The Sports Matrix: Thursday 5 April 2012


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The Independent Online

Chelsea edge it to set up chance for revenge over Barça

In 2009, Chelsea and Barcelona met in the semi-final of the Champions League and Andres Iniesta broke Blue hearts in the third minute of stoppage time. Three years on, the two teams will meet again in the last four and it will be an achievement on the grandest scale if Roberto Di Matteo's charges exact revenge.

Chelsea earned the meeting with the Catalans after a 2-1 win on the night (3-1 on aggregate) but were made to cling on against a Benfica side reduced to 10 men – Maxi Pereira was sent off – before Raul Meireles, above, silenced the Benfica fans with an injury-time winner. Chelsea held a first-half lead thanks to Frank Lampard's penalty, awarded after Ashley Cole had been body-checked by Javi Garcia. Elsewhere, Real Madrid will meet Bayern Munich after a 5-2 thrashing of Apoel. MORE

Swann rallies to captain's defence

England's spinner Graeme Swann has hit out at critics of Andrew Strauss, saying the squad are fully behind the captain, who made 61 in the second Test against Sri Lanka yesterday. "What has been said [about Strauss] is what I see as a witch-hunt," he said. MORE

GB cyclists bring home two golds

Great Britain yesterday won two gold medals at the World Track Championships in Melbourne. Ed Clancy, Pete Kennaugh, Steven Burke and Geraint Thomas set a new world-record time in the team pursuit, while Ben Swift won the 15km scratch race. MORE

Southgate set to be technical director

Gareth Southgate is the leading candidate to be appointed the Football Association's first technical director in 10 years. The 41-year-old former England international and Middlesbrough manager is currently head of elite development for the FA. MORE

Vidic always had faith in title chance

Injured Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic says he never had any doubt his club would make a strong defence of their title, despite his lengthy absence. "I always believed we would challenge," he said. "It doesn't matter who is out." MORE

Middlesex ready for big time – Fraser

Middlesex's managing director of cricket, Angus Fraser, is confident of his promoted team's chances ahead of the start of the county season today. "I believe if we play cricket to a similar standard as we did last year, we're capable of being very competitive." MORE

£1m match lure for Frankel and Caviar

Connections of the planet's two most lauded racehorses, Britain's Frankel and Australia's Black Caviar, have been given a carrot of £1m to race in a showdown that would command attention beyond the sport's regular audience, even during the Olympics. MORE

Olazabal backs the Brits at Augusta

The 76th Masters begins today, and Jose Maria Olazabal, the last European to win the event, thinks the Augusta course will favour Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy. "I have a hunch," he said. "Just because the course will favour those who hit high." MORE

McGeechan to exit struggling Bath

Bath will sever links with Sir Ian McGeechan, their director of rugby, at the end of the season. The 65-year-old has been in charge for only a year but Bath have lost 11 of their 19 league games so far this term. Forwards coach Martin Haag is also set to leave. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

The new version of the old Tiger Woods, with his first win in more than two dark years just a fortnight old, is extremely hard to bet against. But will the new resurgent Tiger turn up at Augusta? MORE