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BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX 2013: Nico Rosberg on pole as Lewis Hamilton starts ninth after penalty

Rosberg on pole for Bahrain Grand Prix as Hamilton starts ninth after grid penalty

PUBLISHED:

12:05 GMT, 20 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:17 GMT, 20 April 2013

Nico Rosberg will start from pole position for only the second time in his career at tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver will be joined on the front row by Sebastian Vettel with Fernando Alonso in third.

Hamilton, who was out-qualified by his team-mate Rosberg for the first time in his Mercedes career, starts in ninth after being handed a five-place grid drop.

Man in the middle: Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow's grand prix from the front of the pack ahead of Sebastian Vettel (right) and Fernando Alonso

Man in the middle: Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow's grand prix from the front of the pack ahead of Sebastian Vettel (right) and Fernando Alonso

Job done: Today's pole for Rosberg is only the second of his Formula One career

Job done: Today's pole for Rosberg is only the second of his Formula One career

The British driver will be joined on the
fifth row by former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button who failed to post a
competitive time in Q3 for the second successive race.

It is the first time since last year's race in China that Rosberg will lead away the field, and the first time this season he has out-qualified team-mate Hamilton.

Following Hamilton's pole in Shanghai, Rosberg handed Mercedes back-to-back poles for the first time since their return to the grid in 2010.

Hamilton cut a bitterly unhappy figure post race as he knows such an incident undoubtedly affects his early title hopes, with the Briton currently 12 points adrift of Red Bull's Vettel.

Asked for his thoughts on a potential rule change, Hamilton said: 'It doesn't really matter. The rules are the rules.

'I've got a penalty and I will have to suck it up and deal with it. I just got unlucky as I think it was some debris with the tyre.'

Red Bull's Mark Webber was fifth quickest, but like Hamilton, faces a penalty of three places after colliding with the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne last weekend.

Blow: Lewis Hamilton was handed a five-place grid penalty after he was forced to change his gearbox

Blow: Lewis Hamilton was handed a five-place grid penalty after he was forced to change his gearbox

Head down: Hamilton (right) was out-qualified by Rosberg for the first time in his Mercedes career

Head down: Hamilton (right) was out-qualified by Rosberg for the first time in his Mercedes career

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING

1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)*
5. Mark Webber (Red Bull)**
6. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
7. Paul Di Resta (Force India)
8. Adrian Sutil (Force India)
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
10. Jenson Button (McLaren)

* Lewis Hamilton handed five-place grid penalty
** Mark Webber handed three-place grid penalty

It means Felipe Massa will move up to fourth in his Ferrari, with the Force India's of Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil lining up fifth and sixth.

Then comes Webber, who actually only loses two places courtesy of Hamilton, followed by Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus who moves from ninth to eighth.

In 11th and 12th, after dropping out in Q2 will be Romain Grosjean in his Lotus and McLaren's Sergio Perez, beaten by team-mates Raikkonen and Button respectively for the fourth straight race.

Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo, who a week ago in China qualified seventh, will start 13th tomorrow, with team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne 16th.

Sandwiched in between the pair are Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

Leading the way: Nico Rosberg sealed only the second pole position of his career on Saturday

Leading the way: Nico Rosberg sealed only the second pole position of his career on Saturday

In a remarkable twist at the end of
the opening 20-minute Q1 session, Pastor Maldonado dropped out after
setting the same time as Williams team-mate Bottas.

Posting
a lap of 1:34,125, as the Venezuelan's time came after that of the
Finn, it left Maldonado kicking his heels whilst Bottas took part in Q2.

Maldonado
will start 17th ahead of Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez, with the Mexican
out-qualified by Hulkenberg for the fourth consecutive race, and failing
to make it into Q2 for the third time.

Slow start: Jenson Button creeped into the top 10 but didn't complete a lap in Q3 and will start tenth

Slow start: Jenson Button creeped into the top 10 but didn't complete a lap in Q3 and will start tenth

With
a five-place grid penalty to serve for the race after running into the
back of Sutil in Shanghai, Gutierrez will start at the back of the grid.

Caterham
and Marussia naturally share the bottom four places, with Charles Pic a
season's best of 19th since switching from the latter to the former for
this season.

