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August 28, 2009

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Eduardo sparks diving furore

SCOTTISH Football Association Chief Executive Gordon Smith wants European governing body UEFA to punish Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva for what he described as a dive in the Gunners' Champions League playoff win over Celtic.

The Brazilian-born Croat went down after poking the ball past Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who dived at his feet but appeared to make no contact with the striker, in the first half of their second-leg encounter at the Emirates Stadium in London on Wednesday.

"Eduardo showed disrespect to the game by his actions in winning a penalty against Celtic," Smith said on the SFA Website.

"We have shown the courage to use retrospective punishment when it comes to simulation and I would urge UEFA to do so in this instance. Everything that can be done to stamp it out must be done. Starting right now."

Arsenal, which secured a 2-0 first-leg victory at Celtic Park on August 18, effectively sealed the tie just before the half-hour mark when Eduardo converted the penalty, awarded by Spanish referee Manuel Mejuto, much to the displeasure of Smith.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters after the 5-1 aggregate victory that he did not think a penalty should have been awarded.

"I do not go as far as to say Eduardo dived. He went down, for what reason I do not know. Having seen it again on television, it doesn't look a penalty," he said. "I do not think he (Eduardo) would have complained if the penalty was not given."

Well-crafted goals by Emmanuel Eboue and Andrei Arshavin after the break underlined the gulf in class between the two sides although Massimo Donati salvaged a little pride for the Scottish side and its visiting army of fans, lashing a volley with the last kick of a one-sided tie.

Group stage

Arsenal finds out later yesterday who it will face in the lucrative Champions League group stage, with the draw being held in Monaco.

Celtic has the consolation of entering the draw for the group stages of the Europa League, which also takes place in Monaco.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Serie A side Fiorentina squeezed through on away goals against Portugal's Sporting Lisbon after a 1-1 home draw left the tie level at 3-3. Steven Jovetic equalized for Fiorentina on the night after Sporting had gone ahead on aggregate through Joao Moutinho.

VfB Stuttgart was held 0-0 at home by Timisoara of Romania but progressed courtesy of its 2-0 away win last week. APOEL of Cyprus beat FC Copenhagen 3-1 for a 3-2 aggregate win while Greek side Olympiakos ended the dreams of Moldova's Sheriff Tirsaspol, completing a 3-0 aggregate win.


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