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France v Spain – watch it live for FREE

LIVE France v Spain: Watch the crunch clash in Group I as Les Bleus take on the world and European champions

PUBLISHED:

10:23 GMT, 26 March 2013

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 26 March 2013

Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of what promises to be the game of the night as France take on Spain in Group I.

The French can take a huge step towards qualification for Brazil 2014 with a win over their near neighbours in Paris.

Victory would move them five points clear at the top with just three games to go and leave the reigning world and European champions staring at the prospect of a two-legged play-off.

The sides drew in Madrid last October and Spain followed that up by sharing the points with Finland on Friday night while Les Bleus eased past Georgia.

Sergio Ramos, on his 100th appearance for his country, captained Vicente del Bosque's side against Finland and led by example with the goal.

Karim Benzema, his Real Madrid team-mate, drew a blank in France's victory and will be out to make amends if he is given the nod after being booed by the home support for missing chances in the Stade de France.

***Full coverage will start at 8pm***

Live : France – Spain par ffftv

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Nike advert from 2011 features Oscar Pistorius as "the bullet in the chamber"

The bullet in the chamber: How Nike advert described Blade Runner Pistorius in 2011…

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

13:14 GMT, 14 February 2013

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UPDATED:

14:00 GMT, 14 February 2013

A Nike advertising campaign has emerged which describes Oscar Pistorius as ‘the bullet in the chamber’.

The advert is believed to date back to 2011 but has re-emerged on the morning the Paralympic gold medallist, one of the most famous athletes on the planet, has been charged with murder following the death of his model girlfriend.

The 26-year-old allegedly shot Reeva Steenkamp, 30, who died of gunshot wounds at his home.

Advert: The Nike poster with Pistorius and the slogan

Advert: The Nike poster with Pistorius and the slogan

Pre-Paralympics: The advert dates back to 2011The advert dates back to 2011

Pre-Paralympics: The advert dates back to 2011

Neighbours called the police and arrived to find paramedics trying in vain to save her life.

Pistorius is due to appear in a Pretoria court tomorrow morning when police said they would oppose a bail application.

Another Nike advert shows a picture of the athlete and reads: ‘I was born without bones below the knee. I only stand 5ft 2. But this is the body I have been given.

'This is my weapon. How I conquer. How I wage my war. This is how I have broken the world record 49 times.

'How I become the fastest thing on no legs. This is my weapon. This is how I fight.’

Police spokeswoman Lieutenant
Colonel Katlego Mogale said police were called to Pistorius' house in the
Silver Lakes district at around 5am local time (3am GMT).

The call
came from a neighbour.

A 9mm pistol was recovered and the woman’s body was removed from the scene.

Pistorius was arrested at the scene as investigations began.

The athlete will appear in court tomorrow morning charged with the murder of his girlfriend

Charged: The athlete will appear in court tomorrow morning charged with the murder of his girlfriend

Double amputee Pistorius made history last summer by competing in the Olympic Games for his country, becoming the first amputee sprinter to do so.

He competed in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the Olympics and won two gold medals in the Paralympics in London.

The Johannesburg-born athlete, who was born without fibulas in his legs and had the limbs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, had to win a legal battle over his blades with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2008 for the right to run in able-bodied competition.

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Roberto Mancini says Manchester City are still in the title race

'We can recover': Mancini says City still in the title race despite the cavernous nine point gap between them and United

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

19:15 GMT, 3 February 2013

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UPDATED:

19:17 GMT, 3 February 2013

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini insisted the Barclays Premier League title race was not over after his team's 2-2 draw with Liverpool this afternoon.

The result at the Etihad Stadium leaves second-placed City nine points adrift of leaders Manchester United.

Acute: Sergio Aguero (right) scored the equaliser in the 2-2 draw from the tightest of angles

Acute: Sergio Aguero (right) scored the equaliser in the 2-2 draw from the tightest of angles

And following the contest, Mancini told Sky Sports 1: 'There are still 13 games until the end.

'No, (it is not over) – I think we can recover nine points.'

Edin Dzeko put the hosts in front before strikes from Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard to made it 2-1 to Liverpool.

Sergio Aguero then equalised in the 78th minute, capitalising superbly on an error by Reds goalkeeper Jose Reina.

It's not over: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini (pictured) insisted the title race is not over, despite sitting nine points behind neighbours Manchester United

It's not over: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini (pictured) insisted the title race is not over, despite sitting nine points behind neighbours Manchester United

Mancini felt aggrieved that play had not stopped in the build-up to Sturridge's goal after Dzeko was challenged by Daniel Agger.

