Tag Archives: windy

David Haye boxing clever and Helen Flanagan a real soap star in I"m A Celebrity

Haye boxing clever and Bristow on target as Flanagan proves she's a true soap star

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UPDATED:

09:25 GMT, 12 November 2012

I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here

Stick with Sportsmail Online for daily updates about what is happening in the jungle

Even now, after 10 series of ITV's I'm A Celebrity… Get me Out Of Here, there may still be a few people out there wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to spend up to three weeks in the garden feature from hell

True, in some (okay, perhaps many) cases, the answer is in that question. But that is surely not the whole truth.

After all, if you were going to not wash for days, eat animals' unmentionables and make small talk with someone from a reality show that you've never heard of, would you want to do it under the unblinking gaze of the British telly-viewing public

Soap star: Helen Flanagan has swapped the Coronation Street cobbles for the Australian jungle

Soap star: Helen Flanagan has swapped the Coronation Street cobbles for the Australian jungle

More from Mark Webster…

Edge Of The Box: Think Balotelli's a drama queen Try Montalbano
04/11/12

Edge of the Box: NFL is a BIG story… but one we've heard many times before
29/10/12

Edge of the Box: And they're off! End of an era as Frankel retires and Balding says goodbye to the Beeb
22/10/12

Edge of the Box: Humphrey and Bhasin come to the fore during international break
15/10/12

Edge of the Box: Strictly speaking, I bet Vaughan, Pendleton and Smith look good on the dancefloor
08/10/12

Edge of the Box: Blown away by a Ryder Cup cracker in the windy city
01/10/12

Edge of the Box: Sundays won't be the same without Wooly, but the Supplement is in safe hands
24/09/12

Edge of the Box: Britain's champions looking to win hearts before a contest of a very different kind
16/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Okay, once again a lot of the answer is in the question, but there is also some method in that madness.

The perfect reminder of that was live on ITV on Friday when Phil Tufnell appeared on a special I'm A Celebrity… Who Wants To be A Millionaire.

Sitting alongside fellow 'King' Joe Pasquale, the current One Show reporter and Question Of Sport captain told Chris Tarrant he'd been at the US Embassy until four in the morning for the Presidential election.

'It was a good party. Last to leave as usual', laughed the irrepressible Tuffers, but do you imagine any of that would have happened if his biggest claim to fame had been a seven for 42 against Leicestershire at Grace Road, rather than becoming King Phil in 2003

No, for those few of you who hadn't noticed, I'm A Celebrity is a golden ticket to a whole new kind of fame and the sport folks competing to be this year's Charlie in the Chocolate Factory are David Haye and Eric Bristow; with affiliated support – and almost certainly, more shower scenes – coming from Scott Sinclair's actress girlfriend Helen Flanagan.

And it didn't take long for the two Londoners who usually let their fists do the talking – obviously, In Eric's case, while clenching his tungstens – to tell us why they have both excelled in their respective sports.

'I usually deal with confrontation with a right hook. I can be cocky. Arrogant. And I have a phobia of losing,' the Hayemaker informed us, clearly deciding that the Christopher Biggins approach to jungle glory was not for him.

Mind you, The Crafty Cockney was just as bullish.

'I fear nothing. I'm arrogant. Confident. You like me or you don't. Whatever it takes, I'll do it', he told us.

Clearly our superstar d'artist believes a good game of killer is just as much fun away from the oche.

Of the two, the south London heavyweight champ earned early bragging rights when his team won the helicopter ride in to their camp.

Squaring up: Former heavyweight champion David Haye (left) was against Made In Chelsea's Hugo Taylor

Squaring up: Former heavyweight champion David Haye (left) was against Made In Chelsea's Hugo Taylor

Hitting the bullseye: Darts legend Eric Bristow is on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here

Hitting the bullseye: Darts legend Eric Bristow is on I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here

Eric's team contained former Time Lard Colin Baker, who couldn't escape a dalek with a flat tyre these days, which meant they got an actual, as well as metaphorical, sinking ship to arrive by.

Of the initial challenges though, it was Helen who got the first serious welcome to the jungle for our sports folks.

Taking on a rope bridge across a ravine, Helen told us 'this is the most scared, like, ever' she's ever, like, been as she set out on her precarious endeavour.

Then many tears, a possible throw up and 47,000 'oh my Gods' later, she was across!

It took less than a couple of minutes to watch. However, judging by the changing light and the fact Brian Conley had grown a beard since she set out on her quest, it may have actually taken a tad longer.

Dream team: Presenters Ant (2nd right) and Dec (right) are the stars of the show

Dream team: Presenters Ant (2nd right) and Dec (right) are the stars of the show

As ever, presiding over the fun, fear and frolics are Ant & Dec who remain the sharpest, most endearing talents in light entertainment.

