Tag Archives: periods

Edin Dzeko scores "heavy" goals – David Platt

Dzeko scores goals for City when it really matters, says grateful Platt

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UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 20 October 2012

David Platt hailed the importance of Manchester City super-sub Edin Dzeko after his two late goals earned victory at West Brom.

City looked in danger of falling seven points adrift of leaders Chelsea after James Milner was sent off in the first half and then Shane Long broke the deadlock for West Brom.

But Dzeko equalised within 60 seconds of entering the action with 20 minutes left and then in injury time snatched the winner with his sixth goal of the season.

When it counts: Edin Dzeko has scored some crucial goals for Man City

When it counts: Edin Dzeko has scored some crucial goals for Man City

City first-team coach Platt said: 'If you look at Edin's career for Manchester City, the goals he has scored, he has got a lot of heavy goals, goals that are very important.

'I remember goals at Blackburn the season before last which more or less gave us Champions League qualification.

'You look back at last season as well and he got some vital goals. To win the league, Aguero's goal will always be the one but remember Edin equalised.

'He has been a threat all season and his form has been very good all season.'

Milner was sent off for a professional foul after bringing down Long midway through the first half.

But Platt felt City deserved their victory after controlling the game for long periods despite their numerical disadvantage.

Platt, deputising at the press conference for sore throat victim Roberto Mancini, said: 'Watching it live it didn't seem a goalscoring opportunity to me for the sending-off. Equally you can see why it is given.

'But we can't sit there for 70 minutes grumbling about a decision.

'For the rest of the first half we were affected by it to a certain extent and no one was controlling the game.

'We said at half-time if we keep our control and discipline, stay together, we know we can impose our play on them and in that second period we controlled the match.

'If you look at the stats of efforts on goal and possession, you wouldn't have thought we'd had a man less than them.'

Platt admitted City had been tempted to substitute striker Mario Balotelli at half-time after he had been booked early on for bringing down Claudio Yacob.

Temper: Mario Balotelli was booked early on

Temper: Mario Balotelli was booked early on

Referee Mark Clattenburg then spoke to City captain Vincent Kompany after Balotelli escaped a second yellow card for a challenge on Long.

Platt said: 'The temptation is there (to substitute Balotelli). He got booked inside 20 minutes.

'We looked at it at half-time but he was causing them a problem and we felt confident just by speaking to him that there was not going to be any loss of head. He looked pretty calm.'

The Baggies surrendered their 100% home record and manager Steve Clarke admitted they paid the penalty for chasing the winner in the closing stages.

It was from an Albion corner that City broke clear to score their late winner.

Clarke said: 'I thought we deserved something out of the game. I thought we played well, stood up to Manchester City, but they showed when they went to 10 men that they are champions for a reason.

Fair play: Steve Clarke praised City's performance

Fair play: Steve Clarke praised City's performance

'Credit to them, their performance with 10 men was excellent and the only feeling I have now is being disappointed to lose the game so late.

'It was maybe a bad decision to go chasing the winner rather than settling for a point.

'We still wanted to win the game. It is a mindset and characteristic we have got here and are trying to put into the players.

'We wanted to win the game but you get a corner in injury time and think you can win it. Maybe we should have been a bit more careful and maybe settled for a point.'

As regards the Milner red card, Clarke admitted: 'It was a marginal one. If it had gone against us, maybe I would have been disappointed.'

Michel Vorm signs four-year Swansea contract

Swansea No 1 Vorm signs new deal to remain at the Liberty Stadium until 2016

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UPDATED:

12:32 GMT, 27 September 2012

New deal: Vorm

New deal: Vorm

Swansea goalkeeper Michael Vorm has signed a new four-year deal to remain with the club until 2016.

The Swans announced the news on their official website on Thursday, confirming that the 28-year-old Holland international had committed his long-term future to them.

Vorm joined Swansea from Utrecht last summer on the eve of their debut season in the Barclays Premier League, and enjoyed a stellar campaign, sweeping the board at the club's player of the year awards.

Speculation had linked him with a move away from the Liberty Stadium as a result, especially in light of the man who signed him, Brendan Rodgers, leaving for Liverpool, but that talk has now been quashed.

'I'm delighted. I'm enjoying my time here very much and it is one of the reasons why I've signed an extension,' Vorm told his club's official website.

'I can also only see things at Swansea getting better and better. I can see a lot of positive things happening here and I believe the club has a bright future ahead of it.

'The club has signed a lot of its quality players for longer periods, which is a good thing.'