He said: 'I think Liverpool played a good game. We conceded two goals, stupid goals for me.

'But before the first goal there was a big foul – if it had happened with us, probably there would have been a red card.

In the lead: City did go 1-0 up through an Edin Dzeko (pictured) goal

In the lead: City did go 1-0 up through an Edin Dzeko (pictured) goal

'Instead, the referee and linesman did not see anything. In the end, though, I think it was the right result.'

Asked if he felt Liverpool should have put the ball out when Dzeko was left on the turf by Agger, Mancini said: 'Probably, because after this foul I think there were several seconds (before the goal).

'I think so, but this can happen. I think it was a foul and should have been a yellow card. The rules are the same for everyone always.'

Liverpool fight back: Daniel Sturridge drew the Reds level with a strike from outside the box

Liverpool fight back: Daniel Sturridge drew the Reds level with a strike from outside the box…

...Before Steven Gerrard (right) put Liverpool into the lead with a beautiful half-volley that flew beyond Joe Hart

…Before Steven Gerrard (right) put Liverpool into the lead with a beautiful half-volley that flew beyond Joe Hart

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Roberto Mancini says Robin van Persie has been the difference in Premier League title race

A striking difference: United's signing of Van Persie has changed title race, says Mancini

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

A meticulous forward planner, Roberto Mancini is already looking ahead to the summer.

Once this season is over, therefore, we can expect some serious interest from Manchester City in centre forwards Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani.

On Monday morning at City's windswept training ground, however, Mancini was looking backwards, as well as forwards.

The difference: Roberto Mancini rues missing out on the signing of Robin van Persie last summer

The difference: Roberto Mancini rues missing out on the signing of Robin van Persie last summer

As he anticipated another close encounter with neighbours Manchester United over the remaining 19 games of the Barclays Premier League season, the City manager returned to the subject of his club's failed attempt to sign Robin van Persie from Arsenal last summer.

As news of their manager's words filtered across to the executive offices at the Etihad Stadium, eyebrows will have been raised.

There is a desire at boardroom level at City for Mancini to stop discussing the what-ifs of last summer's rather disappointing efforts in the transfer market.

Bailed out: Van Persie scored the winner against Manchester City in a thrilling derby encounter

Bailed out: Van Persie scored the winner against Manchester City in a thrilling derby encounter

Improvement: Sergio Aguero has scored half the amount of league goals Van Persie has this season

Improvement: Sergio Aguero has scored half the amount of league goals Van Persie has this season

NASRI TO SERVE THREE-MATCH BAN

Manchester City will be without forward Samir Nasri for today's clash with Stoke at the Etihad Stadium after deciding not to appeal against his three-match ban for being sent off at Norwich on Saturday.

City boss Roberto Mancini disagreed with referee Mike Jones' decision to dismiss Nasri for an apparent butt on Sebastien Bassong in the 4-3 win, but the champions do not want to risk an FA extension to his ban.

Nevertheless, it is also hard to
disagree with Mancini's assertion that Van Persie has so far been a
significant difference between the clubs as United have opened up a
sevenpoint gap over the reigning champions.

City,
it must be said, are short of goals. Van Persie has scored 14 times in
the league so far this season while the champions' quartet of strikers
have managed only 23 between them.

'Robin
van Persie is an important player for them,' said Mancini. 'It's clear
that the difference is this. He has changed the situation.

'We wanted him in the summer because we knew he would be an important player. He is totally different from our other strikers.'

The Van Persie subject came up again after Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport ran an interview with Mancini in which he expressed his regret at not clinching the signing of the Holland forward.

At the heart of the City manager's frustration is that he feels he had a head start on United when he first made contact with the player back in March.

Van Persie has gone on record as saying that he only ever wanted to move to Old Trafford. Mancini's memory of events has always been very different.

Confident: Mancini (left) believes the title race will be close, despite United leading by seven points

Confident: Mancini (left) believes the title race will be close, despite United leading by seven points

He refused to elaborate on what he felt went wrong, showing some diplomacy in saying: 'I know, but I won't say'.

What is known, though, is that City and Van Persie were in constant contact throughout the European Championship and indeed right up until they made him an improved financial offer in the days before he finally plumped for United in August.

'Three or four months earlier, we were there,' said Mancini. 'But there is nothing we can do now.'