These two are the barometer of the series, judging perfectly where to go with the humour, the angst, the drama and the melodrama.

They welcomed David to the first Bushtucker trial of the series, competing against one Hugo Taylor from Made In Chelsea, who very quickly realised he wasn't in the Kings Road any more.

Challenge: David Haye was tested early on in the new series of I'm A Celebrity...

Challenge: David Haye was tested early on in the new series of I'm A Celebrity…

'That took real endurance and strength' said Ant in the pouring rain.

'Telling me. Nearly forty minutes we had to hold that umbrella up' deadpanned back Dec as Haye came out the resounding, and not entirely unexpected winner.

So for the first few nights, we'll be watching Team David versus Team Eric, which at the moment is looking like Barcelona against Billericay.

But obviously it's still early days, so join me here every morning to find out just how the jungle is rumbling.

Dirty work but somebody's got to do it: Helen Flanagan was snapped taking a shower

Dirty work but somebody's got to do it: Helen Flanagan was snapped taking a shower

Edge of the Box: NFL the BIG story.. but one we"ve heard before

American football is a BIG story… but one we've heard many times before

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UPDATED:

09:47 GMT, 29 October 2012

The mothership has landed. Strange creatures, many the size of your average garden shed, emerge in their battle armour. They speak with strange voices, but are all of one mind. They are ready to conquer us all and spread the cult of the gridiron. The NFL is in town.

Which is how the sixth international NFL regular season game was being sold to us over on its main UK stage, Sky Sports.

Which, frankly, is beginning to wear just a little thin with me.

Putting on a show: The band train performed at Wembley as the NFL roadshow rolled into London

Putting on a show: The band train performed at Wembley as the NFL roadshow rolled into London

More from Mark Webster…

Edge of the Box: And they're off! End of an era as Frankel retires and Balding says goodbye to the Beeb
22/10/12

Edge of the Box: Humphrey and Bhasin come to the fore during international break
15/10/12

Edge of the Box: Strictly speaking, I bet Vaughan, Pendleton and Smith look good on the dancefloor
08/10/12

Edge of the Box: Blown away by a Ryder Cup cracker in the windy city
01/10/12

Edge of the Box: Sundays won't be the same without Wooly, but the Supplement is in safe hands
24/09/12

Edge of the Box: Britain's champions looking to win hearts before a contest of a very different kind
16/09/12

Edge of the Box: London's long goodbye and Murray magic serves up sumptuous end to Summer of Sporting Love
11/09/12

Edge of the Box: Chiles and Co are back and on the road to Rio
08/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

It was thirty years ago that Channel 4 first took the bold leap to bring the NFL to our screens, followed pretty quickly by the sight of legends like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice gracing the turf behind the old Twin Towers in north west London.

Since then the sport has been omnipresent on our tellys, and is serviced every given Sunday by Sky to such an extent that the Atlantic might as well be the Thames in terms of how little distance there is now between us and the sport.

But that sport is also a business. BIG business. And with big business comes the enormous sales pitch.

Thus we had the sight of mercurial New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – in a Pats bobble hat the size of a two-man tepee –on Sky Sports News, cornered in a press huddle, making sure he stayed on message by referring to his trade as 'American football'.

That was during the week as the build-up to Sunday's match between the Pats and 'home team' St Louis Rams began to go through the gears.

Come game day, it was pedal to metal, starting with the NFL London preview show, recorded in the Rams actual home town.

Here we had host Bianca Westwood being reaaaallly excited about everything from a variety of locations around the city, while the channel's game analyst Neil Reynolds got to put the same questions many, many times to a host of players, so as to garner as many answers along the lines of 'representing the league' and 'spreading the game' as he could.

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with Bianca bubbling away enthusiastically, of course. Nor is Reynolds anything other than a genuinely knowledgeable reporter/pundit.

Glamour game: Cheerleaders entertained the crowd as the St Louis Rams faced the New England Patriots

Glamour game: Cheerleaders entertained the crowd as the St Louis Rams faced the New England Patriots

Perhaps, though, the channel's stalwart host Kevin Cadle summed it up best, for me, when he opened the live coverage with the words 'a Big Event – but something we're very familiar with'.

Now that would have suited me just fine if that had been more the editorial approach.

This was never going to happen, though of course, because that is never how anyone ever goes to Wem-ber-ley. Not least a US sport made from pure, 100 per cent razzamatazz.

So, instead there was even more build-up featuring stock tourist shots of Buck House, Bearskins and Big Ben and the fan rally in Trafalgar Square during which players and coaches got to remind us once again just how excited they were to be here.

Back at Wembley, meanwhile, the entertainment had started. Entertainment of the light variety, that is.

Star man: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led his side to a comfortable victory over the Rams

Star man: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led his side to a comfortable victory over the Rams

Welcome: London Mayor Boris Johnson spoke and Katherine Jenkins sang the national anthem

Welcome: London Mayor Boris Johnson spoke and Katherine Jenkins sang the national anthem

First up, music from a band called Train, which I'm delighted to report, featured a ukulele. I'm going out on a limb here and saying that has to be a first for the NFL.

Then we had the laughs, as Boris Johnson played the latest leg of his 2012 'blonde Michael Mcintyre Comedy Roadshow' .

Taking to the field, microphone in hand, Boris welcomed 'the glorious descendent of rugby union football' before imploring everyone to enjoy what he steadfastly insisted on calling 'the match'.

However, perhaps the best line of the night went to one of the US commentary team.

As the camera panned around the fans during the second quarter, former New York Jets QB Phil Simms managed to damn yet another sell out NFL crowd with faint praise by informing us that after all these years of practise, 'they're cheering at the right time now'.

We still can't spell 'nite' and 'center' properly though, Phil.

Different ball game: Wembley lived the American dream as the NFL arrived in England

Different ball game: Wembley lived the American dream as the NFL arrived in England

In the great NFL scheme of things, this blowout game for The Pats was in reality just another in the season schedule and once Sky completed its double header of games, it was back to where it all started for us over here, on Channel 4, for their live game programme.

With Nat Combs – a genuine fan who does a great job of being their 'voice', too – as host and evergreen expert Mike Carlson providing the insight, this show does its business in a more low key, studied way than Sky.

This was reflected in their round up of the NFL's trip to London, with not a ukulele in sight, and coach Bill Belichick moaning about the traffic, Tom Brady the rain.

Equally, where the drum was being banged constantly on Sky for the idea that the UK would have its own NFL team sooner rather than later, Mike's take on the matter was that there will be 'a team in LA before they have a team in London'.

Aha! Hollywood. Now they DO know how to put the show in business.

Gloucester 27 Leicester 21: Freddie Burns sends message to Stuart Lancaster

Gloucester 27 Leicester 21: Burns sends message to Lancaster with virtuoso display

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UPDATED:

20:14 GMT, 27 October 2012

Freddie Burns emerged as an England contender worthy of Stuart Lancaster’s immediate attention as Gloucester increased their run of unbeaten matches to eight against Leicester on Saturday.

The form fly-half of the season completely upstaged the man in possession of the England No 10 jersey, Toby Flood, who is favourite to start at fly-half in the autumn internationals.

Class apart: Burns was outstanding for Gloucester

Class apart: Burns was outstanding for Gloucester

Class apart: Burns was outstanding for Gloucester

Burns is not in Lancaster’s 32-man Elite
Player Squad which will meet up at Burton this week but he scored a try
of international class and cheated difficult windy conditions to give
Gloucester a deserved victory as Tigers lost ground on Saracens at the
top of the Aviva Premiership.

It would be a bold move to call up the 22-year-old now, but Burns will
surely be the first cab off the rank should an England back suffer an
injury between now and the opening game against Fiji on November 10.

High hopes: Louis Deacon rises to collect a lineout ball

High hopes: Louis Deacon rises to collect a lineout ball

Gloucester built a six-point half-time lead, upstaging a side brimming with England players.

Their momentum was established from the second minute when Charlie
Sharples surged on to Burns’ tap ahead to go over in the corner. Burns’
conversion swerved viciously in a high wind before splitting the
uprights.

Flood reduced the deficit from a penalty before Burns replicated the England player’s accuracy from a penalty.

Outshone: England fly-half Toby Flood

Outshone: England fly-half Toby Flood

Tigers relieved the pressure when Scott Hamilton tore on to Manu
Tuilagi’s pass for a disputed try.

The video referee showed Ben Morgan
had not blocked Hamilton’s stretch for a touchdown for Tigers to close
the gap.

Burns thrilled the crowd with Gloucester’s second try in the 20th minute.

Star attraction: Leicester and England centre Manu Tuilagi

Star attraction: Leicester and England centre Manu Tuilagi

Receiving a pass from scrum-half Jimmy Cowan, Burns chip kicked to
himself to take out a Leicester player and raced over the line before
converting his own touchdown.

A Flood penalty made it 17-11 at the break but the match was settled
midway through the second-half when James Simpson-Daniel burned off the
Tigers defence and send Akapusi Qera over for a Gloucester try. Burns
made it three conversions out of three.

But referee John Doyle’s decision to show Cowan and Rob Cook yellow
cards for infringements when Gloucester were absorbing heavy Tigers
pressure reduced the home team’s numerical strength dramatically.

Winner: Akapusi Qera goes over for Gloucester

Winner: Akapusi Qera goes over for Gloucester

No sooner had the culprits left the pitch than the referee awarded
Leicester a penalty try, converted by Flood, which reduced the arrears
to 27-21.

But the Tigers wasted their numerical advantage to suffer their second Aviva Premiership defeat of the season.

