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QPR 0 Liverpool 3 – Match report

QPR 0 Liverpool 3: Suarez's double leaves Redknapp and Rangers rooted to the bottom of the table

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 30 December 2012

When Daniel Agger scored Liverpool’s third, one fan stood up, ripped off his QPR-branded hat and coat, hurled them down towards the pitch from the top tier of the South Africa Road Stand and, with a theatrical flourish, flounced off.

There was an hour to play but Harry Redknapp could be forgiven if he felt the same way as he fumed on the touchline.

It was Brendan Rodgers who had called in sick, struck down eight hours before kick-off by a virus tearing through the Liverpool camp but it is Redknapp who will wake feeling groggy this morning and QPR who are staring down the pan.

Lift off: Luis Suarez fired Liverpool into the lead in the first half

Lift off: Luis Suarez fired Liverpool into the lead in the first half

Match facts:

QPR: Julio Cesar, Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill, Traore, Mackie, Diakite (Granero 63), Mbia, Wright-Phillips (Da Silva 80), Taarabt, Cisse (Derry 46).

Subs Not Used: Green, Ferdinand, Hoilett, Faurlin.

Booked: Mbia, Da Silva.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique (Fernandez Saez 71), Allen (Carragher 87), Henderson (Lucas 64), Downing, Gerrard, Sterling, Suarez.

Subs Not Used: Gulacsi, Assaidi, Coates, Shelvey.

Booked: Lucas.

Goals: Suarez 10, 16,Agger 28.

Attendance: 18,304

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Agger’s goal, preceded by two from the
outstanding Luis Suarez, has left them anchored to the foot of the
Barclays Premier League, eight points from safety.

The six-point ‘bounce’ they enjoyed by
sacking Mark Hughes last month has been followed by three defeats. This
display was branded ‘woeful’ by owner Tony Fernandes within minutes of
the final whistle. The forecast is bleak.

Only three times in 20 years of the
Premier League have a team survived after being bottom at the turn of
the year. January brings Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City,
starting at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, and the manager demanded fight
from a squad he fears is fat with overpaid and disinterested players.

‘I still think we’ll stay up,’ said
Redknapp. ‘You’ll think I’m mad but I think we will. I only want
positive players around me. I said that in the dressing room after the
match. Those who are moping around, the subs who are not playing,
they’re not playing because they’re no good. If they were any good, I’d
be picking them.

‘I don’t need miserable faces. I don’t
need them around me. I need people who are upbeat. The next two games,
Chelsea away and Tottenham at home, two of the best teams in the
country. Difficult games but we’ve got to keep going and I still think
we’ll do it.’

Back of the net: Suarez beats Julio Cesar to score for Liverpool

Back of the net: Suarez beats Julio Cesar to score for Liverpool

Not if the first half-hour yesterday
is anything to go by, they won’t. Torn to shreds by a team in mid-table
with unimpressive away form and coaches who did not dare enter the
dressing room for fear of spreading the bug which had wiped out Rodgers,
fitness coach Glen Driscoll and reserve goalkeeper Brad Jones.

Rodgers picked the team, planned the
tactics and returned to Merseyside. His assistant Colin Pascoe was also
poorly and advised by medical staff to keep away from the players, even
though he felt well enough to be on the touchline.

‘The medical team and doctors tried to
isolate the players and staff,’ said Pascoe. ‘Hopefully they’ll have
nipped it in the bud but, unfortunately, Brendan woke up and felt
unwell. He might have watched it but he was that bad I’m sure he was in
bed.’ If he was watching, his spirits will have been lifted by Suarez,
who almost struck in the third minute, skipping past Clint Hill with
ease but foiled by Julio Cesar, preferred in goal to Robert Green.

Free scoring: Suarez celebrates scoring his second

Free scoring: Suarez celebrates scoring his second

Rangers captain Hill had spoken ahead
of the game about the attitude of some of the big-money signings made
since the club were promoted but he may regret sticking his head above
the parapet on the day Suarez came to Loftus Road.

The Uruguayan opened the scoring in
the 10th minute. He wriggled clear of Hill, turned and ran, dropped a
shoulder and darted inside. He was simply too quick for the centre half
and applied a calm finish with his right foot.

Five minutes later, he made it 2-0. He
beat Hill in the air and took the return pass from Stewart Downing,
dribbled in from the right and aimed a low cross towards Raheem
Sterling. It was smothered by Nedum Onuoha but spilled out to Suarez,
who whipped it past Cesar from a tight angle.

In March, Rangers came back from two
down to beat Liverpool and launch their survival push but a repeat was
not likely. Liverpool, inspired, poured forward. The home team were in
disarray, happy to cling on until half-time.

Head boy: Daniel Agger makes it 3-0 with a header before the break

Head boy: Daniel Agger makes it 3-0 with a header before the break

Joy and despair: The Liverpool players celebrate Agger's goal as the QPR players look dejected

Joy and despair: The Liverpool players celebrate Agger's goal as the QPR players look dejected

‘Did you think we were going to win
4-3’ asked Redknapp. ‘No, nor did I. You have to be realistic in
football. Do you want to get beat 8-0 or damage limitation So I changed
how we played and shut up shop. Maybe I should’ve done that from the
start.’

Redknapp sent on Shaun Derry and
switched to three central defenders. Here is the crux of the problem,
simplified: the quality players at Rangers don’t have the guts and the
gutsy ones are a fraction short of the quality needed.

Getting there first: Glen Johnson tackles Armand Traore

Getting there first: Glen Johnson tackles Armand Traore

At times it was cringeworthy, such as
when Adel Taarabt tried to pull a corner towards Shaun Wright- Phillips
on the edge of the penalty area. Somehow, Wright-Phillips allowed it to
squeeze between his legs and the visitors set off on a dangerous
counter-attack.

Liverpool eased the pressure and
coasted through the second half, although they could have scored more.
Cesar had to produce a flying save to deny Suarez a hat-trick.

Up for the fight: Adel Taarabt has his shot blocked by Joe Allen

Up for the fight: Adel Taarabt has his shot blocked by Joe Allen

‘Saying it was easy would be very
disrespectful to QPR, they are having a tough time at the moment,’ said
Steven Gerrard. ‘It was probably the best we played this season, in the
first half.’

The win eased Liverpool up to ninth and the only problem, apart from the virus, was a hamstring injury to Jose Enrique.

QPR dream of problems like that.

Tough task: Harry Redknapp has seen QPR lose their last three games

Tough task: Harry Redknapp has seen QPR lose their last three games

Chris Foy"s highs and lows of 2012 in rugby union

It's been a funny old year, so here are the highs and lows of an unforgettable 2012

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UPDATED:

00:10 GMT, 28 December 2012

At the end of a year that featured so many remarkable, inspirational sporting feats, this column presents the rugby highlights and lowlights – the good, bad and ugly of 2012.

These are a mixture of the conventional and bizarre, the well-known and obscure. Above all, this is a personal selection of memories, not an exhaustive, comprehensive record of the last 12 months. Here goes:

Player of the Year: Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe. It has been said here before and it is worth saying again – Argentina's back-row captain is simply without equal.

Stand-out: Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe is Sportsmail's Chris Foy's Player of 2012

Stand-out: Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe is Sportsmail's Chris Foy's Player of 2012

Try of the Year: To jog the memory, Sky provided a useful shortlist. Based on their eye-catching selection, the one that stands out is from New Zealand's ITM Cup; Hawke's Bay wing Gillies Kaka against Bay of Plenty.

Sheer counter-attacking audacity and predatory class.

Performance of the Year (team): It is still vividly fresh in the mind, almost a month on. England beating the seemingly invincible All Blacks with a three-try swagger was the ultimate collective feat.

Performance of the Year (individual): In England's win over France in Paris in March, Tom Croft reached standards even beyond what he delivered for the Lions in 2009.

The Tigers flanker scored a scorching try, dominated the lineout, carried superbly, tackled, hit rucks, the lot. Upsets of the year: Harlequins losing to Connacht in Galway and Edinburgh ambushing the mighty Toulouse at Murrayfield in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Invincible England hammered New Zealand at Twickenham

Invincible England hammered New Zealand at Twickenham

More from Chris Foy…

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20/12/12

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06/12/12

Chris Foy: Early World Cup draw can sow seeds of discontent
29/11/12

Chris Foy: New guru Parker will soon learn rugby is not an exact science
22/11/12

Chris Foy world of rugby: Lam's back, so it could be the chop for Howley
15/11/12

Chris Foy: Six injured and counting, Lancaster needs stability
01/11/12

World of rugby: Ireland facing the music as Strauss gets a call-up
25/10/12

Chris Foy: More referees will follow Lawrence's example and quit if this hounding goes on
18/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Best Test newcomers: Craig Gilroy (Ireland), Eben Etzebeth (South Africa), Michael Hooper (Australia), Joe Launchbury (England), Tim Visser (Scotland).

