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WEEKEND WRAPUP: International Soccer Headliners
by Paul Kennedy, September 24th, 2007 7AM

TAGS:  england, france, spain


Manchester United downed Chelsea, 2-0, in Avram Grant's first game as the Blues' new manager. With Ronaldinho sidelined, Argentine Leo Messi starred for Barcelona in its win against Sevilla. Unfancied Nancy remained the leader in France's Ligue 1, while former Mexican national team captain Tomas Boy took charge at struggling Atlas.

[VIDEO] If a change of managers was intended to change Chelsea's fortunes, it didn't work.

The Blues lost their first game since the sudden departure of Jose Mourinho, falling to Manchester United, 2-0, in a game that saw them finish with 10 players.

Mourinho's replacement, Israeli Avram Grant, bemoaned the dismissal of Nigerian John Obe Mikel for a challenge on Frenchman Patrice Evra in the 32nd minute.

United won on a superb header from Carlos Tevez at the end in the first half and a penalty kick by Louis Saha in the 89th minute after the Frenchman was taken down by Tal Ben Haim.

The loss dropped Chelsea to sixth place, five points behind leader Arsenal but with a game in hand.

[VIDEO] With Ronaldinho sidelined and rapidly falling out of favor in the Catalan press, Barcelona president Joan Laporta called Argentine Leo Messi "the essence of soccer" after he sparked a win against Sevilla on Saturday.

Messi followed up on his impressive display for Barcelona in the 3-0 UEFA Champions League win over Lyon on Wednesday by scoring two goals in seven minutes that gave the Catalan club a 2-1 victory over Sevilla at the Nou Camp Stadium.

French star Thierry Henry set up Messi for the first goal that the young Argentine put away with a scissors kick. The second goal was scored from the penalty kick after Mexican teenager Giovani Dos Santos was taken down in the penalty area.

[VIDEO] Unfancied Nancy remained the leader in France's Ligue 1 thanks to a 2-0 win over Lorient on a pair of goals by Youssouf Hadji.

With six wins, one tie and only loss in eight games, the Lorraine club leads Bordeaux by a point and has a game in hand.

Just five years ago, the club at which the great Michel Platini got his start was on the verge of being demoted from the second level of French soccer, but Uruguayan coach Pablo Correa has worked magic using a mix of journeymen and young players.

Hadji, the younger brother of former Moroccan star Mustapha Hadji, returned to Nancy in January after stints at Bastia and Rennes and has been outstanding this season.

Frenchmen Sebastien Puygrenier and Pascal Berenguer, both long-time ASNL players, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Issiar Dia, who arrived last season, as well as Brazilians Kim and Andre Luiz have all been key players for Nancy.


Tomas Boy, the captain of Mexico's 1986 World Cup team, is the new coach of struggling Mexican First Division club Atlas.

Boy's appointment came shortly before Saturday's game against Chiapas. With Atlas assistants in communication with Boy from the sidelines, the Guadalajara club lost to Jaguares, 1-0, leaving it with only two points in nine games in the Torneo Apertura.

Romano was the third First Division coach to be fired after Dario Franco at UAG and Victor Manuel Vucetich at Chiapas.


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