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The Sport Matrix: Thursday 28 November 2013

United surge into knockout stages as City struggle to win

Manchester United put in a commanding performance on the road last night to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League with a game to spare,  thrashing German side Bayer Leverkusen 5-0.

Wayne Rooney (right) was the main inspiration for David Moyes’ side, the England international having a hand in each of the opening four goals before Nani chipped in with the fifth from a Ryan Giggs pass late on.

“We really killed them on the counter-attack,” said Giggs, who also played a major role two days shy of his 40th birthday. “The first was an example of that and it was pleasure to play behind the front four. We could have scored more but we don’t want to be too greedy. To score five goals anywhere in Europe is brilliant.”

Neighbours Manchester City, already assured of their place in the knockout stages, were twice pegged back by Viktoria Plzen before securing a 4-2 victory, Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko scoring the final two goals.

“It was a hard game,” Samir Nasri, scorer of City’s second, said. “The most important thing was to finish our home games in the group with a win.” MORE

My job is secure, insists Villa-Boas

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas has insisted his job is not in danger, despite wavering league form. “I have the confidence of the board,” the Portuguese insisted. “I have the confidence of my players. Will [chairman Daniel Levy] back me in public? No. That’s not his style.” MORE

Cech: Chelsea have made it harder

Petr Cech has admitted Chelsea’s failure to secure top spot in their Champions League group only adds to their hectic December schedule. “We’ve made it more complicated,” the keeper said. “We qualified, that’s the main thing. One more game, we want to make sure we win.” MORE

Police arrest three players in probe

Police are reported to have arrested at least three footballers as part of an investigation into an Asian betting syndicate allegedly fixing lower-league British matches. Six men have been detained in all. No Premier League games are understood to be involved.

Stadium deaths add to Brazil fears

The deaths of two workers building a World Cup stadium in Sao Paolo have only added to fears that Brazil will struggle to be ready to host next year’s finals. Fifa was already concerned at the slow progress of building work at a number of the 12 tournament venues. MORE

Williams’ return capped with award

New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams’ successful return from rugby union has seen him named the world’s leading league player. The i’s rugby league correspondent, Dave Hadfield, has been awarded the Rugby League Writers’ Association’s Order of Merit.

Carry on sledging, says defiant Broad

England had time off at Ayers Rock yesterday, but Stuart Broad vowed that, once the Ashes series resumes, the sledging won’t stop. Tim Bresnan proved his fitness for next week’s second Test by scoring 57 not out against a Queensland second XI.

Johnson: Get ready for more bouncers

Mitchell Johnson says Australia will continue to target England with bouncers in the Ashes. “It’s worked for us,” the bowler said. “They’re rattled. They don’t like it at all. Their coach wanted a truce. That’s not going to change from our end.” MORE

McIlroy: There will be more like Trott

Rory McIlroy believes the pressures of modern sport could result in more high-profile sportsmen like Jonathan Trott suffering stress-related illnesses. “There’s so much pressure, so much on the line,” he said. “It’s becoming more common.”

World Cup final tickets to cost £715

Tickets prices for the 2015 World Cup were yesterday unveiled by the RFU, with the final costing between £150 and £715. Cut-price tickets for as little as £7 will be available for under-16s for 41 of the 48 games.

Chris Hewett

The notion of arriving at Twickenham for an 8pm start on a Saturday is gruesome enough. The idea of leaving the stadium, with 82,000 others, some time after 10pm borders on the nightmarish.

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