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Cesc Fabregas scores hat-trick but it"s Abidal who gets Nou Camp ovation with emotional return

Fabregas scores a hat-trick but it's Abidal who gets Nou Camp ovation with emotional return

PUBLISHED:

21:59 GMT, 6 April 2013

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 6 April 2013

Cesc Fabregas scored the first hat-trick of his career as Barcelona moved closer to the Primera Division title with a 5-0 victory over Real Mallorca, but the main story was the return to action of Eric Abidal after a year out following liver surgery.

The home side were also inspired by
head coach Tito Vilanova, who was on the Nou Camp touchline for the
first time since January after undergoing treatment for cancer.

Abidal's appearance brought the crowd
to their feet, with the Frenchman given a standing ovation when he
replaced Gerard Pique in the 70th minute.

Happy return: Barcelona's Eric Abidal received a rousing reception

Happy return: Barcelona's Eric Abidal received a rousing reception

The 33-year-old former France
defender, who was passed fit to return to training with his team mates
last month, is a huge favourite with the Barca fans.

In a pitch-side television interview with Spanish broadcaster Canal Plus, Abidal thanked the cousin who provided part of his liver for the procedure.

'It was a very special moment for me after a year out,' said Abidal, wearing a shirt with 'Merci mon cousin' on the front.

Merci: Eric Abidal wears a tribute to his cousin

Merci: Eric Abidal wears a tribute to his cousin

'I want to thank my cousin as without him I would not be here today. It is a unique moment,' he added.

Abidal's return is well timed as Barca centre backs Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano and full back Adriano are all out injured at a critical stage of the season.

In the game itself, it was Fabregas who commanded the spotlight. In the injury-enforced absence of Lionel Messi, he scored three and
set up two for Alexis Sanchez as Barcelona romped home.

Man of the moment: Cesc Fabregas scored his first competitive hattrick

Man of the moment: Cesc Fabregas scored his first competitive hattrick

Mallorca held their own but it was no surprise when Barcelona made the breakthrough with two goals in two minutes.

Fabregas carried the ball from midfield and played a one-two with Alexis before steadying himself and coolly slotting the ball home across goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.

Mallorca's heads went down and in the 22nd minute they found themselves 2-0 adrift. This time Fabregas cut inside on the left of the area before unleashing a shot which Aouate pushed away from goal only for Alexis to follow up and fire home.

Happy return: Eric Abidal

Happy return: Eric Abidal

In the 37th minute an intricate passing move ended with Fabregas laying a first-time ball off to Alexis on the right of the area which he reciprocated for Fabregas to drill home.

The former Arsenal captain was involved everywhere and a minute later he provided a superb pass over the top for Alexis, who had got between two defenders, controlling the ball with his right before slotting home with his left.

Fabregas wrapped up his hat-trick seconds after the restart when he collected Iniesta's threaded ball and checked inside the defender before slotting home from close range.

Andy Murray, Jessica Ennis and Sebastian Coe win at Laureus Awards

Ennis, Murray and Coe honoured at Laureus Awards ceremony in Rio after stunning year for British sport

party just a little while longer.

British athletes, past and present, dominated at the Laureus World Sports awards in Rio de Janeiro on Monday night, as the world of international sport gathered at a glittering ceremony to celebrate an unforgettable year.

Britain may have handed over the Olympic and Paralympic flames to the 2016 host city, but the memory of London 2012 still burnt particularly bright 6,000 miles away in south America on Monday night.

Congratulations: Track and field athlete Jessica Ennis receives her award for 'Laureus Sportswomen of the Year' as presenters Nadia Comaneci and Eva Longoria look on

Congratulations: Track and field athlete Jessica Ennis receives her award for 'Laureus Sportswomen of the Year' as presenters Nadia Comaneci and Eva Longoria look on

Couldn't make it: Andy Murray accepts his award on video because he was in Indian Wells to face Evgeny Donskoy

Couldn't make it: Andy Murray accepts his award on video because he was in Indian Wells to face Evgeny Donskoy

Ennis

Actress Maggie Cheung with Laureus Academy Member Martina Navratilova announce Andy Murray as the winner of 'Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year'

The winners…

World Sportsman of the Year – Usain Bolt

World Sportswoman of the Year – Jessica Ennis

World Breakthrough of the Year – Andy Murray

World Comeback of the Year – Felix Sanchez

World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability – Daniel Dias

Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award – Michael Phelps

Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award – Sebastian Coe

World Team of the Year – European Ryder Cup Team

World Action Sportsperson of the Year – Felix Baumgarter

Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis was crowned World Sportswoman of the Year, while Andy Murray won World Breakthrough and Sebastian Coe received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ian Poulter also accepted the Team of the Year prize on behalf of his European Ryder Cup team-mates.

