Paul Birch: The Aston Villa footballer who crushed the Italians

Lothar Matthaus was in his majestic prime when he arrived at Villa Park with Internazionale of Milan for a UEFA Cup encounter in October 1990. But anyone hoping to witness the dynamic German midfielder, one of the most lauded and decorated footballers the game has ever known, at his devastating best, was in for a sorry letdown; and the man to blame was Paul Birch.

Heffernan keeps Rovers’ feet firmly |on road to safety

Doncaster Rovers 1 Bristol City 0

Carew ends Doncaster dream

Aston Villa 3 Doncaster Rovers 1

Sullivan heroics earn second crack at Villa

Doncaster Rovers 0 Aston Villa 0

Villa gain Heskey but lose Laursen

Aston Villa signed Emile Heskey yesterday, but lost Martin Laursen for two months after the central defender had surgery on a knee injury, meaning that the captaincy will return to Gareth Barry.

Poyet and Boothroyd frontrunners for Leeds post

Gustavo Poyet and Adrian Boothroyd have both been linked with the vacancy at Leeds United after Gary McAllister was dismissed by the Elland Road club yesterday morning.

League round-up: Anderton ends with a goal as Bent sets Blues straight

It was with a typical sense of drama that Darren Anderton, the former England international, ended his 18-year professional playing career yesterday. He came on at Dean Court as a 56th-minute substitute and, 32 minutes later, scored the only goal of the game to give League Two strugglers Bournemouth a 1-0 win over Chester City and significantly enhance the Cherries' prospects of survival. Anderton, 36, played for Portsmouth, Spurs, Birmingham and Wolves and won 30 England caps.

Bent strike stops Watford joining upstarts

Watford 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Football from top to bottom

How much do you know about the clubs that play English league football week in, week out? A new book gives you all the facts on every club. To give you a flavour, here is an essential guide to the clubs at the top and bottom of the four divisions...

Preston North End 1 Wolves 3: Three-goal Iwelumo leads the charge as Wolves begin to slip pack

The Midlands is on the move in the Championship, with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City occupying the two promotion places after a day of differing fortunes.

Championship round-up: Hulse the saviour as Derby end unwanted record

Four days before the first anniversary of their previous win, Derby County at last tasted victory again, at the 37th attempt. Goals by Paul Green, scrambled in after 24 minutes when Matt Kilgallon headed towards his own goal, and Rob Hulse, midway through the second half, earned a 2-1 win over one of Hulse's former clubs, Sheffield United. Darius Henderson had levelled after Green's opening goal, but a sequence of 28 defeats and eight draws spread across Premier and Championship matches was finally put to rest by Paul Jewell's side.

Championship round-up: Phillips switched on to put McLeish in blue heaven

Birmingham City striker Kevin Phillips scored late winners as a substitute in his side's first two Championship matches and was rewarded with a start against Barnsley. By the 12th minute he had repaid manager Alex McLeish's faith when the Tykes left him unmarked to head in Stuart Parnaby's cross, Phillips's third goal in three games.

Doncaster chairman threatens to pull plug

The future of Doncaster is in doubt following the threat of their chairman to withdraw his support at the end of the season.

Derby County 0 Doncaster Rovers 1: Doncaster's togetherness dazzles new-look Jewell

Paul Jewell, having spent all of his summer imploring his players to forget last season, discovered that putting Derby's Premier League nightmare to bed will not be as easy as he might have hoped. Losing habits are hard to break, even against supposedly inferior opponents, and Jewell's team are some way from banishing their negative demeanour.

Derby County 0 Doncaster Rovers 1: Guy too hot for Jewell's serial losers

Time was that a trip to Lincoln City in the Carling Cup would have been an occasion for a club of Derby's pedigree to let a few senior players put their feet up and give the youngsters their head. Safe to say there will be no such thoughts in Paul Jewell's game plan when he takes his players to Sincil Bank on Tuesday evening. One game into a new season, the Derby manager is already feeling desperate to see any victory as something to celebrate, even against a team likely to struggle in League Two.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas