Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rossi pleased with improved Qatar showing

Having finished fifth at the Losail International Circuit last year Valentino Rossi was pleased to have started the 2009 season - and his MotoGP title defence - with an improved second place in Qatar.

World Champion Valentino Rossi was unable to prevent Casey Stoner running away with a third consecutive season-opening victory at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar, but the brilliant Italian typically took the positives from his second place finish in the Arabian desert in Monday’s re-scheduled MotoGP race.

Rossi was amongst those who had stated after Sunday night’s rainfall that it was important to stay on at the floodlit Losail track to put on a show for the fans on Monday evening, and whilst he was unable to catch Stoner at the front of the race he did his level best at trying to hunt down the Ducati Marlboro poleman.

Starting from second on the grid Fiat Yamaha’s Rossi was unable to go with Stoner from the first lap and had to get past his own team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and his old friend Loris Capirossi - who eventually crashed - before he could attempt to pull back the Australian.

A three second gap between the leading pair was cut down to two by Rossi midway through the race but he could not make further progress against Stoner, who has a superb record at Qatar and dominated every session over the weekend – the 2007 World Champion eventually winning by nearly eight seconds.

Afterwards Rossi commented, “Today the conditions of the track were quite different to before and this evening in warm-up we encountered a couple of small problems related to tyres, so our strategy had to change slightly tonight. It’s a pity because I think last night we could have put up more of a fight, but anyway this is a good result to start the season, much better than last year.”

Analysing the race in more detail he continued, “I knew I needed a good start in order to go with Stoner but unfortunately I didn’t get one and I lost some time fighting with Lorenzo and Capirossi and by then Stoner had already gone! The middle part of the race was great fun and I made six or seven good laps to come much closer, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue in that rhythm, it was too risky for the tyres and I decided it was more important to take the 20 points.”

Summarising the first GP of the season in general and looking ahead to visiting Japan for round two – where he clinched the title last season – Rossi concluded, “Casey was very strong but he is always fast here and I believe that our potential is very good; I think that we can be back fighting again in Motegi. I am so glad we could race today after yesterday and I am satisfied to be leaving here having made a good start to the season. There is a long way to go!”

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Takahashi completes first step of learning process

Scot Racing Team’s Yuki Takahashi picked up his first MotoGP point on his debut in Qatar.

The 2009 season will be a matter of learning as quickly as possible for Yuki Takahashi in MotoGP, the Scot Racing Team rider who has moved up into the premier class from the 250cc category this year.

The 24 year-old found the going tough at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar, qualifying down in 17th position as he continues to acquire the art of 800cc riding. He nonetheless rode a steady race on Monday night, concentrating on avoiding errors, gaining experience from the competitors around him and ultimately picking his first – albeit solitary – MotoGP point in the process.

On his run to 15th place at the Losail International Circuit, in his first MotoGP appearance, the Japanese rider commented, “The best came at the end, when I had a chance to follow Marco Melandri for a long while. I studied him, and I got a lot of information about how to deal with the front tyre and about braking points. Obviously this was just my first race in the class. Not only that, but I’d never done a long run before.”

Reviewing his maiden Grand Prix amongst the big boys overall, the former 250cc race-winner added, “I'm satisfied. My target was learning the bike and how to compete against the best riders in the world. How to deal in the heat of the first laps, and strategies, and tactics. At the beginning of the race I lost a little time, but I didn’t want to make any silly mistakes. And at the end I was able to keep the same pace of the riders who were in the first groups. Now I can prepare for my home race, in just over a week, in Japan.”

United attitude spot on for Rooney

Christiano Ronaldo's spectacular winning goal will have grabbed the headlines but Wayne Rooney was quick to commend Manchester United FC's all-round team performance after their 1-0 quarter-final win at FC Porto on Wednesday night.

'More solid'
United put their recent defensive wobbles behind them to earn their first shutout since 11 March and, in truth, they seldom looked like losing the lead given them by Ronaldo's sixth-minute strike. Rooney told "I thought we looked a lot more solid tonight. The last few weeks defensively we have been open and have conceded a lot of sloppy goals. We'd looked at the goals we conceded and they were poor goals to give away. We knew we had to get it right if we wanted to win the trophies we are involved in. Tonight was a bit similar to [the semi-final against] Barcelona last season where we defended really well, but we nicked a goal tonight to win the game."

Porto may have had 17 goal attempts but they managed only four on target – compared with ten in the 2-2 first-leg draw in Manchester. Nemanja Vidić said: "The difference between the first and the second leg was we defended as a team, we were compact." The Serbian also underlined the importance of defensive partner Rio Ferdinand's return from injury, adding: "Rio brought confidence to the team, he played well. I was happy to have him next to me."

