Andre Villas-Boas's tortured spell as Chelsea manager came to an end on Sunday when the club sacked the Portuguese after less than nine months in charge. The London club handed over first-team duties to assistant manager Roberto di Matteo for the remainder of a season that is in danger of becoming the worst since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003.
Speculation over the future of Villas Boas, at 34 the youngest manager in the league this season, had been swirling in the British media for weeks after a series of poor results.
The dismissal of the man often referred to simply by his initials "AVB" came after Saturday's 1-0 league loss to West Bromwich Albion, their seventh league defeat of the season and a dreadful performance all round."Unfortunately the performances of the team have not been good and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season," a statement said.
Shola Ameobi scored in stoppage time as Newcastle fought back to draw 1-1 against 10-man Sunderland in a heated northeast derby in the Premier League on Sunday. Six yellow cards were shown in the first half-hour as rash challenges flew and tempers flared and Sunderland's 24th-minute goal was in keeping with that atmosphere.
Barca stay alive
Madrid: Seydou Keita and Xavi struck in the last 11 minutes to earn 10-man Barcelona a nervy 3-1 home win over lowly Sporting Gijon that kept their La Liga title hopes alive on Saturday.
With leading scorer Lionel Messi suspended for the first time in his career, the champions lacked a cutting edge until Andres Iniesta fired them in front just before halftime at the Nou Camp.