Perez double as Barcelona beat Iniesta’s Kobe 2-0

Vissel Kobe’s Andres Iniesta and FC Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets compete for the ball during Saturday’s match. (AFP)
Updated 28 July 2019

Perez double as Barcelona beat Iniesta’s Kobe 2-0

  • Belgian Thomas Vermaelen becomes latest high-profile player to move to Japanese club

KOBE: Carles Perez scored his first two goals for Barcelona as the Spanish giants won 2-0 against a Vissel Kobe side featuring Andres Iniesta, a legend of the Catalan club.

As Kobe’s Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper were all reunited with their former team, it was Perez who stole the limelight with a top-class double.

The 21-year-old, a product of Barcelona’s academy, played a one-two inside the box and nutmegged the goalkeeper for his first goal, and fired a stunning left-footer for his second in the dying minutes.

Iniesta had his chances and 28,000 fans sighed their frustration as he put a fierce shot just wide.

“It was my first goal for Barcelona and I’m glad to score even two,” Perez said.

“It’s been my dream to score goals for this great team since my childhood,” he added.

The win wrapped up Barcelona’s pre-season friendlies in Japan following their 2-1 loss to Chelsea earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Belgian international defender Thomas Vermaelen has become the latest high-profile player to move to Vissel Kobe.

The 33-year-old, whose contract with Barcelona has now expired, will team up with David Silva, Lucas Podolski and his former Barca captain Andres Iniesta.

Vermaelen, who is reported to have turned down an offer to join Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht, passed his medical and visited the club’s training complex.

“I’m very excited to be here to help the team, to improve the team,” he told a news conference in Kobe, western Japan, ahead of the match between Bercelona and Vissel Kobe.

“I will do all my best to make this team better and I will show you that I will give my everything for this club,” he said.

Vermaelen said he planned to share his experience at Barcelona with the Japanese club, saying: “I try to bring the complete package into this team.”

Vermaelen began his career at Ajax before moving on to Arsenal and Barcelona with a loan spell at Roma.

He has played 74 times for Belgium, most recently in the 3-0 Euro qualifier win against Scotland in June.

Vissel Kobe are currently 15th in the 18-team J-league.

Saudi Cup ‘double or nothing’ with two horses in $20m race for leading agent Ted Voute

Updated 8 min 49 sec ago

Saudi Cup ‘double or nothing’ with two horses in $20m race for leading agent Ted Voute

  • Voute has been responsible for the purchase of six horses featuring in this weekend’s Saudi Cup meet
  • Since 1986 Voute has produced horses for the world’s premier sales on behalf of the some of the best-known breeders

LONDON: Securing a win in Saturday's $20 million Saudi Cup would be one of British bloodstock agent Ted Voute’s “greatest” achievements, the leading consignor said in the build-up to the world’s richest race.

Voute has been responsible for the purchase of six horses featuring in this weekend’s Saudi Cup meet, including two in the headline race.

Mjjack, a recent winner of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup, as well as Great Scot, were bought from the UK for owner Prince Faisal bin Khaled bin Abdul Aziz.

“Great Scot gets in (to the Saudi Cup) by virtue of being the highest-rated horse in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “I bought him late last year from Tom Dascombe in England. He hasn’t started there yet, but he’s a lovely horse,” Voute told Arab News.

“The other horse, Mjjack, I bought a couple of years ago. He won the King’s Cup (on Feb. 8), which gave him a free place, so I’m particularly proud of those two runners.

“It would be right up there if I bought the first Saudi Cup winner, it would be one of the greatest things I had ever done,” he added.

Since 1986 Voute has produced horses for the world’s premier sales on behalf of the some of the best-known breeders. In the past three decades, his consistent results in the sales ring and on the track have confirmed him as one of Europe’s leading consignors.

Voute has also bought several horses for another Saudi owner, Prince A.A. Faisal, including Mishriff, which runs in the Saudi Derby, one of the races going off before the Saudi Cup.

“From the prince’s point of view, Mishriff is named after a good friend of his who died and it would mean an immense amount to him (if the horse won),” he said. “It would be a wonderful story if, in his first race back as a three-year-old, he wins the Saudi derby as a preparation race to a Classic run.”

With several clients in Saudi Arabia, Voute is well placed to comment on the achievement by Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, in setting up a top-class racing meet in such a short time.

“It’s amazing, really, I don’t think there has been a day with that much prize money in history. It has definitely grabbed people’s attention,” he said. “I was in a taxi from the airport with the trainer of Maximum Security, and (he said) he got a passport for the first time to travel outside the US to be in Saudi Arabia, which I thought was fantastic.

“To think this was only an idea not even a year ago. I saw Prince Bandar at Royal Ascot, and I think that’s where (Saudi Arabia) made the decision — and it’s just unbelievable what they’ve done from June to now. A lot of wealthy owners will venture out to Saudi Arabia and see what a wonderful country it is.

“It will show people they can travel in winter and pick up these sorts of races and prize money; it will really put Saudi Arabia on the calendar as a stepping stone to one of the European Classics,” he said.