Tag Archives: turning

Furious Man United fans turn on Roy Keane

Furious Man United fans turn on Keane after former captain claims Nani red card was 'right decision'

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

23:08 GMT, 5 March 2013

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UPDATED:

06:09 GMT, 6 March 2013

Manchester United fans have reacted furiously after Roy Keane claimed the decision to send off Nani in the Champions League clash with Real Madrid was the right one.

United fans on Twitter have described Keane as 'bitter' and claim to have 'lost respect' for the former Old Trafford hero.

Keane's comments came on ITV in the moments after the match which saw his former side kicked out of Europe's elite competition by a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Right decision: United fans are furious their former captain failed to support the club

Right decision: United fans are furious their former captain failed to support the club

The turning point of the match came midway through the second half when Nani was shown a straight red for a clumsy challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa.

The Portugal international appeared to be watching high ball land and his leg hit the Madrid player in his midriff.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was apoplectic on the touchline, but Keane believes Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir made the right decision.

He said: 'I think the referee has actually made the right call. Everyone's upset about it and it's slightly unlucky, but it's dangerous play. Whether he meant it or not is irrelevant.

'It's dangerous play – it's a red card.

'You have to be aware of other players on the pitch. Does he think he's going to have 20 yards to himself

'Whether it's [a brave decision] or not, it's the right decision. Whether he meant it or not doesn't matter.

'Nani's a quick boy to go down anyway. He's not the bravest player on the planet.'

Keane insisted the referee had carefully considered his decision.

Marching orders: Nani was sent off for this challenge during the second half

Marching orders: Nani was sent off for this challenge during the second half

Marching orders: Nani was sent off for this challenge during the second half

He added: 'It doesn't matter if he
knows there's somebody there or not, it's irrelevant. I don't think the
referee actually made the decision because he waited a couple of minutes
while the player was getting treatment.

'I think it might have been the assistant that made the decision, and I actually think he's made the right call.

'We always say referees are very quick to make decisions – he waited a couple of minutes.

'Any time I was sent off in my career
I always thought, “did I give the referee chance to send me off” And
if the answer is yes, then it's out of your hands.'

The defeat leaves United battling on
two fronts for domestic silverware, but Keane may not be welcome at the
home of the Barclays League leaders in the wake of his comments.

One Twitter user said: 'Worst thing
to come out of tonight is Roy Keane's dirty comments, absolutely quality
for us as a player but what a bitter fella.'

Another added: 'The last bit of respect I had for Roy Keane has now well and truly gone.'

No love lost: Fergie was furious with the referee over the decision to send Nani off

No love lost: Fergie was furious with the referee over the decision to send Nani off

No love lost: Fergie was furious with the referee over the decision to send Nani off

Despite
a highly successful working career together, Keane has blasted his
former boss on a number of occasions since his departure in November
2005.

Keane was unhappy with the way he was ushered out of Old Trafford eight years ago.
An
interview with MUTV in which he was critical of some of his Manchester
United team-mates was given as a reason for his departure after
12-and-a-half years.

Asked if he could envisage a time
when he would have a good relationship with the Scot again, Keane told
The Sun: 'I wouldn’t have thought so, no. He’s a busy man and I’m fairly
busy.

'I said before I
was disappointed the way I was treated at the end, nobody will change
that. But that doesn’t mean to say I’m bitter and twisted towards Man
United. Far from it.

'I can go back there, I just wouldn’t be comfortable so that’s my choice.'

Keane
also told the Sunday Times: 'People say Ferguson always does what is
right for Man United. I don’t think he does. I think he does what is
right for him.'

Harry Redknapp says Roberto Mancini dealt with Mario Balotelli wrong but brands the striker "difficult"

I would never do what Mancini did: Redknapp scolds City boss but brands Balotelli 'difficult'

By
Duncan Bech, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

23:31 GMT, 4 January 2013

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UPDATED:

23:31 GMT, 4 January 2013

QPR manager Harry Redknapp has questioned the wisdom of managers confronting players after reflecting on the training ground clash between Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli.

An argument erupted during Manchester City's practice session yesterday that saw the Italians grapple with each other and Mancini today admitted he lost his temper for 'one or two seconds'.

Redknapp insists such incidents are rare in the modern game and believes there is little to be gained from reading players the riot act.

Redknapp agrees Balotelli is a handful but thinks Mancini got it all wrong

Why always him Redknapp agrees Balotelli is a handful but thinks Mancini got it all wrong

'You shouldn't get in those situations, what can you win It can't happen with players now. Shouting and screaming at players doesn't get you anywhere,' he said.

'Years ago it used to happen. Years and years ago some managers would be throwing cups around. Those days are long gone.

'You lose their respect if you behave like that, you have to talk to them.

'Roberto Mancini's a top manager but I'm sure Balotelli can get you like that. He's difficult.'

Balotelli and Mancini were back in training on Friday morning aftere their bust-up

Glassy eyed: Balotelli and Mancini were back in training on Friday morning aftere their bust-up

On Thursday the two had to be pulled apart as Mancini completely lost his temper

Feud: On Thursday the two had to be pulled apart as Mancini completely lost his temper

There was little danger of Redknapp dueling with any member of QPR's squad yesterday after the 1-0 midweek victory over Chelsea had sent spirits soaring at Loftus Road.

The 65-year-old hopes the club's first win at their west London rivals for 30 years will provide the turning point in their battle against relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

'That win brings the pack back a bit now. We're still adrift but at least we have half a chance. If we can put back to back wins together anything can happen,' Redknapp said.

'Everyone's buzzing on the back of Chelsea, the whole place feels better. There's nothing like it.

'I've been through it so many times before when that big win can change everything. Hopefully it can do that for us now.

'Because of the situation we're in we'll have to claw out results, get some results and nick a 1-0 where we can. We're not going to smash teams up.'

Nelson, Onuoha and Hill celebrate as QPR finally won again against Chelsea

Relief: Nelson, Onuoha and Hill celebrate as QPR finally won again against Chelsea

QPR host West Brom in the third round of the FA Cup tomorrow and Redknapp will give the competition the respect he feels it deserves.

'I often wonder why clubs in the middle of the table put weakened teams out,' he said.

'The only chance you've got of winning something in this country unless you're one of the big four or five is the FA or Capital One cup.

'I don't know why clubs don't have a go for it. Going to Wembley is fantastic.

'Winning's a good habit to get into. I thought we could have taken something out of our recent game against West Brom.

'If you ask the four teams in the semi-finals of the League Cup, they'll all want to be in that final.

'Chelsea might be a bit blasi, but Swansea, Aston Villa and Bradford would love it.'

Is Rafael Benitez turning Chelsea tide? – Michael Walker

Michael Walker: Whisper it quietly, but is Rafa turning the tide at Chelsea

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 9 December 2012

When it comes to Chelsea, there must be caution in trying to predict a period of time as long as the next five months.

But if Roman Abramovich can still that trigger-finger until April, it might just be that he has title contenders towards the end of it.

There must also be caution when assessing a victory at Sunderland, who slid into the relegation zone, but Chelsea got a lot right on Wearside.

Looking up: Rafael Benitez has won two games in the last week

Looking up: Rafael Benitez has won two games in the last week

Rafa Benitez got the first Barclays Premier League win of his reign. Fernando Torres scored his first league goals for two months. Oscar was excellent, the movement was fast and fluent. The claim that the title is a Mancunian two-horse race seemed premature.

Step back from the soap opera that Chelsea have become and assess what they possess: a superb, deep squad with hugely talented attackers, fine midfielders, experienced defenders and a leader of a goalkeeper in Petr Cech.

They have Frank Lampard coming back and John Terry soon to join him. They have signings lined up for January, perhaps more than we know. And they have a manager in Benitez, liked or not, who has proved that he can organise and motivate.

Yet Abramovich’s hire ’em, fire ’em methods have shot holes in the team’s reputation, because they are being marketed as also-rans, when they are not. True, they began the game 10 points behind Manchester United, but only 40 per cent of the season has gone. It is too soon to be calling such gaps insurmountable and Benitez is not convinced by the two-horse theory.

‘You have to remember last year that in January everyone was saying that Manchester City would win the title easily,’ he said. ‘And yet at the end on the last day they could have lost it and had to score in the last minute to win it.’

‘If we play at this level and at this intensity we will win games in a row and hopefully we will be there.’

On song: Fernando Torres has scored four goals in two games

On song: Fernando Torres has scored four goals in two games

CHANGING TORRES

Rafa Benitez arrived at Chelsea with the task of rejuvenating a beleaguered Fernando Torres on his to-do list. And with two goals at Sunderland — Torres’s first Premier League goals in 750 minutes of football — it seems the Rafa revival has begun…

4 – Since Benitez arrived, Torres has scored four goals in five games. He had seven in 20 before.

