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Crystal Palace 0 Barnsley 0: Match Report

Crystal Palace 0 Barnsley 0: Eagles stumble again, while Tykes wear home side's shirts

PUBLISHED:

17:05 GMT, 6 April 2013

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UPDATED:

11:02 GMT, 7 April 2013

Crystal Palace continue to stumble in their pursuit of promotion from the npower Championship as they were held to a goalless draw against relegation-threatened Barnsley at Selhurst Park.

The away side, who had to wear Palace's change strip because referee Keith Stroud felt the kits clashed, saw a dogged display rewarded with an important point in their attempts to avoid the drop but never looked like stealing victory as Palace dominated a one-sided encounter.

Glenn Murray and substitute Aaron Wilbraham both missed good opportunities as Ian Holloway's men failed to score for a fourth consecutive game meaning their play-off place is not yet guaranteed.

Who's who Barnsley are forced to wear Palace's away strip (yellow) as the referee felt the kits clashed

Who's who Barnsley are forced to wear Palace's away strip (yellow) as the referee felt the kits clashed

MATCH FACTS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Ramage, Delaney, Parr, Zaha, Jedinak, Williams, Bolasie (Dobbie 77), Moritz (Phillips 64), Murray (Wilbraham 80).

Subs Not Used: Price, Richards, Marrow, Gabbidon.

Booked: Jedinak, Williams.

Barnsley: Steele, Hassell, Wiseman, Foster, Kennedy, Perkins, Mellis (Cywka 90), Etuhu (O'Brien 62), Dawson, O'Grady, Scotland (Dagnall 68).

Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Harewood, Jones, Rose.

Booked: Dawson, Hassell, Steele, Perkins, O'Brien.

Att: 21,281

Ref: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).

The latest Championship table, results and fixtures

On the back of three consecutive league defeats, Holloway made three changes to his starting line-up with Jonathan Williams and Andre Moritz coming in for Stephen Dobbie and Kagisho Dikgacoi, who was ruled out through injury.

Right-back Joel Ward made his first start since December at Ashley Richards' expense but it was the visitors, who were without injured defender Martin Cranie, who started brightest.

Jason Scotland tried his luck with two long-range shots inside the opening three minutes as David Flitcroft's men, wearing Palace's away kit due to a colour clash, began in confident mood.

The Tykes had won three of their past four games ahead of their trip but soon found themselves on the back foot as the hosts began to dictate, Wilfried Zaha's 13th-minute header an early warning signal.

Only goalkeeper Luke Steele's acrobatics denied Brazilian midfielder Moritz's curling free-kick three minutes later before Murray was presented with the clearest opening of the first half.

Frustrated: Wilfried Zaha (right) fails to unlock the Barnsley defence

Frustrated: Wilfried Zaha (right) fails to unlock the Barnsley defence

Faltering: Palace are now without a win in five

Faltering: Palace are now without a win in five

CHAMPIONSHIP – AS IT STANDS

TABLE

Zaha slid in the division's leading goal scorer but Steele stood tall to keep out Murray's clipped effort after 30 minutes.

Yannick Bolasie tested the former
Manchester United youngster once more eight minutes later with a precise
side-footed effort but Flitcroft's side resolutely held on to their
clean sheet going into the interval.

Another Moritz free-kick brought Steele into action in the 53rd minute as the Eagles continued to threaten in front of their biggest home attendance of the season.

Zaha saw his low cross cut out as he tried to pick out Moritz 10 minutes later while Murray failed to head the subsequent corner on target.

Dobbie and Wilbraham then came off the bench as the hosts began to lose momentum and the pair almost engineered a breakthrough with Wilbraham shooting just wide from the edge of the area following Dobbie's through-ball with just nine minutes remaining.

Wilbraham went even closer to clinching three points four minutes later when Jonathan Parr delivered an inviting cross but the former MK Dons striker saw his header flash past the right-hand post.

A perfect cross from Zaha gave Wilbraham a third opportunity to break the deadlock moments later but the final chance of a frustrating game for the home side was blazed over the bar.