Either side
of Caterham's Giedo van der Garde are Marussia duo Jules Bianchi and Max
Chilton, with the 21-year-old Briton setting the slowest time in
qualifying for the first time this year.

On track: Fernando Alonso

On track: Fernando Alonso

Rosberg admitted to being 'a little surprised' at starting from pole, but natually claiming to be 'really, really happy' with 'a fantastic result'.

The question is whether Rosberg has the pace to go on and take the chequered flag given Hamilton dropped back to third from pole in China, and whether the tyres will hold up under the conditions.

'Tomorrow is going to be a tough day given the degradation of the tyres,' added Rosberg.

'I want to really kick start my season given the first three races which have been tough for me so far.

In the lead: Vettel holds a three-point advantage over Alonso ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

In the lead: Vettel holds a three-point advantage over Alonso ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

'It's difficult to say if we have enough to pace to win, but I will try, and I'm really looking forward to starting from first.'

Vettel was far from disappointed with second, especially after the time of Rosberg.

'Congratulations to Nico because it was a very strong lap,' said Vettel. 'When I crossed the line and I saw I was second I didn't know how much was missing from my lap.

'But then when I was told the gap to Nico it was clear, even with a perfect lap, he was unbeatable.'

Alonso declared himself 'very, very happy with third'.

It is the third successive race Alonso will start from third, adding: 'Normally we struggle a lot in qualifying, so this has put us in a strong position for the race.'

Meanwhile, Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn was irked by the Hamilton penalty.

Difficult weekend: McLaren driver Sergio Perez could manage only 12th in qualifying

Difficult weekend: McLaren driver Sergio Perez could manage only 12th in qualifying

He said: 'The difficulty we have in the future is where we get marginal cases where you have a problem, perhaps aggravated by the driver, and you don't get a gearbox failure as such, but it needs to be changed.

'Then you get into these long debates.

'But it is frustrating to get a penalty when there has been an outside influence. It's annoying.

'Fortunately it doesn't happen too often, but if it were to happen at a critical part of the season then it would be doubly frustrating, so it's worth looking at again.'

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery was certainly dismissing any prospect one of his company's tyres lay behind Hamilton's woes.

Hembery said: 'The problem seen on Lewis' Mercedes during free practice was not the result of a structural tyre failure, but instead must have been down to a piece of debris on the track.'

It was one of those bitter-sweet afternoons for Mercedes in light of Rosberg helping them to back-to-back poles for the first time since their return to F1 three years ago, and after Hamilton led away the field a week ago in China.

With two DNFs in his first three races, Rosberg has so far suffered in contrast to Hamilton, but was smiling again after claiming what is only his second pole in his 132 races.

'This is great for me because the start (to the season) has really not gone to plan, with a lot of issues,' said Rosberg.

'I'm really hoping this is going to kickstart my season. It's the first time everything has really gone to plan. Up until now it has been great.

'To turn up with the pole position, which I have to admit is a bit of a surprise, I'm really, really happy with.

Off colour: Hamilton will start on the fifth row with former McLaren team-mate Button for company

Off colour: Hamilton will start on the fifth row with former McLaren team-mate Button for company

'I'm now looking forward to tomorrow when hopefully everything will go well, although I'm not sure we have what it takes to win the race.'

That is based on the fact this year's Mercedes, whilst quick over one lap, lacks the race pace of rivals Ferrari, Red Bull, and Lotus on occasion.

The pits: Hamilton had to settle for starting fifth on the grid in the grand prix

The pits: Hamilton had to settle for starting fifth on the grid in the grand prix

Alonso declared himself 'very, very happy with third'.

It is the third successive race Alonso will start from third, adding: 'Normally we struggle a lot in qualifying, so this has put us in a strong position for the race.'

Galatasaray 1 Schalke 1: Match report

Galatasaray 1 Schalke 1: Drogba Euro debut ends all square after Jones levels for Germans

PUBLISHED:

21:37 GMT, 20 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:08 GMT, 20 February 2013

Jermaine Jones' strike in the last minute of the first half gave Schalke a slight advantage as they drew 1-1 at Galatasaray in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter.

