The Sport Matrix: Tuesday 2 December 2014


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Lambert puts his faith in Christian

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has put his faith in the returning Christian Benteke as his side travel to Crystal Palace tonight seeking to end a nine-match winless run. “When he’s on his game he’s one of the best in Europe, let alone Britain,” Lambert said. “I’ve seen some brilliant strikers in my time and, when on his game, he’s certainly up there. So that’s a massive boost to us.”

Red Bull Henry seeks pastures new

Former Arsenal and France forward Thierry Henry yesterday confirmed his departure from MLS side New York Red Bulls.

The 37-year-old joined the club from Barcelona in 2010 and won two Eastern Conference titles as well as the Supporters’ Shield in 2013. He will “take the next few weeks to reflect” before deciding on his next career move. A second return to the red side of north London has been rumoured.

Goalkeeper Neuer up for Ballon d’Or

Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer became the first goalkeeper since his fellow German Oliver Kahn in 2002 to make the final Fifa world player of the year shortlist, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the final three for the Ballon d’Or award.

Messi, winner on four occasions, made the shortlist for the eighth time in a row and Ronaldo, winner in 2008 and last year, for the fourth time running.

Wolff to make history in Race of Champions

Susie Wolff will make motor sport history later this month when she becomes the first woman to compete in the Race of Champions. The traditional end-of-season event features drivers and riders from all forms of motorsport, both four wheels and two, racing in a number of different vehicles.

Wolff, last week named as Williams test driver for the 2015 Formula One season, is to join forces with fellow Scot David Coulthard for the Nations Cup part of the competition at the Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados on 13-14 December.

“Any driver would love to be invited to do the Race of Champions,” said Wolff yesterday. “It’s an event I’ve always looked closely at and always dreamt of being part of, so I’m proud to have  been chosen.

“But the biggest thing is the fact I’m just so looking forward to racing again. I have a full-time job at Williams which is great, but it’s about getting that adrenalin of racing back, and that’s what I’m looking forward to most.”

Vintage Higgins rolls back years

John Higgins rolled back the years at the UK Championship last night, beating fellow former champion Matthew Stevens 6-2.

The Scot made breaks of 59, 81 and 62 to lead 3-1 at the interval before adding a 128 and a 52 in a convincing win. Higgins will next face Anthony McGill.