Hamburg off to winning start as pressure builds on Ramos

Hamburg - Bundesliga leaders SV Hamburg enjoyed a 2-1 away to Slovak side Zilina Thursday in their opening group match Thursday in the UEFA Cup while under-fire Tottenham Hotspur boss Juande Ramos saw his side go down to Udinese.

First half goals from Croatian internationals Mladen Petric and Ivica Olic put the German side in control in the Group F game against the Slovak league leaders who pulled one goal back 21 minutes from time through Emil Rilke.

Benjamin Raich hoping for unplanned success in World Cup

Hamburg - Austrian Benjamin Raich goes into the new alpine season - which starts on the weekend in the Austrian town of Soelden - looking for a second overall World Cup title.

Barcelona trounce Basel, Sporting win in Donetsk

Hamburg - Barcelona showed why they are one of the favourites to lift the Champions League title this season with a resounding 5-0 victory against Basel in a Group C match played in Switzerland on Wednesday.

There were also good victories for PSV Eindhoven, who won 2-0 through two Danny Koevermans goals, and Bordeaux, who beat Romanian first-timers CFR Cluj 1-0.

Comfortable wins for top clubs in Champions League

Hamburg - Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Arsenal all celebrated comfortable wins Tuesday to move closer to qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League while Juventus overcame Real Madrid to go top of their group.

A goal in either half from Dimatar Berbatov as well as a Wayne Rooney strike 14 minutes from time secured a fully deserved 3-0 win for defending champions United against Scottish champions Celtic at Old Trafford.

Rafael Nadal to finish 2008 at the top of the tennis rankings

Hamburg - Rafael Nadal's run to the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters at the weekend ensures the Spaniard will remain top of the ATP tennis rankings until the end of 2008.

The French Open and Wimbledon champion Nadal has 7,100 points in the new rankings issued Monday, to sit ahead of former number one Roger Federer of Switzerland (5,805) and Serb Novak Djokovic (4,575).

France's Gilles Simon moves into the top 10 after his run to the final in Madrid, where he was beaten by Andy Murray.

Ballack undergoes foot surgery to have neuroma removed

Hamburg - Chelsea and Germany midfielder Michael Ballack is sidelined for several weeks after undergoing an operation to have neuroma removed in both feet.

The German football federation DFB said in a statement that Ballack underwent the operation in Augsburg on Friday after complaining about pain in his feet after Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Wales.

Germany team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt said that Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari gave his nod to the operation and that Ballack should be back in training in two weeks if all goes well.

Ecclestone suggests chief umpire, yellow and red cards at F1 races

Hamburg - Formula One should have a chief umpire and a system of yellow and red cards to punish drivers on the spot, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone suggested in an interview published on Friday.

Ecclestone told the website of German magazine auto, motor und sport that such measures would end procedures like Lewis Hamilton being dropped from first to third place at the Belgian Grand Prix three hours after the race over a time penalty imposed by race stewards.

Disgruntled Frings toys with retirement

Hamburg - Midfielder Torsten Frings is the latest Germany player toying with retirement, after being benched in the last two matches because coach Joachim Loew now longer guarantees anyone a place in the starting 11.

"I am really thoughtful, retiring is more and more on my mind," Frings told Friday's edition of the Bild daily.

The 31-year-old from Werder Bremen was a key player in Germany's run to third place at the 2006 World Cup and also played at Euro 2008 where Germany lost the final against Spain.

England, Netherlands march on in World Cup qualifiers

Hamburg - England, Spain and the Netherlands all maintained their perfect records in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with away wins, while Russia got their campaign back on track with a victory against Finland.

Steven Gerrard gave Fabio Capello's side an early lead against Belarus in Minsk, and although Pavel Sitko levelled for the home side, a second-half brace from Wayne Rooney sealed a deserved 3-1 win.

Wins for Russia and Netherlands in World Cup qualifiers

Hamburg - Two own goals helped Russia to a 3-0 victory over Finland in a World Cup qualifier Wednesday while the Netherlands maintained their perfect start with a win against Norway.

Petri Pasanen and Veli Lampi were the unfortunate players to put into their own net for Finland while Andrei Arshavin scored the third for Guus Hiddink's Russia side late on.

Russia now sit second in Group 4, one point behind Germany who play Wales later Wednesday.

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