Eurozone: McClaren's side stay cool to seal first Twente title

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The Independent Football

He may be statistically the worst ever England manager, but Steve McClaren is now also the greatest coach in the history of FC Twente. Yesterday he was carried shoulder high by his players towards jubilant away fans having led one of the smallest clubs in the Netherlands to their first ever Dutch Eredivisie title.

McClaren's modest squad had been top all season, holding off the free-scoring Ajax, whose +83 goal difference going into the final weekend was 45 goals better than that of the leaders. Twente, with a one-point advantage over Ajax, had to match their rivals in the last round of games to win the title and secure a place in next season's Champions League but things did not start well.

In pouring rain at NAC Breda's Rat Verlegh Stadium, brolly-less McClaren suffered on the bench as his side squandered numerous chances. Top scorer Bryan Ruiz, on-loan Chelsea forward Miroslav Stoch and Kenneth Perez all missed clear openings.

Worse was to come for McClaren as news filtered through from the Goffertstadion, where Ajax were playing NEC Nijmegen, that Martin Jol's side were one up and temporarily top. Luis Suarez had put the 29-times league winners in front as nervous Twente forwards failed to break down Breda.

But on 21 minutes McClaren's luck changed. Breda's midfielder Csaba Feher was sent off for a two-footed challenge and two minutes later Ruiz put Twente 1-0 up. It even stopped raining.

With goals flying in at the Gofferstadion, as Ajax hammered NEC 4-1, McClaren could not relax for fear of the home side equalising. But on 74 minutes Stoch, who is wanted by Ajax for next season, made it 2-0 and sealed the victory and the title.

Since their formation in 1965, the team had won only two cups. But the former England coach has taken them to new heights, condemning Ajax to Champions League qualification for next season, and becoming the first English manager to win a league abroad since Bobby Robson won the Portuguese title with Porto in 1996.



Messi keeps Barça on course

Leo Messi scored twice against Villarreal as Barcelona moved to within three games of retaining the Spanish title. Messi took his tally to 29 in the league and 42 in all competitions with a double in a 4-1 away win against their Europa League-chasing hosts. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was dropped and his replacement Bojan Krkic was outstanding, scoring the goal of the game. Xavi scored the second from a free-kick.



Bayern on brink of title

Bayern Munich stayed in contention for the treble after their 3-1 win over Bochum. They are now all but mathematically certain of winning the Bundesliga. Second-placed Schalke lost 2-0 at home to Werder Bremen and need a miracle to prevent Bayern, who are three points and 17 goals better off, being presented with the trophy after their away game against relegated Hertha Berlin next week. Perhaps forgetting his Champions League final rival Jose Mourinho, the Bayern coach Louis van Gaal said afterwards: "Not many coaches have won leagues in three countries." The Dutchman is on the brink of his seventh title – two with Barcelona in Spain, three with Ajax and one with AZ in Holland, and now one with Bayern.

Balotelli fears for safety

Internazionale striker Mario Balotelli claims that bolts on his car wheels were tampered with last week, increasing fears over his safety. "Mario found four nuts loose on one of the wheels," said his agent, Mino Raiola. "He does not feel protected and cannot stay at the club if things do not change." Balotelli has made himself public enemy number one with Inter supporters this season after putting on a Milan shirt and throwing an Inter shirt to the ground during a Champions League game.

Inter win to general acclaim

After knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League, Internazionale stayed on course for the Serie A title with a 2-0 win at Lazio last night, a result which was bizarrely celebrated by both sets of supporters. Headers from Walter Samuel and Thiago Motta gave Inter victory and though their side is still threatened with relegation, the Lazio fans were pleased the results dented the title hopes of local rivals Roma, who had gone top of the table with a 2-1 win at Parma on Saturday.

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