PALACE'S REMAINING FIXTURES

Ipswich (a), 16 April

Leicester (h), 20 April

Blackburn (a), 27 April

Millwall (a), 30 April

Peterborough (h), 4 May

BARNSLEY'S REMAINING FIXTURES

Cardiff (a), 9 April

Charlton (h), 13 April

Derby (h), 16 April

Nottingham Forest (a), 20 April

Hull (h), 27 April

Huddersfield (a), 4 May

England U21 v Austria U21 live from Amex Stadium

LIVE: England U21 v Austria… follow all the action from the Amex Stadium

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

19:15 GMT, 25 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:44 GMT, 25 March 2013

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of England U21's clash with Austria at Brighton's Amex Stadium, with kick-off at 7.45.

Having wrapped up a record eighth win on the bounce – every one a clean sheet – with a comfortable 3-0 win over Romania on Thursday night, Stuart Pearce's men are going for cloud nine tonight.

It's the final chance for England's young lions to impress in a bid to make this summer's European championships in Israel.

Join the debate by Tweeting @charlieskillen or you can email me your views at [email protected]

19:43 …and here's God Save the Queen.

19:41 Kick-off is in about five minutes, we're just hearing the Austrian national anthem…

19:39 Stuart Pearce just spoke to ESPN before the game about the side's lead-up to the match and the make-up of tonight's team:

'We've had a brilliant week,' said Pearce.

'After Thursday, the way the players have been in training has been outstanding.

'We need to top off the week with a good result and a good performance here.'

On not selecting usual captain Jordan Henderson for tonight's starting line-up:

'I know what Jordan can do. He's an outstanding player and leader of men at this level and I'm not sure how much I would learn from playing him here.

'It was more important to keep Nathaniel Chalobah in the side after what he did on Thursday.'

That seems like Henderson is a certainty to be part of a growing Liverpool contingent in Pearce's squad.

19:26 And let's not forget – victory here will be Stuart Pearce's side's ninth on the spin. Friday's triumph over Romania sealed a record eighth win, and the young Lions have achieved that without conceding a single goal. More of the same tonight, please…

19:25 The action for England U21s this summer in Israel kicks off on June 5 when they face Italy, before playing Norway on June 8 and facing the hosts June 11. Performances in this game will be key to making up the squad that travels to the tournament.

19:18 So Wilfried Zaha is not in the squad tonight – but he's a dead cert for the European Championships squad. He's returned to Crystal Palace for dental work. This gives a chance for the more borderline players to make an impact before Stuart Pearce names his squad for the summer tournament in Israel.

19.15 Evening everyone, and welcome to Sportsmail's live coverage of England U21s clash with Austria.

Kick-off is in about half an hour, but let's start with tonight's line-up:

England Jason Steele, Andre Wisdom, Danny Rose, Jason Lowe, Tom Lees, Craig Dawson (capt), Andros Townsend, Nathaniel Chalobah, Connor Wickham, Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling.

Subs Adam Smith, Jack Butland, Jack Robinson, Nathaniel Clyne, Michael Keane, Jordan Henderson, Josh McEachran, Nathan Delfouneso, Marvin Sordell, Tom Carroll.

Romania Richard Strebinger, Florian Neuhold, Kevin Wimmer, Tobias Kainz, Michael Sabitzer, Raphael Holzhauser (capt) Robert Zulj, Patrick Farkas, Simon Piesinger, Lukas Spendlhofer

Subs Christoph Riegler, Christian Schilling, Martin Ziegl, Daniel Offenbacher, Michael Grogoritsch, Mattias Maak, Dominik Starkl.

Young gun: Nathaniel Chalobah is making his second start for the U21s

Young gun: Nathaniel Chalobah is making his second start for the U21s

Danny Welbeck pleased with how far he has progressed at Manchester United

Madrid goal has given me the motivation to achieve more, says Welbeck

, given Welbeck has tended to reserve his most productive displays for times when he has been on England duty.

However, it would now be something of a surprise if Sir Alex Ferguson left the 22-year-old out of his starting line-up at Old Trafford next week.

Not bad for a youngster brought up in the same Longsight district of Manchester as Wes Brown, born of parents who both hail from Ghana.

'It was a great feeling to get a goal at the Bernabeu,' said Welbeck.

'The whole occasion was immense, with the number of fans who travelled over and with it being such a big game.

Heads up: Danny Welbeck puts United ahead against Real Madrid

Heads up: Danny Welbeck puts United ahead against Real Madrid

'There was a little part of me thinking I have come a long way in a short space of time.
'But it is something I strived for since I was a little kid.