In his interview that appeared in his home country yesterday, Mancini suggested that United deserved their current lead in the table.

'Maybe it should be two points instead of seven, though,' he added. Certainly the gap between the two clubs could well narrow over the coming weeks and neither are expected to figure prominently in the transfer window.

Colossus: Yaya Toure will leave City to travel to the Africa Cup of Nations in January

Colossus: Yaya Toure will leave City to travel to the Africa Cup of Nations in January

Stepping up: James Milner is likely to get more game time in Toure's absence

Stepping up: James Milner is likely to get more game time in Toure's absence

Chipping in: Edin Dzeko has fired in eight goals this campaign, including a brace against Norwich

Chipping in: Edin Dzeko has fired in eight goals this campaign, including a brace against Norwich

Mancini is an admirer of Demba Ba but would need somebody to make an offer for Mario Balotelli in order to interfere with Chelsea's interest in the Newcastle striker.

As stated, meanwhile, he will only harden his efforts to prise either Falcao from Atletico Madrid or Cavani from Napoli once he knows what is happening with Balotelli and Edin Dzeko in the summer.

For now, Mancini must hope his current squad manages to find a little extra as they look to rein in Sir Alex Ferguson's team. One of the reasons City's failure to sign Van Persie remains such a disappointment is that the majority of the players they did buy in the summer have made such modest contributions.

Now, with their midfield colossus Yaya Toure about to disappear to the Africa Cup of Nations for a month or so, City need improved performances from the likes of Javi Garcia, James Milner and Sergio Aguero – among others – if they are to produce what they need.

Back in the goals: Mancini had criticised his strikers for being 'soft'

Back in the goals: Mancini had criticised his strikers for being 'soft'

Class act: Van Persie fired in a sumptuous finish at Old Trafford against West Brom

Class act: Van Persie fired in a sumptuous finish at Old Trafford against West Brom

Mancini's mood has calmed a little since a home defeat by United – Van Persie scoring the winner – and a loss at Sunderland.

On Monday he joked about the fact the FA wish to talk to him about comments he made about the referee at Sunderland and even poked gentle fun at his rival from Old Trafford.

'I haven't had the letter from the FA yet,' he said. 'The post in this country is terrible.

'Maybe next time I should run on the pitch at half-time with my hands in the air and shout at the referee.

'This is a joke. This has been a fantastic year for us. I hope that this coming year will be the same.'

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Manchester City are lining up bids for a pair of defenders

City spending Millionarios! Club chase Colombian defender

PUBLISHED:

22:43 GMT, 19 December 2012

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UPDATED:

22:43 GMT, 19 December 2012

Manchester City are continuing to show interest in Colombian defender Pedro Franco.

The 21-year-old, who aptly plays for Millionarios, can also play in centre midfield.

Target: Manchester City are preparing a bid for Colombian defender Pedro Franco (pictured). Franco was captain of the Millionarios side who won the Colombian league (below) and got to the semi-final of the Copa Sudamerica

Target: Manchester City are preparing a bid for Colombian defender Pedro Franco (pictured). Franco was captain of the Millionarios side who won the Colombian league (below) and got to the semi-final of the Copa Sudamerica

Pedro Franco of Millionarios lifts the Colombian league trophy

Although never capped by the full Colombian national side, he was a part of the Colombia U20 that reached the quarter-finals of the U20 World Cup in 2011.

City and neighbours Manchester United, meanwhile, are going head-to-head to sign 15-year-old Italy U16 international defender Giorgio Piacentini, who has yet to sign a professional contract with club Albinoleffe.

Targets: Roberto Mancini is after Colombian defender Pedro Franco and Italian youngster

Targets: Roberto Mancini is after Colombian defender Pedro Franco and Italian youngster Giorgio Piacentini

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Alex Ferguson says Manchester United will not buy in January transfer window

Window of opportunity: Man City offered January hope in title race as Fergie rules out signing reinforcements for United (so, will Mancini swoop for Walcott)

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UPDATED:

10:12 GMT, 18 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson has ruled out making any January signings to bolster Manchester United’s bid for the Barclays Premier League title, leaving the window open for rivals City to strengthen their squad and catch up with the league leaders.

While City manager Roberto Mancini is expected to add to his star-studded squad as he desperately looks to defend his Premier League title, Ferguson has ruled moving for anyone, including Arsenal’s Theo Walcott.

No go: Sir Alex Ferguson will not be signing anyone in January

No go: Sir Alex Ferguson will not be signing anyone in January

Walcott’s negotiations over a new contract at the Emirates is ongoing, but Ferguson is refusing to spend an inflated January fee.

