The Sports Matrix: Monday 12 March 2012


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The Independent Online


Mancini plays down City slip-up as United go top

After his side surrendered their lead for the first time in five months yesterday, Roberto Mancini argued the title will be decided by next month's Manchester derby. Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Swansea, combined with United's 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, meant the lead changed properly for the first time since 15 October, when United drew 1-1 at Liverpool and City crushed Aston Villa 4-1 to go top.

Since Manchester City do not play again until a week from Wednesday, when they face Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium, they could go into that game four points behind United, if Sir Alex Ferguson's side overcomes struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.

One of the repercussions of yesterday's games is that if results go to form, United will go into the derby on 30 April, needing only to draw to stay clear of City.

Nevertheless, Mancini, who flew his squad directly to Wales from Portugal after their Europa League defeat by Sporting Lisbon, was defiant. "Whatever has happened is not important," he said. "We will fight against them to the end. There are another 10 games to go, the season is a long one and the situation changes every week." MORE  

England conjure victory in Paris

England won 24-22 against France in a thrilling Six Nations contest in Paris yesterday. "We started well," said the interim coach, Stuart Lancaster. "We had periods where we lost composure, but we showed true character and grit to stick in there." MORE

Farah outmuscled in medal sprint

Mo Farah missed out on a medal in the 3,000m at the World Indoor Championships, as he finished fourth after colliding with Kenyan athlete Edwin Soi. "I'm disappointed to finish fourth," Farah said. "I got pushed a bit but that's all part of the sport." MORE

Confidence is high now, says Wenger

Arsenal go into tonight's match against Newcastle on a high, says manager Arsène Wenger. "We scored seven against Blackburn, five against Tottenham, three against Milan, so overall we have a flow in our game because maybe the confidence is higher." MORE

Wales keep Grand dreams alive

Wales have the ideal opportunity to clinch a historic third Grand Slam in eight years, following a nervy 24-3 victory over Italy in Cardiff. Having threatened to blow the visitors away early, the hosts were pegged back by a resilient – if limited – Italy. MORE

Wiggins completes historic triumph

Bradley Wiggins yesterday became the first British cyclist in 45 years to win the Paris-Nice race. The only previous British winner was Wiggins' childhood idol, Tom Simpson, in 1967. "It's an honour to be up there with Tom Simpson," Wiggins said. MORE

Martinez pleased with Latics draw

The Wigan Athletic manager, Roberto Martinez, hailed his team's display at Norwich yesterday, after they came back from a goal down to draw 1-1. "We don't play like a team at the bottom of the league," he said. "There are 30 points still to play for." MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Stuart Lancaster has had the courage to invest his future reputation with a belief that, in the biggest playing population in all of rugby, England have young players who can indeed create new horizons, new belief. MORE