Tag Archives: dramatic

Adam Scott pays tribute to Greg Norman after US Masters win

Scott pays tribute to Norman after breaking Australia's majors duck with Masters win

By
Phil Casey, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

00:35 GMT, 15 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:30 GMT, 15 April 2013

Adam Scott paid tribute to Australian great Greg Norman after breaking his major duck, and that of his nation at the Masters.

Scott saw off Angel Cabrera at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off at Augusta to win the 77th Masters and lay the ghost of Lytham last year, when he bogeyed the last four holes of the Open to lose by one stroke to Ernie Els.

'I don't know how that happens,' Scott said of today's dramatic finale. 'It seems a long way away from last July when I was trying to win another major.

Scroll down for video

Looking good in Green: Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the US MAsters

Looking good in Green: Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the US Masters

Adam Scott wins the Masters

DM.has('rcpv2301184524001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “Adam Scott wins the Masters”,
'videoId' : 1005341,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv2301184524001”,
'videoPlayer' : “2301184524001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/golf/article-2309168/Adam-Scott-pays-tribute-Greg-Norman-US-Masters-win.html”

});

'It fell my way today, there was some luck there. It was incredible.'

Scott and Argentinian Cabrera had finished at nine under, two shots ahead of Jason Day with a third Australian, Marc Leishman, tied for third on five under alongside world number one Tiger Woods.

And Scott said: 'Australia's a proud sporting nation and this was one notch on the belt that we'd never got.

Enlarge

Nail biting: Scott beat Argentinian Angel Cabrera in a tense finish

Nail biting: Scott beat Argentinian Angel Cabrera in a tense finish

'It's amazing that it's come down to me today, Marc and Jason Day, it could have been any of us.

'But there was one guy that inspired a nation of golfers and that's Greg Norman. He's been incredible to me and all the young golfers in Australia and part of this definitely belongs to him.'

Scott looked to have avoided the need for a play-off when he drained a superb 25-foot putt on the final hole of his fourth round to card 69.

So close: Cabrera throws his putter after just missing his birdie putt on the second playoff hole

So close: Cabrera throws his putter after just missing his birdie putt on the second playoff hole

Embrace: Second placed Angel Cabrera (right) congratulates Scott on his win

Embrace: Second placed Cabrera congratulates Scott on his win

But Cabrera, in the following group, hit a magnificent approach to little more than three feet and holed out to extend the contest.

'It was a split-second I thought I'd won, you should never count your chickens,' said Scott of his wild celebrations on the 72nd green.

'But that was the putt, we've seen so many guys make it to win and I thought 'it's time for me to step up' and see how much I wanted it.

Passover: Bubba Watson gives Scott his jacket

Passover: Bubba Watson gives Scott his jacket

'To make a couple of putts to win the Masters tournament is just an amazing feeling.'

Cabrera himself went close when his chip at the first play-off hole ran just past the cup and said: 'That's how golf is. I came back and I had that chip on 18, I could have won it.

But Adam's a good winner. I would have been happier if I had won but he's a great player, I get along with him, we've played together in the President's Cup and I'm happy for him.'

Rio Ferdinand is likely to play in both England qualifiers after Michael Dawson and Gary Chaill picked up injuries

Cahill and Dawson injuries put onus on Ferdinand to play in both England qualifiers

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

18:27 GMT, 17 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:42 GMT, 17 March 2013

Roy Hodgson’s plans for Rio Ferdinand during England’s two World Cup qualifiers took a dramatic twist after Michael Dawson and Gary Cahill suffered injuries on Sunday.

Ferdinand has been told by Sir Alex Ferguson he will be needed to play three games in 10 days for Manchester United when he returns from international duty.

Hodgson planned to rest Ferdinand for the game against San Marino in Rimini on Friday and pair him with Cahill for the top-of-the-table clash against Montenegro the following Tuesday.

Heavy workload: England's defensive crisis means Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is now likely to start both qualifiers

Heavy workload: England's defensive crisis means Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is now likely to start both qualifiers. Ferdinand is also in line to play three matches in 10 days for Manchester United

Second chance: Joleon Lescott could feature for England after initially being dropped from the squad

Second chance: Joleon Lescott could feature for England after initially being dropped from the squad

Injury worry: Michael Dawson (right) played the first half for Tottenham against Fulham but picked up an injury and is now a doubt for England's World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro

Injury worry: Michael Dawson (right) played the first half for Tottenham against Fulham but picked up an injury and is now a doubt for England's World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro

However, the 34-year-old may be pressed into action for both games after Dawson and Cahill picked up knocks on club duty.

Manchester City centre back Joleon Lescott has been called up after Dawson was ruled out with a hamstring injury suffered in Tottenham’s 1-0 home defeat by Fulham, while Cahill will be assessed by England physio Gary Lewin at the St George’s Park training centre.

He played 90 minutes in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over West Ham but later had treatment on an ankle injury.

Ferdinand has been given Ferguson’s blessing to join the England squad for the first time in nearly two years, but it is not without complications.

