Soccer in brief: Chelsea agent fees double
THE amount of money Chelsea pay to agents has more than doubled in the space of a year. Figures released by the Premier League show Chelsea top the table of payments to authorised agents, spending more than £13.7m between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013.
The return of manager Jose Mourinho will have contributed to that increase in outlay, with the Portuguese boss bringing in a raft of new signings. Manchester City sit second in the big-spenders list when it comes to paying agents, spending £11.18m.
BALE BAGS FIRST REAL HAT-TRICK
Gareth Bale scored his first hat-trick as a Real Madrid player and provided an assist as Carlo Ancelotti's side brushed aside Real Valladolid 4-0 at the Bernabeu.
With Cristiano Ronaldo still out nursing a thigh strain, it was left to the world's most expensive player to spearhead Madrid's attack.
And the former Tottenham forward proved he was more than up to the task, scoring a header and with both feet to net a perfect hat-trick.
He also provided the cross for Karim Benzema to score the second goal of the night.
AMBROSE EYES HOOPS DOUBLE
Efe Ambrose is looking for Celtic to shrug off their European hangover and resume work on the domestic double, starting with their defence of the Scottish Cup against Hearts at Tynecastle.
The Hoops crashed out of the Champions League with a 3-0 defeat by AC Milan at Parkhead on Tuesday night.
The Nigeria defender Ambrose believes Neil Lennon's men will be determined to get through their fourth-round clash with the Jambos as they seek to retain the trophy they won last May at Hampden Park.
"There is no European football, so winning the cup and the league is the most important thing for us now," said the 25-year-old.
VARDY KEEPS FOXES FLYING
Jamie Vardy and Lloyd Dyer were on target as Leicester City stormed to their 12th win of the season, beating Millwall 3-0 in their Championship clash at the King Power Stadium.
Dyer fired them in front with a 12th-minute volley, and two goals in two minutes early in the second half by Vardy clinched the victory and took Leicester three points clear at the top of the table.
ALBION SHOCK MOTHERWELL
Gary Phillips fired a last-minute winner to secure Albion Rovers' first major victory over Motherwell and send their Lanarkshire neighbours out of the Scottish Cup in a significant fourth-round shock.
The team sitting third bottom of the Scottish Professional Football League stunned the side who are third top when Philips struck a first-time effort from 18 yards to seal a 1-0 win.
"Obviously there are disappointments but this is the worst. You can't do anything but apologise because it's an embarrassing result for the club," said Motherwell boss Stuart McCall.
BARNSLEY AXE BOSS FLITCROFT
Barnsley have sacked David Flitcroft after less than a year in charge. The Tykes lost 3-0 at home to Birmingham and are bottom of the Championship.
Flitcroft was appointed in January following a spell in caretaker charge and helped Barnsley avoid relegation last season. But Barnsley are now six points adrift of safety with 11 points from 17 games.
FULLER SENDS 'POOL ON WAY
GOALS from Ricardo Fuller and Dan Gosling saw Blackpool run out 2-0 winners over lowly Sheffield Wednesday.
Fuller opened the scoring after six minutes and though the Owls had plenty of chances, with Jeremy Helan and Connor Wickham guilty of bad misses, Gosling's second-half strike sealed the points for promotion-chasing Blackpool.
QUINN DERAILS QPR CHARGE
Struggling Doncaster came from behind to inflict QPR's second defeat of the season with an 89th-minute winner from full-back Paul Quinn.
QPR took the lead through Charlie Austin just before half-time but Theo Robinson equalised with a curling effort in the 48th minute. Rangers were unable to raise their game and restore their lead. Instead it was Doncaster who stepped up the pace and they were rewarded when Quinn headed his first goal for the club in fine style.
BAYERN TIGHTEN GRIP AT THE TOP
The Bundesliga witnessed its best game of the season as Hoffenheim twice squandered a two-goal lead in an extraordinary 4-4 draw at home to Werder Bremen.
Arjen Robben scored twice to give title-holders Bayern Munich a 2-0 win at home to bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig, while Bayer Leverkusen beat Nuremberg 3-0.