Tag Archives: stellar

Gareth Bale to sign for Barcelona says Gerard Pique

We'd love to have Bale at Barcelona, says Catalan giants' defender Pique

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

11:26 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

Gareth Bale has been told he would be a great fit for Barcelona by the Catalan giants’ defender Gerard Pique.

Pique, who has made 29 appearances for Barca this season, said the La Liga leaders’ dressing room is always awash with talk of English football, and Bale is a hot topic.

Bale has scored ten goals in his last eight games for Tottenham, and will face fellow Player of the Year contender Luis Suarez when Spurs travel to Liverpool in the Premier League today.

Perfect fit: Pique said Tottenham's Gareth Bale is an 'unbelievable player' good enough to play for any side

Perfect fit: Pique said Tottenham's Gareth Bale is an 'unbelievable player' good enough to play for any side

And his stellar performances have caught the eye of Barcelona, where Pique is a huge admirer.

‘He is an unbelievable player, a great player – he has with all the conditions to play in the team that he wants to,’ Pique told the BBC.

‘He's doing a great job at Tottenham, and we will see. We want to have all the best players in our team.

Sensation: Bale (centre), tearing through the Inter Milan on Thursday, has scored ten in eight for Spurs

Sensation: Bale (centre), tearing through the Inter Milan on Thursday, has scored ten in eight for Spurs

‘It’s true that maybe, because he’s really quick and with the power he’s got, he fits a bit better at Real Madrid, but he can play here too definitely.

‘The best players can fit in any team, no matter the style.’

Pique, who re-joined boyhood club Barcelona from Manchester United in 2008, said the Premier League is also a reason to poke fun at one of his team-mates.

Hot topic: Pique (left), challenging Cristiano Ronaldo, said English football is always discussed at Barcelona

Hot topic: Pique (left), challenging Cristiano Ronaldo, said English football is always discussed at Barcelona

‘Fabregas loves to talk about Arsenal – but we say they have no chance to win anything this year!’ he said.

Barcelona are currently 14 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga, but face a difficult task on Tuesday at the Nou Camp to overcome a two-goal deficit against AC Milan in the Champions League.

Stewart Downing concentrating on Liverpool"s team display

Downing thrilled with Liverpool's superb display as they put Cottagers to the sword

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 22 December 2012

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing preferred to focus on an excellent team effort rather than his own performance after inspiring the Reds to a 4-0 rout of Fulham tonight.

Downing registered his first league assist for the Merseysiders in setting up Steven Gerrard – after Martin Skrtel's opener – and capped his performance with a goal of his own before Luis Suarez added an injury-time fourth.

Despite a stellar performance, the England international played down his role as Liverpool bounced back in emphatic style from last week's 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa.

Nice work: Stewart Downing (second left) is congratulated after scoring

Nice work: Stewart Downing (second left) is congratulated after scoring

'Coming off a bad result against Villa, we let ourselves down, and the manager said we had to bounce back tonight and I thought we did that in style,' he told ESPN.

'I'm just trying to work hard and take the opportunity when I'm given it. I'm here to play and as long as I get the opportunity I'll try my best.'

Both Downing and defender Skrtel are now desperate to use the win as a springboard to greater things after Liverpool moved up to eighth in the Barclays Premier League.

'I think we've been a bit nervy at home at times but I think it's time to get a ruthlessness at home,' said Downing.

'The goals you've seen tonight are four quality goals and it's a case of doing it consistently and not now and again.

'We need to kick on in the new year and climb the table.'

Slovakia international Skrtel added: “We've got a target for the top four at the end of the season and now we just want to be as close as we can.'

Only last week Downing had admitted he may leave in the January transfer window after manager Brendan Rodgers said he could go.

The 20million signing has been held up as an example of Liverpool's wastefulness in the transfer market over the last few years.

Previous manager Kenny Dalglish certainly did not get his money's worth out of the winger and Rodgers has so far hardly attempted to as this was only Downing's sixth Premier League start of his reign.