The United defender has been told he is needed for games against Sunderland (March 30), Chelsea in the FA Cup (April 1) and Manchester City (April 8).

Despite the concerns of his club manager, Ferdinand’s call-up has gone down well in the United dressing room.

‘It’s good for Rio,’ said team-mate Nemanja Vidic. ‘He deserves the call, he has played well this season and can help the national team.

More trouble: Gary Cahill (right) has also had to pull out of the England squad due to injury

More trouble: Gary Cahill (right) has also had to pull out of the England squad due to injury

Selection headache: Aaron Lennon is also a doubt after missing Tottenham's match with Fulham

Selection headache: Aaron Lennon is also a doubt after missing Tottenham's match with Fulham

‘He would have two international games, then when he comes back we have two games in three days in the Premier League and FA Cup.

‘Can he play all of these games All I can say is that I hope he does well.’

Meanwhile, Spurs winger Aaron Lennon, who missed the Fulham defeat with groin and hamstring problems, will not be available for Hodgson.

‘He won’t make it,’ said Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas. ‘He’s been struggling with injuries. We risked him against Inter Milan and he is on the brink of rupturing a muscle.’

Gareth Bale also needed lengthy treatment after appearing to twist an ankle in the first half against Fulham, but Villas-Boas expects him to be fit for international duty with Wales.

Roberto Mancini praises Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko

Not so soft anymore! Mancini talks up fire power of Aguero, Dzeko and Tevez just days after slating City's strikers

|

UPDATED:

00:33 GMT, 31 December 2012

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is in no doubt his strike trio can fire the champions towards the Barclays Premier League title again.

Edin Dzeko was recalled to the starting XI at Norwich on Saturday and repaid his manager's faith with a quick-fire brace to put the visitors 2-0 up inside four minutes.

Argentina forward Sergio Aguero was also on target in the 4-3 win, which was achieved despite the dismissal of midfielder Samir Nasri and kept City seven points behind leaders Manchester United.

Clinical: Sergio Aguero scored Manchester City's third against Norwich

Clinical: Sergio Aguero scored Manchester City's third against Norwich

Carlos Tevez was left warming the bench at Carrow Road, but could come back into contention for the home game with Stoke on New Year's Day.

Mancini believes the ability to switch between such a potent frontline will be key for the battles ahead.

'We changed against Norwich because we played three games in six days and needed to have fresh players, but we are sure that all of our strikers can start to score like they did here,' he said.

'We have won games with Carlos and Aguero, Edin and Carlos, Aguero and Edin; all these three players, if they work hard like this, they can score important goals for the season.'

The Italian had slated his strikers, and labelled them 'soft', for failing to score against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day.

Mancini insists the current seven-point gap to United is 'not a problem', bearing in mind the position from which City went on to beat their fierce rivals in the dramatic conclusion to last season.

Lethal: Edin Dzeko scored twice to add to Aguero's chip

Lethal: Edin Dzeko scored twice to add to Aguero's chip

Slammed: Roberto Mancini's criticism of his strikers clearly paid off

Slammed: Roberto Mancini's criticism of his strikers clearly paid off

And Dzeko believes 'nothing is finished' after feeling he went some way to proving a point against Norwich.

The Bosnian, who has often been utilised as an impact player from the bench, was unfortunate not to have sealed his industrious display with a hat-trick on 67 minutes, when his shot hit the post and then went into the net off the back of Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn.

'It is not the first time, but the manager gave me the chance to play and I think I paid him back,' Dzeko said. 'We will see what the future brings.'

Open: Mancini (left) believes City can claw back the seven points to catch Manchester United at the top

Open: Mancini (left) believes City can claw back the seven points to catch Manchester United at the top

Cristiano Ronaldo linked with Manchester United return after rejecting Real Madrid deal

Manchester United on red alert as Ronaldo snubs fresh contract at Real Madrid

|

UPDATED:

11:40 GMT, 28 December 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo has refused to sign a new deal with Real Madrid and could be targeted for a dramatic return to Manchester United.

The Portuguese striker has indicated he will snub Real’s offer on the table, and plans on seeing out the final two years on his contract. In doing so, the Galacticos could stand to lose their 80million star for free, in 2015.

The likelihood of anyone matching what Real snapped him up from Old Trafford for in 2009 is slim, which could force a cut-price sale.

Moving on Cristiano Ronaldo has refused to sign a new contract at Real Madrid

Moving on Cristiano Ronaldo has refused to sign a new contract at Real Madrid

Paris Saint-Germain and their seemingly limitless transfer funds are leading the race to sign the 27-year old, believed to be willing to part with up to 90m. It would break transfer world records if it went through, although there are few indications this will happen.

The Ballon d’Or finalist has been offered a contract extension until 2018, increasing his salary by 50 per cent to a whopping 15m a year, but reports of his increasing dissatisfaction in Madrid suggest he will be ready to leave as soon as the end of the season.

Interestingly, despite scoring 23 goals in all competitions for the La Liga champions, his image in Spain has taken a few dents.

He blamed those within the clubs for him feeling ‘sad’ in the capital, claiming they have not provided enough support for him.

