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Category: theguardian.com

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World Cup: 25 stunning moments No7: Andrés Escobar’s deadly own goal

An own goal at USA 94 led to horrific ramifications for Colombia’s captain, who paid the heaviest of prices for the failings of society as much as his national team

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Bastian Schweinsteiger keeps Bayern on course amid chaos elsewhere

Only the champions, steered recently by the midfielder, have been solid in a season of ups and downs in Germany

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Bastian Schweinsteiger keeps Bayern on course amid chaos elsewhere

Only the champions, steered recently by the midfielder, have been solid in a season of ups and downs in Germany

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Bayern Munich wrap up Bundesliga title with seven games to spare

3-1 win over Hertha Berlin enough to claim 23rd title Bayern’s winning streak now extends to 19 games

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A-League tactics: how Newcastle Jets make corners pay

The Jets were able to exploit space on set pieces to secure a resounding win over Wellington Phoenix

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Football transfer rumours: Real Madrid to sign Joe Hart?

Today’s rumours are bad losers

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Football transfer rumours: Real Madrid to sign Joe Hart?

Today’s rumours are bad losers

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The Tuesday organ recital with Simon Passmore

Click here to have the Fiver sent to your inbox every weekday at 5pm, or if your usual copy has stopped arriving

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The Tuesday organ recital with Simon Passmore

Click here to have the Fiver sent to your inbox every weekday at 5pm, or if your usual copy has stopped arriving

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Oscar Pistorius prepares to testify as prosecution rests case

Athlete’s lawyers yet to disclose whether he will testify first in his own defence when trial resumes on Friday

Oscar Pistorius admitted he is having a “tough time” on Tuesday as prosecutors closed their murder case against him, bringing closer the defining moment when he must account for his actions in court.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his trial got under way amid intense worldwide interest, the Paralympian, asked by the Guardian to reflect on the state’s case, paused and replied softly: “We’ve got a lot of stuff ahead of us.”

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his luxury home in Pretoria, South Africa, on Valentine’s day last year. He insists that it was an accident after he mistook her for an intruder.

Prosecutors will not set out their final argument until the end of the trial, but the thread running through their case was that Pistorius and Steenkamp argued and that several neighbours heard terrified screams and gunshots. They have sought to portray the athlete as fanatical about guns and reckless in using them.

“May it please the court, my lady, this is the state’s case,” the lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court, having called 20 witnesses from an original list of 107.

The defence then requested an adjournment but it remains uncertain whether the 27-year-old will be first to testify when the trial resumes on Friday. Asked by journalists whether he was prepared, a tired-looking Pistorius replied: “It’s a tough time.”

Legal experts say it is not compulsory for the accused to testify first, but generally preferable as a show of confidence and to ensure he is not contradicted. Among Pistorius’s defence team, Barry Roux declined to comment and Brian Webber said it was “likely” he would be called on Friday, but Kenny Oldwadge said: “We’ll see about that.”

A member of the Pistorius family insisted: “He’s ready. You don’t have to be a legal expert to see where this is going.”

In an unusually detailed bail application statement last year, Pistorius argued that he shot four times through a locked toilet door after hearing a noise and thinking there was burglar.

On Monday the court heard evidence from WhatsApp message records that Steenkamp was sometimes scared of her boyfriend. But on Tuesday Roux argued that only four conversations were argumentative out of more than 1,700 messages between the pair. More than 90% were warm and loving, he said.

“There was a disagreement, unhappiness, but if you look at the messages, it was resolved very quickly,” he told the court.

Roux drew attention to messages in which the couple used pet names such as “angel” and “baba”, traded compliments and said they missed each other. In one WhatsApp message, Steenkamp wrote to Pistorius: “I’m always on your side. I’m pro you and your career but most pro our relationship.”

In another, on 9 January, she wrote: “You are a very special person. You deserve to be looked after.”

Roux also noted an exchange from 19 January 2013 in which Steenkamp sent Pistorius a photo of herself in a hoodie and blowing a kiss, followed by the message: “You like it?”

“I love it,” Pistorius replied. “So warm,” Steenkamp responded.

A month later the model and law graduate asked: “Can I cook for you on Thursday?” – a reference to Valentine’s Day, which is when she died.

On 13 February, Steenkamp told Pistorius: “You are an amazing person with so many blessings and you are more than cared for.”

The athlete told her: “Stay tonight if you like.”

Nel countered, however, that the only messages of significant length recovered from the couple’s phones were Steenkamp’s anguished pleas after she felt mistreated.

Francois Moller, a police technology expert, gave details of several calls made from Pistorius’s phone in quick succession after the shooting. The first was at 3.19am on 14 February to a manager at his residential estate in Pretoria.

He also called an ambulance and his estate security, and there were calls to a friend, to Pistorius’s brother Carl and to Peet van Zyl, his longtime manager.

Police analysis showed that a five-minute internet connection was made on Pistorius’s phone from 1.48am on 14 February, little more than an hour before he killed Steenkamp, when he claims the couple were asleep. Moller did not specify whether the connection was manual or automatic.

Roux showed colour CCTV footage showing the couple flirting with each other while buying groceries 10 days before her death. At one point Pistorius was seen to lean over and kiss Steenkamp.

The court heard that just 11 crime incidents were reported in Pistorius’s gated community, the Silver Woods estate, in three years. Hendrick Maritz, a police warrant officer, said he could find no record of Pistorius having reported being a victim of crime, contrary to claims the athlete made at last year’s bail hearing.

If found guilty, Pistorius could face life imprisonment.

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Real Madrid’s appeal over Sergio Ramos’s Barcelona red card is rejected

• Federation’s competitions committee dismisses appeal
• Defender’s case will now be heard by administrative court

The Spanish Football Federation’s competitions committee has rejected Real Madrid’s appeal against the red card shown to Sergio Ramos in Sunday’s clásico defeat to Barcelona.

Ramos was dismissed for the 19th time in his career after bringing down Neymar in the second half of the 4-3 defeat to Real’s arch-rivals. It means the Spain international defender is ruled out of a return to his former club Sevilla on Wednesday night, although Real now intend to take the case to the Spanish Sport Ministry’s administrative court to request an injunction on the suspension.

The case was based around the argument that Ramos did not foul Neymar and the move that led to the incident began in an offside position. Real Madrid supplied video evidence to back their case but it was rejected by the competitions committee, meaning they will now turn their attention to gaining an injunction.

Ramos was included in Carlo Ancelotti’s match squad named on Tuesday but his participation will now rest on the administrative court’s ruling.

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Manchester United v Manchester City – as it happened | Barry Glendenning

Minute-by-minute report: Will Manchester United dent Manchester City’s title hopes with a victory in the derby? Join Barry Glendenning to find outBarry Glendenning

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Football clockwatch! – as it happened! | Ian McCourt

Minute-by-minute report: An action packed evening in the Premier League saw Arsenal lose and Everton win but there was plenty of drama elsewhere around EuropeIan McCourt

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David Moyes: ‘I’m at Manchester United for the long term’

• Moyes insists ‘planning already under way for future’
• Sir Bobby Charlton certain Scot is right man for job

David Moyes insists he will be Manchester United manager for the long term, with the Scot revealing there are plans in place for “many seasons to come”, despite a dismal first campaign in charge.

Under Moyes United’s faltering title defence has left the team 18 points behind the leaders, Chelsea, and 12 from Manchester City in advance of Tuesday’s 167th derby at Old Trafford.

Last week Moyes came under increased pressure following the 3-0 home loss to Liverpool. But writing in the matchday programme for the derby, the manager said: “Our thoughts are well and truly on the future and our planning is already well under way, not just for next season, but for many seasons to come.

“During Manchester United’s long periods of dominance in the last two decades, which brought unparalleled success, many other clubs had to undergo periods of turnaround and they knew tough times when things were not going well for them. They looked to change lots of different managers and players, all the while trying to find ways of keeping up and competing with United.

“We are now in our own time of change and we are going through a tricky period, like those other clubs had to go through. Here at United, the plan is for long-term stability. A base has been brilliantly set by managers past at the club, and I will be looking to continue that. Rest assured that we are giving everything we have to have a lasting, positive impact here at Old Trafford.”

Despite the club’s executive taking a dim view of the loss to Liverpool and the 2-0 defeat at Olympiakos in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, Moyes said he retains its backing. “We at the club understand that we are in a period of transition. Football is cyclical and it will not be long before we are on the up,” the 50-year-old said.

However, Sir Bobby Charlton, who is on the United board, offered the strongest criticism yet from a high-ranking member of the hierarchy. Speaking in Malaysia, he said the team had played “really, really badly” but did back the Scot. “It doesn’t mean we are going to change everything. I’m absolutely certain that we picked the right man,” he told the BBC.

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Manchester derby: United v City – in pictures

All the best images from Old Trafford where the two Manchester sides go head to headSteven Bloor

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Oscar Pistorius trial – Tuesday 25 March – live

Prosecution concludes in the trial of the South African athlete Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, with defence case to start on FridayClaire Phipps

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United to offer Jones new contract

• Centre-back viewed as vital to David Moyes’s rebuilding
• Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand set to leave United

Manchester United are to offer Phil Jones a new contract and the defender is open to tieing himself to the club beyond the two years that he will have left on his current deal in the summer.

