The Sports Matrix: Friday 25 February 2011

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Banned player blames jealousy

One of the five players banned by the FA for betting on a match he was involved in has told i that it was due to the pay gulf between the top and bottom of the game. Andy Mangan, banned for five months in 2009, said young players want top level wages. MORE

Rooney and Nani hopeful of success

Both Wayne Rooney and Nani believe that Manchester United can beat Marseilles at home and reach the quarter-finals. “We’re confident at home and we have to be positive,” said Rooney, while Nani said they must be “strong from the start” at home.

Fabregas ‘very doubtful’ for final

Arsène Wenger is facing the possibility of being without captain Cesc Fabregas for Sunday’s final against Birmingham City. The midfielder was rated as “very doubtful” after tests on his injured hamstring revealed it to be worse than initially feared. MORE

Dzeko at the double in City romp

Two goals in the opening 12 minutes from Edin Dzeko helped Manchester City coast through to the last 16 with a 3-0 win over Aris Thessaloniki. Yaya Touré added a late third at Eastlands as City went through to a tie with Dynamo Kiev next month. MORE

Kuyt strike edges Liverpool home

ADirk Kuyt header five minutes from time was enough to take Liverpol through to the last 16 of the Europa League, as they squeezed past Sparta Prague. After a drab goalless first leg lastweek, Kenny Dalglish’s side were favoured to make home advantage count at Anfield last night, but proceeded to make heavy weather of seeing off their Czech Republic visitors, spurning a number of chances. Sotirios Kyrgiakos went close with a header, while Raul Meireles (above) shot over and David Ngog missed two presentable opportunities. The match appeared to be heading for an additional half hour before Kuyt headed home a Meireles corner from close range. MORE

Late Edu goal takes Rangers through

A stoppage time tap-in from Edu sent Rangers through to the last 16 after a 2-2 draw at Sporting Lisbon. El-Hadji Diouf headed the Scottish champions in front before Pedro Mendes and Yannick Djalo appeared to have turned the tie around for Sporting. MORE

Moody returns to Bath with injury

Lewis Moody has returned to Bath after the England captain was omitted from the squad to face France tomorrow due to injury. It is not certain that he will return in time for the Scotland tie. France have lost Maxime Medard to a hamstring injury. MORE

Sheridan earmarks dangerman Mas

Andrew Sheridan has told i that Nicholas Mas is France’s main threat in the scrum ahead of tomorrow’s game at Twickenham. “Mas likes to come into the gap and make it hard for opposition hookers”, he said. “It's down to us to be absolutely right.”

Woods decline continues with loss

Tiger Woods’ defeat yesterday to the veteran Dane Thomas Bjorn in the Match Play Championship means he is unlikely to be in world top five on Monday. He has now notwon for 15 months and 18 tournaments, the longest barren period of his 15-year career.

Dragons lose coach for Wigan match

St George-Illawarra Dragons will be without coach Wayne Bennett for Sunday’s World Club Challenge against Wigan. He has flown to Australia because his mother-in-law is seriously ill, leaving assistant Steve Price in charge at the DW Stadium. MORE

Henderson hopes for Long Run win

Nicky Henderson has high hopes for Long Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Despite training five Champion Hurdle winners, he has never won the Gold Cup. “He’d be the best chance we’ve had,” Henderson said of Long Run, “by quite a long way.” MORE

Tahir bowls South Africa to victory

An impressive World Cup debut from Imran Tahir saw South Africa beat the West Indies. He took four wickets as the West Indies were bowled out for 222, which South Africa chased for the loss of three wickets. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Sir Alex Ferguson’s claim that the Premier League is soon to reassert itself in the Champions League is flawed. His United side need an overhaul in midfield, as do Chelsea. Barcelona remain rockhard favourites to win it. MORE