'I really wanted to play for Manchester United and that was one of the biggest games, so part of me did feel proud.

'But it also gave me the motivation to carry on and try to strive for more.'

Welbeck's lack of goals is rather strange considering he was England's top scorer in 2012 and has never previously found it a problem, even if he is not amongst the most prolific members of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad.

The answer, in his view, is simple, and comes from the role he was asked to carry out in the first leg; out wide, trying to counter whilst not forgetting defensive duties against a side so dangerous on the counter-attack.

'I have not really played in my favourite position,' he said. 'I like to play as a striker but a lot of the time I have been out wide.

'I would like to get more goals, but it is obviously more difficult to get them when you are playing in wider areas.”

Wayne Rooney has been given the same duties on a regular basis during his United career.

Indeed, he was repeating the job Welbeck was doing on the left down United's right-hand flank in Madrid last month, underlining his own selfless contribution to the cause.

It is anticipated more will be demanded of Rooney in attack at Old Trafford, which may mean a switch inside in preference to Shinji Kagawa, who nearly made an impact at the Bernabeu without actually managing it.

That move would possibly trigger a recall for Antonio Valencia, although clearly Ferguson does have options, as he does in the form of Tom Cleverley, Ryan Giggs and Anderson in central midfield if Phil Jones fails to recover from an ankle injury.

'It is the part of the season everyone looks forward to,' said Jonny Evans.

'We are involved in everything and the competitions are all coming in one week.

'The league is the one everyone wants to win but if you asked any player in the Premier League, they would want to play in the Champions League.

Getting on: Welbeck replaces Van Persie to take his chance

Getting on: Welbeck replaces Van Persie to take his chance

'Being at Manchester United, you want that every single season and matches against teams like Real Madrid are ones you need to cherish.

'But we can't just think about what a fantastic occasion it is. We also need to perform.'

Jan Vertonghen: Tottenham not finishing in top four is failure

Qualify for Champions League or we're failures, says Vertonghen

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

17:04 GMT, 18 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:22 GMT, 18 January 2013

Jan Vertonghen says Tottenham will have underachieved if they do not qualify for next season's Champions League – and insists Spurs can win the title in the future if they keep their squad together.

The defender has adapted well to English football and is a firm part of Andre Villas-Boas' regular starting line-up.

Vertonghen, who should play against Manchester United at White Hart Lane told the Evening Standard: 'We have one of the best squads in the League, we’re in the top four now and we can stay there.

Aiming high: Jan Vertonghen says not finishing in the top four is underachieving

Aiming high: Jan Vertonghen says not finishing in the top four is underachieving

'Of course, there are exceptional players elsewhere, Wayne Rooney, Van Persie, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, and at Chelsea as well. But we have 25 very good players, too.

'We can stay together, especially if we’re playing in the Champions League. I hope, one day, we can win the title. We’re capable of it but we need Champions League football to keep the good players here.

'Everyone wants to play in the competition and that’s what you saw with Luka Modric (who joined Real Madrid last summer), I guess. It’s important for the club, not a real disaster if it doesn’t happen, but important for the future.

'It would feel an underachievement if we didn’t do it (finish in the top four).

'We really want to play in the Champions League and I think we have the squad to get there.'

Their bid to re-join Europe's elite was hampered by the news that midfielder Sandro will be out for the remainder of the season.

The Brazilian had surgery on Tuesday after sustaining the injury in last weekend's 0-0 draw at QPR and is expected to miss the next six months.

And Sandro tweeted this picture of his leg following his operation accompanied with a defiant message.

In stitches: Sandro tweeted this picture of his leg on Friday

In stitches: Sandro tweeted this picture of his leg on Friday

'I've already overcome many obstacles… This is just one more,' he wrote.

Sandro has played an instrumental role
for Spurs so far this season, but Villas-Boas believes his squad boasts
enough quality to compensate for the midfielder’s absence.

He said: ‘The player is going to be out for the rest of the season. With any injury like that you’re looking at around six months out.

