Tag Archives: contest

Manchester United"s title charge held up by floodlight failure at Fulham

Man United's title charge held up briefly by floodlight failure… and then they make dash across London to get train home

By
Dave Wood

PUBLISHED:

19:18 GMT, 2 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:51 GMT, 2 February 2013

Fulham suffered a floodlight failure just before half-time in Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with leaders Manchester United at Craven Cottage.

The match was goalless when the ground was plunged into darkness in the 43rd minute of the contest.

Line up: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson (centre) walks off the pitch with his players

Line up: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson (centre) walks off the pitch with his players

Manchester United player Wayne Rooney (C) walks off the pitch with team mates and Fulham players

The players remained on the pitch briefly before referee Kevin Friend led them off towards the dressing rooms.

Around five minutes after the lights had gone out, the power returned and the players returned to the pitch to play out the remainder of the game.

Manchester United held their nerve to claim a 1-0 victory thanks to Wayne Rooney's fine effort in the 79th minute.

The Premier League leaders, who moved 10 points clear of Man City, then had to dash across London to make their 9pm train back to Manchester.

The floodlights fail at Craven Cottage

Hold up: The lights go out at Craven Cottage

The floodlights fail at Craven Cottage

The floodlights fail at Craven Cottage

Who voted for Rooney in the Ballon d"Or?

Messi can't bring himself to vote for Ronaldo in tactical Ballon d'Or picks while Rooney is popular only in Georgia and North Korea

-bycountry.pdf” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>Click here to see how the international captains, coaches and media voted

With an astonishing and record-breaking 91 goals in the calendar year, it was perhaps a foregone conclusion that Lionel Messi would collect a fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or last night.

But that didn't stop international captains and coaches employing some political voting tactics to try and get their friends, compatriots or teammates further up the leaderboard – or at least block their rivals from winning.

With national team captains, coaches and a selected journalist from each FIFA nation eligible to vote, the annual award seems to have become football's answer to the Eurovision Song Contest in terms of tactical voting.

Scroll down for video

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Messi had a vote as captain of Argentina and picked Andres Iniesta as his first choice, Xavi as his second and Radamel Falcao as his third pick.

This could be interpreted as returning the favour to his two Barcelona teammates after setting up so many goals for him this year, but it's interesting that his closest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, is left out.

Ronaldo is Portugal captain but chose to hand over responsibilities to Bruno Alves, perhaps as a way of getting round the rule that voters can't pick themselves.

Ronaldo is on record as saying that he would vote for himself if he could. 'I am what I am,' he said in the run-up to the award announcement.

But he could rely on Zenit St Petersburg defender Alves to exclude Messi from his voting and put the Real Madrid star, naturally, at the top.

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella
had no room for Ronaldo though and went for Messi and his international
teammate Sergio Aguero, with Falcao, the third choice for quite a large
number of voters, completing his selection.

Paulo Bento, the Portugal manager, was a little more sporting, giving Messi his third pick.

The international coaches are proud and parochial, with many selecting players from their own squad despite them having little chance of scooping the main prize.

Germany's Joachim Low was pretty left-field with his picks, choosing Mesut Ozil first, Manuel Neuer second and Xavi third, while Italy's Cesare Prandelli opted for Andrea Pirlo, who was admired by a number of coaches around the world.

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low (left) picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Spain's Vicente del Bosque can be excused for picking Iker Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta but it's a damning indictment of the state of the English team that Roy Hodgson just went for Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao.

Wayne Rooney's only two votes came from Georgia and North Korea, suggesting he has quite a following in those countries, while Mario Balotelli wouldn't have been too happy to learn his only vote came from Palestine.

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have scored one of the goals of the year, with his audacious propeller kick for Sweden against England, but just two voters – the captain of Djibouti and the Niger coach – thought him worthy of the top prize.

There are also plenty of examples of players going for teammates, former teammates or even those who play in the same position.

Hugo Lloris, of France and Tottenham, selected Casillas as his first choice and, randomly, had Didier Drogba third.

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas

Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas (right)

Dutchman Wesley Sneijder opted for free-scoring Robin van Persie for his first pick, while Gianluigi Buffon and Casillas also went for national unity with Pirlo and Sergio Ramos respectively their first choices.

Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher chose former Manchester United man Ronaldo ahead of Messi and also included Van Persie third.