Serbia U21 0 England U21 0 (agg 0-2): Match report – Three Lions qualify for Euro 2013

Serbia U21 0 England U21 1 (agg 0-2): Mass brawl and racist chanting mars Young Lions' victory

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UPDATED:

19:59 GMT, 16 October 2012

England Under 21s claimed their place at Euro 2013 amid unsavoury scenes during their qualifying play-off in Serbia.

Players appeared to be pelted with missiles after Connor Wickham struck in injury time of the second leg to book England's trip to next summer's finals in Israel.

Supporters came onto the field, scuffles broke out and England's Danny Rose was sent off after the final whistle. He reacted angrily by kicking away the ball and appeared to indicate he had been racially abused as he left the pitch.

Scroll own for video
Brawl: Violent scenes marred the end of what was a great night for the Under 21s

Brawl: Violent scenes marred the end of what was a great night for the Under 21s

Brawl: Violent scenes marred the end of what was a great night for the Under 21s

Match facts

Serbia Under 21: Aleksic, Kosanovic, Medojevic, Gudelj, Rodic, Causic, Lazovic (Malbasic 59), Milivojevic, Ninkovic (Markovic 74), Kojic (Despotovic 59), Mudrinski.

Subs not used: Kirovski, Petkovic, Milunovic, Jojic.

Booked: Kojic, Gudelj, Medojevic, Milivojevic.

England Under 21: Butland, Smith, Dawson, Caulker, Rose, Zaha (Sterling 76), Lowe, Henderson, Ince, Sordell (Lees 62), Delfouneso (Wickham 89).

Subs not used: Amos, Bennett, McEachran, Townsend.

Sent off: Rose (90).

Booked: Rose,Caulker,Smith,Zaha,Delfouneso.

Goal: Wickham 90.

Attendance: 10,000

Referee: Huseyin Gocek (Turkey).

Steve Wigley, one of the England coaching staff, also appeared to become caught up in the trouble as the players left the field.

The ugly scenes overshadowed another fine display of defensive resilience from England.

Stuart Pearce's men recorded a sixth
clean sheet in seven outings to hold out the Serbs on a wet and windy
night at the Mladost Stadium in Krusevac.

Marvin Sordell hit the post early on
but, until Wickham came off the bench to stroke into an empty net late
on, the game was largely about England's defensive effort.

Serbia had shown from the outset they
intended to be more positive than they were in Norwich last week and,
with Nikola Ninkovic coming into the side, they had a much greater
cutting edge.

But it was England who had the first serious opportunity as Sordell hit the woodwork after nine minutes.

Captain Jordan Henderson found the
Bolton forward with a superb through-ball but Sordell cracked his shot
against the near post after neatly cutting inside Slobodan Medojevic to
create space 12 yards out.

Targeted: Rose reacts to gestures from the crowd after being handed his marching orders

Targeted: Rose reacts to gestures from the crowd after being handed his marching orders

Targeted: Rose reacts to gestures from the crowd after being handed his marching orders

Serbia goalkeeper Branimir Aleksic
looked uncertain throughout but escaped punishment after spilling a
Henderson corner and was then fortunate to earn a free-kick as Craig
Dawson jumped to reach a Wilfried Zaha free-kick.

The hosts showed their danger as
Nemanja Kojic found space down the right and pulled the ball back for
the livewire Ninkovic, who shot tamely at Jack Butland.

Luka Milivojevic flashed a volley wide after a Nemanja Gudelj throw-in was only partly cleared by Steven Caulker.

Heads up: Rose and Caulker both played their part on a nervy evening in Krusevac

Heads up: Rose and Caulker both played their part on a nervy evening in Krusevac

Heads up: Rose and Caulker both played their part on a evening in Krusevac

Serbia went closer as Henderson's
headed clearance from Darko Lazovic's free-kick found its way to
Ninkovic at the far post but his shot went across goal and wide.

Aleksic had another lucky escape as
Dawson beat him to a Rose free-kick on the edge of the area but the
England defender could not keep his header on target.

Lazovic found room on the edge of the
England box but his attempt to curl a shot into the top corner was
easily dealt with by Butland.

Victory! England players celebrate their winner, moments before the ugly scenes unfolded

Victory! England players celebrate their winner, moments before the ugly scenes unfolded

Victory! England players celebrate their winner, moments before the ugly scenes unfolded

After a brief hold-up when one of
several flares lit by Serbian fans found its way into Aleksic's goal
area, the hosts continued to press as Ninkovic beat Adam Smith but fired
wide from distance.

Further efforts came in from Kojic and Milivojevic as Serbia ended the first half on top but Butland was not tested.

England had a scare early in the
second period as Kojic broke clear but Smith got back well to cut him
off and was harshly booked for his trouble.

Ninkovic went close again after the ball fell to him outside the area but his swirling effort was well pushed put by Butland.

