The Sports Matrix: Thursday 20 December 2012


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The Independent Online

Five-star Chelsea fight back to coast into semi-finals

Chelsea recovered from a goal down to ease into the last four with a 5-1 victory at Leeds United last night. In their first match since their return from the Club World Cup in Japan, Chelsea went behind against the run of play through Luciano Becchio, above. Juan Mata's tame shot equalised straight after the break, before Branislav Ivanovic and Victor Moses scored twice within three minutes just after the hour. Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres added some gloss to the scoreline in the final 10 minutes.

"We only got back from Japan on Monday so maybe there was not enough time to rest but we showed the desire to win," Mata said. "The first 30 minutes were so difficult, because [Leeds] are a physical side." MORE

British clubs set to discover fate

Arsenal, Celtic and Manchester United will this morning discover their opponents in the last 16 of the Champions League. Arsenal could draw Barcelona for a third season in four, while United have nine-time winners Real Madrid as possible opponents. MORE

Balotelli drops City case to save career

Mario Balotelli has backed down from his move to challenge a £340,000 club fine at a Premier League tribunal, in a final attempt to salvage his career at Manchester City. The 22-year-old is determined to repair his relationship with manager Roberto Mancini. MORE

Sturridge move stalls over wages

Liverpool's move for Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge is in danger of falling through with the player's representatives making demands the club are unwilling to meet. A £12m fee has been agreed but discussions over a sell-on fee are stalling any potential deal. MORE

Houghton happy with 'surreal' year

Steph Houghton says she does not want 2012 to end after enjoying a fine year. "I'm running out of superlatives for 2012," Houghton, who impressed for Great Britain at the Olympics this summer, said. "It is surreal. I don't think I've kept a smile off my face all year." MORE

Grass-court season set to lengthen

Wimbledon's decision to start a week later from 2015 has resulted in several clay-court tournaments around Europe seeking to convert to grass. Men's competitions in Hamburg, Stuttgart and Gstaad have shown interest in filling the gap. MORE

London chosen for 2017 world games

London has been awarded the 2017 Paralympic athletics world championships, giving the city the chance to recreate the magic of the 2012 Games. The event will be held before the Olympic Stadium hosts the IAAF world athletics championships. MORE

Morgan seeks to make T20 mark

Stand-in England Twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan hopes to use today's T20 match against India to push for a Test recall. "I'll do things that are going to put me in the right direction," he said. "And hope they move me up the pecking order." page 47

Gillespie praises Root for Test debut

Jason Gillespie has praised Joe Root for his impressive start to Test cricket. "He took the opportunity with both hands, which is the mark of a really good player," the Yorkshire coach said of his county player. "He has a good head on his shoulders." MORE

Former WBA player charged

Former West Bromwich Albion defender Neil Clement and Flat jockey Eddie Ahern were among six people charged with corruption by the British Horseracing Authority. A hearing has been scheduled for April. MORE

James Lawton

Trevor Hicks might be given a knighthood, not for his celebrity or a career in politics or the civil service, but for standing up, year after year, for the innocent, the abused and his idea of an implacable truth. MORE