Monthly Archives: February 2013

Benitez Reacts Angrily

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has reacted angrily to his own Chelsea fans after last nights 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.

Benitez has not been a fans favourite at Stamford Bridge after he came to the club, replacing Roberto Di Matteo, the man who had brought the Champions League to the Bridge.

Up until yesterday, Benitez had shrugged off comments and banners from his own sides faithful, but last night he leapt to his own defence and provided a savage attack on the supporters.

He said: “Chelsea gave me the title of interim manager, which is a massive mistake. I’m the manager. The fans are not helping us. At the end of the season I will leave. They don’t have to worry about me.”

Benitez has not come in and transformed the club like Gus Hiddink did in his spell as interim manager towards the end of the last decade, and after his association with bitter rivals Liverpool, was not the fans choice.

Fans last night were heard singing: “We don’t care about Rafa, he doesn’t care about us, all we care about is Chelsea FC.”

Unfortunately for the Spaniard, his outburst is likely to fuel an onslaught this weekend as the blues face West Bromwich Albion, a side coached by former blues favourite Steve Clarke.

This saga is likely to continue until the end of the season, but at least then Benitez knows his time will be up.

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First XV – Premiership Review – By Andrew Todd

Although the Six Nations returned this week, there was still domestic Rugby Union to be played.

The biggest result of the weekend came at the Medejski Stadium where relegation battlers London Irish beat high flying London Wasps 30-19 to go five points clear of bottom of the table Sale Sharks.

After four consecutive victories the Sharks themselves were brought back down to earth with a thump against top of the table Harlequins, slipping to a 30-21 defeat.

Elsewhere there were wins for Northampton Saints, Gloucester, and Saracens. As well as another defeat for London Welsh who are now without a win in the league since the first of December.

These results leave Harlequins one point clear of Sarries at the top, while Gloucester have leapfrogged Wasps to claim fourth place and Sale now find themselves three points off the pace at the bottom.

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In the Ring – – All American Clash -By Billie Marshall

Undefeated Tavoris Cloud will face future hall of famer Bernard Hopkins after the IBF approved the March 9th bout in Brooklyn for the all American clash.

48 year old Hopkins is a 60 fight veteran and will become the oldest world champion in history, breaking his own current record, should he defeat the hard hitting 30 year old from Florida.

Cloud is the current IBF light-heavyweight champion After defeating Clinton Woods in 2009 before making 4 successful defences against the likes of Glen Johnson and Fulgencio Zuniga.

Cloud, duly nicknamed ‘Thunder’ has knocked out 19 of his 24 opponents, however at the age of 48, Hopkins still could prove to be the hardest fight of the champions career to date.

Hopkins believes, even though he is 18 years older than his opponent, he can still walk away as the new IBF light-heavyweight champion come March 9th.

He said: ” Some people are trying to write my destiny, but when you see a guy that has a track record that has proven to be more right than wrong over 28 years, Cloud has to say that he has a challenge. In reality, he is going to have to train harder than he ever has before.”

Bernard Hopkins later added that if you were a betting man ‘the smart money would be on him’.

Hopkins has been out of the ring since losing to Chad Dawson by a 12 round majority decision in April 2012, meaning an 11 month lay-off before a title fight could see the veteran with a little ring rust.

However Tavoris Cloud hasn’t fought since winning a controversial 12 round split decision over Gabriel Campillo in February of 2012. An equally long break for a fighter supposedly in the prime of his career.

The winner will have to defend the title against mandatory challenger Karo Murat, despite a more appealing fight against WBO champion Nathan Cleverley preferred.

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Cue Action – Ronnie Returns – By Will Vallely

Four-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will break his hiatus and return to the baize to defend his world title in April.

Ronnie O’Sullivan has played just one match since his championship win in Sheffield last year, however that resulted in a shock defeat to world number 88 Simon Bedford.

Ronnie cited ‘personal problems’ for his extensive absence from the game but is now ready to return. He says his reason for his return is simply boredom.

He says all he has been doing is waking up and going for lunch every day. There had also being reports of him volunteering on a farm during his break.