Asked if he would make a single signing during the winter window, Ferguson told Yahoo: ‘No, the January transfer market has never been the best transfer market and that has been proven over the years with very few big transfers happening. All the big transfers happen in the summer.’

The United manager, who saw his team maintain their six-point lead over neighbours Manchester City with a 3-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday, is adamant he will not be doing any business in the transfer window unless it is to allow several of his reserve-team players to go out on loan.

Wanted man: Theo Walcott could be at the centre of a transfer tussle

Wanted man: Theo Walcott could be at the centre of a transfer tussle

Ferguson, who rarely takes advantage of the mid-season opportunity to augment his first-team squad, believes he has enough resources to cope with challenging for the Premier League title and the European and FA Cups.

‘I will not be bringing anybody in, in January – definitely not,’ he confirmed.

It means that while title rivals City
are targeting Atletic Bilbao’s Fernano Llorente; Chelsea are ready to
splash on Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao and Walcott and Liverpool
want Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge and Tom Ince from Blackpool, the United
boss will stick with what he has as the club chase a 20th league title.

How many do you want Roberto Mancini is expected to buy

How many do you want Roberto Mancini is expected to buy

Walcott’s future at Arsenal is in doubt with the club refusing to agree to his contract demands. But if the Gunners decide to cash in on the winger in January, he is now more likely to end up at Stamford Bridge than Old Trafford.

Ferguson’s confidence comes from now having a fully fit squad at his disposal after skipper Nemanja Vidic returned to the team as a second-half substitute against Sunderland.

‘It will take him a bit of time but that is a start,’ Ferguson said. ‘He is a warrior and he is our captain. He always battles for you and sticks his head on that ball in the penalty area. That is what he is great at.’

Goals from Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley and Wayne Rooney were enough to claim all three points and Ferguson added: ‘People keep saying we are weak in midfield but these guys are very good players.’

For more insight from Sir Alex Ferguson and other leading managers plus exclusive Barclays Premier League highlights go to www.yahoo.co.uk/sport

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Tony Fernandes has said QPR"s first win of the season is like the "best Christmas present ever"

'The best Christmas present ever' Fernandes delights at QPR's first win of the season

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UPDATED:

18:18 GMT, 15 December 2012

Chairman Tony Fernandes tonight hailed QPR ending their winless league run at the 17th attempt as 'the best Christmas present ever'.

Adel Taarabt's brace proved the difference for Harry Redknapp's side as they saw off west London neighbours Fulham 2-1 at Loftus Road.

Fernandes was in Shepherd's Bush to witness the victory firsthand and could not hide his delight at the final whistle.

Delighted: QPR chairman Tony Fernandes has said today's win over Fulham was 'the best Christmas present ever'

Delighted: QPR chairman Tony Fernandes has said today's win over Fulham was 'the best Christmas present ever'

'I am very relieved man,' he said. 'That is the best Christmas present ever.

'That is all I wanted for Christmas – three points. It was a great performance, it was awesome. I think Fulham only had one shot and they scored that goal.

Inspired: QPR's victory was inspired by Adel Taarabt who scored both goals in the 2-1 win

Inspired: QPR's victory was inspired by Adel Taarabt (right) who scored both goals in the 2-1 win

'It was a great team effort, they deserved it.

'We've been threatening for a while and what a way to get the winning goal.

'Adel was awesome, the defence played well and everyone put their heart into it.

'It is looking good and we're undefeated under Harry. I feel like I have won the championship.'

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Wayne Rooney planning revenge on Sunderland

Rooney's warning: Sunderland fans gloated when City won the title… I will have my revenge!

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 14 December 2012

Wayne Rooney is determined to shake off a midweek virus to face the one team he says he wants to beat more than any other this season.

The Manchester United centre forward would normally ring games against Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea and neighbours City when the fixtures are announced each summer but this time he had a special eye on Saturday’s visit to Old Trafford of Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland team.

It was after a win at Sunderland on the last day of the last season that United discovered they had lost the Barclays Premier League title to City courtesy of an injury-time goal by Sergio Aguero and Rooney has never forgotten the reaction of the home fans.

Out for revenge: Wayne Rooney was not impressed with Sunderland's supporters' actions

Out for revenge: Wayne Rooney was not impressed with Sunderland's supporters' actions

Rooney said recently: ‘I don’t know whether I will play the previous games before it, I just want to play against Sunderland.

