FORLAN SURPRISED TO WIN BEST PLAYER AWARD


Diego Forlan dedicated his World Cup Golden Ball award to his Uruguay team-mates after picking up the prize.

The Atletico Madrid hit-man was named the best player in South Africa after scoring five goals at the finals and helping his country reach the semi-finals before losing to Holland.

Forlan beat Holland's Wesley Sneijder and Spain's David Villa to the prize and he admits he was surprised to take the accolade.

Forlan admitted he was leaving South Africa with a tinge of sadness after going so close to reaching the final.

HERNANDEZ MAY SHINE IN ENGLAND


Manchester United assistant boss Mike Phelan believes new signing Javier Hernandez can establish himself as an important player at Old Trafford after watching him shine at the World Cup.

Hernandez was an unknown quantity in England when he sealed a switch to United before the finals, but moved from obscurity to centre stage as he netted twice for Mexico in South Africa.

And Phelan is confident that the 22-year-old striker can prove his worth for Sir Alex Ferguson's side next season.

Hernandez, son of Javier Hernandez who played for Mexico in the 1986 World Cup, came to United's attention after scoring 29 goals in 79 games for former club Guadalajara.

ARGENTINA 3 - MEXICO 1


Controversy reigned again at Soccer City as Carlos Tevez's opener for Argentina against Mexico was yards offside. However, after Gonzalo Higuain's second, no-one could argue with his rocket shot that put Argentina three up before Javier Hernandez hit back with his own stunner.

On a day to forget for match officials, the Manchester City striker benefited from an offside decision blunder that was so blatant it ranked alongside the one that denied Frank Lampard in the England game four hours previously.

The offside rule states there should be two players between the striker and the goal - there was not even one when Lionel Messi's ball found Tevez's head, and then the net to put Diego Maradona's side in front.

After the replay flashed up on the big screen angry Mexico players surrounded the Italian referee Roberto Rosetti and linesman Stefano Ayroldi but the goal stood. Mexico went into meltdown and a defensive howler by Ricardo Osorio allowed Gonzalo Higuain to make it 2-0.

It was Tevez who sewed the match up in brilliant fashion, and legitimately this time, early in the second half with Mexico left only to savour a stunning reply by Manchester United's new signing Javier Hernandez.


UNITED TARGETS BARRERA


Manchester United and Tottenham have been linked with a move for Mexico super sub Pablo Barrera. Lazio are understood to have had an initial bid rejected for the 23-year-old Pumas player because of interest from England.

The Italians want to sign Barrera on an initial one-year loan with the option of making the deal permanent for a bargain £3million

However, the same scouts who recommended Javier Hernandez to Manchester United are also said to have been hugely impressed by Barrera's performances in the Clasura and Bicentenario competitions over the last year.

He starred after coming on as sub against France in Mexico's second match of the World Cup and also injected pace to the forward line during the defeat by Uruguay on Tuesday.

GERMANY 4 - ENGLAND 1


England were hammered 4-1 by Germany in the second round of the World Cup, but the spotlight fell on the officials after they missed an obvious equaliser for Fabio Capello's men just before half-time.

After Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski had put Germany 2-0 up early on, Matthew Upson got one back but then Frank Lampard's goal was ruled out after the ball bounced down off the bar, despite it landing a yard over the line.

When Lampard's effort went in, only for assistant Mauricio Espinosa to miss it, grainy images of England's controversial third at Wembley in 1966 immediately sprang to mind. To his total disbelief, Capello's celebrations of what would have been an equaliser were cut short. Everyone in the ground, except the men who mattered, knew what had happened.

Germany made the most of their good fortune to book a quarter-final place, with what turned out to be their biggest win over a rival they have not lost to in a major tournament since the 1966 final. For England, it was their joint-biggest ever defeat at a World Cup.

Klose and Podolski's first half-goals were doubled by a pair from the excellent Thomas Muller after the break. But no-one will be talking about them on the streets of England. Nor will they discuss a Matthew Upson header that brought the Three Lions back into it.

Eventually they might get round to the clear defensive deficiencies in a team Capello claimed was good enough to reach the final.

THREE LIONS READY TO ROAR


England captain Steven Gerrard has backed Wayne Rooney to bag his first goal of the World Cup in Sunday's knockout clash against Germany.

The match in Bloemfontein will see the winner book a place in the quarter-finals of the tournament and Fabio Capello's team will look towards Rooney to fire them to glory after scraping through the group stages.

Rooney was widely-expected to continue his rampant goalscoring form for Manchester United in the event, but he has so far been unable to find the net and has looked sluggish as England seek to end their trophyless run in international football.