Spot on: Dawson scored the winner for England in the first leg at Carrow Road

Spot on: Dawson scored the winner for England in the first leg at Carrow Road

Ninkovic turned provider as he picked
out Filip Malbasic with a fine ball but England were relieved to see the
substitute flagged offside after Ognjen Mudrinski took a needless
touch.

Thomas Ince broke clear as England
mounted a rare attack but Zaha stumbled as he latched onto his cross and
was bemused to be booked for diving.

Aleksic went forward as Serbia had a
late chance from a free-kick but England broke away through Ince, who
slid in Wickham, prompting the mayhem that followed.

Roaring success: The Young Lions are through to the Euro 2013 finals in Israel next summer

Roaring success: The Young Lions are through to the Euro 2013 finals in Israel next summer

DM.has('rcpv1904569852001','BCVideo');

Serbia U21 0 England U21 0 (agg 0-1): Match report – Three Lions qualify for Euro 2013

Serbia U21 0 England U21 1 (agg 0-2): Mass brawl and racist chanting mars Young Lions' victory

|

UPDATED:

18:47 GMT, 16 October 2012

England Under 21s claimed their place at Euro 2013 amid unsavoury scenes during their qualifying play-off in Serbia.

Players appeared to be pelted with missiles after Connor Wickham struck in injury time of the second leg to book England's trip to next summer's finals in Israel.

Supporters came onto the field, scuffles broke out and England's Danny Rose was sent off after the final whistle. He reacted angrily by kicking away the ball and appeared to indicate he had been racially abused as he left the pitch.

Brawl: Violent scenes marred the end of what was a great night for the Under 21s

Brawl: Violent scenes marred the end of what was a great night for the Under 21s

Match facts

Serbia Under 21: Aleksic, Kosanovic, Medojevic, Gudelj, Rodic, Causic, Lazovic (Malbasic 59), Milivojevic, Ninkovic (Markovic 74), Kojic (Despotovic 59), Mudrinski.

Subs not used: Kirovski, Petkovic, Milunovic, Jojic.

Booked: Kojic, Gudelj, Medojevic, Milivojevic.

England Under 21: Butland, Smith, Dawson, Caulker, Rose, Zaha (Sterling 76), Lowe, Henderson, Ince, Sordell (Lees 62), Delfouneso (Wickham 89).

Subs not used: Amos, Bennett, McEachran, Townsend.

Sent off: Rose (90).

Booked: Rose,Caulker,Smith,Zaha,Delfouneso.

Goal: Wickham 90.

Attendance: 10,000

Referee: Huseyin Gocek (Turkey).

Steve Wigley, one of the England coaching staff, also appeared to become caught up in the trouble as the players left the field.

The ugly scenes overshadowed another fine display of defensive resilience from England.

Stuart Pearce's men recorded a sixth
clean sheet in seven outings to hold out the Serbs on a wet and windy
night at the Mladost Stadium in Krusevac.

Marvin Sordell hit the post early on
but, until Wickham came off the bench to stroke into an empty net late
on, the game was largely about England's defensive effort.

Serbia had shown from the outset they
intended to be more positive than they were in Norwich last week and,
with Nikola Ninkovic coming into the side, they had a much greater
cutting edge.

But it was England who had the first serious opportunity as Sordell hit the woodwork after nine minutes.

Captain Jordan Henderson found the
Bolton forward with a superb through-ball but Sordell cracked his shot
against the near post after neatly cutting inside Slobodan Medojevic to
create space 12 yards out.

Serbia goalkeeper Branimir Aleksic
looked uncertain throughout but escaped punishment after spilling a
Henderson corner and was then fortunate to earn a free-kick as Craig
Dawson jumped to reach a Wilfried Zaha free-kick.

The hosts showed their danger as
Nemanja Kojic found space down the right and pulled the ball back for
the livewire Ninkovic, who shot tamely at Jack Butland.

Luka Milivojevic flashed a volley wide after a Nemanja Gudelj throw-in was only partly cleared by Steven Caulker.

Heads up: Rose and Caulker both played their part on a nervy evening in Krusevac

Heads up: Rose and Caulker both played their part on a nervy evening in Krusevac

Heads up: Rose and Caulker both played their part on a evening in Krusevac

Serbia went closer as Henderson's
headed clearance from Darko Lazovic's free-kick found its way to
Ninkovic at the far post but his shot went across goal and wide.

Aleksic had another lucky escape as
Dawson beat him to a Rose free-kick on the edge of the area but the
England defender could not keep his header on target.

Lazovic found room on the edge of the
England box but his attempt to curl a shot into the top corner was
easily dealt with by Butland.

