Tag Archives: team

Nemanja Vidic wants Cristiano Ronaldo back at Manchester United

Vidic: Don't rule out Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford after he's done at the Bernabeu

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

01:09 GMT, 5 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:09 GMT, 5 March 2013

Nemanja Vidic has refused to rule out the possibility that he could one day be reunited with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.

The Red Devils centre back will face off against his former team-mate when Sir Alex Ferguson’s men take on Real Madrid at Old Trafford in the second leg of the last-16 Champions League tie.

But despite his manager claiming the prospect of Ronaldo return in the red of United is implausible, Vidic believes it is a possibility.

Facing off: Nemanja Vidic (right) and Cristiano Ronaldo (left) will play against one another on Tuesday

Facing off: Nemanja Vidic (right) and Cristiano Ronaldo (left) will play against one another on Tuesday

Not impossible: Ronaldo could return to Old Trafford, according to his former team-mate Vidic

Not impossible: Ronaldo could return to Old Trafford, according to his former team-mate Vidic

The 31-year-old Serbian told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I could see it [Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United]. He is a United supporter and he still follows United, he still misses the club and the environment here, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come back.

‘It would be a big ask for many reasons, but I would love to see him here.

‘I don’t know what atmosphere he has at Madrid, so I can’t really talk about that, but all I can say is that I enjoyed playing with him, he enjoyed it here and it will be great to see him.’

Vidic also believes that the Portugal captain is on par with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, who has beaten Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or four years in a row.

On par: Vidic believes Ronaldo (right) is as good as Lionel Messi (left)

On par: Vidic believes Ronaldo (right) is as good as Lionel Messi (left)

He added: 'They are different players, totally different.

'But in recent years, Barcelona have won everything and I think that is why people have put Ronaldo to one side.

'I have played with him and trained with him and I know how many sacrifices he made to be where he is.'

Happy times: Ronaldo (right) celebrates alongside Vidic (left) during his Manchester United days

Happy times: Ronaldo (right) celebrates alongside Vidic (left) during his Manchester United days

Oscar Pistorius accused of having testosterone and needles at his home as court hears of "non-stop shouting" before gunshots fired

Pistorius accused of having testosterone and needles at his home as court hears of 'non-stop shouting' before gunshots fired
'Non-stop' shouting heard from Pistorius' home before shooting
Court hears Reeva was shot on right side of head, in right hip and right elbowPistorius is a flight risk and shouldn't be granted bail, says detectiveUnlicensed ammunition was found at the propertyPolice say testosterone, needles found in Pistorius' bedroomPistorius has said he had been a
victim of crime and received death threats

PUBLISHED:

06:38 GMT, 20 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:14 GMT, 20 February 2013

'Non-stop shouting' was heard coming from Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius' home before his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead, his bail hearing was told today.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the prosecution team has a witness who heard the shouting between 2am and 3am.

Steenkamp, aged 29, was shot three times in her arm, hip and head.

Two containers of testosterone and needles were also found in the bedroom of Pistorius.

The details were revealed as the second day of the 26-year-old athlete's bail hearing began at Pretoria Magistrates' Court.

Back in court: Oscar Pistorius on second day of bail hearing

Back in court: Oscar Pistorius on second day of bail hearing

VIDEO Pistorius arrives at court two hours early for second day of bail hearing

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In an affidavit, Paralympic star
Pistorius has denied murdering the model Steenkamp, 29, at his
home in the early hours of Thursday.

He has said the couple were in love
and he fired through his closed bathroom door, hitting the victim,
thinking a burglar or burglars were inside.

Steenkamp was hit three times and today the court heard the bullets hit her arm, hip and head.

Pistorius has said he shot her with a 9mm pistol.

Investigating officer Hilton Botha said he wanted the Olympian charged additionally with a weapons violation after unlicenced .38 calibre ammunition was found at the property on the exclusive Silver Lakes Golf Estate.

Pistorius arrived at the court
building in a police car with a blue blanket covering his head as
prosecutors prepared to detail why they are charging him with
premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend.

Under cover: A TV crew film Pistorius arriving at court with a blanket over his head

Under cover: A TV crew film Pistorius arriving at court with a blanket over his head

Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock

Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock

Today's proceedings were delayed as more than 100 journalists squeezed into court to report the hearing.