Lionel Messi
Marco van Basten
Michel Platini
Johan Cruyff
Ballon d'Or
4
3
3
3
League titles
5
7
3
10
Domestic cups
7
7
2
7
European Cups
3
3
1
3
World Cups
0
0
0
0
Career Games
430
431
504
568
Career Goals
319
300
265
326
Strike rate
0.74
0.70
0.53
0.57

VIDEO: Messi's boot supplier, adidas, team up with illustrator Richard Swarbrick to celebrate the Argentina ace's latest Ballon d'Or success

Lionel Messi didn"t vote for Cristiano Ronaldo in Ballon d"Or 2013 – full voting analysis

Messi can't bring himself to vote for Ronaldo in tactical Ballon d'Or picks while Rooney is popular only in Georgia and North Korea

-bycountry.pdf” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>Click here to see how the international captains, coaches and media voted

With an astonishing and record-breaking 91 goals in the calendar year, it was perhaps a foregone conclusion that Lionel Messi would collect a fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or last night.

But that didn't stop international captains and coaches employing some political voting tactics to try and get their friends, compatriots or teammates further up the leaderboard – or at least block their rivals from winning.

With national team captains, coaches and a selected journalist from each FIFA nation eligible to vote, the annual award seems to have become football's answer to the Eurovision Song Contest in terms of tactical voting.

Scroll down for video

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Messi had a vote as captain of Argentina and picked Andres Iniesta as his first choice, Xavi as his second and Radamel Falcao as his third pick.

This could be interpreted as returning the favour to his two Barcelona teammates after setting up so many goals for him this year, but it's interesting that his closest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, is left out.

Ronaldo is Portugal captain but chose to hand over responsibilities to Bruno Alves, perhaps as a way of getting round the rule that voters can't pick themselves.

Ronaldo is on record as saying that he would vote for himself if he could. 'I am what I am,' he said in the run-up to the award announcement.

But he could rely on Zenit St Petersburg defender Alves to exclude Messi from his voting and put the Real Madrid star, naturally, at the top.

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella
had no room for Ronaldo though and went for Messi and his international
teammate Sergio Aguero, with Falcao, the third choice for quite a large
number of voters, completing his selection.

Paulo Bento, the Portugal manager, was a little more sporting, giving Messi his third pick.

The international coaches are proud and parochial, with many selecting players from their own squad despite them having little chance of scooping the main prize.

Germany's Joachim Low was pretty left-field with his picks, choosing Mesut Ozil first, Manuel Neuer second and Xavi third, while Italy's Cesare Prandelli opted for Andrea Pirlo, who was admired by a number of coaches around the world.

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low (left) picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Spain's Vicente del Bosque can be excused for picking Iker Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta but it's a damning indictment of the state of the English team that Roy Hodgson just went for Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao.

Wayne Rooney's only two votes came from Georgia and North Korea, suggesting he has quite a following in those countries, while Mario Balotelli wouldn't have been too happy to learn his only vote came from Palestine.

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have scored one of the goals of the year, with his audacious propeller kick for Sweden against England, but just two voters – the captain of Djibouti and the Niger coach – thought him worthy of the top prize.

There are also plenty of examples of players going for teammates, former teammates or even those who play in the same position.

Hugo Lloris, of France and Tottenham, selected Casillas as his first choice and, randomly, had Didier Drogba third.

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas

Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas (right)

Dutchman Wesley Sneijder opted for free-scoring Robin van Persie for his first pick, while Gianluigi Buffon and Casillas also went for national unity with Pirlo and Sergio Ramos respectively their first choices.

Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher chose former Manchester United man Ronaldo ahead of Messi and also included Van Persie third.

VIDEO: Messi's boot supplier, adidas, team up with illustrator Richard Swarbrick to celebrate the Argentina ace's latest Ballon d'Or success

Michael van Gerwen beats Adrian Lewis in World Darts Championship quarter-final

Lewis OUT! Mighty Mike hits Jackpot as he sends the reigning champion packing after a classic at Ally Pally

|

UPDATED:

23:28 GMT, 29 December 2012

Adrian Lewis’s quest for a third straight world title came to a shuddering halt on Saturday night as he lost 5-4 to an inspired Michael van Gerwen.

The Dutchman showed why he was the pre-tournament second favourite as he overcame some early double problems and withstood everything ‘Jackpot’ threw at him in an astonishing tussle at Ally Pally.

Van Gerwan will play James Wade in the semis after ‘The Machine’ edged past West Newton 5-4 in a classic first match of the evening.