Gerrard, though, is confident the 24-year-old will finally find his form in time to inspire his team to victory against Germany.

MAN UNITED NOT INTERESTED IN JOE COLE


Manchester United have ruled out a bid to sign Joe Cole on a free transfer. Cole is out of contract this summer and, after Chelsea confirmed he will not be offered a new deal, he has been linked with several top clubs in the Premier League.

It had been reported that Arsenal had agreed a deal, but Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp this week said he believed the player would move to Old Trafford.

However, various reports now suggest United have said they have no intention of offering Cole a deal. The BBC claims that "although Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been a long-time admirer of Cole, a senior club source at Old Trafford said he would not be making a summer move to sign him".


UNITED TO BID FOR FABIANO?


Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is apparently considering a move for Brazilian international striker Luis Fabiano this summer as he looks to offer Wayne Rooney effective support in attack. The Sevilla forward has been linked with a move away from the La Liga side and may well be keen on a move to the Premier League club and it seems the only major obstacle in the way of such a move could be heavy debts the club are in.

The 29 year old former Porto flop has been an incredible success at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, netting 87 goals over the past four seasons, but could well be ready for a new challenge and would surely be tempted by a move to Man United.

Valued at around £22m the large financial crisis Ferguson's club finds itself in could affect any potential additions and it seems likely that the club will have to sell before they can buy. The likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Anderson and Michael Carrick have been linked with moves away from Old Trafford.

SIR ALEX PREDICTS SOUTH AMERICAN WILL WIN


Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson remains convinced that a South American side will win the World Cup. Ferguson predicted a country from that region would take the trophy in South Africa, and he has not changed his opinion since the start of the tournament.

Indeed, none of the five South American sides have lost so far and they could have a full contingent in the last 16. Ferguson, though, is not ruling out England's chances of glory but he says expectation levels have hurt the Three Lions.

SLOVENIA 0 - ENGLAND 1


England produced a vastly improved performance to beat Slovenia 1-0 and progress to the last 16 as Group C runners-up. The Three Lions needed to win after being held to disappointing draws by USA and Algeria in their opening two World Cup games, and responded with a dynamic display full of urgency and slick passing.

Two of the players brought into the side by Fabio Capello combined for the crucial goal on 22 minutes as James Milner delivered a superb cross from the right wing and Jermain Defoe provided the finishing touch.

England continued to dominate possession and carved out a number of good opportunities to double their advantage, with Samir Handanovic repelling Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney with athletic saves, and Defoe also flicking an effort wide.

Slovenia did carry a threat on the counter-attack and anxiety would have been spreading among England supporters as their team failed to take a more comfortable lead.

However, England stayed solid in defence and held on to the final whistle to make it through to the next round, with Slovenia dramatically bowing out as a result of USA's last-gasp winner against Algeria.

EVRA TO EXPLAIN EVERYTHING

 
France captain Patrice Evra has vowed to lift the lid on Les Bleus' World Cup woe.  France endured a wretched campaign that culminated in crashing out at the group stage after a 2-1 defeat by hosts South Africa on Tuesday.
That came after striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home following a dressing room bust-up with coach Raymond Domenech, before the rest of the squad refused to train in protest at Anelka's expulsion.
Evra led the players' strike on Sunday and claims Domenech prevented him apologising to the French public for the infighting that wrecked their World Cup hopes. But the Manchester United left-back insists he will reveal the full story when he returns home.
 

NIGERIA 2 - SOUTH KOREA 2


South Korea claimed a place in the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time on foreign soil despite being held to a draw by Nigeria in their final Group B match in Durban.

Kalu Uche opened the scoring for the African team in the 12th minute and almost doubled his side's lead shortly after the half-hour mark but his powerful strike smashed off the near post. Lee Jung-Soo equalised in the 38th minute and then Park Chu-Young's free-kick early in the second half turned the match on its head.

Korea shot themselves in the foot when substitute Kim Nam-Il brought down Chinedu Obasi inside the area midway through the second half. Ayegbeni Yakubu, having missed the easiest of tap-ins seconds earlier, made amends by restoring parity from the penalty spot.

The outcome sealed second spot in the group for Korea and a second-round match against Uruguay on Saturday in Port Elizabeth. Argentina, who beat Greece 2-0, topped the pool.


SOUTH AFRICA 2 - FRANCE 1


France exited the World Cup at the first round stage with barely a whimper after this humbling defeat by the host nation at the Free State Stadium.

On a day of drama Raymond Domenech stripped Patrice Evra of the captaincy and handed the armband to Alou Diarra instead. Then the coach, set to be replaced by Laurent Blanc, saw his side reduced to 10 men after 26 minutes of this Group A game when Yoann Gourcuff was sent off.