Tony Blair called Lord Coe one of the ‘giants of British sport’ as the chairman of the London 2012 organising committee and double Olympic champion received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Edwin Moses and was honoured with a standing ovation.

‘I’m surrounded by the most extraordinary group of people, global icons,’ said Lord Coe, ‘and I realise that there is a commonality in the unshakeable belief we have in sport and the fact it transforms lives. This is extraordinary. I’m very, very flattered.’

Ennis beat off competition from fellow Olympic track and field gold medallists Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Allyson Felix, swimmer Missy Franklin, skier Lindsey Vonn and tennis star Serena Williams to win her award, which was presented by former gymnast Nadia Comanechi.

A few hours earlier in a luxurious Rio hotel, Ennis had been discussing her shock and sadness at the closure of Don Valley Stadium in her hometown of Sheffield. Yet she looked equally composed collecting her award at the city’s dramatic Theatro Muncipal last night, during her 36-hour trip to the city in which she will aim to defend her Olympic title in three years’ time. We all know about the extraordinary pressure Ennis was under as the poster girl of London 2012, but it was poignant to see how the sporting world has realised it, too.

‘There was a lot of pressure in London,’ she said. ‘I looked back to what Cathy Freeman achieved in Sydney in 2000 (winning the 400 metres) and I really wanted to emulate that. I have incredible support from my friends and family and I was able to do it.’

Seb Coe

Usain Bolt

Triumphant: Lord Sebastian Coe (above) won the Laureus Lifetime Achievement award while Usain Bolt (right and below) was crowned World Sportsman of the Year

Victory: Usain Bolt

The winners are chosen by the Laureus Sports Academy, comprising 46 of the ‘greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen’, including Sir Bobby Charlton, Daley Thompson and Sir Steve Redgrave, who were all in Rio. Double Olympic decathlon champion Thompson, however, was the only Academy member in a T-Shirt and tracksuit.

Thompson said: ‘Jessica’s performance was majestic. She had the whole weight of the country’s expectation on her shoulders. Despite that, she certainly delivered.

‘She not only produced a wonderful display in her events but she gave the British team an enormous lift. Jessica showed she could win a gold medal, so everyone who followed her also felt they could do it as well.’

Murray was another British winner, receiving the Laureus Breakthrough award after winning Olympic gold and silver and his first Grand Slam at the US Open champion last September.

The Scot, 25, did not attend the ceremony owing to playing commitments in Indian Wells, but said: ‘It was an amazing year: my first Grand Slam in New York and two medals at the Olympics in my home country.

Chit chat: Usian Bolt talks to Laureus Academy Member Michael Johnson as he accepts his award

Laureus Academy Chairman Edwin Moses hands the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award to Coe

Acceptance: Bolt takes his award from Michael Johnson, while Laureus Academy chairman Edwin Moses hands the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award to Coe

Seb Coe with his trophy

'I would have taken that at the start of the year, that’s for sure. Winning an award like this will definitely make me more determined to come back and do better in 2013.’

A video was shown of Poulter receiving the Team of the Year award to mark Europe’s thrilling comeback to win the Ryder Cup.

‘With the legends in sport that have voted for us, it truly is a special trophy to put our hands on,’ he said.

Redgrave presented Michael Phelps with
the inaugural Exceptional Achievement Award, while Mark Spitz also paid
the American a tribute via video link. Phelps, though, was emphatic he
has no intention of trying to add to his 22 Olympic medals in Rio in
2016.

Other winners included
Usain Bolt, who won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay in London
and became Sportsmen of the Year for the third time, and Felix Sanchez,
the Olympic 400m hurdles champion in 2012 – eight years after his
Olympic title in Athens.

Brazilian
swimmer Daniel Dias, who won six individual gold medals at the
Paralympic Games, fended off competition from Britain’s David Weir to
win Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. Austrian skydiver Felix
Baumgarter, who became the first human to go through the sound barrier
when he completed a 24-mile free fall over New Mexico in October, was
named World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

Nice work: Michael Phelps poses with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award in the winners studio at Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro

Nice work: Michael Phelps poses with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award in the winners studio at Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro

Bradley Wiggins in McDonald"s after winning Sports Personality of the Year

Ace racer to rockstar! Wiggins swaps gold medals for golden arches as SPOTY winner ends night of partying in McDonald's

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UPDATED:

09:11 GMT, 18 December 2012

Asked how he would celebrate being voted the nation’s Sports Personality of the Year, Bradley Wiggins winked.

‘I will go home and have a cup of tea,’ he said before breaking into a smile. ‘It’s a free bar so it would be rude not to give it a hiding.’ That sounds more like it.

