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Manchester City full of festive cheer as they train on Christmas Eve

Merry Mario leads Manchester City training as defending champions gear up for festive period

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UPDATED:

15:40 GMT, 24 December 2012

Making up two points on leaders and fierce rivals Manchester United would have bought more than a hint of festive cheer to City's training ground on Christmas Eve.

And the presence of the club's very own crackers character Mario Balotelli gave the squad a lift, as did the sight of captain Vincent Kompany coming through the session.

In fact, so good was the spirit in camp that youngster Matija Nastasic, who has previously enjoyed a winter break in Italy, said he was relishing his first taste of England's traditionally busy Christmas schedule.

Christmas crackers: Manchester City got an early present when they made up two points on United

Christmas crackers: Manchester City got an early present when they made up two points on United

Christmas cheer: Mario Balotelli was put through his paces in the freezing cold of Manchester

Christmas cheer: Mario Balotelli was put through his paces in the freezing cold of Manchester

Christmas cheer: Mario Balotelli was put through his paces in the freezing cold of Manchester

The 19-year-old centre-back, who has
made a big impression since his arrival from Fiorentina in August, is
unfazed by the prospect of playing five games in the space of 15 days.

He
is also far from concerned by the fact the next two of those matches,
at Sunderland on Boxing Day and Norwich next Saturday, will involve
lengthy journeys.

'To me
it is not a problem,' said the Serbia international. 'I am always happy
when I am playing, so this time of the season makes me happiest of all!

Carlos the joker: Tevez was the one enjoying the Christmas Ever session the most, judging by his smile

Carlos the joker: Tevez was the one enjoying the Christmas Ever session the most, judging by his smile

Carlos the joker: Tevez was the one enjoying the Christmas Ever session the most, judging by his smile

'My father and mother are here, so I won't miss my family. I don't look at the two long away trips as a problem at all.

'Now we concentrate on the Sunderland game, and then we focus on Norwich – it's not a headache.

'The league in Italy stops, and we have a break, but playing here is no problem for me. I am looking forward to the next couple of games.'

City needed a last-gasp winner from Gareth Barry to beat Barclays Premier League bottom side Reading in the first of their festive matches at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Having gone into the game trailing leaders Manchester United by six points, the champions were in danger of handing their title rivals another boost until Barry headed home a contentious goal in injury time.

Reading felt Barry had fouled Nicky Shorey but City celebrated a valuable three points amid much relief and their joy increased later in the weekend when Swansea held United to a draw.

Although Reading showed commendable
resilience throughout, Nastasic felt victory was deserved for City's
obvious superiority and greater number of chances over the whole game.

Nastasic
said: 'We knew the game would be difficult because it was obvious they
would just come and defend, but we deserved the goal in the last minute.

'Reading
played 11 men behind the ball, in a small area which always makes it
very difficult to attack – but that was their game plan.

Space at the table: Roberto Mancini will no doubt be distracted on the big day as he prepares for Boxing Day

Space at the table: Roberto Mancini will no doubt be distracted on the big day as he prepares for Boxing Day

Hart stopper: Joe Hart will hope 2013 doesn't see a repeat of the odd mistake he made this year

Hart stopper: Joe Hart will hope 2013 doesn't see a repeat of the odd mistake he made this year

'We are a very strong team, self-motivated and full of confidence at the moment. What is important is that we keep the same attitude, if we want to win the Premier League. We won the game, and that is the important thing.'

Nastasic's consistent and unfussy performances are currently keeping England centre-back Joleon Lescott out of the City side.

There was even the unusual sight on Saturday of Lescott and captain Vincent Kompany – the heart of City's title-winning defence last season – on the bench as Nastasic partnered Kolo Toure.

Manager Roberto Mancini's regard for the player is evident and he is quickly becoming a fans' favourite.

Nastasic
said: 'It makes me happy if the fans think highly of me, and I just
want to keep playing the way I am – that is the objective for the whole
team, not just me.'

Kompany
was not risked against Reading as he continues to recover from the
groin injury he suffered in the Manchester derby defeat a fortnight ago.