Thumbs up: Ronaldo is still a firm favourite with fans at Old Trafford

Sir Alex Ferguson recently revealed he would love to re-sign Ronaldo for Manchester United

Thumbs up: Sir Alex Ferguson recently revealed he would love to re-sign Ronaldo for Manchester United

United meanwhile, will certainly keep close tabs on his touted movements. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confessed he would ‘love’ to bring Ronaldo back one day, but talk is already circulating of him returning along with Madrid coach Jose Mourinho to succeed Fergie, in the coup of the decade.

Ronaldo is still good friends with with former United team-mate Patrice Evra, who said: “He’s done amazing things in Madrid, but has not received the respect he deserves.”

Real defender Raul Albiol, however, hopes it is nothing but speculation, before referring to lingering unrest at the Bernabeu.

‘I don’t know if he’s going to renew his contract or not,’ he told reporters.

‘But Cristiano Ronaldo is the best in the world and we want him by our side as long as possible.’

Albiol has appealed for the club to move on from the controversy caused by Mourinho’s decision to drop stalwart goalkeeper Iker Casillas for deputy Antonio Adan.

‘After 10 years as a starter, the day that Casillas was a substitute surprised everybody. But I think the controversy was too much. Even Iker said that.

‘We must forget these things that happen outside the club and do our best to win things in 2013. Mourinho took the decision and that’s that.

‘We will continue training to be at our best level. We must be united. We all want the best for Real Madrid.’

Jonathan McEvoy reflects on British sport in 2012

'Unforgettable'… Jonathan McEvoy reflects on the greatest ever year of British sport

|

UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 27 December 2012

The lessons of a sporting lifetime were stood on their head in seven unforgettable months between the late spring and mid-winter of 2012.

Even if you were born in the immediate pre-War years, you knew no British chap could ever win a Grand Slam tennis tournament.

Think of the Olympics and the home-grown heroes were so conspicuously few that they were marked out for life. The Tour de France was marvelled at for its epic climbs but was still as Gallic as Brie and Bordeaux.

Outstanding: London 2012's opening ceremony reflected a superb year of sport

Outstanding: London 2012's opening ceremony reflected a superb year of sport

India’s cricketers traditionally dominate on the subcontinent. Our rugby lads had recently distinguished themselves at dwarf-throwing and little else. As for Manchester City, they had not won the title since Noah was a boy.

All this contributed to talk of vulnerability in the country’s competitive psyche. We had grown weary of the plucky-loser narrative but were still searching for a remedy when this annus mirabilis began.

Even the Barclays Premier League, the foremost sporting phenomenon of the past two decades, was losing a little of its lustre to Spain’s La Liga. But it was on the concluding, heart-stopping, see-sawing day of the season that the national game set the dramatic standard for the summer that was to come.

Sunday, May 13, 2012, the Etihad Stadium. The seemingly simple requirement for City to end their 44-year wait for the title was to beat Queens Park Rangers, the team with the worst away record in the League.

Champions: City finally secured the title in the most dramatic fashion possible

Champions: City finally secured the title in the most dramatic fashion possible

That would render a Manchester United win at Sunderland irrelevant, save a mathematical miracle. As we now know, City won 3-2 to finish top on goal difference. Mark Hughes’s QPR, who knew they would avoid relegation unless Bolton beat Stoke, stayed up. But those bare facts do not tell a fraction of the ebb and flow we will now briefly relive.

City had printed T-shirts with ‘Champions’ on but that seemed premature after Djibril Cisse cancelled out Pablo Zabaleta’s opening goal and Jamie Mackie’s magnificent header put QPR 2-1 up. United were winning 1-0. So dire were the portents at this stage for City that the catering trolley — pizza, pastries, and muffins — arrived in the dressing-room minus champagne.

David Platt, City’s assistant manager, who carried little son Charlie on to the pitch pre-match for his I-was-there moment, asked himself: ‘How has this happened’

Fans leave, some in tears. On the bench, City midfielder Gareth Barry spots a helicopter and thinks, wrongly, that the Premier League trophy is being taken to Sunderland. Micah Richards, an unused sub, is in the dressing room on his hands and knees.

But in the 90th minute, Edin Dzeko’s header makes it 2-2. Three minutes and 46 seconds of added time remain. Once-disconsolate fans turn back.

Saviour: Aguero's last-gasp goal was that which won City the Premier League

Saviour: Aguero's last-gasp goal was that which won City the Premier League

The Stoke-Bolton game is over and QPR know they are safe. Their supporters celebrate. And then, Sergio Aguero is played in by Mario Balotelli — a decisive and often overlooked contribution by the petulant one — to score the winner. Ecstasy is limitless. One press officer jumps on to the shoulders of a steward. Or — as it turned out — a doping official.

Jubilant manager Roberto Mancini is greeted by father Aldo, who has travelled from Italy despite heart problems. This afternoon can hardly have helped the old fellow’s ticker.