Jermain Defoe backs England to remain unbeaten in qualifying campaign

We've got the winning mentality: Defoe backs England to remain unbeaten in qualifying campaign

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UPDATED:

14:43 GMT, 12 September 2012

Jermain Defoe backed England to go through World Cup qualifying unbeaten after helping them snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat against Ukraine.

Striker Defoe claimed Frank Lampard's late equaliser from the penalty spot in Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at Wembley proved the Three Lions had the 'winning mentality' needed to top Group H.

England were within three minutes of losing a competitive game at home for the first time in five years yesterday after being outplayed for long periods by opponents they beat at this summer's European Championship.

Going for goal: Jermain Defoe played up front on his own

Going for goal: Jermain Defoe played up front on his own

A draw saw them drop from first to second in the group but it could have been even worse, which would have been a worrying setback with tough-looking trips to Poland, Montenegro and Ukraine still to come.

Defoe claimed he had no fear at any stage on Tuesday that England would lose and added: 'We've got a lot of games left to play.

'It doesn't look like we're going to get beaten, to be fair.

'We're playing games and we believe we won't get beaten. So that's good we've got a winning mentality.

'Just unlucky that we didn't actually win the game.'

Defoe certainly did not enjoy the rub of the green after seeing what would have been a superb goal chalked off for a push.

No goal: Defoe saw his goal chalked off for a foul in the build up

No goal: Defoe saw his goal chalked off for a foul in the build up

The quality of his strike was a further riposte to those who claim the diminutive 29-year-old cannot operate as a lone frontman.

Manager Roy Hodgson clearly believes otherwise after handing him rare back-to-back competitive starts in the past week, with last night the first time the striker had played the full match in his 51 caps for his country.

Although frustrated at being unable to celebrate the amazing landmark with his third goal in as many games, Defoe said: 'It's always nice when you get to play, helps your confidence.

Making it count: Frank Lampard makes no mistake from the penalty spot

Making it count: Frank Lampard makes no mistake from the penalty spot

'I'm playing with good players. It makes it a lot easier.

'And even if I'm playing that lone role up front on my own, it's not a problem.

'The lads get close to me, service is good, and it's something I'm enjoying.'

Having earned the vast majority of his caps from the bench, Defoe found himself England's first-choice striker arguably for the first time in his career.

The man who turns 30 in less than a month joked: “That's not old, that's young. I feel young anyway.

'It's good. I'm enjoying it. It's good to play. I just want to keep playing.'

Tom Cleverley

The future's bright: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tom Cleverley both started for England

The future's bright: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tom Cleverley both started for England

Defoe has enjoyed integrating with genuine young players, such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tom Cleverley, both of whom started again last night.

Hodgson was also forced to turn to the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand to try to salvage a draw in the wake of injuries to key men such as Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Ashley Cole.

Defoe said: 'I think the lads have come in and done really well.

'Ox started, Cleverley started again – it was fantastic.

'I think it's a good mix now with the older lads and the younger lads.

'So, yeah, it looks good.'

Marc Albrighton sidelined with broken metatarsal

More injury misery for Villa as Albrighton faces six weeks out with broken metatarsal

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UPDATED:

12:42 GMT, 10 August 2012

Aston Villa have suffered a third major injury setback with winger Marc Albrighton facing several weeks out of action with a broken metatarsal.

Albrighton suffered the setback during the first week of pre-season training last month.

Now sources close to Villa are predicting he will be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Ruled out: Albrighton faces six weeks on the sidelines with a broken foot

Ruled out: Albrighton faces six weeks on the sidelines with a broken foot

The 22-year-old is still having to wear a protective boot and is not expected to return until late September or early October.

Albrighton's blow follows on from striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and defender Richard Dunne being ruled out for lengthy periods.

Agbonlahor is out for four to five weeks and Dunne for six to eight weeks with knee and groin problems respectively.

Albrighton had spoken earlier in the summer of trying to impress new Villa manager Paul Lambert after he struggled last season to reproduce the form of the previous campaign.

But now the Villa academy product faces a lengthy lay-off with the new Barclays Premier League season only eight days away.

Team GB 0 Sweden 0: Woodwork saves Swedes

Team GB 0 Sweden 0: Woodwork saves Swedes as hosts impress in Olympic warm-up

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UPDATED:

17:37 GMT, 20 July 2012

Rachel Yankey came within inches of sending Team GB into their Olympic campaign on the back of a victory as the woodwork came to Sweden's rescue.

The 33-year-old Arsenal striker came off the bench at the break to rattle the post with a 70th-minute shot after being played in by fellow substitute Karen Carney.

