The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 25 April 2012


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Chelsea ride luck and clear red mist to reach final

Chelsea reached a second European Cup final in five seasons last night, holding Barcelona to a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp to progress 3-2 on aggregate. The side coached by Roberto Di Matteo were hampered from the start, as the centre-back Gary Cahill was forced off with a hamstring injury inside 12 minutes. Barcelona's Sergio Busquets levelled the aggregate score on 35 minutes, before the Chelsea captain John Terry was sent-off, for an off-the-ball incident with Alexis Sanchez. Andres Iniesta capped a fine move to put the Spaniards 2-1 up on aggregate two minutes before the interval and Chelsea's chances appeared bleak. However, the Brazilian midfielder Ramires then surged on to Frank Lampard's pass and lofted a sublime shot over Victor Valdes that gave Chelsea the aggregate lead. Barcelona enjoyed most of the possession after the interval but were unable to break through, Lionel Messi missing a penalty before Fernando Torres scored a late breakaway goal. Chelsea, missing four players through suspension, will face Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the final on 19 May. MORE

Villa fears grow with Bolton defeat

Bolton moved to within a point of safety and deepened Aston Villa's relegation fears with a 2-1 win at Villa Park last night. Stephen Warnock put the hosts ahead before Martin Petrov, with a penalty, and David Ngog turned the match around. MORE

Mourinho hoping for change of luck

Jose Mourinho hopes for a change of luck as Real Madrid seek to overhaul a 2-1 deficit against Bayern Munich in tonight's semi-final second leg at the Bernabeu. "I lost one [semi-final] due to a goal that wasn't," Mourinho said. "Another on penalties."

Pearce: I will pick team on merit

Stuart Pearce says he will pick his team for the Olympics on merit, and not bow to the whims of other managers. "Form and fitness will dictate the [squad]," he said. Team GB were yesterday drawn with Senegal, UAE and Uruguay for this summer's Games. MORE

Rocket Ronnie cools title hopes

Ronnie O'Sullivan claimed he does not care too much for winning the World Championship. "Whatever happens now is a bonus," he said after beating Peter Ebdon in the first round. "If I win, great, but if I don't it's not the be-all-and-end-all. I'll just enjoy this one." MORE

SW19 prize rise helps early losers

Early-round losers at Wimbledon this summer will be the main beneficiaries of yesterday's announcement of a rise in prize money, with first-round exits receiving £14,500 (up 26 per cent from last year) and those out in the second round £23,125 (up 15 per cent). MORE

Gold's reserve muddies Bath water

Newcastle director Gary Gold has admitted he is eyeing up potential opportunities in South Africa, despite being strongly linked with a move to Bath. "There are opportunities there that have opened up," he said. "[Which] I would very much like to consider." MORE

Thomas begins with prologue win

Geraint Thomas took a stunning prologue victory in the Tour de Romandie, outshining team-mates Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish along Lausanne's streets. "This is a great result, a momentous occasion," Sky sports director, Sean Yates, said. MORE

Morris happy to lead way for kids

Carl Morris says he is happy to be a role model for disabled children after reaching the top of the sport despite being born deaf. "I never really blow my own trumpet," he said. "But I will if it helps a small disabled kid believe that they can do what I've done." MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Despite John Terry's first-half red card Chelsea, quite simply, found such a greatness of will that you could spend a lifetime of watching football without the privilege of anything to compare with it. MORE