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  • Jul 17

    LONDON -- Juan Mata is edging closer to joining Manchester United from Chelsea as the Premier League champions try to strengthen their squad after a lacklustre first half of the season. Alex Avila Jersey . In a sign that Matas Chelsea departure is nearing, a person familiar with the situation said the midfielder did not train with the first team on Wednesday. United said it is yet to make a formal bid for Mata, but another person with knowledge of the situation said the club is pursuing the Spaniard in the January transfer window. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the transfer is not being discussed publicly. According to Britains Press Association, United has lodged a 40 million-pound ($66-million) bid through a third party. United and its manager, David Moyes, would not take questions on Mata in the post-match news conference after the teams League Cup semifinal defeat to Sunderland later Wednesday. The 25-year-old Mata, Chelseas player of the year for the last two seasons, has fallen out of favour since Jose Mourinho returned as manager in June. He has not played for the team since the Jan. 1 victory against Southampton. Chelsea pulled further away from United in the Premier League title race by beating Moyes side 3-1 on Sunday. While Chelsea is third, just two points from the summit, United is seventh, 14 points behind leader Arsenal. Moyes accepts there is a need to reinforce the squad, with Champions League qualification, by finishing in the top four, far from certain. "I fully understand that supporters are keen to see us freshen up the squad with new faces, but January is a difficult month in which to bring people in," Moyes said in Wednesdays program for the League Cup semifinal against Sunderland. "While we are actively scouting players all the time, a lot of the work we are doing now is preparation for the summer. "If we can do any business now then we will certainly try to do it, but I will not compromise the standards required for a player that can come into this club and help improve it." Selling Mata to United could indicate that Chelsea does not see the 20-time English champions as a major rival this season. United has lost four out of five games at the start of 2014, and was seeking to overturn a 2-1 deficit against Sunderland on Wednesday night to reach the League Cup final. "We all know that our club is undergoing changes at present, but I have a clear path in my mind and I know where we are going," Moyes said in Wednesdays program. Mata would not be eligible to play for United in the Champions League because he has played in the group stage for Chelsea. Jake Lamb Diamondbacks Jersey . -- Top-seed Shahar Peer and Canadian Eugenie Bouchard advanced to the second round of the inaugural WTA Citi Open. Andrew Chafin Jersey . -- Omar Infante walked past the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium, where he dressed so many times as a member of the Detroit Tigers, and slipped on a crisp, new Kansas City Royals jersey.CHICAGO -- This one looked like it was slipping away from the Washington Wizards. Then, in a flash everything changed. Bradley Beal came on strong late in regulation to finish with 26 points, Nene scored six of his 17 points in overtime and the Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 101-99 Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. Game 3 is Friday at Washington. "Weve got to come out like were down 0-1 or 0-2," said Beal, who scored 11 in the fourth quarter. "Weve got to have that sense of urgency and just that drive and that motivation like we did early. Weve got to be able to maintain that lead. Weve got to continue to stay poised." The Wizards couldnt maintain a 17-point first-quarter lead and had to rally from 10 down in the fourth. Nene scored the first six points in overtime after being held in check by Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in regulation, and the Wizards hung on after Kirk Hinrich failed to convert at the foul line in the closing seconds of overtime. Noah had just hit two free throws when Beal missed a jumper with 18 seconds left. Jimmy Butler got the rebound and Chicago called time. Hinrich, a 76 per cent free throw shooter this season, had a chance to tie it after getting fouled by Nene on a drive with 2.4 seconds left. But his first attempt hit the rim. He deliberately missed the second, and Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound to seal the win for Washington. "I went up there thinking I was going to knock them down," Hinrich said. "Tonight, I just couldnt do it. However, I really felt that I shouldve made the layup." D.J. Augustin led Chicago with 25 points but cooled off late in the game with Ariza guarding him. Taj Gibson had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Noah added 20 points and 12 boards, but the Bulls find themselves in a huge hole after dropping two at home. They blew a 13-point lead in Game 1 and couldnt hang on after rallying in this one. Both times, they struggled in the fourth quarter, and coach Tom Thibodeau bristled when asked if he might switch up hhis late-game rotation. Zack Greinke Jersey. "We look at everything," he said. "Unreal." John Wall had 16 points and seven assists for Washington. The Bulls appeared to be in good shape when they were leading 87-77 five minutes into the fourth. They were still leading, 91-85, when Beal shot the Wizards back into the game. He nailed a 3-pointer that made it 91-88 and added a floater to make it a one-point game. Then, with a chance to put Washington ahead, he hit 1 of 2 free throws with 52.9 seconds left to tie it at 91. Both teams had opportunities to win it in the closing seconds but couldnt convert. "I think we did a great job staying calm and composed," Wall said. "Early in the season, we would get rattled and guys would try to make plays one on one on their own. Tonight, we trusted in our offence like weve been doing." The Bulls were leading 87-77 after a driving layup by Noah and two free throws by Butler with 6:59 left regulation. But with Beal going off, the Wizards made a run. "I cant take a lot of credit for the fourth quarter," said Beal, who scored 11 in the fourth after quiet second and third quarters. "I think we got a lot of offensive rebounds and kickouts, and John hit me on a couple. I was fortunate to be able to knock down some, and I just stayed with it. NOTES: Only three teams have dropped Games 1 and 2 at home and won a series: the 1968-69 Lakers, 1993-94 Rockets and the 2004-05 Dallas Mavericks. ... Dikembe Mutombo presented the Defensive Player of the Year award to Noah, who hoisted the trophy above his head to loud cheers before the game. ... Thibodeau praises San Antonios Gregg Popovich and Phoenixs Jeff Hornacek after they took the top two spots in the Coach of the Year vote. As for the guy who finished third? "Hes terrible," he joked. Thibodeau, of course, took the third spot after guiding the Bulls to 48 wins. It might have been his best coaching job yet, with another knee injury curtailing Derrick Roses comeback and Luol Deng getting traded away. ' ' '