Seven hours later a bleary-eyed Wiggins was photographed in a McDonald’s; his blue velvet double-breasted suit from a Soho tailor looking more than a tad dishevelled.

I'll have a Wig Mac! Bradley Wiggins was getting a late-night snack in McDonald's at 5am after winning SPOTY

I'll have a Wig Mac! Bradley Wiggins was getting a late-night snack in McDonald's at 5am after winning SPOTY

The party never stops: Bradley clearly didn't want his night to end as he left Mahiki and headed to the fast-food restaurant

The party never stops: Bradley clearly didn't want his night to end as he left Mahiki and headed to the fast-food restaurant

Wiggins reportedly ordered the establishment's signature Big Mac after a long night of celebration.

He had already treated the guests at
the BBC’s after-show party to a rendition of The Jam’s That’s
Entertainment and Wonderwall by Oasis and then carried on celebrating
with his wife, Cath, at a central London nightclub. Not bad for Great
Britain’s first winner of the Tour de France, surely one of the fittest
athletes on the planet.

But then Wiggins, as Lord Coe put it on Sunday night, has ‘that rock star quality’.

He
manages to be the last man standing after five hours of cycling on
brutal terrain or a long drinking session in the pub; looking equally at
home in his racing Lycra or with a bottle of wine in one hand and a
cigarette in the other.

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

‘He just cuts it,’ said Coe. ‘Bradley is where it is at the moment. I think it is an unbelievable year that he has had but he is just edgy, isn’t he Sporting characters have got to capture the public imagination and he does that.’

Wiggins might have a penchant for Paul Weller but he was certainly not buying into the suggestion he has reached rock-star status by wearing the yellow jersey and winning seven Olympic medals, four of them gold.

Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London

Pub talk: Bradley Wiggins kisses the iconic trophy last night (left) and (right) thanks his nan in his speech

Over to you, Sue: Sue Barker (left) chats to Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London last night

Over to you, Sue: Sue Barker (left) chats to Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London last night

the Farmers Arms in Heskin

The Farmers Arms in Heskin will be the first pub that the Tour de France winner takes his award to

‘I won the Tour de France,’ said
Wiggins. ‘Without this award I would still be me. I am just very
grateful to everyone who has helped me. There’s only the knighthood to
come, isn’t there, really’

Few knights of the realm, though, would give their Sports Personality of the Year award to their nan for safekeeping.

Even fewer would then take it on a
tour of the pubs near their home in Lancashire: the Farmers Arms in
Heskin and the Original Farmers Arms in Eccleston. Their hosts told
Sportsmail yesterday they would be delighted to look after the famous
trophy.

‘It would be
absolutely great,’ said Ann Rothwell, landlady of the Farmers Arms. ‘He
lives in between the two pubs and he does pop in here now and again, but
he’s an athlete, isn’t he He doesn’t frequent the pub that often.’

When he does, you imagine Wiggins might indulge in more than one glass of his favourite tipple: vodka and tonic.

Dave Brailsford, performance director
of British Cycling, recognised Wiggins’s talent as soon as he saw his
body shape and the ‘fluid’ way he pedals, but there was something else
that showed ‘this young lad was special’.

Support: Barry Newton, landlord of the Original Farmers Arms, said that Wiggo had a lot of support in the pub

Support: Barry Newton, landlord of the Original Farmers Arms, said that Wiggo had a lot of support in the pub

‘Once he decides he wants to do something — like all the greats — he really does make it,’ said Brailsford.

‘There’s something reminiscent of
David Beckham practising free-kicks, of Jonny Wilkinson (practising his
kicking) in Brad. It’s that type of obsession he has.’

The desire to achieve remains, too.
Wiggins has repeatedly stated he wants to win another Tour de France,
forcing Team Sky into a difficult decision as to whether the defending
champion, Chris Froome or both lead the team next year.

But the ‘obsession’ remains for
Wiggins, who needed a search party to track him down during a training
camp in Majorca last week, such was his eagerness to do ‘just that
little bit more’.

Suits you: Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins shows off the trophy

Suits you: Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins shows off the trophy

‘Bradley’s capacity to work hard is
unbelievable,’ said Brailsford. ‘It’s off the scale. But he’s learnt how
to manage himself and his sport and he’s become an extremely coachable
rider.

'He was up at 7.30 in the gym in
Majorca. He did five hours (on the bike) then went out on his own and
did another couple of hours.

‘Two days ago we actually sent
somebody out to look for him because it was starting to get dark and we
thought, “Where’s Brad” He had gone just that bit more.’

Perhaps we should all raise a glass to that.

Justin Rose in contention at Australian Open

Rose in contention in Sydney but blows chance to share lead with Senden

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UPDATED:

11:28 GMT, 8 December 2012

Justin Rose will head into the final round of the Australian Open two strokes off the lead after a late stumble cost him a share of the overnight lead at The Lakes in Sydney.

