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The Sport Matrix: Thursday 9 January 2014

City make plans for Wembley after hammer horror

Manchester City have one foot in March’s Capital One Cup final after cantering past West Ham United 6-0 in last night’s semi-final first leg. Alvaro Negredo continued his fine record at the Etihad Stadium with a hat-trick, while Yaya Touré also found the net before the break.

Edin Dzeko scored twice after the interval to pile yet more pressure on beleaguered Hammers coach Sam Allardyce ahead of the second leg at Upton Park in 12 days time. The visitors were beaten by five in the FA Cup by Championship Nottingham Forest just three days earlier.

“It was a brilliant performance,” Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini enthused afterwards. “It doesn’t matter if we were two, three or four up we kept playing the same way, always looking for more goals.

“Alvaro Negredo had a great match, he was the link between the strikers and midfield but Edin Dzeko was great too. They are not used to playing together but they are getting better all the time.”

In the FA Cup, Bristol Rovers came from behind to beat Crawley 2-1 to secure a third-round trip to Birmingham. MORE

Flower denies any KP ultimatum

An angry Andy Flower has denied issuing any ultimatums to the ECB over his continuing in the role of England coach. “The reports that I have issued an ultimatum are totally inaccurate,” he said following reports of a breakdown of his relationship with Kevin Pietersen. MORE

Pietersen future to become clearer

Kevin Pietersen’s role in the forthcoming Indian Premier League season could be known tomorrow, with his Test place under threat should he put the IPL ahead of his country. Sources close to the franchise would be “very surprised” if he was not included on the retained list. MORE

Prior plays down bridge rescue role

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior has played down his role in talking a man out of throwing himself off a bridge in Sydney. “We just did what anybody would do,” he said of his actions on Tuesday, as he and Stuart Broad returned to their hotel after a charity event. MORE

Moyes’ interest in Coentrao cools

Manchester United manager David Moyes will not be rushed into making signings in the January transfer market despite the club’s poor form. A deal for Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao appears unlikely, with the Spanish club opposed to any of their players leaving. MORE

Brunt: Ashes should be played as series

England bowler Katherine Brunt says the players would prefer the Ashes to be decided over Tests rather than points. “In an ideal world we’d play a series,” she said. “But we know what people like and everyone has bought into this concept 100 per cent.” MORE

Hewitt: Comeback never guaranteed

Lleyton Hewitt admits he doubted his chances of returning from toe surgery, “I must have seen seven or eight different surgeons worldwide,” he said. “We weren’t 100 per cent sure whether I would able to come back and play singles.” MORE

Ford in but England have problems

George Ford is expected to replace Toby Flood in England’s Six Nations squad, but coach Stuart Lancaster has problems elsewhere. David Wilson (calf) is struggling and could join Alex Corbisiero and Geoff Parling in missing out. MORE

Fifa deny final decision on 2022

Fifa have denied that a decision has been made on the date of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, following comments from general secretary Jérôme Valcke. He suggested that the event would be staged sometime between November and January. MORE

Ainslie waiting for Cup rule change

Ben Ainslie will not commit to the next America’s Cup until a change in rules allows him to win. “We won’t commit unless it is a realistic challenge for challenging teams,” he said. “That they have a chance to win.”

Sam Wallace

As Thomas Hitzlsperger becomes only the fourth professional footballer to announce himself as gay, it is a personal view that people who watch English football are not as bigoted as some would believe. MORE

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