112.5 – The Spaniard’s minutes-per-goal ratio under Rafa, bettering his previous figure of 274.4.

80% – Torres’S shooting accuracy is up to 80 per cent since Benitez joined . . . 17 per cent higher than before in domestic and European matches.

22.5 – With Rafa, Torres shoots every 22.5 minutes, an improvement on his previous rate of 50.8 minutes per shot.

0 – Torres had not taken a penalty in English football before Saturday. But as Michael Walker pointed out in Saturday’s Sportsmail, he had form at Sunderland and scored three pens for Spain in the Under 16 European Championship in 2001.

0.7 – Torres’S goals-per-game ratio for Benitez. Under Roberto Di Matteo it was 0.4 and with Carlo Ancelotti just 0.1.

109.5 – In 83 games with Rafa, Torres scores a goal every 109.5 minutes. With Carlo Every 762.

A run of league games is just what Chelsea do not have, however. The club flew from North East to Far East for the Club World Cup. Chelsea’s first game is on Thursday. Their next Premier League game is Aston Villa at home on Sunday week. They could be parading a trophy.

It is unlikely that will appease all supporters, though. All afternoon at the Stadium of Light, the 3,000 away fans sang: ‘We don’t care about Rafa, he don’t care about us,’ and when that was put to Benitez, he replied: ‘I care about the team, I care about the club and everyone here, and I want to win. I will try to do my best from day one to the last day.’

On his personal website on Sunday, there was an ‘open letter’ in which Benitez thanked those who have sent ‘messages, emails, letters’. He is trying.

This display will do no harm.
Metaphorically and literally, Chelsea were flying. Effectively the
formation was 4-2-4 and Eden Hazard should have had a penalty before
Torres stabbed home an 11th-minute volley.

If
Point One of Benitez’s remit was to get more from Torres, he has begun.
It was not so much the finish, slick as it was, it was the fact that
Torres rolled Carlos Cuellar on the halfway line before making the
ground up to score from six yards.

The difference there was a 50million striker and a free-transfer centre half.

Sunderland
fought against their status, and Danny Rose (on loan) was impressive.
Adam Johnson had a very good game against Ashley Cole.

Big gun: 50m worth of striker is starting to function

Big gun: 50m worth of striker is starting to function

Johnson scored a cracking goal on 66
minutes but Sunderland had been undermined by defensive mistakes by Seb
Larsson and Phil Bardsley (both substituted).

But if Martin O’Neill’s side play like
this on Tuesday night at home to Reading, they should leap out of the
bottom three. They kept Cech busy.

The first error, by Larsson, enabled
Torres to score from the penalty spot to make it 2-0 — his first senior
penalty in England remarkably — and when Torres hit a post just after
half-time, Juan Mata followed up.

If
there was a quibble, it is that Chelsea are like two five-a-side teams
in one XI. Like every Chelsea manager, Benitez needs glue.

Sale 6 Toulon 17: Jonny Wilkinson seals points for Toulon

Sale 6 Toulon 17: Sharks sink in the wet as Wilko wins again

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UPDATED:

23:03 GMT, 8 December 2012

Jonny Wilkinson has labelled
England's epic win over New Zealand as a 'turning point' for English
rugby and 'the most influential victory in five years'.

The record-breaking England stand-off
was speaking after helping his Toulon side beat a Sale team featuring
Danny Cipriani in a physical Heineken Cup fixture.

Wilkinson, the second highest points
scorer in Test match history behind New Zealand's Dan Carter, expressed
his admiration for Stuart Lancaster's England after watching the game
last Saturday on TV.

Kicking boots: Jonny Wilkinson kicks a penalty for Toulon

Kicking boots: Jonny Wilkinson kicks a penalty for Toulon

'We deserved to win against a very,
very good side and it could be a huge turning point for England after
what I believe is the most influential victory in the last five years
for English rugby.

'Their defence was uncompromising,
their work in the breakdown fantastic and the way they attacked the ball
exceptional. It's all about attitude now. If we can put the same
attitude into the next game, then the next, then England won't need Manu
Tuilagi to beat five players.

'They need to keep their feet on the
ground in one sense because what's important is the next game, not the
last one, but knowing the talent they have I was not surprised.'