Rose had held a two-shot advantage in the afternoon but spoiled his round with consecutive bogeys on the final two holes to finish the day on five under overall.

Despite that the world No 4 remains firmly in contention to end 2012 on a high with his third-round two-under-par 70 leaving him in second place behind local hopeful John Senden.

In with a chance: Justin Rose is two shots behind the leader at the Australian Open

In with a chance: Justin Rose is two shots behind the leader at the Australian Open

It is the second consecutive year Senden has held the 54-hole lead at the tournament and Rose is expecting a tough battle when they are paired tomorrow with high winds expected.

'I hear the wind's going to switch and blow just as hard,' Rose said.

'Whoever literally stands up could win the golf tournament, it could be last man standing.

'I think it's going to be a battle – but I'm excited, as long as it doesn't get out of control and blow too hard, it's going to be a fun day to try and hit some shots.

'It's going to be my last round of the year and I'd like to go out on a high note.'

Senden, who had led after the opening round, had to withstand a shaky start today as he bogeyed his opening two holes to fall behind a cluster of seven players who briefly held the lead.

Leading the way: John Senden is top of the leaderboard going into the final round

Leading the way: John Senden is top of the leaderboard going into the final round

But the 2006 Stonehaven Cup winner made his charge on the back nine, producing an eagle on the par-five 11th and adding consecutive birdies from the 13th to card a two-under 70 and sit at seven under overall.

'It was a day of just trying to do my best to stay up there and it's nice to be leading the golf tournament,' Senden said.

'I thought the last two holes were pretty much close to the edge – it was so windy out there it was hard to hit the ball straight.'

Matt Jones (69), Peter Senior (69) and Kieran Pratt (70) are level in third place a shot behind Rose.

Pratt stole the outright lead with spectacular eagle at the 11th but his stint at the top of the leaderboard ended on the very next hole with a bogey.

Champion in 2001, Stuart Appleby and his American playing partner Kyle Stanley both posted two-under 70s to be three under for the tournament alongside Cameron Percy (72).

Home favourite: Adam Scott ponders his options during the third round

Home favourite: Adam Scott ponders his options during the third round

Pre-tournament favourite Adam Scott is a shot further back among a group of nine players in a share of ninth after posting his second straight 71.

Scott burst out of the blocks with consecutive birdies but had given both shots back by the fifth hole to make the turn in level par.

He mixed two bogeys and three birdies on the way home and will need something special on Sunday to claim his second Australian Open title, trailing by five shots.

Scott Gardiner fired the low round of the day, a four-under 68, to sit a further shot back alongside amateur Cameron Smith (69) and defending champion Greg Chalmers (69).

Geoff Ogilvy is also at one under after carding an adventurous 70 that included an eagle and a double bogey.

Struggling: Tom Watson had a round to forget in Sydney

Struggling: Tom Watson had a round to forget in Sydney

Meanwhile, veteran Tom Watson made a move in the wrong direction with a six-over 78.

'It was ugly out there today for me, very ugly,' Watson said immediately after his round.

'I struggled on the practice area warming up, I didn't have any feel for the club and didn't put the clubface on the ball.

'I'm not blaming anything but I woke up at 3 o'clock this morning and couldn't go back to sleep and I'm jetlagged pretty good coming back from South Africa.'

David Beckham farewell ends with victory for LA Galaxy over Houston Dynamo

From cynicism to people's champion, Beckham heads back to Europe after his American adventure more acclaimed than ever

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UPDATED:

00:23 GMT, 2 December 2012

What began amid cynicism and courted controversy and suspicion along the way, ended here in California tonight with a standing ovation. David Beckham’s American journey is over and he heads back to Europe as a winner.

It was six years ago that Beckham moved to Los Angeles at the age of 31 to play football. It seemed a peculiar thing to do for a man still with so many years ahead of him. The MLS was not a great league and LA Galaxy were a club – or a ‘franchise’ – in a bit of a mess.

But as Beckham took his leave a minute before the end of his team’s 3-1 win in the MLS Cup Final here today, few would contest his own view that America has been as good to him as, eventually, he has been to America.