Thriller: Van Gerwen won a classic contest to move into the semi-finals

Thriller: Van Gerwen won a classic contest to move into the semi-finals

‘Mighty Mike’ wasted no time in taking
the opening set as he pounced on Lewis’s double trouble to win it 3-0.
The Dutchman broke throw in the second leg after the reigning champion
missed six darts at a double.

But ‘MVG’ had problems on doubles himself and Lewis took advantage to win the second set 3-1.

Van Gerwen’s troubles continued in the
third set as he almost threw away a 2-0 lead with a hatful of missed
doubles. The Dutchman had chances in legs three and four to take the set
but eventually hit double 10 in the deciding leg to move 2-1 ahead.

‘Jackpot’ quickly levelled, though, as
he won the fourth set 3-0 thanks to a 136 checkout on Van Gerwen’s
throw in the second leg.

But Van Gerwen responded with a 3-0
set of his own as he upped his game in the fifth set. The Dutchman came
close to a nine-dart finish but settled for an 11-dart leg to break
Lewis’s throw and move back ahead.

Lewis didn’t back down, though, and he
took the sixth set 3-1 as Van Gerwen’s double trouble returned. But
just when the reigning champion seemed to be taking control of the
match, the Dutchman came roaring back.

Gallant: Lewis played his best match of the tournament but it wasn't enough against the impressive Dutchman

Gallant: Lewis played his best match of the tournament but it wasn't enough against the impressive Dutchman

The two-time winner broke throw to
lead 2-1 in the seventh set with a chance to move 4-3 ahead and just one
set away from the semis. But Van Gerwan checked out 120 to break
straight back before hitting double top in the deciding leg to take the
set.

Then, as expected, it was Lewis’s turn
to strike back as he hit an 11-dart leg to break Van Gerwen’s throw to
take the set 3-1 and force a decider.

The gripping contest continued to
excite in the final set and it was Lewis who struck first. ‘Jackpot’
broke Van Gerwen’s throw to lead 2-1 but, typical of the contest, Van
Gerwen pulled off an incredible 83 checkout to level at 2-2 as Lewis
missed two darts at tops.

The Dutchman then checked out 108 to hold and move 3-2 ahead before breaking throw in the next leg to seal a brilliant win.

Mighty Mike: Van Gerwen came out on top in a final-set thriller

Mighty Mike: Van Gerwen came out on top in a final-set thriller

Van Gerwen told Sky Sports: ‘We played
a very good game. I was struggling on my doubles but he played so well.
This is my biggest year ever and I’m playing so well at the moment.’

A despondent Lewis said: ‘That is
probably the best game we’ve seen on TV. It was better than Barney and
Taylor’s match (in 2007).’

‘Mighty Mike’ will look to avenge his
World Matchplay defeat to Wade, who was cruising towards victory at 4-2
before a determined fight-back from Newton.

Newton raced into a 2-0 lead before Wade broke in the first leg of the third set before reducing his deficit to 2-1.

Machine: Wade prevailed in a final-set thriller

Machine: Wade prevailed in a final-set thriller

The fourth set proved to be pivotal as Newton missed three darts at tops which would have taken him 3-1 ahead. Wade pounced to force a deciding leg in the set before hitting double 10, albeit at the fourth time of asking, to level at 2-2.

‘The Machine’ then won five out of the next six legs to go 4-2 up as he looked set for an easy ride into the semis.

But Newton wasn’t finished yet and he won the seventh set 3-0 before levelling at 4-4 to force a decider.

But it was Wade who prevailed as he broke Newton’s throw before sealing the set 3-1 and the match 5-4.

The semi-final clash will take place on Sunday night along with the mouth-watering showdown between Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld.

Determined: Newton pushed Wade all the way with a spirited effort

Determined: Newton pushed Wade all the way with a spirited effort

Montrose 2 Rangers 4

Montrose 2 Rangers 4: Shiels shines as McCoist's men extend winning run to six

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UPDATED:

15:09 GMT, 15 December 2012

Dean Shiels created a goal and scored himself inside two second-half minutes as Rangers came from behind to edge an open and entertaining Irn-Bru Third Division contest at Links Park.

Montrose were twice denied late equalisers by the frame of the goal before Robbie Crawford secured the points with virtually the last kick of the ball.

Shiels set up Kevin Kyle to put Rangers ahead midway through the second half and then finished off a clinical break to seemingly end the visitors' struggle against Montrose, who led for six minutes through Lloyd Young's strike before Lee McCulloch netted a penalty.