Best game covered: South Africa v England in Johannesburg. Springbok fervour in the stands and ferocity on the field, England hit to near-oblivion, then reviving to nearly conjure a stunning win.

Best nickname revelations: Dan Cole (Polar Bear) – 'It's a large Arctic creature, fur as white as my skin.'

Toby Flood, during Movember: 'I'm told I look like the lead singer of Metallica.' (He meant Lemmy from Motorhead!)

Worst match conditions: Plenty of contenders, but it has to be Australia v Scotland in June. The visitors prevailed in a monsoon far more reminiscent of a wild night at Murrayfield than the usually balmy surrounds of the New South Wales coast.

Agonising defeat: Ireland deserved a maiden win over New Zealand during their second Test in June but after Jonny Sexton missed a penalty at 19-19 in Christchurch, Dan Carter's last-minute drop goal saw the All Blacks home.

Worst celebration: Seconds after Scotland clinched their famous win that night, the players formed a bouncing huddle, but when Joe Ansbro and Alasdair Strokosch leapt on to it, their clash of heads left Ansbro with blood pouring from an eye wound and he missed his country's next game.

Amusing ambush: Roger Lewis, chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, offering to stage the England v Wales World Cup 2015 pool game in Cardiff, just minutes after the draw had pitched the bitter rivals together. The host nation didn't take long to reject his 'kind offer'.

Polar bear: Dan Cole has acquired a nickname because of his size and fair hair

Polar bear: Dan Cole has acquired a nickname because of his size and fair hair

New buzz-phrase: 'Work-ons'. England's new coaching team have wholeheartedly adopted it. Bad day for defences: Heineken Cup – Northampton 36 Munster 51.

Worrying trend: Exodus of Welsh players to French clubs, amid economic turmoil.

Drawn-out farce of the Year No 1: Promotion of London Welsh to the Premiership. Having won the Championship but failed to satisfy the Minimum Standards Criteria, both the Exiles and Newcastle were kept hanging on until the decision was eventually reversed on appeal in July.

Drawn-out farce of the Year No 2: England coach recruitment. While Stuart Lancaster was put in charge without too much fuss after his convincing Six Nations audition, the RFU were slack in pursuing Andy Farrell, then snubbed by Wayne Smith before Farrell's re-think.

Surreal news day: Wasps had just staged a press conference in a pub by Ealing Common when the TV rights war erupted in September. It was nearly closing time when the last words had been filed.

Best new overseas imports: Kahn Fotuali'i (Ospreys), Vereniki Goneva (Leicester).

Dead ringer: Toby Flood was told he looked like the lead singer of Motorhead when sporting his 'Movember' facial hair

Dead ringer: Toby Flood was told he looked like the lead singer of Motorhead when sporting his 'Movember' facial hair

Most difficult phone call: Warren Gatland ringing his long-time sidekick Shaun Edwards to tell him that he would not be part of the Lions coaching staff next summer.

Favourite fans: Clermont, Munster and Ulster.

Grounds for complaint No 1: When there was a rare burst of snow in Rome prior to England's Six Nations encounter with Italy, ground-staff made a feeble attempt to clear the surface at the Stadio Olimpico and only in the half occupied by the Azzurri.

Grounds for complaint No 2: Saracens' use of the PA system at Vicarage Road to relentlessly play 'Stand up for the Saracens' in an attempt to drown out Munster's magnificent fans.

My prediction howlers: England to beat Australia. Wrong. England 'surely can't win' against New Zealand. Wrong. Leinster to retain the Heineken Cup. Almost certainly wrong.

The last word…

Danny Cipriani has been recalled by Sale for Friday's clash with Worcester at Salford City Stadium as the Premiership's bottom club attempt to close the five-point gap to 11th-placed London Irish.