Fond farewell: David Beckham has crowned his six year spell in the United States and the Los Angeles Galaxy with another MLS Cup victory, after they beat Houston Dynamo 3-1

Fond farewell: David Beckham has crowned his six year spell in the United States and the Los Angeles Galaxy with another MLS Cup victory, after they beat Houston Dynamo 3-1

Here's the punchline: Beckham celebrates after Omar Gonzalez had brought the match level at 1-1 early in the second half

Here's the punchline: Beckham celebrates after Omar Gonzalez had brought the match level at 1-1 early in the second half

Family man: Beckham lines up with his sons, Brooklyn (left), Romeo (middle) and Cruz before kick-off

Family man: Beckham lines up with his sons, Brooklyn (left), Romeo (middle) and Cruz before kick-off

Trailing by a goal at half-time, it looked for a while as though Beckham’s big day was about to collapse around his sparkling pink football foots. Galaxy had been the better team but had been hit by a sucker punch from Houston just before the interval.

In the second half, though, Beckham wrote his name all over this contest. He was the game’s best player and by full-time he had made many of the decisive contributions.

Beckham may not be able to run like he once could. It will be this, in all likelihood, that ultimately prevents him landing a contract at one of Europe’s bigger clubs as he looks to extend his remarkable career yet further in the coming weeks.

As a football technician, though, he remains almost unparalleled. Here today, some of his passing was reminiscent of his salad days at Manchester United and Real Madrid. Playing deep in the centre of midfield, the 37-year-old found the time and space to deliver telling passes with familiar regularity.

Still got it: Beckham produced a number of superlative, hallmark passes during the final

Still got it: Beckham produced a number of superlative, hallmark passes during the final

Hair-raising: Beckham challenged Houston's Ricardo Clark to the ball

Hair-raising: Beckham challenged Houston's Ricardo Clark to the ball

Indeed the one 80-yard first-time pass he played with his right foot to Robbie Keane on the hour will not be bettered anywhere this weekend. It was classic Beckham.

With the Home Depot Center awash with Beckham t-shirts and banners – “Take us with you, Becks” read one popular shirt – this day was somewhat different to the difficult early ones when the former England captain’s commitment to his team was questioned by supporters and colleagues alike.

Ultimately, it was just a shame that he was denied a fitting finale.

Much loved: Beckham's departure was mourned by LA Galaxy fans, who made a number of tribute banners for his farewell

Much loved: Beckham's departure was mourned by LA Galaxy fans, who made a number of tribute banners for his farewell

Memento: This Galaxy fan wanted the shirt of Beckham's back

Memento: This Galaxy fan wanted the shirt of Beckham's back

With Galaxy awarded a penalty with seconds remaining, Beckham and team-mate Landon Donovan – the regular taker – seemed to agree that the Englishman would take it. He seemed set to end his career here with a goal.

Keane had other ideas, however, and the Irishman didn’t even look at his team-mate as he placed the ball and slotted it in to the net for the third goal.

As Keane celebrated, though, it was Beckham who was mobbed. Moments earlier he had sunk to his knees. His final mission had been accomplished.

As he left the field soon after, 30,000 people rose to applaud him. He merely waved to his three sons in the crowd and took his place on the bench.

Beckham’s visit to America is over and he ends it with another trophy. Has he been a success over here Try telling the Galaxy otherwise.

Southampton 1 Norwich 1: Mark Clattenburg returns, Rickie Lambert and Robert Snodgrass score

Southampton 1 Norwich 1: Clattenburg back with a clanger with Lambert on hand to take advantage

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UPDATED:

22:12 GMT, 28 November 2012

Mark Clattenburg probably hoped for a gentle re-introduction into Premier League refereeing. He did not get it.

Taking charge of a football match for the first-time since being wrongly accused of racially abusing John Mikel Obi, the official missed a crucial handball in the lead up to Southampton taking the lead, before being targeted with cries of 'you don't know what you're doing' and 'you're not fit to referee' from Saints supporters as Norwich fought their way back into this encounter.

It all started so well for Clattenburg, as he was given a standing ovation during his pre-match warm up. But little did he know how feelings towards him would change.

The main man: Rickie Lambert (left) put Southampton ahead

The main man: Rickie Lambert (left) put Southampton ahead

Match facts

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw, Puncheon, Schneiderlin, Cork, Lallana, Lambert, Ramirez. Subs not used: Kelvin Davis, Hooiveld, Steven Davis, Rodriguez, Do Prado, Mayuka, Reeves.

Booked: Clyne.

Goal: Lambert 32.

Norwich: Bunn, Whittaker, Ryan Bennett, Bassong, Garrido, Snodgrass, Johnson, Tettey, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt. Subs not used: Rudd, Martin, Howson, Jackson, Morison, Elliott Bennett, Barnett.

Goal: Snodgrass 45.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg.

Attendance: 29,325.

The latest Premier League fixtures, tables and results

How the referee would fare on his
return to frontline action would have been the last thing on the minds
the two managers, Nigel Adkins of Southampton and Norwich’s Chris
Hughton. Both sides went into the game in promising form.

Since emerging victorious from ‘El
Sackico’ against Queens Park Rangers 12 days ago, Southampton swept
Newcastle aside on Sunday to keep Adkins in a job — for now.

Likewise, Norwich have gone seven games unbeaten — a run that has included wins over Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham.

Hughton’s glee was tempered somewhat
before kick-off with the news that first-choice goalkeeper John Ruddy
will miss at least three months as he prepares to have surgery on a
thigh problem.

Norwich created the first
opportunity, goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga producing an excellent save to
stop Anthony Pilkington’s effort in the fifth minute.

Eight minutes later, Clattenburg made
his first major decision, waving away Southampton’s claims for a
penalty after Adam Lallana went down under pressure from Sebastien
Bassong.

Welcome return: Referee Mark Clattenburg took charge of his first game since the Chelsea race row

Welcome return: Referee Mark Clattenburg took charge of his first game since his Chelsea race row hell

Welcome return: Mark Clattenburg was given a standing ovation at St Mary's before officiating his first game since the Chelsea race storm

Welcome return: Mark Clattenburg was given a standing ovation at St Mary's before officiating his first game since the Chelsea race storm

The centre of attention: Clattenburg keeps Alex Tettey and Morgan Schneiderlin apart

The centre of attention: Clattenburg keeps Alex Tettey and Morgan Schneiderlin apart

The Saints skipper then went within
inches of putting his side ahead with a spectacular volley when his
sweet strike from Lambert’s arrowing pass flew just over Mark Bunn’s
bar.

But the home side only had to wait
seven more minutes to take the lead — but it came in controversial
circumstances, with Clattenburg at the centre of it.

Lallana swung in a
free-kick from the left, Grant Holt made a hash of his attempted
defensive header before the ball clearly hit Lambert on the arm.

On target: Rickie Lambert pokes past Mark Bunn to give Saints the lead

On target: Rickie Lambert pokes past Mark Bunn to give Saints the lead

On target: Rickie Lambert makes no mistake, converting from inside the six yard box

On target: Rickie Lambert makes no mistake, converting from inside the six yard box

Bright start: Rickie Lambert's sixth of the season first Saints ahead

Bright start: Rickie Lambert's sixth of the season first Saints ahead

However, Clattenburg ignored
Norwich’s appeal for handball before Lambert took advantage of the
uncertainty to prod home from close range.

Gaston Ramirez went close to doubling the home side’s lead with curling free-kick that flew narrowly wide of Bunn’s far post.

Massive clanger: Saints keeper Paulo Gazzaniga allowed Robert Snodgrass' free-kick to slip through his hands just before the break

Massive clanger: Saints keeper Paulo Gazzaniga allowed Robert Snodgrass' free-kick to slip through his hands just before the break

Pure delight: Robert Snodgrass looks stunned after Paulo Gazzaniga's howler let Norwich back into the game

Pure delight: Robert Snodgrass looks stunned after Paulo Gazzaniga's howler let Norwich back into the game

But on the stroke of half-time,
Norwich dragged themselves level, thanks in part to Clattenburg. The
referee awarded Hughton’s side a free-kick on the edge of the area for
Nathaniel Clyne’s challenge on Snodgrass — and the Norwich midfielder
struck a shot that somehow went through Gazzaniga and into the back of
the net.

Clattenburg was treated to
renditions of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’, from home supporters,
who had grown frustrated at the number of decisions that had gone
Norwich’s way.

Tough to stop: Adam Lallana skips past Bradley Johnson to launch another Saints attack

Tough to stop: Adam Lallana skips past Bradley Johnson to launch another Saints attack

Clyne made a superb tackle to deny
Pilkington in the 60th minute as Norwich started the second half with
renewed vigour, before Gazzaniga made up for his first-half error with a
brilliant save from Holt header.

Jason Puncheon then saw his low
powerful drive well saved by Bunn as Southampton were denied the win
that would have lifted them out of the bottom three.

Lewis Hamilton farewell to McLaren

Hamilton rues Brazil crash as Brit bids emotional farewell to McLaren

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UPDATED:

22:41 GMT, 25 November 2012

A numb Lewis Hamilton bade an emotional farewell to McLaren as his six-year journey with the team ended in bitter frustration.

Just seven days after the ultimate high of victory in the United States Grand Prix came a gut-wrenching low after crashing out in an extraordinary race in Brazil when in the lead.

It is the third time in the last seven races Hamilton has lost out on a maximum haul of points when front running, epitomising the turbulent campaign he has been forced to endure.

End of an era: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button celebrate the latter's win in Brazil

End of an era: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button celebrate the latter's win in Brazil

On this occasion, with mayhem taking place all over Interlagos, the 27-year-old was slid into by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg as the German attempted to regain a lead he had earlier lost to Hamilton.

