The Sport Matrix: Monday 4 February 2013


'No place in life' for Popov behaviour, says Clarke

Steve Clarke, the West Bromwich Albion manager, was scathing yesterday about the behaviour of his full-back, Goran Popov, who was sent off for spitting at Kyle Walker in the 1-0 defeat to Tottenham.

Clarke, above, said that he had not seen another incident, where defender Jonas Olsson was accused of making an obscene gesture at West Brom fans and spitting in their direction. Speaking of the Popov incident, Clarke said: "There is no excuse for that. There is no place for that in life, never mind on a football pitch."

Gareth Bale scored the only goal to give the visitors three points at the Hawthorns.

Manchester City drew with Liverpool 2-2 at the Etihad Stadium yesterday, meaning Manchester United's lead at the top of the Premier League stands at nine points with 13 games left. Edin Dzeko put the hosts ahead, before Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard replied. Sergio Aguero's superb angled shot rescued a point for City. MORE

Balotelli makes immediate impact

Former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli remained in the headlines last night after scoring twice on his debut, including an injury-time penalty winner, to help AC Milan to a 2-1 win over Udinese at the San Siro.

Jol praises 'main man' van Persie

Fulham manager Martin Jol believes buying Robin van Persie will be the deciding factor if Manchester United regain the Premier League title this season. "I think Van Persie is like Zlatan Ibrahimovic," he said. "Wherever Zlatan goes, they will be champions." MORE

Widnes buoyed by opening day win

Widnes Vikings, last season's bottom-placed side, started their Super League campaign with a 28-14 win at the London Broncos yesterday. Elsewhere, the Catalan Dragons won 32-24 at Hull KR, while Warrington beat Castleford 40-24. MORE

Nigeria beat Ivory Coast for semi spot

Nigeria will play Mali in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast, who again failed to live up to their billing as tournament favourites. Burkina Faso will face Ghana on Wednesday after they beat Togo 1-0 in extra time.

Berdych victorious as Czechs progress

Holders Czech Republic moved into the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup yesterday after Tomas Berdych beat Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in four sets. The pair emerged just a day after their marathon doubles match, which lasted over seven hours.

Depleted Scarlets overcome Tigers

Scarlets scored three late tries to seal a convincing LV=Cup victory over the Tigers at Parc y Scarlets yesterday. The defeat was Leicester's first in 10 games, while a defiant Scarlets had 14 players on an international duty and another 10 injured.

Opinion: Sam Wallace

Now, on 99 caps, Ashley Cole has finally been overtaken on the field. If Roy Hodgson had to pick the best current English left-back to face Brazil on Wednesday, that would be Leighton Baines. MORE

Tuilagi could come in for Twelvetrees

England head coach Stuart Lancaster believes Manu Tuilagi will be available for selection against Ireland in six days' time, but it is unknown whether Brad Barritt or Billy Twelvetrees will make way. No 8 Ben Morgan will be absent in Dublin after picking up an ankle injury. MORE

Rome watches the French fall again

Italy shocked France for the second consecutive match in Rome and in doing so blew the Six Nations open with a 23-18 win. Tries from Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni helped Italy on their way, aided by Luciano Orquera's accurate kicking. MORE

PFA will not give up on Gascoigne

Gordon Taylor, the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, vowed that he will not be giving up on Paul Gascoigne, who appeared to be unwell at a charity appearance in Northampton on Thursday. "We are in regular touch with him and have been again," said Taylor.