Top of the league: Rangers' captain Lee McCulloch celebrates his goal

Top of the league: Rangers' captain Lee McCulloch celebrates his goal

Match facts

Montrose: Sandy Wood, McNally, Jonathan Crawford, Campbell, Watson, Lloyd Young (Johnston 88), Winter, Masson (Morton 81),
Richard McIntosh (McLeish 75), Leighton McIntosh,Garry Wood.

Subs Not Used: David Crawford,David Gray.

Booked: Jonathan Crawford,Masson,Johnston.

Goals: Lloyd Young 16, McLeish 76.

Rangers: Alexander, Argyriou, McCulloch, Hegarty, Wallace, Little, Macleod, Hutton, Templeton (McKay 63), Shiels (Naismith 75), Kyle (Crawford 90).

Subs Not Used: Currie,Cole.

Booked: Hutton.

Goals: McCulloch 23 pen, Kyle 67, Shiels 69, Crawford 90.

Att: 4,205

Ref: Bobby Madden

But home substitute David Gray soon scored a wonderful lob and Garry Wood and Scott Johnston both hit the woodwork.

The victory was the least convincing of a six-match winning run for Rangers but Montrose deserve credit for their display as they showed why they had been on a six-match unbeaten run.

They showed their attacking intent in the opening minutes when Wood and then Jamie Winter came close with ambitious long-range efforts.

Andrew Little had Rangers' first effort on target when his angled drive was parried by Sandy Wood but Montrose stunned Ally McCoist's men in the 16th minute when Young ran unchecked on to Stephen McNally's long throw and dispatched a cushioned first-time volley into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

Rangers had an immediate chance to equalise when Lewis MacLeod threaded the ball through for Little but Wood was quickly out to block.

Wood then pushed Kyle Hutton's free-kick delivery on to the post.

The Ibrox side did not have long to wait for the equaliser though and it was a cheap give-away by Montrose when McNally made an ill-advised tackle on David Templeton in the box, getting some of the ball but coming from the wrong side and through his opponent, with few complaints at Bobby Madden's decision.

Centre-back McCulloch sent Wood the wrong way for his 17th goal of the season.
The goal failed to turn the game though. Garry Wood came close from long range before his namesake in goal parried MacLeod's effort after Little's flick had put him beyond the home defence.
Templeton shot over after good hold-up play from Kyle but Montrose had the best chances in the latter stages of the half.

Young hit another first-time effort that Neil Alexander pushed over brilliantly, and the enterprising wide midfielder then fired wide following a one-two with Wood.

Spot on: McCulloch slams home a penalty to help Rangers on their way to victory

Spot on: McCulloch slams home a penalty to help Rangers on their way to victory

Winter came close in injury-time when Alexander dived to push wide his driven 35-yard free-kick.
Wood saved from Shiels just after the break but Montrose were quickly on the front foot and McNally came close with a header.

McCoist brought on Barrie McKay for Templeton in a bid to find a much-needed cutting edge, but the 67th-minute breakthrough came from a scrappy piece of play.

Hutton and Shiels got in each other's way on the edge of the box and Rangers appeared to have lost their chance but the Northern Ireland international got up and steered the ball into the path of the unmarked Kyle to shoot into the bottom corner from 16 yards.

McCoist's men had some breathing space two minutes later. Hutton helped the ball on to McKay on the left after a Montrose set-piece had been cleared and the teenager ran 60 yards before releasing the ball for Shiels, who guided the ball into the far corner.

Helping hand: Kevin Kyle was also on target as Rangers won for the sixth game in a row

Helping hand: Kevin Kyle was also on target as Rangers won for the sixth game in a row

But Montrose refused to lie down and substitute Gray got them back into it with a goal out of nothing in the 76th minute, latching on to Leighton McIntosh's lay-off and guiding a first-time effort with the outside of his right foot over the head of Alexander and into the net from the corner of the box.

The hosts came so close to levelling moments later when Wood ran on to McIntosh's header-on following a goal kick.

Wood also lobbed Alexander but the Rangers goalkeeper this time turned round to see the ball hit off his bar and fall into his arms.

Wood saved well from MacLeod but Montrose were again denied by the frame of the goal when Scott Johnston volleyed off the inside of the post from 12 yards following a free-kick into the box in injury-time.

Rangers soon restored their two-goal lead following another break when Crawford took his time to make space and guide the ball in off the post after Wood had saved from McKay.