Jones calmly slotted home after Jefferson Farfan had squared the ball to him to give the German side a vital draw at the Turk Telekom Arena, although Schalke's goalscorer will miss the second leg after picking up a booking.

Burak Yilmaz had earlier put Gala in front with a piece of individual brilliance but they could not extend their lead in a breathtaking first-half in which both teams failed to convert several glorious opportunities.

Going ahead: Burak Yilmaz puts Galatasaray head in the first half

Going ahead: Burak Yilmaz puts Galatasaray head in the first half

Match Facts

Galatasaray: Muslera, Sarioglu (Bulut 84), Kaya, Nounkeu, Riera, Altintop (Eboue 66), Felipe Melo, Inan, Sneijder (Amrabat 46),
Burak Yilmaz, Drogba.

Subs Not Used: Iscan, Balta, Kurtulus, Colak.

Booked: Muslera, Amrabat, Nounkeu, Inan.

Goals: Burak Yilmaz 12.

Schalke 04: Hildebrand, Hoger, Howedes, Matip, Kolasinac, Draxler (Barnetta 84), Jones, Neustadter, Michel Bastos, Farfan,
Huntelaar (Pukki 75).

Subs Not Used: Fahrmann, Obasi Ogbuke, Metzelder, Fuchs, Meyer.

Booked: Jones,Kolasinac,Hoger.

Goals: Jones 45.

Att: 45,000

The second half was decidedly less open, although Yilmaz nearly gave the hosts a slender lead heading into the second leg but could only fire wide of the target.

Gala duo Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder both made their returns to the Champions League after completing recent moves from Shanghai Shenhua and Inter Milan respectively.

But it was Yilmaz who produced a moment of magic worthy of either of the pair when he broke the deadlock in sparkling fashion.

The forward collected the ball from Selcuk Inan on the edge of the area before flicking over Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes with his heel and wonderfully firing into the roof of the net in the 12th minute.

It was a sickening blow for the visitors, who had seen Gala keeper Fernando Muslera make fine saves from both Jones and Klaas Jan Huntelaar in the opening minute.

Nevertheless they nearly levelled almost immediately after Yilmaz's brilliance, but Huntelaar just failed to connect with Howedes' flick-on from Farfan's corner.

Pick that one out: Yilmaz scores past by Schalke's goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand to put Galatasaray ahead

Pick that one out: Yilmaz scores past by Schalke's goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand to put Galatasaray ahead

And in an increasingly open first half, they were nearly made to pay when Howedes fired against the bar with the goal gaping after Drogba had seen his left-footed strike fingertipped away by Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand.

It was the German side who nearly scored next though, with Semih Kaya deflecting Farfan's cutback wide of his own post, while the influential Schalke striker struck over on the turn despite being given plenty of space in the area.

Back in action: Didier Drogba returned to the Champions League with Galatasaray

Back in action: Didier Drogba returned to the Champions League with Galatasaray

Both sides seemed to view attack as the best form of defence and Drogba, who was making a nuisance of himself in Schalke's backline, played in Yilmaz but he could not lift his effort over Hildebrand.

Yet Schalke drew level on the stroke of half-time courtesy of United States international Jones, who will miss the second leg after picking up a booking for dissent.

Falling down: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar goes down under the challenge of Albert Riera

Falling down: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar goes down under the challenge of Albert Riera

Farfan burst through on goal after Gala had given the ball away in midfield and squared for the free Jones and he calmly struck past Muslera.

It was a far more subdued affair after the interval although Schalke did have a decent penalty appeal turned down when Farfan's fierce strike looked to have cannoned off Sabri Sarioglu's hands, which were raised to his chest.

Back in the game: Jermaine Jones (not pictured) scores past Fernando Muslera to make it 1-1

Back in the game: Jermaine Jones (not pictured) scores past Fernando Muslera to make it 1-1

Take that: Jones celebrates after scoring the equalizer

Take that: Jones celebrates after scoring the equalizer

It was not until late on that the game sprang back into life, with Yilmaz shooting across the face of goal from Drogba's inch-perfect flick-on while Sarioglu's half-volley from the edge of the area was tipped over by Hildebrand.

And Gala's efforts to push for a winner nearly backfired completely when, at the other end, Julian Draxler dribbled to the edge of their box unchecked before shooting inches wide of Muslera's right-hand post.

Shielding the ball: Galatasaray's Felipe Melo is challenged by Schalke's Julian Draxler

Shielding the ball: Galatasaray's Felipe Melo is challenged by Schalke's Julian Draxler

Didier Drogba to make Galatasaray home debut in front of loudest fans in world

Better bring your earplugs, Didier! Gala fans named loudest in world as Drogba prepares to make home debut against Schalke

PUBLISHED:

12:59 GMT, 18 February 2013

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UPDATED:

13:48 GMT, 18 February 2013

Didier Drogba can expect a thunderous reception when he makes his home debut for Galatasaray on Wednesday after the Turkish fans were named the loudest in the world.

Drogba, who scored five minutes into his first appearance for the club on Friday, is expected to feature in the Champions League last-16 clash against Schalke.

And the striker can expect the full backing of the home crowd at the Turk Telekon Arena who recorded a sound level of 131 decibels at a recent derby match – louder than standing 50m away from a military jet taking off.

Scroll down for video

Main man: Didier Drogba celebrates scoring on his debut and will hope to do the same in front of his home fans

Main man: Didier Drogba celebrates scoring on his debut and will hope to do the same in front of his home fans

galatasaray fans

Meanwhile, Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua will take their battle against Drogba's move to Galatasaray to football's governing body FIFA this week.

The Ivory Coast striker left the club in acrimonious circumstances last month, with Shanghai saying he had breached his contract.

'We now have evidence which we believe will give Shenhua a 99 per cent chance of winning a lawsuit at FIFA,' a lawyer acting for the club told the Sina web portal.

The anonymous source from 'Shenhua's legal team' said papers would be submitted to the sport's governing body on Wednesday.

The report said Shenhua will provide evidence that Drogba breached his contract and that Galatasaray had violated FIFA rules by luring a player away from his current club.

Star man: Drogba left Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua to join Galatasaray

Star man: Drogba left Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua to join Galatasaray

Chinese media previously reported Drogba had asked FIFA to nullify his contract after the club defaulted on payments following a shareholder dispute dating back to September. The striker signed an 18-month, 9million deal with the Istanbul side.

Drogba — a Champions League winner with Chelsea last season — had signed a two-and-a-half year deal with Shanghai in June last year on a reported salary of $200,000-a-week.

Drogba's exit from Shanghai followed that of former Chelsea team-mate Nicolas Anelka, who joined Italian giants Juventus on loan.

VIDEO Proof that Galatasaray fans are loudest in the world

Play Video

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Didier Drogba"s move to Galatasaray challenged by Shanghai Shenhua

He's still our player: Shanghai Shenhua set to challenge Drogba's move to Galatasaray

officially signed a formal contract for a period of two and a half years. The club has acted in accordance with this contract, and has effectively fulfilled the responsibilities and obligations of the club.

'Currently, Drogba is still a player of Shanghai Shenhua Football Club, the contract between the two parties is still within the period of validity.

'Shanghai Shenhua is prepared to collate all the evidence and information and submit it to FIFA in order to protect its interests.'

On Monday, Galatasaray announced that Drogba had agreed an 18-month deal to move to Turkey, where he would join up with Wesley Sneijder as part of an ambitious new-look side.

Drogba, speaking through his representatives Sports PR Company on Twitter, said at the time: 'The opportunity to play for this great club was an offer that I could not turn down.

Out of Africa: Drogba is currently playing at the Africa Cup of Nations for the Ivory Coast

Out of Africa: Drogba is currently playing at the Africa Cup of Nations for the Ivory Coast

'I am looking forward to playing in the Champions League again, against the best clubs in Europe.'

Despite his protests to the contrary, reports persisted that Drogba's move to China had not worked out, largely due to boardroom wrangling, prompting him to seek a return to Europe.

Didier Drogba should join Milan, says Marcello Lippi

He's a beast! Lippi urges Milan to splash big money on former Chelsea striker Drogba

|

UPDATED:

11:33 GMT, 29 December 2012

Marcello Lippi has described Didier Drogba as ‘a beast’, insisting Milan should buy him, despite his price tag.

The Guangzhou Evergrande boss, who has been linked with Real Madrid, has been highly impressed with Drogba’s performances for Shanghai Shenhua.

But Milan bosses have already said he is too expensive.

Beast: Didier Drogba (right) should join Milan, according to former Italy manager Marcello Lippi

Beast: Didier Drogba (right) should join Milan, according to former Italy manager Marcello Lippi

The Ivory Coast international has been training with Chelsea during the Chinese Premier League’s close season and is still likely to leave before the next campaign.

‘If both Robinho and Alexandre Pato are really going to leave Milan, then I would see Drogba doing better for the Rossoneri than Juventus,’ Lippi told Gazzetta dello Sport.

‘He has played against our team and is still a beast. He makes a real difference on the field. Drogba would therefore be a valuable addition to the squad both in Serie A and the Champions League.’

The former Italian coach can also envisage him pairing up well with Stephan El Shaarawy, but knows Drogba will drive an exceptionally hard bargain.

Impressed: Drogba (right) has been in excellent form since joining Shanghai from Chelsea

Impressed: Drogba (right) has been in excellent form since joining Shanghai from Chelsea

One more time The last time Drogba played in Europe, he scored the winning penalty against Bayern Munich int he Champions League final

One more time The last time Drogba played in Europe, he scored the winning penalty against Bayern Munich int he Champions League final

‘I think, technically speaking, he would form a great partnership with El Shaarawy.

‘But, he did not follow his heart or, indeed, make a footballing decision when he decided to go to China.

‘He earns one million euro a month. Who can imagine he will agree to halve his wages to play in Italy’

Harry Redknapp: We"ll act early in transfer window and not wait for Spurs cast-offs

Redknapp: We'll act early in transfer window and not wait for Spurs cast-offs

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UPDATED:

00:10 GMT, 22 December 2012

Queens Park Rangers cannot afford to
risk Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy offering them 'three-for-one on a
bunch of players he cannot give away' on the last day of the January
transfer window, says Harry Redknapp.

The Rangers boss urged his new club
to act early to strengthen their squad, rather than playing Tottenham's
traditional waiting game of leaving it late.

Targets: Manager Harry Redknapp

Targets: Manager Harry Redknapp

Redknapp admitted QPR chairman Tony Fernandes is already in talks to sign former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka, who is hoping to return to Europe after terminating his contract with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.

Redknapp said: 'We can't wait. The chairman is going to have to bite the bullet a bit and get on with what we have got to do.

'We really need to be doing our business right at the start of January. It is no good a club trying to ring up to do business on the last day of January – it's too late. We are going to be finished by then.

'Daniel will still no doubt be ringing up on transfer deadline day offering me a three-for-one on a bunch of players he cannot give away. But we won't be waiting till that late hour.

'We have to find one or two players to really make the difference.'

West Ham and QPR lead chase as Anelka begins talks to cancel Shanghai Shenhua contract

West Ham and QPR lead chase as Anelka begins talks to cancel Shanghai Shenhua contract

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UPDATED:

11:44 GMT, 17 December 2012

Queens Park Rangers and West Ham are waiting to speak to Nicola Anelka as he seeks to cancel his contract with Shanghai Shenhua.

The Chinese club confirmed today that negotiations are underway with the Frenchman keen to return to England.

Anelka, 33, joined Shanghai from Chelsea
in the last January transfer window but has struggled to settle despite
even enduring a spell as caretaker coach.

On the move Anelka's spell in China looks to be coming to a premature end

On the move Anelka's spell in China looks to be coming to a premature end

On the move Anelka's spell in China looks to be coming to a premature end

The talks to cancel his contract have encouraged QPR and West Ham but have also alerted other Premier League suitors who were initially wary that Shanghai would demand a fee for Anelka in January.

Reports are suggesting he is willing to give up the final year of his contract, reputedly worth around 7million, on the proviso that Shanghai grant him a free transfer.

Hammer time: West Ham and QPR are waiting tot speak to Anelka - who joined Shenhua in January, six months before Didier Drogba

Hammer time: West Ham and QPR are waiting tot speak to Anelka – who joined Shenhua in January, six months before Didier Drogba

Hammer time: West Ham and QPR are waiting tot speak to Anelka - who joined Shenhua in January, six months before Didier Drogba

Anelka was joined in the Far East by former team-mate Didier Drogba after the Ivorian decided to leave Stamford Bridge, however Shanghai could only finish ninth in the league.

