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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Christchurch loses World Cup matches after quake

Posted: 15 Mar 2011 08:15 PM PDT

WELLINGTON, March 16 — Earthquake-devastated Christchurch will not host any matches at this year's rugby World Cup after organisers decided the city would not be ready, New Zealand's government said today.

The city's ability to host five pool matches and two quarter-finals was thrown into doubt when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck on Feb. 22, killing at least 166 people, levelling parts of the city and badly damaging Lancaster Park.

The quarter-finals will be moved to Eden Park in Auckland while the five other matches Christchurch was scheduled to host in the Sept. 9-Oct.23 tournament will be reallocated to other venues around the country.

"It is with sincere regret that the stakeholders have agreed today that all of the 2011 rugby World Cup games scheduled to be held in Christchurch will be moved," World Cup minister Murray McCully told a nationally televised news conference.

"The government had a very strong wish for all of the scheduled matches, or failing that, most of the scheduled games to be held here in Christchurch.

"At the end of the day we were faced with the reality that the risks were unacceptable in relation to the largest sporting event ever hosted in this country, one that calls for certainty and for the elimination of risk."

International Rugby Board (IRB) officials met with government ministers on Wednesday after receiving reports on the venue's suitability to host matches and the city's ability to provide accommodation and fix infrastructure. McCully said that the city would not have been able to offer enough accommodation for visitors. IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said it was a hard decision to make but the expert advice on the stadium and the infrastructure had left them no other option.

"The advice of experts and the stadium operators had been sought and every option explored, but in the end there had been no other option," he said. "It has been a hard decision but it is a decision that all parties agree is in the best interests of the tournament and of New Zealand."

Tournament chief Martin Snedden said a decision on where the pool matches would be reallocated would be made by the end of March with each of the South Island's remaining three venues — Nelson, Dunedin, and Invercargill — likely to get a game each.

The other matches were likely be moved to North Island venues, he added. — Reuters 

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Inter knock out Bayern with last-gasp goal

Posted: 15 Mar 2011 04:21 PM PDT

Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar (2nd left) celebrates with teammates after the second leg round of sixteen Champions League match against Bayern Munich in Munich March 15, 2011. — Reuters pic

MUNICH, March 16 — Holders Inter Milan stunned Bayern Munich with an 88th-minute goal from Goran Pandev to win 3-2 yesteday to scrape through to the Champions League quarter-finals on the away goals rule.

Inter, who also beat Bayern in last year's final, got off to a dream start with a goal from Samuel Eto'o on four minutes, cancelling out the German team's 1-0 win in Italy in the first leg last month.

The Bavarians levelled through Mario Gomez and took a well-deserved lead thanks to Thomas Mueller on 31 minutes before missing several good chances.

Inter equalised through Dutchman Wesley Sneijder just past the hour and grabbed the winner through Pandev who fired in left-footed from just inside the box with two minutes to go.

Earlier, the holders went ahead when Eto'o narrowly beat the offside trap to slot his eighth goal of this season's competition.

Inter then started to concede too much space in midfield and Gomez also struck his eighth Champions League goal of the season after a terrible mistake by goalkeeper Julio Cesar who spilled a straight-forward shot at the striker's feet.

The home team were on target again in the 31st minute when Mueller took advantage of a blunder from Inter defender Thiago Motta.

Bayern missed two good chances before halftime when Franck Ribery's chip went wide and Gomez's effort rolled agonisingly along the line before Andrea Ranocchia cleared off the post.

Sneijder levelled for the Italians with a fierce drive into the bottom corner of the net in the 63rd minute, setting the stage for Pandev to steal the late glory after an entertaining end-to-end match. — Reuters 

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