Superstorm sandy: New York marathon still on

New York Marathon still on as NBA and NFL stand up to Superstorm Sandy

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UPDATED:

10:52 GMT, 31 October 2012

The big hitters of American sport are refusing to be beaten by Superstorm Sandy with the NBA and NFL set to go ahead as planned over the next few days.

The New York marathon is also expected to take place on Sunday despite fears that many of the 50,000 runners will not be able to make it to the start at Staten Island.

Race against time: Runners need the Staten Island Ferry - but the terminal was forced to close

Race against time: Runners need the Staten Island Ferry – but the terminal was forced to close

It's back: The NBA returned this week and Brooklyn are set to face New York on Thursday night

It's back: The NBA returned this week and Brooklyn are set to face New York on Thursday night

The show must go on….

Fixtures on the east coast this week

NBA
31/10 – Philadelphia v Denver
1/11 – Brooklyn v New York
2/11 – New York v Miami
Boston v Milwaukee
Cleveland v Chicago
3/11 – Washington v Boston
Brooklyn v Toronto
4/11 – New York v Philadelphia

NFL
4/11 – New York Giants v Pittsburgh
Washington v Carolina
Cleveland v Baltimore

New York Marathon – Sunday, November 4

The subway is flooded and, along with most of the city's bridges and tunnels, was closed just five days before the 26.2-mile race through the five boroughs.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that the underground system may not be running by the weekend but New York Road Runners president Mary Wittenberg said in a statement: 'The marathon has always been a special day for New Yorkers as a symbol of the vitality and resiliency of this city.

'We will keep all options open with regard to making any accommodations and adjustments necessary to race day and race weekend events.

'The city is rightfully focused on assessment, restoration and recovery.'

At least 22 people have been killed in New York with the total death toll hitting 50 as Sandy wrecked the Eastern Seaboard.

Hammered: Cars were left under water in the East Village as Superstorm Sandy devastated New York

Hammered: Cars were left under water in the East Village as Superstorm Sandy devastated New York

Flattened: Over 100 homes were lost as fire ripped through Breezy Point in Queens

Flattened: Over 100 homes were lost as fire ripped through Breezy Point in Queens

Ripped up: Trees came crashing down all over the Big Apple as Sandy hit the region hard

Ripped up: Trees came crashing down all over the Big Apple as Sandy hit the region hard

As the clean-up begins, the cost is expected to hit $50bn while President Obama described the storm as a 'major disaster'.

Almost 20,000 international runners hope to take part in Sunday's marathon and JFK Airport was due to reopen on Wednesday. It is unknown at this stage when LaGuardia and Newark would be back in business.

Runners who can't get to New York should have until Saturday instead of Wednesday to withdraw from the race and reserve a spot in the 2013 marathon. But they won't get a refund and will have to pay again next year.

Race organizers were expected to reschedule the elite runners' flights to get them in on time.

In basketball, the Nets play the first match at their new Brooklyn home against the Knicks on Thursday evening while the New York Giants entertain NFL rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Bring it on: The Giants are due to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday

Bring it on: The Giants are due to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday

Baltimore Ravens had their training disrupted as they were forced to run off a generator after losing power but the Giants, Buffalo, Cleveland, Phildelphia and New England reported no damage despite the east coast of the country taking a battering.

Next year's US PGA Championship has also been hit as Oakhill Country Club in Pittsford, New York has lost several trees.

Chris Ashton to miss Fiji Test through suspension

EXCLUSIVE: Ashton set to miss autumn opener against Fiji through suspension

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UPDATED:

10:36 GMT, 31 October 2012

England are resigned to being without their most potent attacking weapon for the Test against Fiji on November 10, as Chris Ashton is set to miss the game through suspension.

The Saracens wing has been summoned to attend a hearing on Wednesday night after receiving three yellow cards so far this season.

National coach Stuart Lancaster and his assistants are having to plan for the grim scenario of being without the predatory finisher for the first of their four QBE Internationals at Twickenham.

Suspension: Ashton (left) has picked up three yellow cards this season

Suspension: Ashton (left) has picked up three yellow cards this season

Ashton has made an encouraging start with his new club since a summer move from Northampton – with the England coaches particularly impressed by a try he scored in the Heineken Cup demolition of Edinburgh.

However, he was sin-binned in the games against London Irish and Exeter, and a citing from the match against the Saints last Saturday counts as another yellow card. The up-shot is a hearing at 7pm and the likelihood of a one-game ban.

The 25-year-old cross-code international has scored 15 tries in his 26 England appearances to date, although he has not touched down in his last nine Tests.

Blow: England are already without a host of first choice players

Blow: England are already without a host of first choice players

Losing him would be a further setback for Lancaster, who is already without another member of the first-choice back-three unit – Ben Foden, who is recovering from ankle surgery.

In addition, Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley appears certain to miss the entire autumn campaign with a knee injury, while Courtney Lawes and Jonathan Joseph are seemingly destined to be unavailable for the Fiji game.

If, as expected, England are without Ashton for their first Test of the season, the path is clear for Ugo Monye to win a recall to the starting XV, with Charlie Sharples of Gloucester on course to claim the other wing place.

Kevin Pietersen scores 23 England return as Alastair Cook reaches hundred

Captain Cook reaches ton in warm-up as KP falls to left-arm spin on England return

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UPDATED:

11:51 GMT, 31 October 2012

Kevin Pietersen made a skittish 23 in his first innings for England in nearly three months before falling, not for the first time, to Yuvraj Singh’s innocuous left-arm spin.

But it was the less glittering qualities of Alastair Cook that held the tourists together on the second day of their three-day game against India A in Mumbai.

Cook marked his first game as England’s full-time captain with a typically grafting hundred to help his side to 286 for 4 in reply to 369. And with Samit Patel underlining his claim to the Test No 6 slot with an unbeaten 82, this was a job well done. Only a third-ball duck for Nick Compton left a slight headache.

