The Sports Matrix: Thursday 19 April 2012


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The Independent Online

Advantage Chelsea after Drogba's tour de force

Chelsea are just 90 minutes from a second European Cup final in four years after Didier Drogba's first-half goal earned them an impressive 1-0 victory over holders Barcelona at Stamford Bridge last night. The veteran Ivorian swept home Ramires' pass across the penalty area in first-half injury time after Frank Lampard had robbed Lionel Messi just inside the Chelsea half. The visitors – strong pre-match favourites – began the match strongly, Alexis hitting the bar with a lobbed shot inside the opening 10 minutes after collecting an Andres Iniesta pass.

Chelsea came more into the game but were unable to find a way through until Drogba's intervention, his ninth goal in 10 matches against Spanish opposition. Barcelona continued to enjoy the majority of possession after the interval, but Cesc Fabregas had a shot cleared off the line and Carles Puyol and Pedro went close in the final minutes. Chelsea held firm to extend their run under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo to one defeat in 13 matches and their unbeaten run against Barcelona to six matches. The second leg takes place in the Nou Camp on Tuesday. MORE

Dzeko eyes return move to Germany

Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko could return to the Bundesliga in a bid to end his unhappy spell at Eastlands. The Bosnian has struggled for consistent form this season, scoring just five goals in his last 27 matches, and is interesting Bayern Munich. MORE

Bebe's time in Turkey nears end

Manchester United striker Bebe's loan spell at Besiktas may be curtailed after the Portuguese broke a club curfew. The 21-year-old has played just three games for the Turks after moving on loan last summer with a view to a £2m permanent move. MORE

England captain will miss Olympics

The England women's captain Faye White will not be taking part in London 2012 because she is pregnant. White says she has spoken to the England coach Hope Powell and believes she may have now reached the end of her international career. MORE

Bayern confident of making final

Bayern Munich remain confident of progressing to a second Champions League final in three seasons as they take a 2-1 lead to Real Mad-rid next week. "We had luck on our side," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. "We're not without a chance in Madrid." MORE

Ring-rusty Nadal returns with a win

Rafael Nadal successfully came through his first match in a fortnight, beating Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-3 at the Monte Carlo Masters. The Spaniard appeared a little rusty coming off a 15-day absence, enforced by a knee injury. MORE

Youngs in line to make England bow

Leicester's Tom Youngs could make his international debut before starting a Premiership match for his club after the 25-year-old was pencilled in for England's summer trip to South Africa. Tom is the elder brother of England scrum-half Ben. MORE

Fenway Park brings up big 100

The Boston Red Sox's esteemed Fenway Park celebrates its centenary tomorrow, having come to represent more than just a ballpark to take a place in American folklore. The atmospheric stadia has also hosted political rallies and boxing matches. MORE

Grenades and battles greet F1

Anti-government protesters were dispersed by stun grenades after they gatecrashed a cultural exhibition for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Street battles also took place in a blow to the Gulf nation's attempts to present a stable stage on their return to the F1 circuit. MORE

Feature: London Eye

Some of the NBA's stellar names will represent Great Britain at the Olympics, in the hope of raising the sport's UK profile. Tim Rich asks if it will be a success, and whether Team GB deserve to be taking part. MORE