Scottish Premier League

Brown could be out for 10 weeks

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Tue, 20 Nov 2012 23:17:00

Roberto Di Matteo does not regret dropping Fernando Torres to the bench for Chelsea's UEFA Champions League defeat against Juventus in Turin on Tuesday.

The Blues lost the match 3-0 and, to stand any chance of reaching the last 16, the west London club must now rely on Shakhtar Donetsk beating the Italian club in the final round of group games in two weeks' time.

Fabio Quagliarella, Arturo Vidal and Sebastian Giovinco were the scorers as Juve moved to within one point of reaching the knockout stages at the expense of Chelsea.

But Di Matteo defended his team selection, with substitute Torres only joining the action in the 71st minute.

The Chelsea boss said: "I thought this was the team to beat Juventus but if the result is negative you always face repercussions.

"Torres, like all players who don't start, was disappointed but he certainly has a future and we all have to pick ourselves up again.

"I wanted a different approach tonight and to move the three centre-backs around.

"Their first goal was lucky because of the deflection but we are conceding goals and we are working on it and you need to be solid defensively if you want to win games."

As for their slim chances of progressing in the competition, the Italian added: "We still have hope because mathematically it is still possible because Shakhtar can beat Juve at home."

And Di Matteo admitted that as manager of Chelsea, his position at Stamford Bridge will always be a topic of debate.

He said: "In a big club like this - if you have a few bad results - you are going to be under pressure but you have to live with it.

"And it's been like that from day one and it's up to me to pick the players up now."

The home side had the best of the first-half chances as County, who had Jamal Campbell-Ryce sent off late on, failed to create a clear opening and neither side looked like breaking the deadlock in the second period.

Preston dominated the first half with Akpo Sodje heading wide from eight yards before Nicky Wroe twice forced Bartosz Bialkowski into smart saves inside 20 minutes.

County could consider themselves lucky to still have the full compliment at that stage as Jeff Hughes and Alan Sheehan escaped with yellow cards from rash first-half challenges.

The Lilywhites should have been ahead moments later, Stuart Beavon dispossessing Bialkowski before seeing his shot cleared by Gary Liddle's diving goal-line header.

In a feisty second half the closest either side came to scoring was North End's penalty appeal after Sodje appeared to have been pushed by Carl Regan, only for referee Tony Harrington to wave away the protests and as the match was petering out for a draw, Campbell-Ryce saw red for a nasty lunge on Scott Laird, who was taken away in an ambulance straight after.

Pompey striker Izale McLeod had a penalty stopped by Orient goalkeeper Ryan Allsop, who felled Brian Howard, after 26 minutes.

The visitors took charge just six minutes later when Dean Cox brilliantly slotted in Kevin Lisbie, who coolly swept his shot beyond Mikkel Andersen.

Orient doubled their lead after 52 minutes when Moses Odubajo slipped into space in the Pompey box and lashed the ball home. McLeod atoned for his spot-kick failure four minutes later when Pompey's Paul Benson was felled by Nathan Clarke in the box.

But Orient regained their two-goal cushion when referee Graham Scott awarded them the game's third penalty after 61 minutes when Lisbie was brought down by the returning Ricardo Rocha. Lisbie stroked confidently past Andersen.

Pompey pulled another one back after 65 minutes when Scott Allan's shot was deflected beyond Allsop by Martin Rowlands. The home side launched a relentless assault on Orient in the closing stages, but could not snatch what would have been a well-deserved point.

The Everton loanee saw his late penalty saved but reacted quickly to slam in the rebound and seal a crucial win for the Latics.

Baxter opened the scoring after 17 minutes, capitalising on a lapse in concentration from Pools goalkeeper Scott Flinders to poke home from close range.

The hosts were rewarded for upping the tempo after the break as Jonathan Franks' low drive on 65 minutes was spilled by Dean Bouzanis and Antony Sweeney tapped in.

Pools were reduced to 10 men on 76 minutes, Neil Austin red-carded for a lunge on James Wesolowski.

And the visitors, who hit the post on 88 minutes through Chris Sutherland, nabbed a late winner. Jack Baldwin handled in the area and, after Baxter's penalty was saved, he put the follow up away.

Neil Lennon revealed that Celtic skipper Scott Brown could be out for 10 weeks following their 2-1 Champions league defeat by Benfica at the Stadium of Light.

The Hoops midfielder has been battling all season with a hip complaint, only playing intermittently and usually in the big games, but had to succumb to the pain in the second half when he was replaced by Kris Commons.

Parkhead boss Lennon said: "Scott Brown has run his course, we may have to book him in for surgery.

"We are looking at eight to 10 weeks.

"He has been pushing himself to the limit and we can't keep asking him to put himself through the amount of distress that obviously he was doing towards the end of his time on the pitch.

"He has been a huge player for us this season, I think it is time to get the problem addressed and hopefully he will have something to look forward to in the new year."

Lennon was alluding to the fact that Celtic's bid to win through to the knockout stages of the Champions League will go to their last Group G fixture.

Ola John gave the home side the lead in the seventh minute before Georgios Samaras levelled in the 32nd minute from a Charlie Mulgrew corner.

Defender Ezequiel Garay restored Benfica's lead in the 72nd minute to ultimately, and deservedly, leave both sides on seven points after five games.

The Scottish champions, guaranteed a Europa League spot after Barcelona beat Spartak 3-0 in Moscow earlier in the evening, will go through if, in their home game against the Russian club, they better the Portuguese side's result in Barcelona.

Lennon admits his last-16 hopes are in the balance.

He said "I think Benfica are capable of getting a win in Barcelona, for they are an excellent side.

"But we have to make them do that.

"I don't know what kind of mindset Spartak will be in, they might want to spoil our party, we have to be totally focused.

"What we have to do is win at home and make Benfica win in the Nou Camp which is no easy feat.

"The onus is on us to do that.

"The squad is stretched, we hope to have a few more players back for that game.

"No-one gave us a prayer coming in to this competition, these players have been exceptional, they have made a name for themselves and we are still in with a good chance of qualifying."

The former Celtic skipper had few complaints about the result.

He said: "I am disappointed. I thought there was a lack of composure to our play at times, a bit of nervousness which is understandable.

"Our passing was poor and we weren't decisive enough and it was a poor second goal to lose.

"We weren't at our best but you have to give credit to Benfica for the way they played."

Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama will miss the game against Spartak after picking up a booking in the second half.

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus will take succour from Celtic's win over Barcelona at Parkhead earlier this month when he takes his side to the Nou Camp.

Speaking about tonight's win, Jesus said: "It was a great win for us. We didn't deserve to be drawing at half-time, they scored with a set-piece as we thought they might. But we played very well.

"Now we are playing on the biggest stage in the world against the biggest team in the world.

"But we have shown we are more of a team than Celtic and they beat Barcelona so nothing is impossible.

"If we have a bit of luck we can do it."

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