Korean World Cup hero tells of Perugia 'racism'
South Korea's retired 2002 World Cup hero Ahn Jung-hwan said he was cold-shouldered and subjected to racist slurs from Marco Materazzi during his troubled time with Serie A side AC Perugia. In an interview on a South Korean television talk show, Ahn, 36, alleged Perugia's then skipper Materazzi had been particularly intimidating. "He barged into the locker room one day and barked at me in front of everyone, saying that I reeked of garlic," Ahn said. "I didn't understand what he was saying but the translator, who was also a Korean, blushed and, at first, was too embarrassed to translate the remarks." Ahn's wife, a former Miss Korea beauty queen, told the same talk show that her husband was so intimidated that he stopped eating garlic-heavy Korean food. Materazzi is no stranger to controversy. Notoriously, taunting by the defender provoked a head-butt against him from French star Zinedine Zidane during the 2006 World Cup final, which resulted in a red card for Zidane before Italy went on to lift the title. Ahn joined AC Perugia in 2000, but the move was not a happy one and ended in controversy. After Ahn scored the golden goal against Italy that put South Korea through to the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, Perugia owner Luciano Gaucci cancelled his contract. Gaucci was quoted as saying he had "no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian football". Ahn said he had always been treated as "an outcast" by other players in the Italian club side. "They seldom passed the ball to me in front of goal, even if they had no way for themselves to score," he said. After leaving Italy, Ahn went on to play in Japan, France, Germany, South Korea and China. He retired in January last year. AFP
Benzema kickstarts Real cup victory
France striker Karim Benzema helped Real Madrid to a 2-0 victory over Valencia in the quarter-finals of the King's Cup. Benzema opened the scoring in the 37th minute of the first-leg match, finishing off a rapid counterattack after Michael Essien had picked out Sami Khedira on the left flank. Madrid's second goal arrived in the 73rd minute when Valencia's Jose Guardado turned the ball into his own net as he tried to clear a cross by Fabio Coentrao under pressure. "It was a tight, physical match in which the goalkeepers kept the score down, although we came close to a third goal," Madrid defender Ricardo Carvalho said. AP
Ranocchia strikes late to send Inter to semis
Andrea Ranocchia scored a dramatic winner in the final minute of extra time to send Inter Milan into the semi-finals of the Italian Cup with a 3-2 win over plucky Bologna. Freddy Guarin and Rodrigo Palacio scored one apiece in regulation time to give Inter Milan a 2-0 lead with 23 minutes to play. However, playmaker Alessandro Diamanti reduced arrears in the 80th minute to spark an unlikely comeback for Bologna, who levelled four minutes later thanks to striker Manolo Gabbiadini. It went to extra time, and just as penalties seemed inevitable Ranocchia got his head to a floated corner and found the net. AFP