‘When the fixtures come out I look for three games — City, Liverpool and Everton. This time I checked the Sunderland game. If there is one team that I want to beat this season it will be Sunderland.’

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed last night that Rooney is in the squad for today’s game after overcoming a stomach bug and it appears the England forward has a long memory.

Speaking straight after the final whistle at Sunderland last May, he said: ‘When the final whistle went, we didn’t really know what the score at City was.

‘But then we heard the Sunderland fans cheering. It was sad to see because they should be supporting their own team really. They didn’t have the best of seasons so for them to be cheering like that was sad. It was something myself and a lot of the players won’t forget.’

Ferguson stressed last night that he holds no personal grudge against the Sunderland fans who revelled in United’s misery seven months ago.

The United manager said: ‘What their fans did was disappointing when you think of the number of players we’ve given Sunderland. We gave them the players that got them promoted, Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson. But that’s fans, isn’t it Winning the game is important and it’s time for us to kick on and make sure we maintain the lead at the top of the league.’

Disappointed: Sir Alex Ferguson was also upset by the taunts after City snatched the title

Disappointed: Sir Alex Ferguson was also upset by the taunts after City snatched the title

United are top by six points after last
weekend’s thrilling win at City and welcome back captain Nemanja Vidic
after a knee injury.

Ferguson responded to suggestions by City manager Roberto Mancini that the current champions are still a better side than United. ‘I don’t think that’s accurate,’ he said.

‘You definitely saw the two best teams in the league. The issue for us now is to make sure we don’t do anything silly. It’s winning the next game that will mean more to me.’

Ferguson ridiculed those who have questioned O’Neill’s position at Sunderland after recent poor results. ‘Martin was asked a ridiculous question last week when he was asked if he still had self-belief,’ said Ferguson.

He’s won three titles with Celtic, took them to the Uefa Cup final, and been at Aston Villa and Leicester City. What a silly question. It’s an insult and I’m glad his chairman is supporting him, he’s an outstanding manager.'

Laughing matter: Ryan Giggs (left) and Rooney of Manchester United watch the traditional annual panto, performed by the youth team

Laughing matter: Ryan Giggs (left) and Rooney of Manchester United watch the traditional annual panto, performed by the youth team

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Ryan Giggs says Wayne Rooney is like Cristiano Ronaldo

Wayne's like Cristiano! Giggs says Rooney's unselfish attitude reminds him of Ronaldo

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UPDATED:

02:48 GMT, 13 December 2012

Ryan Giggs sees shades of Cristiano Ronaldo in the way that Wayne Rooney has emerged as the heartbeat of Manchester United’s attack.

Rooney’s double in the Manchester derby took his total to four in United’s last two Premier League games. Before that, however, Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that the England striker was not scoring enough compared to his teammate Robin van Persie.

Peas in a pod Ryan Giggs claims Wayne Rooney (above) has developed like Cristiano Ronaldo

Peas in a pod Ryan Giggs claims Wayne Rooney has developed like Cristiano Ronaldo (above)

Peas in a pod Ryan Giggs claims Wayne Rooney (left) has developed like Cristiano Ronaldo (right)

Although they are two different types of player, Giggs believes that Rooney’s unselfish attitude and willingness to create goals for his teammates reminds him of Ronaldo.

‘Wayne is the kind of player who can score goals, but if someone is scoring more he’s not too bothered,’ said Giggs.

‘He’s quite happy setting goals up and pitching in with important goals like he did on Sunday.

‘It’s like when Cristiano was here, he scored a lot of goals. It’s similar with Wayne, he’s not just an out and out goalscorer. He’s more than that. He’s the catalyst to everything good that we do.

‘He can score goals, make goals. It’s a massive plus for him to get the goals at City.’

Van Persie’s late winner at the Etihad Stadium made it 14 goals for United since they beat City to sign him for 24million from Arsenal in the summer.

And Giggs believes the Dutchman could make all the difference in United’s bid to reclaim the title from their neighbours.

‘He’s one that we are glad to have,’ he added. ‘He’s not surprised me because I knew that, at 29, he was a ready-made, experienced world-class player.

‘He just has that bit of class that can make a difference – like it did on Sunday and in other games.

'You see it in training, you see it in games, he’s just a brilliant player.

‘The way we performed at City should give us a boost. The squad is looking good. Nemanja Vidic is coming back, our captain. Everything is in place for the busy Christmas period.’