Held his own: Sale's Danny Cipriani

Held his own: Sale's Danny Cipriani

Cipriani might have been playing for
England but for some off-field antics in recent times, but a move to
Sale appears to be calming the talented stand-off, although he remains,
at best, fourth in Lancaster's pecking order for the No10 jersey.

He put in a solid display against
Wilkinson, the man he twice replaced with England in 2008 through form
and injury, but both were denied the chance to shine in appalling
weather conditions as Toulon emerged the winners.

The odds were stacked against Sale
with the home side languishing at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership
and the visitors leading the French Top 14.

Moreover Toulon, arguably the form
team in Europe, were not just sporting a who's who of world rugby in the
form of Wilkinson, ex-Wallaby Matt Giteau, former All Black Carl
Heyman, former Springbok Bakkies Botha and French international stars
Frederic Michalak and Mathieu Bastareaud, but also former Sharks
returning for the first time to the new, Salford City Stadium in the
shape of Andrew Sheridan, France's Sebastien Bruno and Puma Juan Martin
Fernandez Lobbe.

Just short: Sebastien Tilous-Borde is stopped close to the tryline

Just short: Sebastien Tilous-Borde is stopped close to the tryline

The Armitage brothers, Delon and Steffon, also ran out in the gloom, determined to prove their worth.

Old England stars Simon Shaw – now 39
and still going strong – and Nick Kennedy made a powerful, all-English
reserve second row from the bench as well.

Pacing up and down the touchdown were
former head coach turned chief executive Steve Diamond and new
appointment, former All Black coach John Mitchell, hoping that, despite
the quality of opposition, the Heineken Cup could kickstart a recovery.
They would have been delighted, despite the loss, with what they saw in
terms of commitment and effort, although the inclement conditions
certainly helped the Sharks.

Cipriani missed two penalties, one
striking the bar, but scored with two more, while Wilkinson missed two
penalties and a conversion, and landed two penalties.

Dejected: Sale Sharks players look on

Dejected: Sale Sharks players look on

The difference at the interval was David Smith's try on the half hour after Fernandez Lobbe tipped Wilkinson's inch perfect up and under into the path of the Australian winger and Smith sprinted to the corner to score. Wilkinson nudged Toulon into an eight-point lead with another penalty and Botha thought he had finally broken the Sale rearguard action in the 67th minute, but Andy Powell held him up.It took a 75th-minute penalty from Wilkinson to finally settle the issue.

Toulon's grip at the top of Pool 6 has tightened as a result and Sale, for all their spirit, are all but out of the Heineken Cup, a fact likely to be confirmed next Sunday when they face the return game in Toulon.

Messrs Wilkinson, retired from England but hopeful of a Lions tour this summer, and Cipriani, hoping he may one day wear the red rose again, will be expecting some South of France conditions.

John Higgins beats Michael Holt in williamhill.com UK Championship

Higgins gets bid for fourth UK Championship underway after easing into second round

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UPDATED:

15:36 GMT, 1 December 2012

John Higgins began his bid for a fourth williamhill.com UK Championship title by grinding out a first-round win over Michael Holt.

The Scot, champion in 1998, 2000 and 2010, came through his opening test on day one of the tournament at York's Barbican Centre, stepping up his performance following a mid-match scare which left his mind 'scrambled'.

The 37-year-old Scot, who stunned Judd Trump with a terrific comeback in the final to win the Shanghai Masters title in September, has looked to be approaching his very best form after going through a slump last season.

Eyes on the prize: John Higgins is chasing his fourth UK Championship

Eyes on the prize: John Higgins is chasing his fourth UK Championship

And while he scaled no great heights against 34-year-old Nottinghamshire potter Holt, there were enough indications that his game is in healthy order.

Higgins, who made an early break of 116, split the opening six frames with Holt and was behind midway through frame seven. But he then seized on an opening to inch ahead in the match, and it proved the turning point as he pulled away to clinch a 6-3 victory.

'I'm delighted to win. I was on edge the whole game,' said Higgins, who will play Mark Davis or Cao Yupeng next.

'Being the first match on, sometimes that's not for the best. The table was playing really slow, the cushions were the slowest I think I've ever played on and it was difficult to get used to the conditions.'

On cue: Higgins at the table against Michael Holt

On cue: Higgins at the table against Michael Holt

The world No 3 added: 'It was looking dodgy in the seventh frame when Michael could have cleared up and won that frame to make it 4-3.