He has mostly been confined to the Europa League and has even been played at left-back occasionally as Rodgers tried to find some use for him.

Rodgers was quick to hail the 28-year-old tonight, however, and insisted he never wanted Downing to leave Anfield.

'Stewart's been brilliant, he's a real good guy. I want him to be a part of the group here but at his age, we talked at him playing regularly and if the opportunity had come for him to go then him and I would look at it,' said the Northern Irishman.

Tucked away: Brendan Rodgers hailed the winger after a good showing

Tucked away: Brendan Rodgers hailed the winger after a good showing

'But the reaction from that conversation six or seven weeks ago has been outstanding.

'He's played a lot of games and today I thought he was brilliant.

'If he keeps playing like that then he'll be in the team so there's no need for him to leave to get a game.

'I always have wanted him to stay. it's not about me pushing him out the door, he's a quality player.

'When you arrive in the latter part of your twenties and you want to be playing regular and obviously he wasn't at the time.'

Simmer down: Downing hit back at the critics with a man-of-the-match performance

Simmer down: Downing hit back at the critics with a man-of-the-match performance

Of his side's overall performance, Rodgers added: 'We performed as well as that in a lot of the games to be honest but never always got the result.

'Today was outstanding in every element of our game.'

Martin Jol admitted Fulham had let themselves down.

'We conceded cheap goals and then we played against ourselves because there were too many disappointments,' said the Dutchman.

'Overall it wasn't good enough.'

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.

Scott Parker scores for Tottenham reserves

Great Scott! Tottenham's Parker makes goalscoring return in U21 match against Villa

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UPDATED:

00:10 GMT, 18 December 2012

Scott Parker continued his steady return to football by netting for Tottenham's Under 21s this evening.

The England international, who is being gradually eased back into football after an achilles injury, scored on the stroke of half-time as part of the Tottenham Under 21 outfit who travelled to Aston Villa this evening.

Parker, who scored Spurs' second goal in a convincing 3-0 win, made a cameo appearance on Sunday for Tottenham's senior squad when they beat Swansea 1-0 at White Hart Lane.

Back in the goals: Scott Parker scored for Tottenham's Under 21s when they travelled to Aston Villa

Back in the goals: Scott Parker scored for Tottenham's Under 21s when they travelled to Aston Villa

The 32-year-old had not played for Tottenham all season before Sunday's victory, and was only handed a couple of minutes' football when he replaced Mousa Dembele late in the match.

The former Charlton, Chelsea and West Ham midfielder was given a start this evening for Tottenham's Under 21s.

Having recently returned to football after picking up the injury with Roy Hodgson's England team at Euro 2012, Parker wasted little time back on the pitch tonight by coolly slotting home after 45 minutes.

When fully fit, Parker still faces a tough task of forcing his way back into the Tottenham first team.

Dembele has looked like an incredible signing since his arrival from Fulham this summer, and Sandro has proved to be an integral member of Villas-Boas' squad with some stellar performances this term.

Meanwhile,Tottenham left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto could also be fit to play against Stoke at home on Saturday after being out for three months with a knee injury.

Welcome back: Parker received a couple of minutes' football when he replaced Mousa Dembele against Swansea

Welcome back: Parker received a couple of minutes' football when he replaced Mousa Dembele against Swansea

Brazilian Grand Prix 2012: What next for Lewis Hamilton, McLaren and Bernie Ecclestone?

A fine season… so what happens next for Hamilton, McLaren and Bernie

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 25 November 2012

Has the championship got the right winner Yes, if fusion between car and driver is paramount. But Fernando Alonso, 31 and at the pinnacle of his powers, was the supreme driver of the season in a Ferrari inferior to Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.

Let's not quibble: we can just say we were privileged to watch two of the greats in a memorable fight.

Was it a stellar season What an opening sequence of races and what an unforgettable, rain-speckled climax yesterday. Eight winners and some exciting races indicate it has been a tremendous year.

Centre of attention: Vettel celebrates his third title on the spin and with Adrian Newey and Christian Horner (below)

Centre of attention: Vettel celebrates his third title on the spin and with Adrian Newey and Christian Horner (below)

Centre of attention: Vettel celebrates his third title on the spin and with Adrian Newey and Christian Horner (below)

But, still, we can aim this warning at the Formula One bubble: go easy on the tyre fetish. Fast-wearing rubber distorts races, disadvantages aggressive driving and the tyre debate clogs up television air space with tedious discussion that can only turn away the casual fan – option, prime, hard, soft, super-soft, medium-compound tyres Please get a grip.

What about next year – will Vettel win the title again With ace designer Adrian Newey and his 2B pencils at the ready, Vettel is likely to start as favourite. He will be just 26 next year. When will his dominance end

And Hamilton Can he win next year now he has moved to Mercedes Yes, even if he has merely an adequate car like this year's Mercedes. We know that because Nico Rosberg won in China and he is no Hamilton-esque force of nature.

End of the road: Hamilton was forced into an early retirement after a collision with Nico Hulkenberg

End of the road: Hamilton was forced into an early retirement after a collision with Nico Hulkenberg

End of the road: Hamilton was forced into an early retirement after a collision with Nico Hulkenberg

Remember 2009 and that poor McLaren Hamilton drove the wheels off it to win two races. A better chance of season-long success is presented by the major rule changes for 2014, when Mercedes will be one of just three manufacturers making the new turbo engines.

Nevertheless, McLaren are a team with winning pedigree. Will Hamilton regret leaving them No time soon. He finally found McLaren so claustrophobic that one team principal privately said he thought Hamilton would have rather taken a year out than stay.

As for McLaren, we should guard against the Anglophone narrative that tells of their unending brilliance. They have won nothing under Martin Whitmarsh, whose benign leadership contrasts with the sharp-edged style of predecessor Ron Dennis. It invites indecision where there was direction. The appointment of Sam Michael, a flop at Williams, as sporting director is baffling.

That's handy: Hamilton congratulates Vettel on his third world title

That's handy: Hamilton congratulates Vettel on his third world title

How will Hamilton's replacement, Sergio Perez, gel with Jenson Button Perez has not scored a point since he was named as a McLaren driver in September. He can hardly be expected to win races straight away, which is hardly satisfactory for a team of McLaren's significance.

All credit to Button for the way he has prospered in what many thought was Hamilton's domain. His charm has won round the team and his skills have shown he is a consistently high performer. But is he a McLaren No 1 And, if Perez is unproven, why did McLaren plump for him

Out of the race: Perez is without a point since his move to McLaren was announced

Out of the race: Perez is without a point since his move to McLaren was announced

Given that questions surround their finances, with Vodafone rumoured to be stalling over a sponsorship deal, Perez's backing from Carlos Slim Domit, eldest son of the world's richest man who owns telecoms giant Telmex, is a persuasive explanation.

Would a cash-rich McLaren not have re-signed Kimi Raikkonen Or if they were intent on youth, why not the superior Nico Hulkenberg, 25

What should we look out for this winter Like Bernie Ecclestone's lawyers, we turn our eyes to Germany, where prosecutors are pondering whether to charge the 82-year-old with bribery.

It is claimed he paid banker Gerhard Gribkowksy 30million to sell F1 to CVC, the private equity firm on whose behalf Ecclestone now runs the sport at a reduced rate. Gribkowksy has been jailed but Ecclestone denies any wrongdoing and his lawyers are working frantically on his behalf.

He has had some tight scrapes in the past and this is yet another he will have to deal with. We will find out in the next few months whether he is indicted. If he is, it is likely to precipitate the biggest shake-up in the sport's hierarchy since Ecclestone and Max Mosley seized control 35 years ago.

