SPORTS BRIEFS

Agencies

Sun, Nov 03, 2013 - Page 19

SOCCER

Mutu, Pantilimon left out

Striker Adrian Mutu and goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon have been dropped for Romania’s 2014 World Cup playoff against Greece, the Romanian soccer federation said on Friday. Coach Victor Piturca has called up 15 overseas players, but decided to leave out AC Ajaccio’s Mutu, Romania’s all-time joint-leading scorer, as he has yet to find the net in the French league this season. Piturca also dropped Manchester City goalkeeper Pantilimon. AS Roma ’keeper Bogdan Lobont, who turns 36 in January, was selected although he has yet to play for the Italian club this season. Strikers Razvan Cocis and Marius Niculae, both playing for Ukrainian side Hoverla Uzhgorod, returned to the squad after a long absence. Piturca will add home-based players to his squad next week for the matches in Athens on Nov. 15 and at home four days later.

SOCCER

Benko back for playoff

Croatia coach Niko Kovac has recalled Rijeka striker Leon Benko and included uncapped teammate Mate Males in his 25-man squad for the country’s World Cup playoff against Iceland later this month. Kovac, who took over from Igor Stimac last month after Croatia took one point from their last four qualifying games, said the atmosphere in the squad had improved and was confident they would qualify for next year’s tournament. “The players looked like a disjointed group of individuals and not much of a team when I took over, but the lads are n Photo: AFP ow very positive about our chances and we are convinced we will do what it takes to get the job done,” Kovac said on Friday. Croatia visit Iceland on Nov. 15 and play them in Zagreb four days later.

SOCCER

PSG see off Lorient, go top

Paris Saint-Germain were singing in the rain at Parc des Princes on Friday, the French champions making light of the damp weather to ease past Lorient 4-0 and extend their unbeaten Ligue 1 run to 23 games. Goals from Lucas, Jeremy Menez and an Edison Cavani double lifted Laurent Blanc’s men three points clear of Monaco at the top of the table. The performance was a perfect riposte to Blanc’s eve-of-match warning about the danger of complacency seeping into his team after a labored 2-2 draw with Saint-Etienne last time out.

ICE HOCKEY

Capitals thrash Flyers

Joel Ward scored three goals as Braden Holtby coasted to a shutout in the Washington Capitals’ 7-0 fight-filled NHL rout of the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. Jason Chimera added a goal and three assists, and Nicklas Backstrom and Mikhail Grabovski each had three points. Ward’s third-period goal that made it 7-0 sparked a brawl. Seconds later, Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds fought Washington’s Tom Wilson. Flyers goalie Ray Emery then took on Holtby. Meanwhile, Carolina’s Victor Hedman scored in the second period and Steven Stamkos added an insurance goal to back Ben Bishop’s shutout in the Tampa Bay Ray’s 3-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Brian Elliott stopped 31 shots for his first win of the season, and Alexander Steen scored for the sixth straight game as the St Louis Blues beat the Florida Panthers 4-0. Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart and Derek Roy added goals, and Steen posted his NHL-leading 12th this season. Chris Kunitz scored for the third straight game for Pittsburgh as the Penguins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. In other games, the Islanders beat the Senators 5-4 in a shootout, the Wild edged the Canadiens 4-3, the Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime and the Red Wings were 4-3 winners over the Flames.