Goalscorers will be looking to sniff out some extra 'presents' on Boxing Day.

Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff City: Yet another side undone by Luis Suárez (video)

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Things have gone from bad to worse for Malky Mackay. His Cardiff City have just notched their fourth loss in five matches and could very well find themselves down in 17th by the time the weekend is over. However, it seems unfair that the Bluebirds’ boss could see his final undoing at the feet of Luis Suárez, considering the Liverpool star’s amazing form at the moment.

The match started off brightly enough for the visitors, with Cardiff putting plenty of pressure on Liverpool. They launched their attacks down the right, targeting Joe Flannagan, and in the 15th minute, Craig Noone forced a great save from Simon Mignolet. The Bluebirds could be forgiven for thinking they just might get something from this trip to Anfield.

And then, in the 25th minute, Suárez struck. Jordan Henderson looped the ball over the head of a cluster of blue shirts, and Suárez had no trouble catching it on the volley. He fired it into the bottom left corner, giving David Marshall no chance.

But the Uruguayan was only just getting started. Liverpool took advantage of Cardiff pressing forward and, on a fast break, Suárez easily outstripped the defense. He got on the end of another ball from Henderson and, with only one blue shirt standing in the way, Suárez unselfishly slipped the ball over to an on-rushing Raheem Sterling, who had no problem slotting home.

Just three minutes later, Suárez had his second goal, his 19th of the season. A back and forth with Henderson resulted in a cheeky little backheel from the midfielder. Suárez hesitated not at all, letting his shot fly from the edge of the area, the strike curling out of Marshall’s reach and into the top corner.

Cardiff did manage to make things just a bit interesting, however. Before the hour was up, the visitors pulled one back. Glen Johnson fouled Frazier Campbell, on for Gary Medel not three minutes earlier. Peter Whittingham sent in the free kick and, unbelievably, no one was marking Jordan Mutch. The big man had no problem putting a strong header past Simon Mignolet.

Suárez did his very best to secure a hat trick — and to put himself at 20 goals in 12 games. He very nearly grabbed his third in the 90th minute, but Marshall managed to trap the ball between his legs. Instead, Suárez will have to wait until next week to see if he’ll manage to get 20 goals before 2014.


Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan (Kelly 55), Skrtel, Sakho, Lucas, Allen, Henderson, Coutinho (Agger 83), Sterling, Suárez

Goals: Suárez 25′, Sterling 42′, Suárez 45′

Cardiff City: Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, Taylor, Medel (Campbell 55), Caulker, Turner, Odemwingie (Kim 55), Mutch, Gunnarsson (Cornelius 80), Whittingham, Noone

Goals: Mutch 58′

College Soccer Update: Stingy Kentucky picking up speed; Cal Poly’s overhead wonder (video)

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Three-hundred thirty-two minutes and 26 seconds. That’s how long it’s been since an opponent has managed to put a ball into the goal behind the University of Kentucky men’s team.

It’s a statistic which not only makes an impression, but carries hope; Hope that the Wildcats will improve upon last season’s tournament work that saw them exit their conference tourney and the NCAA tournament early.

“If you go back to last year we had a really good run, but got knocked out in our conference tournament and then in the first round of the NCAA Tournament,” said fourth-year head coach Johan Cedergren. “Peaked too early and got a little overconfident.”

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The Wildcats are atop Conference USA with a 3-0 record in league play, having knocked off a strong New Mexico side this weekend. They’ll face Evansville and Ohio State the following two Wednesdays before meeting fellow CUSA 3-0 squad South Carolina.

It’s all according to plan for Cedergren, who is experiencing the senior years of his first recruiting class. One of those is goalkeeper Callum Irving, who is one clean sheet away from making program history for the most blankings as a Wildcat.

It’s helped having a versatile team to help out. Despite injuries to a pair of key backs, junior center back Jordan Wilson and senior holding mid Kristoffeer Tollefsen have combined with Irving to keep the side well-organized.

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“Over here you are very stat focused and Callum wouldn’t have these numbers without (Wilson),” Cedergren said. “And Tollefsen plays that holding mid role that is very hard to quantify. He made third team all conference last year, but he’s one of the best players and he’s playing at 75% percent.”

Cedegren also credits Hermann Award watch lister Napo Matsoso, who leads the team in shots, with keeping teams off-balance. And between Irving and the attack, the coach hopes that this season is the year the Wildcats will peak at the right time.

Three stars

  1. Oregon State — The Beavers opened PAC-12 play with a pair of 1-0 wins, knocking off UCLA with a Timmy Mueller (remember the name goal) before knocking off San Diego State by the same score. Next weekend? Cal and Stanford, both on the road.
  2. Nick DePuy, UCSB —  The 6-foot-4 junior forward has only been held off the score sheet thrice this season, and fired off 10 shots including three goals this weekend. Two were road game-winners at UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge.
  3. Chase Minter, Cal Poly — All three stars stay on the West Coast, thanks to Minter’s work setting himself up for this bicycle kick goal.

Other notes

— Creighton is back as the unrivaled No. 1 in the country amongst men’s Division I sides, claiming all 24 votes.
— Only one change in the Top 10, as Virginia moves up a spot to No. 10 and Elon falls three spots to No. 13. Leaping into the Top 25 after not receiving any votes last week is Oregon State. Kentucky, Butler and Syracuse move from receiving votes to Top 25.
— There s a single player who is in both the D-1 Top Ten in goals and assists, and his name will be familiar to those who read this space: Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone has eight goals and six assists after a 2+3 performance at St. Bonaventure on Saturday night.
— Also No. 1: Midwestern State (Men’s D2), Franklin & Marshall (Men’s D3), North Carolina (Women’s D1), Gannon (Women’s D2), Messiah (Women’s D3)

Samir Nasri rules out return to France squad; Likes MLS over Ligue 1

Manchester City's Samir Nasri celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday Aug. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
AP Photo/Jon Super
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When Samir Nasri is done with his time at Manchester City, he doesn’t want a return to Ligue 1. We knew that. He’s said it in March, and again over the summer.

But his willingness to stay away from home goes for club and country, as he’s not interested in a return to the national team fold. Heck, they could hire his family and he’s scoff at the idea.

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Nasri played in Marseille from his age 10 year through 2004, when he headed to Arsenal. He also scored five goals in 41 caps before being removed from the French fold by Didier Deschamps.

That hurt.

From Sky Sports:

“Even if my dad is coach, I will not return,” he said on French television. “I’ve suffered with the selections… missing a World Cup destroys you a bit. After 2012 I wanted to stop but my father told me I had to play the World Cup. I tried to be good.

“I do not see myself returning to Ligue 1. I love the Premier League. I like my life in England,” said Nasri. “I see myself going to play in the MLS, to discover something other than France.”

That makes at least three times Nasri has proffered a “come get me… eventually” plea to American powers-that-be.

Nasri is a bit of a loose cannon, but he’s also the sort of player who could punish defenses in MLS if given the chance to operate as the focal point of an attack. Perhaps with Didier Drogba in Montreal?

No, his time at the Etihad Stadium isn’t nearing an end just yet but… Yes, please. Maybe Nasri is one of those “In the league but not at the risk of my favorite team” players, but yes, please.