Great Britain held sway before the break, but were forced to defend for long periods after with Ife Dieke particularly impressive at the back as the Swedes staged a second-half fightback.

Stalemate: The two sides aw out a lively - if goalless - clash at the Riverside

Stalemate: The two sides aw out a lively – if goalless – clash at the Riverside

Hope Powell's side will nevertheless head into the tournament brimming with confidence after negotiating a difficult encounter with much credit.

Great Britain's women launch their first Olympic campaign against New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium next Wednesday in what will be the first event of the entire Olympic Games, and they will do so with high hopes of making an impact after more than holding the Swedes, who finished third at last summer's World Cup finals.

Powell knew they would present her side with a stern test of their credentials having seen them reach the semi-finals in Germany, where her England team went out in the last eight.

In the circumstances, she must have been delighted with what she saw during the opening 45 minutes as GB dominated until a late flurry of activity in Karen Bardsley's goalmouth immediately before half-time.

Right-back Alex Scott and left-winger Eni Aluko caused the Scandinavians all sorts out problems down the flanks with their pace and power, and Hedvig Lindahl's goal came under threat far more regularly than that of her opposite number.

Tussle: Carney battles with Almgren Sweden's Williams vies for the ball with Berglund (below)

Tussle: Carney battles with Almgren Sweden's Williams vies for the ball with Berglund (below)

Tussle: Carney battles with Almgren Sweden's Williams vies for the ball with Berglund (below)

However, if Powell could have had one complaint, it was that the final ball was not accurate enough on more than once occasion to leave her strikers short of meaningful service.

Indeed, it was left-back Steph Houghton who came closest to opening the scoring during the first half, blasting a long-range effort just over the bar after playing a well-worked one-two with Ellen White on the edge of the penalty area.

Striker Kelly Smith only just missed the target with an audacious effort from distance seconds later with Lindahl back-pedalling desperately.

GB had suffered few scares of any note at the other end, although Casey Stoney was relieved to see Caroline Seger scuff her effort wide after the defender's error had presented she and Sofia Jakobsson with a gilt-edged opportunity.

But as time ran down, the visitors started to make an impression, and Bardsley found herself in demand.

The American-born keeper, who had earlier been relieved to see Marie Hammarstrom's shot drift wide, did well to beat away Kosovare Asllani's 40th-minute drive at her near post, and then had to deal with Jakobsson's skidding attempt after she had cut inside from space on the left as the whistle approached.

All smiles: The fans turned out to support the women in the Olympics warm-up

All smiles: The fans turned out to support the women in the Olympics warm-up

All smiles: The fans turned out to support the women in the Olympics warm-up

Both managers made changes at the break with Powell sending on Rachel Brown, Fara Williams and Rachel Yankey for Bardsley, Anita Asante and White, while opposite number Thomas Dennerby replaced right-back Annica Svensson with Lina Nilsson.

Sweden's newcomer almost made an instant impact when she got forward well to cross from the right within three minutes of the restart, but Stoney read Seger's dummy and managed to intercept before any damage could be done.

The visitors were enjoying their best spell of the game, and Brown had little time to bed herself in before she had to claim Lisa Dahlkvist's 52nd-minute strike.

The GB keeper had to rush from her line to confront Jakobsson three minutes later with the striker getting to the ball before her, but her chipped effort landed wide.

Powell's side was making little impact as an attacking force as they found themselves defending deep, and Brown was called upon to keep out efforts from Sara Thunebro and Asllani in quick succession.

Final countdown: Team GB now eye their first Olympics match next Wednesday

Final countdown: Team GB now eye their first Olympics match next Wednesday

Write caption here

But it was Great Britain who came agonisingly close to taking the lead with 20 minutes remaining as Carney and Yankey combined to good effect.

Carney's inch-perfect pass split the Swedish defence and allowed Yankey to run in on goal, but with Lindahl beaten, her shot came back off the post.

The Swedish keeper was beaten once again nine minutes later when Carney floated the ball over her head from 35 yards, but her effort also cleared the bar.

Yankey had another, harder, chance as time ran down after again finding space behind the Sweden defence, but with little support, she was unable to hit the target as the yellow shirts arrived in force.

Euro 2012: England didn"t deserve to beat Italy – Harry Redknapp

England didn't deserve to beat Italy… it would have been an injustice, claims Redknapp

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UPDATED:

08:25 GMT, 25 June 2012

Harry Redknapp believes it would have been an 'injustice' had England beaten Italy on penalties in Sunday night's quarter-final clash.

