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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Amir Khan fuming after defeat to Lamont Peterson

And his representitives have already launched formal procedures to question the performance of referee Joseph Cooper.


Khan was unhappy about Cooper's decision to dock him two points in the bout ? one each in the seventh and 12th rounds.


Judges George Hall and Valerie Dorsett scored the fight 113-112 in favour of Peterson but Nelson Vasquez had Khan winning 115-110.


A statement from Khan's camp said: "Team Khan and Golden Boy Promotions intends to make inquiries with the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission, the IBF and the WBA regarding the performance of referee Joseph Cooper.


"We will also be seeking clarification regarding certain ambiguities with respect to the scores of the fight."


A rematch is already a virtual certainty al though hat was always a likelihood in the event of defeat for Khan.


The statement added: "We would like to congratulate Lamont Peterson on his performance against Amir Khan.


"Not only has he shown that he is a tremendous fighter inside the rin, but also a great man out of the ring.


"We look forward to an immediate rematch with Lamont as confirmed by Lamont and his manager/trainer Barry Hunter."


Khan had earlier blamed Cooper for his shock loss, insisting he was "against two people" in the ring.


Khan unsurprisingly disputed the calls ? which were decisive in the outcome of the bout.


AMIR KHAN complains of 'disgusting decision' over Lamont Peterson fight


And he insisted any pushing in the 12th round was prompted by Peterson's own foul play.


He said: "It was like I was against two people in there. He kept trying to pick me up. He was wild.


"He was coming in with his head lower and lower every time.


"I had to push him away because he was trying to come in with his head. He was just so low.


"He was being effective in pressurising me but I was the cleaner fighter all night.


"I am ready for a rematch. I am here and I will take it.


"I knew it would be tough against him in his home town and this is why boxing has not been in Washington DC for 20 years - because you get a decision like that.


"I thought he was going to head butt me and that is why I pushed him."


Khan's father Shah was also eager to query the officiating of the bout.


He said: "It was not the fight that cost him, it was the referee that cost him the fight. He's not angry at anyone but he's disappointed.


"He thought he'd get a fair crack at it in Washington, with home fans and home officials, but obviously he didn't.


"It's been 18 years since they had a big fight here in Washington and maybe it will be 18 years again."


Peterson was simply happy to finally have two belts around his waist.


The Washington-born fighter said: "I came into this fight as the underdog with most people giving me no chance of winning.


"But I followed my game plan. I knew this was a 12-round fight - not just three rounds - and I didn't get worried when I got knocked down inthe first round.


"I came back. He was holding my head and pushing me down. That's why the ref took the two points off.


"My body shots were working. I will definitely give him a rematch, why not?


"He gave me a shot at his titles in the first place so I will give him a rematch, no problem."


A superb opening round saw Peterson down twice.


First, the Englishman landed a right hand and glancing left hook which sent the American down only for referee Cooper to seemingly rule it a slip.


The count was administered moments later, however, as another combination culminating in a sharp left sent the American onto the floor in the same corner.


Peterson showed more in the second, holding ring centre but seeing Khan land the more eye-catching shots.


Khan survived a nightmare third round in which he took a right hand to the head and left to the body which left him on wobbly legs.


He had to run for much of the round as Peterson stalked him and repeatedly landed power shots to head and body, one of which nearly sent Khan tumbling.


Khan continued to try to box on the move but was being caught with solid shots to head and body.


A frantic seventh saw Khan rocked again as he had to hold on after being caught with rights and left hooks on the ropes.


Khan was then docked his first point of the fight at the round's conclusion for apparent pushing.


Early in the ninth Khan was caught badly again but rallied to launch a spirited attack of his own.


Khan then landed a left-right double which left Peterson out on his feet only to shake it off well.


Khan was very harshly docked another point for pushing in the final round as both men looked to snatch victory.


And after the fighters embraced at the final bell, it was Peterson who took the shock split decision.

Arsenal 1 Everton 0

Everton were threatening to be chief party poopers as the Gunners celebrated their 125th anniversary.


But with just 20 minutes left, Van Persie took centre stage to thump in a stunning volley to take Arsenal into the top four.

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It was not vintage Arsenal and chances were at a premium in a low-key game.


But three more points keeps the Londoners' Premier League revival in full tilt.


Gervinho got his bearings wrong after 15 minutes when he allowed Theo Walcott's low centre to run away from him in front of goal and Tony Hibbert eventually made the block.


Aaron Ramsey floated an effort just over before Tim Howard got down well to beat away Gervinho's angled drive.


There was a scare for Arsenal when Walcott fell awkwardly on his knee at the start of the second half but the England man soon returned to the action.


On 56 minutes, Walcott skipped past Leighton Baines and into the right side of the area, where his fierce angled drive was beaten away by Howard.


Thomas Vermaelen then had to be alert to put a deep cross from the left behind as Tim Cahill looked to ghost in at the far post.


Everton finally entered the final third at the other end but Phil Neville's chip floated over.


Then out of nothing, Van Persie netted a stunning volley to give Arsenal the lead.


Alex Song chipped the ball across the Everton backline, where van Persie had drifted behind his marker to dispatch a sublime left-footed strike in off the far post.


Everton sub Conor McAleny flashed a drive just wide in stoppage time but there was to be no denying Arsenal.


Arsenal: Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen (Miquel 82), Arteta, Song, Walcott (Frimpong 89), Ramsey, Gervinho (Rosicky 83), Van Persie. Subs not used: Almunia, Arshavin, Chamakh, Benayoun. Booked: Arteta, Ramsey. Goals: Van Persie 70.


Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines, Coleman, Neville (McAleny 76), Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov (Gueye 76),Cahill, Saha (Distin 64). Subs not used: Mucha, Stracqualursi, Barkley, Vellios. Booked: Coleman, Distin.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Arsene Wenger says Robin van Persie was not at his best despite wonder goal

The Dutchman made it 19 for the season with a sublime volley to make sure Arsenal's 125th anniversary celebrations did not turn sour.


But Gunners boss Wenger insisted the player was well below par as the Londoners stuttered to a 1-0 victory over Everton.

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He said: "Robin has scored an exceptional goal but he said himself he was not in his best of days.


"But what is important is you are efficient. That is what it is to be professional, when you do not feel the greatest.


"He got us a goal which was at the moment of the game where we struggled a little bit to create chances.


"He delivered something special and three important points."


Toffees boss David Moyes paid tribute to Van Persie.


He said: "It was a terrific finish, a really good goal which beat us.


"But we can't kid ourselves because we were fortunate to go into half-time at 0-0.


"Then when they scored the goal, we looked the more likely to score, we had grown in confidence and weathered a lot of what Arsenal had thrown at us.


"We had some great recovery defending with guys getting back in, but we just lacked that bit of quality."


Arsenal legends including Frank McLintock, Charlie George, David O'Leary, George Graham, Robert Pires, Jens Lehmann and Thierry Henry all helped make up a guard of honour as Van Persie led the current side onto the field.


And Wenger believes his side dealt well with the occasion.


He said: "Today was an historic day for us so it's not easy to keep the focus right with so many people here and the celebration before the game with everybody coming back.


"But we were a bit historical today as well because we won 1-0."


The win took Arsenal above Chelsea into fourth spot in the Premier League. And Wenger insists the team's stability can help them continue their run of seven league wins from eight games.


The Frenchman said: "We have to continue. The spirit is there, the consistency is there now, our focus is there, so we will see how far we can go."

Bolton 1 Aston Villa 2

Marc Albrighton put the visitors ahead after 33 minutes before Stylian Petrov's hopeful strike deflected in off former Villa defender Gary Cahill.


Ivan Klasnic pulled one back for the Trotters after the break but Alex McLeish's side were able to hold firm for their first away win of the campaign.

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The result was Bolton's seventh defeat in eight league games at the Reebok and the home fans roundly booed their side off the pitch at the final whistle.


Coyle groaned: "Disappointment is an understatement. We were at home and looking to win the game and start moving up the league.


"It is a horrible feeling. I thought the game started evenly with two teams looking quite nervous but then we conspired towards our own downfall.


"Aston Villa have some very good players but we made four or five individual mistakes within the first goal ? it was self-inflicted.


"Then you are looking for a reaction, for people to show a bit of guts, desire and hunger for the football club.


"But if the truth be told, for a few minutes, they looked as if they felt sorry for themselves and that allowed Villa to get a second goal.


"It is a good strike from Petrov which has hit Cahill and spun in but if we had been shutting down that wouldn't have transpired.


"At half-time I asked, if nothing else, for them to show that they care for the club in the second half ? and they did that.


"There were still some mistakes but it was a much better performance and much more like ourselves."


It was Bolton's first appearance at home since the passing of former midfielder Gary Speed and respects were paid before kick-off with a minute's applause.


Brad Guzan made his first Premier League start for Villa in the absence of the injured Shay Given and was tested early on with a Cahill header.


Petrov then had a great chance to open the scoring but shot wide when through on goal after a Charles N'Zogbia cross.


And Darren Bent should have put Villa in the lead but saw his effort come back off the legs of Jussi Jaaskelainen.


The visitor's pressure eventually paid off just after the half-hour mark when Gabriel Agbonlahor skinned Dedryck Boyata before playing the ball back to Albrighton who fired in from 10 yards.


It was Villa's first league goal in four games and their second came just six minutes later thanks to an own goal from their former player Cahill.


Petrov picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and with nobody closing down, tried his luck and saw his drive go past Jaaskelainen after a wicked deflection off the England centre back.


Bolton almost pulled one back two minutes before the break but Guzan did well to block Kevin Davies' header.


Having been booed off at half time, the Trotters started the second half much stronger with Guzan tipping Chris Eagles' strike around the post.


And the home side got themselves back into the game after 55 minutes when Klasnic was the first to react in the box after Villa failed to clear a corner.


Villa almost struck back immediately through Bent, but Cahill slid in to deflect his goalbound shot wide.


Then Mark Davies came close to a Wanderers' leveller but drilled his shot on the edge of the box past the post.


Goalscorer Klasnic went off injured late on as Coyle brought on David Ngog and Gael Kakuta in search of an equaliser.


But it was Villa who came closest to scoring again, as Jaaskelainen had to be alert to save from Albrighton in injury time.


Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Boyata, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Sanli (Kakuta 71), Pratley, Mark Davies, Eagles, Kevin Davies, Klasnic (Ngog 78). Subs not used: Bogdan, Steinsson, Muamba, Petrov, O'Halloran. Booked: Mark Davies. Goals: Klasnic 55.


Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Albrighton, Herd, Petrov, N'Zogbia, Bent (Heskey 81), Agbonlahor. Subs not used: Marshall, Ireland, Delfouneso, Clark, Bannan, Weimann. Booked: Albrighton, Agbonlahor. Goals: Albrighton 33, Petrov 39.

Brit of a choice

The gong has been presented to Adele, Florence and The Machine, Ellie Goulding and Jessie J in previous years ? so it's a real feather in the cap for the nominees.


Singer Maverick Sabre, Scottish star Emeli Sand? and soulman Michael Kiwanuka are on the list.


The winner will be announced next Thursday and will perform at the Brits launch party in January.

Success ... Maverick Sabre is nominated for award

Busty Strictly star Chelsee Healey is a perfect ten

The judges couldn't praise the Waterloo Road actress enough, with Bruno Tonioni telling her he could "feel the continuous, relentless flow of heat, pressure and steam".


A stunned Alesha Dixon added: "Honestly honey, I don't think you realise how good you are."


Even the usually-harsh Craig Revel Horwood called the routine "gob-smackingly good" before awarding a 10 to the stunning actress and partner Pasha Kovalev.


But they faced stiff competition - as rivals Jason Donovan and Kristina Rihanoff also took full marks for their Argentine tango.


The Aussie scored 34 with a Samba to Michael Jackson's Blame It On The Boogie, then upped his game to earn a pefect score with a routine Craig called "incredible."

