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Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova suffers tumour relapse

Barcelona boss Vilanova suffers tumour relapse… assistant team coach Roura steps in

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UPDATED:

20:07 GMT, 19 December 2012

Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova is to undergo surgery and a course of chemotherapy after suffering a relapse of a cancerous tumour he had removed last year.

The 44-year-old had a tumour on his parotid gland (the largest of the human salivary glands) removed in emergency surgery last November when he was the club's assistant manager.

During a recent medical check-up, it was found that the tumour had returned and Vilanova will have more surgery on Thursday before six weeks of chemotherapy.

Assistant coach Jordi Roura has been named interim boss during Vilanova's absence.

It was announced in April that Vilanova would take over as Barca coach following Pep Guardiola's decision to step down at the end of the season and take a year-long sabbatical from the game.

Stepping down: Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has suffered a relapse of a tumour he had removed last November

Stepping down: Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has suffered a relapse of a tumour he had removed last November

Vilanova was Guardiola's assistant
during four hugely successful years at the Nou Camp which saw Barca win
13 trophies, including two Champions League crowns and three Primera
Division titles.

Vilanova has enjoyed a superb start to his tenure in the hotseat,
helping Barca establish a nine-point lead at the top of the league
standings after winning 15 of their opening 16 games while drawing the
other.

Barca are also through to the knockout stages of the Champions League
and hold a 2-0 first-leg lead over Cordoba in their Copa del Rey last-16
tie.

The club cancelled a scheduled press conference involving Club President Sandro Rosell on Wednesday as the news broke, as well as the staff Christmas party.

A training session scheduled for 6pm UK time this evening, and which was open to the public for the first 15 minutes, has been closed off.

Barcelona
have announced that no decision will be made on a potential replacement
until Vilanova has spoken to the players.

The news broke on the same day defender Eric Abidal was given the all-clear to resume his playing career following a liver transplant.

VILANOVA'S RECORD AT BARCELONA SO FAR

Pld 27 W 23 D 2 L 2 (85.18% win ratio)

Successor: Vilanova replaced Pep Guardiola (right) as Barcelona manager in the summer

Successor: Vilanova replaced Pep Guardiola (right) as Barcelona manager in the summer

Messages of support flooded in for Vilanova from throughout the sporting world.

'Very sorry to hear the news,' Barca midfielder Xavi said on his official Twitter account.

Former tennis world number one Rafa
Nadal said: 'All my strength and support for Tito Vilanova! We are all
with you to overcome this next hurdle.'

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero ‏tweeted: 'We support you, #AnimoTito! We wish you the strength to overcome this moment.'

His Spanish teammate David Silva added: 'All my support and best wishes to Tito and all of the people in the world fighting every day against cancer. Be strong #AnimoTito'

Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker tweeted: 'Very sorry to hear Tito Vilanova, the Barca coach, is undergoing surgery after a cancer relapse. Thoughts are with him.'

A statement on the Madrid website read: 'Real Madrid want to express their support and best wishes for the coach of FC Barcelona, Tito Vilanova, and wish him a very rapid recovery. Real Madrid offer their support to his club and to all his family.'

Good job: Barcelona are nine points clear at the summit of La Liga

Good job: Barcelona are nine points clear at the summit of La Liga

Vilanova was out of action for around
three weeks after surgery last year, but returned to the dugout to help
Guardiola for the last six months of the 2011-12 campaign.

The quietly-spoken Catalan said the experience had left him with a different perspective on life, at his presentation in June.

'I had an important operation a few
months ago,' he said. 'I spoke with the medics and my family about the
job, but they all said I was perfectly okay and there was no problem.

'Having overcome this operation it
gives me a different view on life. Perhaps, after what has happened,
training Barca will be like kids play.'

Barca released a press statement this morning announcing they had suspended all activities for today but did not go into details and did not mention Vilanova.

The club confirmed a further announcement would be made later today.

The statement read: 'Barcelona announce that it is has suspended the press conference from president Sandro Rosell planned for midday. As well as that, the media Christmas lunch has been cancelled.

'Later today the club will issue a further release. Until that time we will not make any announcement about this matter.

'We regret any inconvenience this decision may cause.'

Vilanova factfile

1969: Born September 17 in Bellcaire d'Emporda Girona.