The Three Lions crashed out of the European Championships after Ashley Young and Ashley Cole failed to convert their spot-kicks.

But England had been on the backfoot for long periods of the game with the Italians having 36 shots to England's nine and eight on target to England's paltry one.

Crashing out: England suffered more penalty agony on Sunday

Crashing out: England suffered more penalty agony on Sunday

Euro 2012 email button

'It would have been an injustice if we'd won,' Redknapp, who was favourite to land the job before Hodgson's appointment, told The Sun.

'They had twice as many touches as us. Roy Hodgson did the best he could with that squad. The players couldn't have given any more. I'm naturally sad that we didn't go through and I was shocked by how good Italy were.

Centre of attention: Pirlo took charge of the game for Italy

Centre of attention: Pirlo took charge of the game for Italy

'What this could do is provide a lesson for everyone about how to be a force at international level.

'With Andrea Pirlo in there it was extremely tough for our boys to make an impact.'

Redknapp has now urged Hodgson to build his team around stricken Arsenal ace Jack Wilshere.

Back home: Gerrard arrives with the rest of the England squad at their Krakow base in the early hours of Monday morning

Back home: Gerrard arrives with the rest of the England squad at their Krakow base in the early hours of Monday morning

The 20-year-old missed the entirety of last season through injury but Redknapp reckons he'll be key to England's future.

'From the starting XI, (Danny) Welbeck was the only young player on show,' the former Tottenham boss added.

'Other than that it was a pretty experienced side, which is no surprise. The match showed that the way forward points to a man like Jack Wilshere.

'His absence was keenly felt because he can be like Italy's Pirlo and can certainly dictate play the way Italy's experienced man did.

'Not having the young Arsenal playmaker available shows how much value he could be to England.'

Euro 2012 results: England lose on penalties to Italy

England 0 Italy 0 (2-4 on pens): Cole and Young miss as Three Lions crash out on penalties AGAIN

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 24 June 2012

How the shootout unfolded…

ITALY
ENGLAND
Balotelli – SCORED
Montolivo – MISSED
Pirlo – SCORED
Nocerino – SCORED
DIAMANTI – SCORED
Gerrard – SCORED
Rooney – SCORED
Young – MISSED
Cole – MISSED

England's penalty shoot-out misery continued in Kiev on Sunday night as they crashed out of Euro 2012.

After Mario Balotelli's talk of Peter Pan, the semi-finals of a major tournament are becoming the equivalent of Never Never Land for the Three Lions.

Six times now they have lost in such fashion, the last four at this stage of the competition.

Eyes on the ball: England desperately defend a corner in the goalless first half

Eyes on the ball: England desperately defend a corner in the goalless first half

MATCH FACTS

England: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Milner (Walcott 61), Gerrard, Parker (Henderson 94), Young, Rooney, Welbeck (Carroll 60).

Subs Not Used: Green, Kelly, Baines, Jones, Jagielka, Downing, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Defoe, Butland.

Italy: Buffon, Abate (Maggio 90), Barzagli, Bonucci, Balzaretti, Pirlo, Marchisio, De Rossi (Nocerino 80), Montolivo, Balotelli, Cassano (Diamanti 78).

Subs Not Used: Sirigu, Chiellini, Ogbonna, Thiago Motta, Di Natale, Giaccherini, Borini, Giovinco, De Sanctis.

Booked: Barzagli, Maggio.

Italy win 4-2 on penalties

Attendance: 56,500

Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal).

On Sunday night it was the turn of
Ashley Young and Ashley Cole to join the unhappy list of those whose
nerve failed them when it mattered.

Both men needed consoling as Italy
began their celebrations as, outplayed for long periods of an absorbing
game, all England's defensive effort proved in vain.

It means Italy march onto Thursday's
semi-final with Germany in Warsaw and leaves Roy Hodgson to pick the
bones from an otherwise impressive tournament in time for next autumn's
World Cup qualifiers.

Before the drama, all those pre-match predictions of a tight, cagey
affair had been blown to bits inside the opening five minutes.

Claudio Marchisio picked out Daniele de Rossi with a peach of a cut-back.

From 25 yards, De Rossi let fly with a spectacular first-time
half-volley, which curved away from Joe Hart's despairing dive, only to
crash back off the post.

Starved of possession in those early stages, England eventually countered through Glen Johnson.

