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Hulk not being fit to play in host Brazil's second World Cup finals Group A game with Mexico would not be the end of the world according to coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday.
"I can choose a replacement with my eyes closed"-Scolari 
Final Brasil vs España

Hulk not being fit to play in host Brazil's second World Cup finals Group A game with Mexico would not be the end of the world according to coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday.

A leg muscle problem means the Zenit St Petersburg forward -- who started the opening 3-1 win over Croatia -- is rated doubtful as Brazil look to cement their postion atop the group by beating the Mexicans, who also won their opening match.

"We'll see how things transpire and decide before the match," said Scolari.

Asked about Hulk missing training Scolari batted the question away.

"He didn't come as he'd have done nothing here -- he wouldn't have run, wouldn't have participated. There was no need for him to come so he stayed behind and had treatment.

"I can choose a replacement with my eyes closed," insisted Scolari, Brazil's World Cup-winning coach from 2002 who is bidding to land a sixth crown for his homeland but a first on home soil.

"There will be no problem. I have 23 players and I think I've selected them well.

"I have players with different characteristics and different qualities to Hulk who can bolster the team."

Likely to replace Hulk should he not make the game after tweaking his left hamstring is Chelsea midfielder Ramires, though other possibilities include Willian or Bernard.

Hulk is hoping to make the date, nonetheless, as he hails from the city of Campina Grande in the impoverished north-eastern state of Paraiba, not far from Fortaleza, in the state of Ceara.

"There is no way I want to miss this game, because it will be in the north-east and all my family will be there," he said Sunday.

"When Brazil play up there it is always a party. Everything started there in the Confederations Cup when the whole stadium sang the national anthem together,"

It was at Fortaleza that Brazil saw off Mexico in the same venue at last year's Confederations Cup.

Mexico, who opened their campaign with a win over Cameroon, did, however, shock the Selecao in the London Olympics final two years ago.

Asked about the Olympic defeat, Scolari said: "I wasn't there -- though as a fan I didn't like it as we lost.

"We respect Mexico -- they always play very well against Brazil. They are warriors and very well organized.

"We have to look at certain details to try to hurt them," said Scolari, noting that Brazil could be confident going into the game with three points under their belts.

Asked to comment on the refereeing to date at the tournament with Brazil winning a soft penalty against Croatia and Mexico having two goals chalked off against Cameronn Scolari said "I have no problems with the refereeing.

"The referee blows his whistle and we play."

Source: AFP
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19 hrs. ago

M'Baye Niang put the nightmare of the Paris terror attacks firmly behind him with two goals and an assist as AC Milan crushed a sorry Sampdoria 4-1 at the San Siro on Saturday.

Niang admitted last week the events of the past fortnight had left him worried for the safety of family and friends in and around the French capital.

But the 20-year-old from the Paris suburbs produced a confident performance for the Rossoneri, first delivering for Giacomo Bonaventura's opener on 16 minutes and then beating Emiliano Viviano from the spot after the Milan winger had been hauled down in the area seven minutes before the interval.

Niang secured Milan's seventh win of the campaign when he fired under Viviano four minutes after the restart after the 'keeper's fluffed clearance.

When he was replaced by Luiz Adriano 15 minutes from the whistle it took the Brazilian just four minutes to find the net after volleying Alessio Cerci's intelligent cross past Viviano.

The only blot on Milan's copybook was Gianluigi Donnarumma's failure to stop Luis Muriel from the spot after Andrea Pioli had tugged on Eder in the area in the closing minutes.

Milan moved up to fifth place at seven points behind leaders Inter ahead of the remainder of the weekend matches, with Sampdoria's second successive defeat under new coach Vincenzo Montella leaving them 14 points adrift.

"It was an almost perfect performance," said Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who gave a special mention to Niang.

"He's a big player for us, he was doing really well in pre-season then he got injured. Now he's back in form and he's doing well, but he already showed at Genoa (loan) what he was made of."

For the fifth consecutive match Mihajlovic opted for teenage goalkeeper Donnarumma over the more experienced Diego Lopez but the 16-year-old had to dive low to parry after his messy clearance fell to Roberto 

Soriano 30 yards out in the opening minute.

From then on, it was all Milan with Niang the main protagonist before making way for Adriano on 74 minutes.

Having spent the last half of last season on loan at Genoa, the striker said he in enjoying playing in a pure 

striker's role under Mihajlovic.

"I'm really happy because I've been waiting for this for a longtime, the hard work's paying off and I hope it continues like this," said Niang.

"I played as a centre-forward, the position I prefer and I think that along with our win over Lazio this was our best display this season."

Milan broke the deadlock on 16 minutes with Alessio Cerci, whose eighth minute goal was ruled offside, involved before Niang burst down the right to fire in a weighted delivery that Bonaventura slid in to meet at the back post.

Milan built on their momentum and Niang almost doubled the lead when he collected Juraj Kucka's short delivery on the right to drag his angled shot inches wide of Viviano's far post.

Sampdoria were struggling to find any rhythm and Milan's movement in the final third of the pitch was causing huge problems for the visitors.

Niang left Edgar Barreto behind to burst down the right and fire across the bows, but Bonaventura's first-timer from the six-yard line blasted over.

Samp's only real chance came when Luis Muriel dribbled his way into the area but despite turning Milan's defence his promising strike was blocked by Alessio Romagnoli.

Niang came close twice with flicks that inched wide of Viviano's post just after the restart.

But when the 'keeper fluffed a clearance, Niang collected and strode confidently into the area to fire under his body and secure the second brace of his Serie A career, after hitting a double for Genoa against Verona last season.

A tiring Niang soon made way for Adriano and only four minutes later Cerci was given time and space to the right of the area to pick out the Brazilian with a pinpoint pass which he controlled before firing past a helpless Viviano.

Earlier, Torino moved up to seventh place with a 2-0 home win over Bologna thanks to second-half goals from Andrea Belotti and Giuseppe Vives.