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Fulham squandered an opportunity to escape the Premier League relegation zone on Saturday after going down 3-1 at London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Felix Magath's improving side had won their two previous games and they reacted impressively after falling behind to a close-range Paulinho strike in the 35th minute, with Steve Sidwell equalising almost immediately.

However, second-half goals from Harry Kane and Younes Kaboul secured victory for Tim Sherwood's Spurs, with Sidwell seeing a late penalty saved by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Defeat left Fulham two points from safety, ahead of a home game with Hull City next weekend.

"If we had got any points here, it would have been an extra point for us," said Fulham manager Magath.

"We have to win our home games and I think we can manage it."

Sixth-place Spurs closed to within four points of the Champions League places, although they have played a game more than both fourth-place Arsenal and fifth-place Everton.

With leaders Liverpool not in action until Sunday, when they visit Norwich, Chelsea can provisionally take over at the top of the table if they win at home to bottom club Sunderland in Saturday's late game.

Fulham slipped one place to 19th after Cardiff City moved above them on goal difference by drawing 1-1 at home to Stoke City.

Marko Arnautovic gave Stoke the lead from the penalty spot in first-half injury time after Kim Bo-kyung was contentiously adjudged to have tripped Peter Odemwingie.

 

 

 

 

Manuel Pellegrini insists his Manchester City side will not be distracted by their Champions League tie against Barcelona when they take on FA Cup holders Wigan on Sunday.

Pellegrini's team trail Barcelona 2-0 ahead of Wednesday's last-16 second leg, but before turning their attention to the Catalan giants, City must focus on an FA Cup quarter-final revenge mission against the Latics at Eastlands.

City suffered a shocking 1-0 loss against Wigan, who were then in the Premier League, in last season's FA Cup final, a defeat which proved to be Roberto Mancini's final match in charge.

Pellegrini's men have struggled on occasions against second tier opposition in the cups this season.

They were taken to a replay by Blackburn in the FA Cup and trailed 2-0 to Watford in the early stages of their fourth round tie.

 

But Pellegrini, whose side won the first leg of a potential domestic treble with their League Cup final success over Sunderland last weekend, is not concerned about City taking Uwe Rosler's Championship side lightly.

"We are just thinking about the game against Wigan," Pellegrini said.

"We know it is a tough game, it is not an easy game, they are playing very well, they win all their last matches so when we finish on Sunday the FA Cup we will just start thinking about Barcelona.

"I am looking to every competition with the same importance. On Sunday we have to play FA Cup, so we are thinking about FA Cup.

"When we finish that we will try to make a good match against Barcelona to try and have our revenge and continue in the Champions League.

"Maybe it is not easy for us to play against different teams in the way we always want to do it but it is very important to try to continue the way we want to do it."

 

 

 

 

Roger Federer's performance in reaching the semi-final of the Australian Open last month is the first step in a mini-revival of tennis' great legend. This week could see the second.

That is the scenario Federer intends pursuing when he returns to the ATP Tour and tries to win back the title at his adopted second home at the Dubai Open.

Victories over Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Melbourne will be followed by a chance to challenge Novak Djokovic, the top-seeded titleholder, here.

Although the formidable Serb is seeking a record fifth Dubai title, Federer has a better record against Djokovic than against Rafael Nadal, the man who halted him last month, and he feels encouraged by his performances in the first Grand Slam of the year.

 

"I think it has been a very good start to the season for me overall, " Federer said.

 

"I have played some really good tennis. I still feel my best tennis is ahead of me right now.

"So I'm looking forward to the coming months, and how they're going to play out, and hopefully by April I feel like I'm going to be a hundred percent again."

Federer believes his moderate 2013 results were caused partly by fitness problems, triggered by a persistently troublesome back, and that he is in significantly better shape this year.

 

 

 

 

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Veteran Jenny Jones made history on Sunday as she won Britain's first ever Winter Olympics medal on the snow.

Jones, 33, claimed bronze in the women's slopestyle snowboarding competition after a second run score of 87.25, behind Jaime Anderson (95.25) of the US in gold and Finland's Enni Rukajarvi (92.50).

 

 

 

Chris Froome has signed a new contract with Team Sky for 2014 and will have the nucleus of the team which helped him win the Tour de France at his side again.

Froome heads a list of 10 riders who have signed on again, including Peter Kennaugh, David Lopez and Ian Stannard, who were part of the line-up that helped him succeed Bradley Wiggins as Britain's second winner of the Tour.

They have also put pen to paper along with Luke Rowe, Salvatore Puccio, Sergio Henao, Chris Sutton, Danny Pate and Xabier Zandio.

Wiggins, on the other hand, is heading into the final year of his contract with the team.

Two of Froome's key support riders, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas, extended their deals mid-season.

Froome said on teamsky.com on Monday: "This has been an incredible year for me and I'm delighted to finish it off by signing a new contract with Team Sky. I've been with this team since the start and I know this is the right place for me to continue to grow as a rider.

 

 

 

Former Formula 1kca/ak reserve driver Maria de Villota, 33, was found dead in a hotel room in Seville on Friday morning, the president of the Spanish Automobile Federation, Carlos Garcia, has confirmed.

"I have just found out. It is a very hard to take. There is no explanation for what has happened," he told Spanish National Radio.

"She was a great person and an example for everyone."

 

 

 

The possible move of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from the summer to winter was a "mess" of FIFA's own making, British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said Monday.

In comments to Britain's Press Association, Robertson added that he saw no other option than moving the tournament to the winter to escape the stifling heat of Qatar in the summer.

"I don't think anybody in the world of football thinks a World Cup in Qatar in the summer is a sensible or deliverable option," Robertson told PA.

"To that extent, this is a mess of FIFA's own making.

"I don't blame the Qataris at all - they wanted the World Cup and every country is entitled to have that ambition and they entered the bidding competition in the way suggested by FIFA. I entirely blame FIFA."

Qatar was awarded the right to host the 2022 tournament in 2010, but FIFA, UEFA and footballers' union FIFPro have since called for it to be moved to a different time of year.

However, proposals to change the date of the tournament have met with opposition from leading European clubs, who are concerned about disruption to their traditional calendars.

"I also don't see that moving this (to winter) should be allowed to disrupt the years either side of the event," said Robertson, who was part of the delegation for England's failed bid for the 2018 World Cup in 2010.

 

 

 

Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne said on Tuesday that the club sacked manager Paolo Di Canio in order to avoid becoming "cut adrift" at the foot of the Premier League.

The 45-year-old Italian was fired on Sunday after Sunderland drew one and lost four of their opening five league games, culminating in a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.

Reports in the British media suggest Sunderland's players were unhappy with the outspoken Di Canio's methods, but Byrne said he was removed purely to improve the club's chances of staying up.

Writing in the match-day programme ahead of Tuesday's League Cup third-round tie with Peterborough United, she said: "Whilst the focus is on tonight's game, I know how disappointed each and every supporter was after Saturday's result at West Brom. Everyone at the club felt the same disappointment.

"After Paolo saved us from relegation last season, we gave him an opportunity to take the club forward this season.

"When it became obvious it wasn't working, we had to take the decision to part company with him. We felt it was better to do this now as we ran the risk of being cut adrift at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League.

 

 

 

Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday announced that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has extended his contract, tying him to the club until 2016.

The Swede, whose existing deal was due to expire in the summer of 2015, is now set to stay at the Parc des Princes until near his 35th birthday.

"I don't see a more ambitious club in Europe than Paris Saint-Germain," the former Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan striker said in a statement released by PSG.

"My wish is that Paris Saint-Germain is my last big Club."

 

 

 

Premier League leaders Liverpool crashed to their first defeat of the season at home to Southampton on Saturday, while Everton enjoyed a stirring 3-2 win at West Ham United.

Liverpool were without injured playmaker Philippe Coutinho, sidelined by a shoulder problem, but they came close to taking the lead in the first half at Anfield when visiting goalkeeper Artur Boruc produced a full-stretch save to keep out a Steven Gerrard free-kick.

Daniel Sturridge then had a penalty appeal turned down after tangling with Dejan Lovren, and it was Lovren who broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute with a back-post header from a left-wing corner.

Only a fine triple save from Simon Mignolet prevented Southampton from adding to their lead, but Lovren's goal proved enough to inflict a first league defeat on Liverpool since a 3-1 loss to the same side last March.

Liverpool will lose their grip on first place if Chelsea win at home to Fulham later on Saturday, while Everton now trail their city rivals by only a point after Romelu Lukaku scored on his debut to settle a thrilling game at Upton Park and help preserve the last unbeaten record in the division.

West Ham twice took the lead, via a deflected shot from Ravel Morrison and a Mark Noble penalty, only for Leighton Baines to level on each occasion with a pair of sensational free-kicks from 25 yards.

Noble was then sent off for a rash foul on Ross Barkley before Lukaku bravely headed home an 85th-minute winner in his first game since signing on loan from Chelsea.