Head for the top: Gareth Barry got the champion out of trouble with a late goal against Reading

Head for the top: Gareth Barry got the champion out of trouble with a late goal against Reading

Head for the top: Gareth Barry got the champion out of trouble with a late goal against Reading

Another teenager, Karim Rekik, was also deployed at left-back as both Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov were sidelined by niggles.

Their fitness will be assessed ahead of the trip to the Stadium of Light while controversial striker Mario Balotelli could come back into contention after illness last week but forward Samir Nasri is out with a hamstring injury.

The match marks the halfway point of the season and Mancini wants his side to start picking up the tempo.

The Italian said: 'We can work better but at the same time I think that we need to do more than last year. From the first six months we need to work better – that's individuals and the group.'

Manchester City advent calendar: David Silva as midfielder gets stuck into a Christmas mince pie

VIDEO SPECIAL: Silva service for City's David as midfielder gets stuck into a Christmas mince pie

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UPDATED:

14:23 GMT, 10 December 2012

Who ate all the pies Manchester City's David Silva, that's who.

City's classy midfielder, who last year discovered Bakewell tarts (see video below), takes his first bite of a festive mince pie as part of City's special video advent calendar.

Silva, who played in yesterday's raucous 3-2 derby defeat to United, clearly prefers the fancy tart to the humble pie.

Scroll down for video…

David Silva eats mince pie

David Silva eats mince pie

Pie in the sky: David Silva samples a mince pie as part of Manchester City's online advent calendar

Sweet tooth: Manchester City's David Silva (left) shields the ball from Wayne Rooney during yesterday's explosive derby which United won 3-2

Sweet tooth: Manchester City's David Silva (left) shields the ball from Wayne Rooney during yesterday's explosive derby which United won 3-2

The evidence: A City employee shows off the measly mouthful of mince pie that Silva took - he didn't get any filling!

The evidence: A City employee shows off the measly mouthful of mince pie that Silva took – he didn't get any filling!

After taking a sizeable mouthful of Bakewell tart, the Spain international, 26, says: 'Hmmm, they're nice aren't they'

But having nibbled – and that's being generous – at a mince pie, all the former Valencia star can muster is a little shrug before heading for the door.

Delicacy: Silva enjoyed his first taste of a Bakewell tart back in November last year

Delicacy: Silva enjoyed his first taste of a Bakewell tart back in November last year

VIDEO: David Silva's mince pie moment…

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VIDEO: Silva's Bakewell tart taste test (it's at 2min 20sec)…

City are posting a series of videos starring their players throughout Decembe. Other highlights include Aleksandar Kolarov's deadpan rendition of 'Jingle Bells' and Mario Balotelli going Christmas crackers.

Sportsmail will bring you the best of City's advent offerings this Christmas – watch the opening week below – but if you cannot wait visit City's website direct at www.mcfc.co.uk/adventcal

VIDEO: The rest of Man City's other advent offerings…

DECEMBER 1: Mario Balotelli

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DECEMBER 2: Aleksandar Kolorov

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DECEMBER 3: Micah Richards

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DECEMBER 5: John Guidetti

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DECEMBER 6: Sami Nasri

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DECEMBER 7: Aguero and Zabaleta

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DECEMBER 8: Kolorov v Balotelli

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DECEMBER 9: Tevez teaches Balotell to wrap presents

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For more Man City advent calendar action, log on at: www.mcfc.co.uk/adventcal

Liam Ridgewell exposed for toilet picture with 20 notes

Toilet roll and 20s… West Brom players stitch up Ridgewell in best way they know how

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UPDATED:

14:19 GMT, 3 December 2012

With toilet roll pouring down from cupboards and a 20 note stuck to the wall, it could only be one player's locker which has been trashed and photographed for posterity on Twitter: Liam Ridgewell.

The West Bromwich defender has been remorseful after the embarrassing picture emerged of him wiping his backside with a wad of 20s.

But it would seem his team-mates have seized upon this as a perfect opportunity to wind-up one of their fellow players.