There were chaotic scenes as one
reporter fainted, an overflow room was set up to provide more space and
courtroom screens had technical problems.

Mr Botha said he arrived at Pistorius's house at 4.15am when the victim was already dead.
She was wearing white shorts, a black top and was covered in towels, the court was told.

Mr Botha said he believed Pistorius,
who won two gold medals and a silver at London's 2012 Paralympic Games,
was a flight risk and he was opposing bail.

He also told court Pistorius has offshore accounts and a property in Italy.

The court heard that two mobile phones were seized at the property and neither had been used to call the police or paramedics.

Pistorius has said he had been a
victim of crime and received death threats, but today the court heard
there were no records of this.

Police told the presiding magistrate that testosterone and needles were found in Pistorius's bedroom.

The athlete – who was sobbing this morning in court – made notes with a silver pen as the case progressed.

It was claimed the track star was
involved in another shooting at a restaurant in Johannesburg in January
and asked the gun owner to take responsibility for the incident.

Mr Botha also told the court of an
incident at Kyalami racetrack where Pistorius allegedly threatened to
“f*** up” a man during a row over a girl.

Anxious wait: Oscar Pistorius' sister Aimee, brother Carl and father Henke in the courtroom on Wednesday

Anxious wait: Oscar Pistorius' sister Aimee, brother Carl and father Henke in the courtroom on Wednesday

Inside Oscar's Bathroom - a graphic illustrating a suggested representation of the events that lead to Reeva Steenkamp's death

Prosecutors want to show why he should be denied bail. Pistorius denies the charge, and said it was an accidental shooting.

The double-amputee Olympian, his
brother, father and uncle were inside the court room as proceedings for
the bail hearing began. The room was packed for a second day.

The 26-year-old Pistorius sat in the
back of the car, which was in a convoy of three police vehicles that
entered the Pretoria Magistrate's Court through a side entrance ahead of
the second day of his bail hearing.

A detective has testified that Pistorius is a flight risk and shouldn't be granted bail.

Mr
Botha also said in the star athlete's bail hearing Wednesday that
Pistorius illegally possessed .38-caliber ammunition in a safe in his
bedroom.

Pistorius is
charged with premeditated murder for the Valentine's Day shooting death
of Steenkamp with a 9 mm pistol. The policeman testified that Pistorius
did not have a license for a .38-caliber weapon and consequently
possession of that ammunition was illegal.

Pistorius
argued in a court affidavit Tuesday that the shooting was accidental
and he thought the model was an intruder in his home.

The detective says all Pistorius would say after the shooting was 'he thought it was a burglar'.

Pistorius' attorney read out an emotional statement on Tuesday in which the
athlete denied murder.

In the statement, which Pistorius was too upset to read out himself, the
athlete said the couple were 'deeply in love', adding: 'I am absolutely
mortified by the events and the devastating loss of my beloved Reeva.'

In his statement, the 26-year-old claimed he mistook Steenkamp for a
burglar after hearing a noise in his bathroom.
Believing Steenkamp to be still in bed, he grabbed his 9mm pistol and
shouted a warning before firing shots at the toilet door.

Pistorius added: 'When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not
in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who
was in the toilet.

'I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet
door but it was locked. I rushed back to the bedroom and opened the
sliding door exiting on to the balcony and screamed for help.'

According to Pistorius he then smashed his way into the toilet using a
cricket bat, finding her 'slumped over but alive'. He then phoned for an
ambulance and carried her downstairs, but she died in his arms.

Magistrate Desmond Nair ruled that the case was a schedule six offence –
meaning premeditated murder – for the purpose of the bail hearing in
Pretoria.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court the victim arrived at the house
between 5pm and 6pm on Wednesday, and went to the bathroom after an
argument between the pair.
He said that at 3am Pistorius got up from his bed, walked to the
bathroom door and fired four shots through the closed door, hitting her
three times.

Nel said: 'She couldn't go anywhere. You can run nowhere.'
He told the court Pistorius later told a friend he thought she was a
burglar. Nel added: 'It was all part of the pre-planning. Why would a
burglar lock himself inside the bathroom'

The bail hearing came as Steenkamp's funeral was held in her home town of Port Elizabeth.
Steenkamp was cremated at a memorial service attended by family and
friends who had travelled from around the world. Six pallbearers carried
her coffin, draped with a white cloth and covered in white flowers.