It was not just at the back that United impressed. The defending champions looked dangerous when they attacked, with both Ryan Giggs and Rooney himself – tireless in a wide role – catching the eye. "If you defend well then you always have opportunities on the counterattack," said Rooney. "I thought we had two or three good opportunities in the second half and maybe could have nicked another goal but the main thing is we went through. We have two difficult games against Arsenal [in the semi-finals] who we know are a good team but you have to be confident in yourself and hopefully we can get to that final."

"I had it in my mind to shoot and try to score and that's what I did"Cristiano Ronaldo

'Unbelievable strike'
It can only help United if Ronaldo keeps producing special goals just when it mattters. The Portuguese attacker gave United the perfect start when he struck for the third successive UEFA Champions League game with that early long-range effort. "One of those moments that decides whether you win or lose," was the verdict of Dimitar Berbatov. Michael Carrick concurred: "It was an unbelievable strike. It put us in a good position because we started the game very well and I thought the goal was a big bonus for us and gave us something to hold on to." As for Ronaldo's own response, he was as direct as his shot: "I had it in my mind to shoot and try to score and that's what I did. It's the best goal I've ever scored. I've just seen the replay and I didn't realise it was 40 yards [36.5 metres] out and I hit it at 65mph - wow! This victory will give us confidence. The last five games we didn't play great, but I hope this will change that."

Drama in store in the last four

Victories for Manchester United FC and Arsenal FC last night guarantee an English presence in the UEFA Champions League showpiece in Rome on 27 May, while a second successive all-English final would be on the cards if Chelsea FC were to get the better of FC Barcelona in the other tie. looks at the history behind the fixtures ahead of the eagerly awaited last-four ties.

FC Barcelona v Chelsea FC

Tuesday 28 April – Camp Nou
Wednesday 6 May – Stamford Bridge

  • It is the third time the clubs have met in the latter stages. Barcelona won an epic quarter-final in 1999/00, 6-4 on aggregate after scoring twice in extra time, and also had the edge in the first knockout round in 2005/06 en route to winning a second European Champion Clubs' Cup. Twelve months earlier at the same stage John Terry headed a late winner to send the Blues through 5-4 on aggregate.
  • Barcelona have won four of the nine previous semi-finals they have contested – those successes coming in 1960/61, 1985/86, 1993/94 and 2005/06 – in addition to advancing to the 1991/92 final as winners of their last-eight group.
  • Barcelona's home record against English opposition is impressive, with 13 wins, nine draws and just two losses from 24 previous meetings. Both those defeats came against Liverpool: a 1-0 reverse in the 1975/76 UEFA Cup semi-final first leg, and then a 2-1 defeat in the 2006/07 first knockout round.
  • Last season's semi-final defeat by Manchester United means the Spanish club have won seven and lost nine of 16 two-legged contests against English opponents.
  • Chelsea are in the semi-finals for the fifth time in six seasons. Their victory against Liverpool last season followed two previous defeats by the Reds, while they also lost at this stage in 2003/04, succumbing 5-3 on aggregate against AS Monaco FC.

Manchester United FC v Arsenal FC
Wednesday 29 April – Old Trafford
Tuesday 5 May – Arsenal Stadium

  • Since meeting for the first time on 13 October 1894, the clubs have played 204 times. The Gunners have 77 wins to United's 82.
  • Apart from last season's final, Manchester United have never met an English club in the UEFA Champions League.
  • Arsenal have faced English opposition in Europe on two previous occasions, losing quarter-finals to Chelsea in 2003/04 and Liverpool last season.
  • United's ten preceding semi-final appearances have brought just three victories, the most recent being last season when they eliminated Barcelona on their way to a final victory against Chelsea in Moscow.
  • Arsenal have a 100 per cent record in UEFA Champions League semi-finals, having beaten Villarreal CF in their only previous appearance in 2005/06.
  • The clubs are the only teams to win the English league and FA Cup double three times. United did it in 1994, 1996 and 1999; Arsenal in 1971, 1998 and 2002.

Source :

UEFA Champions League : Quarter-finals


First legSecond leg
Barcelona-Chelsea28/04 »06/05 »
Man. United-Arsenal29/04 »05/05 »

First-leg home team shown first.
First-leg home team score shown first for both legs.

Photo gallery

Top scorers »

8Lionel MessiBarcelona
7Steven GerrardLiverpool
7Miroslav KloseBayern
5Emmanuel AdebayorArsenal
5Thierry HenryBarcelona
5Alessandro Del PieroJuventus
5Karim BenzemaLyon
Last updated: 15/04/2009 23:11 CET

UEFA Champions League
14 April 2009
Bayern - Barcelona
Chelsea - Liverpool
15 April 2009
Arsenal - Villarreal
Porto - Man. United

07 April 2009
Man. United - Porto
Villarreal - Arsenal

Fantasy-Highest scoring players

59Franck RibéryBayern
59Steven GerrardLiverpool
58Lionel MessiBarcelona
53Frank LampardChelsea
52Miroslav KloseBayern
45Xavi HernándezBarcelona
43John O'SheaMan. United
42Thierry HenryBarcelona
41John TerryChelsea

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