Popular ... Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani

But McFly heart-thob Harry Judd was snapping at their heels after landing just one point away from a full 40 in BOTH of his numbers.


His partner Aliona Vilani was dressed in a sexy cropped sailor's top while Harry donned a blue number for their Charleston to I'm Just Wild About Harry.


The hunky musician's bandmates were in the audience, cheering on their pal as he took three perfect 10s and a nine.


And they were overjoyed as he landed another 39 for his romantic Viennese Waltz.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Cat inherits nearly £10million

But the Italian moggy is still only the THIRD richest animal in the world.


Tommasino's wealthy owner Maria Assunta died and left him the entire family fortune.


She rescued him as a stray and could think of no one better to leave her portfolio of property to after she died last month aged 94 with no living relatives.


It means the cat is the proud owner of homes and villas across Italy as well as stocks and swollen bank accounts.


Her lawyers, Anna Orecchioni and Giacinto Canzona, say she left the fortune to Tommasino in a will she wrote and deposited with them at their office in Rome in 2009.


Mrs Orecchioni explained that under Italian law Tommasino is not entitled to inherit the money directly so it was ultimately entrusted to Maria's nurse, Stefania.


Mrs Orecchioni said: "In the end we decided that Stefania was the most suitable person to administer the money that Maria had left in her will.


"To be honest he doesn't need all that money. He is happy with a saucer of milk and some biscuits."


Stefania said: "I had no idea that she was worth so much."


The world's richest animal is believed to be Gunter, a German shepherd who was left more than ?90million by his wealthy heiress owner Karlotta Liebenstien.


In 1988, British recluse Ben Rea left his ?9million fortune to his cat Blackie.

Celebrities get behind X Factor acts

They watched as pink-haired pop wannabe Amelia Lily was given the axe, and Little Mix and Marcus Collins were told they were going through to the final.


Spice Girl Emma Bunton wrote: "Little Mix all the way!!!! Girl power!"


This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield commented: "Well done Amelia, very gracious and nicely done. Not the last we'll see of you I think :)".


Scouser Coleen Rooney gave her support to local lad Marcus Collins and, after his performance of Billy Joel's She's Always A Woman with Gary Barlow, added: "Love it!! #alwaysawomantome".


Gemma Collins told her fans that Little Mix's duet with mentor Tulisa Contostavlos made her Saturday night.


They sang a mash-up of Empire State Of Mind and If I Ain't Got You by Alicia Keys.


And she wasn't the only fan of the hook-up; stunning glamour girl Kelly Brook said: "Tulisa and Little Mix smashed it".


Show supremo Simon Cowell posted online: "Thought @TheXFactor UK looked amazing. I think a group may win for the first time ever ... and I think @officialtulisa should be a permanent 5th member!"


Radio One DJ Fearne Cotton, tuning in with her best pal Holly Willoughby, said: "I'm watching X Factor for the first time this series. In Belfast with X Factor's biggest fan Holly!"


And Holly added: "Little Mix... T-une!!!!!!! X".


Pop star Diana Vickers, who rose to fame after she appeared on X Factor in 2008, simply wrote: "#littlemixtowin".

Future smells sweet for Stone Roses

The band signed two record deals for brand new material this week, which will earn them a fortune.


Universal Records bagged their UK and global deal, with Columbia picking up the rights for the US.


A spokesman for the band confirmed yesterday: "The Stone Roses are pleased to announce that they have signed a record contract with Universal Music in London and with Columbia Records in New York."


The deals will make the four-piece millions, adding to the huge sum they'll pick up for live shows.


Ian, John Squire, Mani and Reni are to play three nights at Manchester's Heaton Park in June, pocketing more than ?10million. Shows at a string of festivals including V, T In The Park and Benicassim should double that.


Fans have been waiting nearly 20 years for new material.


Labels started sniffing around as soon as Ian said "we hope to put out a new album of new music" at their press conference in October.


The group have been recording new songs during rehearsals for live shows over the past couple of months.


Next year is going to be epic.

Harper Seven is in the Xmas spirit

The five-month-old looked like she was in the Christmas spirit in the festive number which she wore with beige trousers and little booties.


Mum Victoria took a turn carrying her daughter, wearing grey skinny jeans, a black cardigan and giant six-inch stiletto-heeled boots by Christian Louboutin.


The couple were at their son Romeo's football game in Santa Monica, California.


The whole family were out in force at the soccer game.


Brooklyn doted on his little sister, trying to get a smile from the baby.

Booty ... Victoria Beckham in huge heelsX17online

And the former Spice Girl rested her hand on Cruz's shoulder as she watched her son play in the match.


Last month fashion designer Victoria broke down in tears THREE times ? as she won a top fashion gong.


Posh, 37, beat Stella McCartney, Burberry and former Gucci and YSL director Tom Ford to land Designer Brand Of The Year at the British Fashion Awards.


She sobbed: "I'm so sorry for crying. This is really rubbish of me.


"I am so nervous, this means so much to me."


The mum of four paid tribute to her soccer ace hubby, saying: "Without David I wouldn't have had the courage to do what I'm doing."

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Judges arrive for X Factor final

Louis, in a black Mercedes, was the first to arrive, followed by sharply-suited head judge Gary.


The pair stopped and chatted to fans before Tulisa stole the limelight in a gorgeous teal dress.


The N-Dubz singer took the opportunity to drum up support for her act, shouting "Vote Little Mix" as she made her way towards the entrance to Wembley Arena.


She shivered as she took the time to greet fans, even stopping to look at a photo of herself on one teenager's mobile.


After a lengthy wait, diva Kelly was the last to arrive, decked out in sky-high stilletos and a short black dress.


But she made it up to the crowds by chatting and posing for pics, even running back for another photo as security staff tried to drag her inside.


Charlotte Buckland, 16, who travelled all the way from Newcastle without a ticket in the hope of seeing her favourite act Little Mix, said the red carpet experience was well worth the journey.


The thrilled teen gushed: "It was amazing!


"Tulisa looked so stunning and spent loads of time talking to fans.


"I was hoping Little Mix were going to come out for a photo but even without that, this has made my year."


The crowds were unable to get a glimpse of their favourite acts, who were already preparing inside the arena.


Tonight's show will see Little Mix, Marcus Collins, and Amelia Lily duet with the judges in a last bid to take the X Factor crown.


Kelly and Amelia will sing Ike and Tina Turner's River Deep, Mountain High, while Tulisa and Little Mix will perform a medley of Alicia Keys hits.


Marcus and Gary are performing Billy Joel's She's Always a Woman.

Kab ride so good with Harry

The powerful Frenchman has been a revelation at the heart of Harry Redknapp's defence, making more headed clearances than almost any other Premier League player this season.


It is a far cry from his first spell with the club, when he struggled to adapt to English football and was shown the door by Juande Ramos.


And Kaboul insists the credit for his fine form is all down to the backing of Redknapp.


He said: "It makes all the difference when you know the boss has faith in you and Harry has shown he believes in me by signing me twice.


"He was the man who took me to Portsmouth when things were not going so well for me at Tottenham and then he brought me back to White Hart Lane because he knew what I could do for his team.


"It was difficult when Damien Comolli brought me to England from Auxerre.


"I had some good games early on but within three months Martin Jol had been sacked and as soon as Juande Ramos took over there was no chance for me at Spurs.


"When any player comes to England he needs time to understand the life and the game here. But I was never given that time and some people didn't understand that.


"I was still trying to do my best for Tottenham and there was never a time when I thought I was not good enough to play in the Premier League.


"I'm not the sort of person who ever gives up. I know who I am and the player I am.


"But when Harry offered to sign me for Portsmouth, I decided to take the chance.


"I just felt he was a manager who trusted me and would give me the opportunity to establish myself in England. Portsmouth were not as big a club as Tottenham but I never regretted the move.


"I had the most fabulous time there despite all the problems the club had at the time.


"As soon as I arrived at Fratton Park they all showed they believed in me ? the fans, players and manager. That's why I did very well there.


"So when I came back to Spurs I was a completely different player and the fans at White Hart Lane could finally understand what I could bring to their team."


Kaboul has been ever-present in Tottenham's 11-match unbeaten league run which has taken them up to third in the table.


And he is looking to keep them snapping at the heels of leaders Manchester City with another three points at Stoke tomorrow.


Kaboul admitted: "The target at the start of the season was probably to finish in the top four ? but now I think we're looking to go further than that.


"Last season was hard for us because we were playing in the Champions League and maybe we didn't have enough experience to keep a high level of performance in the two top competitions.


"But the Champions League was unbelievable.


"To play against some of the biggest teams in Europe was the most beautiful thing.


"It's wonderful when you are going to the San Siro or Madrid and that's why we really want to get back into that competition for next season.


"When I came back to White Hart Lane two years ago I could see that Harry was trying to build something special and I wanted to be a part of that.


"Every day in training is a good day for me. Every game I play for the team is a pleasure to see the fans enjoying themselves so much.


"This year I'm feeling very good. And I hope I can carry on like this for many more years with Spurs."

Karren Brady’s football diary

ALMOST from the day he walked out on Aston Villa, Martin O'Neill has been itching to return as a manager.


He's impressive, no doubt about that, and by the way his eyes peer unblinkingly behind his disciplinarian's specs there's clearly a boss in there, efficient as a million-dollar timepiece.


If Sunderland, his boyhood favourites, could appoint a man as a guarantee against relegation, they've found him.


But there's no way he'll come cheap, not only as the gaffer but, as Villa discovered, a buyer of high-class players.


At 59, he is desperate to create a legend in England. And I think he will.


SEB LARSSON is one of the most decent and honest footballers I have met. So what on earth was he doing acting out an acrobatic leap at Wolves?


The penalty was missed, Sunderland were beaten and you might say justice was done.


But that misses the point. In his case, the loss was more than three points, it was a chunk of his integrity, too.


THE awards season is upon us with no Briton in the global contest for the best players.


I don't think there's one who would make the top 10 at the moment, maybe Wayne Rooney on the fringe.


That the three in line for FIFA's Ballon d'Or ? Xavi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi ? all play in La Liga puts the claim that our Premier League is the best under close scrutiny.


I suspect the most attractive football is played in Spain but the most competitive here.


My award for the funniest fans, though, goes to Bulgaria's who voted their Prime Minister as Footballer of the Year.


He's 52 and plays occasionally for a third division club. Ed Balls for England, I say.


SENSATIONAL news that Darren Bent has touched the ball an average of 24.6 times a match this season.


Have Villa sent Bent to Coventry? Has he been auditioning for the Invisible Man?


Playing striker for Villa at the moment must be a bit like the percussionist in an orchestra who waits impatiently for his single bong on the big bass drum.


I don't want to add to Alex McLeish's current burdens but the statistic must be a worry to him, and his midfield as well.


WATCHING both halves of Manchester sink, it struck me how sensible it is of David Beckham to decide he never wishes to be a manager.


So much easier, after all, to remain a poster boy for half-a-dozen years, then go into something easier like becoming king or even making Victoria smile.


I noticed something about Becks the other day.


Whereas previously he has used the word "different" as in "I think different," this time it was "I think differently" which suggests he's been having English lessons as well as vocal coaching.


Perhaps his ultimate aim then is to be a kind of ambassador for everything from tight underpants to leading a World Cup bid ? to out-Coe the great Lord Coe.


OWNERSHIP of footballers as in the case of Carlos Tevez was outlawed by the Premier League but is still allowed in many nations in UEFA.


The Tevez affair cost West Ham around ?30million, so I would be expected to hate the system ? and I do.


Now it seems UEFA will allow clubs to discount what is called 'third party' ownership when their new Financial Fair Play rules come into force the season after next.


Under these, clubs must break even or face a ban from the Champions League.


If we're not careful the day will come when bits of a player will be owned by all sorts of people, rather as racehorses can be.


The Premier League must fight it.


MAYBE I am going a bit dopey here but I believe Spurs are going to be Man City's chief challenger for the title.


There can be no better news for English football than two clubs emerging to contest the championship of a competition that was far too predictable at the top.


