The Sports Matrix: Monday 14 March 2011

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The Independent Online

Win helps England close in on crown

England moved to within one win of a first Grand Slam since 2003 after Martin Johnson’s side edged past Scotland 22-16 at Twickenham yesterday. Tom Croft crossed the line and team-mate Toby Flood posted four penalties to help England prevail. MORE

Lievremont slams French “courage”

France head coach Marc Lièvremont has condemned his players after their surprise 22-21 defeat in Italy on Saturday. “The players are lacking courage,” Lièvremont said of his squad. “Some of the players maybe wore the France jersey for the last time.” MORE

Strauss rumours threaten Cup hopes

Reports suggesting captain Andrew Strauss is preparing to retire from one-day cricket are threatening to disrupt England’s preparations for Thursday’s final World Cup group game, against West Indies in Chennai. MORE

Higginbotham sees Stoke into last four

A Danny Higginbotham free-kick sent Stoke City through to their first FA Cup semi-final for 39 years, as they beat West Ham 2-1. Frédéric Piquionne had earlier equalised Robert Huth’s opener before Rob Green saved Matt Etherington’s penalty. MORE

Burns: I’m ready for bigger fights

Ricky Burns has insisted he’s ready for more challenging fights after forcing Joseph Laryea to quit at the end of the seventh round to retain his WBO super featherweight title. “I want one of the other champions,” he said. “I’m ready now.” MORE

Ferdinand assured of captaincy role

Rio Ferdinand has been told that he remains the permanent England captain, despite manager Fabio Capello’s seeming intention to reinstate John Terry for next week’s Euro 2012 qualifier in Wales. Ferdinand could miss the game with a calf injury. MORE

Wiggins secures podium finish

Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to finish on the podium in Paris-Nice in 15 years, ending third in yesterday’s final day as Germany’s Tony Martin won. Chris Boardman was the last British competitor to finish in the top three, in 1996. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

It takes extremely refined nerve and a unique detachment from the imperatives of today’s football for Arsenal to keep saying it is enough to play lovely football in a fine stadium on the back of an exemplary business model. MORE

Richards header sets up derby semi

A header from Micah Richards helped Manchester City edge past Championship side Reading 1-0 in yesterday’s sixth-round tie at Eastlands, setting up a semi-final meeting with neighbours Manchester United. Roberto Mancini’s side have won just once in the clubs’ last eight meetings and will hope to reverse that fortune as they seek a first trophy in 35 years. City began slowly following a run of nine games in 29 days and after arriving back from a Europa League trip to Kiev early on Friday morning. Noel Hunt went close for the visitors, who had won at Everton in the previous round, before City began to test the Reading defence. Royals goalkeeper Alex McCarthy impressed as the home side were frustrated, with Yaya Touré and David Silva both being thwarted by the 21-year-old. City finally made the breakthrough with 16 minutes left, Richards planting a header home from a Silva corner to send the home side through to a first FA Cup semi-final since 1981. MORE

Capello must resist urge to install Terry

Bringing John Terry back now as captain would be one of the worst misjudgements Fabio Capello could make as he enters the final 16 months of his tenure in charge of this battered, unreliable institution, our national football team. MORE

Murray crashes out in Indian Wells

Andy Murray suffered an embarrassing Masters Series defeat in Indian Wells on Saturday, going down 7-6, 6-3 to World No 143 Donald Young. “I did not move particularly well,” the Scot said after his loss to the American. “He hit a lot of winners.” MORE

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