In brief - 2004-09-09

  • 2004-09-09
Lithuania held Belgium to a 1-1 draw in its first world cup qualifier on Sept. 4. Striker Wesley Sonck scored with a wonderful free kick in the 61st minute, curling the ball over the Lithuanian wall with his right foot, but forward Edgaras Jankauskas fired home with his left foot 11 minutes later to bring the visitors level. The Belgians dominated the second half thanks to inspirational captain Bart Goor but couldn't find the winner. He nearly opened the scoring after 58 minutes with a long shot but goalkeeper Zydrunas Karcemarkas saved well. The first period had been fairly even with Lithuanian captain Aurelijus Skarbalius having to go off after nine minutes when he collided with a couple of Belgian players. Sonck also had a chance to grab the winner after 80 minutes with a header from a corner but Karcemarkas saved on the line as Lithuania held on for a draw in the Group Seven game.

It's been officially announced that Latvian coach Aleksandrs Starkovs will replace Nevio Scala as coach of the Russian side Spartak Moscow next week. Starkovs has signed a two-year deal and will be officially unveiled as Moscow's new coach on Sept. 9. He leaves Skonto, the Latvian side, which he led to its 13th straight league championship last season. Starkovs also took Latvia to its first European Championship but is expected to remain coach of the national team at least until the end of the year. Spartak Moscow is currently in eighth place in the league. Starkovs is expected to make his debut Sept. 11 against defending league champion CSKA Moscow.

The much-publicized impending court case against basketball star Kobe Bryant has been dismissed by a U.S. judge after prosecutors dropped sexual assault charges against him. The surprise move comes less than a week after the start of jury selection for Bryant's trial. Prosecutors said they could not proceed because the alleged victim refused to testify in court, although Bryant still faces a civil lawsuit filed by his accuser. The 26-year-old star denies assault, saying the sex was consensual. Bryant, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, is one of the highest-paid sportsmen in the U.S.A.

Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi won the Portuguese Grand Prix for the fourth successive year and now leads the standings by 29 points.