August 16, 2013

Man City lose friendly 2-0 in South Africa

Manuel Pellegrini's spell in charge of Manchester City started with a defeat to South African side Supersport in the first match of the English Premier League side's pre-season campaign.

The Chilean, 59, left Malaga last month to take over as Roberto Mancini's successor.

But second-half goals from Mame Niang and Kermit Erasmus ensured that Pellegrini, who fielded a different team in each half in Pretoria Tape replacement, began with a defeat in the Nelson Mandela Invitational match at Loftus Versfeld.

The 2012 Premier League champions are next in action when they face AmaZulu in Durban on Thursday.

City's Spanish internationals David Silva and Jesus Navas, a new signing from Sevilla, are joining up with the squad in Hong Kong next week, while Argentine representatives Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta will link up with their teammates in South Africa later this week.

Pellegrini has made it clear Edin Dzeko has a future with the club but the Bosnian striker passed up two early openings at Loftus Versfeld, heading straight at Ronwen Williams from a cross from new signing Fernandinho.

Dzeko also shot straight at Williams after a poor throw out from the goalkeeper and Aleksander Kolarov prodded wide after swapping passes with Dzeko. Samir Nasri slid a ball through for Dzeko but he was twice denied by Williams.

George Maluleka also clipped a free-kick narrowly wide and only a fine sliding challenge from Vincent Kompany stopped Sameegh Doutie giving the South African side the lead travel trade show.

Dzeko also glanced a header narrowly over the bar from a Nasri free-kick just before the interval.

Pellegrini changed his entire team at the break, with Yaya Toure and James Milner among those brought on.

But the home side took the lead 10 minutes into the second period when a cross from Innocent Mdledle was met by a towering header from Niang that beat Costel Pantilimon.

James Milner went close to pulling City level but his effort was blocked by Boalefa Pule after the England midfielder was played in by Alex Nimely and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure also drove well over the bar baby carrier.

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August 05, 2013

Froome torpedoes rivals, Martin wins stage

Imperious Tour de France leader Chris Froome tightened his grip on the yellow jersey after finishing runner-up to world champion Tony Martin in the race's 11th stage time trial on Wednesday Property investment portal.

Omega-Pharma rider Martin had set the early pace for the windswept 33 km course from Avranches to Mont Saint Michel in 36min 29sec but had a nervous wait as Froome threatened to upset his hopes of victory.

"It was a long wait," said Martin, who started 65th from the 182 starters and finished with the third-fastest ever time for a time trial on the race.

Belgium's Tomas De Gendt, of Vacansoleil, was closest to challenge Martin before Froome but was 1min 01sec slower than the German at the finish line to end up third.

Martin, who had won the last nine time trials in which he has competed, started to get worried when Froome topped the times at both intermediate time checks.

"To be honest, I'd almost given up hope of the stage win. It was starting to look very disappointing when I saw Chris beat my times at the intermediate check," he said.

"I nearly started to cry. I couldn't believe it. I expected that Froome might get to within 30 seconds or something like that but not beating me at the intermediates.

"Now I'm really happy and maybe it's nicer to win this way."

Martin's win was all the more welcome as he came close to leaving the race after the crash-marred opening stage, which took swathes of skin off his back, legs lace and embroidery, arms and buttocks.

"Luckily some of my skin is back and I can sleep on my back again. I'm more-or-less recovered... for sure there are still some wounds that are open but we riders are used to this so it's no problem any more."

Froome missed what would have been his third stage win in the race, but there were other rewards for the Kenyan-born Briton.

"I'm very happy with the time I set. The objective today was to try and take the maximum time possible from my rivals," said Froome, who won Olympic time trial bronze in London last year.

He finished 2:03 ahead of principal rival Alberto Contador of Spain, and 2:00 ahead of his compatriot Alejandro Valverde, while Australia's Cadel Evans finished 2:30 off the pace.

Movistar leader Valverde remains second overall but saw his deficit of 1:25 balloon to 3:25, while Dutchman Bauke Mollema of Belkin moved up to third to sit 3:37 in arrears.

Contador, the race champion in 2007 and 2009, is fourth at 3:54 while 2011 champion Evans is 14th at 6:54 after finishing a disappointing 21st.

Asked if he could beat Froome, Valverde, who won the 2009 Tour of Spain but has never finished on the podium of the Tour de France, just shook his head and said: "Difficult... difficult."

Contador, a climbing specialist like Froome but who was less suited to the flat, mostly linear race course, said he has not given up hope.

"No one's lost this race yet and no one has won it. There's a lot of racing to be done," said the Spaniard.

The onus will now be on Team Sky's rivals to attack Froome during four tough stages in the Alps beginning Sunday, as they did last Sunday when aggressive racing on stage nine destabilised the British team and ended the podium hopes of Froome's teammate Richie Porte.

Asked how he expected his rivals to race next weekend, Froome said: "Like we saw last weekend, other teams are going to throw everything they've got at us MPLS VPN service.

"We're just going to try and have to deal with that the best we can with the team that we've got.

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