Spurs often play more like Man U than Man U are at the moment and I really do feel they have a chance.


When you remember how well Spurs did in the Champions League last season compared with City this, then you can guess that Harry Redknapp's team will stay the full course ? oh, yes, injuries permitting.

Leona Lewis is back on X Factor

"I'M really looking forward to this weekend ? I'm rooting for Marcus.


I love his voice and he's versatile.


He puts 100 per cent into the big singing and dancing numbers but I saw one stripped-down performance of him just singing with the piano and it was really emotional. He can do it all.


Amelia is good ? I like her, and love her hair. Her song choices are cool as well. She tends to go a bit left-field with them.


It must have been quite difficult for her to come back to the show so far down the line but hopefully that means she's got the least to lose.


Little Mix are good as well ? the girls are sweet and I don't think they're a conventional girl group.

They're diverse and remind me of Sugababes when they first came out ? they feel very fresh.


I was really sad to see Misha B go as she's so talented. Sometimes when artists are really good the public think they're safe and stop voting.


Simon has been such a big part of X Factor in the UK for so long it was time for him to take that step back to do something different.


The new judges really bring something different to the show.


I love Gary Barlow ? he talks a lot of sense and it's good to have someone with his experience on the show.


Kelly Rowland is a hard worker, a professional and Tulisa brings a new aspect ? she's cool, young and she adds something extra."

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Liverpool 1 QPR 0

Suarez ensured he made the headlines for the right reasons after showing Fulham fans the middle finger on Monday, as he nodded home Charlie Adam's pinpoint cross for his first league goal since the October 1.


Liverpool dominated the game but were frustrated by Neil Warnock's Rangers with Czech keeper Radek Cerny pulling off a string of fine saves.

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After four successive home draws, the Reds struggled in front of goal once again with Suarez and Rodriguez both missing good first half chances.


But the Uruguayan ? who was hit by an FA charge for his Craven Cottage gesture ? got on the end of Adam's cross after the break to ensure Liverpool would register all three points.


Suarez had a golden opportunity to open the scoring after just nine minutes but his free header was directed straight at Rangers keeper Radek Cerny after a fine cross from the right by Stewart Downing.


Dirk Kuyt then failed to find anyone with a low cross across the face of goal before Rodriguez played in Suarez who hit wide with the outside of his boot.


Just after the half-hour mark Kuyt played through Rodriguez whose low strike across goal was kept out by the fingertips of Cerny.


And Suarez was in again before half-time after a driving run from Downing but his close-range lob was saved by Cerny.


Having dominated at home but failed to beat the other promoted teams Norwich and Swansea, the home fans would be forgiven for wondering if the Reds were ever going to score.


But they did not have to wait long in the second half to see their side finally break the deadlock.


Charlie Adam found an unmarked Suarez from the right flank and the 24-year-old made up for his earlier missed header to nod home from six yards out.


It was Suarez's first goal since getting two in the Carling Cup in late October and his first in the Premier League since the Merseyside derby.


The situation worsened for Rangers when Anton Ferdinand was forced off with a hamstring injury.


And Liverpool nearly had a second on the hour but Cerny produced a magnificent save to keep out Rodriguez's pointblank strike after lovely link-up with his fellow South American Suarez.


Cerny was keeping the Hoops in the game and had to tip over Kuyt's shot which he struck into the turf.


QPR came close to nicking an equaliser when Danny Gabbidon diverted over Joey Barton's inswinging free-kick.


Substitute Craig Bellamy curled a free-kick into the side-netting but the visitors had a late penalty shout when Alejandro Faurlin went down under Martin Skrtel's challenge.


Bellamy's cross was deflected onto the bar by Shaun Wright-Phillips in the dying seconds of the game but one goal proved enough for Dalglish's side who move up to sixth in the league.


Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Maxi (Bellamy 78), Adam, Henderson, Downing (Shelvey 86), Suarez, Kuyt. Subs not used: Doni, Carroll, Coates, Carragher, Kelly. Booked: Agger, Bellamy. Goals: Suarez 47.


QPR: Cerny, Young, Gabbidon, Ferdinand (Orr 50), Traore, Mackie (Hill 78), Barton, Faurlin, Wright-Phillips, Smith (Campbell 66), Bothroyd. Subs not used: Putnins, Derry, Buzsaky, Connolly.

Liverpool news: King Kenny praises Luis Suarez

Suarez, 24, scored his first Premier League goal since October 1 to end a run of four successive draws at Anfield.


And the 1-0 win helped the Uruguay international ease the pain of receiving an FA misconduct charge for an alleged offensive gesture after Monday's defeat at Fulham.

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He is also awaiting a date for a hearing into a racism-related charge which dates back to October but Dalglish insists his hitman deserves some positive plaudits.


King Kenny said: "The headlines don't matter ? but they will be nice ones tomorrow.


"He scored with a header which doesn't happen very often and he played really well. It was well deserved and well taken."


Goals may have been in short supply but Liverpool dominated the game against Neil Warnock's side.


And Dalglish was pleased with the overall display from his Champions League chasers.


The Reds boss added: "It was an excellent performance. We had a lot of chances and got one goal.


"One is enough when the others don't get an opportunity and the players showed great courage and belief in what they are doing.


"Some of the football we played in the first half was brilliant and I think we played better before we scored than after it.


"But even then we still created a few."


Warnock also joined Dalglish in paying tribute to match-winner Suarez.


He said: "I'm disappointed with the goal. Luke Young has put his hand up in the dressing room because he was marking him at the corner and just lost him.


"But that is the quality of people like Suarez, they find half a yard and I thought he looked amazing today."

Lodger charged over murders

Accused Barry Morrow was met by Liverpool detectives off a ferry from France last week.


The strangled bodies of Angela Holgate, 54, and 75-year-old Alice Huyton had been found in Angela's home near Southport, Merseyside, last weekend.


Morrow, 51, was arrested on Thursday and will appear in court tomorrow.


A police spokesman said last night: "He has been remanded in custody to appear at South Sefton Magistrates Court on Monday."


Avon lady Angela and her mother were found by a relative eight days ago.


Post-mortems showed that both died from asphyxiation but Angela - mum to two grown-up daughters - appeared to have died first.


She had been ill when her mother popped round to visit.


Alice had been married to her husband Jim for 55 years and Angela, who was divorced, was their only daughter.


Angela's brother John said the family was "bewildered and devastated at the loss of two very special people".


He said: "Both Alice and Angela were very popular and led active lives and had many friends.


"They meant so much in the eyes of different family members and held the roles of great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, wife, aunty, sister and sister-in-law.


"The sad loss has had a severe impact on the whole family."

Lottery winner is benefits cheat

Andrew Crossthwaite, 23, bagged the whopping payout in a National Lottery game but failed to inform the authorities of his change of luck.


Preston magistrates heard how he confessed to wrongly claiming ?4,614 in employment and support allowance (ESA).


But the court was told he had been left penniless after blowing his windfall on CARS and DRUGS.


He walked free from court with only a one-year supervision order after being told to pay ?100 costs.


He gave some of the huge sum away to friends, including one pal who got half for buying the winning ticket on his behalf in the first place.


Stephen Scott, prosecuting on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said: "The defendant was claiming employment and support allowance for him, his partner and child until January 20 this year on the basis he was unemployed and was incapable of work due to a problem with alcohol abuse.


"He was paid ESA but won ?250,000 on a scratchcard on June 25, 2010 - a significant amount of money which should have been disclosed to the DWP and would have impacted on the right to benefits.


"That was not disclosed and proceedings were brought."


Crossthwaite, of Longridge, near Preston, pleaded guilty to failing to notify the authorities of a change in his circumstances.


James Ball, defending, said the win had now ruined his client's life, saying he couldn't cope and had now split up with his partner.


Mr Ball said: "It is fair to say he has wasted it.

"He purchased a few cars but nothing special and these cars have gone.


"He wasted a lot of it on a drug habit, though for the last six months, he has not taken any substances at all."


Two other charges of wrongfully claiming council tax benefit and housing benefit following the win were withdrawn.


James Park, chairman of the magistrates' bench, told Crossthwaite: "You have a poor record and we are not impressed."

Friday, 23 December 2011

Luke Donald wins both PGA and European Tour titles

Donald secured both the PGA Tour and European Tour titles when fellow Brit Rory McIlroy failed to win the Dubai World Championship.


The incredible double has earned the world No1 an amazing ?8MILLION!


And after finishing third in the Dubai tournament, Donald was asked what his late father Colin would have thought.


He said: "He would have been very proud and he would just give me a big hug.


"My father hopped into my head quite a few times. I didn't really look at a leaderboard until the 13th but didn't see Rory's name and so knew it was mine."


He added: "I had so many mixed emotions. This is something I didn't think was possible but it became a possibility midway through the season.


"It's driven me to work hard and be as successful as I've been.


"Rory made it tough but for it actually to happen is almost a weight off my shoulders.


"History is why we play the game and I'm very proud of it. I got what I came for."


McIlroy was the only challenger who could have stopped Donald's reign.


But the Northern Irishman failed to achieve the win he needed in Dubai to keep the race alive.


He said: "I couldn't get anything going when I needed to.


"I played a nine-hole stretch, the last two on Friday and the first seven on Saturday, in five over.


"That's where the tournament got away from me.


The world No2 also said he would be skipping next week's Thailand Golf Championship, the last event of the season on the Asian Tour.


He added: "I can't wait to have a few weeks off. People telling you what to do and where to go.


"Another flight, more sleeping patterns messed up. Next week would have been a big struggle too.


"The doctor told me last night that no matter how bad I'm feeling now I'd be even worse if I played next week."


Spain's Alvaro Quiros holed an eagle on the 18th to claim the Dubai World Championship, two shots ahead of Scotland's Paul Lawrie.

Luminar deal 'saves 3,000 jobs'

Banks pulled the plug on Luminar ? the firm behind the Oceana, Liquid and Lava & Ignite chains ? in October after running up debts of ?140million.


The banks themselves were owed ?80million and the company collapsed into administration.


But yesterday a consortium of leisure industry experts, led by former Luminar exec Peter Marks, bought the embattled outfit.


When bankers called time, Luminar owned 75 UK venues, including the Northampton nightspot where Nabila Nanfuka, 22, was crushed to death in October.


The chain was hit hard as youth unemployment rose to its highest level since records began, and laws introduced in 2005 allowing pubs to stay open longer put a squeeze on takings.


Mr Marks was still upbeat about the future.


He said: "I am delighted that we have been able to complete the acquisition of Luminar.


"There was always a solid core business within Luminar but, in common with many in the sector, the perfect storm of high debt, an under-performing tail and a lack of investment meant that the company could not survive the downturn when it came.


"The bulk of the estate is performing well, as are other privately-owned club and bar businesses.


"Luminar has a lot of good people and I am certain that with hard work, the right financial structure and an investment programme the company can look forward to a great future."

Manchester United news: Victory gives Alex Ferguson desired response

Defeat in Basel in midweek condemned United to the humiliation of life in the Europa League.


But Wayne Rooney and Nani both bagged doubles as the Premier League champions roared to a 4-1 victory over Wolves at Old Trafford.

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And Fergie was quick to praise England ace Rooney for ending his goal drought to take his tally for the season to 11.


The United boss said: "Wayne in particular, does go in spurts. He scored nine in the early part of the season.


"Now we are going up to an important part of the season, if we get the goal ratio again, it puts us in good fettle."


Ferguson was delighted with the performance of his players and believes their European humbling could turn out to be a positive.


He added: "We will take a lot of stick from critics and even from people we thought were perhaps on our side.


"But this was the right response. Some of the football was fantastic."


After seeing his side humbled, Wolves boss Mick McCarthy laughed off suggestions that United had been on the verge of a crisis before kick-off.


McCarthy said: "All the hype and talk about their demise is nonsense.

Martin O’Neill: Wear going to play like Barcelona

The new Black Cats boss kicks off his reign tomorrow in a vital relegation showdown against Blackburn at the Stadium of Light.