Bad taste: Ridgewell landed himself in trouble after this picture was leaked

Bad taste: Ridgewell landed himself in trouble after this picture was leaked

The former Aston Villa and Birmingham defender was forced to apologise after the picture was leaked at the weekend.

He claimed the shot was taken to wind up a friend after he won a bet and he never intended for it to enter the public domain.

Ridgewell told The Sun: 'The photo was taken in the privacy of my home around eight months ago as a joke to wind up a mate, who I had just won a personal bet with.

'I only intended him to see the photo but now it’s public, I can understand how it will be viewed. I am sorry for any offence it causes.'

The picture caused anger as Ridgwell earns in a week what the denizens of the West Midlands earn – on average – in a year.

The club distanced themselves from the issue saying it was a private matter.

'This is a private issue for Liam that has become public', a Baggies statement said.

'It does not put the club in a good light and we will deal with the matter internally. Since Liam joined us 11 months ago, his conduct on club duty has been exemplary.'

Wind-up: Ridgewell's locker draped with toilet rolls and a 20 note

Wind-up: Ridgewell's locker draped with toilet rolls and a 20 note

Spurs MUST finish above Arsenal – Andre Villas-Boas

Spurs MUST finish above Arsenal… and what better way to tip the balance of power than by storming the Emirates, roars AVB

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UPDATED:

18:53 GMT, 15 November 2012

Andre Villas-Boas has no doubt that his Tottenham team can end 18 years of hurt by finishing above Arsenal this season.

Tottenham travel to Arsenal on Saturday for one of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures in the domestic calendar – the north London derby.

Spurs have not finished above their bitter rivals in the Barclays Premier League since Gerry Francis was in charge of the club in the 1994-95 season.

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Derby day: Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham travel to Arsenal on Saturday

Derby day: Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham travel to Arsenal on Saturday

Since that year Arsenal have won seven major trophies and reached a Champions League final while Tottenham have struggled to keep pace with their rivals.

The last two years have seen Spurs mount something of a comeback, however.

Last season under Harry Redknapp the club held a 10-point advantage over Arsenal at the end of February until a spring collapse allowed Arsene Wenger's men to clinch third spot.

But with Arsenal currently struggling in the league, and Villas-Boas exuding confidence, the Portuguese sees no reason why this cannot be the year where the balance of power in north London finally shifts.

'We have to (finish above Arsenal),' Villas-Boas told a press conference. 'It is possible to bridge the gap. We are looking at trying to shorten the gap and not letting it grow.

'To play for fourth spot is difficult bearing in mind the competition you have to overcome. It's possible to bridge it.

'Arsenal have won trophies in recent times and they have qualified for the Champions League more often. That is where we want to be in the future. We're getting nearer.'

Villas-Boas got his first taste of a London derby last season when his Chelsea team faced QPR and Fulham.

But the narrow gap between the two teams in terms of their league position – Spurs are one point and one position above Arsenal, who are in eighth – and the quality of their respective squads makes this a much more meaningful fixture.

Last season Spurs and Arsenal served up one of the most memorable north London derbies in history when the Gunners fell 2-0 behind at the Emirates Stadium before staging a remarkable comeback that saw them emerge with a 5-2 victory.

Villas-Boas has been left in no doubt as to the importance of the fixture.

'I have been getting it for the last two weeks, people have been speaking about it quite often – the staff, the fans and the chairman,' the 35-year-old said.

'This is a game where passion is very high, it's a game that represents more than three points because of the history of north London derbies.

'The chairman keeps on mentioning it. I think it's normal. You really have to embrace it because it's part of the greater culture of the English game. You can't wear red at this training ground.'

Some have suggested that Tottenham will have no better chance of beating their arch rivals given the Gunners' poor start to the season.

Poor start: Arsenal have looked a shadow of their former selves this season

Poor start: Arsenal have looked a shadow of their former selves this season

Wenger's men conceded five against Reading, lost to Norwich and scraped a draw against Fulham last week, leaving them 11 points off the top of the table.

Villas-Boas does not subscribe to the theory that Arsenal are in free fall under Wenger, however.

'Their position (in the league) is completely irrelevant,' he said. 'Last season they had a poor start and managed to clinch third spot by picking up points. You drop three points, you are condemned.
“This is the nature of the Premier League.'