Return: Pietersen produced a swashbuckling 23 before being caught and bowled by Yuvraj Singh

Return: Pietersen produced a swashbuckling 23 before being caught and bowled by Yuvraj Singh

Return: Pietersen produced a swashbuckling 23 before being caught and bowled by Yuvraj Singh

Return: Pietersen produced a swashbuckling 23 before being caught and bowled by Yuvraj Singh

England forthcoming matches in India

Tour match in Mumbai (November 3)

Tour match in Ahmedabad (November 8)

First Test – India v England, Ahmedabad (November 15)

Second Test – India v England, Mumbai (November 23)

Third Test – India v England, Kolkata (December 5)

Fourth Test – India v England, Nagpur (December 13)

There follows three Twenty20 and and five ODI matches.

Inevitably, though, it was Pietersen’s 23-minute stay that focussed the attention.

Walking out calmly for his first knock as an England batsman since
August 6 – when he made 12 in the second innings of the Headingley Test
only two days after his barnstorming 149 – Pietersen traded a
glove-punch with Cook, and went about trying to make up for lost time.

He scampered a single to mid-on from his first ball, edged seamer
Parvinder Awana for four soon after, then launched his sixth delivery –
from the off-spin of Suresh Raina – down the ground for six.

When the next ball was clattered off the back foot through the covers
for four, a Pietersen special looked on the cards. But he was dropped at
forward short leg moments later on 16, and managed only one more
boundary – a pull off Vinay Kumar – before chipping a tame return catch
back to Yuvraj.

The identity of the bowler will irk him as much as the tameness of the
dismissal. Pietersen famously branded Yuvraj a ‘pie-chucker’ during the
tour of India in 2008-09 – but this was the sixth time his part-time
slow left-armers have accounted for England’s alpha male.

Just as embarrassingly, it came only three balls after India A captain Raina had brought Yuvraj on to bowl.

Slow start: Compton went for a third-ball duck

Slow start: Compton went for a third-ball duck

SCORECARD

Click here for the full scorecard from Mumbai

Pietersen’s demise made it 125 for 3, and an all-too-familiar English
meltdown against Asian spinners was brewing when Ian Bell was caught at
slip off Yuvraj for five.

But Cook was in resolute mood, getting well forward on a slow Brabourne
Stadium surface, and Patel immediately began driving sweetly through the
covers.

Dropped down the leg-side on 29 off Awana, Patel built on the good
impression he made during the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. And although
the quality of India A’s spinners was distinctly ordinary, Patel has
made an early bid for the No 6 position for the first Test, ahead of
both Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow.

Top knock: Cook

Top knock: Cook

Top knock: Cook celebrates reaching his ton

Cook, put down by the hapless keeper Wriddhiman Saha on 87 off Yuvraj,
reached three figures with yet another leg-side single, and the pair had
extended their stand to 153 by stumps.

Earlier, after Jimmy Anderson had wrapped up the India A innings with
the first ball of the day, trapping Vinay Kumar lbw, Compton edged his
third delivery to the keeper to depart for a duck.

Not for the first time, comparisons were odious. Back in 1945, his
grandfather Denis made 249 not out here in the Ranji Trophy final for
Holkar. And he followed that a year later with innings of 91 and 124,
playing for Europeans against Hindus.

Ton-derful: Cook was in fine form with the bat as he passed 100

Ton-derful: Cook was in fine form with the bat as he passed 100

Ton-derful: Cook was in fine form with the bat as he passed 100

Top knock: Cook

But Compton, having been perilously close to being bowled second ball by
Ashok Dinda, duly nibbled at the next, with fatal consequences. He may
not get another chance in this game to lay down an early marker for a
Test debut in Ahmedabad.

Jonathan Trott’s 56 steadied England in time-honoured fashion, before
Pietersen – briefly – and Cook – assiduously – pinched the headlines.

Steven Finn will play no further part in this match after picking up a
thigh injury on Tuesday. Scans revealed no tear, but England will now
monitor his rehabilitation over the next fortnight in a bid to get him
fit in time for the first Test, starting on November 15.

Rebuilding: Cook and Patel put on a fine fifth-wicket partnership to dig England out of a hole

Rebuilding: Cook and Patel put on a fine fifth-wicket partnership to dig England out of a hole

Rebuilding: Cook and Patel put on a fine fifth-wicket partnership to dig England out of a hole

Rebuilding: Cook and Patel put on a fine fifth-wicket partnership to dig England out of a hole

NFL want to beat West Ham to Olympic Stadium

West Ham could be pipped to the Olympic Stadium… by the NFL

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UPDATED:

11:47 GMT, 31 October 2012

NFL franchises have entered the running to become the anchor tenant of the Olympic Stadium after talks with London Mayor Boris Johnson were revealed.

West Ham's bid to take on the tenancy has hit a stumbling block and Johnson – the chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation who operate the stadium – opened talks last weekend when four NFL teams were in London playing regular-season games at Wembley.

A spokesman for the Mayor told the Daily Telegraph: 'Given the ever-growing popularity of gridiron this side of the Atlantic the mayor and his team have held a number of meetings with senior executives in the last few days to explore further opportunities for NFL in London.

Up in the air: The future of the Olympic Stadium remains unclear

Up in the air: The future of the Olympic Stadium remains unclear

'The talks were exploratory and we are at an early stage but the signs are encouraging.'

West Ham are also looking to take over the anchor tenancy but the Treasury’s refusal to hand over the 337 million Olympic-contingency underspend to help install retractable seating is hampering their bid.

The retractable seating is expected to cost in the region of 200 million and the Mayor will be expecting any anchor tenant to make a significant contribution.

Despite remaining favourites to take
over the tenancy of the stadium, West Ham are thought to be unwilling to
cough up funds to help convert it into a football-friendly environment,
believing that it should be the responsibility of the landlords and not
the tenants.

Touchdown: The NFL arrived in London last weekend

Touchdown: The NFL arrived in London last weekend

West Ham also believe that as several other events will be taking place at the Olympic Stadium throughout the next few years – such as the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the 2017 World Athletics Championships – they should not be the sole party asked to foot the bill.