The former England fly-half was dropped from the squad last week and heavily criticised by the Sharks' hierarchy following the 62-0 defeat against Toulon at the Stade Felix Mayol on December 16 in the group stage of the Heineken Cup.

Recall: Danny Cipriani is set to play against Worcester for Sale

Recall: Danny Cipriani is set to play against Worcester for Sale

Having settled into the Premiership with more conviction than anyone imagined, London Welsh have signalled their commitment to long-term growth and development by recruiting Tony Copsey as their chief executive.

The former Wales and Scarlets lock will take up his new post from New Year's Day alongside former Llanelli team-mate Lyn Jones, now coach.

Luke Donald leads DP World Tour Championship

Donald leads the way but McIlroy sits one back as top two target another Dubai battle

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UPDATED:

13:58 GMT, 22 November 2012

They’re ranked No 1 and 2 in the world and No 1 and tied second on the leaderboard after the first round of the DP World Tour Championship.

Twelve months after their wonderful duel for the Race to Dubai, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald are it again here in the Middle East.

Fresh from his win in Japan last week, world No 2 Donald shot a 65 for a one stroke lead over McIlroy, Scot Marc Warren and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Out in front: Luke Donald is the leader after round one of the DP World Tour Championship

Out in front: Luke Donald is the leader after round one of the DP World Tour Championship

DP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP

Click here for the full leaderboard

‘There’s a long way to go, of course, but I think it would be fun for everyone if Rory and myself were to find ourselves in the final group on Sunday,’ said Donald.

‘I’d certainly welcome the challenge, that is for sure.’

There would be no Race to Dubai title on the line this time, of course – McIlroy has already sewn that one up – but Donald has his eye on winning this event and adding more gloss on a season that has seen him win three times already to make it eight victories over the last two and a half years.

‘I’d give this season a mark of eight out of 10,’ said Donald. ‘It is true that I didn’t play quite as I wanted at the majors but around them there are a lot of positives to take into next season.

'I’ve won a good number of tournaments over this stretch and I feel like I am in the finest form of my career.’

Sitting pretty: Rory McIlroy is just one behind Donald after the opening round

Sitting pretty: Rory McIlroy is just one behind Donald after the opening round

McIlroy came to the last needing a birdie four to ensure he would be playing with Donald on Friday and was a little miffed to miss out.

‘There’s always a nice buzz playing with Luke,’ he said. ‘We’re the two best-ranked players and he’s so tough to beat. But let’s hope we can keep playing well and so we’re playing together later in the tournament.’

There was a moment of levity in McIlroy’s press conference when his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki picked up the microphone.

‘Given the amazing support you’re getting out here this week, if you win can I expect a nice Christmas present,’ she said.

Support act: Caroline Wozniacki was there backing her boyfriend McIlroy

Support act: Caroline Wozniacki was there backing her boyfriend McIlroy

‘Don’t you get enough nice presents’ replied Rory.

‘How am I as a cheerleader’ asked Caroline.

‘You’re a better tennis player,’ said McIlroy.

There are plenty of good players in touch who are all intent on ensuring this isn’t just the Luke and Rory show.

Lee Westwood, who clinched both the Race to Dubai and this title here three years ago, is nicely in touch after a 67, the same mark as Padraig Harrington.

Right up there: Lee Westwood is just two shots off the pace after a 67 at the Earth Course

Right up there: Lee Westwood is just two shots off the pace after a 67 at the Earth Course

Two more Ryder Cup players, Justin Rose and Nicolas Colsaerts, shot 68, but Ian Poulter could only manage a 72 and, in typical black and white fashion, said he was disgusted with himself.

‘Finally hit the wall today, the jetlag has caught up with me,’ said Poults, who finished runner-up in Australia last week and won in China three weeks ago.

Singapore Open: Live leaderboard

Singapore Open leaderboard: Keep up to date with the scores

UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 7 November 2012

The European Tour is at the Sentosa Golf Club this week for the Singapore Open.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano took the title last year and you can keep track of all the latest scores right here.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE LEADERBOARD

World No 1: Rory McIlroy is teeing it up at the Singapore Open

World No 1: Rory McIlroy is teeing it up at the Singapore Open

Juan Mata profile – the choirboy who learned on boggy pitches

Muddy Marvellous! How Mata the studious choirboy learned his skills on boggy pitches

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UPDATED:

22:41 GMT, 25 October 2012

Long before he was cutting open Premier League defences with his passing and reminding us that footballers with beards are not just a Seventies fad, Juan Mata was knee deep in football.