Spurs' chances of victory took a hit today when Villas-Boas confirmed Mousa Dembele will miss Saturday's game with the niggling hip problem that has sidelined him for the last seven games.

There was more encouraging news, however, regarding Aaron Lennon, who suffered a hamstring injury in last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

'Lennon had a scan yesterday and his hamstring is fine,' Villas-Boas said.

The Portuguese does have doubts over Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe, who also suffered hamstring injuries against City.

'We will have to wait and see (if they recover),' he added. 'They have trained separately this week.'

VIDEO: Villas-Boas Press conference ahead of the Arsenal game

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Stuart Pearce wants Under 21s to improve

Pearce happy with England Under 21s but says side must improve to seal place at Euros

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UPDATED:

22:32 GMT, 10 September 2012

Stuart Pearce was satisfied with a job well done after England topped qualifying group eight, but the Under 21 manager claimed his side will need to improve if they are to seal their place at the European Championship finals in Israel next summer.

England ensured their place in the playoffs with Thursday's 2-0 victory in Azerbaijan but the group – and in theory a more favourable draw in next month's knock-out double-headers as one of the seeded teams – was up for grabs against Norway at Chesterfield's Proact Stadium on Monday.

And Pearce's side won it courtesy of Connor Wickham's first goal for the Under 21s two minutes before half-time.

More to come: Stuart Pearce wants to see more from the likes of Connor Wickham in his Under 21 side

More to come: Stuart Pearce wants to see more from the likes of Connor Wickham in his Under 21 side

However, the Young Lions made hard work of the victory, with Norway having the better of the second half and counting themselves unlucky not to equalise when Havard Nielsen's effort struck the underside of the crossbar and rebounded to safety.

Following the 1-0 win Pearce said: 'If you look at the eight days we've been together as a group, overall it's very pleasing.

'We've had a lot of travelling commitments and managed to pick up a good victory that set us up for this game.

Vying: England Under 21s topped their group with a win over Norway on Monday

Vying: England Under 21s topped their group with a win over Norway on Monday

Pearce was happy with his side's showing on Monday

Pearce was happy with his side's showing on Monday

'The performances over two games of
Danny Rose, Martin Kelly, both the goalkeepers and Steven Caulker has
been pleasing, while Tom Ince has come in and it's his first taste of
Under-21 football and we've had four new faces come into the group as
well.

'To win seven out of eight games in this group at international football isn't easy.

'We're pleased with that and pleased to have topped the group but we know full well that we're going to have to play better next month if we are going to be successful and get to the finals.'

Pearce added: 'I think Norway came out of the traps fantastically well, they're a tough side and I think they'll cause anyone a problem in the play-offs.

'It wasn't a convincing performance by us but I felt we improved a bit at the start of the second half.'

Wickham took his goal well. The Sunderland striker latched onto a defensive mistake and, bearing down on goal, confidently tucked away his chance from close-range.

It was the 19-year-old's first goal since October last year.

'I'm pleased for Connor, he has worked very hard this week and been patient for his chance,' said Pearce.

'He hasn't played a great deal of football, and it's the same with Martyn Waghorn at this stage if the season and certainly one or two others are in the same boat as well so they will find this quite demanding.

'But it is football at a high standard so it will help them and help their clubs as well.'

London 2012 Olympics: Zoe Smith sets new British record

Teenage dreams come true for weightlifter Smith as local hero sets new British record

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UPDATED:

13:32 GMT, 30 July 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Zoe Smith set a new British clean and jerk record and new personal best total in her first taste of the Olympic Games in front of electric home support at ExCeL, although the talented teenager is unlikely to contest the medal places.

The Greenwich-born 18-year-old, Great Britain's weightlifting poster girl, succeeded in her first snatch attempt of 90kg but – struggling with her bar grip and appearing nervous – failed in her following two at 93kg, with her previous personal best coming in at 92kg.

