The Sports Matrix: Friday 17 February 2012


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United find special Dutch of class to cruise past Ajax

Goals from Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez helped Manchester United to a 2-0 success in Ajax in the first leg of their round of 32 tie last night. Featuring a strong line-up, Sir Alex Ferguson's side were comfortable for the majority of the match, after weathering a strong start from the Dutch side. David de Gea made a fine tip over from Siem de Jong's shot before the break and the visitors went ahead on the hour, England international Young cutting inside to shoot low to Kenneth Vermeer's right for his first goal in four months. Ajax failed to replicate their strong first-half showing and United scored a second away goal with five minutes left, Hernandez feeding Wayne Rooney before running into the box to take the return and double United's lead. Antonio Valencia was brought down as he began the move for the second goal and Ferguson revealed that the Ecuadorian would be sidelined for a month with the resultant hamstring injury. MORE

Sublime strike sinks sorry Stoke

A stunning 35-yard effort from Mehmet Topal consigned Stoke to a first European home defeat of the season as they were beaten 1-0 by Valencia. The hosts had chan-ces but could not break down their disciplined and able Spanish opponents. MORE

Aguero comes on to win it for City

Sergio Aguero's late goal won Manchester City their first leg in Porto 2-1 last night. Silvestre Varela had put Porto ahead in the first half but City equalised through an own goal before Aguero converted Yaya Toure's pass after 84 minutes. MORE

Redknapp in two minds over England

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp remains uncertain over taking the England manager's job, should he be offered it. The 64-year-old returned from a break in Dubai yesterday awaiting an offer from the Football Association to succeed Fabio Capello. MORE

AVB: I don't care what players think

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas says he does not care about his players' opinions, so long as he retains the support of owner Roman Abramovich. "I'm not concerned," he said. "They don't have to back my project. It's the owner who backs my project." MORE

Chisora: I will upset Vitali's focus

Dereck Chisora tells i how he will beat Vitali Klitschko and become WBC world heavyweight champion tomorrow night. "I'm going to win, and be world champion," he said. "No one has ever really pushed him from the start. I'll make him lose his focus." MORE

Bopara and Cook make perfect dish

Ravi Bopara admits his familiarity with Essex team-mate Alastair Cook has benefited the England one-day side. The pair have put on 131 and 78 in the current series against Pakistan. "You sort of know what's going on inside their [his] head," Bopara said. MORE

Mallinder opts against England

Jim Mallinder last night revealed he had not applied for the England coaching vacancy, increasing the chances for Stuart Lancaster. "It's probably the best job in the world," he admitted. "But I'm concerned with Northampton. You can't be distracted." MORE

McDermott hopes for open encounter

Leeds take on Manly in the World Club Challenge, hoping to make the most of home advantage, with coach Brian McDermott predicting an open match. "We like to throw the ball around and play a bit," he said. "When we do that, we win." MORE

Olympics: London Eye

Holly Bleasdale has admitted that taking up the pole vault was a spur-of-the-moment decision. "It's funny," she said. "If [a] taster session hadn't been on at my club I probably would never have done the pole vault." MORE