The Sports Matrix: Tuesday 3 May 2011

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The Independent Online

Webb to referee title crunch match

Howard Webb will be announced today as the referee for Manchester United’s crucial game against Chelsea on Sunday. Webb refereed United’s controversial FA Cup win over Liverpool in January, and was criticised by Ryan Babel. MORE

Higgins fights off Trump for title

John Higgins beat Judd Trump to take his fourth World Championship last night. He won a dramatic final 18-15. At one point yesterday afternoon, he was 12-9 down but fought back against his inexperienced 21-year-old opponent to win the title. MORE

Djokovic has No 1 Nadal in his sights

Novak Djokovic is likely soon to become the first world No 1 aside from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal since 2004. The Serb’s recent run has seen him close on Nadal, and he can move further up at the Madrid Masters. MORE

Xavi calls racism claims ‘pathetic’

Barcelona midfielder Xavi described Real Madrid’s conduct as “pathetic” and “lamentable” ahead of tonight’s semi-final second leg. Madrid have complained to Uefa over alleged racist comments made by Sergio Busquets in the first leg last week. MORE

Yardy makes solid progress on return

Michael Yardy yesterday played his first game since leaving the World Cup early with depression. The 30-year-old captained Sussex in a CB40 game against the Netherlands at Hove, and took 1 for 36 from eight overs before scoring 39 with the bat. MORE

Johnson talks up European chances

Adam Johnson is thrilled by the prospect of Manchester City being in the Champions League. “This is what you dream about when you’re growing up as a kid, playing in massive arenas in massive games. We’ve still got a bit of work to do but it’s ours to lose.”

Saints fight back to take draw at Hull

St Helens moved joint-top of Super League yesterday after drawing 24-24 at Hull. The Saints overturned an 18-point deficit after Hull dominated the first half. “If you’d offered me a point at half time, I’d have taken it,” said their coach, Royce Simmons. MORE

Pearce set to pick Wilshere for U-21s

Stuart Pearce names his 40-man squad today for the European Under-21 Championship which takes place in Denmark in June. He is set to name Jack Wilshere, despite Arsène Wenger saying it would keep him from England duty early next season. MORE

Henson granted reprieve by Toulon

Gavin Henson has been spared by French club Toulon. After a fight with team-mates last month, he was expected to be sacked by owner Mourad Boudjellal. Yesterday Boudjellal said, though, that the Welsh centre would stay for the rest of the season. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

There is a powerful suspicion that Jose Mourinho’s belief in his own powers has gone beyond rationality. Tonight he has to put more faith in his players; the most fundamental task facing any coach at any level. MORE

Norwich back in Premier League after day of drama

Norwich City will be playing topflight football next season after a dramatic day in the Championship. Cardiff City lost 3-0 at home to Middlesbrough, meaning Norwich could confirm their automatic promotion with a victory at Portsmouth, and they won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Simeon Jackson. In a tense game, the only goal came five minutes into the second half. David Cox curled a cross from deep towards the far post, where Jackson headed it past Jamie Ashdown. For the final 40 minutes Paul Lambert’s side defended solidly and it proved enough to send them back to the top flight. This became possible thanks to Cardiff’s earlier defeat to Middlesbrough. Goals from Leroy Lita, Barry Robson and Richard Smallwood in the first half put Cardiff 3-0 down and they could not find a way back into the game. MORE

Taarabt: Wrong to punish QPR squad

Queen’s Park Rangers midfielder Adel Taarabt insists it would be wrong if the players were punished by the FA over the Alejandro Faurlin deal. “We’ve done the job on the pitch so we deserve to be where we are,” he said. “We didn’t do anything wrong.” MORE

So You Think wins first race in Europe

The famous Australian horse So You Think won his European debut yesterday at the Curragh. The five-year-old has won the Cox Plate, the local equivalent of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe twice and is now based with Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle. MORE

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