The Sports Matrix: Thursday 24 February 2011

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The Independent Online

Squillaci header gives Arsenal win

Arsenal moved to within one point of Manchester United after a 1-0 home win over Stoke City. The goal came after eight minutes when Sébastien Squillaci headed in a cross. The win was soured, however, by injuries to Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott. MORE

Pakistan dispatch woeful Kenya

Pakistan’s first match since the outcome of the spot-fixing investigation went smoothly, as they beat Kenya by 205 runs yesterday. Kenya bowled a record 37 wides as Pakistan scored 317, before being bowled out for 112 as Shahid Afridi took five wickets. MORE

Berdych beats Davydenko again

Tomas Berdych beat Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 7-6 yesterday in the Dubai Duty Free Championships. The Russian used to be Berdych’s bête noire, but the world No 7 has now beaten him in two of their last three ties. MORE

Wembley pitch ‘safer than 2010’

The Wembley pitch will be much better for Sunday’s League Cup final than the one Michael Owen was injured on in last year’s final. Rather than a re-laid pitch, there is now a Desso system: a network of fibres based in sand which helps grass to root deeper. MORE

Moody ruled out of key France match

England captain Lewis Moody looks set to miss out on the game against France on Saturday after a recurrence of his knee injury, with the returning Andrew Sheridan the only new face in the side. The Celtic sides, however, have made many changes. MORE

Dalglish trusts Anfield’s patience

Kenny Dalglish was relaxed ahead of Liverpool’s second leg with Sparta Prague, despite drawing 0-0 away in the first leg. “The great thing about our fans is that they have been very well educated”, he said, “they know the opposition will sit back.” MORE

O’Driscoll nears try-scoring record

Brian O’Driscoll will win his 110th Irish cap on Sunday, and if he scores a try he will match the Six Nations try-scoring record of Ian Smith, who scored 24 for Scotland between 1924 and 1933. “It doesn’t really bother me which person in green scores,” he said. MORE

Terry demands win over United

John Terry has said that if Chelsea are to emerge from recent problems and resume their title challenge, they “must beat” Manchester United next week. “They’re a very good side”, he said, “but I don’t think anybody should be fearful of them.” MORE

Poulter surrenders lead to lose to Cink

Ian Poulter’s World Match Play defence ended disappointingly quickly as he was beaten by Stewart Cink. Two up with four to play, Poulter looked assured but he lost on the first extra hole. “I had my chances to shut him out and I didn’t,” reflected Poulter. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Bringing on Paul Scholes for Darron Gibson was another concession by Sir Alex Ferguson of his dependence on an old United – one that is surely running to the end of its capacity to obscure the weaknesses of today. MORE

Marseilles hold off United in stalemate

Two strong defensive performances meant that Manchester United’s last-16 first leg in the Stade Vélodrome ended goalless. Sir Alex Ferguson played Dimitar Berbatov up front on his own, with Wayne Rooney moved out to the left flank. This cautious approach meant that United were solid defensively without creating too many chances. Their best first half opportunity fell to Darren Fletcher on the edge of the box but he could only shoot straight at Steve Mandanda. As the game went on, Marseilles grew into it, with most of their threat coming through the running from wide of André Ayew and Loïc Rémy. But United defended well, with Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling continuing their good form and limiting the hosts to very few goal-scoring chances. United nearly scored on the break later on but they could not, and will be wary of away goals in the return leg. MORE

Last-gasp Gomez puts Bayern ahead

Mario Gomez’s last-minute goal gave Bayern Munich a crucial lead after their first leg at Internazionale. He capitalised on an error from Julio Cesar to give the German side a good chance of avenging last year’s Champions League final defeat. MORE

Maguire out of Champion Hurdle

Jason Maguire will not be able to ride Peddlers Cross in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next month after incurring a seven-day suspension. He was banned for his excessive use of the whip on Cool Mission in the novice chase at Doncaster yesterday. MORE