The resulting damage of a broken front-left suspension saw Hamilton retire for the fifth time this year, and a walk back to the garage where he was given a standing ovation.

For Hamilton, there is now a month off before joining Mercedes on January 1 on a three-year deal, but not after many goodbyes to a team he has been associated with for the last 14 years.

'I don't remember too much about the accident with Nico, but he came to see me after the race, which was nice,' said Hamilton.

Over and out: Hamilton collided with Nico Hulkenberg and his race was finished

Over and out: Hamilton collided with Nico Hulkenberg and his race was finished

Over and out: Hamilton collided with Nico Hulkenberg and his race was finished

'Now the season is done and dusted, I feel a bit numb. It's been a day of mixed emotions, and I'm sad I didn't finish the race.

'But I'm excited about the future. I'll miss my friends and McLaren, but I'm optimistic about what lies ahead for me.

'I feel comfortable going into this winter because I feel I did a good job this year. I gave 2012 everything I had. I couldn't have done anything more.

'It's been a brilliant experience to be a part of McLaren over the past six years.

'I want to thank everyone, and sincerely wish everyone the very best for the future.

'They've been fantastic, so supportive, and they continue to do an amazing job, so to everyone at McLaren, I'll miss each and every one of you.'

Head to head: Hamilton and Button had one final battle (above) before hugging it out (below)

Head to head: Hamilton and Button had one final battle (above) before hugging it out (below)

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton at least wore a rocket-red victory top one final time, even if not in the circumstances he had hoped for, given team-mate Jenson Button inherited the victory following his collision with Hulkenberg.

It was Button's third triumph of the year for McLaren, and enough to see him finish ahead of Hamilton on total points over their three-year partnership.

Once the furore had died down, Button paid a heart-felt tribute to Hamilton as he said: 'I had a lot of fun racing with him, especially for the first 10 laps. We had a really good, clean fight.

'It's a pity he wasn't still there at the end, but it was nice to have such a great dice with him in our last race as McLaren team-mates.

'And I really want to say this: 'It's been so good working with you, Lewis. Over the past few years, we've driven a lot of great races together. It's been fab'.'

Fabrice Muamba lauds Spurs fans on emotional White Hart Lane return

Muamba lauds Spurs fans and looks for closure on emotional White Hart Lane return

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UPDATED:

23:13 GMT, 8 November 2012

Fabrice Muamba broke down in tears as he revisited the scene of his horrific cardiac arrest for the first time.

Muamba stunned the football world on March 17 when, while playing for Bolton, he suddenly collapsed off the ball in the first half of their FA Cup tie against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

The 24-year-old's heart stopped beating for 78 minutes hours but remarkably he made a full recovery after being rushed by ambulance to the nearby London Chest Hospital.

Closure: Fabrice Muamba gestures to the Spurs fans on an emotional return to White Hart Lane

Closure: Fabrice Muamba gestures to the Spurs fans on an emotional return to White Hart Lane

Cardiologist Andrew Deaner also leapt from his seat in the White Hart Lane crowd to aid the stricken midfielder.

And the former England Under 21 international, who has since retired from football, returned to the home of the north London club during their Europa League Group J clash against Maribor.

Muamba emerged from the tunnel at half-time to a huge standing ovation from the home support and went over and pointed to the exact spot where he collapsed nearly seven months ago.

Touched: Muamba was moved by the occasion and by the warmth received at White Hart Lane

Touched: Muamba was moved by the occasion and by the warmth received at White Hart Lane

He then dabbed away tears before addressing the crowd. Struggling to get his words out, an emotional Muamba said: 'I can't express… All I can say is thanks to the Tottenham fans the way they reacted (when he collapsed).

'There are people out there who prayed for me. I want to thank the chairman, and to all the Spurs fans. I am grateful to them. They are awesome fans.'

Muamba's collapse caused a huge outpouring of sympathy from leading figures within the game.

Composing his thoughts: Muamba prepares to return to the site of his cardiac arrest

Composing his thoughts: Muamba prepares to return to the site of his cardiac arrest

Composing his thoughts: Muamba prepares to return to the site of his cardiac arrest (left) before walking on the pitch

He has spent his recent time writing an autobiography and has also been trying to raise awareness about heart problems.

'We just want to raise money so everyone has their heart checked,' he added. 'Today I wanted to visit that place one more time for closure.'

Andre Villas-Boas was glad to see Muamba had recovered from the collapse.

Anxious moments: Bolton players show their concern as medics attend to Muamba in March

Anxious moments: Bolton players show their concern as medics attend to Muamba in March

The Tottenham manager wrote in his programme notes: 'I would like to extend a special welcome here this evening to Fabrice Muamba.

