The Sport Matrix: Thursday 12 December 2013


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The Independent Online

Arsenal through as runners-up, despite defeat

Arsenal were forced to settle for qualification as runners-up in Group F of the Champions League last night, Arsène  Wenger’s side reaching the last 16 despite losing 2-0 in Napoli and having Mikel Arteta sent-off.

The visitors were overwhelmed from the start but never looked in danger of the three-goal defeat that would see them potentially eliminated until the final few minutes, when goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon, either side of Arteta’s second booking, gave the Italians hope.

A late winner for Borussia Dortmund in Marseilles took last season’s finalists through as group winners, leaving Arsenal with a tougher draw. MORE

Gilchrist: Flower must show colours

Adam Gilchrist believes England coach Andy Flower will have a key role to play if his side are to salvage the Ashes. “Andy has a challenge as a leader,” the former wicketkeeper said ahead of tonight’s start of the third Test. “This is uncharted waters for this England group.” MORE

Trio return to bolster defence

England have recalled Katherine Brunt, Heather Knight and Anya Shrubsole for their defence of the women’s Ashes in the new year. The trio missed the recent tour of the West Indies through injury but return for the series, which includes one Test, three ODIs and three T20s. MORE

Ba strikes to keep Chelsea on top

Demba Ba’s strike early in the first-half ensured already-qualified Chelsea ended their  Group E campaign as group winners with a 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest. Jose Mourinho’s side finished two points ahead of Schalke, consigning Basel to the Europa League. MORE

Celtic end with a whimper

Celtic’s Champions League group campaign ended with a 6-1 thrashing against Barcelona in the Nou Camp. Neymar scored a hat-trick, while Gerard Pique, Pedro and Cristian Tello also piled on the misery for Neil Lennon’s side. Giorgios Samaras scored a late consolation.

Armitstead aims for double success

The London Olympics road-race silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead hopes to shine on the track at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. “I’m aiming for the track as well because it’s the events I enjoy and have had success in,” she said.

Farah hedges bets over London race

Mo Farah remains philosophical about his chances of winning the London Marathon next year. “It depends on the race, on the field,” he said. “It’s likely to be as hard as the World Championships or Olympics. It would be nice to do well but I have to respect it.” MORE

Milner: City ready to face anyone

James Milner insists Manchester City are confident ahead of Monday’s Champions League draw after winning at holders Bayern Munich. “We will take anyone in the next round,” he said. “This could not have been any tougher.”

Young eager for another chance

Manchester United midfielder Ashley Young remains positive about his future despite his reputation for diving and a lack of first-team games. “I’ve just got to keep doing the things in training and take chances when given,” he said. MORE

Latest gimmick invites revulsion

The move to double the points in the season’s last grand prix is a masterstroke of inauthenticity inviting widespread revulsion... a brazen attempt to ensure someone other than Sebastian Vettel wins the title.

Steve Bunce

Jacob ‘Baby Jake’ Matlala defied the odds several times, defied the inches and became a fighting icon. Nelson Mandela called him his favourite fighter and as a recommendation it does not get better. MORE