1988: Comes through the Barcelona youth set-up along with fellow midfielder Pep Guardiola, but cannot break into the first team, playing for two years at Barcelona B.

1990: Joins lower-league Figueres.

1992: Moves to Primera Division Celta Vigo, but fails to hold down a first-team place.

1995: Leaves Celta.

2002: Retires from playing after short spells in the lower leagues with Badajoz, Real Mallorca, Lleida, Elche and finally Gramenet.

Tito Vilanova

2007: After working as technical director at Tarrassa, becomes Guardiola's assistant at Barcelona B. The pair help the team to promotion to Segunda Division B.

2008: June – Guardiola takes over coach of Barcelona and Vilanova comes with him as his assistant. The pair win the league, cup and Champions League in the first season in charge. Two more league titles, another Champions League crown and two Club World Cups follow.

2011: November 22 – Undergoes surgery on his parotid gland in Barcelona and spends three weeks recovering after being discharged.

2012: April 27 – Appointed as Guardiola's successor as Barcelona coach for next season after Guardiola announces he will not renew his contract.

June 15 – Signs a two-year contract to remain as Barcelona coach.

December 19 – Barcelona announce he would have surgery on the parotid gland for a second time on December 20 and faced approximately six weeks of chemotherapy. A club statement also said he could remain as coach dependent on his recovery during the treatment.

West Ham 2 Liverpool 3: match report – James Collins own goal seals win

West Ham 2 Liverpool 3: Old boy Cole and Collins' own goal help Rodgers strike Hammer blows

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UPDATED:

18:25 GMT, 9 December 2012

Liverpool proved they could win without talismanic striker Luis Suarez as they fought from behind to take three points from Upton Park.

Uruguay international Suarez was serving a one-match ban but the Reds struck twice late in the game to seal a win that sees them leapfrog West Ham in the table.

Former Hammers' defender Glen Johnson opened the scoring for the visitors with a tremendous effort before a Mark Noble penalty and Steven Gerrard own goal turned the game in West Ham's favour before the break.

Dismay: James Collins and Jussi Jaaskelainen are stunned while Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling celebrate the winner

Dismay: James Collins and Jussi Jaaskelainen are stunned while Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling celebrate the winner

Turnaround: Joe Cole scored the equaliser for Liverpool before Shelvey (right) helped force the Collins own goal to win the game

Turnaround: Joe Cole scored the equaliser for Liverpool before Shelvey (right) helped force the Collins own goal to win the game

Match facts

West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel (McCartney 46), Collins, Reid, O'Brien, Taylor (Maiga 86), Diame (Tomkins 73), Nolan, Noble, Jarvis, Cole.

Subs not used: Spiegel, Spence, O'Neil, Moncur.

Booked: Taylor.

Goal: Noble 36 (pen), Gerrard og 43.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique (Cole 27), Allen (Coates 86), Lucas (Henderson 71), Gerrard, Sterling, Shelvey, Downing.

Subs not used: Jones, Carragher, Fernandez Saez, Morgan.

Booked: Gerrard, Shelvey.

Goals: Johnson 11, Cole 76, Collins og 79.

Att: 35,005.

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

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It was another West Ham academy
graduate in substitute Joe Cole who pulled the visitors level in the
second half with a James Collins own goal completing the comeback for
Liverpool.

Gerrard, returning to captain the
visitors after recovering from illness, saw an early effort deflected
behind for a corner following some good work by Jonjo Shelvey.

West Ham then had a few minutes of
dominance and Mohamed Diame, a one-time Liverpool target, saw his shot
deflect off the back of team-mate Carlton Cole and drift just wide of
Jose Reina's goal.

West Ham's Matt Jarvis was getting a
lot of the ball down the left flank but was soon found wanting when he
was tested defensively.

Gerrard played the ball out to Johnson
on the touchline and the England full-back cut inside Jarvis with ease
before arrowing a strike past the out-stretched hand of Jussi
Jaaskelainen.

Johnson did not celebrate out of
respect for his former club but the Liverpool bench was up in unison as
the visitors grabbed an early lead.

Raheem Sterling had two chances to
double Liverpool's advantage, firstly firing wide of Jaaskelainen's near
post as Gerrard's shot was cleared straight to his feet.

Moments later Johnson again got the
beating of former Wolves winger Jarvis and rolled the ball into
Sterling's path, but the 18-year-old's low drive was just off target.

