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The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 18 April 2012

Fabregas: Chelsea have reverted to long-ball game

Cesc Fabregas last night inflamed tensions ahead of Barcelona's semi-final first leg meeting with Chelsea tonight by claiming the London club had reverted to a route one style of play since the departure of manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Chelsea have enjoyed a revival under interim coach Roberto Di Matteo since Villas-Boas's sacking, but former Arsenal midfielder Fabregas feels Barcelona will face the Chelsea "we all know" at Stamford Bridge tonight.

"What happened with Villas-Boas was they played more from the back," Fabregas said. "Trying to keep possession and take the initiative. They've gone back to the type of Chelsea that was more successful a few years ago with Di Matteo: playing on the counter, trying to hit the target man, sitting back and using that No 9 as a reference point." MORE

Advantage Bayern after Gomez strike

Bayern Munich will take a 2-1 advantage to Madrid for next week's semi-final second leg after Mario Gomez's late winner last night. Franck Ribéry had given the hosts an early lead before Mesut Ozil's tap-in equalised for Jose Mourinho's Real. MORE

Reading win seals return to top flight

Reading earned promotion to the Premier League last night, beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 thanks to Mikele Leigertwood's late header, while West Ham drew 1-1 at Bristol City. Second-placed Southampton won 3-1 at Peterborough while 22nd-placed Portsmouth edged Crystal Palace 2-1. MORE

Tickets morale boost for Team GB

British athletes are to receive more tickets for friends and family for this summer's Games, UK Athletics has announced. "This is essentially a performance decision," chief executive Niels de Vos said yesterday. "The last thing we want athletes worrying about is the availability of tickets." MORE

Murray begins clay season in style

British No 1 Andy Murray began his clay-court season in style with a resounding 6-0, 6-3, victory over Viktor Troicki at the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday. The Scot's 67-minute waltz has taken him through to a match with either Jürgen Melzer or Julien Benneteau. MORE

Gloucester coach leaves for Sale

Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath quit yesterday, with both he and the club citing recent poor results, but the fans believe he will now take over at Sale – who visit Kingsholm for an important match this weekend. "I think it's someone else's turn to take charge here," Redpath said. MORE

Cleverley pulls out of title defence

WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverley has withdrawn from his title defence against Robin Krasniqi this month be-cause of a viral infection. "There's not enough time to make up what I've missed in training," the Welshman said of what would have been a fourth defence. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

It is an old scab, and the danger of picking it may have declined along with Chelsea, but for Didier Drogba and his Old Guard team-mates it is hard to imagine anything quite so guaranteed to stimulate some of the last of their ambition. MORE

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