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The Sport Matrix: Monday 1 April 2013

Di Canio handed Sunderland reins in place of O'Neill

Former West Ham United and Sheffield Wednesday forward Paolo Di Canio was last night appointed head coach at Sunderland. He succeeds Martin O'Neill, right, who was sacked on Saturday.

Di Canio, 44, who resigned as manager of League One side Swindon Town in February, moves to the Stadium of Light with the Black Cats sitting just one point and two places above the relegation zone with seven Premier League matches remaining.

"Paolo is hugely enthused by the challenge that lies ahead," Sunderland chairman and owner Ellis Short said last night. "He is passionate, driven and raring to get started. The sole focus will be to ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top-flight status. The chances of that are greatly increased with Paolo joining." MORE

Murray digs deep to reclaim No 2 spot

Andy Murray reclaimed the world No 2 ranking last night after overcoming the Spaniard David Ferrer in a gruelling Miami Masters final. The Scot rescued a match point in humid conditions, recovering to win 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 to secure the 26th title of his career. MORE

Reds recover to leave Villa in mire

Aston Villa remained in the Premier League's bottom three yesterday after surrendering a lead to lose 2-1 at home to Liverpool. Christian Benteke powered the hosts ahead on the half-hour before Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard, from the spot, turned the match around. MORE

James Lawton

The Sunderland owner Ellis Short has gone to Paolo Di Canio and a brand of charisma which some former associates have tended to liken to nitroglycerine.  MORE

Robson falls at the last in doubles final

Laura Robson failed to prolong the British feelgood factor in Miami as she lost the women's doubles final with Lisa Raymond. The pair were broken three times in the opening set by Russian Nadia Petrova and Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik, eventually losing 6-1, 7-6. MORE

Rafa: Chelsea as good as United

Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez claims his side have been as successful as Manchester United in recent years, despite changes of manager. "Chelsea have won as many trophies as United have won with the same manager." he said. "You are talking two top sides with good players." MORE

Macleod spells trouble for Welsh

A late Nick Macleod penalty helped Sale secure a 33-33 draw at London Irish, a result that all but relegates London Welsh. The bottom club now need two wins from their last three matches to stay up, and hope Sale do not claim another point. MORE

Animal Kingdom breaks barriers

Animal Kingdom's Dubai performance showed American conservatives that a Derby winner can adapt to an environment that redresses welfare concerns raised by their approach to medication and racing surfaces. MORE

Team Sky have final day to forget

Team Sky endured a disappointing day in Belgium as Fabian Cancellara won the Tour of Flanders. Briton Geraint Thomas crashed with 36km to go before finishing 41st, while Edvald Boasson Hagen was Sky's best-placed rider, in 17th. MORE

Cardiff seek to stretch lead at top

Cardiff hope to go seven points clear at the top of the Championship today as they welcome Blackburn Rovers, while Crystal Palace also look to bounce back from weekend defeat as they visit Blackpool with the chance to move into third.  

North shines as rows continue

Scarlets wing George North picked the perfect time to show Welsh rugby what it could be losing as he went over twice against the Dragons in the Pro12. The row over the player's future, and the state of the game in Wales, continued unabated. MORE

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