Knee deep in a Hackney Marshes sense, that is, wading through mud on boggy pitches in northern Spain, a little boy trying to stick to his footballing principles.

Pass the ball, find some space, then pass it again. So much for the theory that the Spanish ping the ball about because of the perfect pitches and the English lump it forward because of the rain, wind and mud.

Juan of the best: Mata (in the background below) honed his skills on poor pitches in northern Spain

Juan of the best: Mata (in the background below) honed his skills on poor pitches in northern Spain

Juan of the best: Juan Mata (above and in the background below) honed his skills on poor pitches in northern Spain

Juan of the best: Juan Mata (above and in the background below) honed his skills on poor pitches in northern Spain

They are the principles which see him line up at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as Chelsea’s most in-form player and the man Manchester United will have to stop if they are to make up ground on the league leaders.

The gap is four points but some other numbers — ones of which statistic-keen Mata will no doubt be aware — paint a happier story for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. It has been five matches since Chelsea beat United and Mata has only scored one home league goal at since the sides drew 3-3 in February.

However, two goals at Tottenham last weekend made it six for the season — already half of his tally for the previous campaign — so as his friends and family gather in the town of Oviedo where he grew up to watch the biggest match of the season so far, they will feel confident that a home win is on the cards for the boy they call Juanin so as not to confuse him with his father, also named Juan.

‘The pitches were not good when he was a boy,’ says Fernando Fernandez Cachero, the long-time secretary of Mata’s youth club, Juventud Estadio.

‘Think of how small he is now (5ft 7in) and imagine what he was like then, trawling through huge puddles and the mud. He was covered from head to toe. And in conditions like that you shouldn’t be able to pass a ball properly but he did.’

‘He scored a lot of goals here but he stood out for what he does now — those killer final balls,’ says his cousin David Mata, who works for Real Oviedo, once a grand La Liga club for whom Stan Collymore briefly played but now a struggling team in the third tier of Spanish football with a 30,000-seat stadium that is impossible to fill.

Blas Garcia was Mata’s coach there in his teenage years.

Boggy: Mata (back row, second from the the right) joined his local team, Oviedo

Boggy: Mata (back row, second from the the right) joined his local team, Oviedo

Well rounded: School teacher Carmelo Bardon saw promise in many aspects of Mata's life at Gesto

Well rounded: School teacher Carmelo Bardon saw promise in many aspects of Mata's life at Gesto

Popular figure: Juan Mata has a park named after him overlooking Oviedo FC stadium

Popular figure: Juan Mata has a park named after him overlooking Oviedo FC stadium

‘I coached him between 13 and 15. After a few days I knew I had a player who was going to the top. He had everything you see now: the imagination, the control of the ball, his ability to spot a pass.

'It’s something you just have from a young age. You can’t really coach it. We had a game in Gijon and he scored a ridiculous goal.

'He plucked a really high ball out of the air, flicked it up with his first touch and fired it into the net with a volley off the other foot. It was from a long way out, too.’

United know all about his ability to volley. A superb strike in February put Chelsea 2-0 up at Stamford Bridge before a Wayne Rooney-inspired comeback led to that 3-3 draw. Genetics must play a part because Mata’s father was a winger for Real Oviedo.

‘Football was always on the television and Juan went to a lot of matches,’ says cousin David. ‘He used to watch a lot of videos of Romario, Marco van Basten and Michael Laudrup.

'But his parents and his sister Paula drummed it into him from early on that a footballer’s career is short and that he had to study so there was something for him afterwards.

'He still does now and is doing degrees in marketing and sports science. If you listen to his interviews, he knows about the opposition, he knows statistics. He goes into games full of information. And he was in the choir when he was young for a few years, too.’

Everyone you talk to in Oviedo — and they are keen to discuss a boy repeatedly described as mature and kind — mentions Mata’s thirst for knowledge.

‘I remember him being fascinated by different cultures,’ says Carmelo Bardon, his teacher from his primary school, Gesto 1. ‘You can see his intelligence in the way he plays now, the way he can just pick out that final pass.

