The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 25 May 2011

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The Independent Online

Beckham returns for Neville tribute

David Beckham wore a Manchester United shirt for the first time in eight years last night as he returned to Old Trafford for Gary Neville’s testimonial. Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Nicky Butt and brother Phil also featured as Juventus ran out 2-1 victors.

Baltacha extends feel-good factor

Elena Baltacha joined compatriot Heather Watson in the second round, beating Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2 for her first main-draw victory at Roland Garros. Andy Murray safely made it through in the men’s draw, easing past Eric Prodon 6-4, 6-1, 6-3. MORE

Return makes Bolt feel a ‘bit nervous’

Usain Bolt is feeling nervous ahead of his first race since August in tomorrow’s Diamond League meeting in Rome. “I’m going out to prove I’m still the best,” he said. “But I’m slightly nervous – I haven’t run in so long.” MORE

United’s future is in safe hands

Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup victory on Monday, a record 10th success, evoked memories of Fergie’s Fledglings and the Busby Babes. Ravel Morrison, William Keane and Paul Pogba are all tipped to break into the first-team in the near future. MORE

Pietersen under scrutiny – again

Kevin Pietersen heads into tomorrow’s opening Test match against Sri Lanka with his form under the microscope. The England batsman’s average has plunged since his brief tenure as captain ended in 2009, with just two century knocks in 26 Tests. MORE

Ash forces Barça to alter travel plans

Barcelona flew to London earlier than planned last night due to fears of volcanic ash from Iceland drifting towards England ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final. The Spanish side were initially scheduled to arrive in London tomorrow. MORE

Smith hits back to put Durham on top

Will Smith struck an unbeaten 153 against Warwickshire to leave Durham in a strong position on 348 for 3 after the opening day at Edgbaston. The 28-year-old, who stepped down as Durham captain little over a year ago, hit 24 fours in his innings. MORE

Neymar still top of Chelsea wish list

Despite not having a manager, Chelsea are still pressing ahead with transfer plans. Brazilian striker Neymar and Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku are interesting the club, while Nicolas Anelka, Yuri Zhirkov and Jose Bosingwa could be on their way out. MORE

Saracens opt for coin-toss selection

A coin-toss will determine who out of Neil de Kock and Richard Wigglesworth will start for Saracens at scrum-half in the Premiership final against Leicester. “It’s unusual,” Mark McCall, director of rugby, said, “but under the circumstances entirely sensible.” MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

For Ferguson-watchers the pattern is familiar. Get a gnawing problem then transfer the responsibility and, almost effortlessly, the siege mentality of a most successful football club is cranked up another significant notch. MORE

Ferguson struggles to keep focus on beating Barcelona

The controversy over Ryan Giggs’ injunction has continued to overshadow Manchester United’s preparations for Saturday’s Champions League final with Barcelona, with the player withdrawn from training yesterday and photographers’ cars attacked outside the midfielder’s house. The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, took badly to a reporter’s question about the 37-year-old, seeking to ban an Associated Press reporter from Friday’s pre-match press conference at Wembley. Asked about the value of having a player of Giggs’ experience available to face Barcelona, Ferguson replied: “All the players are important, every one of them,” before discussing with his press secretary how the reporter could be banned from Friday’s event. The United striker Michael Owen is to speak with Ferguson after Saturday’s match regarding his Old Trafford future. “I don’t want to speak to the manager prior to a Champions League final, he’s got much bigger things on his plate,” the 31-year-old, who has made just four starts this season, said. “Straight after the match – then we’ll talk.” MORE

Balotelli happy to stay in Manchester

Mario Balotelli has pledged his loyalty to Manchester City, amid reports linking him with a return to Milan. “For the time being, I am happy in England,” he said. “I compliment Milan for winning the scudetto, but with regards to me, I am happy in England.” MORE

Kaymer backs Donald for top spot

Former world No 1 Martin Kaymer believes Luke Donald deserves to usurp compatriot, and current leader, Lee Westwood at the top ranking. “The way he is playing Luke deserves to be No 1,” the German said ahead of the PGA Championship. MORE

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