Talks have not yet started owing to Jones having an injury-interrupted campaign, though the 22-year-old has been told that David Moyes views him as an essential member of the team over the coming seasons.

Jones, in the third season of a five-year deal, earns around £50,000 a week and he can expect a marked increase on these terms. The hope is that a strong finish to the campaign can pave the way for smooth negotiations and United do not expect any particular stumbling blocks to Jones committing his future to the club.

Jones’s growing status at United is also due to the departure of Nemanja Vidic in the close season, with Rio Ferdinand expected to follow the Serb in leaving. Chris Smalling, who Moyes believes with Jones can be the next permanent England central defensive pairing, hardly improved his standing at Old Trafford by forcing the manager to discipline him this week for a late-night indiscretion.

Jones’s desire to throw himself into every challenge is of concern to Moyes as this is a prime factor in the number of injuries he has suffered. Since breaking into the Blackburn Rovers’s team in 2010 Jones has suffered 18 different injuries of varying degree, with 16 of those coming at United, dating from December 2011.

This season Jones has been injured on five different occasions, with these including foot, pelvis, knee and hip problems plus concussion, though he has still managed 30 appearances for United – including in the Community Shield – and two more for England.

Moyes said: “I think that is how he plays. He is an old-fashioned player who throws himself about and you may say: ‘Why did you do that?’ But that is why he has had a few injuries and been caught out a few times. We certainly don’t want that to continue. We think that, with maturity, he will recognise when he should go for it and when he should stand up.”

Despite Jones having signed in summer 2011 to join Smalling, who was bought the year before, the pair only played together for a first time in central defence earlier this month, in the 3-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.

Of the partnership, Jones said: “I think the first ‘click’ I really had was playing in the Under-21s with Chris Smalling at the back. I thought every time we played together, we understood each other’s game and we complemented each other well. Hopefully that can kick off at Manchester United as well.”

Jones’s ability to step into midfield to play an anchoring role with ease is a further plus for Moyes. Last month the Scot said: “I see Jones settling in at centre-back and, in time, he will become a very good centre-back, but I think, right now, he is a very good defensive midfield player which we might need in some games.”

When signing in June 2011 in a £17m transfer from Rovers Jones described joining United as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” after Sir Alex Ferguson had spotted his potential despite him having made his Premier League debut only that spring.

Jones made his England debut against Montenegro in 2011 and was praised by the then manager Fabio Capello for being “born with talent”. However, he has managed only nine caps for the national team since. He featured in the home friendlies against Scotland and Chile as a substitute this season but did not make the squad for any of the World Cup qualifying games.

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Manchester United to offer Phil Jones new contract

• Centre-back viewed as vital to David Moyes’s rebuilding
• Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand set to leave United

Manchester United are to offer Phil Jones a new contract and the defender is open to tieing himself to the club beyond the two years that he will have left on his current deal in the summer.

Talks have not yet started owing to Jones having an injury-interrupted campaign, though the 22-year-old has been told that David Moyes views him as an essential member of the team over the coming seasons.

Jones, in the third season of a five-year deal, earns around £50,000 a week and he can expect a marked increase on these terms. The hope is that a strong finish to the campaign can pave the way for smooth negotiations and United do not expect any particular stumbling blocks to Jones committing his future to the club.

Jones’s growing status at United is also due to the departure of Nemanja Vidic in the close season, with Rio Ferdinand expected to follow the Serb in leaving. Chris Smalling, who Moyes believes with Jones can be the next permanent England central defensive pairing, hardly improved his standing at Old Trafford by forcing the manager to discipline him this week for a late-night indiscretion.

Jones’s desire to throw himself into every challenge is of concern to Moyes as this is a prime factor in the number of injuries he has suffered. Since breaking into the Blackburn Rovers’s team in 2010 Jones has suffered 18 different injuries of varying degree, with 16 of those coming at United, dating from December 2011.

This season Jones has been injured on five different occasions, with these including foot, pelvis, knee and hip problems plus concussion, though he has still managed 30 appearances for United – including in the Community Shield – and two more for England.

Moyes said: “I think that is how he plays. He is an old-fashioned player who throws himself about and you may say: ‘Why did you do that?’ But that is why he has had a few injuries and been caught out a few times. We certainly don’t want that to continue. We think that, with maturity, he will recognise when he should go for it and when he should stand up.”

Despite Jones having signed in summer 2011 to join Smalling, who was bought the year before, the pair only played together for a first time in central defence earlier this month, in the 3-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.

Of the partnership, Jones said: “I think the first ‘click’ I really had was playing in the Under-21s with Chris Smalling at the back. I thought every time we played together, we understood each other’s game and we complemented each other well. Hopefully that can kick off at Manchester United as well.”