O'Neill has begun trying to sort out a Mackems side who have won only once all season and just three times on their own patch in 2011.


But that has not stopped the Ulsterman dreaming of creating his very own Barcelona clone as he bids to get the Stadium of Light jumping again.


O'Neill knows he will never be able to reproduce the artistry of the European champions.


Yet he is desperate to give Wearside something to shout about after a nightmare year.


He said: "I always come back to the way Barcelona play and I think teams look to that.


"It's a long way in the future but you'd love to keep that in the back of your mind and think you could eventually have a team that could play like that.


"Over the course of time, people will probably throw that back at me.


"But we need to win some football matches and at the moment pragmatism has to be the order of the day.


"When I was at Aston Villa we seemed to have a reputation for being a counter-attacking side and when you have the likes of Milner, Young, Downing and Agbonlahor in the side, that's probably quite true.


"There was a lot of pace in the side so it was almost natural to play that way. I don't think, from the first look here, that we have that same kind of pace at the moment, so you'd have to adjust accordingly."


You can expect O'Neill to be jumping up and down on the touchline tomorrow lunchtime as his return to the Premier League pressure cooker hits him full on. The 59-year-old added: "I pretty much went into hibernation for a while and watched a lot of football on TV.


"It's not the same. Last Sunday watching at Wolves was a real eye-opener. The previous week, I'd taken my daughter to watch Arsenal.


"After three or four minutes, she said: 'Isn't it great to watch a football game where there's no pressure?


"Little did she realise that a fortnight later she'd be throwing herself back into it again."


With Sunderland just one point above the drop zone, they badly need a win to kick start a season which has spluttered badly so far.


O'Neill said: "I've played Sunday over in my mind about 15 times and so far we've won every game! I've thought about lots of different things but every time we end up winning.


"It is a big game for both clubs, even at this stage of the season.


"But I think that every game in the Premier League now is so demanding so wherever you step into it, it would have been a big game."

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Match report: Manchester United 4 Wolves 1

Understandbly, there was an uneasy atmosphere at Old Trafford after the Premier League champions were dumped into the Europa League in midweek.


But Nani settled the nerves in the 17th minute and Rooney extended the lead 10 minutes later as United went into the break in total control.

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Wolves needed an immediate response in the second half and Steven Fletcher delivered it courtesy of a thumping 47th-minute header to cut the arrears.


The goal gave the visitors the boost they desperately needed, while Alex Ferguson was left biting his nails as his team were left clinging to the lead ? until Nani struck for a second time.


Antonio Valencia drilled the ball across the box after a postive run, Danny Welbeck miskicked and the Portuguese winger was on hand to roll the ball home after 56 minutes.


And Valencia was the creator once again as Rooney wrapped up the points with his second of the afternoon six minutes later.


United survived an early scare when Fletcher fired a good chance wide after just 20 seconds.


A Wolves goal at that point would have really caused the home fans to sweat.


As it was, with Nani leading the way, they swiftly took command when he drilled the ball beyond Wayne Hennessey and into the bottom corner.


It was Nani's first Premier League goal since September 24, a week after Rooney had last found the net in league action.


Roo opened his account for the day shortly after and United cruised to half-time without breaking sweat.


But within 90 seconds of the restart, Fletcher peeled off his marker and rose above Patrice Evra to power home Matt Jarvis' far-post cross.


For a few minutes at least, United were struggling as Jarvis tormented Chris Smalling.


But when Phil Jones set Valencia away, the South American's low cross was tucked home by Nani from close range.


The goal lifted United and Hennessey was forced to bundle Jonny Evans' header round the post and twice deny Welbeck.


In between, Valencia picked out Rooney with another right-wing cross.


Though not in the greatest position, the bounce was kind and the England striker managed to shape up and smash home a difficult chance.


With the points in the bag, Fergie handed Ezekiel Fryers his Premier League debut.


But it took some smart reactions from Rio Ferdinand to prevent United conceding once more after his clearance smacked Smalling in the face.


United should have added a fifth goal six minutes from time but Roger Johnson cleared Jones' cross as substitute Federico Macheda slid in.


Man Utd: De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra (Fryers 67), Valencia, Carrick, Jones, Nani (Young 77), Welbeck (Macheda 74), Rooney. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Giggs, Park, Gibson. Booked: Ferdinand.


Goals: Nani 17, Rooney 27, Nani 56, Rooney 62.


Wolves: Hennessey, Zubar, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Edwards (Milijas 31), Henry, O'Hara (Hunt 70), Jarvis, Doyle, Fletcher (Ebanks-Blake 76). Subs not used: De Vries, Elokobi, Stearman, Hammill.

MP sorry over 'Nazi stag do'

Aidan Burley MP took to Twitter to convey his "deep regret" at the "inappropriate behaviour" at last weekend's bash.


Some of the Cannock Chase MP's friends chanted "Hitler, Hitler, Hitler" according to today's Mail on Sunday newspaper.


One allegedly toasted the "Third Reich" as they partied in a French ski resort while another taunted a waiter for being French, it is claimed.


The MP was also filmed at a restaurant in Val Thorens, sitting next to another guest dressed in a black SS uniform and cap.


Embarrassed by his association to the incidents, Mr Burley, 32, tweeted: "Deeply regret inappropriate behaviour by some guests at stag party I attended and I am extremely sorry for any offence that was caused."


It is an embarrassment for the Government as Mr Burley is a senior aide to Transport Secretary Justine Greening.


A French police spokesman was quoted as saying: "Anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi crimes are taken extremely seriously in France.


"Anyone suspected of breaking the law in this respect can and will be prosecuted."

Norwich 4 Newcastle 2

Toon boss Alan Pardew had to change his defence for the first time this season after injuries to Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini.


And Paul Lambert took full advantage of their weakness by going with muscle men Holt and Morison up front.

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And the move paid off handsomely as the Canaries strike pairing both netted in this cruise, Holt twice to Morison's single effort.


Newcastle netted twice through in-form Demba Ba but their afternoon ended on a sour note after Dan Gosling was sent off.


Pardew admitted Holt and Morison gave his side a torrid afternoon.


He said: "It's fairly obvious we missed our defenders. Our squad has been stretched to the limit.


"Having three first team centre-halves missing is major. We did very well other than the set plays today.


"Morison and Holt are a handful and so was Wes Hoolahan in behind. They gave us some tough times today.


"We expect to have one or two back next week and we certainly need them.


"We can't concede from three set plays and expect to win the game."


Lambert hailed Holt for stepping straight into the starting line-up having been a sub in the previous four games.


He said: "He's as important as he was two years ago when I joined.


"He and Morison were excellent today. I'm delighted with everyone's contribution."


John Ruddy was into action early on for the home side, saving efforts from Jonas Gutierrez and Yohan Cabaye.


Norwich had weak appeals for a penalty turned down after Andrew Surman hit the deck under the slightest of pressure from Gabriel Obertan.


Norwich had another shout for a penalty declined after 26 minutes when Kyle Naughton's flat cross caught Davide Santon's outstretched arm but again referee Martin Atkinson waved play on.


Only a superb diving save from Ruddy stopped Cabaye giving the visitors the lead with a deflected looping effort from 25 yards.


Norwich hit back, though, and scored five minutes before the break in controversial circumstances. The assistant referee, despite being positioned at least 30 yards away, ruled that Tim Krul had carried the ball out for a corner from a looping shot despite the goalkeeper insisting he had kept the ball in, with replays appearing to back up the Dutchman.


Krul palmed away Andrew Crofts' powerful header from the resulting corner but the ball rebounded in off Hoolahan, with Newcastle's players furious that Atkinson had given the set-piece in Norwich's favour.


But Ba put the away side back in the game in first-half injury-time when he picked up Cabaye's brilliant pass to slip the ball past Ruddy.


Senegalese hitman Ba was left unmarked at the back post immediately after the interval but blazed over from a tight angle.


Hoolahan was booked for kicking the ball away from a Magpies free-kick before Gosling went into the book for a foul on the opening goalscorer soon after.


Norwich made it 2-1 just before the hour when Krul parried Holt's header with his feet before the journeyman striker powered home the rebound off the bar from eight yards.


The goal, Holt's fifth of the season, buoyed the home side and they added their third four minutes later.


Gosling dallied on the edged of his own box, allowing Crofts to race down the flank and cross for Morison, who hammered home a powerful header for his seventh of the season.


Gosling's afternoon went from bad to worse two minutes later when he was given a straight red for a dangerous late tackle on Russell Martin.


The match was set up for a tense finale when Ameobi won the ball on the halfway line after Zak Whitbread dallied and played in Ba, who controlled calmly before drilling past Ruddy with 20 minutes to go.


Obertan then created space with a couple of step-overs but could only fire straight at Ruddy.


Bradley Johnson came on for Surman with 15 minutes left while Sammy Ameobi replaced Obertan for Newcastle.


Newcastle kept up the pressure in search of an equaliser but the tense atmosphere around Carrow Road eased with eight minutes to go as Holt took advantage of slack marking to head home Johnson's cross to kill off the Magpies.


Norwich: Ruddy, Naughton, Whitbread (Barnett 83), Martin, Tierney, Crofts, Fox, Hoolahan (Jackson 84), Surman (Johnson 76) Morison, Holt. Subs not used: Rudd, Pilkington, Bennett, Wilbraham. Booked: Crofts, Fox, Hoolahan. Goals: Hoolahan 39, Holt 59, Morison 63, Holt 82.


Newcastle: Krul, Santon (Ferguson 90), Simpson, Perch, Ryan Taylor, Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 80), Cabaye, Gosling,Gutierrez, Ba, Shola Ameobi (Smith 90). Subs not used: Elliot, Ben Arfa, Lovenkrands, Best. Sent off: Gosling (66). Booked: Shola Ameobi, Gosling. Goals: Ba 45, 71.

Peaches Geldof engaged to rocker Thomas Cohen

Peaches Geldof, 22, is set to get hitched for a second time after dating S.C.U.M. rocker Thomas Cohen for a year.


The socialite was divorced at the age of 19 following a whirwind romance with American musician Max Drummey.


But this time the blonde star has promised that she won't be rushing down the aisle.


She told a newspaper: "Yes, I'm engaged! We don't want to get married for a couple of years yet though so don't expect me in a dress yet. I'm so happy!"


She also revealed that she had managed to keep it secret for six months.


The daughter of Bob Geldof eloped to Las Vegas in August 2008 but announced her split from husband Max in February 2009.


They released a joint statement at the time that read: "After much soul searching we have made the mutual decision to end our marriage and have agreed to go our separate ways.


"Our parting is amicable and both of us still respect and care about each other immensely. There were no other people involved in this decision and we both look forward to a future as good friends."

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Queen's got a bling barge for Jubilee

An artist's impression released today reveals a stately craft covered in gold and royal livery.


Her Maj, 85, will take part in a spectacular River Thames pageant to mark 60 years on the throne when a 1,000-strong flotilla will recreate scenes on June 3 not seen on the Thames for centuries.


The 210ft design is based on the lavishly decorated royal barges of the 17th and 18th Centuries and will boast the Queen's cipher - EIIR ? on the bow.


The Queen will sit alongside Prince Philip on the top deck in ornate chairs under a gold canopy surrounded by other royals.


Flowers from the Queen's gardens will provide decoration on the cruiser Spirit of Chartwell which has been donated for the event by owner Philip Morrell, founder of the Magna Carta Steamship company.


Pageant master Adrian Evans said: "The royal barge must be a jewel - the most magnificent vessel in the flotilla."

Rival networking sites get overhaul

IT is the biggest change to Facebook since it launched in Britain in 2007.


In a totally new look, the "Timeline" feature replaces your home "Wall".


It makes everything you have ever done on Facebook ? along with your pictures ? appear in one screen that scrolls down year by year right back to when you were born.


Gaps before you joined the social networking site can be filled in whenever you like, meaning it will act like an archive of your whole life story.


