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Wasps 14 Leicester 12: Match report

Wasps 14 Leicester 12: Deadly Varndell and Thomas put Tigers to sword

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UPDATED:

17:19 GMT, 25 November 2012

Lee Thomas came off the bench at half-time to kick two penalties which secured Wasps a narrow victory over Leicester.

Tom Varndell, the Aviva Premiership's leading tryscorer, struck with his eighth of the season against his former club after only three minutes, with fly-half Nick Robinson landing a first half penalty for Wasps.

Wasps were awarded for their bold attacking approach as they maintained their unbeaten record in all competitions at Adams Park this season.

One that got away: Christian Wade evades a tackle

One that got away: Christian Wade evades a tackle

Fly-half George Ford replied with
four penalties for the Tigers, who stay fifth in the table after going
into the match needing an 11-point win to go top and depose leaders
Harlequins.

Varndell finished a slick
threequarter passing move by taking a pass from centre Elliot Daly and
bursting through Mathew Tait's tackle to dive over in the left-hand
corner.

Only a last-ditch tackle by winger
Niall Morris denied Wasps' other winger Christian Wade – second in the
Premiership try-scoring list – his sixth league try of the season.

The 21-year-old hot prospect showed
tremendous footwork, racing past six players on a brilliant run from the
halfway line before being hauled down a metre from the line.

The early pressure paid off with
Leicester conceding a penalty, kicked by Robinson who had failed to
convert Varndell's try from the touchline.

Down: Tom Varndell scores Wasps' first try

Down: Tom Varndell scores Wasps' first try

No way through: Nick Robinson is tackled by Leicester's Sam Harrison and George Ford

No way through: Nick Robinson is tackled by Leicester's Sam Harrison and George Ford

But it was cancelled out by Ford, who opened Leicester's account with a 40-metre penalty five minutes later.

Leicester worked their way back into
the match after the early onslaught but former England hooker George
Chuter twice squandered attacking momentum by throwing long at the
lineout and gifting Wasps possession.

Daly, the home side's long-range
kicking option, attempted a penalty from five metres inside his own
half. He made the distance but was just wide of the post.

A scrum infringement by Tigers presented Wasps with a 40-metre penalty but Robinson's effort rebounded from the post.

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No chance: Billy Vunipola powers his way through

Varndell crossed again in the 48th
minute but was denied a second try when the final pass from full-back
Hugo Southwell was ruled forward by the TMO following an excellent
build-up by Robinson and Daly.

Thomas, a half-time replacement for
Chris Bell in the centre, took over the kicking duties to land the 52nd
minute penalty which put Wasps back in front after Leicester were caught
offside 30 metres out.

Seven minutes later Thomas increased
the lead with his second penalty from 40 metres but it was cancelled out
within two minutes by Ford's fourth penalty, which reduced the gap to
two points.

Ford missed the chance to edge
Leicester ahead eight minutes from time when his penalty from wide out
of the left flew just wide of the near post.

At the other end, Thomas was wide for
Wasps from a similar position but they kept Leicester out of their half
in the closing minutes.

Laura Trott wins gold in omnium at Track World Cup

Trott at the double as in-form British star claims second gold of Track World Cup

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UPDATED:

19:21 GMT, 18 November 2012

Olympic and world champion Laura Trott's Midas touch continued on the final day of the Track World Cup in Glasgow as her annus mirabilis ended on another high.

Trott, who won team pursuit gold on Friday's opening day of competition at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, claimed a second title with a narrow victory in the omnium to complete a sensational year.

The triumph was Britain's only medal of the final day of competition as Germany topped the medal table with six golds and three silvers, with the hosts second with a haul of three gold, two silvers and one bronze.

At the double: Trott celebrates her second gold medal of the Track World Cup

At the double: Trott celebrates her second gold medal of the Track World Cup

Trott had to come from behind to win the six-discipline omnium, an event in which she was last beaten in London in February, her world title coming in Melbourne in April.

'I wanted to win – that is all it was,' said the 20-year-old from Cheshunt, who expressed relief the weekend was over. “I was in silver medal position and I was like “I'm not having that, no way”. Coming into this being double world and Olympic champion and going home with silver… it just wasn't going to happen. “I just love winning, I do, I love the feeling.'

Trott was one of the stars of the London Games – she was reminded of that by a fan while having coffee with her parents this morning – but her focus is firmly on Rio de Janeiro and eventually surpassing Hoy's British record of six Olympic golds; something the Scot has backed her to do.

Laura Trott

Laura Trott

Golden girl: The British rider takes to the rostrum after claiming gold in the omnium

'I don't like not winning,' she said. 'I am a bit worried (but) if I don't win another race now until Rio then so be it.