After a 10-month season the destination of the title was decided in a few fevered seconds. In Sunderland, Sir Alex Ferguson could hear the din generated by his noisy neighbours. On returning home it is understood he told Lady Ferguson he could not now retire for another year.

City, despite the influx of distorting money, had many neutrals with them. Chelsea, on the other hand, test the sympathy of all non-partisans. There was John Terry, found guilty of racism by the FA if cleared in a court of law. This was before his club made their own casual accusations of racism against later exonerated referee Mark Clattenburg.

Put that calumny together with the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo months after winning the Champions League and you could say Stamford Bridge has a knack of making itself look a basket case.

In the dock: John Terry's court case was one of the year's biggest negatives

In the dock: John Terry's court case was one of the year's biggest negatives

Still, credit where due for their vanquishing of Europe. After beating Barcelona — the team of another joy-giver of 2012, Lionel Messi, scorer of 91 goals over the year — they faced Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Resolute but outplayed, Chelsea equalised with two minutes left through Didier Drogba.

Then Drogba, perhaps the ultimate terrace hero of Chelsea’s Russian roubles era, rolled in the winning penalty, his final act for the club. The Abramovich project had found its Holy Grail. And, yes, an English team had beaten a German team in a penalty shootout. We said this year was something novel.

Via a one-line mention of England’s negligible impact on the European Championship and Spain’s gracing of the tournament with a bedazzling brand of football, we move on to the boys of summer.

Bradley Wiggins was our first individual conqueror of the Olympic preamble. ‘I told my teacher there were two things I wanted to do when I grew up,’ Wiggins recalled. ‘I want to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey and win an Olympic gold medal. She told me I must be mad.’

Against the odds: Chelsea battled to an unlikely Champions League title

Against the odds: Chelsea battled to an unlikely Champions League title

Well, he is a little bit. Which road cyclist isn’t He has suffered despair and hit the bottle but self-sacrifice is a key ingredient of success. That means there are times he drinks water while wife Cath tucks into a club sandwich. His diet is so controlled that a package of food arrives each day. He eats out of the cartons supplied, perhaps a box of rice.

He is a 6ft 3in jockey, down from 82kg (12st 13lb) — his weight when he competed on the track at the Beijing Olympics four years ago — to 72kg (11st 5lb) for this year’s crusade, the third attempt by the British-run Team Sky to win the Tour de France.

Wiggins took the yellow jersey for the first time in his life on stage seven. He was then dominant in the mountains where the defending champion Cadel Evans had been expected to ask the hard questions. Wiggins ended up riding into Paris unassailable, his hands in the air down the Champs-Elysees.

No Briton had won the Tour in its 109-year history. He had done it, as far as every expert and all our instincts knew, clean of drugs. That was even more important after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his saintly reputation by the US Anti-Doping Agency in October. Their boss Travis Tygart is another hero of 2012.

Leading the way: Wiggins became Britain's first Tour de France champion

Leading the way: Wiggins became Britain's first Tour de France champion

Wiggins was still haunted by the crimes of the Nineties and the very Naughties, with malicious gossipers implying he was on the illegal juice. This is what he thought of those accusations: ‘It’s easy for them to sit there on Twitter under a pseudonym and write that sort of s*** rather than get off their own a**** and work hard to achieve something.’

Well said. But he could act as a sportsman as well as a straight-talker, slowing the peloton when tacks thrown on the road caused a puncture to Evans. The French called Wiggins Le Gentleman. Thankfully an eschewer of celebrity, sometimes unnecessarily caustic, he is certainly Monsieur Quirky. We hail him for his foibles and his brilliance. And to think Mark Cavendish, our fabulous sprinter, began 2012 as the pre-eminent name in British road cycling, to the extent that Wiggins was asked earlier in the year: ‘Do you think you’re the forgotten man’

Wiggins won Sports Personality of the Year and, in the view of this observer, rightly. The addition of his Olympic time-trial gold medal made his case irresistible. However, there was also a fine argument advanced on behalf of Andy Murray, who became Britain’s first male Grand Slam winner for 76 years.

Before that, Murray lost the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer before making one of the most lachrymose speeches centre court has witnessed. But back for the Olympics, he avenged that result.

Tears: Murray could not hide his emotion after losing the Wimbledon final

Tears: Murray could not hide his emotion after losing the Wimbledon final

My belief is that tennis — like football with its World Cup — should be axed from the Olympics as it does not represent the zenith of the sport. Yet Murray’s straight-sets gold-medal win over the Swiss master was gripping. It was the most popular BBC iPlayer broadcast of the Games.

With his latest coach, Ivan Lendl, an unsmiling and unforgiving presence, there seemed a hardening of Murray’s spirit where he might previously have made a drama out of a twinge. No less than Novak Djokovic detected a fraction more aggression in his rival’s play.

Finally, at Flushing Meadows, Murray (right) made his talent and flair work for him, beating the approving Djokovic 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 after four hours and 54 minutes of sapping combat to win the US Open.

He had accomplished his lifetime’s ambition during tennis’s golden age. The Federer-Rafael Nadal duopoly was legendary and enduring even before Djokovic intervened by superseding them as No 1. The company Murray keeps is a measure of the player.

