Cardiff's players celebrate a late draw against Manchester United

Cardiff City 2-2 Manchester United: Kim header in stoppage time shares points

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Kim Bo-Kyung salvaged a point for Cardiff City and denied Manchester United a fourth-straight win with a late equalizer for a level 2-2 finish at Cardiff City Stadium.

Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra had given Manchester United the lead, but in stoppage time the Korean substitute snuck up to get a free header on a corner past David de Gea.

A win for David Moyes would have put United past Manchester City in the table, but they could not keep pace with their rivals on the day.

Early on, Rooney was lucky to get away with a cynical foul, and made Cardiff pay a few minutes later for the opener.

The Manchester United talisman received a yellow card in the eighth minute for a kick to the calf of Jordan Mutch, but referee Neil Swarbrick let Rooney off the hook as replays showed the kick was malicious enough to warrant an early sending off.

The English striker soon made amends.  Ben Turner gave the ball away to Antonio Valencia on the right wing who crossed in for Javier Hernandez in the box. Chicharito brilliantly first-touch flicked to Rooney, and the 28-year-old stopped, spun, and shot, with the ball deflecting off Gary Medel and finding the back of the net.

Cardiff searched for an equalizer, as Peter Odemwingie fired over in the 23rd minute.  They would have to wait 10 more minutes, but it would come on two outstanding through balls.

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Wayne Rooney maybe should have seen red early, but instead he bagged the sixth goal and seventh assist of his season. He did botch an opportunity to win in stoppage time, however.

Peter Whittingham in his own half slotted through Mutch, who settled on the run and found Frazier Campbell who had beaten his defender Jonny Evans.  Campbell made no mistakes, cooly taking the chance past David De Gea to bring it back level.

Unfortunately, set-piece defending lost Cardiff lead just as they gained it.  On the stroke of halftime, Rooney sent in a corner and Patrice Evra finished it off with a pinpoint header to the far post for a 2-1 Manchester United lead.

David Marshall had to keep out Manchester United twice early in the second half, as three successive corners from Wayne Rooney produced two real chances but Marshall saved well on both.

Campbell almost leveled again a few minutes later after he knicked the ball from Tom Cleverley, but the striker could only hit the crossbar.

That was Cardiff’s last opportunity for a while, as both teams showed some tired legs as the clock ticked.  Both sides countered with substitutions, and things began to open up again in the United defensive half.

The Bluebirds got a decent spell of pressure around the 70th minute, but could not capitalize on a dangerous free kick and a corner.

Substitute Danny Welbeck had a clear chance to put it away for United in the 81st minute, but fired over after being sprung through by a brilliant one-two with Rooney, a moment they would come to rue.

United tried to keep possession in order to quell late Cardiff pressure, but once stoppage time came around, Cardiff pressed forward.  They earned a corner, and Kim finished off the deal.

Fellow substitute Andreas Cornelius ran from the back of the pack all the way up front, pulling two defenders with him.  This allowed Kim to sneak forward and slot himself free in the middle, and he didn’t miss with the header to equalize.

Rooney had a brilliant chance to respond right away, but all alone with Welbeck at his side, he tried to lay off the ball to his teammate, and left it way too short for Marshall to collect.

Instead of fourth place in the Premier League table, United can only manage sixth, level with Everton and one behind Southampton (that still feels weird to say) and City.  Cardiff remain in 15th but grab level on points with Stoke in the tightly-packed bottom half.

Goals:

Cardiff City – Campbell 33′, Kim 90+1′
Manchester United – Rooney 15′, Evra 45′

Lineups:

Cardiff City Marshall; Taylor, Caulker, Turner, Theophile-Catherine; Medel, Whittingham, Mutch (Kim, 77′), Cowie; Odemwingie (Noone, 65′), Campbell (Cornelius, 84′).

Manchester United – De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Fellaini, Cleverley; Valencia, Rooney, Januzaj (Welbeck, 68′); Hernandez (Giggs, 73′).

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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Oft-targeted in the Premier League, Carvalho extends deal at Lisbon

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William Carvalho has been running through the rumor mill for ages, and Sporting Lisbon has made sure they’ll get their due if he ever stops somewhere else.

The Angola-born Portuguese defensive midfielder with 15 caps has extended his contract with Sporting through 2020, a date that carries him through his 28th birthday.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Carvalho is 23 now, and has been linked with loads of big name clubs from Manchester United to Chelsea, Arsenal to PSG.

His new buyout clause is said to be as high as $53 million, and Carvalho hopes his commitment calms his supporters.

“Sportinguistas, I say to you that I am very happy with the deal which I signed up to 2020 and that you will have total effort on my part to be champions.”

Sporting is tied with Benfica atop the Portuguese table, second on goal differential. The club leads third-place Porto by six points, and is still alive in the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen is up next.

Klinsmann hints at Euro-heavy roster for World Cup qualifiers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Danny Williams #14 of the United States looks on before an international friendly against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
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If your favorite Major League Soccer players don’t make the cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s next roster, don’t think you won’t see them in the red, white and blue this summer.

[ JPW: What’s the best XI for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers? ]

Perhaps it’ll be different for the players who were a part of January camp — stars Lee Nguyen and Steve Birnbaum chief among them — but Klinsmann says the late start of the MLS season can affect fitness for the critical qualifiers home and away to Guatemala.

That means there’s a better chance to see in-form Championship midfielder Danny Williams (above) or Pachuca’s Omar Gonzalez then, say, Orlando City’s Brek Shea or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.

From USSoccer.com:

“We are basically looking all over the place. We monitor all the players in Europe. We monitor all the players in Mexico, and obviously we can’t wait until MLS starts as well. It’s really kind of crucial that we see everybody getting in the best shape possible, everybody getting into a rhythm and making statements.

“Then you say, ‘Is the roster you see at the end of March the same one as Copa America?’ Probably not. The end of March comes early for MLS players. The European players are in the full swing, and also Mexican players because they started already a month ago with Liga MX. So we’ll be monitoring everyone.”

We’ve already covered the obstacle that is the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff occurring at the same time as the Guatemala matches, but this is still good news for players in England, Germany and other European locales seeking caps in March.

Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.