South Africa took advantage with Bongani Khumalo and Katlego Mphela both finding the target. Although Florent Malouda stepped off the bench to pull a goal back France are heading home early.

Evra was dropped after the squad boycotted a training session after striker Nicolas Anelka was expelled following a row with Domenech. The Manchester United full-back cut a lonely figure on the bench on another dreadful day for France.

It was a bitter sweet win for South Africa as they have become the first host nation to be eliminated at the first round stage of the finals.


RONALDO BACKS ROONEY


Cristiano Ronaldo has leaped to the defence of former team-mate Wayne Rooney, who has been criticised for his performance in the World Cup so far.

Rooney has played poorly in both of England's games in South Africa, first against USA and then against Algeria. The Manchester United striker has looked lacklustre this summer and after the Algeria game he made a snarling comment to a pitch-side television camera about England fans' booing.

But Ronaldo, who partnered Rooney in attack during his time at Old Trafford, insists the 24-year-old is trying his hardest to fire the Three Lions to success.

FRANCE 0 - MEXICO 2


New Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez enhanced his burgeoning reputation with the opening goal as Mexico took a significant step towards qualification from Group A and hastened France's early exit at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

Just nine minutes after coming off the bench the 22-year-old, who will officially move to Old Trafford from Chivas in a £7million deal next month, sprang the offside trap to race on to Rafael Marquez's pass, round goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and coolly slot home.

Veteran striker and cult hero Cuauhtemoc Blanco sealed victory with a 79th-minute penalty. It was Mexico's first win over France at senior level and no less than they deserved after a performance full of vigour and attacking invention.

For the French, winners on home soil in 1998 and runners-up four years ago, the prospect of ignominious failure looms large as it did at Euro 2008 when they failed to progress from their group.


ENGLAND HAS NO FEAR


Wayne Rooney says that, while he is impressed by Germany, England have nothing to fear at a "not very exciting" World Cup.

England were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw with USA in their opening game but, with the likes of France, Italy, Portugal and Brazil also struggling to impress, Rooney remains confident.

Despite Rooney's feeling that England should remain confident, he acknowledges that Germany were impressive as they beat Australia 4-0 in their opening match. He also added that the England players do not bother about comments made by Franz Beckenbauer and Clint Dempsey.


NO PROBLEM WITH DOMENECH APPROACH


Patrice Evra insists the France team are comfortable with Raymond Domenech's tactics despite a disappointing performance in their 0-0 draw with Uruguay.

The France camp has been beset by reports of friction between Domenech and his players, and indeed the players themselves, and their campaign started in uninspiring fashion with a draw against ten-man Uruguay.

Les Bleus have been forced to adopt a new 4-3-3 formation following the loss of Lassana Diarra due to illness and struggled for creativity in their opening game, with Domenech's decision to leave Florent Malouda on the bench, following a reported falling-out, questioned by many.

But Evra insists his team-mates have no problems with the shape of the side dictated by Domenech.


GREECE 0 - SOUTH KOREA 2


South Korea saw off a lacklustre Greece side 2-0 in the Group B opener thanks to goals from Lee Jung-Soo and Park Ji-Sung. The first victory of the 2010 finals, extended a miserable World Cup record for Greece, who have yet to score a goal or earn a point in the history of the competition.

It took Korea just seven minutes to get their noses in front in the Group B encounter when Lee met Celtic midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng's swinging free-kick unopposed and volleyed it gleefully into the back of the net.

They increased their lead within seven minutes of the restart when Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung made the most of Loukas Vyntra's woeful control in the middle of the park to race in on goal, leaving the central defender and partner Papadopoulos for dead before sliding a shot across Tzorvas and into the bottom corner.


VERON REGRETS

 
Argentina veteran Juan Sebastian Veron has admitted regrets over leaving Manchester United. The 35-year-old midfielder spent two years with Sir Alex Ferguson's side from 2001-03 before transferring to fellow Premier League club Chelsea.
 
Veron has since made the move back to Argentina to play for his boyhood club Estudiantes, but believes he could have been happier staying at Old Trafford.
 
Veron is preparing to represent Argentina in his third World Cup after playing in 1998 and 2002, and is no stranger to the backlash that can stem from the side not meeting the country's expectations. The midfielder is hoping that the public pressure does not fall too heavily on Barcelona ace Lionel Messi in South Africa, particularly as the star striker has been the subject of inevitable comparisons with Argentina legend and current national team coach Diego Maradona.