‘But he didn’t have much chance to play football here in normal conditions. Space in the centre of town was so tight that when they did play there would be five matches going on at once on one pitch. You can imagine the keepers diving to make a save and almost diving into the keeper next to him playing in a different match.’

It’s been a story that has taken the 24-year-old from cramped and muddy pitches to ones covered in confetti and empty champagne bottles.

As well as Chelsea’s Champions League and FA Cup successes last season, Mata has World Cup and Euro 2012 winner’s medals to his name and now his home town is doing its best to honour him.

Juan Mata Park was opened near his grandmother’s house three days after Chelsea’s Champions League win, his youth club are renaming their stadium after him and they host a tournament each winter in his name in which 90 teams from across northern Spain take part.

Blockbuster: Mata scored a stunner against United last season, and fans back home expect more

Blockbuster: Mata scored a stunner against United last season, and fans back home expect more

Blockbuster: Mata scored a stunner against United last season, and fans back home expect more

Blockbuster: Mata scored a stunner against United last season, and fans back home expect more

There’s a similar love for him at
Valencia, the club where he realised his potential after being
jettisoned by Fabio Capello at Real Madrid.

‘He was 15 when he signed for Real and
it was a good age to go to a big club like that,’ says David. ‘It was a
one-in-a-million chance and the right thing to do, even though it was a
tough decision to leave home so young.

‘But it wasn’t easy getting into the team at a time when they had Zinedine Zidane, Guti, David Beckham, Raul and so many others. It was no shame not getting in the first team at that stage.’

Forty-six goals and 52 assists in 176 games for Valencia soon put him on the right course and caught Chelsea’s attention.

‘He’s a champion of Europe, World Cup winner, Champions League winner,’ says David. ‘People recognise him when he’s home, he is an idol to children.’

And a few thousand Chelsea fans to boot.

Australia 23 Argentina 19: Wallabies cling on after surviving second-half scare

Australia 23 Argentina 19: Wallabies cling on after surviving second-half scare

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UPDATED:

12:59 GMT, 15 September 2012

Australia avoided an upset after a second-half revival allowed them to escape with a 23-19 win over a spirited Argentina outfit at Skilled Park.

Stunned by a feisty Pumas outfit playing their first match on Australian soil since the 2003 World Cup, the Wallabies looked set for a shock defeat after two Argentinian tries had them behind 19-6 midway through the second period.

However, the quickfire double only served to spark the home side into action, with tries from Pat McCabe and man-of-the-match Digby Ioane sparing the Wallabies from embarrassment.

But the Pumas looked surprisingly good value for their lead on 50 minutes, after Tomas Leonardi charged down a Quade Cooper kick and then crossed for possibly the easiest five points of his career, with the ball bobbing up perfectly for him.

Over the line: Pat McCabe scores in Gold Coast

Over the line: Pat McCabe scores in Gold Coast

Rugby Championship table

New Zealand W 4 D 0 L 0 Pts 16
Australia W 2 D 0 L 2 Pts 8
South Africa W 1 D 1 L 2 Pts 7
Argentina W 0 D 1 L 3 Pts 3

Then two minutes later, the Pumas tore Australia up on the right side with a move that began from well inside their own half and finished with tryscorer Julio Farias Cabello mobbed by ecstatic team-mates.

Juan Martin Fernandez, the Argentina captain, missed both conversions but made no mistake with his 57th-minute penalty goal, which put the visitors in the box seat for an improbable win.

But McCabe had the reply for the Wallabies on the hour mark, bursting through to put the ball down near the posts on an assist from the influential Cooper.

Then Nick Phipps opened the door for Australia's follow-up with a blindside run on the left that put Ioane in the clear and over the line, releasing the pressure valve for under-fire coach Robbie Deans.

Relief: Australia celebrate after securing victory

Relief: Australia celebrate after securing victory

Berrick Barnes, the full-back experiment in place of Kurtley Beale, added the extras on both occasions to give the Wallabies a 20-19 edge that the tiring Pumas could not recover from.

The versatile Queenslander added one more penalty late on to confirm the win.

Earlier, McCabe had saved a certain Pumas try from winger Gonzalo Camacho, who tore away at pace after stripping the ball off Ioane early in the first half.

Argentina's aggressive opening would have paid off there and then were it not for McCabe's important intervention, although referee Wayne Barnes saw it worthy of a 10-minute sin-binning.

