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The Sport Matrix: Tuesday 17 December 2013

Villas-Boas sent packing by Spurs after dismal display

Andre Villas-Boas paid the price for a second heavy defeat in three weeks when he was sacked by Champions League-chasing Tottenham Hotspur yesterday.

The Portuguese hinted at discord behind the scenes after Sunday’s calamitous 5-0 home loss to Liverpool – which came three weeks after a six-goal thrashing at Manchester City.  The 36-year-old former Chelsea coach failed to get the best out of £100m-worth of summer arrivals and has been shown the exit after just 17 months in charge at White Hart Lane. MORE

England on brink of Ashes defeat

England faced an almighty task to salvage the third Test and save the Ashes series when they began the final day in Perth. Needing 504, Alastair Cook’s side ended day four 253 adrift on 251 for 5, with Ben Stokes unbeaten on 72. Ian Bell (60) contributed his own half-century. MORE

Bell predicts bright future for Stokes

Ian Bell praised Ben Stokes’ efforts as the sole positive from England’s Ashes travails. “He has a massive future,” Bell said. “The way he can play quick bowling and hit down the ground and his attitude with the ball. You never see him moan. It’s exciting. Ben’s a quality player.” MORE

Arsenal and City handed tough ties

Manchester City and Arsenal paid the price for failing to win their Champions League groups when they were handed tough round of 16 ties against Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively yesterday. Chelsea drew Galatasaray while Manchester United will meet Olympiakos. MORE

Spurs paired with former boss Ramos

Tottenham will meet one of their former coaches in the next round of the Europa League after being paired with Juande Ramos’ Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the round of 32 yesterday. Swansea were handed a daunting tie with Italian side Napoli. MORE

Gatland signs on but waits for Lions

Warren Gatland remains free to coach the British and Irish Lions in 2017 if required, despite agreeing a six-year contract with Wales. “If I had the opportunity to be involved again, that’s going to be because of Wales being successful,” he countered. MORE

Rock on Ruby stars in debut chase

The 2012 Champion Hurdle winner, Rock On Ruby, made a comfortable winning debut over steeplechase fences at Plumpton. “We’ve got away with it on the ground,” his trainer, Harry Fry, said. “We know he’s better on better ground.”

Zola walks after Hornets lose sting

Gianfranco Zola yesterday resigned as manager of Championship Watford, with a club statement saying he had taken the decision “in the best interests of the team”. Saturday’s loss against Sheffield Wednesday was their ninth game without a win.

Winger dismissed after spot-fix arrest

League One Oldham have sacked Cristian Montano for gross misconduct following his arrest in the spot-fixing probe. The 22-year-old was one of six players arrested and bailed last week after an investigation launched by the National Crime Agency. MORE

What happened to London heroes?

Despite the enormous success of last year’s London Paralympics, sport’s disabled heroes have struggled to maintain their place in the spotlight. Tim Rich talks to organiser Chris Holmes about their fight for equality. MORE

Ian Herbert

After the predictability of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, an alternative list seemed to be in order. The awards include Unfashionable Manager, which was this time won by Rafael Benitez. MORE

Career Services

Day In a Page

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David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment