The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 12 December 2012


Villa coast into semi-finals as Arsenal crash out

Two goals from Andreas Weimann helped Aston Villa move into the last four of the League Cup for the second time in four years with a compre-hensive 4-1 win at Norwich.

The hosts went ahead after 19 minutes as Steve Morison lobbed Shay Given, only for Brett Holman to equalise within a minute. Paul Lambert, on his first return to Norwich since leaving to take charge of Villa in the summer, had to wait till the final 10 minutes to confirm victory, Weimann finding the net twice before Christian Benteke's injury-time fourth. The loss was Norwich's first in 11 matches. MORE

Elsewhere, Arsenal lost 3-2 on penalties at Bradford after drawing 1-1 following extra time. The hosts took the lead through Garry Thompson in the first half, only for Thomas Vermaelen to head a late equaliser. The Belgian then missed the decisive spot-kick. MORE

Black Cats ease out of relegation zone

Sunderland coasted to a 3-0 win against Reading last night to move out of the relegation zone. James McClean and Steven Fletcher scored inside the opening half hour before a late Stéphane Sessègnon goal added gloss to the Black Cats' first home victory since September. MORE

PFA sorry for not aiding race claim

The Professional Footballers' Association has apologised to former Gillingham striker Mark McCammon, who was sacked by the club because he complained of racial discrimination. McCammon was advised by the players' union that it would not help him pursue his case. MORE

Benitez: One error will cost Chelsea

Rafael Benitez admits Chelsea need to hit the ground running in tomorrow's Club World Cup semi-final. "It's a short competition, you have to be ready," he said ahead of his side's meeting with Mexican side Monterrey. "In this competition you make one mistake and it will cost you." MORE

Battle over future of Heineken Cup

English and French clubs will push for a slimmed-down version of the Heineken Cup at a board meeting in London today, but are set to face opposition from their Celtic counterparts, who prefer an enlarged, 32-team, format. Italian clubs are also in favour of the latter proposal.

'Captaincy has made Cook better'

Former England captain Mike Gatting has praised Alastair Cook's incredible scoring in India. "Cookie has had to step up to the captaincy and it's made him even better," said Gatting, a star performer in the 1984-1985 series triumph. MORE

Toms set to lead US 2014 Ryder team

David Toms is expected to be named as the United States captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup tomorrow, succeeding Davis Love. "It's one of the highest honours in golf," Toms has said. "That would be one of the highlights of my career." MORE

Priestland a doubt for Lions tour

Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland will miss the Six Nations and is a doubt for the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia after undergoing surgery on his Achilles. The 25-year-old suffered the injury playing for Scarlets against Exeter last weekend. MORE

Bragg to run length of New Zealand

Jez Bragg says his love of running will make his trail of the length of New Zealand, starting today, a pleasant experience. "I enjoy losing myself in runs where the journey is more the point than the destination," he said. MORE

Cuts cast shadow over world event

GB swimmers take part in the world short-course championships today with under the shadow of their poor showing at the Olympics. The sport is likely to have funding reduced by UK Sport next week. MORE

James Lawton

Last Sunday was a worrying indication that the violence which besmirched the nation's image for three decades might be returning to terraces already mired in vicious and unspeakable tribal chanting. MORE