Raising the bar: Zoe Smith has set a new British clean and jerk record

Raising the bar: Zoe Smith has set a new British clean and jerk record

But she calmed and redeemed herself in the clean and jerk element, equalling her personal best of 116, failing at 121, before succeeding in her final attempt at 121kg – beating Michaela Breeze's British record of 120kg set eight years ago.

It was enough to give her a total of 211kg, three kilos better than she managed at the European Championships in April although 1.5kg off the British record total.

Smith was competing among eight lifters in the B group and will not discover her final placing until those considered to be the elite A group athletes, another 11 lifters, take to the platform.

However, having come second behind Maria Alexandra Escobar Guerrero (226kg), the teenager – Commonwealth Games bronze medallist – could be in line for a top-10 finish.

Worth the weight: Zoe Smith was impressive as she competed in the 58kg

Worth the weight: Zoe Smith was impressive as she competed in the 58kg

Local hero: Zoe Smith comes from Greenwich and has plenty of home support at the ExCel

Local hero: Zoe Smith comes from Greenwich and has plenty of home support at the ExCel

Hull FC 34 Salford Reds 26

Hull FC 34 Salford Reds 26: Too little too late as Reds suffer play-off blow

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UPDATED:

16:39 GMT, 29 July 2012

Salford Reds' play-off aspirations suffered a blow as Hull FC held off their stirring comeback at the KC Stadium to edge a close encounter 34-26.

Jordan Turner's late try for Hull against his former club finally settled a game which hung in the balance after the Reds threatened to upset the hosts with two tries for Sean Gleeson and Ashley Gibson.

A missed Daniel Holdsworth conversion with 10 minutes remaining left Hull defending a slender two-point lead until Turner's late score gave the home side the two points which keeps them sixth in the Stobart Super League table.

The Reds remain 10th – four points from the play-offs.

Hull coach Peter Gentle had spoken of his side's need to get to grips early on with Super League's fast starters.

Salford have developed a successful habit of scoring early tries this year, but it was the hosts who raced into a 12-point lead thanks to the efforts of one of their rising stars.

Tom Lineham got his first taste of Super League in last Monday's televised Hull derby and, following his second-half cameo in the hostile environment of Craven Park, the 20-year-old revelled in being on home turf for the first time as he was handed a first start for Hull.

Within six minutes of kick-off, talk of Hull having found a new Tom Briscoe was already echoing around the KC as Lineham set Hull on their way with a well-taken first try before braking 60 metres down field to set up a second try of the afternoon for Hull, Kirk Yeaman this time the scorer.

Salford were shocked into life and, after being caught by their own game, the Reds came back into the match through Ashley Gibson's well-worked try in the corner.

The centre's pace and power took him over the try line and sparked a period of dominance by the visitors, who made their territorial possession count minutes later when Jodie Broughton avenged an earlier error to go over unopposed in the corner to complete a flowing move out wide.

Salford's moment in the sun did not last long, however, and Lineham again set Hull on their way.

It was the winger's break which set up field position for Joe Westerman to break the Reds' defensive line and score.

Lineham completed a half to remember on the half-time hooter, leaving Broughton flat-footed as he dived over in the corner to give his side a 12-point half-time advantage.

The game became fractured in the second half, but Hull took the opportunity to go three tries clear with a simple penalty conversion for on-loan St Helens winger Jamie Foster.

That decision looked even wiser when Gleeson, who next year will wear the red and white of Hull KR, exploited poor Hull defending to score approaching the final quarter.

The Reds senses a comeback and it looked on when they capitalised on Hull's ill discipline through a second try for Gibson.

Daniel Holdsworth's missed conversion left Salford four points behind, but the visitors remained on top.

Hull were then thankful when another Salford infringement, this time for holding down, allowed Foster to kick a penalty from in front of the posts.

The Reds continued to press, and got their rewards when Gleeson touched down by the corner flag on the break.

Holdsworth had a chance to level the game but hooked his touchline conversion as Hull breathed a sigh of relief.

The visitors continued to mount a serious challenge but with the clock ticking down, ex-Salford player Turner popped up five metres out to take an off-load and seal the points for Hull.