West Ham started to get more into the
game after 25 minutes and again began testing the Liverpool defence with
a number of high balls into the area, with their equaliser duly coming
nine minutes before the interval.

Screamer: Glen Johnson (right) opened the scoring with a magnificent strike which nestled in the top corner

Screamer: Glen Johnson (right) opened the scoring with a magnificent strike which nestled in the top corner

Cool as you like: Mark Noble slots home his penalty to put the Hammers level

Cool as you like: Mark Noble slots home his penalty to put the Hammers level

A West Ham set-piece was cleared as
far as Guy Demel whose shot hit the arm of Joe Allen as the former
Swansea man closed him down.

Referee Lee Probert deemed the block
to be intentional and pointed to the spot, with Noble stepping up to
coolly convert the penalty.

Matthew Taylor, recalled to the
starting line-up by Sam Allardyce after making an impact as a substitute
against Chelsea last weekend, then headed high and wide from close
range as West Ham started to take control.

The spell of pressure yielded a second goal for Allardyce's side, albeit it in fortunate circumstances.

Liverpool switched off after conceding a free-kick which Noble took quickly and found Jarvis in space on the left.

Sam Allardyce

Mark Noble and Carlton Cole

Topsy turvy: Sam Allardyce (left) saw his side fall behind, go ahead and then fall behind again

Powerhouse: Mohamed Diame was running play in the centre of the park before his injury

Powerhouse: Mohamed Diame was running play in the centre of the park before his injury

The 26-year-old produced yet another
fantastic delivery into the box and the ball was sent flying past Reina
off the head of Gerrard.

Shelvey then had a good opportunity to
level on the stroke of half-time when he was picked out by Stewart
Downing but his shot was well wide.

The second half started with both
sides looking to be more creative in possession although neither Reina
nor Jaaskelainen was tested before the hour-mark.

Sterling came close to levelling as
his left-foot effort from the edge of the penalty area forced
Jaaskelainen to flick the ball over his bar for a corner.

Rising high: Steven Gerrard heads the ball into his own net

Rising high: Steven Gerrard heads the ball into his own net

Oops: Collins celebrates Gerrard's own goal... but later scored one himself

Oops: Collins celebrates Gerrard's own goal… but later scored one himself

Sympathy: Carlton Cole pats the England captain on the shoulder after his mishap

Sympathy: Carlton Cole pats the England captain on the shoulder after his mishap

Shelvey had worked hard in an
unfamiliar attacking role all afternoon and saw a header flash wide with
20 minutes remaining before Rodgers introduced Jordan Henderson in
place of the ineffectual Lucas.

A serious looking leg injury suffered
by Diame made Allardyce's afternoon even worse, with the in-form
midfielder replaced by James Tomkins after pulling up hurt.

Joe Cole had been introduced by Liverpool before the game was 30 minutes old and was warmly received by the home fans.

Access denied: Matt Taylor's free-kick was kept out

Access denied: Matt Taylor's free-kick was kept out

The former Chelsea playmaker has
struggled during his time with Liverpool and had little impact on the
game until he struck a venomous equaliser after being played in by
Sterling and, like Johnson, he refused to celebrate the goal.

The turnaround was completed just 12
minutes from time as Henderson swung in a low cross that Shelvey and
Collins competed for with the balling looping up off the boot of the
West Ham defender and over a helpless Jaaskelainen.

Sterling almost burst through to wrap
up the game for the visitors, who saw out the five minutes of stoppage
time to creep into the top half of the table.

Face down: Shelvey, who played in a relatively unfamiliar striker's position, lies in the turf

Face down: Shelvey, who played in a relatively unfamiliar striker's position, lies in the turf

Back on his feet: Shelvey forces Collins into an own goal

Back on his feet: Shelvey forces Collins into an own goal

Over the moon: Pepe Reina jumps for joy after seeing the third Liverpool goal fly in

Over the moon: Pepe Reina jumps for joy after seeing the third Liverpool goal fly in

Nigel Adkins proud of Southampton

Adkins proud of brave Saints after victory over Reading lifts them out of drop zone

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UPDATED:

20:18 GMT, 8 December 2012

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins is proud of the way his players rose to the challenge against fellow strugglers Reading today to move out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory.

Saints came into the match a place, and three points, better off than their opponents, who pipped the Hampshire side to the npower Championship title last season.