Earlier, French fashion house Thierry Mugler became the latest high-profile sponsor to distance itself from Pistorius.

The company has announced the immediate and complete withdrawal of all
products featuring Pistorius, including its 'A*men Pure Shot' fragrance
featuring Pistorius, which was launched as a special edition to mark
last year's London Paralympics.

In addition, Thierry Mugler has removed all point-of-sale advertising
featuring Pistorius, and deleted all references to the athlete from its
website.
Two other major sponsors, Oakley and Nike, also distanced themselves
from the athlete this week. Oakley has suspended its contract with
Pistorius while Nike said it has no plans to use him in future
campaigns.

Cheltenham Festival video: Peter Scudamore, Sam Turner and Marcus Townend preview the big races

VIDEO: Sportsmail's top team preview the big races at the Cheltenham Festival

PUBLISHED:

13:22 GMT, 18 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:58 GMT, 19 February 2013

Racing doesn't get any better than the Cheltenham Festival so to preview the famous meeting we've put together the best team in the business.

Our man Marcus Townend talks to our top tipster Sam Turner and columnist and former champion jockey Peter Scudamore.

Sportsmail's award-winning photographer Graham Chadwick is the man behind the camera who put it all together.

VIDEO For top tips on runners and riders check out Sportsmail's special preview

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Rio Olympics 2016: British athletes followed by Sportsmail

We're on the road to Rio! Meet the seven young British athletes who Sportsmail will follow all the way to the Olympics in 2016

, these seven athletes are aiming to follow in their footsteps.

Sportsmail seven for Rio

1 HARRY BROWN

Sport: Wheelchair basketball

Age: 18

Where are you from

I was born in Halifax in Yorkshire and brought up there as well. I’ve lived there my whole life with my two brothers and the rest of my family.

Tell us about your sport…

I lost my legs to meningitis when I was two years old. When I was eight, my mum got a job in Asda and one of the people at the store played in the local wheelchair basketball team. He started talking about basketball and that’s how it began. I play for the Sheffield Steelers and am part of the Team GB squad.

Who was your hero growing up

In my family my grandad has helped me hugely. He always helps drive me to training and he enjoys watching me play.

Wheels of steel: Basketball player Harry Brown stars for the Sheffield Steelers and Team GB

Wheels of steel: Basketball player Harry Brown stars for the Sheffield Steelers and Team GB

What were you doing during London 2012

I wasn’t playing but me, my mum, my two brothers and my grandad all went down to watch the Paralympics.

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio 2016

I’d definitely like a medal, but I don’t know how high we can go. Realistically I think we could get into the gold medal game.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

When I was little me and my older brother used to collect Buddha statues and it became a tradition to bring back a family Buddha if you’d been away. The biggest one is about twice the size of a basketball — he’s just outside my bedroom.

VIDEO Harry Brown on his Road to Rio 2016

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2 SALLY BROWN

Sport: Paralympic athletics

Age: 17

Where are you from

I live in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, with my mum, dad and little sister. It’s a tiny village in the middle of nowhere.

Tell us about your sport…

I’m a sprinter and I run the 100 metres and 200m in the T46 classification. When I was born, my left arm wasn’t fully developed and has stayed that way. This year I’ve moved up to 400m as well. The ultimate dream for me would be to compete across both the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Sally Brown

Sally Brown

Flying the flag: Spritner Sally Brown has targeted a medal in Rio in three years' time

Who was your hero growing up

When I was younger I ran cross- country so I looked up to Paula Radcliffe. Recently Jess Ennis has become another hero of mine.

What were you doing during London 2012

I competed in the 100m and 200m. I didn’t run as well as I’d hoped to. I was injured and only started running in April. The experience was amazing but really scary.

Previous: Brown competed at the London Olympics in the 100m and 200m

Previous: Brown competed at the London Olympics in the 100m and 200m

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio

I’d definitely like to win a medal. I’ll be 21 and nearing my peak. My aim is to go there and be in the top three for at least one of my events.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I’m dating Jonnie Peacock (T44 Paralympic gold medallist in the 100 metres). It became official after the Paralympics but we were really good friends before that.

VIDEO Sally Brown on her Road to Rio 2016

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3 CHRIS MEARS

Sport: Diving

Age: 20

Where are you from

I’m from Reading, born and bred. I live with my parents but spend most of my week in Southampton, where I train.