'My head was getting scrambled, I was getting frustrated with myself and if it had gone 4-3 he would have probably gone on to win.'

Holt, the world number 29, said: 'I love being at these tournaments and really want to win. But I've been at this stage of my career for about 10 years. I know I can beat anyone. It's really frustrating. I'm always just that far away from winning.'

Australian Open champion Barry Hawkins came through a difficult assignment against China's Liang Wenbo, winning 6-4.

Mario Balotelli will not be sold – Roberto Mancini

Mancini rules out Balotelli sale after striker earns City win

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UPDATED:

00:52 GMT, 29 November 2012

Roberto Mancini insisted that Manchester City have no intention of selling Mario Balotelli in the January transfer window after the Italian made the breakthrough against Wigan.

Mancini kept faith with Balotelli when he took off Sergio Aguero in the 68th minute, and the Italian responded immediately by scoring his first Premier League goal of the season less than 60 seconds later.

Substitute James Milner ensured that City kept pace with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League with a spectacular second goal to seal a 2-0 victory.

Main man: Mario Balotelli put Manchester City in front against Wigan

Main man: Mario Balotelli put Manchester City in front against Wigan

Asked if City will allow Balotelli to leave next month, Mancini said: 'No it's not true. It's his first goal this season and I hope he can improve after this game.

'We thought of bring Mario off but we thought he was fresher than Aguero.

'We have four top strikers but we've had some difficulty scoring goals like we did last season. I hope we can move on from this. The season is very long, and if a lot of teams are playing in the Champions League in February it can change everything.

'We are at the top with United at the moment but I think Chelsea can fight for the title as well.'

Wigan can count themselves unlucky not to have taken anything out of the game. They have now lost all six games against City since Mancini took over, failing to score a single goal.

Keeping pace: City beat Wigan to stay in touch with Manchester United

Keeping pace: City beat Wigan to stay in touch with Manchester United

They had their chances on this occasion, not least when Arouna Kone headed wide in the second half when James McCarthy's cross found him unmarked 10 yards from goal.

Roberto Martinez admitted that it was the turning point of the game.

'We edged the game for 60 minutes,' said Martinez. 'We were so good off the ball and frustrated City. We kept them to one shot on target in the first half – we had 16 shots and they had one.

'In the end we couldn't be ourselves. We couldn't find a way to get that goal. We had a great chance and it goes up the other end and Mario gets a bit of luck on the rebound. Normally you get the ball going to a defender and get it cleared away.

'It's very hard to lose a game after the manner in which we played.'

Arsene Wenger scoffs at AVB claim that Tottenham were in control

Wenger scoffs at AVB's claim that Tottenham were in control against Arsenal

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UPDATED:

00:21 GMT, 18 November 2012

Andre Villas-Boas refused to blame
Emmanuel Adebayor for Tottenham’s 5-2 defeat by Arsenal and instead
launched an impassioned – at times delusional – defence of his team.

The Spurs boss insisted his side were
in control for the whole game, claiming they dictated proceedings even
after Adebayor was sent off for a wild challenge on Santi Cazorla after
17 minutes.

‘We were very, very good from the first minute to the last
with 11 men and with 10 men,’ said Villas-Boas.

Rash: Emmanuel Adebayor lunged in and fouled Santi Cazorla

Rash: Emmanuel Adebayor lunged in and fouled Santi Cazorla

Fair cop: Andre Villas-Boas admitted the challenge deserved a red

Fair cop: Andre Villas-Boas admitted the challenge deserved a red

‘We feel it could have gone either way. We were in control from the first minute to the last, we’re proud of what we have done.

‘The feeling about the result is indifferent when we played so well and we took the risk in the second half to be so bold and play with three at the back.’

But his claims brought a guffaw from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

‘If our opponents are in control from the first to the last minute and we win 5-2 I don’t mind too much,’ quipped the Arsenal boss.

‘Tottenham made a good start, we were a bit nervous and they scored a goal where we made an adjustment. The turning point was the sending off. We came back and got what we wanted. It’s not always easy to win against 10 men.’

Villa-Boas would also not criticise Adebayor. He even praised his ‘strong and brave’ play. There were suggestions that the ex-Manchester City and Arsenal striker would struggle to remain calm in an incendiary derby atmosphere and he was sent off by referee Howard Webb after flying into Cazorla with his studs showing.

‘There is nothing to say about Adebayor,’ said Villas-Boas. ‘We understand it could have been any other player on any other day, this is football and challenges like this happen. I don’t think it being against a former club (was a factor).

‘I think Adebayor was in full control, he went for a challenge and in a London derby you want players to go for second balls. You want to be strong and brave.’

High jump: Per Mertesacker scored his first goal for Arsenal with a towering header

High jump: Per Mertesacker scored his first goal for Arsenal with a towering header

Wenger insisted Webb was right to dismiss Adebayor, who scored the opener before his departure.

‘Adebayor had a good start,’ he said. ‘He was lively but (the challenge) is not a yellow card, it’s red.’
Defeat is likely to prompt speculation over the reign of Villas-Boas
after successive league defeats by Wigan and Manchester City but he
remained defiant, saying: ‘When you play like this I don’t think it can
be that damaging a result.

‘When you’re poor I think it can be damaging.

‘For example, at Man City we had a good first half but not a good second half.

‘Here we felt that the circumstances
of the game fell Arsenal’s way. We had chances for 2-0 and 4-3. I
believe Arsenal were very efficient attacking but we had our chances,
too. I’m proud of the players.’

There were no reports of serious
crowd trouble despite problems at last year’s derby, when Adebayor and
Wenger were subjected to serious verbal abuse.

But a steward confirmed that ‘a few’ flags bearing the term ‘yid’ or ‘yiddo’ had been confiscated at the gates.

High-flyers: Olivier Giroud was praised by Walcott as Spurs tumbled to a heavy defeat

High-flyers: Olivier Giroud was praised by Walcott as Spurs tumbled to a heavy defeat

Wales 12 Argentina 26: Halfpenny can"t keep pace as Pumas run riot

Wales 12 Argentina 26: Halfpenny can't keep pace as Pumas run riot

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 10 November 2012

Wales' hopes of securing a top-four seeding in the 2015 World Cup nosedived after Argentina stunned them at the Millennium Stadium.

Eleven years to the day following Argentina's only previous victory over Wales in Cardiff, second-half tries from wings Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho left the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions reeling.

Turning the screw: Juan Imhoff scores a try for Argentina

Turning the screw: Juan Imhoff scores a try for Argentina

Match facts

WALES:

Penalties: Halfpenny (7, 14, 27, 48)

ARGENTINA:

Tries: Imhoff (54), Camacho (59)

Conversions: Sanchez (54, 59)

Penalties: Contepomi (4)

Drop goals: Sanchez (9. 52)

And to make matters worse, Wales also
suffered a double injury blow when centre Jamie Roberts and lock
Alun-Wyn Jones departed inside the opening 40 minutes.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked all
Wales' points, but they were outplayed by a Pumas team battle-hardened
from recent home and away appointments with New Zealand, Australia and
South Africa in the southern hemisphere's inaugural Rugby Championship.

Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez weighed in
with two drop-goals, two conversions and a penalty, while veteran centre
Felipe Contepomi kicked a penalty before he was forced off injured
after just 10 minutes. Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley – in charge
while Warren Gatland begins preparations for heading up next summer's
British and Irish Lions tour to Australia – will have been dismayed by
some of his side's lethargy.

It was Wales' fourth defeat on the
bounce, their first at home since last December and a loss that leaves
them with little chance of securing a top four ranking on which top
seeds will based prior to the World Cup draw early next month.

Feeding frenzy: Argentina's Martin Landajo releases the ball

Feeding frenzy: Argentina's Martin Landajo releases the ball

They have Samoa, New Zealand and
Australia still to come over the next three weeks, with Wales having not
beaten the All Blacks since 1953 and suffered seven successive defeats
at the Wallabies' hands.

And Wales' day was summed up three
minutes from time when substitute back-row forward Rob McCusker burst
through – but he blissfully ignored three unmarked team-mates outside
him.

Getting his kicks: Wales' Leigh Halfpenny (left) scores a penalty

Getting his kicks: Wales' Leigh Halfpenny (left) scores a penalty

It was the final misguided act by
Wales, with their players booed off by many in a 51,000-strong crowd.
Wales launched their autumn campaign without injured quartet Jonathan
Davies, Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate and Ryan Jones, but Roberts returned
after knee surgery in a team that also included debutant prop Aaron
Jarvis.

