The Sports Matrix: Friday 9 March 2012


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The Independent Online

Bilbao stun United on poor night for Manchester clubs

Manchester United's Europa League campaign is in danger after they lost their last-16 first leg 3-2 at home to Athletic Bilbao last night. The Basques were totally superior and deserved their three away goals. Only a late Wayne Rooney penalty kept the deficit at one.

Rooney had put United ahead but Fernando Llorente's header equalised just before the break. Oscar de Marcos finished a delightful move to put Athletic ahead, and in the last minute Iker Muniain scored a tap-in. Rooney's late penalty made it 3-2.

Manchester City have left themselves with another difficult task after losing their first leg at Sporting Lisbon 1-0. They also lost captain Vincent Kompany to a calf injury which could rule him out for weeks. Fellow defender Joleon Lescott also suffered a suspected groin strain.

The game's only goal came from Sporting centre-back Xandao, who back-heeled past Joe Hart early in the second half from close range. MORE

Rangers owner not 'fit and proper'

The Scottish Football Association yesterday said that the Rangers owner Craig Whyte was not a "fit and proper person" to work in football, following an independent inquiry into the club. Rangers will also face a charge of bringing the game into disrepute. MORE

Gardner grateful for O'Neill support

Craig Gardner has paid tribute to the Sunderland manager, Martin O'Neill, for helping him settle in: "If you ever need support, all you have to do is look to the touchline and he's there fighting your corner and that's exactly what you want." MORE

Spurs make £50m bid to keep Harry

Tottenham are offering Harry Redknapp an improved four-year deal and £50m to spend on transfers this summer, in the hope of securing his future. Redknapp is the favourite to be the next England manager, though there has been no approach yet. MORE

Arsenal want RVP to partner Podolski

Arsenal want to pair Robin van Persie with the Germany striker Lukas Podolski up front next season. There is increasing hope that captain Van Persie will stay, pending contract talks, while Podolski is set to arrive from FC Koln for £10.9m. MORE

Wiggins shrugs off 'hell' to retain lead

Bradley Wiggins coped with freezing conditions to remain on course to become Britain's first outright winner of the Paris-Nice "Race to the Sun" in 45 years. "Today was a day in hell because of the cold," he said after finishing the stage in third to retain the lead. MORE

White tells of England approach

Jake White has informed the ACT Brumbies of an approach from England over the vacant coaching position, amid growing RFU dismay over increasing South African influence. Stuart Lancaster and Nick Mallett are also being considered. MORE

Halsall quick to reach London

Fran Halsall booked her place at this summer's Olympic Games, setting the fastest time of the year in the 100 metres freestyle at the British trials in London. Amy Smith and Stacey Todd, the latter with a 200m breaststroke personal best, also qualified. MORE

Ennis ready for Olympic rehearsal

Jessica Ennis is relishing facing Olympic rival Tatyana Chernova in the World Indoors today, five months ahead of their meeting in London. "The last time [we] competed was in Daegu," she said. "I'm looking forward to that head to head again." MORE

Opinion: Noel Gallagher

When I interviewed Mario Balotelli, I asked him what he wanted to achieve in football – he simply wants to be the best in the world. But I'm not sure he knows how to do that. He's just a force of nature. MORE