A decision on the future of the stadium was expected to be announced by the end of October but negotiations are ongoing. Other contenders for the stadium tenancy are Leyton Orient, a football business college and a group wanting to host a Formula One race at the Olympic Park.

The NFL proposition is an attractive one as the stadium would only be required up to 10 times per year – compared to up to 25 times a year for football. This would free up time for other events such.

In talks: The Mayor's office are keen to keep bringing the sport back to the capital

In talks: The Mayor's office are keen to keep bringing the sport back to the capital

Bringing in other sports such as gridiron to the capital on a more regular basis is something that the Mayor's office are keen on exploring.

'Sunday’s game at Wembley, in front of more than 80,000 fans, further cements London’s reputation as the natural home of American football outside of the US,' the Mayor’s spokesman added.

'Only last week the mayor, in conjunction with the NFL, announced an expansion from one to two regular-season matches in London from 2013. That means in total an additional 44 million in revenue for the capital from next year.'

Steven Gerrard u-turn on criticism after Everton v Liverpool

Gerrard u-turn: I went too far with my attack on Everton over their long-ball tactics

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UPDATED:

11:44 GMT, 31 October 2012

Why Gerrard got it wrong…

Read Ian Ladyman's verdict on why the Liverpool captain was wide of the mark HERE

Steven Gerrard has admitted his criticism of Everton after the Merseyside derby on Sunday was over the top as he drew a line under the controversy.

The Liverpool captain was furious after the game and, in the heat of the moment, he said Everton’s tactics were similar to those of Stoke, as he claimed they played a number of long balls.

His frustration stemmed from Liverpool having a last-gasp winner from Luis Suarez wrongly disallowed at Goodison Park and he made a number of inflammatory comments, such as Liverpool were the only team interested in playing football.

Backtrack: Steven Gerrard was initially harsh in his criticism of Everton

Backtrack: Steven Gerrard was initially harsh in his criticism of Everton

However, statistics that were published following the pulsating 2-2 draw showed that Everton enjoyed more possession and significantly out-passed Liverpool, which is why Gerrard has felt the need to issue a retraction.

‘Just to clarify I’ve watched the game again and I’ve seen some of Everton’s matches this season, and what I said in relation to their style of play went too far,’ Gerrard.

‘I was frustrated by the disallowed goal from Luis when I spoke and also some of the things that have been said about Luis in recent weeks, which haven’t been fair in my opinion.

‘As captain I have a duty to stand up for our players when I feel they are unfairly singled out. But it wasn’t my intention to disrespect Everton or Stoke for that matter and I certainly didn’t intend any disrespect to their manager or players.’

Gerrard was eager to stress that he had no intended to upset the respective managers of Everton and told the Liverpool Echo: ‘I have the utmost respect for David Moyes and Tony Pulis and the job they have done at their respective clubs.

‘My main issue was with the goal that wasn’t given and that Liverpool did not get the three points I felt we deserved in what was a fantastic derby match.’

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

It comes after Phil Jagielka hit back at Gerrard’s with his own barbed comments about Liverpool’s style of play.

Everton were incensed by Gerrard’s
comments following Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, particularly as
stats for the game showed they made more passes (448 to 314) and enjoyed
more possession (56 per cent to 44 per cent) than Liverpool.

While
Jagielka was happy to admit Everton could be direct when they want to
be, to utilise the strength and aerial prowess of Marouane Fellaini, he
suggested that Liverpool’s methods of always wanting to play on the
ground are flawed.

'If Stevie says we are a long ball team then I’m not going to deny the fact that we play long balls,’ said Jagielka. ‘Do we play them for the full 90 minutes No. But we play quite direct.

'Who wouldn’t when you have someone in form like Marouane Fellaini, who can bring the ball down for fun and we start creating things from there Why wouldn’t you do that We don’t believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.

'If we can put the ball forward and cause them trouble then let’s cause them as much trouble as possible. We won’t change the way we play. We won’t start to look to put in a thousand passes a game.

'If we need to play forward to Felli to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what That’s what we’ll do.’

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, though, is not someone who will change his philosophy and he has added further spice to the fallout by backing up his captain’s claim that Liverpool have to play in a certain, attractive manner.

He did, however, acknowledge that Everton do have a number of skilful players who have made significant contributions this season.

'I believe there were two different styles,’ said Rodgers. ‘This is a club brought up with a certain way of playing. Its history has been defined by the many great managers who have been here. You have to win games but you have to win games by playing in a certain style.

'It’s the beauty of the Premier League – there are so many diverse ways of working and playing. We play a certain way. If you look at Everton and a number of other teams, they are a bit more direct and then play off the front players.

'But they have players with finesse like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, who are terrific footballers. For us here at Liverpool, there’s a way in which we play and want to win games. the supporters and the history of the club dictates that.’

There is a feeling amongst Evertonians that Gerrard’s comments have shown that David Moyes’ squad have started to get under Liverpool’s skin. Everton are six points ahead of their neighbours and aim to finish above them in the table for the second successive year.

'I suppose it’s a backhanded compliment,’ said Jagielka. ‘Stevie must have thought Liverpool were in a game to come out which such comments. It makes you chuckle, but if Stevie is saying things like that, there must be a reason behind it which must be that we are doing something well.'

Chelsea v Manchester United – guide to the young stars on show

Who is going to shine The young stars to look out for at Chelsea and United

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UPDATED:

12:24 GMT, 31 October 2012

Both Manchester United and Chelsea are set to put their faith in youth as they go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup. Sportsmail takes a look at the players who could stand out for their sides.

CHELSEA

Chelsea’s blockbuster buys have been the main attraction at Stamford Bridge this season, but tonight some of Chelsea’s new young stars will hope to impress.

Victor Moses was already a Premier League regular when he joined from Wigan in the summer.

Looking to make his name: Victor Moses made a big money move to Chelsea from Wigan in the summer

Looking to make his name: Victor Moses made a big money move to Chelsea from Wigan in the summer

Powerful and direct, the 21-year-old winger has featured six times already this season and scored against Wolves in the last round of the Capital One Cup.