The new concept of a COVER replaces the current Facebook profile pic.


It is much larger and designed to act, as its name suggests, like the front of a book or album.


It's a space for you to fill with an image that represents you and is the first thing visitors will see on your timeline.


If you want to see one kind of content, or get a snapshot of the basic information about someone, you can do so with the Timeline view that appears right under the cover.


These are filters that give you a way to see one type of content at once, such as Photos or Likes and Interests.


As you scroll down the Timeline, you'll see everything you've recently posted, just like you did on your old Wall.

But now your stories will be presented more neatly, with bigger photos and more emphasis on your posts.

As you scroll down, your Timeline summarizes and shows you only the most important things.


Use the Timeline slider on the right of the screen side to go back in time quickly.


At the top of your Timeline, you have a link to your private activity log.


It is a list of everything you've done or posted on Facebook.


The log itself is only visible to you and you can control which stories you want to feature and which ones you'd prefer to hide.


You can also change the privacy settings beside each post or even delete them.


Analyst with Mintel


THE re-design definitely encourages users to share more items as the timeline acts almost like a blog or memory book.


I think the new design also familiarises the site's users with the concept of regulalry logging their personal actions on the social network. Providing more easily accessible information is perhaps Facebook's approach to this.


It lets users show themselves more as who they are, rather than just a small piece of their personality captured on a form.


IN what has been a landmark year for Twitter, the social network has celebrated its fifth birthday with a design overhaul.


With a sleek new interface that bears more than a passing resemblance to Facebook, designers have produced a clean, functional layout.


Looking to improve the user's experience, Twitter have tinkered with the homepage, moving all slide bars to the left-hand side of the screen as well as providing a compressed box in which you can compose your new tweets.


The page on which you see your interactions with other users has been renamed Connect, with the option to view just tweets or everything.


Your profile, too, has been tweaked. But by far the biggest change has come in the form of the new section which is simply called DISCOVER.


This feature will effectively amalgamate the biggest stories of the moment into what might be called a Facebook-esque timeline.


An interactive version of the previous hashtag searches, Discover offers video content and article links as well as relevant tweets about popular topics. It means users can effectively go on Twitter and find out what's happening around the world in a more direct manner.


With links to authoritative news sources, such as The Sun, and relevant You Tube clips, it opens up a whole new world of immersion.


The traditional list of trending topics remains but this page brings that to life.


Now when searching for information and material regarding a particular topic, you're not just given a long list of largely inane tweets.


Though it's not identical to the old Facebook, there are certainly comparisons to be made between the new-look Twitter and the daddy of the social network phenomenon.


Analyst with Mintel


TWITTER'S redesign seems to be making the service more user-friendly to people who aren't already familiar with the site.


This is particularly true with the introduction of the discover tab which makes it more natural for users to go and explore topics and conversations.


Some of the changes also mean that in future users won't need to leave Twitter's website in order to view photos or videos, as these are now going to be embedded in the Twitter feeds themselves.

Russians rise up over Putin 'fix'

The vast gathering was part of nationwide protests in at least 15 cities across eight time zones after the Prime Minister's party was declared the winner of recent elections.


Former PM Mikhail Kasyanov - whose opposition movement was barred from the elections - was among those gathered in Bolotnaya Square near the Kremlin.


He declared: "Today 60,000, maybe 100,000 people, were at this rally.


"This means today is the beginning of the end for these thieving authorities."


Some believe the protests could become part of a Slavic Spring ? similar to the Arab Spring which toppled a string of unpopular regimes around the Middle East.


Protesters are demanding a re-run of last Sunday's disputed election and freedom for those arrested in previous protests this week.


Putin's United Russia party won but suffered a collapse in support according to the published results which showed a 20 per cent drop in vote despite widespread claims of "ballot-stuffing".


It had held two-thirds of the parliament's seats.


Demonstrator Alexander Trofimov said today: "The falsifications that authorities are doing today have turned the country into a big theatre, with clowns like in a circus."


Thousands of miles away in Vladivostok, several hundred protesters gathered shouting slogans including "Putin's a louse".


The protest in Moscow had received permission from the police but 15 people were arrested at an unauthorised protest in the Siberian city of Perm and a further 30 detained in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk.


In Kurgan, east of Moscow on Russia's border with Kazakhstan, an unsanctioned protest of about 400 people was dispersed.


There have been signs of a softer approach from Putin and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev who conceded election law may have been violated.


Many Russians felt disenfranchised when he and Putin announced plans to swap jobs after next year's presidential election and said they had taken the decision years ago.


Putin has suggested "dialogue with the opposition-minded" in the face of calls from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a probe into alleged election fraud.

Strictly girls Alex Jones and Chelsee Healey hit by boob torment

The top-heavy stars are both suffering severe back pain ahead of tonight's semi-finals.


One Show host Alex, 34, has been prescribed strong painkillers ? and is having daily sessions with a physio.


The BBC wardrobe department are also sewing sports bras into her spangly outfits to support her 34D chest.


Alex's spine is particularly sore after hours practising the bouncy steps of the salsa with partner James Jordan.


A show source said: "Alex has got a gorgeous figure but big boobs do cause back ache. Her back is really bad at the moment. She's been suffering for a few weeks now but she is embarrassed and doesn't want the sympathy vote."


Last week Alex danced through the pain after bruising her ribs when James lifted her.

Back problems ... Chelsee Healey

Actress Chelsee, 23, has been strapped up to ease the pain from her 32DD boobs. The Waterloo Road star wrote on Twitter: "My back is in bits can't walk never mind dance!" She also tweeted: "I'm in agony with it, just need to rest up tonight. Still really sore, got a heat pack on it."


But judge Bruno Tonioli warned there can be no excuses. He said: "Injury or not, you have to go for it.


"It's like doing the marathon ? the last mile is the most important. It's too late for moaning and groaning."


Alex and Chelsee are up against Jason Donovan, Holly Valance and McFly star Harry Judd in tonight's semi-final on BBC1 at 6.30pm.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

SuBo: I've seen my dead mum's ghost

The singer, 50, was left bereft when Bridget Boyle passed away in 2007 at the age of 91.


The pair shared the same home in Blackburn, West Lothian all of SuBo's life.


And it's there she claims her mother appeared to her.


Susan said: "The council house is my mother's house. Her energy is still there.


"I've actually seen my mother in the house.


"I think she was letting me know she was all right.


"There was a lovely smell. Perhaps it was her perfume, I'm not sure.


"I used to think she'd abandoned me when she died. Maybe she was telling me she hadn't."


The record-breaking songbird, who shot to fame on Britain's Got Talent two years ago, has also revealed how she feels plagued by feelings of isolation.


She adds: "My biggest problem is I feel lonely, especially at night.


"I always had a fear of being alone and now I am.


"Everybody died and left me by myself. There was one period within a few years, where my dad, my uncle, my sister, then my mum died.


"It's as if I was working with a few building blocks and those blocks were scattered and I had to find them one by one.


"When I first went for Britain's Got Talent I had such a feeling of failure and that's still part of me."

Swansea 2 Fulham 0

Sinclair's 56th-minute strike took a wicked deflection off Clint Dempsey on its way into the back of the net.


And it was Dempsey who left Wales wishing he had never crossed the Severn Bridge after his spot-kick was saved by Swans keeper Michel Vorm.

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But the hosts fully deserved to have fortune on their side before substitute Graham made it 2-0 in the 90th minute to secure three precious points and move the hosts towards to mid-table security.


Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers named Steven Caulker, Luke Moore and Wayne Routledge in the starting line-up to give his goal-shy team a boost.


And it was Moore and Routledge who looked most threatening during a first half the home side dominated without threatening Mark Schwarzer's goal.


Sinclair was just unable to get a shot away after linking with Leroy Lita and headed wide from a Routledge cross in a bright opening.


The Cottagers enjoyed a rare foray as Ashley Richards denied Andrew Johnson after the striker got the better of Caulker.


But the action quickly swung back down the other end other end, with Moore seeing a swerving strike from just outside the box clip the woodwork.


Fulham then survived two penalty appeals against John Arne Riise.


The Norway international was awarded a fortunate free-kick after appearing to haul down Lita, before being adjudged not to have handled a Routledge cross.


Schwarzer made the first real save of the afternoon on the half-hour mark, holding a Sinclair shot, and Dempsey headed wide as Fulham finally carved an opening.


Aussie stopper Schwarzer required treatment early in the second half after suffering a heavy landing when falling over Lita.


He managed to continue and the home crowd's frustrations were beginning to grow before the game burst into life.


Schwarzer's punch only went as far as Routledge and his scuffed effort was turned goalward by Sinclair before ricocheting off the unfortunate Dempsey.


Fulham responded to falling behind but Vorm, who had been almost a spectator up to that point, denied Bryan Ruiz from eight yards and then held an angled drive from Dempsey.


It was suddenly all Fulham as Riise fizzed a free-kick just wide and Vorm raced out to deny Johnson.


But with Fulham searching for an equaliser, a rapid Swansea break almost saw them double the lead.


Sinclair teased full-back Stephen Kelly before teeing up substitute Kemy Agustien, whose side-footed effort beat Schwarzer but struck the post.


Kerim Frei then went tumbling over Richards in the box and referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot, only for Vorm to make a stunning stop to deny Dempsey.


And there was still time for Graham to grab his fifth goal of the season from Mark Gower's corner in injury-time.


Swansea: Vorm, Richards, Williams, Caulker, Taylor, Routledge (Dyer 89), Britton, Gower, Sinclair, Lita (Graham 76), Moore (Agustien 69). Subs not used: Tremmel, Dobbie, Monk, Bessone. Booked: Vorm.


Goals: Sinclair 56, Graham 90.


Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, John Arne Riise, Dembele (Frei 77), Davies (Orlando Sa 79), Etuhu,Dempsey, Ruiz, Johnson. Subs not used: Etheridge, Gecov, Bjorn Helge Riise, Hughes, Briggs. Booked: Senderos.

Templegate’s racing tips | Grand National tips

Hereford


12.45 Nodform Richard


1.15 Off The Ground


1.45 Ascendant


2.15 Strongbows Legend


2.45 Kateal (nb)


3.15 Sawpit Supreme


3.45 Tip Of My Tongue


Southwell


12.30 Bivouac


1.00 Sky High Diver


1.30 Availed Speaker (nap)


2.00 Ishiamiracle (treble)


2.30 Jobe


3.00 Full Bloom


3.30 Ace Master

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tributes paid to a 'rising star'

Sapper Elijah Bond, 24, from 35 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, was flown home after the explosion but lost his fight for life in hospital.


His family said in a statement: "Elijah Cooper Bond left the world in the way he chose to live his life.


"He was a beautiful son, amazing brother, a proud uncle and our best friend. From a wicked grin to a righteous smile he could light up a room as much as he lit up our lives, so mischievous and fun yet grounded and down to earth.


"He will forever be a piece of us and remain in our hearts. We are thankful for the memories we have been given and the precious time we spent together.


"We have faith in the sure and certain knowledge that we will be reunited together again."


The tribute came as friends and family attended the funeral of a second soldier killed by a roadside explosion last month.


Welshman L/Cpl Richard Scanlon, from Rhymney, Caerphilly, died alongside another member of the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, Lieutenant David Boyce.


He had previously served in Bosnia and twice in Iraq.


In a statement, his mother Cherry, stepfather Robert, father Raymond and sisters Lisa and Emma described the 31-year-old as a remarkable individual.


It said: "His family are extremely proud of him and of the good work he carried out.


"They will miss him terribly but take great comfort in the fact he was loved and respected by all who met him."


Sapper Bond - known as Bondy to pals - died on Thursday in Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.


The soldier, from St Austell, Cornwall, had been on patrol in Nahr-e Saraj when he was caught by the blast on Tuesday.


Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Copsey, Commanding Officer, 35 Engineer Regiment, described him as a "rising star".

He said: "His lively and outgoing nature was founded on an inner confidence that saw him excel during his time in the Royal Engineers.