'The Olympics is the thing I want to win most and I want to get old Sir Chris Hoy's record.'

Trott was fourth overnight after fourth place in the flying lap, ninth in the points race and first in the elimination race, a discipline which has become her speciality.

She won the fourth event, the individual pursuit, this morning but was seventh in the scratch race to fall behind Ashlee Ankudinoff overall by two points.

On track: Trott carried her brilliant form from the London Games to Glasgow

On track: Trott carried her brilliant form from the London Games to Glasgow

It meant she had to beat the Australian by a minimum of two places in the final event, the 500metres time-trial, to win – and she duly did.

Trott clocked 35.867 seconds to place second in the discipline, with Ankudinoff fourth to slip to second overall. Russia's Tamara Balabolina was third.

'Yesterday I was worried that I wouldn't even get a medal after the shaky start I had,' Trott said.

'I knew the points race was going to go bad, it always does, but the flying lap I didn't expect to be that far down.

'I'm just so bad at bunch races, they always let me down, it doesn't matter how fit I am.

'I just have to do what I can in the 500m and normally it works.'

Trott was a marked woman in the bunch events, the points and scratch races, standing out in her first appearance in the rainbow jersey of world champion.

'It was even harder because I'm such an obvious mark,' she added. 'I've got bright bands around me. But it makes me think about it rather than roll around bored.'

Trott was told by British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton that she could skip the omnium in Glasgow.

She added: 'I just wanted to come and race. It's the only chance I've got to wear the stripes so who wouldn't want to do that in front of a home crowd'

Ipswich 2 Burnley 1: match report

Ipswich 2 Burnley 1: Mick's dancing to DJ's tune as Campbell strikes late

PRESS ASSOCIATION

PUBLISHED:

17:45 GMT, 10 November 2012

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UPDATED:

17:45 GMT, 10 November 2012

DJ Campbell lifted Ipswich off the foot of the npower Championship table as his late goal secured a narrow win over Burnley.

Daryl Murphy had given the Tractor Boys the lead only for Sam Vokes to equalise before Campbell secured all three points with just three minutes remaining.

The result gives Mick McCarthy two wins from three since taking the manager's job at Portman Road while Sean Dyche suffered his first defeat as Burnley boss.

Off the bottom: DJ Campbell's strike earned Ipswich three vital points

Off the bottom: DJ Campbell's strike earned Ipswich three vital points

Match facts

Ipswich: Henderson, Chambers, Higginbotham, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, N'Daw, Wellens (Emmanuel-Thomas 79), Reo-Coker, Murphy, Campbell (Mohsni 89).

Subs Not Used: Loach, Hewitt, Chopra, Scotland, Drury.

Booked: Reo-Coker.

Goals: Murphy 51, Campbell 87.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Lafferty, Wallace (Stanislas 65), Stock (Bartley 65), Marney (Vokes 76), McCann, Paterson, Austin.

Subs Not Used: Jensen, Ings, Edgar, Mee.

Booked: Wallace,Paterson.

Goals: Vokes 80.

Att: 16,297

Ref: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire).

Click here for latest Championship results, fixtures and table

The home side made two changes with
Tommy Smith and Guirane N'Daw brought into the side to replace Andy
Drury and the suspended Lee Martin.

Danny Lafferty made his first start
of the season for Burnley in place of Ben Mee who sustained a swollen
foot in the match against Leeds.

It was a quiet start but Campbell was
the first man to threaten for Ipswich as his turn and shot in the box
was saved by Lee Grant with N'Daw putting the rebound over the bar.

Martin Paterson tested Stephen
Henderson with a shot from a narrow angle but the goalkeeper made a
smart save with his feet at the near post.

Carlos Edwards and Richie Wellens
then combined well with Wellens' final ball finding Campbell in the
penalty area but Lee Grant made a smart save to tip his shot around the
post.

Grant had his heart in his mouth as
he spilled Aaron Cresswell's cross but the ball was cleared off the line
before referee Mark Brown eventually awarded a free kick for a foul on
the goalkeeper by Murphy.

But just six minutes into the second
half Town took the lead as Grant was not given the benefit of the doubt
in a challenge with the Irish striker.

Wellens put a cross into the box and Murphy and Grant went up together with the former Sunderland man heading home.

Grant felt he was fouled and Burnley
players surrounded the referee but Brown was unmoved and Murphy was
awarded his first strike at Portman Road this season.

The home fans were calling for a red card as Ross Wallace brought down Cresswell but the referee produced a yellow.

Dyche brought on Junior Stanislas and
Marvin Bartley as he attempted to get his side back into the game but
barring a Stanislas shot over the bar, it was Ipswich who remained in control.