Tell us about your sport…

I’m a diver, specialising in the 3m springboard individual and synchro events. When I was seven my parents were fed up with me trying to do somersaults on the sofa, so they took me to the local pool to take my anger out.

Head over heels: Chris Mears hopes to replicate Tom Daley's achievements on the diving board

Head over heels: Chris Mears hopes to replicate Tom Daley's achievements on the diving board

Head over heels: Chris Mears hopes to replicate Tom Daley's achievements on the diving board

Who was your hero growing up

When I was nine I started training in Southampton and looked up to Pete Waterfield. He’s been an inspiration, getting to be one of the best in the world. It’s great now as he’s my training partner. He’s a good friend — and an old man!

What were you doing during London 2012

I was diving and reached the final. It was the best experience of my life. On my last dive, the board was shaking because the crowd was so loud. I could feel the vibrations and was so scared but I pulled off the best dive of my life. I almost died on an operating table a few years ago from a ruptured spleen so it’s incredible what happened.

In the medals: Mears (right) enjoyed a successful start to the year at the British Gas Diving Championships

In the medals: Mears (right) enjoyed a successful start to the year at the British Gas Diving Championships

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio 2016

It depends on so much but I would really like a medal. I will train hard and hopefully it will be possible.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I recently posed naked for Gay Times magazine. I’m used to being almost naked the rest of the time so it was no big deal. I’ve had lots of good feedback.

VIDEO Chris Mears on his Road to Rio 2016

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4 ADAM GEMILI

Sport: Athletics

Age: 19

Where are you from

I was born in London but moved to Kent aged two when my sister was born. I’ve been in the same house for 17 years. There are four of us there — me, my mum, dad and sister.

Tell us about your sport…

I run the 100m and 200m and the sprint relay. After being a footballer, I started training full time last January and got quicker as the year went on. At the World Junior Championships in Barcelona I won the gold medal in the 100m.

Adam Gemili

Adam Gemili

Sprint king: Adam Gemili shot to prominence last year and earned a place at the London Olympics

Who was your hero growing up

Michael Owen was the biggest. He was a great player but it was the way he looked after his family. I really respected him.

What were you doing during London 2012

I was competing for Team GB in the 100m and the relay. I reached the London 2012 100m semi-final and missed out on the final by 0.04 seconds. It was the best experience of my life. I competed in a lane next to eventual silver medallist Yohan Blake and I was in a race with Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell.

Brit special: Gemili is poised to be the next sprint sensation from these shores

Brit special: Gemili is poised to be the next sprint sensation from these shores

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio 2016

I want to be up there alongside the world’s best sprinters, running around 9.7sec regularly. If I’m still progressing the way I am, hopefully I’ll win gold.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I do yoga to help with my flexibility. I started doing it just before the summer and do it twice a week. It helps a lot with peace of mind.

VIDEO Adam Gemili on his Road to Rio 2016

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5 KATARINA JOHNSON-THOMPSON

Sport: Athletics

Age: 20

Where are you from

I spent the first year of my life in the Bahamas because my dad, Ricardo, is Bahamian. My mum, Tracey, is from Liverpool — she was a showgirl and used to dance all around the world — and we moved back when I was one to live with my nan, who ran a pub in the city.

Tell us about your sport…

Mum wanted me to dance so she pushed me — like, literally, when I was in a nappy — into lessons. I was a tomboy though, so I hated it. I then went through a number of different things — football, but they wanted me to be in goal, then keyboard, then ice skating. I didn’t really get into athletics until the summer of 2005 but I loved it. Now I do the heptathlon.

Dressed to impress: Katarina Johnson-Thompson made a promising start to her Olympic career in London

One to watch: Katarina Johnson-Thompson has made an encouraging start to her athletics career

What were you doing during London 2012

I came 15th — I certainly didn’t expect that. I told my nan I would probably come last because I was just happy to be there. I see it as a bonus because in September 2011 I was still having injections in my left knee, my take-off leg for high jump and long jump. They wouldn’t let me jog until November, so my training was really compromised and, at the start of 2012, all of my personal bests added up didn’t meet the Olympic qualifying standard.

Who was your hero growing up

Carolina Kluft. She was the queen of the heptathlon for so long. Also Usain Bolt, because 2008 was the first Olympics I watched.

Best of British: Johnson-Thompson (left) celebrates with Olympic champion Jessica Ennis

What are your dreams and hopes for Rio 2016

It’s always been about Rio for me, but I’m still only going to be 23 in 2016 which, for a heptathlete, is really young. At the 2020 Olympics I’ll be the same age as Jess was when she won in London.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

Everyone always used to think Daley Thompson was my dad. In the European juniors I finished the competition and this girl came up to me and said: ‘My father competed with your father in the Olympics.’ No he didn’t!

VIDEO Katarina Johnson-Thompson on her Road to Rio 2016

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6 REBECCA JAMES
Sport: Cycling

Age: 21

Where are you from

I’m from Abergavenny but have lived in Altrincham since July 2010. My mum and my dad are in Wales with my five brothers and sisters.

Tell us about your sport…

I’m a sprint cyclist. I do the team sprint, the 500m time trial, the individual sprint and the keirin. I started off in year six, then joined the Welsh talent programme at 13. After finishing my A-levels I trained with Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton. The Commonwealth Games in Delhi is my highlight so far, coming up against Anna Meares.

Sprint queen: Rebecca James

Sprint queen: Rebecca James

Who was your hero growing up

I began by following Nicole Cooke and really looked up to her. Then when I got on to the track it was all about Chris Hoy. He is so great to train with and an inspiration.

What were you doing during London 2012

An achilles injury and then appendicitis meant I missed lots of training so didn’t make London 2012. I did go down one day for when Chris won the keirin and I’m glad I did so I could sample the atmosphere.

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio 2016

I want to be stood on top of the podium. I want that feeling having seen everyone else up there. I want to help Jess Varnish get over her heartbreak of missing out on a medal in London too and our form is looking good.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I love to bake. Every Thursday I bring lots of cake to the velodrome. I’m addicted to The Great British Bake Off. My trademark dish is caramel slices.

VIDEO Rebecca James on her Road to Rio 2016

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7 MAX WHITLOCK

Sport: Gymnastics

Age: 20

Where are you from

I was born in Hemel Hempstead and I still live there now but I train in Basildon in Essex. I live with my parents and I’ve got an older brother Ben who is a landscape gardener.

Brit special: Max Whitlock

Brit special: Max Whitlock

Tell us about your sport…

I’m a gymnast. I started doing it aged seven. When I was nine I was put into a squad and it’s moved on from there. I do all six disciplines but the pommel horse is my best and favourite.

What were you doing during London 2012

I was competing and I won two bronze medals — in the team event and pommel horse. I wasn’t expecting to win anything but to be part of the first British team to win a gymnastics medal in 100 years was amazing. I haven’t really done anything special yet with my medals — they are just on the sofa at home!

Who was your hero growing up

I really didn’t have one. I didn’t even have posters on my walls, nothing. I know that is unusual.

What are your dreams and hope for Rio 2016

Getting there will be tough. There were 15 of us going for five places in London and it will be more now. Assuming I do, I want to get medals in the pommel and all-round.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I swam a lot when I was young and had to pick between that and gymanstics when I was nine.

VIDEO Max Whitlock on his Road to Rio 2016

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Lottery

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Gerard Pique: I want Manchester United to beat Real Madrid in Champions League

United old boy Pique desperate to see former club KO Real Madrid in Champions League

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

11:35 GMT, 11 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:38 GMT, 11 February 2013

Barcelona and Spain star Gerard Pique will be rooting for Manchester United when they take on Spanish giants Real Madrid in the Champions League this week.

Pique has more than one reason to support United. He played for the club between 2004 and 2008 and still has many friends from his time at Old Trafford, while Real, of course, are Barca's arch rivals.

The 26-year-old, who plays in the Champions League himself next week when Barca travel to AC Milan, also told Spanish newspaper Marca that he has spoken to former defensive partner and United stalwart Rio Ferdinand about Wednesday night's game.

Hope: Gerard Pique (right) wants Manchester United to beat Real Madrid

Hope: Gerard Pique (right) wants Manchester United to beat Real Madrid

'I'd like United to go through because of my history,' Pique told Marca. 'I spoke to Ferdinand and the team's in great shape.'

Former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who scored the winner when United won the European Cup in 1999, is also backing Sir Alex Ferguson's side, though he has wished former United team-mate and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo luck ahead of the clash.

