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The Sport Matrix: Thursday 20 February 2014

Mertesacker says Arsenal can still progress after loss

Per Mertesacker insisted that Arsenal could still reach the quarter-finals despite being beaten 2-0 at home by Bayern Munich.

Arsenal face an uphill task in the Allianz Arena to progress against the European champions, but they won 2-0 there last year and Mertesacker still clings to  some hope.

“We lost here 3-1 last year against Bayern Munich and went there and beat them,” the Arsenal defender said. “We are looking forward to Munich. Why can’t we get back in it?”

Bayern went ahead in the 54th minute through a brilliant curled effort by Toni Kroos before Thomas Müller headed home with two minutes remaining.

Mesut Özil had earlier missed a penalty for the hosts, his weak kick saved by Manuel Neuer after the Arsenal midfielder was fouled by Jérôme Boateng.

Bayern missed their own spot-kick, David Alaba hitting the post, after Wojciech Szczesny was shown a red card for fouling Arjen Robben. The teams meet for second leg in Germany on 11 March. MORE

Murdoch puts men into curling final

Britain’s men have reached the curling final after beating world champions Sweden. Sweden led 5-4 going into the 10th end but David Murdoch earned a 6-5 win with the final shot. “The curling gods have looked down on me pretty nice this week,” said Murdoch afterwards. MORE

Ramos: Spurs will see best of winger

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk head coach Juande Ramos believes his winger Yevhen Konoplyanka will be fully focused on tonight’s match with Tottenham, despite coming close to leaving the Ukrainian club for Liverpool in January. “I am sure he will do his best,” said Ramos.

Ten-man Leicester earn late draw

Riyad Mahrez’s late equaliser earned 10-man Leicester a 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest. Leaders Leicester went 1-0 up but Forest scored two goals in four minutes, through Jamie Paterson and Andy Reid, before Mahrez scored with eight minutes remaining. MORE

Pellegrini faces touchline ban

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is in danger of being charged by Uefa for using “inappropriate comments” in the aftermath of his side’s 2-0 defeat to Barcelona. Pellegrini, who could receive a touchline ban, said referee Jonas Eriksson favoured the Spaniards.

Red Bull in chaos as Vettel struggles

World champions Red Bull’s woes continued on the first day of the second pre-season test in Bahrain. Delayed by nearly four and a half hours, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel completed just 14 laps before breaking down. MORE

England to walk among supporters

England will travel to the Twickenham dressing room on foot among fans on Saturday for the must-win game with Ireland. Captain Chris Robshaw said: “We want to do a slightly longer walk because the supporters give us such a lift.” MORE

Gatland drops Phillips to bench

Scrum-half Mike Phillips has been dropped to the bench for Wales’ match against France on Friday. “We weren’t happy with Mike’s performance against Ireland,” said his coach Warren Gatland, referring to their heavy defeat in Dublin. MORE

United face fan revolt over prices

Manchester United face a backlash from season-ticket holders, who have learnt that they will be charged Champions League prices for Europa League seats next campaign, in the event of the club slipping into the lesser competition. MORE

Smith downplays Johnson impact

South Africa captain Graeme Smith has downplayed Mitchell Johnson’s 12-127 bowling figures for Australia in the first Test. “The wicket played a big role,” he said ahead of the second Test, which starts today. MORE

Steve Bunce

Froch v Groves has something special attached to it which dissolves the tools of hype and bluster; it is the same dangerous factor that Eubank and Benn shared during years of hate between fights. MORE

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