Shanghai spokesman Ma Yue said: 'The discussion is between the club and himself, I don't know about the specific details. But so far we haven't got the final result.'

Cut your losses: Reports suggest Anelka is willing to forfeit the last year of his contract

Cut your losses: Reports suggest Anelka is willing to forfeit the last year of his contract

Mark Selby reaches williamhill.com UK Championship final

Selby on top of the world after reaching UK Championship final

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UPDATED:

22:03 GMT, 8 December 2012

Mark Selby reached the top of the snooker world for a second time on Saturday night and pledged to take the pressure off himself this time around, starting with Sunday's williamhill.com UK Championship final.

Selby held the game's number-one ranking for 14 months between September last year and November this, losing it to Judd Trump when the Bristol potter landed the International Championship.

No pressure: Mark Selby at the table

No pressure: Mark Selby at the table

But with Trump falling at the first
hurdle in his defence of this title in York, Selby knew reaching the
final would put him back at the top of the ladder and he ticked that
achievement off on Saturday, completing a 9-4 victory over rugged
veteran Mark Davis.

He now meets long-time friend Shaun
Murphy in a final which will be his first ever UK showpiece, and he is
determined to learn from his previous reign at number one in order to
try and lift the trophy.

He achieved top billing last time with a win at the Shanghai Masters, but that was his last significant success.

His time in power was barren and he wants to avoid that happening again.

'It's a great feat to get back to
number one, there have only been nine number ones other than me,' he
said. 'Maybe when I was there before I put too much pressure on myself. I
need to learn from that and try and go out there and enjoy it tomorrow.

Going down: Mark Davis eyes up a shot in defeat

Going down: Mark Davis eyes up a shot in defeat

'I didn't come here this week with the aim of being number one. It's great that I am, but if I don't win tomorrow…'

Murphy and Selby are often off-the-radar players at events, despite their decorated resumes.

Here they have outlasted the more fancied Mark Allen, John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Trump.

As well as being evenly matched on
the baize, the two are good friends off it, and for Selby tomorrow will
be the realisation of a long-held dream.

'Me and Shaun haven't played each
other for a while but we have grown up together through the junior ranks
and always been good friends,' he said.

'I always said to him that it would
be great for us to play in a ranking final and now we are. For whatever
reason before it hasn't happened, so it will be good.'

Selby's top score today was a
second-frame 121, but he looked a little off it at the Barbican, taking a
long time to put his veteran opponent to bed.

He will need to be sharper against
Murphy – a man buzzing from a five-frame comeback against Ali Carter
last night – and he admits he has work to do.

Back on top: Mark Selby relishing a final berth

Back on top: Mark Selby relishing a final berth

'I was missing some easy balls today and I need to work on that tomorrow,' he said.

'I am definitely motivated. I didn't play fantastic and, although it was a good match of snooker, I need to play a lot better.'

Defeat marked the end of the road at
this tournament for Davis, a seasoned pro who at the age of 40 has
finally made a serious impact on the top level of the sport.

This was his third ranking
semi-final of the week but he failed to deliver performances like those
which saw him beat the likes of John Higgins and Matthew Stevens in the
earlier rounds.

'I was a little bit nervous but I
enjoyed it. In the first few I didn't quite get into position, but
getting a 70-odd settled me down. I played poorly tonight, though,' he
said.

'But I'm not going to let it affect me in a bad way. I've had a great week and beaten some top players.

'Even though I've been a pro for 21
years, there have been some new things for me and I know that I will
learn from it next time.'

Didier Drogba buys tacky rings for Chelsea team-mates as he hosts Champions League party

Wealthy Drogba splashes the cash and reminds his old Chelsea team-mates of the time when they were European heroes (in the week they went out of the competition)

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UPDATED:

13:37 GMT, 7 December 2012

Didier Drogba has paid around 800,000 for a set of exclusive rings to commemorate Chelsea's Champions League victory – in the same week they were bundled out of this season's competition.