Victory! England players celebrate their winner, moments before the ugly scenes unfolded

Victory! England players celebrate their winner, moments before the ugly scenes unfolded

Victory! England players celebrate their winner, moments before the ugly scenes unfolded

After a brief hold-up when one of
several flares lit by Serbian fans found its way into Aleksic's goal
area, the hosts continued to press as Ninkovic beat Adam Smith but fired
wide from distance.

Further efforts came in from Kojic and Milivojevic as Serbia ended the first half on top but Butland was not tested.

England had a scare early in the
second period as Kojic broke clear but Smith got back well to cut him
off and was harshly booked for his trouble.

Ninkovic went close again after the ball fell to him outside the area but his swirling effort was well pushed put by Butland.

Spot on: Dawson scored the winner for England in the first leg at Carrow Road

Spot on: Dawson scored the winner for England in the first leg at Carrow Road

Ninkovic turned provider as he picked
out Filip Malbasic with a fine ball but England were relieved to see the
substitute flagged offside after Ognjen Mudrinski took a needless
touch.

Thomas Ince broke clear as England
mounted a rare attack but Zaha stumbled as he latched onto his cross and
was bemused to be booked for diving.

Aleksic went forward as Serbia had a
late chance from a free-kick but England broke away through Ince, who
slid in Wickham, prompting the mayhem that followed.

Roaring success: The Young Lions are through to the Euro 2013 finals in Israel next summer

Roaring success: The Young Lions are through to the Euro 2013 finals in Israel next summer

Ryder Cup 2012: Luke Donald hoping to win over home support

'Chicago boy' Donald hoping to win over home support at Cup

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UPDATED:

13:05 GMT, 22 September 2012

Home sweet home – many people think it could be the deciding factor in the Ryder Cup this coming week. But it is not only the Americans who aim to make the most of it at Medinah in Chicago.

Luke Donald hopes it might work in his favour too.

Donald has lived in the 'Windy City' since his college days and said: 'I'm excited to have it come to a place that I've kind of considered home the last 15 years.

Windy city: Donald has lived in Chicago since his college days

Windy city: Donald has lived in Chicago since his college days

Golf blog

'If I can drag away even just 1 per cent of the crowd's support on to my side or the European's side then it's an advantage.

'The biggest advantage for any team is playing at home. If I can just take a little bit of that away then I'm helping the team in a small way.'

What Donald has mostly been hearing from friends in the area is, not surprisingly, that they will be supporting him, but still wanting America to win.

'That's what I hear a lot,' he added. 'I think the people of Chicago are looking forward to it. They're a big sport city and it should be a fun event.'

In terms of his own performance the 34-year-old English star will be delighted if his cup record is continued.

That's handy: Donald made his Ryder Cup debut in 2004

That's handy: Donald made his Ryder Cup debut in 2004

Donald made his debut as a Bernhard Langer wild card in Detroit in 2004 and in three appearances has been on three winning teams. He missed the 2008 match in Louisville because of injury.

The former world No 1 has won eight and lost only two of his 11 games, and in foursomes is a perfect six out of six.

Sergio Garcia was his partner for the first four of those, but at Celtic Manor he also had success first with Ian Poulter and then with Lee Westwood – 6&5 over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker no less.

All three of those partners are part of Jose Maria Olazabal's line-up, so how Donald is used remains to be seen.

Fourballs has been a different story. On his first appearance he halved with Paul McGinley, but then was left out of the second session, while 2006 captain Ian Woosnam did not use Donald at all in the better-ball format.

In Wales, meanwhile, he lost with Padraig Harrington on the opening morning and that was his only fourball game once the schedule was changed because of bad weather.

Donald had still to top the world rankings at that stage and team-mates Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer not had done so either. Now all four have had at least one spell as No 1 and with winning experiences in the Ryder Cup as well, Olazabal's side enter the lion's den at Medinah believing it is well within their capabilities to retain the trophy.

It is a course Donald knows well, not just from his residence, but also because he was third in the 2006 USPGA Championship.

He shared the lead with Tiger Woods with a round to go and even came out for their head-to-head with a matching red shirt, but Woods easily repeated his 1999 victory over the same layout.

'The course is coming into good condition,' Donald said. 'The fairways were struggling six weeks ago, but they're much improved and will be decent playing surfaces.

'The greens are in great shape. They've set it up where there's no rough around the greens and hardly any off the tee. As long as it's not cold and rainy, which it could be, I think you'll see a lot of birdies.

'It will make for a fun, exciting Ryder Cup. There are going to be a lot of people chipping in.'

Andy Murray has proved he"s a true champion with US Open win, says Novak Djokovic

Murray has proved he's a true champion, says Djokovic

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UPDATED:

06:24 GMT, 11 September 2012

Novak Djokovic hailed Andy Murray as a
true champion after the Scot finally won his first Grand Slam title in
an epic US Open final.

Playing in his fifth final and
desperate to avoid joining Fred Stolle as the only man ever to lose his
first five, Murray looked firmly on course when he won both the opening
two sets.

