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Hammers edge past Birmingham

sports Updated: Jan 12, 2011 23:38 IST

Substitute Carlton Cole gave West Ham United a slight advantage in their League Cup semifinal against Birmingham City, scoring the winner with the help of a Ben Foster goalkeeping error in a 2-1 first-leg win on Tuesday.

The striker came off the bench to turn the match back in West Ham's favour with a simple side-foot finish that embarrassed fellow England international Foster after Liam Ridgewell had cancelled out Mark Noble's early opener.

The home side had Nigerian striker Victor Obinna sent off on the hour for a petulant kick between Sebastian Larsson's legs.

Victory was a boost for West Ham manager Avram Grant whose job has been the subject of intense media speculation since a 5-0 thrashing at Newcastle United last week sent the east London club back to the bottom of the Premier League.

Real's Higuain faces four months out
Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain will be out of action for up to four months after having surgery on a hernia in his back, the doctor in charge of the operation said.

The 23-year-old Argentina international flew to Chicago in the United States to resolve a problem that has kept him off the playing fields since the beginning of December.

“The operation went very well,” Doctor Richard G.Fessler said. “The recovery period is four months but to be get back to 100 per cent after any operation takes a year. He will train in two months but he will not play for three or four months.”

Racing Club masseur killed by lightning
Bueno Aires: Racing Club masseur Cesar Nardi died after being struck by lightning during a team training session outside Buenos Aires, the Argentine first division side said.

Nardi, who was 61 and had worked with Racing since 2001, was struck by the lightning during an electric storm on Tuesday when he went to recover a ball near a water tap. He was taken to hospital but did not survive.

“We are saddened to inform of the death of our employee Cesar Nardi 'Chechu' during training of the professional squad,” Racing said.

Man City suffer Balotelli injury blow
London: Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has been ruled out for a month with a knee injury, City manager Roberto Mancini said on Tuesday. “I'm worried because he can't play for another three or four weeks at an important moment for us,” Mancini said.

“To have an operation done and then to have another problem two months later is strange.”

The 20-year-old Balotelli's season has already been disrupted by injury and suspension and he has made just seven Premier League starts since joining from Inter Milan.

“He may need surgery. We just don't know. He must rest, then he will have treatment and work. Hopefully then he will be OK,” added Mancini, who can at least content himself with the knowledge that new signing Edin Dzeko will be available for Saturday's home game against Wolves. Dzeko is likely to start alongside Carlos Tevez against Wolves.