Dyche made his final substitution
bringing on Vokes and the striker had an almost instantaneous impact as
he levelled with 10 minutes to go.

Stanislas put a cross into the box and Vokes was credited with the final touch as he rose with Danny Higginbotham to meet the ball.

But in the 86th minute substitute
Jay-Emmanuel Thomas found Edwards who produced a wonderful cross for
Campbell to slot home and secure the win for Town.

2002 autumn internationals: How England tamed the big three

How England tamed the big three: Ten years on from an autumn to remember

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UPDATED:

23:49 GMT, 4 November 2012

Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal to win the World Cup in November 2003 is etched in the memory of every England rugby fan.

But the foundation was laid a year earlier with stunning victories in successive weeks in the 2002 autumn series against the three southern hemisphere giants New Zealand, Australia and South Africa – a feat achieved neither before nor since.

The series started on November 9, 2002 with the mighty All BIacks.

Try time: Danny Lee can't stop Jonny Wilkinson from scoring

Try time: Danny Lee can't stop Jonny Wilkinson from scoring

ENGLAND 31 NEW ZEALAND 28

ENGLAND: Robinson; Simpson-Daniel (Healey 77), Greenwood (Johnston 40), Tindall, Cohen; Wilkinson, Dawson; Woodman, Thompson, Vickery; Johnson, Grewcock (Kay 60); Moody, Hill, Dallaglio (Back 70).
Subs not used: Regan, Leonard, Stimpson.
Tries: Cohen, Moody, Wilkinson.
Cons: Wilkinson (2).
Pens: Wilkinson (3).
DG: Wilkinson.

NEW ZEALAND: Blair; Howlett, Umaga, Lowen (Robinson 46), Lomu; Spencer (Mehrtens 40), Devine (Lee 24); McDonnell, Hore, Meeuws; Robinson (Mika 60), Williams; Randall, Holah, Broomhall.
Subs not used: Mealamu, Hayman, So’oialo.
Tries: Howlett, Lee, Lomu (2).
Cons: Blair (2), Mehrtens (2).
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA).

It is sometimes forgotten England had not lost to southern hemisphere opposition since the South African tour in June 2000. They had also won 15 matches in a row at Twickenham, so confidence was high.

The match proved a real nail-biter, as the 31-28 scoreline would suggest. But it took a heroic Ben Cohen tackle in the corner and an equally vital Ben Kay line-out steal on England’s line to preserve the narrow advantage.

‘I’d come on as a replacement for Steve Borthwick,’ Kay remembers. ‘I had already established myself in the England squad. But I think that steal possibly cemented my reputation as a good line-out leader.

‘We proved that we could handle a
pressure situation just as we did in a different scenario against
Australia the week after. That was so important when we got to the World
Cup.’

The game against Australia had a strange
build-up. Any fly on the wall in the England team room at Pennyhill
Park Hotel 10 years ago next week would have been well advised to spread
his wings over his ears when two rugby giants clashed.

Wrecking ball: Jonah Lomu brushes aside James Simpson-Daniel

Wrecking ball: Jonah Lomu brushes aside James Simpson-Daniel

ENGLAND 32 AUSTRALIA 31

ENGLAND: Robinson; Simpson-Daniel, Greenwood, Tindall (Healey 80), Cohen; Wilkinson, Dawson; Leonard, Thompson, Vickery; Johnson, Kay; Moody, Hill, Back.
Subs not used: Regan, Morris, Grewcock, Dallaglio, Gomarsall, Stimpson.
Tries: Cohen (2).
Cons: Wilkinson (2).
Pens: Wilkinson (6).

AUSTRALIA: Burke; Sailor, Herbert (Giteau 73), Flatley, Mortlock; Larkham, Gregan; Noriega (Darwin 77), Paul (Freier 69), Young; Vickerman (Griffin 56), Harrison (Croft 70); Cockbain, Smith, Kefu.
Subs not used: Whitaker, Staniforth.
Tries: Sailor, Flatley (2).
Cons: Burke (2).
Pens: Burke (4).
Referee: Paul Honiss (NZ).

England No 8 Lawrence Dallaglio, fresh from playing his part in the famous defeat of the All Blacks, had just found out that he had been left out of the side to face the world champions. He wanted to ‘discuss’ the matter with a pre-knighted Clive Woodward, the England manager. ‘We lunched together the other day and had a good laugh about it,’ Dallaglio told Sportsmail.

‘At least Clive did. It is not a subject I could ever laugh about.’

Dallaglio,
the very personification of pride and patriotism, had quite reasonably
anticipated leading out England against the Aussies for his 50th cap. He
had never previously been dropped and never previously been allocated a
seat on an international bench.

He adds: ‘I was not happy. I think you can assume the air was blue.