The cost is around three weeks' money for the Ivory Coast striker, who earns 250,000-a-week in China playing for Shanghai Shenhua, where he moved in the summer.

Chelsea's Champions League matchwinning hero hosted a dinner in honour of the night last May when he secured the title. Fernando Torres, who replaced Drogba as the leader of Chelsea's front line, was conspicuous by his absence.

Drogba organised the reunion at the Wyndham Hotel in Chelsea Harbour in recognition of last May’s amazing achievements, when they defeated Bayern Munich in their own stadium to lift the trophy.

Thanks Didier: Paulo Ferreira, Drogba, Branislav Ivanovic, Daniel Sturridge, David Luiz with their rings

Thanks Didier: Paulo Ferreira, Drogba, Branislav Ivanovic, Daniel Sturridge, David Luiz with their rings

Duo: John Terry laughing with Ashley Cole at the event Drogba put on at the Wyndham Hotel

Duo: John Terry laughing with Ashley Cole at the event Drogba put on at the Wyndham Hotel

Bling ring: The gifts featured a Champions League ball and were believed to cost around 800k in total

Bling ring: The gifts featured a Champions League ball and were believed to cost around 800k in total

Incredible: Ashley Cole's ring showing the detail of his face, name and shirt number

Incredible: Ashley Cole's ring showing the detail of his face, name and shirt number

He presented his old colleagues and
backroom staff with special commemorative rings to mark their
achievement.

The Ivorian set up the special dinner to raise
spirits after they became the first Champions League winners to be
knocked out in the group stages the following season.

Spanish striker Torres, who is attempting to fill Drogba's boots at the club, was not in attendance.

However his son Leo turned two today and so he may have had an excuse for not showing up. Juan Mata and Petr Cech were also unable to make it to the event.

Drogba quit Chelsea at the end of last season to sign for Shanghai Shenhua but is back in London to train at Cobham before the African Cup of Nations early next year.

The Blues legend struck
the decisive penalty against Munich in the Allianz Arena in May – the kick his last in a Chelsea shirt – to send the fans into raptures and delight owner Roman Abramovich.

Earlier in the game he had hauled Chelsea level with a powerful header, just before the end, to send the match into extra time.

His fine performances helped them progress through the competition, and Drogba had a huge impact in particular during the home games against Valencia, Napoli and Barcelona.

This time around there was nobody who could drag the Blues out of the mire – they were eliminated on Wednesday night despite thumping Danish side Nordsjaelland 6-1.

Round up: Ferreria, Sturridge, Ryan Bertrand, Drogba, Terry, Luiz, Cole, Ivanovic

Round up: Ferreria, Sturridge, Ryan Bertrand, Drogba, Terry, Luiz, Cole, Ivanovic

Drogba with JT

Laughing matter

Inseparable: Drogba and Terry were close during their time at the club together and caught up again

Torres has been inconsistent at best in a Chelsea shirt and the club need to add a striker to their books in January.

They
had hoped to secure a deal for Drogba on a short-term loan, but FIFA
blocked the move as it was outside the transfer window.

Drogba and Luiz

A few words from Terry

Joking around: Drogba with David Luiz, while (right) Terry say a few words

All for this: Drogba with the prestigious Champions League trophy

All for this: Drogba with the prestigious Champions League trophy

Still loved: Drogba is adored at Stamford Bridge

Still loved: Drogba is adored at Stamford Bridge

Lord of the rings: The American stars and their commemorative 'bling'

Super Bowl Rings belonging to Dan Koppen (left), Larry Izzo (centre) and Lonie Paxton of the New England Patriots

Handy: Dan Koppen (left), Larry Izzo (centre) and Lonie Paxton of the New England Patriots show off their rings, and (below) a Dallas Mavericks NBA championship ring

A Dallas Mavericks NBA championship ring

Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat with his 2012 NBA Championship ring

Bling: Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat shows off his 2012 NBA Championship ring

A New York Jets Super Bowl ring from 1969

Cost: A New York Jets Super Bowl ring from 1969, and (below) a member of the New Orleans Saints shows off his ring from the 2010 Super Bowl

Champion: A member of the New Orleans Saints shows off his ring from the 2010 Super Bowl

Juan Mata says Didier Drogba is still missed at Chelsea

Losing Drogba was like an electric shock! Mata says Chelsea are still recovering from losing Munich hero

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UPDATED:

02:45 GMT, 7 December 2012

Juan Mata has revealed that Chelsea miss legendary striker Didier Drogba and says his departure was 'like an electric shock'.