In golf, Rory McIlroy was touched by the angels. He was also the scamp chewing on an energy bar on that unforgettable Ryder Cup day. The crowd shouted, ‘How’s the hangover, Rory’ as he arrived on the last morning scarily close to his tee-time, having apparently muddled up the time zones.

Breakthrough: Murray finally won his first Major at the US Open

Breakthrough: Murray finally won his first Major at the US Open

I was a touch suspicious, but journalistic friends there assure me his excuse was genuine. No practice, no matter, he breezed to an outward nine of 32. He and his European team-mates, with Ian Poulter at the heart and soul of the revival, were enacting the Miracle at Medinah.

At the end of Saturday with the home team leading 10-6, one American sports journalist, Gene Wojciechowski, wrote: ‘For those who think this Ryder Cup is finished, think again. Team Europe can still win if the following five things happen Sunday: 1. Keegan Bradley is abducted. 2. Team USA captain Davis Love III inserts Cup spectators Michael Jordan, President George W Bush, Amy Mickelson and the Rev Jesse Jackson into the singles line-up. 3. Lee Westwood: US citizen. 4. Marty McFly shows Team Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal how to go back in time. Last Friday morning will do. 5. Team Europe wins eight of the remaining 12 matches to retain the Cup.’

Oh dear, even if we did share the broad sentiment. Around the country, people stuck with Sky’s gripping coverage as the clock ticked towards midnight. It dawned on us that Europe could accomplish the greatest victory in the 85-year history of the competition.

Cheers filled every sitting room as Martin Kaymer holed from five feet to seal a 14-13 win. Jose Maria Olazabal had gone from much-questioned captain to smiling hero. He had honoured the memory of great friend Severiano Ballesteros.

McIlroy’s personal accomplishments also evoked Ballesteros. His victory at the US PGA made him the youngest multiple major winner since the great Spaniard 32 years earlier. McIlroy’s margin of victory was eight shots, just as at the 2011 US Open.

Shock: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate Europe's Ryder Cup triumph

Shock: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate Europe's Ryder Cup triumph

His triumph came after a mini-slump, which he laudably ascribed to having taken his eye off the ball. Chivalrously, he refused to blame tennis-playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki for providing the distraction. He ended the year as world No 1 and golf’s greatest attraction since Tiger Woods drove into a fire hydrant.

The equine star of 2012 was Frankel, who retired from Flat racing with 14 wins from 14 races. Twice he won by 10 lengths or more, including at Royal Ascot this year. He ranks among the greatest horses ever bred. Still, we were nervous at the start of his final race, the Champion Stakes. Rain had threatened to spoil the script. Anxiety was heightened when he made an awful start.

But we are talking about 2012, the year when everything went right. So he and jockey Tom Queally recovered to sign off in style. It was a poignant day because his celebrated Dr Dolittle of a trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, was fighting cancer.

Untouchable: Frankel saw off all competition

Untouchable: Frankel saw off all competition

Sir Henry was in the paddock, his voice a whisper, his manners exemplary, every autograph-hunter obliged. Work done, Frankel went off to Banstead Manor Stud for several hundred assignations. Cecil left with everyone’s wishes for a reprieve. Speaking of the future, it was announced that the other wonder-horse of the era, steeplechaser Kauto Star, is destined for a second career in dressage, which seems a trifle dainty for such a fine beast.

As the nights drew in here, England’s rugby team came up with perhaps the year’s least expected victory. As New Zealand came to Twickenham, one of the All Blacks staff enquired where they should stand when they collected the winners’ Hillary Shield.

But England prevailed, 38-21. It was one of the finest performances at HQ, all the more remarkable for the defeats against Australia and South Africa that preceded it. A watershed or a fabulous one-off We look to the Six Nations and beyond for the answer.

Flying: England surpassed all expectations by beating the All Blacks

Flying: England surpassed all expectations by beating the All Blacks

And then, finally, 2012’s Indian summer. Brought down to earth by South Africa a few months earlier — with Graeme Smith causing a third England captain, Andrew Strauss, to perish during his long and brutal reign — our cricketers were now led by Alastair Cook.

He faced the task of winning on the dusty graveyard of so many tourists. England lost the first Test and won the second magnificently. Cook scored stoic centuries in both. Then in the third Test, in Kolkata, he swept from outside his off-stump for three runs. His century was up — the 23rd of his Test career, more than any other Englishman. It eclipsed a record set by Wally Hammond 73 years earlier.

Cook had beaten the showboating and recently quarrelsome Kevin Pietersen to the mark. Who could begrudge the unshowiest of captains his reward The series — and the team’s peace with Pietersen — followed.

Leading by example: Cook captained England to victory in India

Leading by example: Cook captained England to victory in India

It was a final confirmation that 2012 has been the year British sport delivered even when the result appeared to be getting away.

You could almost put your mortgage on our teams, and how often have we been able to say that Forgive the amateur philosophy but 2012 might just have changed the country’s relationship with sport. At least for now.