Derby glory: Rooney scored twice against Manchester City at the Etihad

Derby glory: Rooney scored twice against Manchester City at the Etihad

And the winner is... Robin van Persie scored the decisive goal to seal the 3-2 win

And the winner is… Robin van Persie scored the decisive goal to seal the 3-2 win

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Rio Ferdinand not to blame for actions of Manchester City fans

Ferdinand to blame for 'inciting' Man City fans No chance. You can't rob English football of its key ingredient: passion

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UPDATED:

15:39 GMT, 10 December 2012

Let's get this straight: Rio Ferdinand was not celebrating in front of the Manchester City fans and he was certainly not to blame for that cut above his eye.

A text message landed in my phone, seconds after the final whistle brought down the curtain on the tempestuous 164th Manchester derby.

'Ferdinand's bang out of order', said the sender. I found it hard to comprehend. 'Why so' was my reply.

Scroll down for video

Struck down: Commentators have tried to apportion some of the blame on Ferdinand for his celebrations

Struck down: Commentators have tried to apportion some of the blame on Ferdinand for his celebrations

'Celebrating like that, rubbing it in the City fans' faces. He's lost it', was the explanation. I could barely bring myself to reply.

I'd just watched the United defender walking off the pitch with blood streaming from a wound a centimetre or two above his left eye.

His crime Celebrating 93rd-minute winner against the Barclays Premier League champions – their city neighbours, no less – to send his team six points clear at the top of the league.

It came after his team had thrown away a two goal lead, only to snatch the spoils right at the very close of a match that will live long in the memory.

Bang out of order Lost it I don't think so.

Pitch invader: Ferdinand was also targeted by a fan who raced onto the field

Pitch invader: Ferdinand was also targeted by a fan who raced onto the field

Pitch invader: Ferdinand was also targeted by a fan who raced onto the field

Various social media, radio and press outlets have lumped a portion of blame on Ferdinand for celebrating on front of the City fans following Robin van Persie's winning free-kick.

Well, that's not true for a start, he was in front of the United fans.

The coin must have travelled quite a distance before it arrived at his brow, as Ferdinand said in his post-match tweet, it was 'some shot'.

But so what if he had celebrated in front of the City fans He and his team-mates had earned the right to celebrate wherever they wanted to.

They'd just won the most important match of the season, three points secured which, at the end of the season, could decide the final destination of the title.

United front: Ferdinand was celebrating in front of the United fans and Rooney receives abuse (below)

United front: Ferdinand was celebrating in front of the United fans and Rooney receives abuse (below)

United front: Ferdinand was celebrating in front of the United fans and Rooney receives abuse (below)

Against a team who did the league double over them last term, scoring eight goals in the process. He had every right to get excited.

Look at the picture of Wayne Rooney, facing a barrage of vile invective from City fans which illustrates the levels of abuse players face on a regular basis.

And what was the alternative after the winning goal was scored A gentle ripple of applause from the travelling supporters followed by handshakes all round as the United players walked back to the centre circle

That anodyne vision of the future would rob the passion – arguably it’s the key ingredient – from the most-watched league in the world.

We demand the very highest standards from the players. Demand they cede no inch, sweat every last drop and leave the field of play shattered, but then want to deny them the right to savour the very moment they pull on their kit for: Score goals. Win games.

Of course players have a duty to not goad supporters with inflammatory gestures. But to celebrate in those circumstances in front of his own fans as Ferdinand did cannot and should not be outlawed.

To suggest he 'crossed the line' is nonsense. The line was crossed when those dozens of fans – and it was dozens, check the amount of coins on the field around Ferdinand's feet – starting rifling through their pockets for some shrapnel to direct at the opposition.

And it is nothing new. The only difference is this time a coin actually hit a player.

Ugly scenes: The fans directed abuse at each other as well as the players

Ugly scenes: The fans directed abuse at each other as well as the players

Ugly scenes: The fans directed abuse at each other as well as the players

Sir Alex Ferguson said after the match: 'It's unfortunate that a City fan runs on and coins are thrown. The same thing happened at Chelsea, which was masked by all the other things. I have not known many more dramatic days than that.'

Screaming in delight following the denouement of a successful title-race battle is not a criminal offence. Gashing someone's face with a missile is.

Commentators should remember that before pillorying those who actions week in, week out give us reason to celebrate.

Ugly scenes: The fans directed abuse at each other as well as the players

Ugly scenes: The fans directed abuse at each other as well as the players

VIDEO: Fans react to the violence…

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