'I want Manchester United to win but, for the first time, I really don't know what's going to happen,' said the Norwegian, who is currently managing Molde in his homeland.

Playing days: Pique enjoyed a stint at United before moving back to Barcelona

Playing days: Pique enjoyed a stint at United before moving back to Barcelona

'I'd like a 4-3, with Cristiano scoring three goals. He was 17 when he went to United, he's a great lad. I watched him become a man.

'If I could sign just one player, I'd sign Cristiano. Yes, Messi is fantastic, but I'd take CR7.'

Solskjaer added: 'Both managers know each other well and the teams are very evenly matched. I think it will be decided by a moment of genius from Van Persie or Cristiano.'

Jason Steele of Middlesbrough receives England call

Jason who England turn to Steele to help prepare for Brazil as injured Sturridge gets ready to withdraw following heart-to-heart with Hodgson

when he was selected as Team
GB's understudy to Butland.

He is also remembered for being sent
off after coming on as a substitute for England U21s in a 2-0 defeat to
Germany, when midfielder Henri Lansbury was consequently forced to play
the final 32 minutes in goal.

Mario Balotelli scores on debut for Milan

Super Mario scores TWICE on debut for Milan to seal win as sickening chants elsewhere in Italy tarnish Balotelli's return

By
Nick Pisa

PUBLISHED:

21:16 GMT, 3 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:44 GMT, 3 February 2013

Mario Balotelli marked his Milan debut with a goal in each half to secure a 2-1 victory for his new club.

The controversial striker started up front for the club he supported as a child as they welcomed Udinese in the Serie A clash.

The 22-year-old, who completed a 19.5million move away from Manchester City on deadline day, peeled off his man as Stephan El Shaarawy jinked his way down the left.

In the goals: Mario Balotelli scored the opener for Milan as they pulled ahead of Udinese

In the goals: Mario Balotelli scored the opener for Milan as they pulled ahead of Udinese

After the cross deflected into his path, Balotelli hooked in a volley from close range to give the hosts the lead.

After Giampiero Pinzi levelled up the match, it looked as though Balotelli and his team-mates would have to settle for a home draw. That was until El Shaarawy was awarded a soft penalty decision.

The Milan forward surged into the box in the third minute of stoppage time before hitting the deck under what appeared to be a fair tackle.

Balotelli kept up his 100 per cent record from the spot – after performing a few kick-ups before setting the ball down – and rolled the ball into the bottom left corner, sending Daniele Padelli the wrong way.

But the Italy international's arrival was met with derision elsewhere in the country, as fans in the Chievo-Juventus clash earlier in the day sang sickening songs which joked about the striker's death.

The travelling Juventus supporters chanted 'If we jump Balotelli will die' several times throughout that match, which the Turin side won 2-1 to go top of Serie A.

In the thick of it: Danilo tries to get to grips with the new Milan striker

In the thick of it: Danilo tries to get to grips with the new Milan striker

Making friends: Balotelli thanked his international team-mate Stephan El Shaarawy, who set up his goal

Making friends: Balotelli thanked his international team-mate Stephan El Shaarawy, who set up his goal

It was not the first time that Balotelli has been targeted by opposition fans – in January 2010 authorities ordered Juventus to close a section of their Olympic stadium for one match after racist chants were aimed at the former Manchester City striker.

Racism is still widespread in Italian football and the incident was one of the main reasons that Balotelli quit Serie A and headed to the Premier League where the problem has been largely eradicated – even though he scored on his debut he will still be a target for bigoted fans something he didn't experience in Britain.

Iconic: Balotelli wears the No 45, as he did for Manchester City

Iconic: Balotelli wears the No 45, as he did for Manchester City

Marred: Elsewhere, supporters at the Juventus v Chievo clash chanted sickening songs about Balotelli

Marred: Elsewhere, supporters at the Juventus v Chievo clash chanted sickening songs about Balotelli

Another familiar face: Nicolas Anelka was on the bench for Juventus

Another familiar face: Nicolas Anelka was on the bench for Juventus

Ashley Cole had a go at Chelsea team-mates, claims Brentford striker Clayton Donaldson

I heard Ashley Cole blast his Chelsea team-mates, claims Brentford's Donaldson

.

