A round-up of today's other stories in brief
Murphy makes most of chance as Higgins falters in final frame
SNOOKER:Shaun Murphy snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a Betfair Masters thriller against John Higgins last night to set up a semi-final with Neil Robertson.
Higgins led 51-0 in the final frame, but when he missed a blue Murphy took his chance with a 66 break to earn a 6-5 win. Higgins would wonder how he lost a match in which he had led 4-1 and 5-4.
He spent most of the first frame in his seat, as Murphy fired in an 85 break but the Scot took four in a row to seize a convincing lead.
Murphy dug in and runs of 70 and 77 helped him level up at 4-4, before 61 from Higgins halted his opponent’s charge. Higgins trailed in frame 10 but Murphy lost position in a break. Then, after building a 49-36 lead, Higgins missed a red to the corner as he looked to dislodge another from the side rail, and to the Scot’s anguish he left it for Murphy, who this time showed no weakness in making it 5-5.
Higgins reached 50, but he then put too much pace on the white when potting a red, leaving him a tricky blue. It stayed out. It was a moment of truth and Murphy played the break perfectly, sinking a super pink to clinch the match and a shot at Robertson, who edged Mark Allen 6-5, today.
Patriots likely to face bruising battle from Ravens
NFL: The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens renew their rivalry tomorrow in an AFC title rematch that will either end the career of Ray Lewis or deny Tom Brady another crack at the Super Bowl record book.
While the Patriots have consistently excelled with trips to five of the last 11 Super Bowls, the Ravens have played them evenly in recent years and promise another bruising battle.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons are one game from finally turning their Super Bowl potential into reality but while their presence in the NFC Championship game is no shock, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a surprise element. Tomorrow’s game in the Georgia Dome will arguably come down to whether Atlanta’s defence will be able to cope with the plays of the Kaepernick.
Stirling makes superb debut in Bangladesh
CRICKET:Ireland opening batsman Paul Stirling made a stunning debut in the Bangladesh Premier League in Dhaka yesterday as his half-century helped Sylhet Royals to a 33-run victory on the first day of the 20-over competition.
The 23-year-old from Belfast was signed up for just under €23,000 for the tournament and started paying back his fee straight away as he made 50 from just 29 balls as the Royals made 175 for seven from their 20 overs.
After hitting eight fours and a six, Stirling was unlucky to be run out when he was sent back by Mominul Haque after the Bangladesh international had called a quick single.
Kevin O’Brien’s Rangpur Riders side get their campaign underway today with a game against Dhaka Gladiators.
Loeb leads comfortably in Monte Carlo
MOTOR SPORT:Sebastien Loeb’s dominance of the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally continued as he maintained a comfortable lead of over a minute at the end of yesterday’s penultimate leg. Loeb, who is only contesting four rallies this year and therefore will not defend the title he has won in each of the last nine years, won two of three stages yesterday as his lead built to one minute 47 seconds over Sebastien Ogier.
Volkswagen driver Ogier is happy to play a tactical game with Loeb not a threat for the title, and is unlikely to take any risks in the snow and ice in today’s final leg. Citroen driver Loeb will therefore be confident of adding to his 76 career wins when he hits the road for the rally’s closing five stages.
M-Sport’s Evgeny Novikov, who won stages six and seven, is third, less than two seconds ahead of the Citroen of Dani Sordo.