Advantage England: Montolivo hangs his head after missing his penalty

Advantage England: Montolivo hangs his head after missing his penalty

Double whammy: Ashleys Young (above) and Cole (below) both missed for England

Double whammy: Ashleys Young and Cole both missed for England

Hammer blow: Ex-West Ham midfielder Diamanti buries his penalty to send his team-mates wild

Hammer blow: Ex-West Ham midfielder Diamanti buries his penalty to send his team-mates wild

Hammer blow: Ex-West Ham midfielder Diamanti buries his penalty to send his team-mates wild

The Liverpool defender continued his run after laying a pass off to
Ashley Young and was picked out inside the box by James Milner.

Line-up: The England and Italy teams pose for their photos before kick-off

Line-up: The England and Italy teams pose for their photos before kick-off

Line-up: The England and Italy teams pose for their photos before kick-off

Had the chance fallen to a striker, England surely would have scored.

Pals: Mario Balotelli and Joe hart greet each other before the match gets underway

Pals: Mario Balotelli and Joe hart greet each other before the match gets underway

As it was, Johnson took vital seconds manoeuvring the ball into a
position from which he could shoot, and when he did, Gianluigi Buffon
stood firm to make an excellent one-handed save.

Almost: England's goalkeeper Hart was beaten by this early effort from Daniele De Rossi...

Almost: England's goalkeeper Hart was beaten by this early effort from Daniele De Rossi…

... but the ball rebounded back off the post to safety to deny the Italians an early lead

They were the most notable efforts of a surprisingly open start, during
which Wayne Rooney sent a diving header over and Andrea Pirlo released
Balotelli, only for John Terry to rescue the situation with a vital
tackle.

Chance: Glen Johnson had this opportunity to fire England ahead from close range

Chance: Glen Johnson had this opportunity to fire England ahead from close range

Reactions: Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon produced a smart stop to deny Johnson

No-one could help when Riccardo Montolivo's disguised pass looped over
the England defence and dropped invitingly for Balotelli, whose volley
went straight to Hart.

Brave: Wayne Rooney gets his head in front of Ignazio Abate's boot for another chance

Brave: Wayne Rooney gets his head in front of Ignazio Abate's boot for another chance

At the other end, Danny Welbeck's precise effort sailed over after he had run onto Rooney's return pass.

Miss: Buffon screams at his defence after seeing Rooney go close with his effort

Miss: Buffon screams at his defence after seeing Rooney go close with his effort

It was spellbinding stuff, with Italy having the edge in craft and
guile, whilst also looking vulnerable when England attacked at pace.

Famous face: Roman Abramovich was among the crowd watching the match in Kiev

Famous face: Roman Abramovich was among the crowd watching the match in Kiev

All smiles: FA chairman David Bernstein sat next to UEFA president Michel Platini for the game

All smiles: FA chairman David Bernstein sat next to UEFA president Michel Platini for the game

Balotelli's notoriously fragile temperament resulted in him lashing out
at a post after spurning another opportunity, which Pirlo and Antonio
Cassano combined to provide.

Battle: Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci wins the header against Danny Welbeck

Battle: Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci wins the header against Danny Welbeck

He ended the half driving over from long-range, extending a contribution
substantially more effective than Rooney, whose failure to pick out a
team-mate with a cross under no pressure was symptomatic of a player
struggling to find his form.

England were caught cold straight after the interval when Marchisio
found De Rossi in the box, only for the midfielder to mis-kick a volley
wide from barely four yards when he had the time to do much better.

Direction: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli gestures as Steven Gerrard holds on to the ball

Direction: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli gestures as Steven Gerrard holds on to the ball

It was the start of an onslaught that had England teetering on the brink as Pirlo took command in imperious fashion.

At 33, the midfielder assumes the Paul Scholes-role for his country,
dropping deep and dictating the tempo, and for a while, England were
powerless to stop him.

Pace: Ashley Young tries to outsprint Abate at the Olympic Stadium

Pace: Ashley Young tries to outsprint Abate at the Olympic Stadium

Terry denied Balotelli at the far-post with a thunderous clearing
header, then Hart repelled De Rossi's long-range effort and also
Balotelli's follow-up.

Clear: Balotelli fires a volley at goal after finding space inside the penalty box

Clear: Balotelli fires a volley at goal after finding space inside the penalty box

Montolivo got to the loose ball first but his shot sailed over.

Spurned: Balotelli had power but sent his effort straight into the arms of Hart

Spurned: Balotelli had power but sent his effort straight into the arms of Hart

Hodgson had seen enough and after Balotelli's overhead kick had gone over, Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott were introduced.