 

NANI WILL MISS THE WORLD CUP

 
Portugal have confirmed winger Nani is out of the World Cup after he suffered a collarbone injury. Nani suffered the problem in training before flying out to South Africa but the problem was not thought to be serious, with the player saying on Monday: "I feel better already."
 
However, further tests have revealed the injury is more serious than previously feared and the Manchester United man will now be replaced by Benfica midfielder Ruben Amorim in the squad. Nani is the second United player forced to miss the finals after England defender Rio Ferdinand picked up a knee ligament problem in training.
 
Portugal will now have to make do without Nani as they prepare to tackle Brazil, the Ivory Coast and North Korea in Group G.
 
 

RONALDO IS PORTUGAL SUPERMAN

 
Carlos Queiroz has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as Portugal's very own "Superman" and believes the captain can fire his side to World Cup glory.
 
Ronaldo struggled to convert his fine club form, first with Manchester United and then Real Madrid, onto the international stage during Portugal's uninspiring qualification campaign, as Queiroz's side edged past Bosnia-Herzegovina in a play-off to make the finals. And at his last major tournament, Ronaldo scored just one goal as Portugal exited Euro 2008 at the group stage.
 
But Queiroz believes that this time around, the Real Madrid forward is ready to prove himself on football's biggest stage, and is backing his captain to star in Portugal's World Cup campaign in South Africa.
 
 

LAMPARD CONFIDENT ROONEY HAS MATURED

 
England midfielder Frank Lampard has warned World Cup rivals against trying to wind up Wayne Rooney. Former USA defender Alexi Lalas, who played in the 1994 tournament, has suggested his country's best chance of success when the two sides meet on 12th June lies in getting under Rooney's skin.
 
The suggestion comes after Rooney received his marching orders in the World Cup quarter-final against Portugal four years ago following a clash with Ricardo Carvalho. But the 24-year-old has shown a growing maturity in recent seasons and Lampard has warned the USA players not to try and antagonise the Manchester United striker, who also became a father for the first time late last year.

 

FORLAN FULLY FOCUSED

 
Reported Tottenham target Diego Forlan is putting all transfer talk aside and concentrating on the World Cup. Tabloid transfer talk claims Spurs are considering a £20million bid for the Atletico Madrid striker, with Robbie Keane and Roman Pavlyuchenko set to be sold to make way for his arrival.
 
But the former Manchester United's agent insists that the Uruguay international is simply concentrating on helping his side push for World Cup success in South Africa, where they take on the hosts, France and Mexico in Group A.

 

RIO WORLD CUP BLOW

 
The Football Association has confirmed that Rio Ferdinand's World Cup is over, with a knee injury leaving his dreams in tatters.
 
The England skipper picked up a knock during the latter stages of training on Friday and was immediately rushed away for medical tests as the Three Lions attempted to uncover the severity of the problem.
 
Initial fears suggested the Manchester United centre-half may have suffered ligament damage and those concerns were heightened as he left a hospital close to England's Rustenburg training base on crutches and with his knee in a brace.
 
The outlook appeared bleak at that point and Fabio Capello's worst fears have now been realised. The Italian was quick to play down the problem during his press conference on Friday, but that was while he awaited news on a scan.
 
Since then it has been revealed that Ferdinand will be sidelined for at least a month and will play no part in this summer's South African showpiece, representing a crushing blow to the Three Lions' plans.
 

WARM-UP: ITALY 0 - MEXICO 1

 

Mexico warmed up for the World Cup finals with a 2-1 friendly win over holders Italy in Brussels. Arsenal youngster Carlos Vela opened the scoring for Mexico and substitute Alberto Medina added the second before Leonardo Bonucci notched a late consolation for Italy.

Just as England had been outplayed by the Mexicans for long periods at Wembley last week, Italy were given the run-around by Javier Aguirre's team at the King Baudouin Stadium. Whereas England managed to battle to a 3-1 win however, the Italians were stifled by an improved Mexican backline.

Mexico, who will play the opening game of the 2010 World Cup against hosts South Africa on 11th June in Johannesburg, started with Tottenham's Giovani Dos Santos in attack alongside Manchester United-bound Javier Hernandez

BOLA BOYZ   ARSENAL   MANCHESTER UNITED  NOBLESTAR

 

FABIANO WANTS GOLDEN BOOT

 
Brazilian hot-shot Luis Fabiano is relishing the battle for the Golden Boot at this summer's World Cup finals. The Sevilla striker is currently 12/1 with Sky Bet to top the scoring in South Africa as Brazil go for a sixth World Cup.
 