Jess Varnish: I"m trying to rebuild my life after Olympic nightmare

While Vicky stars in Strictly, I'll be trying to rebuild my own life after Olympic nightmare

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UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 29 September 2012

Even now, two months after her heart was broken in London's Velodrome, Jess Varnish admits that the pain of disqualification from the Olympics is no easier to bear.

'It felt like someone had died,' she said. 'I knew it was wrong to feel like that and I told myself to pull myself together. I know it wasn't anything important in the real world but at that time, in that stadium, the Olympics were everything to me. It was like life or death.'

Horror: The moment Varnish and Victoria Pendleton messed up their changeover in the team sprint at London 2012

Horror: The moment Varnish and Victoria Pendleton messed up their changeover in the team sprint at London 2012

On Friday night, Victoria Pendleton will be watched by a television audience of millions as she takes a starring role in the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing, the first act in her new life since her retirement from sport after a much-garlanded career.

At the same time, thousands of miles away in South America, Varnish will be preparing to race for the first time since the infamous moment when, in partnership with Pendleton, her own Olympic dreams were shattered as the pair were disqualified in the women's team sprint, an event in which the Britons, who had broken the world record in qualifying, were favourites for the gold medal.

Shaping up: Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton in rehearsals for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing

Shaping up: Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton in rehearsals for the
new series of Strictly Come Dancing

While Pendleton knew she would be returning to the Veldrome for two further events, winning the keirin to claim the second Olympic gold medal of her stellar career as well as a silver in the individual sprint to add to the gold she had won at Beijing in 2008, Varnish vanished into the shadows.

For her, two and a half years' dedication were destroyed in the blink of an eye as they failed to make a legal changeover in the team sprint and were disqualified in the semi-finals.

Now Varnish must start out on the road to redemption – and the Rio Olympics in 2016. For the bright-eyed 21-year-old from Bromsgrove, the journey begins at a World Cup event in Colombia in 11 days' time.

Her expectations are not high, having started to train again only four weeks ago. Varnish says she cried alone during the sleepless nights that followed her disqualification in London, but remained with the team to provide support and encouragement as Pendleton's roommate in the Athletes Village.

'I was helping Vicky out, getting her food when she didn't want to stay in the apartment,' she recalled.

'It was her last-ever competition and I wanted her to go out with a bang. And she did.' Varnish was holding Pendleton's 10-week-old nephew, Nathan, in the Velodrome when Britain's best-known woman cyclist restored her reputation by winning the gold medal in the keiren 24 hours after being evicted from the team sprint. 'I ended up crying all over again,' said Varnish.

'I was happy to be with Vicky's family, sharing the moment with them, but it was sad to be back in the stadium where nothing had changed, really.'

Her parents had tried to comfort her on the night her world collapsed. 'We went to dinner but I didn't want to eat,' she said.

'I didn't want to do anything; but you can't really explain how you feel because you feel pathetic.

'It was hard to stay in the Village, to be around a team where almost everyone else had got gold medals apart from me. The Olympics had been all I thought of for two and a half years, just focusing on that one lap. I was crying a lot, but there was no one in the team I could talk to as I didn't want to affect the performances of others.

'But it was the right thing to support the team in any way I could and I'm proud of the way I reacted. But people think I am tougher than I actually am. I couldn't sleep for days afterwards.'

Varnish will continue her regular sessions with sports psychologist Steve Peters, the man Pendleton always called her 'mind mechanic', as her life gets back to normal.

Downer: Pendleton (right) and Varnish react after being disqualified

Downer: Pendleton (right) and Varnish react after being disqualified

She misses Pendleton and they still meet regularly for coffee or dinner when time permits. Varnish laughs at the pain her friend has undergone in training for Strictly.

'She can only wear Ugg boots because her feet hurt so much,' said Varnish. 'Of course, we've spoken about what happened, and tell one another we had a medal stolen from us.'

As for the changeover that cost Varnish her dream, she remains angry that she and Pendleton could have made such a crucial error.