England stars Ashley Cole and Jermain Defoe fail to reach double figures in keepy uppy challenge

Can you keepy uppy England stars fail to get into double figures as they take on tennis ball challenge

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UPDATED:

16:08 GMT, 7 December 2012

They are England internationals supposedly at the top of their game, but when it come to juggling a tennis ball, the efforts of Ashley Cole and Jermain Defoe left a lot to be desired.

Challenged by Match of the Day and Radio Five Live presenter Colin Murray to beat his total of 12, they failed miserably – recording scores of six and four respectively.

Cole's Chelsea teammate Ryan Bertrand could only manage a pathetic two keepy uppies.

There was plenty of 'Fighting Talk' from Cole, Defoe and Bertrand as they grabbed the fluffy little ball – but they just couldn't beat the DJ.

Duck for cover: Jermain Defoe came close to decapitating his teammate Ashley Cole as he posted a dreadful score of four

Duck for cover: Jermain Defoe came close to decapitating his teammate Ashley Cole as he posted a dreadful score of four

Poor show: Ashley Cole had the advantage of an Astroturf pitch but still only managed six keepy uppies

Poor show: Ashley Cole had the advantage of an Astroturf pitch but still only managed six keepy uppies

Cole needed three attempts to just get the thing under control and then made just six touches on the Astroturf.

Step forward Murray, who wasn't expecting to have a go, to set a benchmark of 12 with some cushioned touches – albeit mainly on his knee.

Murray then lays down the challenge to the others backstage, daring them to better his score.

Defoe is first up and in the confines of the small room, he comes very close to booting Cole in the face as he records a measly total of four.

Bertrand can only manage half that number and pleads for another go, before Gary Cahill restores a bit of professional pride for the England team at the end by scoring 15 keepy uppies.

Even worse! Ryan Bertrand tries to make excuses after just two touches with the tennis ball

Even worse! Ryan Bertrand tries to make excuses after just two touches with the tennis ball

Finally! At least Gary Cahill managed to get into double figures in the challenge

Finally! At least Gary Cahill managed to get into double figures in the challenge

Their attempts were nothing, however, on the epic contest between Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jordan Henderson.

Egging each other on and vowing to keep going right through the night if necessary, the Liverpool man eventually prevails by 148 to 136.

Perhaps they could give their teammates a lesson.

The current leader on the Keepy Uppy challenge, though, is another TV personality – Tubes from Soccer AM – who managed a remarkable 195.

Euro 2020 to take place in several countries

Wembley put forward for Euro 2020 final after UEFA confirm championship will be played all over the continent

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 6 December 2012

The FA will campaign to host the Euro 2020 final at Wembley after UEFA confirmed their controversial plan to stage the tournament in up to 13 cities across the continent.

Scotland, Wales and Ireland will bid to be involved in the tournament but Wembley — with its 90,000 capacity, modern design and corporate facilities — is a strong contender to stage the final.

The stadium also has the perfect platform to remind UEFA president Michel Platini of its quality when it hosts the Champions League final at the end of this season.

Champions: Spain are the holders of the European crown after beating Italy in the final in Kiev

Champions: Spain are the holders of the European crown after beating Italy in the final in Kiev

2020 vision – the key points

Move is a one-off to mark 60th anniversary of the Euros

Bidding proces starts in March next year and decisions on hosts will be made in early 2014

Host cities will not automatically qualify

That game will be preceded by a
week-long UEFA congress in London, due to be attended by the same
dignitaries who will select the Euro 2020 host cities in 2014.

The bizarre format, including the selection process for the cities, has
yet to be revealed but FA chairman David Bernstein said last month, when
Platini’s idea was mooted, that he wanted Wembley to play a major role.
He also flatly rejected a beauty-contest style bidding war after the
failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

‘Wembley is incredibly highly thought of by UEFA and it is something we
will probably push for,’ said Bernstein. ‘UEFA want to host a semi-final
and the final on the same ground or in the same city and I think we
will be on their shortlist, although there will be some strong
competition.

Spreading the joy: Michel Platini and UEFA confirmed Euro 2020 will be played across the continent

Spreading the joy: Michel Platini and UEFA confirmed Euro 2020 will be played across the continent

‘In a pan-European competition, the focus needs to be on the semi-finals
and the final. We would not want to be involved in a World Cup-style
process. We do not want to spend a lot of money on something that fell
flat.’

Platini first aired his proposal after Euro 2012, suggesting it was a
solution to soaring costs and claiming that the European economic crisis
made the financial burden upon one host nation too great.

A more cynical view is that Platini is fuelling his ambitions to succeed
Sepp Blatter as FIFA president by spreading wealth around Europe to
attract support.