Spain's David Villa heads the market at 8/1, with England's Wayne Rooney and Argentina's Lionel Messi as 10/1 joint second favourites. While Fabiano agrees the trio will be dangermen at the finals, he hopes to usurp them and claim the prestigious accolade.
 
 

WARM-UP: PORTUGAL 3 - CAMEROON 1

 
Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz praised his side's organisation and discipline after overseeing a 3-1 World Cup warm-up win over Cameroon on Tuesday night.
 
Raul Meireles scored twice, either side of a red card for Cameroon's star man Samuel Eto'o, before Pierre Webo's strike put the African nation back in contention, only for Nani to seal the win nine minutes from time in Covilha.
 
Cameroon were a man down for the best part of an hour after Inter Milan striker Eto'o was sent off for a second bookable offence. Meanwhile, Queiroz admitted his team still have to adapt to the 'Jambulari' ball.
 

MESSI WANTS ROONEY

 
Argentina star Lionel Messi says he wants to face Wayne Rooney in the World Cup final. Messi enjoyed a stellar season with club side Barcelona, winning La Liga and FIFA World Player of the Year to cap off a remarkable campaign. Messi said he would relish the battle against Rooney and his country, with the striker seen by many as the key to England's hopes of winning the trophy.
 
The two countries' well-documented rivalry would add extra to zest to the final in Johannesburg on 11th July. Both on and off-the-field battles have characterised the tussle between two teams considered to be heavyweights of international football. But the pair have often floundered when expectations rise, although Messi says he is impressed with Fabio Capello's team.
 
 
 

SIR ALEX LOOKING AT TRIO AS COACH

 
Sir Alex Ferguson wants Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs to remain at the club as coaches once their playing days are over.
 
The long-serving trio have all signed one-year deals that will take them to the end of next season, but the Red Devils boss says their level of experience is too good to pass up and wants them to stay at the club.
 
Ferguson believes the veterans can inspire young players who are coming through the United academy.
 
 

RIO DETERMINE TO WIN WORLD CUP

 
Rio Ferdinand admits England are heading to South Africa with the sole intention of taking top prize.
 
The Three Lions are considered to be among the favourites at this summer's World Cup, but have gone 44 long years since they last tasted international glory. Their last two appearances at football's showpiece event have seen them fall at the quarter-final stage, with massive expectations amounting to nothing.
 
Ferdinand, as national skipper, is determined to ensure there is no repeat of those failings this time around and insists anything less than victory should be considered a failure.
 
 

PARK SET TO RETIRE AFTER AFRICA 2010

 
South Korea captain Park Ji-sung has revealed that the upcoming World Cup in South Africa could be his last.
 
The 29-year-old Manchester United midfielder is aiming to help South Korea emulate their semi-final appearance at the 2002 World Cup in his third tournament for his country, but reckons it will be important to blood young players in the future.
 
As the most high-profile player in the South Korea squad, Park admits that he is feeling the weight of expectation on his shoulders.
 

VIDIC APPEALED TO FANS

 
Stand-in Serbia captain Nemanja Vidic had to plead with his country's rioting fans during the second half of their 1-0 defeat to New Zealand.
 
It was a dismal Saturday afternoon in Austria for Serbia as trouble erupted in the second half of the World Cup warm-up match, with their fans launching burning flares, bottles and missiles onto the pitch.
 
Several supporters invaded the turf and had to be hauled away by security before Manchester United centre-back Vidic, standing in for Dejan Stankovic as skipper, appealed for calm over the microphone as the match officials and New Zealand team prepared to abandon the match.
 
There was a several minute delay to the second half as a result of the commotion before the match resumed.
 
 

FERGIE TO FIND HIS SUCCESSOR

 
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson 'will be the key' to selecting his successor at Old Trafford, says chief executive David Gill. Ferguson has been at the helm of United for 23 years, helping them to 34 trophies including 11 League titles and two European crowns.
 
Gill insists United will seek Ferguson's advice on a successor when the Scot decides to end his long reign, but is adamant the 68-year-old has made no suggestion of retiring anytime soon. Gill revealed when Ferguson does stand down, he will form a selection panel with Sir Bobby Charlton and the club's owners to find a suitable replacement.
 
 

FRIENDLY: HOLLAND 2 - MEXICO 1

 
A brace from Robin van Persie saw Holland step up their World Cup preparations with a 2-1 friendly win over Mexico on Wednesday.
 
The Arsenal striker opened the scoring after 17 minutes in Freiburg before doubling the Dutch lead shortly before half-time.
 
Manchester United new-boy Javier Hernandez pulled one back for the Mexicans after the break but they slipped to a second defeat in the space of a week, having gone down 3-1 against England on Monday.