Fàbre­gas ad­mits his pizza hit Fer­gu­son’s face

Mail & Guardian - - Sport -

Cesc Fàbre­gas has ad­mit­ted he threw the pizza that struck then Manch­ester United man­ager Alex Fer­gu­son in the in­fa­mous “Bat­tle of the Buf­fet” 13 years ago.

Arse­nal, for many years locked in a ti­tanic duel for Premier League supremacy with Manch­ester United, saw their 49-game un­beaten run come to an end at

Old Traf­ford in Oc­to­ber 2004 and a clash in the tun­nel fol­lowed.

Fàbre­gas’s former Arse­nal team­mate Martin Ke­own said the pizza was thrown by the Span­ish play­maker in 2014, but it has taken another three years for an ad­mis­sion from the man him­self.

Asked about the in­ci­dent on

Sky 1’s A League of Their Own, Fàbre­gas, who now plays for Chelsea, told host James Cor­den “yes”, be­fore ex­pand­ing.

The 30-year-old Chelsea mid­fielder said: “Martin Ke­own is a liar be­cause I saw him in front of me just, like, punch­ing peo­ple. He didn’t see any­thing.

“All of a sud­den, I heard noises and I thought ‘what’s hap­pen­ing?’ So I go out with my slice of pizza and I saw Sol Camp­bell, Rio Fer­di­nand, Martin Ke­own … ev­ery­one push­ing each other.

“I was, like, I want to get in, but I don’t know how to and I threw … peeew … just threw it.

“Once I saw it was hit­ting, like, who it was hit­ting, which I didn’t mean … I apol­o­gise, Sir Alex, [I] re­ally didn’t mean to do that.”

Fàbre­gas was asked where the pizza struck Fer­gu­son and in­di­cated it was on the Scot’s cheek. — AFP Nige­ria are clos­ing in on a sixth World Cup ap­pear­ance, with reign­ing con­ti­nen­tal cham­pi­ons Cameroon and Al­ge­ria out of the run­ning in a chal­leng­ing sec­tion — but Zam­bia could still deny the Su­per Ea­gles.

Tu­nisia are well po­si­tioned to end their 12-year World Cup ex­ile, lead­ing near­est ri­vals the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo by three points, and Egypt are in con­trol of their des­tiny.

But other groups re­main wide open with just the first-place fin­ish­ers qual­i­fy­ing for Rus­sia. Côte d’Ivoire top Group C on seven points, but both Morocco (six) and Gabon (five) still har­bour gen­uine hopes.

It is a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion in Group D — af­ter Fifa’s de­ci­sion to an­nul South Africa’s 2-1 win over Sene­gal in Novem­ber 2016, a match ma­nip­u­lated by a Ghana­ian ref­eree. Burk­ina Faso and Cape Verde head the pool on six points, but Sene­gal trail by just a point, with their match against Bafana Bafana to be re­played in Novem­ber.

Syria head into play-offs

Iran, Ja­pan, South Korea and Saudi Ara­bia will rep­re­sent Asia in Rus­sia next year, but Syria and Aus­tralia will at­tempt to join them though the play-offs.

Syria pro­longed their fairy­tale World Cup cam­paign with a dra­matic stop­page-time equaliser in their fi­nal group match to set up a dou­ble-header against Aus­tralia on Oc­to­ber 5 and 10.

The Soc­ceroos are bid­ding for a fourth straight fi­nals ap­pear­ance, whereas Syria — who have never reached the World Cup be­fore — have kept their dream alive de­spite the bru­tal civil war that has forced them to play all their home games abroad.

They will take on Aus­tralia in Malaysia in the first leg be­fore trav­el­ling to Syd­ney for the re­turn. The win­ner of the tie will meet the fourth-placed team from Concacaf with a spot in Rus­sia at stake.

Mex­ico and who else?

Mex­ico will com­pete at their sev­enth straight World Cup next sum­mer, and Costa Rica are also on the verge of di­rect qual­i­fi­ca­tion. But a third au­to­matic berth is still in play, as the fourth-placed side can also qual­ify through the in­tercon­ti­nen­tal play-offs.

Panama, in third, lead the United States and Hon­duras by a sin­gle point, with two rounds of games still to play. — AFP

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