The Sports Matrix: Thursday 25 October 2012


Defeat leaves City on the brink as Arsenal also lose

Manchester City's hopes of extending their stay in the competition are hanging by a thread this morning after a comprehensive 3-1 defeat in Ajax. Roberto Mancini's side remain without a victory in the Champions League this season, despite going ahead early on through a well-worked strike by Samir Nasri, above. A stylish Ajax side equalised on half-time through a fine Siem de Jong finish, and secured the points after the break courtesy of goals from Niklas Moisander and Christian Eriksen, above. There was little joy for Arsenal either, who were beaten 2-0 at the Emirates by 2011 semi-finalists Schalke. Klass-Jan Huntelaar broke the deadlock with 14 minutes remaining and Ibrahim Afellay added a breakaway second to confirm Arsenal's second consecutive defeat. MORE

Peters eager to get inside heads

The sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters hopes his new position with UK Athletics will help force an upturn in fortunes. "It doesn't matter too much what they are doing," he said. "I'm starting with what's inside their head and helping them understand that." MORE

Ferguson puzzled by ongoing problem

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admits he is struggling to fathom why the club keep struggling for form at Old Trafford. "I don't know, I couldn't tell you," he said. "The goals haven't come from one area or direction. We keep conceding early." MORE

Ferdinands break racism silence

Anton and Rio Ferdinand last night released a joint statement on initiatives they want to combat racism in the game. The defenders called for campaign group Kick It Out to be overhauled, while distancing themselves from moves to set up a black players' union. MORE

Hanley strike sends Rovers soaring

Grant Hanley's early goal helped Blackburn back into the play-off positions as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0. The defender converted David Dunn's cross to send Rovers fifth, while the Owls drop to second bottom and remain without a victory in nine matches. MORE

Cook: Debutants to play natural game

Alastair Cook will tell debutants Joe Root and Nick Compton to focus on their games on the tour to India. "I will say: 'Enjoy the moment, don't worry much about the result'," he said. "Concentrate on what you have done to get selected." MORE

Wiggins to look toward Italy tour

Bradley Wiggins is unlikely to defend his Tour de France title, aiming instead to help Chris Froome to victory. "My priority is the Giro d'Italia," the Briton said. "It's difficult to compete in two grand tours. I'll be there in a helping capacity." MORE

Robinson: Scots must score early

Scotland coach Andy Robinson believes an early score against New Zealand next month will be key to hopes of an upset. "You've got to score early against them," he said before the Murrayfield meeting. "Get the scoreboard in your favour." MORE

Women's game set for take-off, say FA

A move to professionalism could help increase the popularity of the women's game, the Football Association says. "I would like to see it the second-largest sport in the country," said general secretary Alex Horne. "We need to focus on everything." MORE

Europeans to defy the Breeders' dirt

The entries announced yesterday for next week's Breeders' Cup meeting at Santa Anita show a strong European challenge despite the Americans' insular decision to revert to dirt for the non-turf races. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

For Roberto Mancini, left, City life is brutally simple. He is involved in a fight not just for survival but belief that he will ever get the hang of what is demanded in the upper levels of European football. MORE