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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

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