'As the lead rider, I had to pull up at a certain place and Vicky had to come through at a certain place,' said Varnish.

'We missed that point by a couple of centimetres, by one-hundredth of a second. But at the Olympics the judges were going to be on to that. You saw it happen to others; it happened to the Chinese after they thought they had won the gold medal.

Downcast: Jess Varnish reveals the heartache of missing out on the gold medal

Downcast: Jess Varnish reveals the heartache of missing out on the gold medal

'I was angry with what happened to us then and I'm still furious now. If you weren't angry at being disqualified from the Olympic Games, I think you'd have a problem. But I understand that I'm only 21, there is so much in my life and I have so much fire in my belly to prove that I've got what it takes.'

Varnish has never watched a replay of her Olympics and never will. 'What's the point' she said.

'But I know this will make me stronger. I don't think anything worse can happen in my cycling career unless I have a really bad crash.'

In the last week of the Games, Varnish at least had the distraction of assisting her boyfriend, BMX rider Liam Phillips.

'Liam made the Olympic final but he crashed at the last turn,' she said. 'We just had to laugh! When we talk about the Olympics, we ask each other: “What the hell happened”'

Track Cycling – October 11-13 Cali (Colombia)

London Paralympics 2012: Golden boy Lee Pearson proud to claim silver

Perfect record ended but Brit Pearson proud to claim silver after tough year

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UPDATED:

17:49 GMT, 1 September 2012

British equestrian star Lee Pearson
lost his long unbeaten record in the Paralympic Games at Greenwich Park –
but he was far from disconsolate.

Pearson, 38, was firm favourite for a 10th gold medal of a stellar career in the para-dressage Grade Ib individual championship.

Proud: Great Britain's Lee Pearson with his silver medal

Proud: Great Britain's Lee Pearson with his silver medal

But Australian Paralympic debutant Joann Formosa, 13 years Pearson's senior, had other ideas as a score of 75.826% aboard Worldwide PB gave her a shock gold medal.

Pearson and Gentleman had to settle for second on 75.391%, just in front of Austrian Pepo Puch and Fine Feeling with 75.043%.

With the team title Britain's to lose tomorrow, Pearson had looked set to reach the magic figure of a British record 12 Paralympic golds – one more than Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Roberts – by winning the Grade Ib freestyle on Monday.

But after securing gold medal hat-tricks at Sydney 2000, Athens four years later and then Beijing in 2008, the 100% record is now over, although Britain did have a gold to celebrate today with 22-year-old Natasha Baker's Grade II triumph.

'I am really happy,' Pearson said.

'You might not understand how that can be, but it was a really tough competition and it has been a tough year.

'I am over the moon to medal here. The gold would have been amazing, but it doesn't mean I am not pleased with silver, and that is genuine.

Great Britain's Lee Pearson

Great Britain's Lee Pearson

'I could easily have not medalled today. I know the media like the story of the numbers game with the golds, but to come here and get a silver medal I am genuinely pleased.

'I am as proud of this medal as I am of my gold medals on the wall back home, and I am quite emotional for Joann. I know what it means to win a gold medal, so I am really, really happy for her.

'I had more nerves today than ever before in my life.

'I couldn't go near the stables beforehand, I just drove around the Olympic Park at Stratford getting people to talk to me to get my mind off riding.'

Formosa's victory was made all the more remarkable by the fact she has only had her horse for seven months and was making her international debut on him.

But the Melbourne rider will now go down in Paralympic history as the first rider to beat Pearson.

'I think I will probably pass out when I realised what I have achieved. I could talk the talk, but now I can walk the walk,' she said.

'I came here to win. I wanted gold, and I knew my horse and I could do it because we are so passionate about it.

'This has been my goal all my life. The flame has been there in my heart, and I just love riding.

'My horse is in peak condition – one of the physios told me he is like a fine Cuban cigar.'