Either side of that close call, Australia had two of their own – Barnes hit the right post twice from penalty attempts.

Held up: Juan Pablo Orlandi of Argentina is tackled

Held up: Juan Pablo Orlandi of Argentina is tackled

Despite weeks of warning that the Pumas meant business in their first appearance in the expanded Rugby Championship, the sloppy Wallabies could not have looked any less ready.

Their hiccups continued just after the 20-minute mark. Taking the ball from left to right, they stretched Argentina with ease and it fell to veteran Radike Samo to finish off a flowing move.

But he dropped the ball as he went over in the right corner, with video referee Matt Goddard handing the Pumas another let-off.

Barnes straightened up in front of goal in the 26th minute to break the drought with a penalty from close range, but Hernandez replied for Argentina shortly after an Ioane offside.

Five minutes from the break, Australia were thwarted again as an inviting ball from Cooper allowed Sharpe to break and head straight to the line – only for him to be rolled on his back by Camacho at the vital moment, robbing him of a try in front of his hometown crowd.

KLM Open 2012: Graeme Storm leads after two rounds

Brewing up a Storm! Englishman leads KLM Open by three shots heading into third round

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UPDATED:

18:34 GMT, 7 September 2012

Overnight leader Graeme Storm retained top spot after the second day of the KLM Open but insists his focus at the moment is on the bigger picture rather than outright victory.

The 34-year-old is dangerously close to the cut-off mark in the Race to Dubai which would require him to go back to qualifying school.

There are still two months remaining before the end of the season but Storm knows a good finish at Hilversum will massively help his cause.

Storming up the leaderboard: The Englishman takes a three-shot lead into the third round

Storming up the leaderboard: The Englishman takes a three-shot lead into the third round

KLM Open

Click here for the latest leaderboard

The Hartlepool golfer is 114th on the money list and probably needs to win another 100,000 euros to safeguard his playing rights and a top-three finish in Holland could achieve that.

Asked if his position in the Race to Dubai had been on his mind Storm replied: 'Every day. It has been for the last three months. It is a big struggle missing so many cuts.

'It's all about momentum and for two days it has gone my way. The goal for me still is to keep my card, even though I am leading.

'If someone comes through then so be it, I just need my card for next year.'

Storm began the day with a two-shot advantage over Martin Kaymer, Fabrizio Zanotti and Raphael Jacquelin.

Focus: Storm is trying to keep his cool despite so much resting on success at the KLM

Focus: Storm is trying to keep his cool despite so much resting on success at the KLM

Focus: Storm is trying to keep his cool despite so much resting on success at the KLM

He returned a score of 66, his second bogey-free round to the tournament, to extend his lead to three over Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Scotland's Scott Jamieson and Sweden's Peter Hanson.

'It makes a change to have all red on my card,' Storm, 41st in last week's Omega European Masters, told europeantour.com.

'Hopefully I used all the bogeys up last week in Crans and long may it continue.

'I wasn't expecting to shoot four-under. I just managed to go round and keep the bogeys off the card as I did yesterday and made a few birdies.'

Fernandez-Castano, the 2005 winner on this course, is looking to put the disappointment of failing to make the Ryder Cup team behind him.

'My year has been disappointing to say the least. I didn't play well over the summer,' said the Spaniard, who shot a 65.

Green and pleasant: The crowwds have flocked to watch the action in Holland

Green and pleasant: The crowwds have flocked to watch the action in Holland

Green and pleasant: The crowds have flocked to watch the action in Holland

'Hopefully I can improve this second half, hopefully with a win, and maybe here as it is a course I like very much.'

Jamieson raced into contention with a 64, the joint-best round of the day, after picking up seven shots in his first 10 holes having started at the ninth but a bogey at the sixth pegged him back slightly.

'Being four under after four holes was a very hot start and a couple more of them would be great,' he said.

'Six under par on any day is great but especially on a course like this where it is tight off the tee.'

Jamieson's round was matched by Ireland's Simon Thornton after he eagled the par-five last.

In the Nic of time: Colsaerts is six shots of the lead heading into the third round

In the Nic of time: Colsaerts is six shots of the lead heading into the third round

Dimitar Berbatov transfer: Fiorentina want Manchester United striker

Fiorentina target Berbatov as United continue efforts to release outcast striker

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UPDATED:

08:33 GMT, 21 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Fiorentina have targeted Dimitar Berbatov as the Manchester United striker struggles to find a suitable new club.

