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The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 28 November 2012


Benteke heads Villa clear of relegation zone

Christian Benteke's late header helped Aston Villa move out of the relegation zone as Paul Lambert's side won at home for the first time in over two months. The Belgian forward rose to head Ashley Westwood's 80th-minute corner back across goal, the ball bouncing through a packed goal mouth and into Adam Federici's net.

In a match high on chances but low on quality for two sides who began the night in the relegation zone, both teams enjoyed opportunities in an open first half. Andreas Weimann, above, and Benteke squandered the best opportunities for the home side, with £24m striker Darren Bent left looking on from the sidelines once again.

Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa captain for the night, shot wide after five minutes from a Brett Holman cross, before Hal Robson-Kanu did likewise for the visitors. The latter also had a shot blocked from close range by Brad Guzan before Adam Le Fondre skied the follow-up. Reading's Sean Morrison headed wide from a corner before the hosts took control and saw the match out. MORE

Chelsea 'regret' over Clattenburg

A meeting with Premier League referees left the Chelsea chairman, Bruce Buck, in no doubt about negative feelings generated by the allegations of racism against referee Mark Clattenburg. The club yesterday admitted that they could have handled the case better. MORE

Allardyce: fans need to help out

The West Ham United manager, Sam Allardyce, has called on supporters to police themselves should they hear anti-Semitic or racist chanting from neighbours in the stands. "Fans who are next to these people should deal with them first and foremost," he said. MORE

Holt and Lambert are 'shining lights'

Together at Rochdale, Rickie Lambert and Grant Holt will be reunited as Southampton host Norwich tonight. Former team-mate, Gareth Griffiths, believes the pair offer hope to lower-league players. "[They] are a shining light for people who feel they have missed the boat," he said. MORE

QPR hold Black Cats on Harry debut

Harry Redknapp's first match in charge of Queen's Park Rangers ended in a goalless draw at Sunderland last night. The visitors, without a league win all season, put on a much improved display against a Sunderland side also struggling for form, but were unable to find the net. MORE

Ipswich pull clear of bottom three

Ipswich moved out of the relegation zone last night after beating Nottingham Forest 3-1 at Portman Road. The side managed by Mick McCarthy, above, went ahead through Guirane N'Daw in the first half before Dexter Blackstock levelled on the hour. Luke Hyam and Daryl Murphy then secured the points. Neither of the top two won, leaders Cardiff drawing 1-1 at Derby while Crystal Palace were held to a goalless draw at Hull. Middlesbrough moved above Leicester City into third place after beating Huddersfield 3-0, Scott McDonald (two) and Emmanuel Ledesma in the goals.

Broad at risk of losing out to Finn

Stuart Broad faces being dropped for the third Test after a poor showing in Mumbai. “It’s a great learning curve for him,” said bowling coach David Saker. “It’s probably not going the way he’d like.” Steve Finn is in contention to replace him. MORE

Tendulkar's place put under scrutiny

Sachin Tendulkar's presence in the India Test team is coming under increasing scrutiny following the legendary batsman's continuing poor form, though the 39-year-old has retained his place for next week's third Test against England. MORE

Lawes ready for England return

Courtney Lawes will return to contention for England's final autumn international, against New Zealand this weekend. He replaces Mouritz Botha in the squad, who departs along with Tom Palmer, Charlie Sharples and Thomas Waldrom. MORE

Rainbow clouds for Henderson

Nicky Henderson is mystified about the poor showing of Finian's Rainbow at Ascot last weekend. "We've had a look down his scope but didn't see anything," the trainer said. "He couldn't do a thing. He just didn't go." MORE

Dan Carter

The New Zealand fly-half is refusing to look ahead to the 2015 World Cup. "It's too far down the track," he said. "After what's happened injury-wise, I want to concentrate on the end of this season." MORE