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FOOTBALL

Werder fight back to earn draw against Spurs

Werder Bremen fought back to clinch a 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur in their Champions League opener on Tuesday night.

Werder fight back to earn draw against Spurs
Photo: DPA

Tottenham started strongly and with Wales defender Gareth Bale and Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart causing havoc in the home defence, the Londoners, making their tournament debut, raced into a 2-0 lead after just 18 minutes.

But Bremen rallied and two goals in four minutes either side of half-time levelled the scores.

Spurs also lost van der Vaart with a calf strain just after the break, but manager Harry Redknapp later said the injury was not serious.

“I thought we were fantastic for the first 43 minutes, then we conceded a goal just before half-time which gave them a lifeline, they hadn’t had a shot before that,” said Redknapp.

“They came back to 2-1 and it gave them belief. The goal came at the right time for them, it changed their attitude and gave them a massive lift. Before that they were struggling to live with us.”

An own goal from Bremen defender Petri Pasanen and a Peter Crouch header put Spurs ahead before Portugal striker Hugo Almeida pulled one back just prior to the break before Marko Marin hit the equaliser.

“I constantly asked myself how something like this could happen after we did so well in Bayern,” said Werder coach Thomas Schaaf after his side had earned a goalless draw at Bayern Munich last weekend in the Bundesliga.

“We have the quality to come back as we have done before, so we earned the point.”

Both sides came into the Group A match at the Weserstadion with injuries. Spurs were without England striker Jermain Defoe and defender Michael Dawson, who both have ligament damage.

Bremen were missing Germany centre-back Per Mertesacker, fellow defender Naldo and striker Claudio Pizarro.

Spurs took the lead when Bale ran deep on the left flank and squared only for Bremen’s Pasanen to stab his shot past goalkeeper Tim Wiese on 12 minutes.

The English side were hitting Bremen constantly with fast breaks and Spurs went further ahead when a cross from van der Vaart found Crouch who leapt higher than Pasanen to head home on 18 minutes.

Tottenham kept up the pressure as Crouch went close again while a rocket shot from Bale forced Wiese into a diving save.

With 35 minutes played, Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf toughened up his midfield with Aaron Hunt on for the inexperienced Philipp Bargfrede and the move paid off. Bremen scored just two minutes before half-time with their first real chance when Almeida latched onto a Wesley cross.

Van der Vaart made way for Robbie Keane just after the break with a calf strain while the hosts began the second-half with a bang.

After Hunt headed over from a corner, Marin fired in a shot from 20 metres out which gave Spurs’ goalkeeper Cudicini no chance on 47 minutes.

In the next round of games, Spurs host Twente on September 29 the same night Bremen are at defending champions Inter Milan.

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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