Ruled out: Andre Villas-Boas will miss the dynamic midfielder

Ruled out: Andre Villas-Boas will miss the dynamic midfielder

‘We were positive regarding his cruciate ligament, even during the initial assessment, because we felt there wasn’t a complete tear, but the ACL ligament and has torn completely; his lateral meniscus, too.

‘I think we will be fine. The only thing
we have done so far is to hold on to our midfielders. Jake’s
(Livermore) possible loan to another club (QPR) isn’t out of the
question, but we will hold on to that possibility. Scott Parker coming
back is a major boost.

Parker’s comeback from an achilles injury has come at a good time, while Spurs will wait until the end of the transfer window to decide whether to allow Livermore and Tom Huddlestone out on loan.

Oriol Romeu would welcome the signing of David Villa

Bienvenido! Spanish compatriot Romeu would welcome Villa's arrival at the Bridge

PUBLISHED:

20:24 GMT, 27 December 2012

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UPDATED:

20:24 GMT, 27 December 2012

Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu would welcome the signing of David Villa with open arms if the prolific Spain international ends up moving to Stamford Bridge during the transfer window.

Chelsea have been closely linked with a move for the 31-year-old striker, who has been in and out of the Barcelona starting line-up this season since returning from his long injury lay-off after breaking his leg.

Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said earlier this week the Nou Camp outfit had no intention of letting Villa leave in January.

Target: Chelsea want Fernando Torres's compatriot David Villa to move from Barcelona on loan

Target: Chelsea want Fernando Torres's compatriot David Villa to move from Barcelona on loan

But Romeu would be delighted if his fellow Spaniard did make the switch to Chelsea.

'I don't know that Villa's situation is, but if a great player like him comes, the record goalscorer with the national team, he would be welcomed and we would be happy,' said Romeu, quoted as telling Spanish radio show Esports Cope.

The Spanish midfielder underwent surgery on a serious knee injury earlier this month after starting four out of Rafa Benitez's first five games as manager of Chelsea.

Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta hopes Villa stays put, telling reporters today: 'I don't know if there's a chance (he could leave), I don't think so, although for me personally I wouldn't like it if he did, because Villa is a vital player.'

As reported in the Mail yesterday, Villa provides an attractive short-term solution for Chelsea.

The striker is Spain's record goalscorer with 53 international goals in 85 caps but does not fit the Barca ideal for young players with their best years ahead of him.

Torres and Villa formed a formidable partnership at International level but VIlla has only scored five goals in 18 appearances this season and is falling from favour.

Villa is understood to earn 110,000 a week, which is near the top of the Stamford Bridge pay structure but not out of reach.

He can operate at centre forward if
Torres is unavailable or play from wide either side, giving Benitez a
valuable option in his quest to rotate his support strikers and keep
them fresh.

With Daniel Sturridge on the move to Liverpool and Romelu Lukaku preferring to stay at West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea are without a recognised striker beyond Torres, and both Eden Hazard and Victor Moses have been tried in the role with little effect.

Transfer talk: Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu would be delighted if Barca striker David Villa arrived at Stamford Bridge

Transfer talk: Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu would be delighted if Barca striker David Villa arrived at Stamford Bridge

Dovetail Chelsea are looking for Villa to either merge with Spanish team mate Fernado Torres (right) or to provide cover for the striker as Daniel Sturridge may be on his way to Liverpool

Dovetail Chelsea are looking for Villa to either merge with Spanish team mate Fernado Torres (right) or to provide cover for the striker as Daniel Sturridge may be on his way to Liverpool

Northampton 9 Harlequins 18: Mike Brown wants to be full back

Northampton 9 Harlequins 18: Brown throws down the gauntlet as he drives Quins on

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UPDATED:

22:13 GMT, 22 December 2012

Mike Brown has made it known to Stuart Lancaster that he is not content to play on the wing for England and wants to be selected as full back. If Saturday is anything to go by, the feisty Harlequin may yet get his way.

In front of the watching England head coach, Brown produced a stellar performance as the last line of defence in difficult conditions to take the man-of-the-match award.

Harlequins grabbed a vital win over title contenders Northampton to maintain their position at the top of the Aviva Premiership.

Not content: Mike Brown says he wants to play at full-back

Not content: Mike Brown says he wants to play at full-back

Even better for the 27-year-old was
the fact that Ben Foden was playing opposite him. Foden was back from
the ankle injury that kept him out of the autumn internationals in which
Brown started the last two Tests on the wing to great effect, while
Alex Goode played at full back.