Jones’s ability to step into midfield to play an anchoring role with ease is a further plus for Moyes. Last month the Scot said: “I see Jones settling in at centre-back and, in time, he will become a very good centre-back, but I think, right now, he is a very good defensive midfield player which we might need in some games.”

When signing in June 2011 in a £17m transfer from Rovers Jones described joining United as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” after Sir Alex Ferguson had spotted his potential despite him having made his Premier League debut only that spring.

Jones made his England debut against Montenegro in 2011 and was praised by the then manager Fabio Capello for being “born with talent”. However, he has managed only nine caps for the national team since. He featured in the home friendlies against Scotland and Chile as a substitute this season but did not make the squad for any of the World Cup qualifying games.

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Carlo Ancelotti can’t explain Real Madrid’s struggles against top teams

• Defeat by Barcelona puts Atlético Madrid on pole
• Ronaldo and Ramos in hot water over comments

Carlo Ancelotti said he was at a loss to explain Real Madrid’s struggles against the top Spanish teams this season, following defeat in the clásico over the weekend.

The 4-3 reverse at the Bernabéu meant Real surrendered the top spot to Atlético Madrid, who have a win and a draw from the two league meetings with their city rivals this season. Head-to-head records, rather than goal difference, separate teams level on points in La Liga.

“I am not happy with this,” Ancelotti said. “It is difficult to explain as Real are one of the strongest teams in the world and we will continue to show this until the end of the season.

“In the first game against Atlético we deserved to lose and then in the first half against Barcelona we didn’t compete well but since then the last two games, away to Atlético and then in Sunday’s match, they were even.”

The Spanish Football Federation has said it will investigate comments made by Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo after that game. The Real Madrid pair accused the referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco, who sent off Ramos for the defender’s record 19th dismissal, of bias towards the Catalan side.

A victory for Real against Barça would have put them firmly in the driving seat to win the title. Now they must lift themselves again for Wednesday’s tricky game at Sevilla, who have won their past five league matches.

“It is not a case of looking for who was responsible, or to blame for the defeat,” said Ancelotti. “It came after a lot of matches where we didn’t lose. In football you cannot always explain everything by looking for the culprit. The team was fine before the loss and it will be afterwards.

“We have the same number of points as Atlético and one more than Barcelona. Tomorrow’s game will be important for us to respond. I think Real left the game not happy but with a positive attitude.”

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Trinity Mirror launches digital-first strategy as users flock to websites

Trinity Mirror is to launch the next phase of its digital-first strategy with a restructure of its operations in the north-east by taking a giant step into the future.

Under the slogan Newsroom 3.1, the company is introducing a new publishing process in its Newcastle and Teesside newsrooms.

In the coming months a similar digital-first working system will be rolled out to the publisher’s other regional centres in Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester and Huddersfield.

It comes against the background of a rapid increase in online audiences. Trinity Mirror recorded 119m page views on its regional sites in February alone, a year-on-year rise of 72%.

“There has been huge growth in the past year,” says the company’s regional chief, Neil Benson. Together, the regionals and the nationals (largely the Daily Mirror), are now drawing more than 60m uniques a month.

In a press release, Benson is quoted as saying: “Digitally, we have made great progress over several years but we now need to accelerate the growth and engagement level of our digital audiences.

“In an era when audiences want access to live-up-to-the-minute information across a variety of platforms, our working day will no longer be built around our print products.

“The new structure gives us the capability to produce more digital content all day and every day, while still producing brilliant newspapers.”

In practical terms, it means that the entire focus of newsrooms throughout the day will be on posting copy online. Previously, there was a tendency to favour digital in the mornings and then work on print after that.

Now content will be created in order to hit key digital audience spikes across the day, ensuring that users can find refreshed and new content each time they visit a website.

That online content will then be edited and packaged into the print versions of the north-east region’s newspapers – the Chronicle, Evening Gazette, Journal and Sunday Sun.

It amounts, in other words, to a change in the mind-set for the editors and journalists. Print comes second and with it, a change of editorial emphasis in the newspaper – “less megaphone, more discussion,” says Benson.

As for the effect on jobs, the overall size of the north-east’s editorial team will increase by 17. There will be 25 new roles but eight existing staff are at the risk of redundancy.

Among the new digital positions will be jobs specifically aimed at increasing audience engagement and driving traffic, such as social media editors, planning analysts and advance content writers.

In addition, two football roles will be created with a Newcastle United editor and a Middlesbrough FC editor.

Darren Thwaites, the publisher’s north-east editor-in-chief says: “The demand for local content is as great as ever and it’s our job to give the audience what they want, when they want it.”

Evidently, Newsroom 3.1 will make maximum use of content through SEO and social media as well as through digital analytics tools, such as Chartbeat and Omniture.

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