Donaldson added: 'You couldn’t
really see that they were European champions. We set out to unsettle
them, and we did that. They didn’t really create that many chances,
which I am very surprised about to be honest, especially with the
quality of players they have got. That was down to our hard work.

'We’d
done our homework on them and we stopped them creating. We have to take
some credit for that. We’re confident, especially given their run of
form at home recently not having been the best. The pressure will be on
them again.'

SIX NATIONS 2013: Brian O"Driscoll returns for Wales v Ireland

O'Driscoll, Kearney, Best and O'Brien all return to take on Wales in Ireland opener

By
Duncan Bech, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

14:20 GMT, 29 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:12 GMT, 29 January 2013

Ireland have restored Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Rory Best and Sean O'Brien to their XV for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener against Grand Slam champions Wales in Cardiff.

The experienced and influential quartet missed the entire autumn schedule through injury but return at outside centre, full back, openside and hooker respectively.

For the first time since succeeding Keith Wood as captain in 2004, O'Driscoll is relieved of the leadership duties following coach Declan Kidney's decision to appoint No 8 Jamie Heaslip skipper.

It's good to be back: Brian O'Driscoll in Ireland training at Carton House in Co. Kildare on Tuesday

It's good to be back: Brian O'Driscoll in Ireland training at Carton House in Co. Kildare on Tuesday

The 34-year-old resumes his centre partnership alongside Leinster team-mate Gordon D'Arcy for a record 48th time with Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray selected at half-back.

Kearney forms an exciting back three that features Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo on the wings after the inexperienced duo impressed throughout the autumn.

'It was a tight call because there's so much competition. Fergus McFadden and Keith Earls have been playing well, so it's testament to the way Craig and Simon have been playing that they're selected,' Kidney said.

Show of strength: Rob Kearney will also be back in Ireland colours at the Millennium Stadium

Show of strength: Rob Kearney will also be back in Ireland colours at the Millennium Stadium

Ireland team to face Wales at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday, (KO 1:30pm)

R Kearney (Leinster); C Gilroy (Ulster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), S Zebo (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), M McCarthy (Connacht), D Ryan (Munster), P O'Mahony (Munster), S O'Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster, capt).

Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster),
D Kilcoyne (Munster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), C Henry (Ulster),
E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster),
K Earls (Munster).

In total there are four changes in
personnel to the side that thumped Argentina 46-24 in the climax to a
mixed November, among them Chris Henry's demotion to the bench.

O'Brien was assured of a spot in the back row once he had returned to fitness, but Henry is unfortunate to have made way with Peter O'Mahony preferred at blindside.

'We felt that in terms of a mix in the back row this was the best combination, but there was certainly plenty to talk about following Chris' performances in the autumn,' Kidney said.

Ireland, the bookmakers' third favourites to win the Six Nations, have lost their last three matches to Wales, including a 23-21 loss on the opening day of the championship last year.

But while the injury-hit Welsh enter the tournament as champions, they have endured seven successive defeats including a whitewash during a troubled autumn.

Olympic Stadium to host London Grand Prix

Olympic Stadium to host London Grand Prix on anniversary of 2012 opening ceremony… but will Bolt run away from taxman again

as she claimed gold in the heptathlon” class=”blkBorder” />

Local hero: Jessica Ennis was one of the stars of London 2012 as she claimed gold in the heptathlon

Mo Farah, who won gold medals in the
10,000 metres and 5,000m at the Olympics, said: 'The atmosphere was
electric during the Games, I'll never forget it, so it's great that the
British fans, and athletes, will get to experience that again so soon
after the Games.'

Athletics tickets were among the most sought after for the Games and heptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis hopes the Grand Prix will give people who were unable to buy tickets a chance to see high-class athletics at the stadium.

She said: 'It is brilliant to hear that the British Athletics London GP is going to be held at the Olympic Stadium a year after the Games.

'It will give athletes and fans who did not get to experience the amazing venue the chance to go there, and for those of us who had the most incredible experiences on the track and field, an opportunity to relive a few memories.

'Hopefully I will be there and using the competition as part of my preparation for the World Championships.'

Speedsters: Usain Bolt (left) and his Jamaican team-mates set a new 4x100m world record in London

Speedsters: Usain Bolt (left) and his Jamaican team-mates set a new 4x100m world record in London

Lighting up London: The stadium was also full for the Paralympics last summer

Lighting up London: The stadium was also full for the Paralympics last summer