Foden will be expected to press for a
start when England reconvene for the Calcutta Cup match against Scotland
at Twickenham in February in the opening RBS Six Nations match.

But he may struggle to make the
starting line-up, while Goode has been thrown down a direct challenge by
Brown — happy to play on the wing for his country, but preferring to
start at the back.

Getting his kicks: Nick Evans had an extremely productive day

Getting his kicks: Nick Evans had an extremely productive day

Quins director of rugby Conor O’Shea
revealed last night that a four-man discussion took place at training
the day before Harlequins thrashed Zebre in the Heineken Cup last
weekend between Brown, O’Shea himself, Lancaster and England backs coach
Andy Farrell.

Brown made it clear he wanted to play
as full back. ‘Mike wants to play for England and, in my opinion, you
always play your best team,’ said former Ireland full back O’Shea, who
picked him in his favoured position on Saturday.

‘Stuart and Andy came down to watch
training the other week and the four of us had a chat about it. Browny
will play anywhere for England and he had a great autumn series, but
given a choice it’s at full back where he really wants to play.’

On the run: Ben Foden breaks through the tackles of Ugo Monye and Mike Brown

On the run: Ben Foden breaks through the tackles of Ugo Monye and Mike Brown

The watching Lancaster would have
noticed Brown’s commanding display and the way natural playmakers such
as scrum half Danny Care sensibly curbed their enthusiasm to play cute
in such wet, slippery and muddy conditions. There was also another
physical performance from No 8 Nick Easter, who remains out of England
reckoning.

But Lancaster would also have felt
some sympathy for Foden, who managed to burst his way across the Quins
line in the 22nd minute and score, only to find out that the pass from
George Pisi was judged forward.

Replays revealed that this was a
highly dubious decision and even O’Shea conceded it was probably a try.
‘The pass looked pretty flat to me,’ he added. ‘In these games, the
margins are always very tight.’

At that stage the score was 3-3, with
Nick Evans and Stephen Myler scoring penalties. Myler twice kicked for
the corner rather than attempting the three points after Foden’s
disallowed try. A further penalty from Evans gave the visitors a narrow
interval lead.

Battle: A tight match was won by Harlequins

Battle: A tight match was won by Harlequins

Myler equalised in the 58th minute but
three further penalties from Evans earned Quins a nine point lead. Ryan
Lamb reduced the arrears to six points seven minutes from time but
Evans, with the last kick of the game, confirmed a vital win for the
Londoners — 14 out of 17 this season in all competitions — and robbed
the Saints of even a losing bonus point.

Jim Mallinder, surveying the wreckage
of a fourth home defeat in five, was understandably frustrated
afterwards, especially regarding the Foden ‘try’ that was not given.

‘It’s ridiculous that with all the
technology on hand we don’t use it for situations like that,’ he said,
accepting that referee Wayne Barnes had already blown on the advice of
his touch judge, thus removing any role for the TV official.

As for Quins, with Brown in such imperious form, life looks bright.

Phil Neville ready to return for Everton three weeks early

Everton boost as captain Neville stays on course for return three weeks early

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 18 December 2012

Phil Neville is in contention to return to Everton's starting line-up this weekend three weeks ahead of schedule following a knee operation.

The Toffees captain underwent surgery to clean up his knee 33 days ago and it was initially feared he would be out for eight weeks.

However, his rehabilitation has gone so well that manager David Moyes is considering starting him against West Ham on Saturday. Neville's return would offset the loss of the suspended Marouane Fellaini.

Fitness fight: Phil Neville could return to action ahead of schedule from surgery

Fitness fight: Phil Neville could return to action ahead of schedule from surgery

Chelsea mobbed at airport in Japan as they land for Club World Cup

Warm welcome: Chelsea mobbed at airport as they land in Japan for Club World Cup

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UPDATED:

13:41 GMT, 9 December 2012

Chelsea received a fantastic welcome as they landed in Japan to participate in the Club World Cup.

The players were mobbed at Narita International Airport by adoring fans, who were clearly overjoyed to see the Champions League winners in the flesh.

Frank Lampard, who returned to action on Saturday against Sunderland was a particularly popular figure – and he stopped to sign some shirts and greet the supporters.

