The Sports Matrix: Thursday 26 January 2012

 

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The Independent Online

Bellamy strikes to set up Wembley date with Cardiff

Craig Bellamy scored a late equaliser at Anfield to help Liverpool set up a first Wembley final in 16 years and a reunion with the Welshman's former side and hometown club, Cardiff City.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg against Manchester City, Liverpool fell behind on the night to Nigel de Jong's fine 25-yard effort, before a handball from Micah Richards gave Steven Gerrard the chance to again put Liverpool ahead on aggregate from the penalty spot before half-time.

Edin Dzeko tapped City ahead on the night with a little over 20 minutes remaining, only for Bellamy, linking up superbly with Glen Johnson, to tie the scores at 2-2 and give Kenny Dalglish's side a 3-2 aggregate victory. MORE

Dropped catches hamper England

Pakistan were restricted to 256 for 7 after the first day's play in Abu Dhabi, with Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann each taking three wickets. England's efforts were hampered by dropped catches, while Misbah-ul-Haq remains unbeaten on 83. MORE

Djokovic next for superb Murray

Andy Murray reached his fifth Grand Slam semi-final in a row, beating Japan's Kei Nishikori. The Scot had little trouble in Melbourne, prevailing 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to set up a meeting with Novak Djokovic, to whom he lost in last year's final. MORE

Mackay promised transfer funds

Malky Mackay, manager of Carling Cup finalists Cardiff City, has been promised funds to help the club's push for promotion. "Malky has always had our support," club chairman Dato Chan Tien Ghee said. "The money is there if he wants to use it." MORE

Balotelli: I am not a violent player

Mario Balotelli says he is "not a villain or violent player" after accepting a four-match ban for stamping on Tottenham's Scott Parker. "I have accepted the ban because I couldn't prove my innocence," the Italian said. "I didn't try to [put my] heel [on] Parker." MORE

McIlroy focuses on hero Woods

Rory McIlroy is looking forward to teeing off with Tiger Woods in the Abu Dhabi Championship, after being forced to borrow a camera to get close to his hero in the Arabian desert six years ago. "The only way was to commandeer a camera," he said. MORE

Robinson takes aim at England squad

Andy Robinson kicked off the Six Nations mind games by criticising the behaviour of England players at the World Cup. "I felt two or three were disrespectful," the Scotland coach said. "There is a responsibility on us to conduct ourselves properly." MORE

Trial highlights Quest limitations

Harry Redknapp's trial for tax evasion has highlighted the limits of the 2006 Quest investigation into English football finances. "Quest had no power to order disclosure [of personal information]," said Nigel Layton, a former Quest managing director. MORE

Chelsea close in on winger De Bruyne

Chelsea are holding discussions with Genk over a move for the midfielder Kevin de Bruyne. The 20-year-old could move this week, although he would then be loaned back to Genk. "The expectation is it will be finished this week," a Genk spokesman said. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

If Mario Balotelli seems to spend time in his own private universe, his agent does not appear the ideal candidate to organise periodic returns to Planet Earth. His declarations may be risible but should also be alarming. MORE

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