Adkins' side exacted revenge for that today, with Jason Puncheon's solitary goal enough to secure victory and propel Southampton up to 15th in the Barclays Premier League standings.

Delight: Jason Puncheon scored the decisive goal

Delight: Jason Puncheon scored the decisive goal

'It is a good three points for us,' the Saints boss said. 'It is important to win our home games, especially against the teams close to us in the league.

'I thought we thoroughly deserved the victory today and, in fact, I would have liked us to have scored some more goals from the opportunities we created.

'All-in-all, we've got to be happy with the clean sheet and three points. The players stepped up to the mark.

'There might be talk [of pressure] on the outside, but the players deserve all the credit.

'They work really hard on the training ground and there is a great togetherness about them.

'They've gone out and put on a very good performance. I think if we can keep concentrating on our performances and what we want to do, we give ourselves an opportunity to go and win.'

Right-winger Puncheon was the standout player for Southampton and Adkins felt he should have had two goals today, having seen a first-half header chalked off.

'It was a great goal, I am delighted with it,' Adkins said of the goal that did stand.

Eyes on the prixe: Adam Lallana looks to control the ball

Eyes on the prixe: Adam Lallana looks to control the ball

Struggle: Both Reading and Southampton are near the foot of the table

Struggle: Both Reading and Southampton are near the foot of the table

'Jason could have had a few more. He had a few opportunities and a perfectly good goal disallowed as well.

'But the goal is off the training ground and we have a midfield player dropping out in between the defender and the full-back.

'We get somebody in the pocket, our full-back playing up high and wide player coming inside. Good quick play and an excellent goal.'

Asked if he thought the disallowed goal was one of a number of decisions to have gone against Saints recently, Adkins retorted: 'Yes, but it will change.

'We will keep grafting, we won't whinge about it and we will get on with it.'

While there were many positives for Southampton today, including a second Premier League clean sheet, they did lose captain Adam Lallana to injury in the first half.

'We've got him in a brace and he is on crutches at the moment,' Adkins said. 'That is standard procedure.

'He has got a knee injury and what we will do is assess that over the next 24 to 48 hours and that will give us a better prognosis to how long potentially he will be out for.

'It could be short, it could be longer. We don't know so we won't guess at the moment.'

Southampton fans will hope the two-week break they now have due to scheduled opponents Chelsea's Club World Cup commitments will allow Lallana time to recover.

Proud: Nigel Adkins was delighted with the result

Proud: Nigel Adkins was delighted with the result

Adkins also revealed that the period should be enough for Argentinian goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga to return to training from a shoulder injury.

While Southampton can relax, starting with their Christmas party tomorrow night, Reading face a quick turnaround.

Brian McDermott's side were second best at St Mary's today as they slumped to a fourth successive defeat – hardly ideal preparation for a trip to Sunderland on Tuesday.

'We are disappointed,' the Reading boss said. 'We had an opportunity [to win] in the first half and hit the post.

'That first goal was always going to be really, really important. They got it.

'In the second half I didn't really feel we stepped on the way we needed to get three points, never mind one.

Ouch: Adkins hopes that the two weeks off they have will give Lallana time to recover

Ouch: Adkins hopes that the two weeks off they have will give Lallana time to recover

'I think it is hard to look and reflect straight after the game. At the moment, you would imagine there would be a lot of doom and gloom around the place after a loss like that.

'I understand that completely because the second half we did not really do ourselves justice, especially with the ball.

'We know we have to be better than that and we now have another game on Tuesday to pick ourselves up.'

Zach Johnson wins John Deere Classic

Johnson wins John Deere Classic after playoff with Matteson

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UPDATED:

23:58 GMT, 15 July 2012

Local favourite Zach Johnson beat Troy Matteson in a play-off to win the John Deere Classic in Illinois.

Johnson carded a six-under-par 65 to finish 20 under overall alongside Matteson, who had led since day one but could only manage a two-under 69, his worst round of the week, on the final day.

Victory: Zach Johnson lifts the John Deere Classic trophy

Victory: Zach Johnson lifts the John Deere Classic trophy

That took them to a play-off hole on
the 18th which, remarkably given the week's low scoring, both players
contrived to double bogey.

They played the hole again, and this time Johnson birdied, while Matteson could only manage a par four.