Pen in hand: Frank Lampard signs shirts for fans at the airport in Narita

Pen in hand: Frank Lampard signs shirts for fans at the airport in Narita

Happy man: Fernando Torres was smiling as he landed in Japan

Happy man: Fernando Torres was smiling as he landed in Japan

Red carpet Chelsea youngster Oscar has not been in many starting line-ups recently

Red carpet Chelsea youngster Oscar has not been in many starting line-ups recently

Manager Rafael Benitez would have been happy to meet some Blues fans who were not calling for his head.

The triumph over Sunderland saw the Chelsea boss record his first top flight victory after being controversially appointed by Roman Abramovich in place of club legend Roberto Di Matteo.

Chelsea will take on Mexican side Monterrey on Thursday morning in the semi-final of the competition.

Benitez said: 'The team still can improve, so it's a question of time.

'Training sessions before games, you have just two or three sessions and you cannot improve everything that you want to improve.

'But we will have more time, maybe, in Japan, three days in the hotel. We can talk, we can analyse more things and little by little, they will get to the level at which we want to see them.'

Better still, striker Fernando
Torres looked happy as he made his way through the airport, as well he
might after ending his Barclays Premier League drought with a double
against the Black Cats.

The striker had cut a miserable figure in recent weeks but was grinning on Saturday and smiling again this morning.

On the aeroplane he sat next to the other Blues' goalscorer in Chelsea's 3-1 victory, Juan Mata.

Spain stars Torres and Mata were the stars of
the show – the former nearly grabbed a hat-trick.

Warm welcome: Rafael Benitez strides through the airport ahead of the Chelsea pack

Warm welcome: Rafael Benitez strides through the airport ahead of the Chelsea pack

Ready for action: John Obi Mikel missed Saturday's game but should start on Thursday

Ready for action: John Obi Mikel missed Saturday's game but should start on Thursday

Hands man: Keeper Petr Cech reaches out to sign a shirt for a fan

Hands man: Keeper Petr Cech reaches out to sign a shirt for a fan

His venomous strike
smashed off the frame of the goal and fell to his compatriot, who
finished from close range.

Most impressively he demanded to
take a penalty – his first in English football – showing confidence
which had previously been missing.

Pals: Fernando Torres with Juan Mata, who tweeted: 'Off to Japan after a good victory at Sunderland! 12 hours trip close to the guy who scored a double...'

Pals: Fernando Torres with Juan Mata, who tweeted: 'Off to Japan after a good victory at Sunderland! 12 hours trip close to the guy who scored a double…'

Chelsea will be missing another Spaniard, Oriol Romeu, after he sustained an injury during the match at the Stadium of Light.

But they will be boosted by the return of John Obi Mikel, who missed Saturday's clash through suspension, and of Lampard.

The England midfielder made his return from a six-week lay-off as a substitute for Eden Hazard with 10 minutes remaining.

Greetings: Chelsea players would have felt right at home

Greetings: Chelsea players would have felt right at home

Hello geezers: David Luiz gives the fans the thumbs up sign

Hello geezers: David Luiz gives the fans the thumbs up sign

He told Chelsea TV: 'I felt fine. I had to be careful this time because of a recurrence I had last time, and even though I have been desperate to get back, I have been putting in the hours in the gym to make sure it's got a strong base.

'From now, I should be fit, touch wood. It's all good with it.'

Chelsea players and staff boarded their flight to the Far East after the game.

In uniform: Ramires and Paulo Ferreira

In uniform: Ramires and Paulo Ferreira

Monterrey set up the Yokahoma semi-final clash by beating South
Korea's Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 this morning.

Argentine striker Cesar Delgado, formerly of Lyon, struck twice after Jesus Corona opened the scoring early on.

The Asian champions managed to get on the scoresheet two minutes from time with Lee Keun-ho firing home from distance.

Opener: Monterrey's Jesus Corona wheels away after scoring

Opener: Monterrey's Jesus Corona wheels away after scoring

At the double: Cesar Delgado struck twice to set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea

At the double: Cesar Delgado struck twice to set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea

Benitez knows the Club World Cup
tournament well having taken Liverpool to the final in 2005 and won it
with Inter Milan five years later.