What a summer: Wembley saw plenty of top-class action during the 1996 European Championships

What a summer: Wembley saw plenty of top-class action during the 1996 European Championships

Wanderlust: Platini unveiled his plans

Wanderlust: Platini unveiled his plans

The only one of 53 member countries to vote against the idea was Turkey, who originally bid to host the tournament.

‘Instead of a party in one country, you will have a party all over
Europe,’ said UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino after an
executive committee meeting in Switzerland on Thursday.

The selection process for host cities will start in March and will take
about 12 months, with decisions expected in the spring of 2014. Teams
from the countries chosen as venues will have to qualify.

Infantino said: ‘Euro 2020 will be staged across the continent in
various major cities. It is a decision only about 2020. It is not going
forward for ever. Everything is open.’

Scotland, Wales and Ireland, whose original combined bid was not well
received, will promote Hampden Park, the Millennium Stadium and the
Aviva Stadium.

They will find it difficult to compete with Wembley for the final,
however. Platini has already proved how much he admires the stadium by
bringing back the Champions League final two years after it staged
Barcelona’s win against Manchester United in 2011.

Manchester United 2 Arsenal 1 – match report

Manchester United 2 Arsenal 1: RVP on target as Wilshere sees red on miserable day for the Gunners

|

UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 3 November 2012

Robin van Persie struck inside three minutes against his former club as Manchester United eased to a comfortable victory over 10-man Arsenal at Old Trafford.

The prolific Dutchman was taunted throughout by visiting fans but reminded them of his talents in the opening moments in a Barclays Premier League contest United dominated from the outset.

Wayne Rooney missed United's fourth penalty of the season but Patrice Evra added a second and Arsenal's misery was compounded by the sending off Jack Wilshere before Santi Cazorla hit an injury-time consolation.

High times: Robin van Persie was the catalyst to yet another Manchester United over Arsenal

High times: Robin van Persie was the catalyst to yet another Manchester United over Arsenal

MATCH FACTS

MAN UTD: De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia (Nani 82), Carrick, Cleverley (Anderson 61), Young, Rooney, van Persie. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Hernandez, Scholes, Powell, Wootton.

Booked: Young, Cleverley, Anderson, Rooney, Van Persie

Goals: Van Persie 3, Evra 67

ARSENAL: Mannone, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Arteta, Ramsey (Walcott 52), Wilshere, Cazorla, Podolski (Arshavin 81), Giroud. Subs not used: Martinez, Koscielny, Coquelin, Jenkinson, Chamakh.

Booked: Arteta, Arshavin Sent off: Wilshere

Goals: Cazorla 90

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Latest Premier League table and results

England midfielder Wilshere had been
making only his second appearance for the Gunners after missing more
than a year with injury.

United were superior in almost every department against a side they fought out a bitter rivalry with in the last decade.

The sight of Van Persie in their
ranks will have hurt, and the Arsenal fans made clear from the moment
his name was first read out what they now thought of their former hero.

Van Persie's eight-year stint in
north London culminated in last season's magnificent 37-goal campaign
but he was cheered when he slipped in the opening minute.

But the 29-year-old needed little
time to remind the Gunners of what they lost when he left the Emirates
Stadium in a 24million move over the summer.

Arsenal's defensive frailties were
again in evidence as United swept forward and Antonio Valencia bypassed
Andre Santos by releasing Rafael down the right with a deft backheel.

Pounced: The Dutchman punished a Thomas Vermaelen error inside three minutes... but didn't celebrate

Pounced: The Dutchman punished a Thomas Vermaelen error inside three minutes… but didn't celebrate

Pounced: The Dutchman punished a Thomas Vermaelen error inside three minutes... but didn't celebrate

The Brazilian whipped in an awkward
low cross which caught Thomas Vermaelen off balance and his attempted
clearance rolled straight to Van Persie, who fired past Vito Mannone
from inside the box.

It was his 10th goal for United in 13 games but he avoided antagonising Arsenal supporters further by deciding not to celebrate.

Conceding so early may have led to
some anxiety in the Arsenal camp after their 8-2 capitulation in the
corresponding fixture last season.

United may not have threatened a
repeat of that scoreline but they continued to control the game and the
best response the visitors could initially muster was a wayward
long-range drive from Santos.