Lucas Piazon is another highly rated Chelsea talent. The 18-year-old Brazilian forward joined the club in January 2012 and made his debut in the last round against Wolves.

Shining star: Lucas Piazon is highly thought of at Stamford Bridge

Shining star: Lucas Piazon is highly thought of at Stamford Bridge

Watch out for right back Cesar Azpilicueta, 23, and fellow Spaniard Oriol Romeu, 21, who has already made a name for himself at Stamford Bridge.

Forgotten man Marko Marin, 23, will also feature. The German has been overshadowed by Eden Hazard and Oscar.

MANCHESTER UNITED

United have a fine record of producing talented youngsters and tonight’s game will give four more the chance to shine.

Scott Wootton, 21, is a centre back who joined from Liverpool in 2007 and has already featured for United in the Champions League this season. With loan spells at Tranmere, Peterborough and Nottingham Forest under his belt, the versatile defender finally looks ready to make the step up.

Capital gain: Scott Wootton is ready to step up

Capital gain: Scott Wootton is ready to step up

Also watch out for Belgian Marnick Vermijl, 20, an attack-minded right back, and defender Michael Keane, 19, who was voted Reserves Player of the Year.

New signing Nick Powell joined from Crewe in the summer and the talented 18-year-old midfielder is already training with United’s first team.

Ready to shine: Nick Powell has stepped up to Manchester United from Crewe

Ready to shine: Nick Powell has stepped up to Manchester United from Crewe

David Beckham boosts football crowds in US

The 'Beckham effect' is working as football crowds grow in the US

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UPDATED:

12:10 GMT, 31 October 2012

When David Beckham moved to the MLS from Real Madrid, it was said he had only gone for the money and how he had 'sold out'. But the Americans knew they were onto a good thing and believed that 'Brand Beckham' would help them finally grow 'soccer' domestically.

That was in 2007. Most others had failed, even in the days of Pele, Beckenbauer, Best and the razzamatazz of the North American Soccer League, which eventually crashed and burned after a bright start.

It may have lasted from 1968 to 1984 and gates for the New York Cosmos regularly topped 40,000, but it wasn't taken seriously and was seen by many as a retirement home for some of the world's best players – a final chance to earn a few quid.

The same was said about Beckham when he joined LA Galaxy. But the Americans are beginning to see the effect of signing players like the former England captain, ex-Arsenal striker Thierry Henry and Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane.

Having a ball: Beckham and LA Galaxy team-mate Robbie Keane drop in to watch the LA Lakers against the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA

Having a ball: Beckham and LA Galaxy team-mate Robbie Keane drop in to watch the LA Lakers against the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA

While once there was only one game of football in America and it was the gridiron kind, that's no longer the case. With NBC winning the rights to show Barclays Premier League football next season, its seems the popularity of football is on the increase.

While the growth has been slow, attendance figures revealed by FIFA show the MLS is now the seventh highest average attendance in world football.

LA Galaxy midfielder Beckham, the highest paid player in the MLS, has done his bit.

Average attendances grew to 18,807 during their 'regular' season and while that is less than Wigan's home gate for their 2-1 win against West Ham (the smallest weekend gate in the Barclays Premier League) and less than Cardiff, Leeds and Leicester attracted in The Championship in their most recent home games, it is an increase of almost 1,000 supporters on last season.

MLS fans cover David Beckham as he is about to take a corner against Toronto

MLS fans cover David Beckham as he is about to take a corner against Toronto

Stream on: Beckham looks to be searching for the ball in Toronto their fans shower him with streamers

Stream on: Beckham looks to be searching for the ball in Toronto their fans shower him with streamers

More than six million supporters watched matches in 2012 – the first time the MLS has reached beyond the six million mark since its inception in 1996.

The highest average was for the Seattle Sounders, for the fourth successive campaign, with a record-breaking 43,144.

Beckham, who won the 2011 MLS Cup, with The Galaxy has had a successful career with Manchester United and Real Madrid. he signed a new two year contract to stay in America when he was recently courted by Paris St Germain.

Pele (New York Cosmos, left) and George Best of the LA Aztecs were good friends and rivals in the North American Soccer League.

Pele (New York Cosmos, left) and George Best of the LA Aztecs were good friends and rivals in the North American Soccer League.

He will be able to watch more English football soon too.

NBC have explained the thinking
behind their three year contract. John Miller, the NBC Sports President
of programming said: “I have a 23-year-old and a 27-year-old son and I
have a lot of friends who have sons and daughters of the same age – they
have all become Chelsea fans, Arsenal fans, Manchester United fans,
Tottenham fans.

'Even though there's just a handful of Americans playing on those teams, they are appealing.' NBC also screen MLS football.

Pele was the darling of the New York Cosmos in the 70's, but the league petered out

Pele was the darling of the New York Cosmos in the 70's, but the league petered out

THE AMERICANS ARE CATCHING UP (BUT STILL HAVE A BIT TO DO)
Country
League
Average attendance 2012
Germany
Bundesliga
42,387
England
Premier League
35,719
Spain
La Liga
28,138
Italy
Serie A
23,176
Argentina
Primera Division
22,491
Mexico
Primera Division
21,559
USA
Major League Soccer
18,807

Source: FIFA.com

Nico Hulkenberg joins Sauber for 2013 season

Hulkenberg makes Sauber switch to fill gap left by McLaren-bound Perez

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UPDATED:

11:52 GMT, 31 October 2012

Sauber have unsurprisingly swooped to sign Nico Hulkenberg who has long been linked with a race seat since Sergio Perez announced his forthcoming switch to McLaren.

Hulkenberg returned to drive in Formula One at the start of the year with Force India after a season as reserve for the Silverstone-based marque.

Prior to that, Hulkenberg had spent a year with Williams, only to be dropped at the end of his debut campaign in 2010 as the team opted to recruit a pay-driver in Pastor Maldonado.