UEFA president Michel Platini considering goal-line technology

Platini in video technology U-turn as UEFA chief admits he's considering replays to rule on offside decisions

|

UPDATED:

16:03 GMT, 28 November 2012

UEFA president Michel Platini has admitted he is considering the use of video replays to help referees rule on offside decisions for the first time.

It marks a dramatic turnaround from the head of European football, who has long been opposed to the use of goal-line technology and video in football to help referees make correct decisions, arguing they are unnecessary and slow the game down.

In fact, it was believed that even if English clubs had goal-line technology in place, he would insist that any clubs playing in the Champions League and Europa League turn OFF the hi-tech systems for those games.

Centre of attention: Platini is considering the use of video replays

Centre of attention: Platini is considering the use of video replays

Asked if he had changed his mind on the use of video by French newspaper Ouest France, Platini said: 'There is a complicated thing for which we might, and I say might, need video, it's offside. Because it is very difficult for the referees to rule on that.'

Since the European Championships in the summer, FIFA have jumped ahead of UEFA in their openness to using technology.

For FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the final straw came in Donetsk this summer, when it was not spotted by the officials that a shot from Ukraine forward Marko Devic had crossed the line before it was hooked away by John Terry.

Replays have established Devic had been offside earlier in the move, and that had not been spotted either. Yet at the time Platini uses that incident to underline why he does not want technology in the game.

Speaking in June Platini said: 'The goal between England and Ukraine: it was a goal. It was a mistake from the referee. But there was an offside before then.

'If the officials had given offside there wouldn't have been a goal. So why don't we have technology for offside decisions as well Where does it stop' 'It's not goal-line technology in itself,' said Platini.

'I am against technology coming into force to actually make decisions.

'It invades every single area. If tomorrow someone handballs it on the line and the referee doesn't see it, what then

'We can't just have goal-line technology. We also need sensors to see if someone has handballed it.

'We need cameras to see if it should be a goal or not.' During the summer it seemed there was even the possibility that Platini might look to prevent technology being used in UEFA's flagship tournaments even if FIFA decide to pursue the venture.

'We are going to see if this is suggested and proposed to all federations,' he said. 'The national federations will have then have the chance to decide whether they want goal-line technology.

'Mr Blatter knows what I think of this and I know his thoughts on the issue.'

Brad Friedel set to quit Tottenham for Blackburn return

Friedel set to end Spurs battle with Lloris by making shock return to Blackburn

|

UPDATED:

22:53 GMT, 21 November 2012

Brad Friedel is ready to give up his battle with Hugo Lloris to be Tottenham's first-choice goalkeeper and make a dramatic return to Blackburn Rovers.

New Blackburn manager Henning Berg was in negotiations with Spurs on Wednesday over a deal that would see Friedel move back to Ewood Park on loan until January when the transfer would become permanent.

The 41-year-old American is also being offered a coaching role at his old club.

Wanted: Brad Friedel (centre) is tempted by a coaching offer from Blackburn

Wanted: Brad Friedel (centre) is tempted by a coaching offer from Blackburn

Friedel has been locked in a battle with Lloris since the France international arrived at White Hart Lane from Lyon for 8million in the summer.

Lloris was widely expected to be first-choice but, despite ending Friedel's remarkable run of 310 consecutive starts in the Premier League for Blackburn, Aston Villa and Spurs last month, manager Andre Villas-Boas still seems undecided between the two.

Clear run: Friedel's departure would make Hugo Lloris undisputed No 1

Clear run: Friedel's departure would make Hugo Lloris undisputed No 1

Both he and chairman Daniel Levy are understood to be reluctant to lose Friedel but the player is tempted by an opportunity to return to the north-west, where he still has a luxury home in Cheshire, and the offer of a move into coaching.

The deal is bound to place a question mark over Paul Robinson's future at Blackburn.

Former Rovers boss Sam Allardyce is known to be interested in taking Robinson to West Ham, and a move in January might now be a possibility.

Thomas Ince subject of 5million Liverpool bid

EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool make 5m bid for Ince… a year after they released him for free!

|

UPDATED:

18:02 GMT, 16 November 2012

Highly-rated: Ince

Highly-rated: Ince

Liverpool have made a 5million bid for Thomas Ince in a dramatic move to take the England Under 21 midfielder back to Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers is keen to recruit Ince’s attacking flair and eye for goal and hopes to reach an agreement with Blackpool in time to complete a deal at the start of the January transfer window.

Blackpool have yet to come back with an answer, according to Anfield sources, but Liverpool are confident of signing him for a second time, amid growing suggestions that both Ince and Matt Phillips may have to be sold before the season is out.

Southampton and Swansea are both hot
on the trail of Phillips and believe he could be prised away from
Bloomfield Road for 6million in the New Year.

Both have also enquired about Ince,
though Liverpool are in pole position after making a concrete offer, in
the wake of his England under-21 appearance against Northern Ireland on
Tuesday night.

Manchester United have been linked
with the 20-year-old, and do have an interest in him, but Rodgers has
made the first move after vowing to reinforce his attacking options.