The win takes Johnson fifth in the
American Ryder Cup standings, while Matteson, 368th in the world, has
the consolation of taking the final exempt spot in The Open.

To the wire: Johnson won in a sudden death playoff

To the wire: Johnson won in a sudden death playoff

Edged out: His opponent Troy Matteson

Edged out: His opponent Troy Matteson

Delight: Johnson punches the air

Delight: Johnson punches the air

More to follow.

Sebastian Vettel takes pole for Canadian Grand Prix

Vettel takes pole in qualifying for Canadian Grand Prix with Hamilton in second

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UPDATED:

18:52 GMT, 9 June 2012

Sebastian Vettel superbly grabbed the 32nd pole position of his Formula One career and second in succession ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Reigning world champion Vettel proved to be the class act in qualifying, crushing his rivals around Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in his Red Bull.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton again lines up on the front row, but the 27-year-old found himself three tenths of a second adrift of Vettel's hot lap of a one minute 13.784secs.

No 1: Sebastian Vettel will start in pole position

No 1: Sebastian Vettel will start in pole position

The pole elevates Vettel up to fifth in the all-time standings, and he now stands alongside Nigel Mansell, with only Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark and Alain Prost ahead of him, the latter duo with 33 poles.

Championship leader in Ferrari's Fernando Alonso starts third as he failed to pip Hamilton at the death, followed by the Red Bull of recent Monaco Grand Prix winner Mark Webber.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg starts sixth ahead of Felipe Massa in his Ferrari and Lotus of Romain Grosjean, with Paul di Resta in his Force India a stunning eighth, equalling his second best grid slot of his F1 career.

In ninth and 10th are Mercedes' Schumacher and Jenson Button in his McLaren, the latter in the top 10 for the first time in three races, but continuing to struggle and on a circuit where he won in dramatic fashion a year ago.

Button narrowly had survived Q2, but only by eight thousandths of a second to Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi who will start 11th.

In the dying stages of the middle 15-minute session it appeared as if Williams' Pastor Maldonado would be the man to drop Button out of the top for the third consecutive race.

But after going fastest of all in the first sector, and pushing to the limit, he clipped the Wall of Champions coming out of the final turn, sending him into a 360 degree spin and only 17th.

Top three: Vettel with Fernando Alonso (left) and Lewis Hamilton (right)

Top three: Vettel with Fernando Alonso (left) and Lewis Hamilton (right)

Kimi Raikkonen's awful weekend to date continued as he could only grab 12th, comfortably behind team-mate Grosjean.

It was a similar situation for Force India's Nico Hulkenberg – who starts 13th, 0.109secs behind the Scot.

Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo lines up 15th, with Bruno Senna in his Williams 16th ahead of the unfortunate Maldonado.

In temperatures of 25 degrees centigrade, and under clear blue skies to assist all the cars, the initial 20 minutes was fairly straightforward.

There was, however, a bit of consternation from inside McLaren as they felt the need to strap on the faster supersoft tyres for a run to guarantee their place in Q2.

Such concerns proved unfounded as Heikki Kovalainen in 18th was comfortably slower than the time set by Hamilton and Button on the soft compound.

It means both drivers have now used an additional set of tyres for this weekend, which could have a knock-on effect for the race.

For Caterham, there was a success of sorts as both Kovalainen and team-mate Vitaly Petrov outqualified a Toro Rosso as Jean-Eric Vergne showed no pace on either tyre and will start 20th.

Below the Frenchman on the grid will be the HRTs of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan in 21st and 24th sandwiching Marussia duo Timo Glock and Charles Pic.

Zoom: Vettel performed superbly

Zoom: Vettel performed superbly

A smiling Vettel said: 'We've had a fantastic weekend. Yesterday was very smooth with no problems.

'We've learned some lessons of late because we've been quick on a Sunday, but not in qualifying.

'Yesterday it was important to have a clean run. We trust the car we have. We go with the circuit, and I was very comfortable.

'I found I was always able to get a bit quicker. I knew it would be tight here, but it seems we've been able to make a bigger difference.

'Obviously we've got it right in qualifying today, but I'm still only eight metres ahead of Lewis.'

Asked about the fact Red Bull have been to forced modify the hole in the floor of their car and the wheel hubs of late as they have both been deemed illegal by the FIA, Vettel said: 'It's not just a hole in the floor that makes all the difference.