Sign him up! Hulkenberg will replace Perez who is McLaren-bound

Sign him up! Hulkenberg will replace Perez who is McLaren-bound

That was despite Hulkenberg taking a superb pole position in trying conditions in the penultimate race of the season in Brazil, which has long remained one of his most eye-catching performances.

The 25-year-old German has continued to impress this season, and with Sauber eager to fill the gap to be left void when Perez departs, they see Hulkenberg as the ideal replacement.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said: 'We've been observing Nico for some time now, and his performances have been very persuasive.

'That was the case in GP2 and has continued into Formula One. An obvious highlight was how he scored pole at Interlagos in 2010 despite the most challenging external conditions.

'He clearly showed he can seize the chance if it arises. But high spots like that are one thing; systematic teamwork is another, and on that score I have confidence in Nico too.

On the move: Hulkenberg will race with Sauber next season

On the move: Hulkenberg will race with Sauber next season

'I'm sure he will fit in very well with the Sauber F1 Team. We look forward to working together with him.'

With three races remaining, Hulkenberg has the edge on Force India team-mate Paul di Resta, with a five-point gap between the duo as the team chase Sauber for sixth place in the constructors' championship.

Assessing his switch to the Swiss-based marque, Hulkenberg said: “It is a well-placed team and very competitive.

'Plus it's a team in which young drivers have repeatedly delivered exceptional performances. I would like to take up that baton.

'The team is currently going through a very positive development and I'm certain that together we can achieve a lot.

'Until that time I will remain fully focused on my job with Force India. I'd like to thank the management at Force India for giving me the chance to return to Formula One as a team driver.'

The second seat remains up for grabs, with Sauber to make an announcement at 'a later date'.

Current occupant Kamui Kobayashi is known to be seeking sponsorship in a bid to hang on to his drive, but faces competition from others who can provide funds.

Football"s mad matches – better than Arsenal"s 7-5 win at Reading?

After Arsenal's epic 7-5 win at Reading, Sportsmail looks at the maddest matches
Sportsmail's reporters recall the craziest games they have coveredAnd you should tell us about the maddest match you have seen

PUBLISHED:

09:53 GMT, 31 October 2012

|

UPDATED:

12:40 GMT, 31 October 2012

Ian Ladyman

IAN LADYMAN

I have covered some classic see-saw games in recent times. The 'Michael Owen' Manchester derby of 2009 was a memorable way to spend my 40th birthday (yes, I know I don’t look that old, pictured right) while last season’s final day drama at the Etihad will be hard to beat.

However, the best comeback I ever saw was at St James' Park in January 1990 when Newcastle came from 4-1 down to beat Leicester 5-4 with a flurry of goals in what seemed like the last 10 minutes. Micky Quinn and Mark Mcghee played up front for Newcastle and scored two each while Kevin Campbell scored for Leicester.

You see, I really am older than I look…

Follow Ian Ladyman on Twitter @Ian_Ladyman_DM

TELL US THE MADDEST MATCH YOU HAVE SEEN BY LEAVING A COMMENT…

Owen: Celebrating that amazing derby winner

Owen: Celebrating that amazing derby winner

Aguero: Clinched the title with last-gasp goal

Aguero: Clinched the title with last-gasp goal

McGhee: Scored in Ian Ladyman's choice

McGhee: Scored in Ian Ladyman's choice

SAMI MOKBEL

Daily Mail reporter Sami Mokbel

Reading 5 Arsenal 7 last night. What a crazy night. With the Royals 4-0 up my match report was virtually written. At 4-4, the original report had to be torn up. Had to press the delete button again when Marouane Chamakh put Arsenal 5-4 up.

Again when Pavel Pogrebnyak made it five-all.

AGAIN when Walcott scored Arsenal's decisive sixth in the final minute of extra time.

A dream night for the football fan…a nightmare for the football journalist.

Follow Dominic King on Twitter @SamiMokbel81_DM

Dominic King

DOMINIC KING
I would love to put forward a thrilling, entertaining game such as Liverpool’s Champions League final win over AC Milan, but I only have to go back two weeks for the match when I walked out a stadium thinking 'what just happened there'

Sadly, the events of Krusevac and England’s Under-21s tussle with Serbia takes this award. What made this game extraordinary was the fact I felt so on edge because of the atmosphere around the ground and inside. It wasn’t pleasant, almost unbearably tense.

It was obvious early on that a story was brewing but the way it unfolded was unlike anything I had experienced before. In the space of 30 seconds, you were trying to comprehend an England goal, a mass brawl, an assault on a respected coach and, most shocking of all, the appalling racial abuse of young player.

In a flash, what should have been a routine match report, one that celebrated a significant achievement, became a 1,000 words of analysis, followed by 500 words of news to be delivered within an hour.

Trying to write while worrying that the gangs of youths who had mischief in mind might turn their attention on the English journalists in the press box added a different dimension, too.
Adrenalin absolutely pumps in those situations and being where the significant stories unfold is the whole reason you become a journalist. That was undoubtedly a mad night but not for the glorious, memorable reasons some of my colleagues may share.

Follow Dominic King on Twitter @DominicKing_DM

Laura Williamson

LAURA WILLIAMSON
Fulham 4 Juventus 1 – March 2010.
None of this seemed to make sense. A team of the European stature of Juventus turned up at little old Fulham and quickly went 4-1 ahead on aggregate when David Trezeguet scored.

Oh well that’s it, I thought; beginning to think about writing Fulham’s Europa League obituary. Think again.

Bobby Zamora equalised on the night, Fabio Cannavaro saw red and Zoltan Gera put Fulham 2-1 up before half-time, then scored a penalty in the second half. 4-4 on aggregate and it was going to extra-time before Clint Dempsey won it with that beautiful chip.

But even then it was agony as another Juventus away goal would have sent the Italians through. On came Alessandro Del Piero (obviously), but Jonathan Zebina became the second Juventus player to be sent off and it was Fulham who took the quarter-final spot.