He announced his return by holding a press conference, where he spoke about the immediate future and his plans. He said: “I’m very match rusty. I haven’t played any matches. I have not been in any intense situations so it’s going to be a tough call to go in there with no match practice behind me”.

He went on to say: “I might get smashed in Sheffield. I’m going in to the unknown. It’s a massive challenge.”

Ronnie has being known to often talk of retirement form the game even since the age of 18. There have been numerous incidents throughout his career where people have doubted his mental state.

Some will doubt whether he can seriously mount a challenge at the world championships after such an extensive break, however many will also fancy his chances as he is widely regarded as the greatest natural player ever to have played the game.

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It’snowheaven – Start of a New Era – By Jess Softley

This year the Burton US Open will take centre stage at its new home in Vail, Colorado to celebrate its 31st anniversary.

Earning its 6* TTR title since its inaugural event in 1982 and has been an annual event ever since.

After leaving its spiritual home in Statton, riders will have to work hard to leave their mark in this new territory and essentially a new era.

With Shaun White coming back to defend his title in the Halfpipe, things are sure to heat up, as he is sure to have plenty of competition on his hands with the likes of I.Pod and Scotty Lago close on his heels.

With a prize purse of a whopping $250,000, many of the best and biggest riders will certainly be pulling off their most technically challenging runs in order to secure those all-important podium spots in both the Halfpipe and Slopestyle events.

Will this new era bring the same level of insanely great snowboarding or will this generation continue to the push the boundaries of each competition organiser. Don’t miss out and tune in to this week

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First XV – England Win Again – By Andrew Todd

This weekend saw the return of the RBS Six Nations and England chalking up another win on their path to potential Grand Slam glory.

Chris Robshaw led his England team with a man of the match performance to a 23-13 victory over France.

After a tight first half in which France went in one point ahead, Manu Tuilagi’s try, who was back in the starting 15, early in the second half, was enough to separate sides and quash French hopes.

Italy’s slump continued at the hands of the ever improving Wales. Tries from Alex Cuthbert and Jonathan Davies helped put the Italians to the sword with a 26-9 victory.

However, the shock of the weekend came at Murrayfield, where Scott Johnson’s and his Scotland team scraped to a narrow 12-8 victory over Ireland.

Four second half penalties from the boot of Greg Laidlaw was enough to seal the victory, however Ireland will be kicking themselves.

This result leaves Scotland sitting only two points behind leaders England and level on points with the holders, Wales. France’s continued terrible run leaves them sitting bottom of the table having failed to pick up a victory in any of their three games so far. With Ireland and Italy sitting third bottom and second bottom respectively after their second defeats of the championship.

With over half of the championship gone now, Warren Gatland will be developing a clearer picture of his potential Lions week on week. However this week no one stood out more than the inspirational Robshaw, who is now in many people’s eyes the favourite to be the skipper for the tour.

Scotland full back Stuart Hogg also finds himself with one foot on the plane to Australia after another strong performance this weekend. But competition for the full back shirt is high, with Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny continuing his strong run of form.

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Bowled Over – England Clinch Series – By Luqman Liaqat

England sealed the series in the third and final one-day international with a five-wicket victory over New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland.

Steve Finn led the way in brilliant fashion as he finished with figures of 3-27, as the hosts were dismissed for 185 in only 43.5 overs despite Brendon McCullum’s explosive innings of 79 off 68 balls.

Skipper Alaistair Cook started the chase in solid fashion, he scored 46 helping the tourists reach the target with relative ease.

Tim Southee’s impressive bowling reading (3-48) did little to interrupt the comfortable win.

The three lion’s new-bowling pair made immediate inroads into the Black Caps batting line-up during the first powerplay, leaving them reeling on 18-3. Finn had BJ Watling caught at second slip by Graeme Swann off his fourth ball and followed it up by removing Hamish Rutherford for just two. In between the Finn wickets, James Anderson had Kane Williamson (7) edging behind.

Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot made a mini recovery with a partnership of 53 for the fourth wicket. Both the batsmen fell in the space of nine deliveries during the 23rd and 25th overs, Elliot was run out after Taylor sent him back when the pair were searching for a second run to fine-leg and Taylor himself was caught behind by Jos Butler off Stuart Broad.

The Hot-spot replay showed no contact with the bat for Taylor wicket however, the third-umpire backed up his on-field colleague’s call as the New Zealanders slumped to 67-5.

Again it was left to McCullum to boost his team’s batting effort; in the batting powerplay he pulled Finn for two fours before flat-batting him for a maximum over long-off.

The lower order provided no support to McCullum, as Andre Ellis top-edged Broad (2-38) to fine-leg and Chris Woakes wrapped Kyle Mills on the pads in the next over leaving the score on 150-9.

McCullum hit two meaty sixes off Swann before holing out at deep mid-wicket to Anderson giving the spinner his second wicket meaning the hosts innings ended on 185-all out with 37 unused deliveries.

England encountered very few problems when chasing down the small target, openers Cook and Ian Bell put things firmly on track. Bell went for 24 when he mis-pulled Ellis at deep midwicket leaving England on 42-1 inside 7 overs.

Cook and Jonathan Trott’s partnership of 69 for the second wicket steadied the chase. In the 21st and 23rd overs Southee struck twice as England’s chase (112-3) took a slight wobble. Both batsmen were caught behind to loose-shots by the wicket-keeper.

But a stand of 56 between Eoin Morgan (39 off 24 balls) and Joe Root settled the issue, Morgan’s innings saw strong driving off Southee before lifting a huge six over mid-wicket and he also struck one off Nathan McCullum over long-on.

The dangerous left-hander Morgan lost his wicket swinging to Mills at fine-leg off Ellis and an over later Butler edged behind to Watling to give Southee his third wicket with only 16 runs left for victory (171-5).

Root again played a composed and mature innings of 28 from 56 balls as he took England home with 12.3 overs still remaining.

The win secures England first ODI series triumph in New Zealand since 1992 leaving them in strong stride ahead of the test series beginning in Dunedin on the March 6.

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Terrace View – Swansea City Win Cup – By Billie Marshall

Swansea City won the Capital One Cup after a fairytale story turned into more of a nightmare for Bradford City at Wembley.

It was the first time Swansea had played in a major cup final, having never gone beyond the 4th round of the Capital One Cup previously.

Underdogs Bradford City were optimistic before the game, but a fairytale ending was not to be as Swansea shown the class difference in the three leagues separating the sides.

Bradford were only the 2nd team from the 4th tier of English football to make a major cup final since Rochdale managed the impressive feat in 1962.

Nathan Dyer scored the opening goal after goalkeeper Matt Duke could only parry a shot from Michu before the Spaniard scored his 19th goal of the season to double the Swans advantage.

Dyer got his second after good build up play before a De Guzman penalty added a fourth and saw a red card shown to Bradford’s Matt Duke
Swansea completed the rout in Injury time when De Guzman got his 2nd and Swansea’s 5th, in the biggest Capital One Cup final win in history.

Bradford’s day was not how they would have envisioned it, but they can take heart for reaching this stage as they fell one game short of a memorable triumph.

In a first half dominated by Swansea possession, chances were few and far between early on with Bradford sitting deep and frustrating the Welsh outfit.

Angel Rangel found space down the right, before he lofted the ball to the back post. Fullback Ben Davies could only head the ball wide, in the first warning for Bradford.

Bradford’s resistance didn’t last long however. Wayne Routledge broke with pace and found Michu, his effort was only parried by Duke as Nathan Dyer slid in to score on the rebound.

Swansea continued to add pressure to the Bantams goal, and when a cleared corner fell to Leon Britton, the midfielder would have been disappointed to have not done better as he flashed it over.

Bradford continued to hold on until five minutes before the half time interval. Pablo Hernandez found Michu, who was given time and space to turn and find the bottom corner to double Swansea’s advantage.

Swansea stretched their leader further when Dyer played a one-two with Routledge before cutting inside and slotting the ball past Duke.

