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The Sport Matrix: Wednesday 16 October 2013

Rooney and Gerrard see nervy England through

Goals at the end of either half, from Wayne Rooney and captain Steven Gerrard, helped take a nervy England through to next summer’s World Cup finals.

Roy Hodgson (right) watched his side make hard work of seeing off Poland winning 2-0 at Wembley, with the visitors, backed by a large vocal support, going close several times before Gerrard’s late clincher. The Liverpool midfielder was delighted with how England reacted to the pressure of two must-win home games, but admitted their performance last night was not perfect.

“There is a great togetherness in the squad and that is all that matters,” he said. “We performed under tremendous pressure. That was for the supporters, who can make their plans for Brazil now.

“At times we were fantastic. The big lesson is to play better in the second half. We must keep the ball when it gets tough. We are getting better defensively.”

“We’ve always remained positive,” added Rooney. “We’ve had great focus and belief. We’ve some great young players and the experience of players like myself, Steven and Frank [Lampard], so it’s a great blend.” MORE

Scotland and Wales finish on a high

Scotland concluded their Group A campaign with a creditable 2-0 win over Croatia, Robert Snodgrass and Steven Naismith scoring to help the hosts finish fourth. A late equaliser from Aaron Ramsey earned Wales an equally impressive 1-1 draw away to group-winners Belgium. MORE

Ireland come from behind to seal win

Managerless Republic of Ireland closed with a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan to end in fourth place in Group C. Dmitriy Shomko gave the minnows a surprise lead before a Robbie Keane penalty and John O’Shea put Ireland in charge at the break. A late own goal confirmed the win.

Davis goal ensures final-day draw

Steven Davis struck with 18 minutes remaining to ensure Northern Ireland ended their qualification campaign with a 1-1 draw in Israel. Russia won Group F after drawing 1-1 in Azerbaijan, as Portugal clinched second spot with a 3-0 victory over Luxembourg. MORE

Time for McIlroy to focus on his game

Rory McIlroy must piece together his game to retrieve something from his worst season as a professional golfer. The need to arrest the slide has brought an end to the global love-in that has been his relationship with Caroline Wozniacki.  MORE

Allen injury adds to centre tension

Anthony Allen’s leg injury means he joins fellow centres Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi in being ruled out of England’s autumn programme. Joel Tomkins and Luther Burrell are front-runners for a call-up to Stuart Lancaster’s squad today. MORE

Rising British star dies in accident

British racing driver Sean Edwards has been killed after a Porsche he was travelling in hit a tyre wall barrier during a training session near Brisbane. The London driver, 26, was considered one of Britain’s brightest racing talents. MORE

Tendulkar finale at home ground

Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th and final Test before he retires will take place at his home ground, Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, where he made a century on his first-class debut, aged just 15. India’s second Test against West Indies is from 14-18 November.

England’s rookies tipped to impress

England bowler Danielle Hazell has backed the squad newcomers to impress on their West Indies tour. “We have some great players in the squad,” she said. “Hopefully, they can learn from them and push for a place on that plane to Australia.” MORE

Dawn Approach to shine in QEII Stakes

Dawn Approach has been backed to shine on soft ground at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. “[He] is very well and we are happy,” trainer Jim Bolger said. “I am hopeful he will be able to cope with softer ground.” MORE

Paul Newman

Appointing Miles Maclagan was a mistake, but at least Laura Robson acted quickly. Now the hard part: finding a replacement who will crack the whip sufficiently to take her to the next level. MORE

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