‘I
thought I had played pretty well against New Zealand. The stats showed
that I had been top tackler. Actually, I don’t think Clive realised it
would have been my 50th cap.

Putting the boot in: Wilkinson kicks a penalty against the All Blacks

Putting the boot in: Wilkinson kicks a penalty against the All Blacks

Swallow dive: Ben Cohen goes over in the win against New Zealand

Swallow dive: Ben Cohen goes over in the win against New Zealand

‘At least I had captained England and experienced the honour of leading the team out. I would have been even angrier had I not and been denied that moment.’

Woodward remembers a ‘good’ meeting. ‘It was probably the stormiest I ever had with a player. Lawrence was furious. He did not like being dropped. He tried to persuade me to say that he had been rested. I refused. He had been dropped and that was that.’

Ben Kay, who replaced Danny Grewcock in the second row for the second of the Antipodean encounters, was a member of a group all too aware. ‘I heard some crashing about in Lawrence’s bedroom that night,’ he recalls.

Legend: England captain Martin Johnson breaks clear

Legend: England captain Martin Johnson breaks clear

Woodward pretty much knew his optimum World Cup XV even at that stage of the preparations. ‘The back row was certainly 100 per cent settled. It was always going to be (Richard) Hill, Dallaglio and (Neil) Back. They were all world class.’

In fact, neither Dallaglio nor Back were in the starting line-up for all three autumn internationals. But no fewer than 10 of the 15 who began the World Cup final featured in all three teams that November. Only Josh Lewsey of the World Cup side had yet to emerge. He did not make his home England debut until the 2003 Six Nations.

Job done: Johnson lifts the Cook Cup after the win over Australia

Job done: Johnson lifts the Cook Cup after the win over Australia

‘We did have a settled side,’ Woodward
says. ‘And it is important to keep winning and building momentum ahead
of a world championship.

‘But I have always thought it a bit of a cop-out when coaches talk about using any international as a preparation for this or that.

High hopes: A young Mike Tindall skips clear of a South African challenge

High hopes: A young Mike Tindall skips clear of a South African challenge

ENGLAND 53 SOUTH AFRICA 3

ENGLAND: Robinson; Cohen, Greenwood (Stimpson 70), Tindall, Christophers; Wilkinson (Healey 44), Dawson (Gomarsall 57); Leonard, Thompson, Vickery; Johnson, Kay (Grewcock 70); Moody (Dallaglio 14), Hill, Back.
Subs not used: Regan, Morris.
Tries: Cohen, Greenwood 2.
Pen try: Back, Hill, Dallaglio.
Cons: Wilkinson, Dawson, Gomarsall (2), Stimpson (2).
Pens: Wilkinson (2).

SOUTH AFRICA: Greeff; Paulse (Russell 48), Fleck, James, Lombard; Pretorius (Jacobs 54), Conradie (Jordaan 10); Roux, Dalton (Van Biljon 54), Carstens; Labuschagne, Venter; Krige, Wannenburg, Niekerk.
Subs not used: Van der Linde, Wentzel, Uys.
Pen: Pretorius.
Sent off: Labuschagne (23).
Referee: Paddy O’Brien (NZ).

‘Test rugby is the absolute pinnacle. I
firmly believed in that old cliche of taking one game at a time and
picking a side to win that match.’ The contest against the Aussies was
another determined display by England. They ended up winning 32-31,
demonstrating that England could come from behind as well as hold on. A
10-point lead was turned into a 12-point deficit as Australia scored 22
unanswered points either side of half-time.

Dallaglio came on as a blood replacement for Richard Hill in that period, and recalls: ‘It was like a blur. We lost two tries and I left the field. As I was trotting off I heard a Gloucester voice in the crowd shout, “Hey, Dallaglio, we were winning before you came on”. I had to agree with him.

‘These wins, though, and further ones against southern hemisphere countries in 2003, were very important in building up confidence for the World Cup. We were better than them and they knew it.’

Last up, a week later, were South Africa. The 53-3 annihilation of the shambolic Springboks is remembered less for England’s seven tries than the cheap shots and calculated violence perpetrated by the tourists. Lock Jannes Labuschagne, who felled Wilkinson with a late shoulder charge, might not have been the only South African shown a red card.

Three Saturdays. Three unforgettable victories. History in the making.

Mauling: Neil Back celebrates a Will Greenwood try

Mauling: Neil Back celebrates a Will Greenwood try

Ten years on, an England side still early in the development stage are preparing for the mighty challenge provided by, in order, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

‘New Zealand look pretty much unbeatable,’ Woodward reckons. ‘But it is always a good time of the year to face the southern hemisphere countries. They are ending their season while we are beginning ours. And the Olympic Games demonstrated more than I had realised that home advantage is a huge factor in sport.’