Case for the defence: Arsenal were angry at the award of a penalty late in the first-half

Case for the defence: Arsenal were angry at the award of a penalty late in the first-half

... but luckily for the Gunners, Wayne Rooney sent his spot kick wide of the post

… but luckily for the Gunners, Wayne Rooney sent his spot kick wide of the post

... but luckily for the Gunners, Wayne Rooney sent his spot kick wide of the post

That was a rare moment of opportunity for Santos, who found himself under considerable pressure at left-back.

United may have seemed content to
build a patient game but attacking Santos' flank seemed a fruitful
avenue for the hosts, with Valencia troubling the Portuguese at every
opportunity.

Van Persie went close again as he raced onto a defence-slitting pass by Rooney but Mannone saved well.

Arsenal did show some positive intent
with Aaron Ramsey, the only starting member of their side who played in
last year's thrashing, reaching the byline but David de Gea pushed away
his cross.

Valencia predictably beat Santos to cross and Michael Carrick clipped the ball to Rooney after Bacary Sagna had half-cleared.

Doubled up: United got the second their performance deserved when Patrice Evra headed home

Doubled up: United got the second their performance deserved when Patrice Evra headed home

Doubled up: United got the second their performance deserved when Patrice Evra headed home

Rooney steadied himself to shoot but
Mannone produced another good save and Van Persie headed straight at the
goalkeeper after the ball was worked back in.

United could have doubled their lead
on the stroke of half-time after Cazorla handled an Ashley Young cross
at point-blank range just inside the box.

The Spaniard felt the award was harsh
and he could argue he was protecting his face but it did not matter as
Rooney dragged the resulting spot-kick wide.

Another goal might have been the
least United deserved for their first half superiority but it was a
reminder of their early season deficiencies from 12 yards.

Questions will certainly be asked as to why the in-form Van Persie did not take the responsibility.

Cheerio: Jack Wilshere was sent off for two yellow cards in only his second game in 17 months

Cheerio: Jack Wilshere was sent off for two yellow cards in only his second game in 17 months

Cheerio: Jack Wilshere was sent off for two yellow cards in only his second game in 17 months

United were close to doubling their
lead again after another Vermaelen error early in the second half
allowed Van Persie to break but Valencia could not turn in his low ball.

Carrick then shot wide from distance after a shot by Rafael was half-cleared as far as the England midfielder.

Arsenal continued to lack a spark but
Olivier Giroud almost provided one after a neat touch beat Rio
Ferdinand and gave him a shooting chance but he could only hit the
side-netting from a tight angle.

Van Persie was booked after a late
challenge on Sagna but was back in more familiar position just after the
hour as he was picked out by a fine cross by Ashley Young, but Mannone
got a vital hand to his low shot.

Stunner: Santi Cazorla gave an undeserved respectability to the scoreline with a stoppage-time strike

Stunner: Santi Cazorla gave an undeserved respectability to the scoreline with a stoppage-time strike

Arsenal could not hold out much
longer and from a short corner routine Rooney crossed for Evra and the
Frenchman planted a firm header inside the post.

The Gunners' agonies grew as
Wilshere, booked in the first half and fortunate to escape a second
yellow card for a bad tackle on Van Persie, was penalised for one bad
tackle too many, this time on Evra, and saw red.

Van Persie and substitute Anderson
both thought they had added a third for United but were both correctly
denied by an offside flag.

United played out the closing moments
with little alarm until Cazorla netted a fine consolation from the edge
of the box with what proved the last kick of the game.

Roberto di Matteo says Chelsea are unpopular because they are winners

No one likes us, we don't care: Di Matteo's not in it for the love at Chelsea

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UPDATED:

21:54 GMT, 30 September 2012

Roberto di Matteo is not seeking adoration. 'When you're a winning team, you're never loved,' he said after victory at Arsenal but it might be time for some appreciation.

Di Matteo cleared his first serious test of the new campaign at the Emirates and, despite the turbulence of John Terry's disciplinary hearing, he did it with minimum fuss.

Just as he did when passing last season's big tests: Barcelona in the Nou Camp, Tottenham or Liverpool at Wembley, or Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena.

Winning feeling: Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has a good record from his time in charge at the club

Winning feeling: Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has a good record from his time in charge at the club

Di Matteo flies to Denmark on Monday ahead of his 30th competitive game in charge of Chelsea, against Nordsjaelland in the Champions League on Tuesday, having barely put a foot wrong.

Ignore the glorified friendlies of the FA Community Shield and the UEFA Super Cup and he has lost three games in seven months.

One was a tight contest at Manchester City, there was a home game against Newcastle when resting key players, three days before the FA Cup final, and a hammering at Liverpool with a reserve team as he prepared for the Champions League final.