Surely Balotelli just failed to reach this set-up from Antonio Cassano as England cleared

Surely Balotelli just failed to reach this set-up from Antonio Cassano as England cleared

With Italy making changes as well, the game lost its shape, so, as had been imagined, extra-time was required.

Relief: Hart knows that is a golden opportunity for Balotelli to break the deadlock

Relief: Hart knows that is a golden opportunity for Balotelli to break the deadlock

Anger: Balotelli kicks the post after he failed to score

Anger: Balotelli kicks the post after he failed to score

Anger management: Balotelli kicks the post after he failed to score

After their defiant rearguard action, it would have been galling in the
extreme for England's defences to be breached by a fluke.

Nervous night: England boss Roy Hodgson watches his side from the sidelines

Nervous night: England boss Roy Hodgson watches his side from the sidelines

Fortunately, what was intended as a cross by former West Ham man
Alessandro Diamanti clipped the far post after Hart reacted too late to
the danger it was posing.

So close: Italy spurned big chances from Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi

So close: Italy spurned big chances from Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi

So close: Italy spurned big chances from Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi

So close: Italy spurned big chances from Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi

Ouch: Young and Abate hold their heads after a nasty clash in the air

Ouch: Young and Abate hold their heads after a nasty clash in the air

Time for change: Hodgson threw on Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott in a bid to lift England

Time for change: Hodgson threw on Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott in a bid to lift England

Antonio Nocerino thought he had won it six minutes from the end but his header was correctly ruled out for offside.

Pain: Gerrard is treated for cramp after pulling up on the turf

Pain: Gerrard is treated for cramp after pulling up on the turf

Ambitious: Rooney attempts an overhead kick in the dying stages of normal time

Ambitious: Rooney attempts an overhead kick in the dying stages of normal time

Over: Rooney collapses on the floor after sending the ball too high of Buffon's goal

It merely delayed the inevitable.

Full support: England fans made a huge amount of noise as the game headed into extra-time

Full support: England fans made a huge amount of noise as the game headed into extra-time

That England led after the first two rounds of penalties to give hope,
only made defeat all the more crushing as Diamanti delivered the final
blow.

Going home: England trudge off the pitch

Going home: England trudge off the pitch

Laura Robson and Heather Watson knocked out at Eastbourne

Robson and Watson show plenty of promise but crash out at Eastbourne

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 20 June 2012

First the good news: for long periods of their matches at the Aegon International at Eastbourne on Wednesday, Heather Watson and Laura Robson were equal to their considerably higher-ranked opponents.

Now the bad: when it came to the crucial points, neither could quite muster what was needed to cause an upset.

Robson, who is expected to break into the world's top 100 and become British No 2 on Monday, was edged out 6-4, 7-5 by Ekaterina Makarova, the world No 48 who beat Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova earlier in the week.

Over and out: Robson lost in straight sets on Wednesday

Over and out: Robson lost in straight sets on Wednesday

Watson led 4-1 in a first-set tiebreak before losing 7-6, 6-1 to world No 21 Lucie Safarova and afterwards admitted she is using a sports psychologist.

'I have a mental conditioning coach called Angus,' Watson said.

'He helps me because I'm very emotional
on court. It's because I care so much. I put myself on the line because
it's life or death out there.'

Mind games: Watson has employed a mental conditioning coach

Mind games: Watson has employed a mental conditioning coach

Watson was excellent in the first set as she took Safarova to the wire, but the British No 3 faded in the second.

'There's not much in it at all,' said the 20-year-old. 'It's just playing the big points well and not losing focus.'

Robson's performance was the same combination of promise and frustration.

Despite an error-strewn first set, the 18-year-old served well and her groundstrokes matched the Russian's for long periods.

There was the occasional yelp when things did not go right but, in the second set especially, she looked comfortable.

'She served really high percentage first serves towards the end of both sets, so it was tough for me to get into her service games,' said Robson.

'I'm feeling confident in my game, so going into Wimbledon I'm really pumped.'

In the men's event, Jamie Baker put up a good fight against world No 29 Philipp Kohlschreiber but lost 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Euro 2012: Italy 2 Republic of Ireland 0 – Antonio Cassano scores winner

Italy 2 Republic of Ireland 0: Cassano and Balotelli send Azzurri into last eight

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UPDATED:

20:59 GMT, 18 June 2012

Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli fired Italy into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 after a tense victory over the Republic of Ireland.

The AC Milan striker headed home from Andrea Pirlo's 35th-minute corner before substitute Balotelli added a second at the death to finally kill off Ireland's brave resistance.