The Spanish playmaker has been one of the few Blues players to play at his best this season but says Drogba's absence has been hard for the team to cope with.

Drogba scored the crucial equaliser in the Allianz Arena when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich to win the Champions League – and his last kick for the club was the winning penalty in the shoot-out.

Missed: Losing Didier Drogba (second left) felt like an 'electric shock', according to Juan Mata

Missed: Losing Didier Drogba (second left) felt like an 'electric shock', according to Juan Mata

He left for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua on a free transfer before the start of the season.

'Drogba's departure was an electric shock for us. He was a warrior,' said Mata, as reported in The Sun.

'We've had to learn to cope without him because for many long years he was Chelsea's lightning conductor.

'With Drogba we were conditioned to play in a certain way.

'You gave him the ball and you knew that he would at least force the opponent into a foul.

'In a way we had a tendency to rely on him too much but it was a natural mechanism.

'All the great players like getting the ball, Didier even more so.'

Mata said that playing with his compatriot Fernando Torres in the team was simply not the same.

'With Fernando it’s different. His runs aren’t the same. He’s not a funnel for our play like Drogba could be.

'He doesn’t like the holding-it-up role. He prefers finding space and facing the goal.'

He told French magazine So Foot that the 50million price tag was weighing on Torres' head.

Mata explained: 'When someone pays that much for you and you become the most expensive player in the Premier League, you are eager to please. Too eager, maybe.

'Especially Fernando, because he’s a very humble guy who knows where he comes from and understands the value of money.

'For me, he is still one of the best strikers in the world.'

Drogba, back in London to train at Cobham during the Chinese off-season before the African Cup of Nations, hosted a party for the Chelsea players who won the Champions League in May on Thursday evening.

He handed out expensive personalised commemorative rings to mark the victory on that heady night.

One notable absentee was Torres – although he may have been otherwise engaged because his son Leo turned two.

Strong bond: Mata only played with Drogba for a year but can feel the difference without him

Strong bond: Mata only played with Drogba for a year but can feel the difference without him

READ ABOUT DROGBA'S BASH

Click here to see the gifts Drogba bestowed on his Champions League winning ex team-mates

Mata and Peter Cech were also non-attendees, but the Spaniard remains proud of his side's remarkable achievement.

'After the Champions League final it hurt to hear people saying the football we played had no merit,' he said.

'Every way of playing has merit. If you tell me Chelsea's football is not as good to watch as Barcelona's, I can understand.

'I can accept we were not the most talented either. However we were the most competitive.

'So, like it or not we did not steal the Champions League.

Legacy: Drogba is still regarded as the legend at Stamford Bridge while Fernando Torres struggles

Legacy: Drogba is still regarded as the legend at Stamford Bridge while Fernando Torres struggles

All for this: Drogba with the prestigious Champions League trophy which Mata said was deserved

All for this: Drogba with the prestigious Champions League trophy which Mata said was deserved

'I don't understand why people want to constantly under-estimate what we achieved last season.

'Knocking out Pep Guardiola's Barcelona is anything but simple – but we showed that it's possible.'

Mata also had praise for two much maligned figures at Chelsea – Roman Abramovich and John Terry.

He said, of Chelsea's Russian owner: 'I think he loves Chelsea, coming to the ground and knowing how the squad is getting on.

The first time he came and spoke to me, it was to congratulate me – and that really touched me because I felt he was really sincere.'

Sympathy: Mata said it is sad that John Terry has no private life left

Sympathy: Mata said it is sad that John Terry has no private life left

He also said he felt sorry for skipper Terry because his name is frequently dragged through the mud publicly.

'Obviously it got to him, having his whole life unwrapped in public,' explained Mata.

'You're talking about a man who has no private life left and that is sad because the guy I see every day going flat out in training does not correspond to the image peddled in the press.'

'If you need help with anything, John is always there.And even if he has made mistakes, does he have to be reminded all his life Everyone makes mistakes.'