"He was a rising star within his squadron and he had a bright future ahead of him."


"It was whilst on an engineer reconnaissance patrol helping to plan vital infrastructure for the local population that he paid the ultimate price. Tragically he gave his life in order to improve the lives of others."


A total of 391 British troops have been killed since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001.

What a bot Kim Kardashian’s got

The US reality star flaunted her hour-glass figure a month after announcing her 72-day marriage to basketball player Kris Humphries was at an end.


Kim, 31, pouted provocatively in a series of steamy pics ? even wrapping an emerald ribbon around her biggest asset. And she smouldered in the bedroom wearing another green outfit ? surely the colour Kris will turn when he sees these shots.


Humphries, 26, has demanded the marriage be annulled ? claiming it was faked to boost ratings on her telly show Kourtney and Kim Take New York.


Still, reality queen Kim shouldn't have a problem maintaining interest in this form. And that WILL make Kris cross.

Kim phwoar-dashian ... Kardashian poses in pantsCelebrity Pictures  Beddy to see you ... Kim KardashianCelebrity Pictures  Legs-cellent ... Kim KardashianCelebrity Pictures  No shoes on the furniture! ...

Will Young knocks back drinks after The Voice axing

Will found out on Thursday that Danny O'Donoghue from The Script had been chosen for the BBC1 talent show ahead of him.


He wrote on Twitter: "The voice came, the voice went.


"Going out tonight with an appetite for destruction ? guns and roses?"


He did what all disappointed men do and headed to his local.


And it must have been a good night.


He tweeted yesterday: "Major hangover. Just need to get these legs to work."


A source said: "Will went to The Joiners Arms, near his flat in Hackney, east London, with a few mates.


"He seemed in a remarkably good mood and was definitely enjoying a few drinks.


"Will chatted to fans and posed for pictures.


"Then after a fair few drinks, he hit the dancefloor as Rihanna blared out."


Just as well the DJ didn't play anything by The Script.

Was there a Pitt of a bust-up, Brad?

The dapper actor took the lead and held his girlfriend's hand for the opening of The Land Of Blood And Honey.


But according to a source at the New York premiere held earlier in the week, Brad refused to pose with Angelina's older brother James Haven.


The whole family turned out to support the actress on the red carpet because Ange wrote and directed the film but Brad couldn't have tried harder to keep away from James.


By the time the Hollywood premiere came round, Ange and Brad were all smiles again.


They must have been proud of colour co-ordinating their outfits.


Ange looked stunning in a strapless floor-length gown and bouffant hair.


Brad donned a smart three-piece suit for the occasion, teaming the sophisticated look with a pair of trendy specs and long locks combed behind his ears.


The film chronicles the romance between a rape and kidnap victim and one of her captors set against the backdrop of the 1990s Bosnian Civil War.


Jolie and the producers of the film, which is set to be released on December 23, have been sued by reporter James Braddock ? who claims the movie violates copyright of his 2007 book The Soul Shattering.


In the suit, filed in Illinois last Friday, Braddock alleges he met Edin Sarkic, a producer on the film, in 2008 to talk about the possibility of turning his book into a film but nothing came of the discussions.


Braddock is seeking statutory damages and an injunction against the film.

Monday, 12 December 2011

X Factor stars are top of the props

Tonight's live show will see Marcus Collins performing on a JUMBO JET, while Little Mix will roar into Wembley Arena on HARLEY-DAVIDSON motorbikes.


But Amelia will sing with just a group of backing dancers.


TV Biz yesterday watched as Marcus rehearsed with 25 dancers who proceeded to shake their stuff on the jet's nose.


He is singing OutKast smash hit Hey Ya! as one of his songs. He said: "The plane wasn't my idea but I'm thrilled with it."


Little Mix have done a version of The Source's club classic You Got The Love ? recently covered by Florence And The Machine ? and perform in front of a giant screen with animated female soldiers doing the band's mentor Tulisa's arm salute.


The soldiers look just like former judge Cheryl Cole.


Little Mix star Perrie Edwards said: "We have lots of input in what we do, so we thought this would be a cool idea. Bombing around on the back of the motorbikes we're thinking 'yes, this is a good idea'."


Teenager Amelia is performing Christina Aguilera's Ain't No Other Man.


Last night sources suggested Amelia had been let down by her mentor Kelly. One said: "Amelia looks at a distinct disadvantage for the final.


"Marcus and Little Mix have gone all out and raided the production budget for their props.


"Kelly could have secured something extravagant for Amelia but she just wants her to go out there and sing. It's a high-risk strategy as what you're looking for is a memorable performance that will make people pick up the phone."


TV Biz can also reveal that Amelia had a backstage meltdown on Thursday over her CHRISTMAS song.


She had been practising Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day but blew a gasket after she failed to nail it.


She demanded show bosses give her another song and is now rehearsing Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You.

X Factor hopefuls head off for the final

The teenager from Middlesbrough was seen leaving her London hotel this morning alongside her show rivals ? Little Mix and Marcus Collins.


The youngster showed little sign of nerves at the prospect of performing live in front of 12,000 people at the iconic arena tonight.


Wrapped up against the winter chill in a pink jacket and clutching a similarly-coloured mobile phone and handbag, the hopeful cut a confident figure.


The Little Mix ladies also ensured they didn't get a chill before the biggest night of their lives by wrapping just as well.


Jade, Perrie, Jessy and Leigh-Anne looked calm as they made their way to waiting cars.


Simon Cowell's plot to turn them into the new Spice Girls may have settled their nerves.

Stars in the making ... Little Mix's Jessy and Leigh-AnneFLYNET

Even if the quartet fail to win the show, the svengali will hand them a record deal worth millions as part of a masterplan to make them stars on both sides of the Atlantic.


A source told The Sun: "Simon is thrilled by the quality of this year's finalists ? but he's extra excited about Little Mix. He genuinely believes they could be bigger than The Spice Girls.


Meanwhile show favourite, crimper Marcus Collins paid tribute to his home town by wearing a hoodie with the word Liverpool written on it.


The contestant's early departure will please fans at the north London venue.


Some had even camped through the night to be the first to catch a glimpse of them.


And as temperatures sank to near freezing last night a pair spoke of how unprepared they were for the conditions.


Best friends Chloe Darson and Chloe Parr, both 16, were the first to arrive at Wembley Arena at 6pm yesterday after travelling to London from Lincolnshire.


"I just had this one little blanket," said Darson. "We didn't know we had tickets until yesterday when my friend said she had spares so we just left really spur of the moment.


"We decided to camp out to make sure we get good seats. We haven't been lucky enough to go to any of the other shows so we wanted to get here early for the final.


"It has been freezing."


Parr added: "I really didn't bring enough warm stuff. I just found out we were coming yesterday so I left work and jumped straight on a train to London. I'm absolutely freezing right now."


Shreya Kanani, 19, a dentistry student in Leeds, left her warm bed at 4am to join her friends in the X Factor queue.


"We are so cold," she said. "People's parents have been coming every couple of hours and bringing water bottles and extra blankets and socks. Other than that we've just been snuggling up to keep warm.


"It'll be worth it though. I had an exam on Friday and I couldn't concentrate I was so excited."

West Brom 1 Wigan 2

Gomez struck the decisive penalty after Steven Reid had hacked down fellow scorer Victor Moses.


Reid's brilliant free-kick opener had put Albion in front against their relegation rivals.

spacer

But Moses netted an equally precise leveller before Gomez had the final say as Albion conceded a penalty for the fourth straight home game.


Baggies boss Roy Hodgson, though, swerved an earbashing at home by not giving one of his own when asked about referee Mike Dean's performance.


He said: "My wife slaughters me for complaining about the penalties and she is probably right, so I prefer to say nothing.


"People can make up their own mind. We will just get on with it. There is no doubt that it was a penalty for their goal.


"If the referee got any of the other decisions wrong, I don't know. Time will tell.


"The TVs will go through the analysis. They will come up with the answers. I will keep my mouth shut."


Hodgson at least took consolation from his side's performance.


He said: "It was one of those days where you find it hard to assess things in the sense that losing at home to team below you in the table should fill you with a lot of regrets and anger.


"But I can't be angry with that performance really because I don't think we can play a lot better than that.


"If we can guarantee playing like that for the next 24 games, then I'll be happy."


Opposite number Roberto Martinez hailed Moses for his superb display just a couple of days shy of his 21st birthday.


The Latics boss said: "I don't think Victor has had a bad spell this season. He has been very consistent.


"He is only 20, he had a great birthday present, on Monday he is 21 and the first goal was as good a finish as you are going to get in this league.


"I know that sometimes playing for Wigan you are not going to get as much credit as playing for other clubs.


"But the way he has been working on a daily basis, he has got huge potential and I've got no doubts that he is going to fulfil it."


Albion started on fire but Chris Brunt was always stretching too far as he tried to convert Peter Odemwingie's cross and the ball went over.


Latics keeper Ali Al Habsi then finger-tipped a powerful 20-yard drive from Brunt on to the bar.


It was non-stop pressure from the hosts and Jonas Olsson glanced a header wide from a Brunt cross and James McCarthy blocked a shot from Jerome Thomas.


Connor Sammon had the first attempt on goal for the Latics but his shot was deflected harmlessly through to Albion keeper Ben Foster.


Brunt was seeing plenty of the ball and his pass found Thomas but his volley from a narrow angle was blocked.


Moses had the first shot on goal for Wigan but dragged his chance a couple of yards wide.


Thomas got in another effort for Albion but the ball deflected over and Gareth McAuley then saw his header come off a Wigan player and flash wide.


A goal was coming and it was Reid who took centre stage as he curled home a superb 25-yard free-kick. But Martinez was unhappy with the deadball award after Gary Caldwell was adjudged to have brought down Odemwingie.


Caldwell made an important block to deny Odemwingie a second for the home side before Wigan levelled through Moses' first goal of the campaign.


Midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu cut out a cross from Mohamed Diame but the ball fell into the path of Moses who curled his shot past Foster.


Albion began the second period on the offensive and Shane Long charged down an attempted clearance from Caldwell before attempting to pick out the run of Brunt with his cross. Maynor Figueroa made a vital headed clearance and Brunt needed treatment before he could continue after the pair collided.


Wigan went ahead on 57 minutes as Gomez's penalty sent Foster the wrong way.


Wigan were growing in confidence and Moses had Foster back-pedalling to collect a long-range chip after spotting him off his line.


Al Habsi produced a low save save to turn aside a header by Long from Nicky Shorey's centre.


Moses had a shot blocked when Sammon was in space on the edge of the Baggies box.


Long almost grabbed Albion a point but his header hit the post from Thomas' centre.

Sugababes' Heidi Range and Dave Berry split

The pair scrapped wedding plans following the end of their relationship in the autumn.


Liverpudlian Range took to her Twitter this morning to tell her followers of her heartache, writing: "Very sadly, after eight years together, myself and Dave decided to separate a few months ago.


"I wish him nothing but the best in life x"


A statement from Berry's spokesperson read: "Dave Berry announced today that his engagement to partner Heidi Range has been broken off.


"Mr Berry announced the news today although the couple agreed to separate in the autumn.


"The split is amicable and no third parties are involved and he will make no further statement on the issue."


In May this year Berry was singing the songbird's praises publicly, saying of Heidi: "She's amazing. She makes the house smell nice with all her lotions and potions."


The former lovers had been an item since 2003.


And on New Year's Eve in 2009 Berry proposed while the couple were on holiday in India.

Happier times ... Heidi with Sugababes bandmates Amelle Berrabah and Jade EwanGETTY

Londoner Berry got his break working for kids' TV channel Nickelodeon before moving to MTV in 2002.


He's gone on to present shows on Channel 4 and ITV.


From January he will co-host the Capital FM breakfast show with Lisa Snowdon.


Range, 28, was an original member of girl group Atomic Kitten.


But in 2001 she shot to fame after replacing Siobhan Donaghy in The Sugababes.


In 2006 the group ? with an ever-shifting line-up - was named the most successful female act of the 21st century with six No1 single and 18 Top Ten hits.


The current band ? which also numbers Amelle Berrabah and Jade Ewan - are expected to release their eighth album next year.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 3

Barca cruised past Real at the Bernabeu last night with a comfortable victory.


Karim Benzema gave Real the lead on 23 seconds after a Victor Valdes howler.


But Barca hit back when Alexis Sanchez latched on to Lionel Messi's pass and fired across Iker Casillas.


The reigning champions took the lead as Xavi's deflected effort crept in before Cesc Fabregas headed in Daniel Alves' pin-point cross.


Barca move back to the top of the table, level on points with Madrid, who had won 15 straight matches.


But Real still have a game in hand as Barca head to Japan for the Club World Cup.


And Guardiola said: "I am delighted with the performance. Madrid will recover.


"To win here, you have to play a very good game and we have done that.


"But there is still much to do and Madrid will again be the leader if they beat Sevilla. There are no champions in December."


Guardiola also backed keeper Valdes, who gave the ball away for the opening goal and looked shaky early on.


He added: "Winning here is always worthwhile and challenging.


"You can see that in the performance of Valdes, who after conceding early has not taken another hit."


Real boss Jose Mourinho put the defeat down to luck, pointing to a Cristiano Ronaldo miss that could have given his side an early 2-0 lead.


He said: "Luck plays a part. When it was 1-0, we could easily have gone 2-0 up.


"Maybe under normal circumstances we would do but Cristiano has put it wide.


"The first half was balanced. The second goal would have been pure luck and not about talent or failure."


Mourinho also thought Messi might have been sent off, having escaped a booking for a late challenge, minutes after being cautioned for dissent.


He added: "I thought Messi could have been sent off but until I see it again I won't say more in case I'm wrong."

The Risk: We're backing Little Mix

The lads, who are currently rehearsing ahead of tonight's performance, said that it was like a "family reunion" to be reuntied with the other contestants today.


Member Ashford Campbell, posing for photographs with fans, said: "It is nerve-wracking but we are glad to be back and excited for the people in the final like Little Mix. We wish them all the best.


"We are backing the groups for Tulisa but we got on with Marcus really well in the house and he has progressed."


Bandmate Andy Merry added: "The atmosphere is chilled backstage. It is like a big family reunion."


Johnny Robinson, 45, wrapped up in a jumper, said: "Everyone is in high spirits, it is an amazing atmosphere.


"There are mince pies and champagne backstage. It is wonderful to be back. I can't wait until the tour but it is very exciting to be performing tonight. It has just been non stop."


Janet Devlin, 17, who appeared with her dyed red hair in curlers, revealed she had only been home twice since leaving the show, adding: "You don't get a break, it has been non-stop and I have only been home once. But I am really enjoying it and I am glad to be back tonight."


A distressed-looking Amelia Lily, 17, with her pink hair also in curlers, emerged to give her mum a hug and was then surrounded by supporters as she put her head in her hands.


Dressed in a white fur coat with shiny leggings and white boots, she still smiled at fans and shouted "I love you too" in reply to one.

Superfans ... waiting for tonight's final

Xtra Factor presenter Caroline Flack, 32, who has sparked controversy over her relationship with 17-year-old One Direction member Harry Styles, was dropped off in a car.


Wearing a trendy outfit of leather jacket and burgundy jeans, she waved to fans and simply smiled when one shouted out "say hi to Harry", before hurrying into the studio.


Sophie Habibis, 20, told fans she was "very excited" to be back as the singers took a break from rehearsals.


And Sammi Brookes, 31, told fans that she is set to tread the boards on the London stage in the West End.


Meanwhile, Craig Colton today spoke of his relief at being able to enjoy performing on the show without the pressure of relying on viewer's votes.

Happy that the pressure is off ... Craig ColtonThe 22-year-old, dressed in a red woolly hat and t-shirt said: "It is good to be back and to see everyone.

"It is nice to be able to have fun. It is weird because there is no stress attached to it now and we can just enjoy it.


"It's a great atmosphere backstage and I am really looking forward to performing tonight."


Infantry soldier Jonjo Kerr, 28, said he had been joking around and dressing in women's clothes backstage.


He revealed he had returned to work in Chorley, Lancashire, since the show ended, as he was "not going to change".


He said: "I am really excited and looking forward to it. I want both Little Mix and Marcus to do really well.


"Everyone is having a good laugh backstage. I keep dressing up in women's clothes and getting told off.


"I have gone back to work, back to normal. I am not going to change because of a TV show."


Pressed on what all the former contestants would be singing tonight, he replied: "It's a secret."

A fire lit in Tottenham that burned Manchester: the rioters' story

 

Alex had stepped outside the pub in Tottenham for a cigarette when he saw the commotion. People were throwing bottles at police, and an abandoned police car had been set on fire.


He looked on as youths with covered faces pushed a second police car across the road. It struck a wall and rolled back into the street. Alex, who is 32, white, and from south London, watched the young men smash the windows and put a black bin-bag on the seat. Then he joined in.


"I went up, put my head in there – the front-seat window – set light to the black bag and walked away from there and just slowly watched it, and everybody was cheering," Alex said. His real identity, like that of others interviewed for this study, has been disguised.


It was 6 August – two days after police shot Mark Duggan dead – and a small demonstration over his death was sliding into a riot. For three hours, Duggan's family and friends waited outside the police station for a senior police officer who never arrived. They left the protest when the crowds swelled, and began attacking the police cars.


Alex watched the car he set fire to smoulder. He waited for the windows to crack and the petrol tank to explode. He had known nothing about the protest when he first left the pub. When people in the crowd explained why they were there, he quickly decided to join in.


"It was the police car – I know what they stand for," he said. "For the record: yeah, I do hate the fucking police ... I was caught up in the situation. And it was like: let's cause fucking chaos – let's cause a riot."


Instead, what followed was a lull. "No one was looting or nothing like that. We went back to the pub, came back out again and then shitloads more police arrived, and the horses, and they just shut off the whole road."


The image of the two burning police cars were circulating on thousands of mobile phones within minutes. People from neighbouring boroughs were pouring into Tottenham to see what was going on.


The fires that began in Tottenham would burn through English towns and cities for four nights. The summer disturbances left five people dead, hundreds injured and more than 4,000 arrested. It was the most serious bout of civil unrest in a generation, with as many as 15,000 people taking to the streets.


In an investigation into how – and why – the disorder spread, we have interviewed 270 people who rioted in six major cities. Each had a different story to tell. But like Alex, their accounts challenge the many assumptions about the riots.


"I could see the smoke from Edmonton," said Angela, 18, a student. "And I was like: 'Oh my God, I want to see what's happening.'" She arrived with friends to see more fires blazing along Tottenham High Road.


Following messages on their BlackBerry smartphones, Angela and her friends headed to take pictures of the fire engulfing a Carpetright store. Then they jumped into the car of a friend who said they were going to Wood Green.


Less than 100 yards away, James, a 19-year-old student from Hackney, was also thinking about leaving the area. He had headed to Tottenham with the intention of fighting police.


"I didn't plan to rob anything," he said. "Someone came up with the idea: if we spread this, could the police like control it? So like, let's go to Wood Green. I called as many people as I could: 'Oh, I hear everyone's going to go to Wood Green – call as many people as you can. Go to Wood Green.'"


He arrived to see people breaking into jewellery shops and a man running out of Holland & Barrett with protein shakes. "We had one motive, that was to get as many things as we can and sell on," he said. "The phone shop close to JD [Sports] got ripped apart," he said.


James stole several phones. "I think the looting came about because it was linked to police," he said. "We're showing them that, yeah, we're bigger than the police, we are actually bigger than the police. Fair enough, we are breaking the law and everything, but there's more of us than there are of you. So if we want to do this, we can do this. And you won't do anything to stop us."


Angela – the teenager taking pictures of the burning Carpetright store – was being driven to Wood Green along backstreets when she saw the commotion. "We saw lots of people in cars. They were like: 'Get what you can.'" They parked the car and walked along the high street to find the Shopping City mall being emptied.


"And then we saw H&M got smashed in too, and we went to H&M. Some of my friends took some of the clothes," she said. It was a surreal sight: "People were just running about really, like headless chickens. And I was just laughing about it. Like when my friends were walking with clothes in their hands, I was just like: 'Oh my God. You lot are mad, absolutely mad.'"


Angela and her friends put the looted clothes and some creams stolen from The Body Shop in a wheelie bin and pushed it home. They passed a supermarket that had been gutted by fire. "What are you going to set places on fire for?" she said. "This is a place where you go to shop sometimes and you want to set it on fire?" She said her sister lived nearby. "I know Asda's there but Aldi's cheaper. So, she's got nowhere else to get cheap stuff – but she's got kids."


She said she saw 10 police vans drive past her friends as they pushed their wheelie bin. "I was just thinking to myself: you see a group of girls, with a big wheelie bin going across the road and you're not going to stop them? They're not doing their job."


The next night, Angela joined the thousands of people who headed to Enfield. All day a message had been circulating on BlackBerry phones announcing the riots would continue in the suburb, six miles north of Tottenham.


"Everyone in edmonton enfield woodgreen everywhere in north link up at enfield town station 4 o clock sharp!!!!" it said. The message urged people to bring balaclavas, hammers, trollies, cars and vans – but advised against starting fires. It added: "Police can't stop it."


At the same time as crowds were gathering in Enfield, violence was breaking out 16 miles south, in Brixton. Denise, a 17-year-old from Norbury who had spent the day at the Brixton Splash music festival, was sitting on a grass mound talking to friends. Suddenly, she saw people putting on masks and taking out weapons. "All the police come running down," she said. "I just see bottles flying. I've never seen police so scared before – it was like they had no control whatsoever. Like even the police cars, the police vans, they was just throwing rocks at them."


When police were overpowered, Denise joined the crowd that began running down the high street, covered her face and walked into a corner shop.


"People was just passing fags from the counters," she said. "You know what? For once it felt like you had so much power." Denise didn't want to go into H&M because it was too dark. She was waiting outside for her friends when a man ran past with trainers. "I was like: 'Where did you get that from?' He was like: 'Foot Locker.' And everyone started running to Foot Locker."


The shoe shop was being ripped apart. "I seen an old guy running out of Foot Locker – literally this guy was like 70. He took a hat and was running for his life." The images of Foot Locker were being broadcast in real-time on BlackBerry phones. One message showed a photo of a teenager grinning beneath eight boxes of trainers. Another showed the store in flames.


Tony, 25, was at a friend's birthday party in Brixton when he started receiving the messages. "At first I thought: 'Wow, this is terrible.' But then I started to think about everybody else getting free stuff," he said. "I did stop myself for – for quite a few hours. More and more messages were coming in. I saw people running down the street with stuff. And before I knew it I just left the house."


Tony took some phones from a T-Mobile shop before joining the huge crowd battling police. "Like, about a thousand people started running and then just like the whole crowd just started chanting 'Currys, Currys.' One girl was in her shorts and her bra because she had her T-shirt wrapped around her face, going: 'Come on, let's do this.' And I thought: 'Wow, this girl – she's about 13.'"


It took about 45 minutes to prise open the shutters of the Currys electrical store. Then it began to rain. "You had youths from the area that were really prepared for it: they had sports bags, they had gloves, they had bicycles, they had clothes that you wouldn't ever identify them by again. There were commuters stopping in vans and stuff going: 'Get us a TV. I'll give you a hundred quid.'"


Tony added: "We had Currys for almost an hour. Going in, coming out, pulling out TV boxes. I'd say people left with like 80in TVs running straight across the road into the estate. I just wanted to get anything that's worth money. We got Canon lenses, we got PlayStations, we got Xboxes, we got small TVs."


Denise never made it to Currys. She was on the other side of Brixton. "A guy that I knew earlier that was passing fags from the corner shop, he come with like a big box of trainers from Foot Locker. He had about 15 trainers roughly in there, but I don't know how he was carrying it because it was just him alone – it was a huge box."