Thank goodness it was a 6pm kick-off: at least it gave us journalists a little leeway to digest and try and make sense of it all. I seem to remember Roy Hodgson saying he felt like Rocky Marciano getting off the ropes time and time again after that match – and I knew just what he meant.

Follow Laura Williamson on Twitter @laura_mail

Fulham 4 Juventus 1 – watch the video by clicking here

Neil Ashton

NEIL ASHTON
September 20 2005: Wycombe 3 Aston Villa 8

Aston Villa fans walked out of the stadium at half-time, furious with their team after little Wycombe guided by John Gorman, went 3-1 up before half-time with goals from Nathan Tyson, Tommy Mooney and Roger Johnson.

They looked to be on the verge of a famous upset until Villa got going after the break with strikes from players like Milan Baros, James Milner and Gareth Barry.

David O’Leary talked about Villa being the most entertaining team their supporters had ever seen. They certainly weren’t saying anything of the sort at half-time.

Follow Neil Ashton on Twitter @neilashton_

Lee Clayton

LEE CLAYTON
You can still buy the video… Howay 5-Oh. Five ‘used’ on sale at Amazon for 4.50 (shouldn’t they be a fiver).

It was an October Sunday in the North East in a ground where it was usually a privilege to cover football. My first game there, Jim Smith was the manager and Watford drew 0-0 in the FA Cup. The gate was less than 20,000, but you could still smell the potential in the air. And if the football was no good, there was always the Bigg Market.

My ‘maddest’ game wasn’t a rollercoaster of goals. All the goals went in one end.

Manchester United, that brilliant, swaggering team, with Cantona and Schmeichel and Beckham, came to Newcastle and went back having been spanked.

The goals just kept coming and the final one was that sensational Philippe Albert chip that was a cocky finish Cantona would have been proud to include in his greatest hits.

I remember being chased back to the hotel on the Quayside too by Newcastle fans who, overjoyed with the result, wanted to share their delight with anyone who looked from out of town. At least, that’s what I think they were trying to do…

England’s penalty shoot-out victory against Spain in Euro 96 (the one with the Stuart Pearce eye-popping celebration) was another mad game. But it had no goals until the shoot-out, so it can’t be the maddest.

Follow Lee Clayton on Twitter @LeeClayton_

Ratah Al-Samarrai
RIATH AL-SAMARRAI

Swansea 4 Wolves 4, April 28, 2012

Swansea twice led by three goals
having first gone ahead after 24 seconds. They were 3-0 in front after
quarter of an hour and, in one of many of their keep-ball sessions, Leon
Britton appeared to start laughing. Then it got a bit strange.

/10/31/article-2225639-15C61A4C000005DC-458_87x110.jpg” width=”87″ height=”110″ alt=”Daily Mail reporter John Edwards” class=”blkBorder” />

The maddest moment has to be the sight of Paolo di Canio shaping to volley a last-minute winner for West Ham at Everton, only to change his mind at the last second and catch the ball, instead.

Everton keeper Paul Gerrard was lying injured nearby, and taking advantage of an unguarded net didn’t sit easily with the West Ham striker’s sense of fair play. Oh to have been a fly on the dressing room wall as he explained his reasoning to West Ham manager Harry Redknapp afterwards.

LAURIE WHITWELL

Laurie Whitwell

I’m reasonably new to football
reporting, so the pool to choose from is smaller than most, but my first
match for this paper stands out. Watford 2 Preston 2 in February 2011
may not sound the craziest but it tested me straight away.

It was a
7.45pm kick off on a Tuesday night so tight deadlines meant I needed to
file on 70 minutes for first edition, then update if necessary.

I only
had 200 words but I wanted them to be perfect. Phil Brown was looking
for his first win as Preston boss as the side battled to stay in the
Championship and they went 2-0 up before halftime. So far, so calm. But
then Watford impishly scored on 69 and 79 minutes. Bullish Brown became
Bottler Brown I had to slice and dice with Gordon Ramsey rapidity.

To
make matters more stressful my dongle was dodgy and I hadn’t bought
Vicarage Road’s pricey wi-fi. The words eventually got sent and then
re-written by a far more skilled sub. The night was less a baptism of
fire, more a baptism of wireless.

Follow Laurie Whitwell on Twitter @lauriewhitwell

The maddest game was Tranmere 4 Southampton 3 in an FA Cup fifth-round replay at Prenton Park on Tuesday, February 20, 2001.

John
Aldridge’s side were struggling near the foot of what is now the npower
Championship, but League form had no bearing on these occasions. Cup
nights on the Wirral, with Aldridge in charge, were special, none more
so than this one. No fewer than six top flight teams had already been
knocked out of cup competitions by Tranmere in the previous 18 months,
including Everton in round four.

Surely Southampton, going well in the Barclays Premier League under Glenn Hoddle, were not about to become the seventh

Not after going in at half-time three goals to the good, after dominating from first whistle to last and scoring through Hassan Kachloul, Jo Tessem and Dean Richards

You wouldn’t have thought so, on the face of it, but I do recall a slight sense of foreboding after filing the bulk of the first edition match report during the half-time interval and wondering whether a hasty rewrite might yet be required.

The unease was based on Aldridge’s remarkable ability to seize on the slightest spark of encouragement and whip the home crowd into a frenzy, and it was not misplaced.

The spark came in the 58th minute, when Paul Rideout turned in an Andy Parkinson shot, and you could almost feel the momentum start to build from then on.

Aldridge was suddenly out of his dug-out, acting as ball boy and cheerleader, rolled into one. If he wasn’t darting along the touchline to retrieve the ball, he was turning to the crowd and increasing the volume with the shake of a fist.

There was an energy and urgency about this most passionate of football folk that transmitted itself to Tranmere’s players and supporters.

It was still 3-1, but you knew what was coming. The whole place was rocking, and Southampton had no idea what had hit them, as Tranmere launched wave after wave of attacks, in the form of crosses and prodigious long throws from Dave Challinor, and gradually whittled away the lead. A Rideout header on 71 minutes and hat-trick goal on 80 levelled the scores, by which time making yourself heard above the din, as panic-stricken calls were placed to sports desks in London, was nigh-on impossible.