Ince joined Liverpool as a junior in
2008 and was given a squad number at the start of the 2010-11 season. He
never made a Barclays Premier League appearance for them, though, and
readily accepted Blackpool’s offer of a two-year contract, with an
option for a further 12 months, after beginning to despair of making the
breakthrough at Anfield.

Anfield return Liverpool released Ince at the end of the 2010-11 season

Anfield return Liverpool released Ince at the end of the 2010-11 season

His progress there has been such that
Rodgers sees him as a ready-made replacement for Stewart Downing, whose
Liverpool days look numbered after a signal he will be allowed to
leave.

Reflecting on the transformation in
his fortunes since moving to Bloomfield Road, Ince said: ‘I wouldn’t be
where I am today if it wasn’t for Blackpool. I’ve been given the
opportunity to play week in, week out at a very high level in the
Championship.

‘It is flattering to have all that
(transfer) interest. It shows you are playing good football and are in
good form, but at the moment my focus is on playing for Blackpool.’

Mario Balotelli wants to stay at Manchester City

Mario's going nowhere! Balotelli wants to stay at City despite Mancini lining up 46m bid for Falcao

|

UPDATED:

09:02 GMT, 13 November 2012

Mario Balotelli's agent has claimed the controversial striker wants to see out his contract at Manchester City, despite recent troubles that has seen manager Roberto Mancini leave him out of the matchday squad.

Mino Raiola, agent and close adviser to the 22-year-old Italy striker, said that Balotelli is determined to stay at the club until his contract expires in June 2015 and re-establish himself in the first team.

City manager Mancini rejected a 40million bid from Paris Saint-German this summer but has become increasingly frustrated by his performances and work ethic in training and AC Milan are reported to be ready to offer Balotelli a return to Italy in January.

Staying power: Mario Balotelli wants to see out the remainder of his contract at Manchester City, according to his agent

Staying power: Mario Balotelli wants to see out the remainder of his contract at Manchester City, according to his agent

But his agent said: 'There’s no Italy and no plans to go there. He’ll work until the end of his contract. He doesn’t want to leave.'

Mancini dropped Balotelli from the matchday squad altogether before City’s last-minute 2-1 victory over Tottenham and Raiola added: 'There’s no player happy with not playing in a game but he accepts it.

'It’s all part of the game. It doesn’t mean he wants to leave Manchester.'

The emergence of Edin Dzeko as a super sub at the Etihad has pushed Balotelli down the pecking order at the club.

The Italian is yet to score in the Premier League for City in this campaign, and his only goal in open play came in a defeat by Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup.

But it is understood that Mancini wants to see a dramatic improvement from the striker whose impact on the pitch – just two goals in 13 appearances this season – no longer justifies the distraction he causes.

Balotelli was spotted partying by City fans the night before the Spurs game, reports The Sun.

He was seen entering the Panacea Restaurant and Bar in Alderley Edge at 1am — with City kicking off at 1.30pm against Spurs that afternoon.

Balotelli had already been axed from the City squad the previous day and told he was not required at the team hotel that night.

Although Balotelli had not officially broken any rules by being out as he was not in the squad, the latest indiscretion has not gone down well.

New trim: Balotelli showed off his new haircut during Italy's training session on Monday

New trim: Balotelli showed off his new haircut during Italy's training session on Monday

Not needed: The Italian striker didn't even make Roberto Mancini's bench for City's 2-1 win over Tottenham

Not needed: The Italian striker didn't even make Roberto Mancini's bench for City's 2-1 win over Tottenham

City's new director of football Txiki Begiristain is believed to be open to selling Balotelli, and has told Mancini that he must offload players before adding to his squad in January.

Mancini wants to sign Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao and has reportedly already met the player's representative, Jorge Mendes, to discuss a 46m bid.

The problem could be finding any takers for a player who would cost in the region of 20million and earns nearly 100,000-a-week.

Both Milan clubs are interested in taking Balotelli back to Italy, and the player is keen to be nearer his hometown of Brescia with girlfriend Raffaella Fico expected to give birth to their first child over Christmas.

However, it is unlikely that AC Milan could afford him and they are not interested in any swap deal involving their rising star Stephan El Shaarawy.

Inter, who sold Balotelli to City for 24m in the summer of 2010, are a more realistic option but would be unlikely to take him in January.

They already have a problem player in Antonio Cassano and are concerned about the effect signing Balotelli in mid-season would have on their dressing-room.

Wanted man: Roberto Mancini has been told he will have to raise the 46million to buy Radamel Falcao

Wanted man: Roberto Mancini has been told he will have to raise the 46million to buy Radamel Falcao

No joy: Balotelli (left) appeared as a substitute for City in their 2-2 draw against Ajax and had a penalty claim turned down

No joy: Balotelli (left) appeared as a substitute for City in their 2-2 draw against Ajax and had a penalty claim turned down

Paris Saint-Germain, who had a bid rejected in the summer, may revive their interest but the player is known to prefer Italy.

He still hopes to salvage his City career despite a demotion to fourth-choice striker behind Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Dzeko.

