The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 22 February 2012


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The Independent Online

Villas-Boas gamble backfires on day of Chelsea calamities

Another hapless defensive display consigned Chelsea to a 3-1 defeat at Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie last night, the Italian side profiting from Andre Villas-Boas's backfiring gamble of leaving Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Ashley Cole out of his starting XI.

Chelsea also missed John Terry – their talismanic captain was ruled out for six weeks in the morning and must undergo knee surgery.

Juan Mata gave the under-pressure Chelsea manager Villas-Boas some hope, guiding home after a sliced clearance, before Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani punished hesitancy in the Blues defence to turn the game around before the break. Lavezzi struck his second into an unguarded net following a mistake from David Luiz to make it three.

Terry's injury at least removes one awkward problem for the FA, who removed the England captaincy from the defender this month after the court case, in which he denies racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, was delayed until after Euro 2012 – Terry will miss next week's friendly against the Netherlands. MORE

Tevez apologises 'unreservedly'

Carlos Tevez sought to save his Manchester City career last night by apologising "sincerely and unreservedly" for his actions over the last five months. Roberto Mancini had said that Tevez needed to apologise if he was to return to the first team. MORE

Bellamy desperate for final reunion

Craig Bellamy's determination to make Sunday's Carling Cup final against former club Cardiff has led to the Liverpool forward having back injections. The Welshman is expected to return to training tomorrow, ahead of the Wembley showpiece. MORE

10-man West Ham win again to go top

West Ham returned to the top last night with a 4-1 win at Blackpool, despite playing with Henri Lansbury in goal after Rob Green's second-half red card. James Tomkins, Nicky Maynard, Gary O'Neil and Ricardo Vaz Te scored West Ham's goals. MORE

Madrid denied by late equaliser

Real Madrid were pegged back by a stoppage-time CSKA Moscow equaliser to draw 1-1 in their last-16 match last night. Cristiano Ronaldo had put Real ahead in the first half but Pontus Wernbloom volleyed past Iker Casillas in the dying seconds. MORE

Pietersen ton sees England win 4-0

Kevin Pietersen, revelling in his new role as a one-day opener, scored 130, his second century in two matches, as England chased down Pakistan's 237 in Dubai. England therefore won the one-day series 4-0, after losing the Test series 3-0. MORE

Defiant Ponting still in Ashes frame

Ricky Ponting accepts that his one-day career is over – he has been dropped by Australia after making 18 runs in five games against India and Sri Lanka. But the former captain said "it's certainly not closure" when asked about his Test career. MORE

Rowntree talks up chances of... Wales

The England forwards coach, Graham Rowntree, heaped praise on the Wales side his charges face in the Six Nations this weekend. "They have no area of weakness," Rowntree said. "They're good guys, too. I find it hard to dislike this Welsh team." MORE

Klitschko offers to punish Chisora

Having kept his counsel after the Chisora-Haye brawl in Munich at the weekend, Chisora's conqueror in the ring, Vitali Klitschko, said he wanted to fight him again. "My ego tells me I still need to give this man real punishment," Klitschko said. MORE

Don't panic! Farah will soon fly again

Charles van Commenee, Team GB's coach, says Mo Farah's weekend defeat is of no concern: "It's quite healthy, certainly five months before the Olympics." MORE