London 2012 Olympics: Picture special as Games burst into life

And we're off… Olympic venues throw open their doors for sports bonanza (and the Queen pops in for the swimming)

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UPDATED:

12:47 GMT, 28 July 2012

London 2012 has burst into life at sports venues across the capital and beyond. On another historic day for the country,
the nation woke up to a flood of sports hitting their television
screens – while hundreds of thousands headed to venues for their first taste of the action.

The Queen, who attended the Opening Ceremony on Friday night, was back at the Olympic Park for a tour – and she popped in to the Aquatics Centre to take in some of the swimming.

Diving in for success: Ryan Lochte of the United States starts the 400m Individual Medley at the Aquatics Centre

Diving in for success: Ryan Lochte of the United States starts the 400m Individual Medley at the Aquatics Centre

Loving it: The Queen and Prince Phillip were shown around the Aquatics Centre by Lord Coe (left)

Loving it: The Queen and Prince Phillip were shown around the Aquatics Centre by Lord Coe (left)

Watching over: The Queen takes in the sights during a tour of the Olympic Park

Watching over: The Queen takes in the sights during a tour of the Olympic Park

Shooting was the first event to take place with the women's 10m air rifle qualifying at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.

Badminton was next up at Wembley Arena, while there were early British casualties in the archery at Lord's cricket ground.

The men's team of Larry Godfrey, Simon Terry and Alan Wills were beaten 223-212 by their opponents from Ukraine in the bid for a team medal. The home team shot just five maximums in their 24 attempts, compared to their opponents' 11.

Got a table A view of the Table Tennis at the ExCeL centre in east London

Got a table A view of the Table Tennis at the ExCeL centre in east London

Dancing shoes: British duo Sophie Troiano and Natalia Sheppard take part in the Women's Foil Individual at the ExCeL

Dancing shoes: British duo Sophie Troiano and Natalia Sheppard take part in the Women's Foil Individual at the ExCeL

At the Olympic Park in Stratford, there was swimming at the Aquatics Centre, basketball at the Basketball Arena and handball at the Copper Box.

Elswhere, fans were packed into the stands for the rowing at Eton Dorney near Windsor for a sport that Great Britain has historically excelled at.

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning confirmed their status as gold medal favourites as they stormed into the final of the women's pair in a new Olympic record time.

Roared on by a packed crowd at Eton Dorney, Glover and Stanning won the opening heat of the Olympic regatta in a time of six minutes and 57.29 seconds, beating the previous best by over four seconds.

Basket cases: Canada took on Russia on day one of London 2012 at the Basketball Arena

Basket cases: Canada took on Russia on day one of London 2012 at the Basketball Arena

Judo first: France's Sofiane Milous (R) competes with Japan's Hiroaki Hiraoka at the ExCel

Judo first: France's Sofiane Milous (R) competes with Japan's Hiroaki Hiraoka at the ExCel

Glover and Stanning controlled the race from the outset, leading the field by a half a length at the 500 metre time-check before pulling smoothly clear to beat the United States crew by a length.

At Horse Guards Parade in central London, the beach volleyball competition got underway with spectators hoping for sunny weather.

That is also right next to the cycling road race that started at 10am – with Mark Cavendish in the hunt for a gold medal.

The ExCel in Docklands, east London, hosted several sports – with fencing, judo, boxing, weightlifting and table tennis all taking place.

Huge draw: The peleton makes it way up The Mall towards Buckingham Palace at the start in the men's road race cycling race

Huge draw: The peleton makes it way up The Mall towards Buckingham Palace at the start in the men's road race cycling race

Big crowd: There were around 25,000 at Eton Dorney to cheers on the British rowers

Big crowd: There were around 25,000 at Eton Dorney to cheers on the British rowers

Power game: South Korean gymnast Kim Hee-hoon performs on the parallel bars in the Artistic Gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena

Power game: South Korean gymnast Kim Hee-hoon performs on the parallel bars in the Artistic Gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena

Meanwhile, London 2012 organisers are investigating why there were noticeable numbers of empty seats at the start of the swimming events on Saturday morning. Every session at the Aquatics Centre is a sell-out but some people had not showed up.

