Injured AC Milan centre-back Alessandro Nesta returned on Thursday from a two-month stay in Miami to say he hoped to be back playing for the club in a month.

Nesta travelled to Florida in early November to see a specialist about a back problem that has been troubling him since July. The 32-year-old has yet to play for Milan this season and he has been sorely missed in an ageing rearguard that has often been exposed. But now the former Lazio defender is ready to return to training at Milan's Milanello complex.

"I'm going to Milanello to start working and when I'm ready, I'll play," he said upon his return at Milan's Linate airport. "I can't wait to get back but I want to do so in a good condition, at my best. "When? Soon I think, maximum one month but I need to work hard physically, I haven't played for eight months and we'll see how I react physically."
Nesta was part of the Italy squad that won the World Cup in 2006 and has played 78 times for his country. He has won the UEFA Champions League twice with Milan and Serie A once each with Milan and Lazio.

Manchester City have signed Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong from German side Hamburg for an undisclosed fee, the English Premier League side announced on Wednesday

The 24-year-old, capped 29 times by his country, has signed a four-and-a-half year contract with City, now transformed into one of the world's wealthiest sports clubs under the ownership of Abu Dhabi-based Sheikh Mansour.

City, rebuffed on Monday in their bid to sign Brazil's Kaka from AC Milan for a reported 108 million pounds (100 million euros) - a world record deal if it had gone through - have seen two players join this week with de Jong following former West Ham striker Craig Bellamy to Eastlands.

De Jong missed much of the first half of the Bundesliga campaign with a knee injury but recently returned to training. He had been with Hamburg for three years after joining from Ajax.

Tottenham have finally won their battle to wrest highly-rated Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios away from Wigan after the two clubs agreed a fee believed to be around £14.

Wigan had turned down a £10 million offer earlier this month but manager Steve Bruce had been resigned to losing the 24-year-old in the event of Spurs coming back with a higher bid. Palacios followed Bruce from Birmingham to Wigan last year and has since enhanced his reputation with the Lancashire club establishing itself firmly in the top half of the Premier League table.

A statement on Tottenham's website confirmed: "We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement for the transfer of Wilson Palacios from Wigan Athletic.

"Personal terms have been agreed and a medical completed, we now await the Honduran international receiving his work permit before completing his registration."

Strikers Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe scored deep into extra-time to break Burnley hearts and ensure holders Tottenham Hotspur will face Manchester United in the League Cup final.

With less than three minutes of extra-time left at Turf Moor, the second-tier side were on course to go through to a 1 March meeting at Wembley with world champions United on the away goals rule. At that stage the tie was all square at 4-4 on aggregate, with the Clarets 3-0 ahead in the second leg courtesy of goals from Robbie Blake, Chris McCann and Jay Rodriguez. However, Pavlyuchenko edged Spurs in front overall before Defoe's 120th-minute effort made sure Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, who won the FA Cup with Portsmouth last season, would be heading back to Wembley after a dramatic 6-4 aggregate success.

Ben Alnwick made his Spurs debut as first-choice goalkeeper with Heurelho Gomes missing for the top-flight strugglers through injury, along with Ledley King, Vedran Corluka and Aaron Lennon. Meanwhile Pavlyuchenko, who has now scored in every round of the competition, was dropped to the bench along with Gareth Bale. The Clarets were themselves weakened through the absence of suspended captain Steven Caldwell and cup-tied striker Steve Thompson, with Wade Elliott and Blake filling in respectively.

Tottenham almost scored first when Jonathan Woodgate - one of just two survivors, along with Didier Zakora, from the Spurs side that beat Chelsea 2-1 in last year's final - headed over from David Bentley's corner. But instead it was Burnley who broke the second-leg deadlock. They were awarded a free-kick for Woodgate's foul on Joey Gudjohnsen and from fully 25 yards out, Blake beat Alnwick at the keeper's near post with a superb curling effort.

Clarets manager Owen Coyle had said beforehand his side would need "to scale Everest and beyond" to reach the final, but now the summit was in sight. Midway through the second half, Tottenham had the chance to draw level in the second leg when Defoe pounced on an error by Clarke Carlisle but Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen moved smartly off his line to deny the England striker.

Burnley continued to press forward and in the 73rd minute a cross from Blake was turned in at the far post by McCann. Spurs' advantage was erased with two minutes of normal time left when, after Alnwick fumbled Blake's free-kick, substitute Rodriguez scored. At the end of normal time, Martin Paterson's first-leg goal for Burnley, which had seemed as if it would be a mere footnote, meant the Clarets were still in the tie.

Now, however, they had a position to defend and the character of the match changed with Spurs making the running in the first half of extra-time. But Burnley did not concede and were in sight of a first League Cup final appearance when Pavlyuchenko, who came on for Luka Modric midway through the second half, scored from six yards in the 118th minute. And moments later Defoe grabbed another goal to make sure of an all top-flight encounter with United, 4-3 aggregate winners over Derby County yesterday.

Burnley 3 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur Highlights

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late penalty to secure Manchester United's place in the English League Cup Final as they survived a late Derby rally to seal a 4-3 aggregate win at Old Trafford.

Tuesday's 4-2 second leg victory was secured when Ronaldo, a second-half substitute for Ryan Giggs, netted from the spot after Carlos Tevez had been felled by former United goalkeeper Roy Carroll in the closing stages. But although United ultimately cruised to the victory, the sight of Anderson being stretchered off at the end of the game took the shine off the result for Sir Alex Ferguson's English, European and FIFA world champions.

United's uncharacteristically poor showing at Pride Park in the first-leg ensured the Championship strugglers arrived at Old Trafford with a 1-0 advantage courtesy of a Kris Commons wonder strike. Few gave Nigel Clough's team any hope of holding onto that lead and booking a place at Wembley for the final on 1 March. But United's youngsters have displayed fallibility in cup competitions in recent seasons, with the likes of Exeter, Southend and Coventry all inflicting embarrassment on Ferguson's team, so Derby had something to cling to. Clough had urged his players to take the game to United after warning that defensive tactics would merely encourage the home team to attack at will and they almost profited from their ambitious approach as early as the sixth minute when Commons went close to scoring again.

The breakthrough goal came in the 16th minute when Portuguese winger Nani, whose future at United has been placed in doubt following reports of a move for Wigan's Ecuadorian midfielder Antonio Valencia, levelled the aggregate scores with a stunning strike from 25 yards. United still needed to get their noses in front in the tie, however, and they were able to do that six minutes later when poor Derby defending allowed John O'Shea to score from 12 yards after he had been teed up by teenage striker Danny Welbeck.

Derby were now faced with a damage limitation exercise, but United continued to pour forward and Ferguson's men looked likely to score at every opportunity. Carroll denied Welbeck from close range before the inevitable third goal arrived in the 34th minute when Tevez headed in Rafael's cross from six yards to claim his ninth goal of the season. It was also Tevez's sixth goal in the League Cup this season, which reflects his increased involvement in this much-maligned competition.

The fans might want him to stay beyond the expiry of his loan deal at the end of the campaign, but whether Tevez is content with a diet of League Cup outings and a substitute role when the big games come around is another matter. Tevez's goal all but secured victory for United although late penalties converted by Derby's Giles Barnes and Ronaldo, plus an injury-time free-kick by Barnes ensured a lively finale.

Manchester United 4 - 2 Derby Highlight

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