He said: 'It's important always to have these opportunities to win any trophy, and especially a trophy like this one.

'We played the final in Japan in
2005, we won two years ago. It was a great experience for me and
hopefully it will be a great experience for our players.

Dispatched: Torres stroked home his penalty with style

Dispatched: Torres stroked home his penalty with style

'It will be a fantastic experience.
Yes, we are concerned because we know it will be very difficult, but we
are working very hard trying to organise everything properly.

'Maybe it will not be ideal because
you don't have too much time and you have to go and you have to play a
game in three days' time.

'But we will try to do our best,
obviously. It's not easy. The doctor and the fitness coaches are a
little bit crazy now, but we will try to do our best.'

Scarlets 16 Exeter 22: Steenson"s boot secures Chiefs" first Heineken Cup victory

Scarlets 16 Exeter 22: Steenson's boot secures Chiefs' first Heineken Cup victory

PUBLISHED:

16:45 GMT, 8 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

16:45 GMT, 8 December 2012

Outside-half Gareth Steenson kicked 17 points as Exeter secured their first-ever Heineken Cup win with a Pool Five success over Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets.

Scrum-half Haydn Thomas gave the visitors the perfect start with a try on five minutes and the Chiefs led throughout from there on.

The Scarlets, who saw Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland carried from the field with an ankle injury in the second half, did grab back a late penalty try from a scrum but it was not enough as they crashed to a third straight European defeat.

The Scarlets were without wing George North with a hip injury but six Wales squad members returned to their starting line-up including Jonathan Davies who captained the region.

On the run: Gonzalo Camacho charges through the Scarlets defence

On the run: Gonzalo Camacho charges through the Scarlets defence

Exeter made six changes with Argentina winger Gonzalo Camacho starting and centre Sireli Naqelevuki returning to the side.

The Scarlets went through the phases after Richard Kelly won the kick-off but it was the Chiefs who made their mark with their first-ever Heineken Cup try after five minutes.

From a scrum full-back Luke Arscott made a break through midfield and Thomas was on his shoulder to go over. Steenson added the extras.

But the Scarlets responded almost immediately with a 30 metre penalty goal from Priestland to make it 7-3 after eight minutes.

That Scarlets score was cancelled out on 12 minutes with a Steenson penalty after the home pack had stood up in a scrum on their line.

Both sides were forced into significant changes in personnel. Scarlets lost tight-head prop Lee and Chiefs replaced Thomas.

And Steenson was on target again to extend the Chiefs lead to 10 points after Scarlets were caught offside from an Aled Davies box kick.

Stopped in his tracks: Scarlets' Richard Kelly is tackled by Sireli Naqelevuki

Stopped in his tracks: Scarlets' Richard Kelly is tackled by Sireli Naqelevuki

The Scarlets got themselves in a good attacking position but knocked the ball on at a ruck with Andy Fenby isolated.

But from the resulting scrum the Scarlets earned a penalty on the 30-minute mark which Priestland converted.

Chiefs responded with a third Steenson penalty after the Scarlets found themselves under pressure at the scrum, while Priestland missed a penalty from inside his own penalty two minutes before the interval.

The Chiefs produced an impressive attack from the kick off but a knock-on five metres out prevented them extending their 16-6 interval lead.

The Scarlets suffered a real setback when Priestland was carried off after picking up an ankle injury when he slipped when in possession. He was replaced by Aled Thomas.

And it got worse for the home side as Steenson was on target with his fourth penalty goal on 49 minutes to restore a 13-point lead.

Ganging up: Kevin Barrett is tackled by Scarlets' Johnathan Edwards and Phil John

Ganging up: Kevin Barrett is tackled by Scarlets' Johnathan Edwards and Phil John

Aled Thomas kicked a fine long range penalty but that was cancelled out four minutes later with Steenson's fifth penalty shot as Chiefs led 22-9 on the hour mark.

But despite their lead the Chiefs were forced to defend their 22 and in the process lost prop Ben Moon to the sin bin for collapsing a scrum

And with the extra man the Scarlets earned a penalty try from French referee Mathieu Raynal on 67 minutes to cut the Chiefs lead to 22-16

The Scarlets went in search of the winning score but despite hammering at Exeter's 22 the visitors held on for a famous win.

Exeter 30 Wasps 23: Chiefs take charge as Wasps" homesick habit continues

Exeter 30 Wasps 23: Chiefs take charge as Wasps' homesick habit continues

PUBLISHED:

20:12 GMT, 1 December 2012

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UPDATED:

20:12 GMT, 1 December 2012

Exeter remain unbeaten at Sandy Park
this season as they moved up to fifth place in the Aviva Premiership
table, for at least 24 hours.

The scores were level at 20-20 at
half-time, with both sides scoring two tries in the second quarter – the
visitors' second coming from a blatant forward pass which questions why
TMOs are not at every Premiership match.

Both sides battled and were battered
after the break with the Chiefs scoring a converted try and a penalty,
while Wasps secured a losing bonus point with a penalty from replacement
Tommy Bell just before the final whistle.

Try hard: Exeter's Phil Dollman scores

Try hard: Exeter's Phil Dollman scores

Exeter, buoyed by their win at London Irish last Sunday, named an unchanged starting line-up and replacements bench for this encounter.

The visitors made three changes from the starting line-up that beat Leicester 14-12, with Lee Thomas at inside centre, Samoan international Zak Taulafo at loosehead prop and England's Tom Palmer in the second row.

The Chiefs took the game to the visitors and they were rewarded with a penalty after just three minutes when the opposition failed to roll away from the breakdown and fly-half Gareth Steenson slotted the ball between the uprights.

The home side were guilty of the same offence minutes later at the other end and centre Luke Thomas levelled the scores from just inside the 22.

Controversy: Tom Varndell streaks clear to score for Wasps, but only after a clear forward pass

Controversy: Tom Varndell streaks clear to score for Wasps, but only after a clear forward pass

However, Steenson replied with a 45-metre penalty after the visitors failed to roll away at the tackle.

The first tryscoring opportunity came the way of Wasps but wing Tom Varndell was unable to cleanly take the pass as full-back Luke Arscott was guarding his own line and the Chiefs cleared upfield at the resultant scrum.

The visitors continued to look dangerous as fly-half Nick Robinson put a grubber kick through but Varndell was unable to collect.

But the pressure continued as centre Elliot Daly burst through to squeeze in at the corner.

Thomas added the extras and then added his second penalty from 22 metres as the Chiefs strayed offside as they defended their line.

On the charge: Wasps' Lee Thomas powers through

On the charge: Wasps' Lee Thomas powers through

The home side then mounted an attack from inside their own 22 through Steenson, who raced away with centre Phil Dollman up in support to take on the charge – but was stopped 10 metres short.

London Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson was yellow carded for a professional foul at the tackle.

Exeter took advantage of the extra man and the scrum drove over the line with hooker Chris Whitehead getting the touchdown and Steenson added the extras to again draw the scores level.

The referee and his assistants were then caught napping as Christian Wade put Varndell clear with a clear forward pass but with no TMO the try was awarded, to the disgust of the Sandy Park crowd and Thomas again converted.

Holding out: Exeter's Jason Shoemark holds off Wasps' Christian Wade

Holding out: Exeter's Jason Shoemark holds off Wasps' Christian Wade

Varndell was then forced to take the ball back over his own line as Arscott was chasing a kick ahead from centre Jason Shoemark.

At the scrum Haydn Thomas picked up at the base and the scrum half went over under the sticks with Steenson converting.

With the scores level at 20-20 at the break, the Chiefs started the second period strongly but missed a chance to take the lead when Steenson's penalty from out on the right hit the far upright.

Wing Jack Nowell broke and then chipped ahead but was taken out by Daly and referee Andrew Small showed the outside centre a yellow card, Steenson's penalty putting the Chiefs back in front.

Good hands: Exeter's Gareth Steenson feeds a pass

Good hands: Exeter's Gareth Steenson feeds a pass

The Chiefs looked set to take advantage of the extra man at the pick and drive with prop Brett Sturgess coming the closest to crossing the whitewash – but the home side were penalised for going off their feet.

Still with the extra man the Chiefs kept battering the Wasps line, working the ball into the middle where Arscott perfectly kicked ahead and Dollman collected before diving over in the corner.

Steenson converted from the touchline.

Wasps secured a losing bonus point with Bell's penalty at the end – but their search for a first victory on the road in the league since October 2011 continues.