London 2012 communications director Jackie Brock-Doyle said: ;The public have turned up, it looks like they were accredited seating [for officials or media]. We are looking into who should have been sitting there and why they were not.'

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the beach volleyball taking place at Horse Guards Parade in central London

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the beach volleyball taking place at Horse Guards Parade in central London

Take that: China's Zhang Lei serves during the women's volleyball at Earls Court in west London

Take that: China's Zhang Lei serves during the women's volleyball at Earls Court in west London

Wayne Rooney horse Yourartisonfire wins at Haydock

Yourartisonfire lands Rooney first triumph as racehorse owner… but he missed it!

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UPDATED:

15:21 GMT, 5 July 2012

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney enjoyed his first taste of victory as a racehorse owner as Yourartisonfire scored at Haydock.

Rooney – away on holiday in Los Angeles – owns the Elaine Burke-trained two-year-old in partnership with Sunderland defender John O'Shea, among others.

First past the post: Yourartisonfire (Yellow), ridden by Michael Metcalfe, triumphed at Haydock to score Rooney's first win as a racehorse owner

First past the post: Yourartisonfire (Yellow), ridden by Michael Metcalfe, triumphed at Haydock to score Rooney's first win as a racehorse owner

Sent off the 6-4 favourite in the Distinction Doors EBF Maiden Stakes, the
Dutch Art colt built on his debut fourth at Nottingham, staying on strongly
throughout the final furlong to win going away by two and a quarter lengths from Mayaasem.

Winning jockey Michael Metcalfe told Racing UK: 'They went quite steady – you can sit and wait but I thought I would get him rolling and I always thought he would pick them up in the end.

Missing out: Rooney was not at the meeting as he is on holiday in Los Angeles

Missing out: Rooney was not at the meeting as he is on holiday in Los Angeles

'When I got him wide he picked up nicely and he'd probably even get an extra furlong the way he settled.

'He's very professional.'

The Sun headline on Roy Hodgson is "unacceptable", say FA

FA hit out at The Sun over 'unacceptable' Hodgson headline amid backlash at newspaper

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UPDATED:

16:06 GMT, 2 May 2012

The Football Association has condemned The Sun's for poking fun at Roy Hodgson's manner of speech.

The Sun's headline 'Bwing on the Euwos!' has led to numerous complaints to the FA and the Press Complaints Commission.

FA chairman David Bernstein claims that the headline aimed at the new England manager is 'disrespectful'.

New man: Roy Hodgson poses at Wembley after his unveiling as boss

New man: Roy Hodgson poses at Wembley after his unveiling as boss

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Bernstein said: 'We are delighted at the
media response to Roy's appointment but are disappointed with the
headline in The Sun, which we consider is in poor taste and
disrespectful.'

An FA statement read: 'The FA and the Press Complaints Commission have today received a large number of objections relating to the front page headline in The Sun newspaper, regarding Roy Hodgson's manner of speech.

'On this occasion, we will not be making an official complaint to the PCC but we have raised it with the newspaper and made it clear that their front page is unacceptable to us.'

In its story the Sun said Hodgson was 'affectionately known as 'Woy' due to his speech impediment'.

But they appeared to backtrack as the backlash began by removing the headline from their website.

Offensive: The Sun has been condemned over Wednesday's page

Offensive: The Sun has been condemned over Wednesday's page

The newspaper has received huge criticism over the decision, with Gary Neville among the big names to hit out.

He wrote: 'Disgustung (sic) headlines,good journo's under pressure writing pieces for their mates and a certain paper needs putting out of circulation.'

His brother and Everton captain Phil Neville tweeted: 'Have u seen front page of the sun this morning disgraceful journalism-what chance have we got!'

BBC football commentator Jacqui Oatley wrote: 'Charming front page of the Sun. Hodgson has won 11 major titles/trophies, speaks 5 languages but let's mock his speech.'

Media commentator Roy Greenslade said: 'The Sun has form when it comes to England coaches. Gentle humour is kicked aside in favour of outright hostility. Affection turns into nasty character assassination.'

A spokesman for the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) said: 'I can confirm we have had over a hundred complaints.'