The inevitable arrived in the 83rd minute, as half-time substitute Stuart Barlow scrambled home a winner to earn Tranmere a quarter-final tie against Liverpool, whose manager Gerard Houllier was looking on, amid the mayhem. It probably wasn’t quite a match for Reading 5, Arsenal 7 on the comeback scale, but there were aspects of it that were not far away.

The gap in League placings was greater, for one thing, and, for another, Tranmere were on the floor, and seemingly out for the count, at half-time, rather than buoyed by a goal in the first half’s closing seconds, as Arsenal were.

Replicating their irresistible Cup form on a weekly basis was asking too much, and Aldridge left not long after.

For a while, though, he had all the giantkilling ingredients at his fingertips, in the form of players whose speed of thought and movement seemed to quicken at the first scent of blood and supporters whose vocal backing responded accordingly.

For 45 minutes against a bewildered Southampton, those ingredients came together to devastating effect.

Follow John Edwards on Twitter @JEAlty


Colin Young

COLIN YOUNG
Middlesbrough 4 Steaua 2, UEFA Cup semi-final second leg, April 2006.

Researching this game, and listening to BBC Radio Tees commentator Ali Brownlee screaming with delight at Massimo Maccarone’s last minute winner brought all the memories flooding back. What a night it was.

Boro had already put us all through the mill in the previous round with a dramatic late win over FC Basle but that was nothing compared to the night they reached the UEFA Cup Final.

They were 1-0 down from the first leg in Romania, and were quickly left needing four goals when Steaua scored two after 25 minutes. Coming just days after Boro’s heart-breaking FA Cup semi-final defeat to West Ham, Steve McClaren’s team looked dead and buried.

Italian misfit Maccarone replaced injured Gareth Southgate a minute later, and scored his first before half-time. Steaua were camped in their own half after the break and the chances piled up for the home side. It was relentless.

They had to wait until the 64th minute for the second when Mark Viduka headed home a Stewart Downing cross, and the equaliser followed just eight minutes later when Chris Riggott bundled the ball over the line in the mayhem, leaving Boro less than 20 to get the winner.

McClaren threw on Yakubu and his players, back by an actual packed and raucous Riverside Stadium threw everything at Steaua. Maccarone, hardly renowned for his goalscoring exploits, delivered with an 89th minute header at the back post via another centre from the brilliant Downing, and all hell broke loose.

It was one of Ali’s finest moments in more than 1,000 Boro commentaries. And he wasn’t the only one to lose it. I’m not embarrassed to admit it was one of the few occasions I was on my feet and punching the air in my pressbox seat, before concentrating on a manic re-write for the paper. And I looked around me to see the majority of my colleagues doing the same.

Follow Colin Young on Twitter @cyoungdailymail

Graham Poll
GRAHAM POLL

As if flying to Ascuncion to referee one game isn’t crazy enough, the game I was appointed to appeared to be a dead rubber. The last qualifier in the South American Federation qualification for FIFA World Cup 2002 was between Paraguay, who had already qualified, and Columbia, who looked out unless they could win by five goals and secure a play-off place against Australia.

The opening five minutes was played ‘blind’ as the smoke flares engulfed the pitch and the TV director was demanding a pause in play as TV images were unwatchable.

Incredibly Colombia scored after 24 minutes, added another from a penalty ten minutes later and then made it 3-0 on 62 minutes as Aristizabal completed his hat-trick. Cue mayhem in the crowd as the police baton charged spectators.

Colombia added a fourth with 10 minutes to go and the impossible seemed possible. However, Paraguay held out and Colombia were eliminated – a crazy but fantastic experience 6,320 miles from home.

Follow Graham Poll on Twitter @MAIL_GPoll

NOW TELL US THE MADDEST MATCH YOU HAVE EVER SEEN BY LEAVING A COMMENT BELOW…

Kauto Star retires tribute

Farewell super Star: Sportsmail's tribute as Kauto Star retires

|

UPDATED:

12:38 GMT, 31 October 2012

Kauto Star, one of the best
steeplechasers, of all time has been retired.

A massive question mark had hung
over the future of the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, who won the King George
VI Chase a remarkable five times, since he was pulled up when going for his
third Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March.

Trainer Paul Nicholls In his Betfair
column: ‘We have had nine superb years
with the horse but, after seeing him in his work these past few weeks, myself,
(Head Lad) Clifford Baker and (assistant trainer) Dan Skelton were of the
opinion that the time had arrived to retire him.

Kauto Star, ridden by Ruby Walsh wins the Stan James King George VI Chase in 2008

Kauto Star, ridden by Ruby Walsh wins the Stan James King George VI Chase in 2008

‘Of course, as owner, the final
decision rested with Clive, but he agreed that the horse had done enough.

‘Don't get me wrong, Kauto looks
and feels as vibrant as ever, as those who saw him at our owners' Open Day last
month would testify to. He was mad fresh that day and continues to be as alert
as ever and very, very well in himself.

‘But I suspect Kauto will be like
that when he is 20-years-old.

‘Kauto is signing off in full
health and after a season in which he proved so many people wrong by winning a
fifth King George and a fourth Betfair Chase, to add to his two Cheltenham Gold
Cups and Tingle Creeks.

‘Who wouldn't want to train a
horse of this quality any more He is a once-in-a-lifetime horse, after all.

‘Ever since he won on his debut
for me at Newbury on December 29, 2004, the horse has consistently proved
himself a class apart.

'But sometimes, you have to listen
to your head and your heart, and both told me that retirement was the only
option.’

TRIBUTE BY MARCUS TOWNEND, RACING CORRESPONDENT

THE scale of the affection that the public held for Kauto Star was portrayed in the emotional seconds after he was pulled up in his fifth Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

The remainder of his rivals were still scrapping over the most prestigious prize in steeplechasing, millions of pounds were riding on the outcome, but the Festival crowd rose as one to applaud a steeplechaser who had earned the right to be named in the same list as the greats of the sport.
Some would argue at the top of that list.