Middle: Jenson Button will start from 10th

Middle: Jenson Button will start from 10th

'Reading the newspapers you get that impression, but we never feared it would have a big impact on the car, and even without the hole I enjoyed qualifying.'

Hamilton found himself genuinely surprised to be starting on the front row for the fourth time this season.

'It was definitely harder for us today, working with the tyres, notably in P3 (final practice) and in qualifying trying to get the tyres to switch them on,' Vettel said.

'I managed to get through on a new set, so I'm very happy and surprised to see us on the front row, and we'll take it.'

Kevin Pietersen hits T20 century for the Delhi Daredevils

It's like a dream, beams KP as England star hits stunning T20 century for the Delhi Daredevils

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UPDATED:

14:56 GMT, 19 April 2012

Kevin Pietersen's first Twenty20 century carried the Delhi Daredevils to a five-wicket victory over the winless Deccan Chargers as they moved to the top of the Indian Premier League standings.

Pietersen smashed his ninth six straight back down the wicket to score the winning runs with five balls to spare, taking his tally to 103 and Delhi's to 162 for five, four clear of their target for victory.

Delight: Pietersen scored the winning runs in the victory over the Deccan Chargers

Delight: Pietersen scored the winning runs in the victory over the Deccan Chargers

The England batsman needed just 64 balls to bring up three figures, and his masterful innings covered for the failures of others as only Yogesh Nagar, unbeaten at the close on 23, and Ross Taylor (13) made it into double figures for the Daredevils.

They had run into early trouble when opener Naman Ojha went for just one and Virender Sehwag followed for seven, bringing Pietersen into the action sooner than he might have expected.

Take bat: KP described his maiden T20 ton as a 'dream come true'

Take bat: KP described his maiden T20 ton as a 'what dreams are made of'

His partners continued to fall, with Mahela Jayawardene managing just six and Irfan Pathan five, but Pietersen stood firm, even if he rode his luck a few times.

The Chargers will be left to rue mistakes in the field as they had dropped him three times, when he was on six, 68 and 94.

Mistakes: The Chargers dropped Pietersen on three occasions

Mistakes: The Chargers dropped Pietersen on three occasions

Bharat Chipli put him down at mid-wicket early on, a moment that could have altered Deccan's fortunes entirely, while JP Duminy and Kumar Sangakkara were guilty of later spills.

Pietersen's previous T20 best had been a 79 for England against Zimbabwe in 2007.

'This is absolutely amazing, this is what dreams are made of,' Pietersen told ITV4.

'You come here as an England player and it's very, very intimidating but to come here and have all these fans cheering for you is very special.

'That was my first Twenty20 100 so it will be pretty hard to beat.'

Earlier, the Chargers had made 157 for eight, with Parthiv Patel making 45 and Shikhar Darwan 44, but Delhi had Shahbaz Nadeem (three for 16) and Morne Morkel (three for 23) to thank for keeping them in check.

The win sends Delhi above the Rajasthan Royals, having played a game less, while Deccan are stuck at the opposite end of the standings.

Tottenham are back, says Gareth Bale

Watch out Arsenal, Tottenham are back! Bale says Spurs are over blip after Swansea win

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UPDATED:

20:24 GMT, 1 April 2012

Tottenham winger Gareth Bale believes his team are firmly back on track after helping the north London club overcome Swansea 3-1 at White Hart Lane.

The 22-year-old Wales international produced a man-of-the-match display as fourth-placed Spurs moved level on points with third-spotted Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League standings.

'We've been playing well,' he said on Sky Sports 1. 'We've had quite a bit of bad luck but we showed what we can do on the pitch today against a great footballing side like Swansea and got a vital three points to put pressure on the others.

Spurred on: Spurs savoured league victory for the first time since February 11

Spurred on: Spurs savoured league victory for the first time since February 11

'We've moved back level with Arsenal and can hopefully go above them.'

Spurs had failed to win their last five league games but got their reward for dominating the first half when Rafael van der Vaart sidefooted home from 18 yards.

Gylfi Sigurdsson's looping volley beat Brad Friedel to give the Swans a second-half equaliser but Emmanuel Adebayor headed Spurs in front 14 minutes later before sealing the win four minutes from time with another headed goal.

Bale admitted the hosts had far from had it all their own way against Brendan Rodgers' side.