Mastermind: Woodward back in 2002

Mastermind: Woodward back in 2002

Stuart Pearce confident England U21 can beat Serbia

Pearce confident his young Lions can survive in hell and make Euros

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UPDATED:

21:40 GMT, 13 October 2012

Manager Stuart Pearce is confident England have the steel to survive a trip to 'hell' when they take a 1-0 lead into their European Under-21 Championship play-off second leg in Serbia on Tuesday night.

A 66th-minute penalty by West Bromwich Albion defender Craig Dawson at Carrow Road on Friday gave Pearce’s Young Lions a narrow advantage to defend in the Krusevac cauldron.

Narrow advantage: Craig Dawson celebrates scoring the only goal of the game

Narrow advantage: Craig Dawson celebrates scoring the only goal of the game

Pearce’s team ground out a 0-0 second-leg draw in Romania two years ago to qualify for the finals after a 2-1 success in Norwich and Pearce is backing his side to become the first to qualify for four successive Under-21 finals.

Pearce said: ‘The team two years ago probably had more of a cutting edge but we’ve kept seven clean sheets in qualifying, which is a great achievement.

Confident: Stuart Pearce believes his young Lions can survive in Serbia

Confident: Stuart Pearce believes his young Lions can survive in Serbia

‘There will be a big difference playing in Serbia but I think we have enough talent to go there and win.’

But one Serbia player warned: ‘Our supporters are much louder than the English. It will be a trip to hell for them.’

Forres Mechanics 0 Rangers 1 match report: Kal Naismith scores

Forres Mechanics 0 Rangers 1: Naismith off the mark as Gers edge 10 men

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UPDATED:

16:39 GMT, 29 September 2012

Kal Naismith opened his goalscoring account as Rangers scraped past 10-man Forres Mechanics into the third round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

The 20-year-old's first senior goal for the Ibrox club was all that separated the two sides in the clash at Mosset Park, which saw Nathan Sharp dismissed for the home team.

Rangers have so far failed to pick up a win on the road in the Irn-Bru Third Division this season but, thanks to Naismith's strike, claimed a narrow victory in what could have been a tricky tie.

Light Blues boss Ally McCoist made two changes from the side who defeated Motherwell midweek for the long trip north to the Highlands.

Hard fought: Lee McCulloch evades Graeme Grant to fire in a shot

Hard fought: Lee McCulloch evades Graeme Grant to fire in a shot

Naismith was handed his first start, while Kyle Hutton was also drafted into the starting line-up following an impressive substitute appearance in the Scottish Communities League Cup on Wednesday night.

They replaced Francisco Sandaza – who is out for the rest of the year with a broken cheekbone – and Dean Shiels, who also missed out through injury.

Forres claimed for a penalty in the opening minute for handball against Sebastien Faure but their pleas were ignored by referee Crawford Allan.

Instead, it was Naismith who made the most of his opportunity when he grabbed the opener for Rangers after 14 minutes.

Fraser Aird did well down the left before crossing into the box, where the ball was missed by Lee McCulloch in front of goal, before falling kindly for Naismith to rifle home.

McCulloch then forced a save from Stuart Knight with a low free-kick which sliced through the defence before the goalkeeper tipped past the post.

The utility man then had another go from just outside the area but again Knight was up to the task and gathered comfortably.

In the hat: Ally McCoist's side are into the fourth round

In the hat: Ally McCoist's side are into the fourth round

At the other end, Forres could have hauled themselves level but Scott Moore just failed to connect with a teasing ball into the box and stab home the equaliser.

The home side were threatening again shortly before the break when Simon Allan's corner found Sharp at the back post and Neil Alexander had to react quickly to claim his bullet header.

Aird set about trying to double Rangers' lead after the break when he dragged a shot wide shortly after the re-start, before testing the goalkeeper with a tame strike.

Forres still looked dangerous and had a great chance when Allan's free-kick found Kyle Scott in front of goal and Alexander was forced to block the point-blank effort with his feet.

Rangers made their first change on the hour-mark when Kevin Kyle – available after a two-match suspension – was thrown into the action for Anestis Argyriou.

Going down: Scott Moore's tackle brings Kal Naismith to earth

Going down: Scott Moore's tackle brings Kal Naismith to earth

The Highland League champions' hopes of hauling themselves back into the tie were dealt a blow after 64 minutes when Sharp picked up a second yellow card for deliberate handball.

Rangers made another switch when Aird was replaced by fellow youngster Robbie Crawford and he almost grabbed the elusive second goal.

Lewis Macleod was the provider with a dangerous ball from the right and Crawford was denied only by an excellent save from Knight to force the shot over.