In an interview with Time Magazine earlier this month, Balotelli once again spoke of his special relationship with Mancini who brought him through the ranks at Inter.

'My relationship with Mancini is really important,' he said. 'He's known me since I was young and he's like a father to me.

'I used to play with the young children at Inter Milan, so I know him very well and I can tell him anything.' City won in Balotelli's absence on Sunday with Dzeko's late strike clinching a 2-1 comeback victory over Spurs.

Frustrated: Mancini dropped Balotelli after the striker was reportedly out late on Saturday evening

Frustrated: Mancini dropped Balotelli after the striker was reportedly out late on Saturday evening

Goalkeeper Joe Hart believes it was the perfect riposte to critics who claim that City are divided and lack the togetherness to retain their Premier League title.

'The spirit has never been in question,' said Hart. 'We have that and we have quality. Those two combined makes us the team we are.

'It's not a quality we've developed. It's just instilled in the people. It's a group of winners.

Twenty players who play to win – we're lucky with that. We don't turn up to tick boxes or make people happy, we turn up to win.

'We showed why we are champions and hopefully we will be again.'

Manchester City ready to listen to offers for Mario Balotelli as Roberto Mancini prepares 46m Falcao bid

Mancini ready to listen to offers for Balotelli as Man City boss prepares 46m Falcao bid

|

UPDATED:

06:49 GMT, 13 November 2012

Manchester City will explore the possibility of selling Mario
Balotelli in January if he does not heed the latest wake-up call from
manager Roberto Mancini.

Balotelli watched Sunday's win over Tottenham from the stands after
he was left out of the squad altogether for what Mancini described as a
'technical' reason, and then flew back to Italy for Wednesday's
international against France amid fresh speculation over his future in
England.

Trim: Mario Balotelli shows off his new haircut during training with the Italy squad on Monday

Trim: Mario Balotelli shows off his new haircut during training with the Italy squad on Monday

National service: Balotelli will hope to put his recent misery with Manchester City behind him

National service: Balotelli will hope to put his recent misery with Manchester City behind him

It is understood that Mancini wants to see a dramatic improvement from the 22-year-old striker whose impact on the pitch – just two goals in 13 appearances this season – no longer justifies the distraction he causes.

Balotelli was spotted partying by City fans the night before the Spurs game. He was seen entering the Panacea Restaurant and Bar in Alderley Edge at
1am — with City kicking off at 1.30pm against Spurs that afternoon.

Balotelli had been axed from the City squad the previous day and told he was
not required at the team hotel that night.

Although Balotelli had not officially broken any rules by being out as he was not in
the squad, the latest indiscretion has not gone down well.

City's new director of football Txiki Begiristain is believed to be open to selling Balotelli, and has told Mancini that he must offload players before adding to his squad in January.

Just warming up: Italy's squad jog in training ahead of their friendly against France on Wednesday

Just warming up: Italy's squad jog in training ahead of their friendly against France on Wednesday

Mancini wants to sign Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao and has reportedly already met the player's
representative, Jorge Mendes, to discuss a 46m bid.

The problem could be finding any takers for a player who would cost in
the region of 20million and earns nearly 100,000-a-week.

Both Milan clubs are interested in taking Balotelli back to Italy, and
the player is keen to be nearer his hometown of Brescia with girlfriend
Raffaella Fico expected to give birth to their first child over
Christmas.

However, it is
unlikely that AC Milan could afford him and they are not interested in
any swap deal involving their rising star Stephan El Shaarawy.

Inter, who sold Balotelli to City for 24m in the summer of 2010, are a
more realistic option but would be unlikely to take him in January.
They already have a problem player in Antonio Cassano and are concerned
about the effect signing Balotelli in mid-season would have on their
dressing-room.

Out in the cold: Balotelli was dropped from Manchester City's team that beat Tottenham on Sunday

Out in the cold: Balotelli was dropped from Manchester City's team that beat Tottenham on Sunday

Paris Saint-Germain, who had a bid rejected in the summer, may revive their interest but the player is known to prefer Italy.

He still hopes to salvage his City career despite a demotion to
fourth-choice striker behind Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko.

In an interview withTime Magazine earlier this month, Balotelli
once again spoke of his special relationship with Mancini who brought
him through the ranks at Inter.

'My relationship with Mancini is really important,' he said. 'He's known me since I was young and he's like a father to me.

'I used to play with the young children at Inter Milan, so I know
him very well and I can tell him anything.' City won in Balotelli's
absence on Sunday with Dzeko's late strike clinching a 2-1 comeback
victory over Spurs.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart believes it was the perfect riposte to critics
who claim that City are divided and lack the togetherness to retain
their Premier League title.

'The spirit has never been in question,' said Hart. 'We have that
and we have quality. Those two combined makes us the team we are.

'It's not a quality we've developed. It's just instilled in the
people. It's a group of winners. Twenty players who play to win – we're
lucky with that. We don't turn up to tick boxes or make people happy,
we turn up to win.

'We showed why we are champions and hopefully we will be again.'