'(It was) very hard,' he said.
'The way they play the ball is just unbelievable. Full credit to them –
they've been fantastic this season, but we showed our true class today.
We showed what attacking prowess we've got and punished them when we
could.'

He added: 'We
were just saying, me and Younes (Kaboul) – we're back now. We feel like
we're playing well the last couple of games.

'I
think against Stoke was the turning point when we got the last-minute
equaliser. The confidence is building and we're ready for a run.'

Crowded out: Tottenham had to battle hard to beat off the challenge posed by stoke

Crowded out: Tottenham had to battle hard to beat off the challenge posed by stoke

Dutch courage: Van der Vaart opened the scoring for the hosts

Dutch courage: Van der Vaart opened the scoring for the hosts

Swansea boss Rodgers said on Sky Sports News: 'In the second half I thought we were fantastic.

'Some
of our play was outstanding and I thought we deserved our equaliser, so
we're obviously disappointed with the two goals after that.

'We conceded at a corner we didn't think was a corner – of course the 6ft 5in giant made the header and put them 2-1 up.

'We're
disappointed with the scoreline but the performance level, against a
team who have been challenging for the title, was fantastic today.

'I
can only give credit to the players. Coming here for the first time
they put in a good performance. Unfortunately it didn't show on the
scoreline.'

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp
predicted the battle for third and fourth spots would go down to the
wire despite his team moving five points clear of Chelsea and Newcastle
with seven games remaining.

Net result: Adebayor's headed double handed Spurs all three points

Net result: Adebayor's headed double handed Spurs all three points

Net result: Adebayor's headed double handed Spurs all three points

'It's going to be tight,' he said on
Sky Sports News. 'I wouldn't write Chelsea off, I wouldn't write
Newcastle off – they've done a miracle as well – and Arsenal obviously
are bang there.

'It's going to be interesting but
that's what football is about. That's what supporters want – they want
excitement. It's going to be a great end to the season.'

Redknapp was delighted with his side's display this afternoon.

'I thought we were fantastic
first-half,' he said. 'The players did everything we asked – pressed and
closed and had all the chances really.

'They started well, the first 10
minutes, and then we got after them all over the park and broke their
game up. They're a good side, they play fantastic football but I don't
think we really let them play in the first half.

'There was going to be a spell where
they would come into it because to keep closing like we did in the first
half, it's difficult to keep that momentum going and they came back
into it but we came back strong again. It was a fantastic performance.'

Swan song: The visitors briefly moved level through Sigurdsson's effort

Swan song: The visitors briefly moved level through Sigurdsson's effort

Bale earned particular praise from his manager for another sparkling display.

'He's just an amazing talent, an amazing player,' Redknapp said. 'He's got the ability to run all day, to beat people, to dribble, shoot, to head it… he's a unique player, a special talent.

'Everybody today I thought was on their game. We defended well, got blocks in, the midfielders all pressed well and obviously Manny getting two goals as well was great for him.'

The win rounded off a successful week for Tottenham following last weekend's goalless draw at Chelsea and Tuesday's 3-1 FA Cup quarter-final triumph over Bolton.

'We've been playing well,' Redknapp added. 'It's been a good week. We went to Chelsea last week and played ever so well. I felt we could have won the game, which is never easy going to Stamford Bridge and getting a result like that.

'We came back home and played well against Bolton in midweek, and today again so it's been a good week.'

Napoli are underdogs not Chelsea, says Walter Mazzarri

Chelsea are NOT underdogs, Napoli need something extraordinary, says Mazzarri

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri is fearful of a Chelsea backlash in the first leg of its Champions League last-16 match on Tuesday.

Chelsea heads into the game in Naples licking its wounds after dropping to fifth in the Premier League and only managing a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup on Saturday against second-tier Birmingham City.

'Chelsea is worse than us at the moment but I don't trust (form tables),' Mazzarri said.

Feeling Blue: Chelsea's misfiring season took another turn for the worse when they drew 1-1 with Birmingham in the FA Cup

Feeling Blue: Chelsea's misfiring season took another turn for the worse when they drew 1-1 with Birmingham in the FA Cup

'We're maybe coming into the game better as a whole, but their team is one of champions, who are all used to the atmosphere of great international events. I'm sure that they will regroup for the occasion.'