There was one final attempt from Forres to secure a lucrative replay at Ibrox but Graham Fraser bulleted his header inches wide with a couple of minutes to go as Rangers held on for the win.

Memorable afternoon: A vendor sells scarves prior to kick-off

Memorable afternoon: A vendor sells scarves prior to kick-off

Ronaldo helps Real Madrid beat Rayo Vallecano

Rayo 0 Real Madrid 2: Ronaldo shines as Mourinho's men narrow gap on Barcelona

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UPDATED:

22:21 GMT, 24 September 2012

Karim Benzema's strike and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty ensured Real Madrid got back to winning ways in the Primera Division against a resilient Rayo Vallecano.

Benzema finished a fine counter-attack to give Real a deserved 13th-minute lead and they survived a few nervy moments before Ronaldo made the game safe from the spot midway through the second half in an encounter held over until Monday evening after a suspected act of sabotage saw the power supply cut at the Estadio de Vallecas on Sunday.

The victory was just Real's second win in five La Liga matches and the defending champions are now eight points behind frontrunners Barcelona.

Easy does it: Real Madrid celebrate as Ronaldo makes sure of the points against Rayo Vallecano

Easy does it: Real Madrid celebrate as Ronaldo makes sure of the points against Rayo Vallecano

A statement on Real's official website revealed they had unsuccessfully lobbied Spanish league chiefs to hold the match during daylight hours to avoid a repeat of the 'deplorable events' that forced the cancellation of the original fixture.

Once the action did get under way Real weathered an early barrage and could have been ahead in their first real attack, but Pepe's free header at the back post forced an acrobatic save from Vallecano goalkeeper Martinez Ruben.

The warning signs were there for Paco Jemez's side but they could do nothing as Real countered to great effect in the 13th minute.

Ronaldo released Angel Di Maria down the left and he was inexplicably allowed to cut into the area and pick out Benzema, who tapped into an empty net at the back post.

Opener: Karim Benzema sent Real on their way in their rescheduled clash

Opener: Karim Benzema sent Real on their way in their rescheduled clash

Vallecano had not learnt their lesson and only Di Maria's selfishness – the winger's shot curled wide from 25 yards when better options were ahead of him – prevented Madrid from doubling their lead, once again on the break.

Ronaldo forced Ruben to make a fine save at his near post while the Vallecano stopper rushed out to save point blank from Luka Modric, who had latched on to Di Maria's chip into the box.

Real's failure to extend their lead nearly came back to haunt them as first Iker Casillas reacted well to parry away Jordi Amat's bullet header before Mikel Labaka's follow-up effort was chested off the line by a covering Xabi Alonso.

The visitors did end the half in convincing fashion, though, with Di Maria and Benzema linking up once again, ending in the latter's strike across goal being tipped away by Ruben.

Flying high: Benzema celebrates his strike as Real narrowed the gap at the top of the league

Flying high: Benzema celebrates his strike as Real narrowed the gap at the top of the league

Vallecano started the second half in a positive fashion, although Andrija Delibasic was caught unawares when Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa's woeful backpass picked out the Montenegro striker on the six-yard line.

And he was nearly made to rue his lapse in concentration a few minutes later when Benzema sprinted clear and slotted past Ruben but the referee had already blown his whistle for a Madrid free-kick in the build-up.

It was only temporary respite for a game Vallecano outfit, who fell further behind in the 70th minute when Ronaldo's cutback was handled by a sliding Jordi Amat, with referee David Fernandez Borbalan awarding the spot-kick.

Doubling up: Ronaldo added the second from the penalty spot in the second half

Doubling up: Ronaldo added the second from the penalty spot in the second half

The former Manchester United man fired home, sending Ruben the wrong way.

Ronaldo should have made the game safe moments later but embarrassingly chipped onto the bar – under pressure from Triguero Tito – from close range with the net gaping after a selfless assist from the recently-introduced Gonzalo Higuain.

It mattered little, however, as Jose Mourinho's side comfortably saw out the remaining few minutes for their first victory on their travels this season.

Lewis Hamilton wins Italian Grand Prix at Monza

Lew beauty! Hamilton wins from pole in Monza to narrow gap on Alonso

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UPDATED:

14:17 GMT, 9 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton set aside speculation over his future to take victory in the Italian Grand Prix and refresh his hopes of Formula One world title glory.

After crashing out at the first corner of last Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix along with championship leader Fernando Alonso, and amid the saga of his contract negotiations with McLaren, Hamilton conjured a superb drive at Monza to claim his third win of the season and 20th of his career.

The Briton finished 4.3 seconds ahead of Sauber's Sergio Perez in second place, with Alonso giving the Ferrari fans plenty to cheer with third to establish a 37-point gap in the standings ahead of new second-placed man Hamilton.