Through: Italy celebrate Cassano's first-half strike

Through: Italy celebrate Cassano's first-half strike

MATCH FACTS

Italy: Buffon, Abate, Barzagli, Chiellini (Bonucci 57), Balzaretti, Pirlo, Marchisio, Thiago Motta, De Rossi, Di Natale (Balotelli 74), Cassano (Diamanti 62).

Subs not used: Sirigu, Maggio, Ogbonna, Giaccherni, Borini, Montolivo, Giovinco, Nocerino, De Sanctis.

Booked: De Rossi, Buffon, Balzaretti.

Goals: Cassano 36, Balotelli 90.

Rep of Ireland: Given, O'Shea, Dunne, St. Ledger, Ward, McGeady (Long 65), Whelan, Andrews, Duff, Keane (Cox 86), Doyle (Walters 76).

Subs not used: Westwood, Kelly, McShane, Gibson, Hunt, O'Dea, Green, McClean, Forde.

Booked: Andrews, St Ledger, O'Shea. Sent off: Andrews.

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

Spain's 1-0 win over Croatia in Gdansk meant the reigning champions topped Group C, but Italy went through in second place.

On a night when only victory would do
for Cesare Prandelli's men, they came up with the goods against an
Ireland side whose exit from the competition was confirmed last week.

But while Italy dominated for long periods, they were unable to find a
way past the green shirts for a second time to leave the Republic, led
by winger Damien Duff on his 100th appearance for his country, in with a
chance until Balotelli eventually calmed the nerves.

Giovanni Trapattoni's side, who had midfielder Keith Andrews sent off
late on, staged a late blitz on the Italian goal which came up only just
short, and although they restored some of their battered pride, they
will return to Dublin tomorrow having failed to collect a single point.

Duff and his team-mates ran out wearing black armbands to mark the 18th
anniversary of the shootings of six men in Loughinisland, County Down,
as the victims watched the national team play Italy at the 1994 World
Cup finals in the United States.

Doing the Poznan: Ireland fans continue to enjoy themselves despite the scoreline

Doing the Poznan: Ireland fans continue to enjoy themselves despite the scoreline

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That day, Ray Houghton's goal secured a famous victory over the
Italians, and the latest generation set out in determined fashion in an
attempt to repeat the feat.

They might have taken the lead straight from the kick-off when Kevin
Doyle ran on to Pirlo's careless pass, but defender Giorgio Chiellini
dispossessed him before he could shoot.

Ireland safely negotiated the opening five minutes which had previously
proved so problematical in the tournament, but as the deep-sitting Pirlo
started to pull the strings, found themselves having to defend for dear
life.

Curler: Daniele de Rossi has a shot on goal

Curler: Daniele de Rossi has a shot on goal

But where that had been beyond them in their opening two games, this
time they found the resilience and organisation which had brought them
to the finals.

The two sides traded blows in their own particular fashions, the
Italians stylish and patient, the Irish more direct and abrasive, but
with neither goalkeeper being called upon at all.

Battle: Glenn Whelan and Alessandro Diamanti vie for possession

Battle: Glenn Whelan and Alessandro Diamanti vie for possession

Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger both had to get in good blocks to
prevent Antonio Di Natale from troubling Shay Given, and the Leicester
defender had to be on his toes to dispossess the same man as he
threatened to carve his way into the penalty area once again.

But with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, Italy started to turn the screw.

Winner: Cassano beats Keith Andrews to Pirlo's corner

Winner: Cassano beats Keith Andrews to Pirlo's corner

Glenn Whelan's misplaced pass allowed Cassano to pick out Di Natale and
when he rounded Given on the right side of the penalty area and shot
from a tight angle, St Ledger once again came to the rescue on the line.

But the reprieve was only temporary and after Given had conceded a
corner by spilling Cassano's snapshot, Prandelli's men edged ahead.

Diving in: De Rossi challenges Damien Duff

Diving in: De Rossi challenges Damien Duff

Pirlo's near-post delivery was met with a glancing header by Cassano and
although Given got a hand to it, he could not keep the ball out of the
net.

The sense of relief among the Italian fans, who were dwarfed in number
by their Irish counterparts, was palpable, and will have been shared
both on the pitch and the bench.

High hopes: Given spreads himself

High hopes: Given spreads himself

However, Prandelli's players returned knowing they still had to get
through another 45 minutes and hope things elsewhere continued to go for
them if they were to progress.

It would have been 2-0 within three minutes of the restart had St Ledger
not once again denied Di Natale with a vital block, and Given had to
get down well to keep out Cassano's side-footed effort seconds later
with Italy looking to kill the game off.

