European Football

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The 34-year-old remains a key player for club and country and his coach believes he is worthy of winning the prestigious award this year

Andrea Pirlo deserves to win the 2013 Ballon d’Or, according to his Juventus boss Antonio Conte.

The 34-year-old was pivotal in the Old Lady’s surge to Scudetto glory last season, and remains a key man for both the Bianconeri and Italy.

And though the likes of Franck Ribery, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are clear favourites for the award, Conte admits he would give it to the classy playmaker.

“For me, if there was one winner it would be Pirlo,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I know it’s unlikely to happen, what with players like Messi, Ronaldo, Ribery and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic up for the award, but he deserves it. It would be great to see him win it.”

Conte also expressed his disbelief that Francesco Totti has not made the 23-man shortlist, considering his inspirational performances for Roma so far this season.

“It is incredible that there is no Totti on the list,” he continued.

“Fifa must simply have forgotten him.”

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David Moyes was forced into three half-time changes as goals from Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney saw the Red Devils triumph at Craven Cottage

David Moyes revealed that Manchester United’s 3-1 win at Fulham came at a cost, with four players suffering injuries.

Three early goals from Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney gave the Premier League champions a comfortable cushion at Craven Cottage and the visitors eventually ran out easy winners, despite Alex Kacaniklic’s second-half reply.

However, Moyes was forced into three half-time substitutions, with Jonny Evans, Rafael and Tom Cleverley unable to continue, while Patrice Evra also picked up a knock.

“Jonny’s back seized up; Rafael had gone over on his ankle and Tom Cleverley had double vision,” Moyes told Sky Sports. “We actually had four [injured players] – Patrice Evra had an injury as well.

“It never helps the continuity. We didn’t play as well in the second half but nevertheless we were always worthy winners.

“All credit to Fulham – they kept going and got their goal.”

Moyes was delighted by United’s start to the game, which saw Valencia, Van Persie and Rooney score inside the opening 22 minutes.

“The first 20 minutes we were outstanding – great goals, great movement for the goals,” added the Scot.

“We knew it would be tough, because Fulham were off a bad result last week [a 2-0 defeat against Southampton]. But we got the goals and we played very well.”

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