yaya Toure by the Russian club’s fans last week, UEFA said on Wednesday. European soccer’s governing body also said that their venue director for CSKA’s Arena Khimki has been “relieved of his duties” for failing to stop play and issue a warning over the public address system, as per UEFA guidelines. CSKA had said they were “surprised and disappointed” by Toure’s allegations. Toure, who speaks Russian, said black players may boycott the 2018 World Cup if Russia does not tackle the issue, saying the abuse he experienced in Moscow was worse than anything he had encountered in the Ukraine, where he played for two years with Metallurg Donetsk.