Man of the hour: Cassano celebrates his goal

Man of the hour: Cassano celebrates his goal

Daniele De Rossi curled a 51st-minute shot over the angle of bar and
post with Ireland looking more open than they had at any point until
then.

But there was a flicker of hope for the Republic when Robbie Keane
forced Ignazio Abate to concede a corner which Dunne headed wide.

Off: Keith Andrews is escorted from the pitch after his red card

Off: Keith Andrews is escorted from the pitch after his red card

Given had to repel another Di Natale effort at his near post with 55
minutes gone, but Andrews tested Gianluigi Buffon from distance for the
first time on the hour.

Sensing that their time had come, the Republic launched a sustained
assault on the Italian goal, prompting Prandelli to introduce wild card
striker Balotelli with 15 minutes left on the clock.

Settler: Balotelli doubles Italy's lead late on

Settler: Balotelli doubles Italy's lead late on

Settler: Balotelli doubles Italy's lead late on

But Buffon had to be at his best to keep out Andrews' drilled
79th-minute shot from Duff's back-heeled free-kick, with Ireland
throwing everything they had at Italy.

However, it all turned sour at the death as Andrews, who had earlier
been booked for a foul, received a second yellow card for dissent
seconds before Balotelli hooked home a Pirlo corner to secure the win.

London 2012 Olympics: Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield take gold in British Gas National Championships

Daley and Waterfield take gold in National Championship to secure Olympic spot

|

UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 8 June 2012

Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield fired a warning to their Olympic rivals by producing a British record in the 10m synchronised at the national diving championships in Sheffield.

The pair scored 475.77 to smash their previous best by more than 15 points and reaffirm their position as gold medal contenders for London.

Golden boys: Tom Daley (left) and Peter Waterfield on their way to winning the Mens 10m Sychro final

Golden boys: Tom Daley (left) and Peter Waterfield on their way to winning the Mens 10m Sychro final

It was a particularly pleasing
display given Waterfield has been out with a neck injury and the fact
there was even room for improvement in a couple of their six dives.

'It's perfect timing,' said Daley, who turned 18 last month.

'We're on the track and going in the
right direction. We're really happy with the way we've performed and
really excited now. It's quite scary to think that's our last synchro
competition before London.'

Waterfield, 31, added: 'It's nice to
come back and do a good performance. I never stopped training
completely but because of the injury I was having long periods off in
between sessions.

'Our synchro was spot on. There were
only a couple of bits at the end of my dives. I've been having a little
bit of time out so when I get that consistency back through more
training it will be there for the Games.'

Leaping to glory: Daley (left) and Waterfield secured their Olympic berth

Leaping to glory: Daley (left) and Waterfield secured their Olympic berth

To put their score into context, a
total of 468.18 won the gold in Beijing four years ago. Their fourth
dive – a reverse three-and-a-half somersaults – brought the biggest
cheer and largest score with a series of perfect 10s from the judges.

It was a vast improvement on their
disappointing show at the test event in February and bodes well for this
summer, which will be Waterfield's fourth Olympics.

In synch: Daley and Waterfield continue to make a splash

In synch: Daley and Waterfield continue to make a splash

'It was quite nice to go in there and have everything go well,' said Daley. 'We needed a good performance.'

Waterfield said: 'We wanted to prove
everyone wrong and we wanted to prove ourselves wrong because we did a
bad performance at the test event.

'We knew that we would improve over
the year and we have done. We won the overall World Series and it's nice
to be now, so close to the Games, putting in good performances.

'I've been thinking about the
Olympics for the last four years. Every time I get up to go training in
the morning I think about the Olympics.

'It's my fourth and I got a medal in one of them so if I can get a medal in two of them it will be 50 per cent.'

Meanwhile, European champions Tonia
Couch and Sarah Barrow won the women's 10m synchronised – even though
they were the only entrants.

They scored a personal best of 327.18, seven points better than their gold-medal display in Eindhoven last month.

'It was a little bit crazy,' said
Couch 23. 'It felt like all eyes on you, especially when we were walking
up the stairs. But it was really good fun.

'It's actually quite nice to dive
against another pair because we do better when we're got a few nerves.
So doing a PB when we're relaxed bodes well for next time.

'Everything's going to plan, we're working really hard.'

Solid gold: Daley (right) and Waterfield after winning the Mens 10m Sychro final

Solid gold: Daley (right) and Waterfield after winning the Mens 10m Sychro final