In fact, the Italian sees the potential for a Chelsea fightback, starting at the Stadio San Paolo.

'Paradoxically, their difficulties at the moment in English competitions could be an extra obstacle for us. Even when results weren’t happening for us we never stopped playing well, but single episodes made everything go badly.

'Even if there were problems, all it takes to reassemble a group is one match,' Mazzarri added. 'Every player wants to do well in Europe. Champions and great players can make the difference at this level.

'I do not agree that Napoli are favourites. Chelsea want to do well in the Champions League and they have players who are accustomed to matches like these. It will be a terrible test; in order to pass it we must do something extraordinary.'

Napoli is full of confidence after rising to sixth in the Serie A standings with two successive victories. Edinson Cavani struck twice in an impressive 3-0 win at Fiorentina on Friday to take his tally for the season to 15 in the league.

In contrast to Champions League newcomers Napoli, Chelsea has a strong pedigree among Europe's elite, with four semi-final appearances and a losing final in 2008.

However, Mazzarri's men have already
dumped one Premier League team out the competition and, despite the
coach's word of warning, his players will be quietly confident they can
do the same to Chelsea as they did to Manchester City in the group
stage.

Voting with their feet: Chelsea fans left early after Daniel Sturridge's header could only salvage a draw (below)

Voting with their feet: Chelsea fans left early after Daniel Sturridge's header could only salvage a draw (below)

Voting with their feet: Chelsea fans left early after Daniel Sturridge's header could only salvage a draw (below)

Defender Hugo Campagnaro is set to miss out with a calf injury, and will again be replaced by Gianluca Grava.

Mazzarri will be forced to watch both legs from the stands as punishment for his altercation with Villarreal striker Nilmar in the group match in December.

Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas is hoping captain John Terry and Ashley Cole are fit after injuries and could recall veterans Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard in a bid to bolster experience and confidence.

'You need an extra mental push,' Villas-Boas said. 'Until you get out of the cycle with a win, for sure it perpetuates a little bit.'

All eyes will also be on matters off the pitch. Fans from Manchester City, Liverpool and Bayern Munich have all suffered violence, including stab wounds, on recent visits to the Italian city.

Napoli has issued a public plea to its fans to behave.

'Napoli makes a further and even stronger appeal to fans to respect the current norms in security matters, in line with UEFA rules,' a club statement read.

'Norms that if violated would provoke a stadium ban and hence compromise other big international events here.'

Extraordinary! Mazzarri believes his side are the underdogs

Extraordinary! Mazzarri believes his side are the underdogs

PSG 0 AC Milan 1: Carlo Ancelotti amkes losing start

Ancelotti makes losing start to life at PSG with 1-0 defeat to former club AC Milan

Carlo Ancelotti's reign at Paris Saint-Germain started with defeat as AC Milan beat the French club 1-0 in a friendly.

Alexandre Pato scored the winner after Zlatan Ibrahimovic played the ball across for Brazilian forward to tap home into an empty net.

PSG pressed for an equaliser, with Nene and Javier Pastore forcing saves from keeper Marco Amelia, before Antonio Nocerino rattled PSG's crossbar with an audacious overhead kick.

Losing start: Anceloitti watched his new side lose to AC Milan

Losing start: Anceloitti watched his new side lose to AC Milan

Nene had two chances to equalize in the second half, but both his effort were saved by Amelia.

Ancelotti took over the Ligue 1 outfit last week after Antoine Kombouare was let go despite leading the big-spending club to first place in the French league standings going into the winter break.

'We didn't start well because we conceded the goal immediately, but there was a good reaction with good play, good football and good combinations up front. I am happy,' Ancelotti said.

Italian job: Pato bagged the winner while Nocerino hit the crossbar (below)

Italian job: Pato bagged the winner while Nocerino hit the crossbar (below)

Italian job: Pato bagged the winner while Nocerino hit the crossbar (below)

'Of course, we have to improve, but we played against a strong team. Our match was good.'

AC Milan also top Serie A and both teams are using the training camp in Dubai to get ready for the second half of the season.

'We had a good first half,' Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

'There were a lot of good and bad things, but I'm happy with the training we've done and it was a good test for the team against one of the best sides in France.'

Winners! The Milan players celebrate with the Dubai Football Challenge Cup

Winners! The Milan players celebrate with the Dubai Football Challenge Cup