She added: "And I was like: 'Have you got any size fours?' He was like: 'You was the one who gave me fags, innit?' So he just gave me a box." Denise got the bus home. "I was wary because I had bags and stuff like that," she said. "If any police tried to stop the bus I was thinking: what am I going to do?"


The whole of Britain was waiting to see what would happen next. The answer was that the third day of riots would begin in Hackney, before spreading throughout London, and erupting in towns and cities across England.


It would be worse in scale and intensity than anything experienced over a similar period during the 1981 riots.


Andrew, a 16-year-old schoolboy, knew the riots were coming to his area, Hackney. "It was planned," he said. "Everyone knew: as soon as it comes 5 o'clock, start rioting." He saw all the young people from his area come together. "Basically, all the gangs put down all the beef [rivalry] for one day," he said, listing the names of local groups of teenagers. "Suwu red bandannas, Pembury, Mare Street, Well Street, Mother's Square – the whole of them, Holly Street."


Andrew added: "Police don't think we're rioting for a reason. They believe we're rioting because Mark Duggan died and we have no other reason. Like, we're rioting cos they're not giving us nothing to do, they're taking away EMA [educational maintenance allowance], taking away free travel, taking away certain allowances that teenagers have and they're not replacing it with anything good."


When it began, he started hurling bricks at police. "The frontline would be attacking the police while the backlines would be in the shop," he said. "So the frontline's holding off the police and then the people at the back are looting the shops. So it's like a formation."


Meanwhile, Catherine, 20, a college student who wants to be a primary school teacher, covered her face and started walking along a street in Peckham with her friends. Peckham was quiet, but they found a police car, smashed the windows, stole the radio and used a petrol bomb to set it on fire.


"It felt good, that police car – it felt really good," she said. "Especially when my friend took the radio and started saying all this hullabaloo over the radio and confusing them and all that. It was fair for us to do that."


Police recently broke her brother's nose, she claimed. "My little brother, he's always in trouble with the police. They have no respect, especially for my mum who's just a little old woman. She's always polite and stuff as well and they're always rude to my mum – had no respect for any of us.


"You get to the police station and they think they can sit there and take the piss out of you so, obviously, in my eyes, I don't see them as good people."


Her friends wanted to go looting. "I was like no," she said. "I didn't want to rob anything. It was just the police, that's what I was totally against."


Back in Hackney, Andrew returned to the home he shares with his parents. "Had a shower, changed, chilled, smoked a bit," he said. "Then at about 1 o'clock in the morning went out again. Everyone got called saying, 'Yeah everyone's going to Ealing now. You lot best get there before everything gets looted.'"


Disorder was spreading to areas across London such as Lewisham, Catford, Croydon, Queensway, Notting Hill, Kilburn, Barnet, Woolwich, Barking, Balham, Southwark and Camden.


Kay, 16, was watching the chaos unfold from the comfort of her bed in Wandsworth. "Laying down, watching the news, flicking through, watching Sky News. 'Oh my God, mum did you see that?'" Kay received a text from a friend: "Oh, do you wanna see what's going on in Clapham Junction?"


Kay and her friends arrived there shortly after rioters had chased away police and taken over the high street. "I was like standing there gobsmacked," she said. "People running down the road with TVs on their backs, who wants this, who wants that, like T-shirts, TVs on the floor smashed up, wires, everything was just there, on the floor, laying in the street, trainer boxes, trainers. Tags on the floor, boxes, smashed bottles, cigarette packs. You name it, everything was out there."


Her friends joined in. "Everyone else was just like, 'Yeah, I got this' and I was like, 'Can't we just go now?'" Her friends started hiding looted items under cars and in skips.


Kay laughed when she recalled what happened when she stood outside the pawnbroker's. "I was just standing in the road. A man said: 'Do you want a bag?' I was like: 'No, not really.' He was like: 'Here man, just have it.' I was like: "OK."


Standing on the same amstreet in Clapham Junction, Joshua, a 14-year-old from Lambeth, also faced a moral dilemma. "I was just thinking: 'Oh wow, I could get a new computer, yeah, might get my little brother his birthday present.' That kind of wore off and I was like: just forget it now." Joshua had told his mother he was going to a skate park with friends. Instead, his night had begun at 5pm in Hackney and ended in Clapham Junction.


"There was some trainers I wanted to buy from JD, some white ones, and I was thinking: I can go inside and get them. So I just went inside and got them. Then once you do it and nothing's happened yeah, you're like: 'Oh my gosh!' And you're like: 'This is a once in a lifetime thing. You're going to get everything you want for free.'"


It didn't quite turn out that way – as Joshua discovered when he encountered "bigger people". "My friend had an Xbox and I was holding it, me and him, then one of them run up and punch my friend and took the Xbox and ran off. Because they was smart."


At times, Joshua said he felt people were "looking up" at him. "We saw a black lady in the car. She was like: 'Go on son, dash the brick at them, dash the brick at them.' I looked at her, then I looked at the policeman, then he run up to me and I went: 'What?' then threw the brick at him. It never hit him, it went like [over his shoulder]."


The woman told Joshua to get in the car. "Then I was like: why am I getting in some person's car I don't even know?" Joshua decided to walk home. "I saw a man on the floor and then I see his BlackBerry and I was like: oh, should I take it? And I just left it. Then I see some woman dressed all in black. She run up to him and kept kicking and kicking him and she went there and took his wallet out, took his phone, everything."


Kay – the girl who had been given the bag outside the pawnbroker's – didn't want to walk home. She called her mum and asked her to pick her up. "A week later, the police are knocking on my front door," she recalled. Kay said her mother "took the rap" for the stolen items found in the house and has been in prison since. "It's a bit hard because the only person I've always lived with is my mum. So for her not to be there is death."


As midnight approached, the riots were fanning out across England, with disorder in Leicester, Bristol, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Reading, Huddersfield and parts of Kent. Outside London, the riots were worst in Birmingham.


"Firstly, it was just running into shops, pulling clothes off the hangers and running out again," said Omar, 16, from the suburb of Erdington. He had got the train into the city centre with friends. "We seen some windows being smashed in. We just thought, everyone else is doing it. It just seemed like a good idea really." He wore a mask. Omar said he hated the police. "They call us little shits and little bastards and everything," he said. "They're not what you see on the TV and that – acting all good and that."


He said he stole Nike tracksuit bottoms to make him feel like "people with money, good families", who he said look down on him. "I hate feeling like people are judging me. They don't know about me and then they just look at you and I hate it, I absolutely hate it."


Before the riots, Omar said his clothes were all ripped or dirty. "And when I get new clothes I feel better," he said. "Then they will have to look down at someone else." He added: "I have gone to loads of jobs with my CV. But I've got no qualifications so people just don't want me – there's people better than me."


At the same time Omar was looting the city centre, a father of two called Terry was in breaking into a police station. "I wasn't going looting," he said. "I was just there just to piss off the police."


He said he was tired of being stopped and searched and wanted to get his own back. "At first they was throwing bricks at windows, going in shops, robbing the shops, and then they moved down to the police station. So in the end I just ended up joining in," he said.


After breaking through a metal gate, Terry and the crowd surged into one of two buildings. "Turned on the lights, found all the documents, started burning the documents – I don't even know what documents they was. We just found them all over the place and in drawers and just ransacked the whole building – burnt it.


"Then we went to the other building, with all the helmets and that in, because [the first one] was getting too hot. There's more documents there. So we just decided to burn them as well."


As the crowd stormed out of the yard, they encountered police cars. "We were wearing the [police] vests," he said. "We started throwing the helmets at the police cars so they couldn't get past … I just got the biggest adrenaline rush I'd had in my life."


Around that time, the crowds in Toxteth, on the fringe of Liverpool city centre, were at the height of running battles with police. Charlie, a student in his 20s, said he just "moved with the current". "There must have been at least 200 people," he said. "It was just a horde, like a mosh pit." He watched as people jumped on to the roof of a moving Transit van and smashed the windscreen. "Cars got destroyed. Boss cars. Like Beemer, Mercedes. I'm sitting there watching kids just rain stones on them."


Charlie turned the corner to find police cars on fire. "There's this one kid with a golf club running up to the [police] Matrix van itself and repeatedly going bam bam bam. These two kids managed to get one of the doors open as they were driving back and forward. "I hate the police. I hate the fact that one time I've been stopped and searched on the street and this man's thought I had a weapon just because of the way I had a certain fucking scarf," he said. "They talk as if they are above you."


Charlie refused to say whether he fought police that night. But he described the experience as "like a dream". "I was actually doing it. I felt alive, there's no word to explain it. It was like that first day it happened will always be the best day of my life for ever – I swear to God."


The man in a military-style balaclava walking through a graveyard 200 miles away – in Croydon – was Simon. He was 18, and from Lewisham. That night, he and friends had been looting in Peckham, Catford and Clapham. When they arrived in Croydon – site of the most intense arson in England – they became anxious and decided to stash their haul of looted goods.


"We thought: 'We can't be walking on the road with this,'" he said. "So we left it there [in the graveyard] and basically come back for it in the van."


Simon was not alone in feeling terrified at the huge, raging fires that warmed the faces of thousands of looters who arrived in Croydon after hearing about the chaos there.


Simon got a good feel for Croydon. He stole a bike and cycled round before he saw a teenager with a looted iPhone4. "I took it off him. Fresh, brand new and that's £500. Brand new out the shop. Easy, easy quick money."


Then he saw six people bundle a police officer down an alley. "I think they put a T-shirt over his head and kinda dragged him down the alley and starting kicking him. I was seeing him getting hit with planks of wood. I was thinking it was getting too much, these guys are going too far now."


On the fourth night, there were no more riots in London. But disturbances would escalate in cities including Birmingham, Nottingham and Gloucester. And for the first time, the riots would start in Greater Manchester. Barry, 46, watched locals take over Salford shopping precinct. The crowd broke into a supermarket, off-licence and pawnbroker's and then set fire to the library. "I heard someone say, 'Let's burn the bingo down,' and I heard someone say: 'I can't burn that, my mam will kill me.'"


"I think most of the spectators did exactly the same – they came along just to watch; they just found themselves wound up in it ... I found this iPod and as I picked it up this girl was looking at me. I just gave it her. I actually went into one of the shops and I took a load of the cigarettes and I gave them to the people." Barry saw some teenagers "being stupid" and turned his attention to the CCTV. "I was sort of like putting cameras out of action," he said. "Smashing them – I just made sure none of them could focus on anywhere.


"I think it was about having a go at the police – you know, after years of abuse. Because the police do abuse people, they do like take liberties. I know people who get harassed by the police on a regular basis, and it will always go on – and I can't see it ever stopping.


"What you have to understand is there are a lot of people from Salford who love Salford – who will fight for Salford."


After Salford, the disorder moved to Manchester city centre. It would be the last major city to be touched by the summer riots.


Among a crowd systematically looting shops was Polly, 17. "It was exciting to be there and it was sort of, you know, like when you're driving a fast car," she said. "And you just look around you and you think: 'My God, this is my city, what's happening to my city?'"


Polly's boyfriend forced open the door to a Greggs bakery. "I picked up five bags of crisps and a drink and I already had a bottle of Pinot Grigio in my hand. I was thinking, 'Come on, we need to go, we need to go.' But he wasn't listening to me. We come out of Boots and the police were there. Then we both got arrested."


TV channels relayed live pictures of looting in Manchester into the early hours. Among the millions of people watching was Alex – the man who, four days earlier, had set fire to the police car in Tottenham.


"Never thought it would turn out to be throughout the country," he said. "I never knew it was going to escalate, all the way up to Croydon, Liverpool – I never knew it would go all over the place.


When I seen some of it on TV, I thought: 'Go on you fuckers, keep going – fucking riot away. But I was also bricking it as well. Because I don't want to go to jail at the end of the day. There was even points when I had to switch the TV off because I was sitting thinking: 'Oh my God.'"

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