London 2012 Olympics: Hockey: Team GB beat Pakistan

Team GB 4 Pakistan 1: Classy Jackson inspires hosts to emphatic victory

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UPDATED:

17:21 GMT, 3 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Great Britain midfielder Ashley Jackson inspired his side to a comfortable victory over Pakistan with a performance befitting his stature as one of the world's top players.

The 24-year-old was at the heart of almost everything as the hosts rediscovered their attacking flair, contributing two second-half goals to ensure there was no repeat of their late capitulation against South Africa.

Coach Jason Lee had criticised his players for their lacklustre approach in Wednesday's 2-2 draw – where they conceded two late goals and salvaged a point even later – but there was no repeat this time around.

Brilliant: Ashley Jackson celebrated after scoring for the hosts during another stellar performance

Brilliant: Ashley Jackson celebrated after scoring for the hosts during another stellar performance

It took only four minutes for them to make their mark when Jackson's run into the right side of the circle allowed Jonty Clarke to cross and while the diving Iain McKay missed, James Tindall was on hand to convert on his reverse-stick.

Jackson had a penalty corner saved on the line by Rashid Mahmood and while Great Britain could not take advantage when Pakistan were briefly reduced to nine men – confusion reigning as they were apparently punished for having too many players on the field – they gave themselves a cushion just before the interval.

In a superb passage of play, Jackson picked out Nick Catlin in a similar position to where the first goal was created, and when he squared, Clarke had only to take a touch before slotting into an empty net.

James Tindall (centre) hammers the ball during Team GB's easy victory over Pakistan

James Tindall (centre) hammers the ball during Team GB's easy victory over Pakistan

Coasting: Glenn Kirkham (left) looks to pass the ball to a team-mate

Coasting: Glenn Kirkham (left) looks to pass the ball to a team-mate

Within a minute of the second half starting Pakistan won three successive penalty corners but goalkeeper James Fair stood up well to the threat of set-piece specialist Sohail Abbas.

The determination of the hosts not to concede was exemplified by Ben Hawes who bravely dived head first to deflect over a rebound strike from the third effort.

Once GB were restored to 11 men, with Jackson's sin-binning from late in the first half having been carried over, they could attack again and Glen Kirkham was only inches away from connecting with Matt Daly's cross.

Tindall's deflection on Hawes' driven pass was turned behind by goalkeeper Imran Shah as GB continued to press for the crucial third goal.

Ben Hawes (right) congratulates Jackson after the hockey star bags another goal

Ben Hawes (right) congratulates Jackson after the hockey star bags another goal

Jackson's excellence was eventually rewarded midway through the second half when his low penalty corner flick gave his side the cushion they needed and him his third goal in his last two matches.

The East Grinstead midfielder almost added a second when his shot, destined for the far corner of the goal, was tipped behind by Shah, but it duly arrived when he flicked another penalty corner – high this time – to make it 4-0.

Sohail maintained his ratio of a goal for every one of his 347 appearances with a late corner of his own but the day belonged to Jackson, the poster boy of Great Britain hockey.

London 2012 Olympics: Can anyone beat USA basketball Dream Team? Don"t bet on it

Can anyone beat LeBron, Kobe and the American Dream Team Don't bet on it…

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UPDATED:

15:59 GMT, 10 July 2012

It's a simple recipe for the USA basketball team to win gold, right Turn up, dazzle opponents with that NBA finesse and walk off with the prize.

And why shouldn't they The team comprises title winners, MVPs and a plethora of game greats.

The current Dream Team boasts stellar performers that could populate any of the previous incarnations which have graced the Olympic stage. For LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Co, taking centre stage in the coming weeks in Stratford is their talent-given right.

Big three: LeBron James (right), Kevin Durant (left) and Kobe Bryant (front)

Big three: LeBron James (right), Kevin Durant (left) and Kobe Bryant (front)

Can anyone beat them The US Olympic men's basketball team line up

Can anyone beat them The US Olympic men's basketball team line up

And we should be excited. In the
gamut of athletic ability which is heading to our shores to the London
Games few can boast a total command of their discipline quite like the
US basketball team.

