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The Sport Matrix: Friday 15 February 2013

Giggs leads praise for De Gea after Bernabeu heroics

Manchester United's players have demanded that goalkeeper David de Gea, right, be given time to succeed at their club, after the 22-year-old's crucial role in securing a draw at the Bernabeu left Spain salivating over the idea of him returning to La Liga.

Michael Carrick, Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs all insisted De Gea, above, was coping with the high level of scrutiny that comes with being a Manchester United goalkeeper, with Giggs observing after the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid that he was being persecuted in a way that a young player in another position would not be.

"A centre-forward has to score goals but probably nothing will be said about missed chances," said Giggs. "There's a lot of pressure in every position but the centre-forwards are supposed to score goals and the keepers are supposed to keep it out of the net."

Carrick said: "To be at such a young age at this club and have so much on your shoulders, it shows what a player he is."

Jones said De Gea "deserves every credit he gets. He's come into the English league and it's not easy. He's done terrific."

Froome takes lead in Tour of Oman

Chris Froome took the overall lead in the Tour of Oman yesterday after riding well on the mountain stage. Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez won the stage but the Briton leads by 24 seconds over Cadel Evans with two days remaining. MORE

Lancaster happy with Gatland

England coach Stuart Lancaster has confirmed Ben Morgan will miss next week's visit of France with his ongoing ankle injury. He also insisted Lions coach Warren Gatland assured him that players will be chosen for the Lions tour on "merit". MORE

Luton's Mendy fears race taunts

Luton Town's midfielder Arnaud Mendy described the racism storm engulfing tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round opponents Millwall as "very shocking" and hopes no abuse is directed at him when the teams meet at Kenilworth Road. MORE

Electronic chips for players' shirts

Football lawmakers will be asked next month to allow trials of an electronic chip in players' shirts which could warn of medical problems such as the heart attack suffered by Bolton Wanderers' Fabrice Muamba on the pitch at Tottenham. MORE

England U-21 stars face longer bans

Tom Ince and Steven Caulker could have their Uefa bans increased when they make personal appearances at Uefa's headquarters in Nyon to appeal against their punishments for incidents at Serbia's shameful game with England's Under-21 team last October. MORE

Lacklustre Blues helped by Oscar

Oscar scored in the 82nd minute to ensure Chelsea beat Sparta Prague 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie. The Brazilian fired into the bottom corner within 45 seconds of being introduced as a substitute. Newcastle were held to 0-0 draw by Metalist Kharkiv. MORE

Spurs Baled out by the King of Spin

Gareth Bale struck superb free-kicks in each half as Spurs beat Lyons 2-1, Samuel Umtiti scoring for the French side. Liverpool, meanwhile, suffered a 2-0 defeat away at Zenit St Petersburg. Hulk's 70th-minute goal was followed by Sergei Semak's effort two minutes later. MORE

Blackpool close to appointing Ince

Blackpool were thought to be closing in on the appointment of Paul Ince as manager last night. The club are seeking to fill the vacancy created by Michael Appleton's move to Blackburn. Steve Thompson is the caretaker but Ince is on the verge of linking up with his son, Tom. MORE

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