'What happened to Fabrice at this stadium eight months ago has obviously changed his life forever.

'Everyone in the game and the wider footballing world was delighted to see him make a full recovery. We are thrilled to have him here tonight and I would like to wish him the very best for the future.'

Pele and Franz Beckenbauer FIFA group wound up

FIFA put Pele and Beckenbauer in charge of sexing up football… and all they came up with was a handshake

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 30 October 2012

A FIFA working group featuring Pele and Franz
Beckenbauer has been wound up after their discussions on how to make the
World Cup more exciting produced little more than a suggestion on
handshakes.

'The FIFA Task Force Football 2014, which started in
May 2011, has concluded its work following discussions on possible
reforms of the game,' said FIFA.

'Several members of this task force, including its
chairman Franz Beckenbauer, will now integrate with the FIFA Football
Committee, a permanent standing committee which will continue to present
proposals to improve the game.'

No results: Pele (left) was unable to come up with any revolutions

No results: Pele (left) was unable to come up with any revolutions

The task force, also featuring several other former
international players, was asked to find ways of making World Cup
matches less defensive after a number of lacklustre games at the 2010
edition in South Africa.

The committee made an inauspicious start when former
Germany captain and coach Beckenbauer and England 1966 World Cup winner
Bobby Charlton missed the first meeting in May last year while former
Brazil great Pele never took part.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter initially said he wanted
the task force to examine the possible return of the 'golden goal' and
the abolition of extra time after drawn matches in the knockout stages.

During this year's FIFA Congress in Budapest, Blatter
suggested Beckenbauer's group could even consider the abolition of
penalty shootouts.

Closed down: Sepp Blatter (left) had expected better from the group

Closed down: Sepp Blatter (left) had expected better from the group

Chairman Beckenbauer, however, was reluctant to suggest anything that drastic.

At the group's last meeting in February the German spoke mostly about the importance of players shaking hands.

He suggested footballers should line-up in the centre
circle and shake hands after a game as he did in his schooldays, and
that teams should take the field together for the second half.

The task force put forward a proposal that teams be
allowed to make a fourth substitute during extra time but this was
turned down in March by the International Football Association Board
(IFAB), the sport's rule-making body.

Another suggestion to abolish the so-called triple
punishment – where a player who gives away a penalty is also sent off
and automatically suspended for the next match – was put on hold by the
IFAB.

Liverpool striker Fabio Borini breaks foot in Italy

Borini breaks foot in Italy leaving Liverpool boss Rodgers with just ONE fit striker

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UPDATED:

21:09 GMT, 11 October 2012

Liverpool's stuttering season has been dealt a fresh blow after Fabio Borini broke his right foot during training with Italy’s Under 21s.

The 21-year-old was preparing for his country’s Euro 2013 play-off with Sweden in Pescara when he suffered the injury to his scafoide bone and taken to hospital for X-rays.

There is no diagnosis yet of how long Borini, who was signed for 10million from Roma in July, will be out but it could be that he is sidelined for months rather than weeks.

Injury blow: Liverpool striker Fabio Borini

Injury blow: Liverpool striker Fabio Borini

It leaves Luis Suarez as Liverpool’s
only fit striker for the foreseeable future and leaves Brendan Rodgers
fretting that his leading scorer will return from Uruguay’s World Cup
qualifiers unscathed.

Suarez will line up against Argentina
and he has admitted for the first time to a South American newspaper
that he will have to change his ways on the pitch.

He has courted controversy once again
this week after he went down theatrically in an attempt to win a
penalty in last Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Stoke at Anfield.

But Suarez, who has been booked three
times in the Barclays Premier League this season, is aware that he
needs to stop showing dissent to match officials.

Last man standing: Brendan Rodgers must hope Luis Suarez, left, does not suffer any mishap in Uruguay

Last man standing: Brendan Rodgers must hope Luis Suarez, left, does not suffer any mishap in Uruguay

‘As the years go by you realise what
you have to correct,' Suarez said. ‘There are things I must improve,
like my attitude on the pitch.

‘But that's how I've played since I
was a kid. I try to correct it but there are times when my anxiety makes
me play that way. Those are things I must improve on.’ Meanwhile,
Liverpool have dismissed Alessandro Del Piero’s claim he rejected a move
to Anfield out of respect to the victims of the Heysel disaster.

The Italian striker moved to Sydney
FC last month after leaving Juventus but he was also linked with
Liverpool. He says, though, that a joining Rodgers’ side was never an
option because of the tragedy before the 1985 European Cup final when 39
Juventus fans were killed.

But an Anfield official said: ‘No
attempt was made to sign Alessandro Del Piero. Nobody at Liverpool spoke
to the player or his representatives at any stage about the possibility
of him joining the club.’