Things got from bad to worse for Bradford as Matt Duke was then sent off for bringing down De Guzman in the area, to give Swansea a penalty kick.
De Guzman took the spot-kick despite Nathan Dyer’s protests to claim his hat-trick, and added the fourth for Swansea on a memorable day for Michael Laudrup’s side.

Swansea completed the scoring in injury time when Rangel found space down the right before De Guzman slid in to add his second.

It is a remarkable turnaround for Swansea. The Welsh side were on the brink of going out the football league back in 2003, and are now Capital One Cup champions a decade on during their centenary year.

Optimism is now high around the Swansea camp, knowing European football is now on the cards for the successful Swans.

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Game On – United Stretch Lead – By Tim Magnus

Wigan produced an emphatic 3-0 win away at Reading at the Madjeski Stadium to move out of the relegation zone and give Roberto Martinez hope of another miraculous end of season escape from the drop.

Arouna Kone’s swift double, moments before the half time whistle, gave the Latics a deserved two goal advantage at the break and a Maynor Figueroa goal in the second half secured all three points for Roberto Martinez’s relegation defying side.

Reading’s day was worsened as their striker Pavel Pogrebnyak was shown a straight red card for a frustrated challenge on goalscorer Figueroa. The win moves Wigan out of the relegation zone, leapfrogging Reading and Aston Villa, whilst Brain McDermott’s side sit in 19th place just a point from safety.

Manchester United moved 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League as they overcame struggling QPR at Loftus Road 2-0. Goals from Rafael Da Silva and the inspirational Ryan Giggs sent United ever closer to reclaiming the Premier League title from neighbours Manchester City.

It was not all good news for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men as talisman Robin Van Persie limped off after colliding with a cameraman but is expected to be back for their Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

QPR are now six points behind at the bottom of the table and seven behind safety in what looks like a relegation bound season for the team who only escaped the drop last year on the final day.

Arsenal scraped a win over relegation threatened Aston Villa as a Santi Cazorla brace gave the Gunners a 2-1 victory at the Emirates. After back to back home defeats against Blackburn and Bayern Munich the pressure was firmly on Arsene Wenger’s shoulders but was lifted a little when Cazorla struck the opening goal to give Arsenal a comfortable lead.

However, Andres Weimann’s second half equaliser shocked the Emirates and looked to be sending Arsenal further and further from Champions League qualification. Cazorla’s 84th minute strike, to the relief of the Arsenal fans, earned his side all three points and moved them just a point behind Tottenham and well in with a chance of retaining their Champions League place.

On loan Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku scored yet another brace for West Brom as they beat Sunderland 2-1 at the Hawthorns. Lukaku’s first of the game came from the penalty spot, after Craig Gardner was judged to have handled by referee Roger East.

His second came in the second half after he charged down a poor Titus Bramble backpass and the ball ricocheted off the Belgian’s leg and into the net. Sunderland did pull a goal back through Stephane Sessegnon but it wasn’t enough to deny Steve Clarke’s side gaining three points and moving to seventh in the table.

Norwich City came from behind to win their first game in eleven as they beat Champions League chasing Everton 2-1 at Carrow Road.

With the top four in their sights, it was no surprise David Moyes’ team took the lead through Englishman Leon Osman from a well taken header. However, Norwich produced a dramatic comeback as first Kei Kamara scored his first Norwich goal to equalise in the 84th minute and then finally, Grant Holt stabbed home in the 94th minute to give the Canaries all three points and dent Everton’s dreams for Champions League football.

Dimitar Berbatov proved to be the difference between Fulham and Stoke at Craven Cottage in the early kick off as his goal gave Fulham a 1-0 win. With both sides boasting a strong defensive record in this seasons Premier League it was going to take a moment of magic to find a breakthrough and that’s exactly what occurred when Berbatov volleyed past Asmir Begovic in first half additional time.

The win pushes Martin Jol’s side to just a point behind Stoke, who sit in tenth, and also adds to their impressive home record in which they’ve now only lost five all season at the Cottage.

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