The Sports Matrix: Thursday 15 March 2012


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ivanovic completes a Chelsea miracle at the Bridge

Branislav Ivanovic sent Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea into the quarter-finals with an extra-time winner at Stamford Bridge last night.

The Serbian defender scored after 105 minutes as Chelsea won the second leg 4-1 and the match 5-4 on aggregate, after Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard had scored in normal time. Chelsea had gone 2-0 ahead, a position from which they would have progressed. Drogba scored a brilliant diving header from Ramires' perfect cross in the first half. Terry headed the second, from Lampard's corner, three minutes into the second. But Napoli fought back and the midfielder Gokhan Inler scored from the edge of the box soon after.

With 15 minutes left, the former Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena handballed in the area and Lampard converted the penalty to send the tie to extra time. Ivanovic shot into the roof of the net from Drogba's cut-back at the end of its first period.

Chelsea, who are fifth in the Premier League, will play in the Champions League quarter-finals for the fourth time in five years. MORE

Richards: Fifa and Uefa 'stole game'

The Premier League chairman, Sir Dave Richards, claimed that Fifa and Uefa "stole" the game and also told a Qatar conference that drinking alcohol was "part of British culture". The 69-year-old then stumbled into a water feature in the hotel. MORE

Ferguson demands improvement

Sir Alex Ferguson said Manchester United needed to improve their performance to overturn a first-leg deficit against Athletic Bilbao. "Our performance level has to step up, in terms of our possession," the Scot said, ahead of tonight's second leg. MORE

De Jong: only titles will do for City

Nigel de Jong believes Manchester City's season will be deemed a failure if they do not win a trophy. "Our main goal is to win the Premier League," the Dutchman said ahead of tonight's visit of Sporting. "The only way we can succeed is to win one of the prizes." MORE

Ronaldo scores as Madrid go through

Real Madrid progressed to the quarter-finals when they beat CSKA Moscow 4-1 at home, having drawn 1-1 away. Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, while Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema got the others, with a late consolation from Zoran Tosic. MORE

Croft: England are 'working harder'

England flanker Tom Croft has spoken of the players' hard work under new coaches. "You work a little bit harder now because you're surrounded by people doing exactly the same thing," he said. "You don't want to be the guy letting the side down." MORE

Finian's Rainbow wins amid drama

Finian's Rainbow won the Queen Mother Champion Chase yesterday despite almost colliding with the favourite Sizing Europe as they had to swerve around the last fence. "These things happen in this game," said Sizing Europe's trainer, Henry De Bromhead. MORE

Big Buck's can set records today

Big Buck's is odds-on to become the first horse to win the divisional championship, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, three years running today. He has won 15 consecutive races over hurdles, and can match Sir Ken's record of 16, which is 59 years old. MORE

Strauss hopes to build on ODI wins

England play their first warm-up game in Sri Lanka today, and returning Test captain Andrew Strauss hopes to build on the one-day successes led by Alastair Cook: "I want to take the momentum to help us move forward. We're all in this together." MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Nicky Henderson's day at Cheltenham yesterday could hardly have been better had he ordered every detail. By sending out four winners, at cumulative odds of 3,382-1, he demolished the all-time Festival record of 40. MORE