Marathon men: Andy Murray (right) and Novak Djokovic

Marathon men: Andy Murray (right) and Novak Djokovic

But Djokovic, who had not lost a Grand Slam match on hard courts for two years, fought back to level before Murray eventually came through 7-6 (12/10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 after four hours and 54 minutes.

There was a real desire within tennis for the 25-year-old to win a title, even from Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the men who have so often denied him.

Djokovic said: 'Any loss is a bad loss. There is no question about it. I'm disappointed to lose the match but, in the back of my mind, I knew that I gave it all. I really, really tried to fight my way back through.

'I had a great opponent today. He deserved to win this Grand Slam more than anybody, I'm sure, because over the years he's been a top player.

Fighter: Djokovic battled back from two sets down and contributed hugely to a brilliant final

Fighter: Djokovic battled back from two sets down and contributed hugely to a brilliant final

'He's been so close, lost four finals. Now he has won it, so I would like to congratulate him. I'm definitely happy that he won it.

'He's played so consistently well and won against the top players many times on many surfaces. He has proven today that he's a champion and he deserves to be where he is, no question about it.'

The match was played in windy conditions, which Murray certainly coped with better, for the first two sets at least.

Djokovic had struggled badly in his semi-final against David Ferrer on Saturday before the match was postponed because of the threat of a tornado, but he did not use it as an excuse.

The Serb said: 'He played well. It was a struggle for both of us to deal with the conditions. At times we made a lot of unforced errors, at times we played some great points.

Respect: Murray and Djokovic are great friends and rivals

Respect: Murray and Djokovic are great friends and rivals

'The two sides of the court were different. Playing with the wind and against the win is a huge advantage or disadvantage. But it was the same for both of us.

'The beginning of the fifth set was the turning point, it was crucial. I should have not lost the two breaks in a row. After that, it was really tough to come back.'

It was the first grand slam meeting between Murray and Djokovic since their Australian Open semi-final in January, which also went to five sets.

On that occasion it was Djokovic who came out on top but Murray beat him at the Olympics in their last meeting a month ago, and coach Ivan Lendl has had a major impact on the Scot since they began working together at the start of this year.

Djokovic believes the main change has been in his rival's head, adding: 'He has made maybe a couple of adjustments in his game. Maybe he goes for his forehand more than he used to.

'But he was always one of the best players to play in the men's game the last couple of years. It was always a challenge to any of us on any surface. I think it was mental for him in the end to really make a breakthrough.'

US OPEN 2012: Serena Williams easily win round one

No problem! Olympic champ Williams easily downs Vandeweghe at Flushing Meadows

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UPDATED:

07:59 GMT, 29 August 2012

Serena Williams was in fine form as she began her US Open campaign with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over fellow American Coco Vandeweghe.

The fourth seed went into the tournament as the title favourite and that will certainly not have changed after this performance, although she was not given much of a test.

Vandeweghe struggled with the breezy conditions, especially on her serve, sending down six double faults and only holding serve once in the whole match.

Spotlight: Serena Williams had absolutely no problem overcoming Coco Vandeweghe

Spotlight: Serena Williams had absolutely no problem overcoming Coco Vandeweghe

That came at the start of the second set, with her sole game of the opening set coming when she broke Williams after losing the first four games.

Williams, who lost to Sam Stosur in the final last year, has had a brilliant summer, winning her fifth Wimbledon title and then adding Olympic gold in both the singles and doubles at the All England Club earlier this month.

In the second round the 30-year-old will play Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who she has beaten in all three of their previous meetings.

Nike and easy: Williams dropped just two games as she romped into the second round

Nike and easy: Williams dropped just two games as she romped into the second round

Williams felt the windy conditions dictated the nature of the match.

She said: 'It was blowing a lot at the Olympics. I think this may have been more than the Olympics. I usually gauge the wind by my hair. If it's really going forward I'm thinking it's really windy.

'The match was so weird, the conditions were so tough. I couldn't really play my game. She couldn't really play her game.'

Danny Willett wins BMW International Open

Willett survives scare to win BMW International Open after nervy play-off

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UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 24 June 2012

Danny Willett, the son of a vicar, finally had his prayers answered – after going through agony.

The 24-year-old from Sheffield beat Australian Marcus Fraser for his first European Tour victory at the BMW International Open in wet and windy Cologne.

Willett, a teammate of Rory McIlroy in the 2007 Walker Cup, feared it was going to be his 20th top 10 finish without victory when he threw away a three-stroke lead.

Holding his nerve: Danny Willett came through a play-off to win the title

Holding his nerve: Danny Willett came through a play-off to win the title

BMW INTERNATIONAL OPEN

Click here for the final leaderboard

But the former world No 1 in the amateur ranks was given a reprieve when Fraser bogeyed the 456-yard final hole.

That meant a tie on the 11 under par mark of 277 after Willett's superb three-iron escape from close to the trees and the pair had to play the 18th four more times to settle the issue.

First they parred it with Fraser holing from 12 feet, then they bogeyed it with Willett missing from four feet, then they parred it again.

Fraser, twice a winner on the circuit, was favourite to land the first prize of nearly 270,000 when he was 30 feet away in two and the Yorkshireman went over the green.

However, Willett almost chipped in, then saw Fraser lip out and miss his four-footer coming back.

'Amazing – it was a tough day,' said the world No 204, who will be at Sunningdale trying to qualify for the Open Championship on Monday – as will Fraser.

Gutted: Beaten Marcus Foster

Gutted: Beaten Marcus Foster

'I've had some ups and downs in the last 18 months, but I'm injury-free now and I want to thank everybody for the support they've given me.'

One in front overnight, Willett birdied the third and fourth, but the script began to change when he three-putted the ninth.

Further dropped strokes came at the 11th and 15th, the pressure mounting after he had three-putted again for par at the long 13th.

With the weather at its worst, though, he managed to par the final three whereas Fraser was in rough after his first and second shots down the last.

They were round in 71 and 73 respectively, but their work was from over in a tournament which last year saw a five-hole play-off before Pablo Larrazabal beat fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia.

Joint-third only one behind were Ireland's 45-year-old Paul McGinley after a best-of-the-day 66, Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (69) and England's Chris Wood, who bogeyed the short 17th when sharing the lead.

For McGinley it was a third top-seven finish in his last four starts, but he was left to rue his Saturday 77 after being joint second at halfway.

'Obviously there's a gaping thing in the week and I've got to give some thought to why I lost my speed on the greens and my confidence,” said the Dubliner.

'I had five three-putts – I don't think I've ever had that in my life – but it was a good reaction and I'm really looking forward to this week's Irish Open.

Plenty to ponder: Paul McGinley had to settle for third place

Plenty to ponder: Paul McGinley had to settle for third place

'Royal Portrush is one of my favourite courses in the world and I've played it a lot over the years.'

Fernandez-Castano is now back in the last automatic qualifying place for the Ryder Cup, edging Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts down to the 11th thanks to a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th.

Scot Paul Lawrie, third in the cup standings, finished joint 23rd along with 54-year-old Bernhard Langer, whose compatriot Marcel Siem would have been in the play-off if he had made a closing 22-footer.

Instead he three-putted it and slipped to joint sixth with Swede Henrik Stenson.

Paul Casey in the hunt at Ballantine"s

Casey in the hunt as Frenchman Dubuisson leads Ballantine's

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UPDATED:

11:20 GMT, 26 April 2012

Victor Dubuisson held a two-shot lead at the end of the opening day of the Ballantine's Championship in Icheon, South Korea.

The Frenchman recovered from a double bogey on the par-four fourth to mix eight birdies with two bogeys in a round of 68.

That left Dubuisson on four under, two ahead of a group of five players which includes English pair Paul Casey and Mark Foster.

In contention: Paul Casey is two shots off the lead after round one

In contention: Paul Casey is two shots off the lead after round one

Golf blog

Casey had four birdies and bogeys at the ninth and 11th holes, while Foster also had four birdies and two dropped shots to card 70.

Scotland's Richie Ramsey had a double bogey on the fifth, but sank five birdies to lie on two under, with Welshman Jamie Donaldson on the same mark after dropping a shot on the 18th. Local favourite Jung Ji-ho completed the group.

Eleven players were tied for seventh on one under, among them Oliver Fisher and Ross Fisher of England, and Irishman Paul McGinley.

Windy conditions made life difficult for many of the competitors, but Dubuisson was more than satisfied with his efforts for the round.

Out in front: Victor Dubuisson is the early leader at the Ballantine's Championship

Out in front: Victor Dubuisson is the early leader at the Ballantine's Championship

'Very pleased with playing four under today,' he said on the European Tour's website.

'My putting was really, really good today and I think it's the only way to achieve good scoring in these conditions.

'On the third hole the wind was from the left, and so on the fourth tee I thought the wind was going to be sort of left to right, but the wind was turning all the time.

'The wind just turned right to left and it went into the water. So I was not really upset after this double bogey because I didn't hit a bad shot.

Solid start: Scotland's Richie Ramsay signed for a 70 at the Ballantine's

Solid start: Scotland's Richie Ramsay signed for a 70 at the Ballantine's

'I did my best to get back my concentration, and I made two birdies, good putts on five and six, and that was the good turn today.'

Casey, who only recently returned to playing following a shoulder injury, believes he can challenge for the title if he finds some consistency.

'I know if I play the golf I'm capable of, I've got a very good chance to win,' said the Englishman.

'The way I played today, I need to keep that form going because there's a long way to go.'