The Bulgarian has been told he can leave Old Trafford this summer, but he has already discarded several options and is wary of taking a big step down.

The 31-year-old would consider a move to Italy and his agent has been keen to talk to AC Milan.

All smiles: Berbatov jokes with new United striker Van Persie ahead of the match with Everton

All smiles: Berbatov jokes with new United striker Van Persie ahead of the match with Everton

But Fiorentina want to underline their ambition by bringing in a high-profile striker to play alongside Stevan Jovetic.

Manchester City and Chelsea remain interested in Montenegro star Jovetic, but the Florence club insist he will not be sold this summer.

United want 8million for Berbatov, who joined for a club record 30.75m from Tottenham in 2008.

Fiorentina are prepared to pay only around half, but hope the price will fall as the transfer deadline approaches.

There is a new buzz at the Serie A club under Vincenzo Montella, especially after the arrival of Alberto Aquilani, Borja Valero and Matias Fernandez, but they cannot offer Berbatov European competition this season.

Outcast: Berbatov has been sidelined at United but hasn't found a new club

Outcast: Berbatov has been sidelined at United but hasn't found a new club

Liverpool capture Manchester City scouts Rob Newman and David Fernandez

Liverpool rebuilding continues with capture of Man City scouts Newman and Fernandez

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 25 July 2012

Manchester City scouts Rob Newman and David Fernandez are to join Liverpool.

The Anfield club have already brought in Dave Fallows as head of scouting and recruitment plus Barry Hunter from City’s backroom team this summer.

New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is also attempting to reshape the playing staff at the club.

New face: Fabio Borini (centre left) and Stewart Downing (centre right) in training at Fenway Park in Boston on their US tour on Wednesdaycentre left) and Stewa

New face: Fabio Borini (centre left) and Stewart Downing (centre right) in training at Fenway Park in Boston on their US tour on Wednesday

Striker Fabio Borini arrived from
Roma earlier this month, while Rodgers' former club Swansea have
rejected a 12million bid from the Reds for midfielder Joe Allen.

The club are currently on tour in the
United States, and trained at the legendary Fenway Park on Wednesday,
home of the Boston Red Sox, who are also owned by Liverpool's parent
company, Fenway Sports Group.

Francesco Molinari moves into final Ryder Cup place

Molinari moves into final Ryder Cup spot after French Open as Rose leapfrogs Lawrie

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UPDATED:

17:08 GMT, 8 July 2012

Moving up: Molinari finished second at the French Open

Moving up: Molinari

Italian Francesco Molinari has moved up into the final automatic qualifying position for the Ryder Cup after finishing second at the French Open.

Molinari – who was part of the 2010 Ryder Cup-winning team – narrowly lost out to Germany's Marcel Siem at Le Golf National following a final-round 64.

England's Justin Rose has moved back ahead of Scotland's Paul Lawrie into second place in the table, which is led by Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy.

In all there are six Brits set to qualify for the match in Chicago, with Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood also in contention.

Latest leading positions in the European
Ryder Cup table after the French Open:

European Points List

1 RORY McILROY 2,620,352, 2 JUSTIN ROSE
2,058,194, 3 PAUL LAWRIE 2,000,934, 4 GRAEME McDOWELL 1,951,181, 5
MARTIN KAYMER 1,785,352, 6 Peter Hanson 1,752,467, 7 Lee Westwood
1,637,290, 8 Francesco Molinari 1,629,746, 9 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
1,546,902, 10 Nicolas Colsaerts 1,490,753

World Points List

1 Rory McIlroy 350.59, 2 LUKE DONALD
324.26, 3 LEE WESTWOOD 277.71, 4 Justin Rose 277.11, 5 Graeme McDowell
226.16, 6 Paul Lawrie 173.39, 7 PETER HANSON 168.46, 8 Martin Kaymer
166.93, 9 SERGIO GARCIA 155.58, 10 FRANCESCO MOLINARI 149.49

Top five on European points list
and top five not already qualified on the world points list qualify on
August 26. Captain Jose Maria Olazabal then adds two wild cards
Capitals indicate players in qualifying positions