Thumbs up: Hamilton celebrates on the podium

Thumbs up: Hamilton celebrates on the podium

Plain sailing: Hamilton led from the front

Plain sailing: Hamilton led from the front

The start was routine enough for Hamilton, a straightforward getaway, with no drama alongside Button after McLaren on Saturday celebrated the 62nd front-row lockout, and a new F1 record.

Instead, it was Ferrari's Felipe Massa who proved to be the biggest thorn in Hamilton's side as the Brazilian attacked going into the first chicane, Rettifilo.

Hamilton, however, just did enough to keep his old rival at bay, the duo avoiding a collision after becoming entangled on numerous occasions last season.

Job done: Hamilton celebrates after winning the Italian Grand Prix

Plain sailing: Hamilton led from the front

Plain sailing: Hamilton led from the front

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX RESULT

1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2 Sergio Perez (Sauber)
3 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
4 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
6 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
7 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
8 Paul Di Resta (Force India)
9 Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
10 Bruno Senna (Williams)

That allowed Hamilton to begin his
march to victory as he was rarely troubled en route, losing the lead
only momentarily when a one-stopping Perez managed to run through to lap
29.

Behind him was another masterclass of
a drive from Alonso, who had started 10th in the wake of a
disappointing qualifying when – with pole there for the taking – a rear
anti-roll bar broke in Q3.

Alonso, however, made up three places
on lap one, had moved past Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen on lap two, and soon
after was running fifth when he cut his way past Michael Schumacher in
his Mercedes.

Italian job: Ferrari fans flocked to Monza to support the home team

Italian job: Ferrari fans flocked to Monza to support the home team

Italian job: Ferrari fans flocked to Monza to support the home team

That left him with reigning champion Sebastian Vettel in his sights, and it was not long before the duo were going head to head.

A failed pass into Rettifilo was soon
followed by a brave move through the Curva Grande, one which Vettel
defended with too much aggression as he forced Alonso on to the grass.

The stewards took a dim view as they
handed the 25-year-old German a drive-through penalty, with his woes
compounded later on when he retired along the pit straight with wisps of
white smoke coming from his car.

Frustration: Button was set for second place before an engine failure

Frustration: Button was set for second place before an engine failure

Vettel was the second big-name
retirement as hopes of a dream one-two for McLaren were scuppered when
Button pulled off track on lap 33 complaining of a lack of drive.

Just a week after thrusting himself
back into title contention with his win in Belgium, now 78 points
adrift, the 32-year-old would again appear to be out of the reckoning.

Clear air: Alonso stretched his lead to 37 points

Clear air: Alonso stretched his lead to 37 points

Button's exit elevated Alonso to
third, which unsurprisingly became second soon after when he eased past
Massa, and at that stage two Ferrari drivers on the podium was on the
cards.

But Perez suddenly put in a number of
lightning laps. First he flashed by Massa – who went on to finish
fourth – and soon after Alonso, making no mistake in contrast to
Malaysia earlier this year when he threw away the prospect of a win with
an error and with the latter in his sights.

Airborne: Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso crashes out in spectacular fashion

Airborne: Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso crashes out in spectacular fashion

Airborne: Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso crashes out in spectacular fashion

If Vettel's retirement was bad enough
for Red Bull, worse followed in the closing stages when team-mate Mark
Webber dropped three places from seventh to 10th with a spin on to the
grass, only to retire in the pits a lap from home.

The upshot leaves Hamilton as
Alonso's nearest challenger, with Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen a further point
down in third after the Finn finished fifth, whilst Vettel is a further
point adrift. Webber is now 47 points down overall.

Bad day at the office: Vettel had to stop his car towards the end of the race

Bad day at the office: Vettel had to stop his car towards the end of the race

A happy Hamilton said: 'It's a fantastic win in front of the best crowd. I'm happy for the team. It's been the best day.'

Perez was beaming from ear to ear as
he said: 'That was a great race for me for my team. It's unbelievable to
get a podium in Monza. It's really special.'

Storming race: Perez (right) finished in second place having started 12th

Storming race: Perez finished in second place having started 12th

Storming race: Perez (right) finished in second place having started 12th

Taking the bulk of the cheers from
the crowd, Alonso was content enough with third as he said: 'It was a
difficult race starting 10th, but we knew we had the quickest car, so to
recover the way we did was good.'

The Mercedes duo of Schumacher and
Nico Rosberg were sixth and seventh, followed by Paul Di Resta in his
Force India, the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi and Williams of Bruno Senna.