Seven draws include one at Barcelona with 10 men and one against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final won on penalties.

Chelsea top the Barclays Premier League having dropped two points from six games yet the surrender of a two-goal lead to Italian champions Juventus triggered an impromptu training ground visit from owner Roman Abramovich.

Fresh: Fernando Torres says he is not in need of a break

Fresh: Fernando Torres says he is not in need of a break

It was a reminder of exactly how precarious Di Matteo remains while Pep Guardiola is out of work.

What manager wouldn't want the burden of expectation which comes with a front-four of Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard, priced in excess of 125million But he continues to make awkward decisions look easy.

In public, Di Matteo's poker-face refuses to crack. In private, he and his coaching team successfully cajole most of the precious and insecure egos at the club and get the best from them.

Terry started at the Emirates despite all the attention and performed well. Torres looked motivated, committed and scored his fourth in nine this season.

Frank Lampard sat on the bench at the Emirates because Chelsea wanted the mobility of Ramires in the deep midfield areas where Arsenal inflict most damage.

Attack: Torres thinks all the creative players can be deployed at once

Attack: Torres thinks all the creative players can be deployed at once

'First, you have to press Arsenal and make sure they don't get the kind of freedom they like to play,' said Di Matteo. 'Also, you need to keep the ball and create chances for yourself. We did that very, very well.” Santi Cazorla was more subdued than usual although Chelsea were helped out by Petr Cech and some poor finishing, notably Cazorla and Olivier Giroud in the closing stages.

When Andre Villas-Boas tried to assert changes like these he created friction but Di Matteo has taken the players with him. It is the art of management.

Rather than grumble about Mata's desire to play in Euro 2012 and then the Olympic Games, he gave him a two-week's off in September.

Mata looks refreshed and his dead-ball delivery created both goals at Arsenal. Wenger's team defended poorly but Di Matteo targeted a weakness successfully.

In form: Juan Mata played a key role in Chelsea's win over Arsenal

In form: Juan Mata played a key role in Chelsea's win over Arsenal

'I think every player would like to play every game,” said goalkeeper Cech. “The important thing is to have Juan Mata for the whole season, not for three months and then to see him burn.

'It was well done by the coaching staff. He had a nice break and now he's fit and ready and can last the whole season. That's exactly what we needed.' All this from a manager who landed in the job somewhat by accident but what is to stop Di Matteo becoming Chelsea's own Guardiola He is relatively young, ambitious, with a good tactical brain and he understands his club and its culture.

More crucially for Abramovich, he has adapted smoothly to the peculiarities of the Stamford Bridge recruitment system where players are identified and acquired at an executive level.

He quietly manages talent provided for him, while helping to improve young players like Ryan Bertrand, another demand of the Chelsea hierarchy.

A more established manager would have demanded more power and input and, over time, Di Matteo may do the same. If he survives to that point he will deserve it.

'We're only six games into a very long season,' said Di Matteo.

'We've had a good start and that's all. The time to judge is when we're coming towards the half-way stage of the season.'

It is true, greater examinations lie ahead. Terry will be banned for four games and what happens if Chelsea lose Torres to injury or suspension

Can Daniel Sturridge, out with a hamstring injury, contribute as a centre-forward And can Cech, who is managing an elbow problem which will require surgery, maintain his fitness

All the time, Di Matteo must work towards the ultimate goal of make Chelsea successful, entertaining and popular, even if he thinks it is an impossible dream.

'Teams that win trophies have never been loved in the history of football,' said Di Matteo.

'Barcelona is great, yeah, but it's a unique model that nobody has been able to replicate in the world, so far.'

Laura Robson beats Peng Shuai

Robson continues fine form with hard-fought win over seventh seed Peng

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UPDATED:

15:02 GMT, 20 September 2012

Laura Robson came through an epic contest against seventh seed Peng Shuai to claim her place in the last four of the Guangzhou International Open.

The Briton broke her Chinese opponent three times, including a telling break in game 12, on the way to taking a tight opening set but then lost an equally combative second set to send the match into a decider.

However, Robson registered three more breaks in a more straightforward third set to seal a 7-5 5-7 6-2 victory after three hours on court.

Brit special: Laura Robson has been in impressive form of late

Brit special: Laura Robson has been in impressive form of late

The win continues Robson's remarkable recent success against Chinese opposition, having ousted Li Na in the US Open and second seed Zheng Zi here in Guangzhou.

She will now face third seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania in the semi-finals.