Contepomi and Halfpenny exchanged
penalties during a low-key opening under the stadium's closed roof, but
there was an impressive tempo to Argentina's game that suggested they
meant business. Sanchez put them 6-3 ahead with a drop-goal after 10
minutes, and there was no immediate sign of Wales getting their
much-vaunted wide attacking game into gear.

The Pumas, though, suffered an injury
blow when Contepomi was carried off after being left dazed following a
midfield collision of bodies.

Going south: George North is tackled by Argentina's Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (left)

Going south: George North is tackled by Argentina's Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (left)

He was replaced by Joaquin Tuculet as
Halfpenny landed an equalising penalty. And the game's
fiercely-punishing trend did not end there as Roberts was helped away
midway through the half.

It looked as though he had been
knocked out following a collision with Pumas centre Gonzalo Tiesi, and
it meant an early entry for Perpignan's James Hook, who won his 66th
cap.

Halfpenny then completed his penalty
hat-trick, putting Wales in front for the first time, but it was
largely unconvincing rugby from the home side.

Playing their first Test match since
June, Wales looked rusty, although Hook's arrival injected a midfield
snap as the home side looked to free wings Alex Cuthbert and George
North.

Double trouble: Manuel Carizza (third right) looks to offload under pressure from Tavis Knoyle (right) and Toby Faletau (right)

Double trouble: Manuel Carizza (third right) looks to offload under pressure from Tavis Knoyle (right) and Toby Faletau (right)

But Wales suffered another injury
blow on the stroke of half-time when lock Jones was forced off clutching
his ribs, and Wales shaded a disappointing 40 minutes 9-6 in front.

With Contepomi off, Sanchez assumed
goalkicking duties, but his opening strike bounced back off the post as
Argentina dominated territory early in the second period.

Sanchez then had another opportunity
just two minutes later, albeit from longer range, and this time he
slipped on making contact with the ball and it fell well short of the
target.

Chip 'n' chase: Martin Landajo (left) kicks past Tavis Knoyle (right)

Chip 'n' chase: Martin Landajo (left) kicks past Tavis Knoyle (right)

Argentina, though, had served notice
to Wales they did not intend slipping off the pace, and the home side
needed some inspiration, rather than perspiration.

Halfpenny's fourth successful penalty
inched Wales further in front, but Sanchez dropped his second goal to
make it a three-point game again midway through the third quarter.

Wales could establish nothing in the
way of sustained momentum, and the Pumas showed them exactly what do
with quality possession when Imhoff sprinted over for a well-worked try
that Sanchez converted.

And it got worse for Wales just six
minutes later, with Imhoff's fellow wing Camacho the beneficiary this
time, finishing superbly in the corner despite Halfpenny's tackle.

Sanchez again converted, leaving Wales in grave danger of defeat unless they could stir during the closing quarter.

But when Sanchez slotted a penalty
nine minutes from time there was no way back for Wales, who delivered
comfortably their worst performance since folding to defeat against
France in Paris 20 months ago.

Andy Murray loses to Novak Djokovic in London

Murray downed by Djokovic as world No 1 comes from behind to win in London

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UPDATED:

17:01 GMT, 7 November 2012

Andy Murray's bid for the ATP London Masters took a hit when he was beaten by Novak Djokovic in three sets.

The Scot flew out of the blocks and did not look back, dropping only three points on serve in winning the opening set of their Group A clash 6-4.

This was their seventh meeting of the year after sharing the first six, with Djokovic winning an epic Australian Open semi-final but Murray turning the tables at the Olympics and then clinching his first grand slam title at the US Open.

Setback: Andy Murray was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the ATP world tour finals

Setback: Andy Murray was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the ATP world tour finals

Setback: Andy Murray was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the ATP world tour finals

Setback: Andy Murray was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the ATP world tour finals

That match was also a dramatic five-setter, and their contests have become ever more physically demanding.

The O2 crowd, packed almost to 17,000
capacity, were anticipating another classic, and they were certainly
not disappointed in the opening game.

Murray brought up a break point and
took it with a scampering cross-court forehand after the sort of rally
for which the pair have become famous.

The Scot looked extremely sharp, moving well and hitting his groundstrokes with a real zip, particularly on the forehand.

Djokovic did not win a point on
Murray's serve until a double fault in the sixth game, and in the ninth
game he found himself facing set point after some more incredible
defence from the third seed followed by a cute drop shot.