Champagne moment: Hamilton and Alonso enjoy their moment on the podium

Champagne moment: Hamilton and Alonso enjoy their moment on the podium

Champagne moment: Hamilton and Alonso enjoy their moment on the podium

Cesc Fabregas staying at Barcelona despite unhappiness at role

Fabregas insists he won't quit Barcelona despite revealing pain at bit-part role

|

UPDATED:

08:56 GMT, 7 September 2012

Cesc Fabregas says he wants to end his career at Barcelona despite previously announcing that he was 'unhappy' with his role at the club.

The former Arsenal captain rejoined his boyhood club last summer for 35million but remains second-choice at the heart of Barca's midfield behind Nou Camp legends Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.

Fabregas got a rare start in Barca's narrow victory over Valencia on Sunday but was hauled off after only 63 minutes, which prompted him to say: 'There's no such thing as a great substitute in the world of football.

National duty: Cesc Fabregas (second left) in training with Spain at Pasaron Stadium in Pontevedra, Galicia

National duty: Cesc Fabregas (second left) in training with Spain at Pasaron Stadium in Pontevedra, Galicia

'I always wish my team-mates well and put a happy face on. If I have to take my unhappy face home then so be it, but I would never let my team-mates or manager see it.'

Fabregas's unhappiness was revealed just days after Cristiano Ronaldo had revealed he too was feeling 'sad' for 'professional reasons' at Barca's great rivals, Real Madrid.

But Fabregas, 25, has moved to defuse his own situation, insisting he has no desire to quit the Catalan giants.

'This whole situation is exaggerated,' he told Catalunya Radio. 'I am happy. I am at the club I wanted to be at for many years. Currently I am very calm.

Midfield riches: Fabregas (left) is struggling to make Barcelona's first team this season

Midfield riches: Fabregas (left) is struggling to make Barcelona's first team this season

'I’m doing my job and working as anyone else to make life difficult for my coach (to leave me out).

'I want to retire at the Camp Nou.'

Fabregas also said he was taking encouragement from the man currently blocking his path to the Barcelona team – playmaker supreme Xavi.

The 32-year-old pass master was tasked with filling the shoes of Pep Guardiola when he first arrived on the scene in the late 1990s, but his patient playing style was not without its critics.

But Xavi has since gone on to lift three Champions League titles with Barca as well as two World Cups and a European Championship with Spain, cementing his place as one of the game's all-time greats.

Learning from the best: Andres Iniesta (second right) and Xavi Hernandez (left) in Spain training

Learning from the best: Andres Iniesta (second right) and Xavi Hernandez (left) in Spain training

Fabregas hopes that he too can overcome a tricky start to life at the Nou Camp before making his mark on the club's history.

'When Guardiola retired it was not easy for Xavi,' Fabregas added. 'People did not understand his game and he was criticised. Now he is one of the best players in the history of Barca.

'People take time to get used to you. With Iniesta it also went something like this.'

Cesc Fabregas complains about life at Barcelona

First Ronaldo, now Fabregas… Barca midfielder unhappy with Nou Camp life

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UPDATED:

18:50 GMT, 4 September 2012

Cesc Fabregas has admitted his frustration over his recent inconsistent performances for Barcelona.

The Spain international midfielder, who revealed his frustration at not playing every minute of every game, was substituted only 63 minutes into Barca's narrow victory over Valencia on Sunday.

Despite starting all three Primera Division games so far this term, Fabregas remains far from happy playing a cameo role for his boyhood club, having returned to the Nou Camp last summer for 30million after eight years at Arsenal.

Upset: Cesc Fabregas takes his 'unhappy face' home with him

Upset: Cesc Fabregas takes his 'unhappy face' home with him

His complaint echoes that of Real
Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who refused to celebrate his brace
against Granada due to feeling 'sad' for 'professional reasons'.

Fabregas told Radio Marca: 'There's no such thing as a great substitute in the world of football.

'I couldn't tell you what makes a great substitute.

'I always wish my team-mates well and put a happy face on.

'If I have to take my unhappy face home then so be it, but I would never let my team-mates or manager see it.'

The versatile 25-year-old competes for a starting berth in the centre of the park with Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Busquets and new recruit Alex Song, his former Gunners team-mate.

Sad: Cristiano Ronaldo has been complaining at Real Madrid

Sad: Cristiano Ronaldo has been complaining at Real Madrid

'Everybody likes to play every minute of the season,' he added.

'I've always said that I play for the best team in the world, but I came here to compete, to learn and enjoy, not to sit wracking my brains.

'The manager knows what I can offer. But across the three positions that I can play, I am competing with the three best players in the world.

'I'm delighted to be a part of this team but when a coach tells me I have to go, I'll go.

'But I will not make it easy for him to do so, by any means. I will keep going, looking forward to the time that things change. I came here to see out my career.'