Ruby Walsh riding Kauto Star after winning The William Hill King George VI Steeple Chase at Kempton racecourse in 2006

Ruby Walsh riding Kauto Star after winning The William Hill King George VI Steeple Chase at Kempton racecourse in 2006

The cheers that echoed around jump racing’s most famous amphitheatre were in part fuelled by a feeling one of the icons of the game was leaving the stage.

Confirmation came from owner Clive Smith and trainer Paul Nicholls yesterday.

It is the right call. The risk to reward ratio was too unbalanced. With a shot at another Gold Cup ruled out, winning another Betfair Chase was hardly an incentive to carry on.

A sixth King George Tempting, maybe, but best, and safer, to remember the chaser that dominated Kempton on Boxing Day with that resurgent defeat of Long Run last year.

Quite simply, Kauto Star has gone out at the top, even if his last run did not have a fairytale end.
With him go a welter of memories – highs and lows, thrills and some spills and, never to be forgotten moments.

The grey beards might tell you Irish legends Arkle and has no peers in the staying chaser division.

Their sons will marvel at the achievements of Desert Orchid and the emotional connections triple Grand National winner Red Rum made with the wider public.

But, in 87 years time, when racing historians start compiling their pecking order of 21st century steeplechasing greats, Kauto Star’s name will be prominent in that debate.

There may be just over a 10th of the century gone but few will be willing to bet the remarkable record of Kauto Star will be matched, let alone superseded.

Twenty three wins from 41 races. Earnings of 2,375,883, the most ever for a jumper. A unique five King George VI Chases, two Gold Cups and two Tingle Creek Chase. Wins from two miles to three and a quarter.

Another glorious ride at Kempton for the great Star of the show

Another glorious ride at Kempton for the great Star of the show

Like Desert Orchid, whose four-time King George record he beat, Kauto Star was both versatile and durable. Few horses can claim to compete at seven successive Cheltenham Festivals, let alone in the biggest races of the demanding meeting.

But Kauto Star always looked something special, being nicknamed ‘The Extraterrestrial’ by his original trainer in France, Serge Foucher, where he had his first 10 races.

It took an eyewatering bid of 400,000 euros from owner Clive Smith to prize him across The Channel and, even then, Foucher, was a reluctant seller.

He disappeared when bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley arrived with a vet to carry out an inspection, vital with such a high-risk purchase.

So fractious was Kauto Star that it was impossible to carry out a scope test to make sure he had no breathing issues. Smith took the gamble to press on with his purchase and it was a decision he would never regret.

The Nicholls team knew they had a special talent on their hands when Kauto Star made an exhilarating British debut, brushing aside Foreman, a horse good enough to finish fourth in the Champion Hurdle, by an easy nine lengths in a Newbury novice chase on December 29, 2004.

It was performance that made him a leading Arkle Chase but he would never make it to that season’s Festival, picking up an injury when being beaten a short-head by Mistral De la Cour at Exeter in a controversial run when re-mounted by Walsh after falling two out when clear.

Kauto Star pulls away from the first fence at Kempton in 2006

Kauto Star pulls away from the first fence at Kempton in 2006

When he miraculously escaped serious injury when being trampled on in the following season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, a pattern seemed to be emerging of a brilliant horse, liable to catastrophic lapses in concentration.

That reputation only seemed to be emphasised when he successfully stepped up in distance, captured his first King George in 2006 but committed a series of last-fence errors.

The questions over his jumping irritated Nicholls and were brushed aside by Walsh but only served to augment his story.

He was no seat-of-the-pants performer but he kept his fans on the edge of their seats, knowing that his spectacular leaps carried with them a degree of difficulty that left little room for error.

But both questions over his jumping and his stamina, were brushed aside when he beat Exotic Dancer two and a half lengths to land his first Gold Cup three months later.

But, just when it looked like nothing could stop topple him, a challenge emerged from the next-door box in Nicholls’ Somerset stable – Denman.

...and another win at Kempton in 2007

…and another win at Kempton in 2007

Racing suddenly had a rivalry to match other sports, the public lapped it up and the reputation of both horses benefited.

The bundle of muscle that was Denman came out on top in 12 months later in the 2008 Gold Cup with Kauto Star below par only for the placings to be reversed in 2009 as Denman, his season disrupted by a heart problem, could not live with his stablemate.

The 2010 Gold Cup became the War of the Wolds but Kauto Star took a hideous fall and Denman couldn’t live with Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Imperial Commander.

A year on we had a battle to live up to that billing. The feeling was both of Nicholls’ chasers were up against – especially Kauto who had lost his King George crown to Nicky Henderson’s Long Run.

It was the latter who crossed the line in front at Cheltenham, seven lengths in front of Denman and 11 ahead of Kauto Star but only after one of the great Gold Cup battles.

Kauto may not have won but he had picked himself up of the deck and proved his racing heart beat as loud as ever.

It was that quality that characterised his last season and further endeared him to his fans.

Pulled up after a listless performance at Punchestown in May 2011, the pressure was on as Nicholls and Smith resisted call to retire Kauto Star and brought him back to win his fourth Betfair Chase in November.

The subsequent outpouring of emotion has seldom been seen on a British racecourse but it was repeated when he land his sixth King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, avenging his 2010 defeat by Long Run.

Kauto Star in his stable at Manor Farm, Ditcheat, Somerset.

Kauto Star in his stable at Manor Farm, Ditcheat, Somerset.

It set up a potential Gold Cup showdown, only for a training ground fall to disrupt his preparation and, ultimately, lead to his failure to finish.

Kauto Star will now enjoy his retirement but still be in demand for public appearances. Regal gallop-pasts will no doubt be demanded at both Cheltenham and Kempton, where he boasts a record of five wins and a third from six starts.

A horse who helped take the supporters’ scarf from the football ground to the racetrack, and whose name and his performances crossed the normal boundaries of the sport can hardly be expected to slip away quietly.

He’ll be a hard act to follow.