He could not convert that one,
hooking a forehand long, but on serve he was rock solid once more,
holding to love after 44 minutes.

Out of reach: Murray's serve was formidable early on, but dropped off in the later sets

Out of reach: Murray's serve was formidable early on, but dropped off in the later sets

It was a shorter set than normal in
encounters between the pair, mostly due to Murray's dominance on serve,
with Djokovic not so much as managing a deuce.

The Serb won their most recent match,
in Shanghai last month, in a more than three-hour epic in which Murray
held five match points, but he was struggling to make an impression
here.

Murray had another chance to break in
the third game of the second set but Djokovic landed a drive volley
right on the join of the lines, perhaps more by luck than judgment, and
three games later he had his first chance.

Surprisingly Murray chose to serve
and volley on break point and it did not pay off, the Scot forced to
play off his toes and missing the baseline by a fraction.

And this time it was Djokovic who did not waver serving it out, taking the set 6-3 to level up.

The momentum had well and truly
shifted, with Djokovic now the aggressor and Murray throwing in a few
too many errors, and four of them cost him in the third game of the
decider as the top seed broke through again.

Taking a tumble: Murray was eventually beaten 7-5 in the final set, despite breaking back

Taking a tumble: Murray was eventually beaten 7-5 in the final set, despite breaking back

The crowd tried to raise their man
but the contrast from the first set was total and Murray, whose serves
were now coming back with interest, was beginning to look a little
forlorn.

Instead of putting pressure on
Djokovic, Murray was just trying to hang on, and he saved break points
in the fifth and seventh games before at last rediscovering his spark.

He forced himself to flatten his
forehand back out and it paid dividends, HawkEye showing Djokovic to
have missed by a whisker to give Murray the break back, and suddenly the
British player was one game away.

Djokovic did not waver, though, and it was Murray who cracked again to leave his opponent serving for the match.

Still it was not straightforward as
Murray forced two more break points but this time Djokovic saved them
and clinched victory after two hours and 34 minutes when the Scot missed
a backhand.

Worcester 23 Sale 16: Match report

Worcester 23 Sale 16: Warriors come Goode to see off sorry Sharks

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UPDATED:

22:26 GMT, 26 October 2012

Ex-England halfbacks Andy Goode and Paul Hodgson fired Worcester to a bruising Premiership win over bottom-placed Sale.

Good scored 18 points, including a second-half try after some smart work by scrum-half Hodgson who was knocked out in the final seconds stopping a certain try by Sale substitute Will Addison.

If Addison had scored it would have given Sale a chance to grab a draw via a conversion attempt, but instead they had to settle for a losing bonus point from a seventh successive Premiership defeat.

Try time: Andy Goode celebrates going over the line for Worcester

Try time: Andy Goode celebrates going over the line for Worcester

Goode outshone his Sale counterpart Danny Cipriani who failed to convert both of Sale’s tries and was substituted 15 minutes from time.

Worcester’s head coach Richard Hill praised Hodgson for his bravery on his Premiership debut since joining from London Irish last summer.

'His tackle epitomised our defence at the end when Sale had all the pressure. Paul was very brave considering he had very severe concussion for London Irish at the end of last season. His tackle saved us two points.’

Flying through the air: Worcester's David Lemi dives over to score his sides first try

Flying through the air: Worcester's David Lemi dives over to score his sides first try

Worcester led 16-8 at half-time having grabbed the initiative through another former international in Samoan wing David Lemi.

Lemi scampered through the Sale defence after taking a neat pass off Goode who converted the try to go alongside three first-half penalties.

Sale, who led 8-6 through Cueto’s try and a Cipriani penalty, drew level at 16-16 in the 59th minute thanks to a score from full-back Nick Macleod and a second penalty by his fly half.

On the charge: Worcester's Matt Kvesic breaks with the ball

On the charge: Worcester's Matt Kvesic breaks with the ball

But the turning point proved to be Hodgson’s quick break from a maul off a line-out which ended in Goode scoring. He added the difficult conversion to put Worcester 23-16 ahead.

Sale dominated the final 10 minutes and looked certain to score in injury-time only for Hodgson to dive head-long to stop Addison.

Bryan Redpath, Sale’s head coach, claimed his team should have gained a penalty try in the closing stages after forcing a series of scrums. ‘I thought we deserved to win,’ he said.