Take James, the USA’s man of the moment – and Liverpool FC share owner, no less – who is at the very peak of his powers.

The
forward has won NBA MVP honors in three of the last four seasons (2009,
2010, 2012) and is a six-time All-NBA first-team selection who won the
lot with Miami Heat this year.

London calling: Durant in action during Team USA practice in Las Vegas

London calling: Durant in action during Team USA practice in Las Vegas

The biggest crowd draw in the event this summer started all eight games for the 2008 gold medal team and averaged 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game.

Eye-watering statistics – and the rest of the cast are no slouches, either.
You’ll know Kobe Bryant – the venerable LA Lakers shooting guard and senior statesman of the US team will be the one who leads the team on to the court.

Bryant is an alpha dog – the oldest of the group at 33-years-old – a true leader whose five NBA championships stands him head and shoulders above his lofty cast mates.

London 2012 Team USA

Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Kobe
Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers); Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks); Kevin
Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers);
James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder); Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia
76ers); LeBron James (Miami Heat); Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves);
Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers); Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City
Thunder) and Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets).

And then there is Kevin Durant who is sure to start most games. The Oklahoma City Thunder forward was one of the picks four years ago in Beijing.

His average points tally was only bettered by James and Dwyane Wade in 2008 and, as recently as 2010, he was the FIBA World Championships MVP.

And Chris Paul, the elite point guard whose link-up play will be crucial to stitching much of the play together. The LA Clippers star is a four-time NBA All-Star and finished second in MVP voting in 2008.

It’s an all-star cast heading to Stratford this month – even after the series of injuries which denied them of a number of NBA regulars who would have played a major role in proceedings.

And it is that strength in depth which stands this roster out from those who went before.

In the pursuit of the Olympic greatness, few individuals or teams arrive in London better equipped to succeed in their quest for gold.

Great Britain men and women play the USA at the Manchester Arena on July 18 and 19. For tickets visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk or call 0844 847 8000.

Mike Tindall rejoins Gloucester as player-coach

Tindall raises eyebrows again with shock return to Gloucester as player-coach

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UPDATED:

19:18 GMT, 25 June 2012

Second coming: Tindall (right) was last seen in a Barbarians shirt last month

Second coming: Tindall (right) was last seen in a Barbarians shirt last month

England centre Mike Tindall has rejoined Gloucester after agreeing a one-year deal, the club have confirmed.

Tindall resumes his career at Kingsholm in the new role of player-coach and will help oversee development of the backline and defence.

The 33-year-old had been searching for a club after failing to secure a new contract under former head coach Bryan Redpath, whose own departure has enabled his return.

Gloucester's new director of rugby Nigel Davies has a track record of encouraging internal progression from the playing squad into coaching roles – Simon Easterby and Mark Jones are examples at the Scarlets – and he is continuing that trend at Kingsholm.

'Mike has a lot of valuable experience and great loyalty to Gloucester Rugby and its supporters and understands what it means to be a part of this club,' said Davies, who has only been at Gloucester for two weeks.

'It's important to have people involved that underpin your culture and values as a playing group.

Mentor: Tindall will be expected to nurtured Gloucester's talented young backline

Mentor: Tindall will be expected to nurtured Gloucester's talented young backline

'That investment can stretch beyond rugby performance – it's about harnessing the strength, commitment and drive from people that have an inherent loyalty and ambition for the team and business to succeed in the long-term.'

And Davies is in no doubt that Tindall, who has been at Gloucester for the last seven years, will have a key role to play as he adds a new chapter to an already stellar career.

'He will be operating as player and backs coach for me in the coming year. I think he has a very strong tradition and heritage with the club and a very good rugby brain,' Davies added of the 2003 World Cup winner.

'I think it's very important to have a certain amount of continuity at any club with your senior players and I see Mike providing that continuity.'