The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 9 January 2013


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The Independent Online

Bantams in sight of Wembley final after stunning Villa

Bradford City are 90 minutes from Wembley after beating Aston Villa 3-1 in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final at Valley Parade last night.

Nahki Wells beat Shay Given after 18 minutes before headers from Rory McArdle and Carl McHugh, either side of Andy Weimann's effort for the Premier League side, confirmed the advantage.

Villa manager Paul Lambert, above, saw Christian Benteke and Darren Bent waste good chances, leaving the League Two side with a two-goal lead ahead of the second leg at Villa Park in 13 days' time. Chelsea host Swansea City in the first leg of the other semi-final tonight. MORE

Benitez: Chelsea changes 'part of life'

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has told supporters to expect an overhaul of the club's playing staff. "Everyone knows the legends who have been here and what they have achieved," he said. "But you have to see new players coming. It's part of life." MORE

Hernandez seeks another big scalp

Swansea City's Pablo Hernandez believes the club's record against bigger teams gives them a chance against Chelsea tonight. "I think we can win," the midfielder said. "We've won at Arsenal and have beaten both Manchester City and Liverpool." MORE

Bell toils in vain as England lose again

Ian Bell continued his good form in England's final warm-up match in India but was unable to prevent a six-wicket defeat to Delhi. Bell struck an impressive 108 as England made 294-5 – a total the hosts passed for the loss of four wickets with nine balls to spare. MORE

Flood cleared over Goode 'tip-tackle'

England international Toby Flood was last night cleared of an illegal "tip-tackle" on Andy Goode at Worcester last Friday. The citing was not upheld by an RFU disciplinary panel, so Flood is available to face Ospreys this weekend.

Trio promoted to Six Nations party

Stuart Lancaster is not expected to make wholesale changes to his England squad for the Six Nations today. Freddie Burns, Tom Youngs and Joe Launchbury are promoted, while Saracens' Mako Vunipola could stay involved. MORE

Young pretenders threaten old guard

The start of the new season offers hope of a new generation of players rising to challenge the top order. An ageing Roger Federer and injury-prone Rafa Nadal could have the likes of Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori troubling them sooner rather than later. MORE

McCain set to allow Overturn a run-out

The recent dry spell has allowed trainer Donald McCain to give Overturn his second experience of fences in the novices event on Town Moor. "We were thinking about waiting for Kempton at the weekend," McCain admitted. "But it will probably be the nicest ground he's seen in a while." MORE

James Lawton

The plight of England's national team is underlined when you pick a Premier League side that could challenge the world XI. There is a story of neglect that the Premier League have never been less able to conceal. MORE