Football: McManaman off the mark

THE ENGLAND international and former Liverpool player Steve McManaman scored his first goal for Real Madrid in a 4-2 win over Milan in a friendly on Tuesday.

McManaman came off the substitutes' bench to seal a deserved victory 10 minutes from time in Madrid after neat work from Fernando Morientes and Michel Salgado. McManaman, who had struggled to impose himself during pre-season games, also had a hand in Real's fourth as he did well to recover a deep cross from the left, finding Morientes who in turn squared for Ivan Helguera to sweep in.

In an absorbing first half the former Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka missed two clear chances to open his Real account following his pounds 22m move from Arsenal. The French international, showing a dazzling turn of pace, twice got in behind the Milan defence only to shoot wide both times.

The Dutch international Clarence Seedorf, who is on the point of a move away from the Bernabeu after falling out with Real's coach John Toshack, scored what could well be his last goal for the club as he burst through after 28 minutes to force the ball home after a Raul Gonzalez shot was blocked.

Seedorf's goal came 16 minutes after Ivan Gattuso had scored a brilliant opener for the Italian champions, firing in a volley from the edge of the area after the former Dynamo Kiev striker Andriy Schevchenko's shot had been blocked.

The Brazilian substitute Savio Bortolini put Real ahead on 72 minutes, following up a Roberto Carlos free-kick that Sebastiano Rossi was unable to hold.

But the best was still to come for Real as the pace dropped off in the second period and Milan, missing several key players, clearly tired.

They reduced the deficit with a 90th minute goal from Massimo Orlandini but Real were not to be denied the Santiago Bernabeu trophy, a prize which was named after their former president.

The former Ipswich Town midfielder Frans Thijssen has been sacked as the coach of Dutch First Division side Graafschap despite being unbeaten two matches into the new season. The 47-year-old reached an agreement with the club's directors after draws with Roda JC Kerkrade and Den Bosch.

The Nigerian authorities said yesterday that their unhappy national coach, the Dutchman Thijs Libregts, would face the sack if he did not return to duty after complaining he had not been paid.

"He has 48 hours to return to his post or he gets the boot," Tijjani Yusuf, the secretary of the Nigerian Football Association, said. "He's apparently left for Holland without our permission."

Libregts, who was appointed last September as the latest in a long line of foreign national team coaches, was quoted by local newspapers as saying his relationship with his employers "is riddled with mistrust and disrespect".

According to reports, Libregts said he would not train the team for a friendly against Ghana on Saturday in Lagos, part of the draw ceremony for the 2000 African Nations' Cup, to be co-hosted by the two countries.

Yusuf said the deputy coach, Amodu Shaibu, would take charge, as he did last week when Libregts refused to travel with the team for a friendly against Mozambique in Maputo.

The former coach of France, Georges Boulogne, died on Tuesday at the age of 81, the French Football Federation confirmed yesterday.

Boulogne took over from Louis Duguauguez in 1969, and started his career with a 5-0 defeat at the hands of England at Wembley. He resigned in 1973, having led France in 31 matches, which featured 15 wins, five draws and 11 defeats.