Cardiff 2-2 Sunderland: Incredible late comeback grabs Black Cats a point (video)

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A stunning late comeback from Sunderland denied managerless Cardiff victory on Saturday, as two goals in the final seven minutes sealed a remarkable point for the Black Cats.

Cardiff were cruising for much of the game, as goals from Jordon Mutch and Frazier Campbell gave them a commanding 2-0 lead. Only for substitutes Steven Fletcher and Jack Colback to both jump off the bench and score late on to send the thousands of traveling Sunderland fans into raptures at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The point leaves both sides still deep in the relegation battle as Cardiff are in 16th with 18 points, while Sunderland are still bottom and four points behind. But that moral boosting point leaves them just one win away from climbing out of the drop zone.

Mutch opened the scoring in the first five minutes, as a move down Cardiff’s right saw the attacker break free and he rifled in a terrific effort that beat Vito Mannone at this near post to put the Bluebirds 1-0 up.

The strike was Mutch’s fourth goal of the PL season and gave the entire Cardiff City Stadium a lift following the controversial departure of former manager Malky Mackay on Friday.

Buoyed by their early strike, Cardiff continued to pile forward and Kim saw his long-range effort tipped over by Mannone as the Bluebirds went in search of a second.

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At the other end Sunderland had a few chances as Sebastian Larsson went through and his pull back was cleared before U.S. striker Jozy Altidore could put the finishing touches on a flowing move. But soon after Craig Noone was allowed to cut in from the right on his deadly left foot and whip a cross to the back post that Steven Caulker headed goalwards but straight at a grateful Mannone who saved.

In the 24th minute Peter Whittingham curled in a deceptive free kick that almost snuck in at the near post, but Mannone scrambled to save Sunderland’s blushes once again. Minutes later Mutch curled in a delightful ball that Frazier Campbell headed just wide as the home side continued to piled the pressure on struggling Sunderland.

But the Black Cats surged back into the game as Ki Sung-Yueng drove into the box and drove a great strike across goal that deflected into the path of Altidore but the USMNT forward somehow put the ball wide form inside the six yard box. Sunderland piled on the pressure as Fabio Borini saw his effort tremendously saved by David Marshall just before the break, as an eventful first half come to a close with the scores locked at 0-0.

At the break Borini was replaced with Steven Fletcher as Gus Poyet put two up front to try and get back in the game.

However the opposite happened when Campbell headed home in the 57th minute from Mutch’s terrific cross on the left, as the former Sunderland forward came back to haunt his old club. That goal sparked Sunderland back into life as Lee Cattermole and Altidore both came close, however Poyet’s side struggled to create any clear cut chances as the second half wore on.

A comeback never looked on the horizon, as the Black Cats struggled to breach Cardiff’s defense. However they eventually broke through in the 83rd minute when Emanuele Giaccherini’s cross found Fletcher who toe poked home to make it 2-1. Then came the equalizer after plenty of pressure, as Colback broke the hearts of Cardiff’s fans with a 95th minute deflected effort that sent the away fans wild.

It was a tremendous end-to-end game, which saved the best drama until the final few moments.

LINEUPS

Cardiff City: Marshall; John, Caulker, Turner, Theophile-Catherine; Medel, Whittingham, Kim (Gunnarsson, 79), Mutch, Noone (Cowie, 72); Campbell (Cornelius, 82)

Goals: Mutch (4), Campbell (57)

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Dossena, Roberge, Diakite, Cattermole (Colback, 74), Larsson (Gardner, 74), Ki, Giaccherini, Borini (Fletcher, 45), Altidore

Goals: Fletcher (83), Colback (90)

Ajax reunion at Palace as De Boer signs center back

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Crystal Palace has added much needed depth and youth to its corps of center backs with 20-year-old Ajax man Jairo Riedewald.

The left back in Ajax’s UEFA Europa League loss to Manchester United, Riedewald completed better than 92 percent of his passes in Eredivisie play. He also nabbed 2.2 interceptions per match.

[ MORE: Russia’s straw stadium ]

Fellow Palace center backs James Tompkins, Scott Dann, and Damien Delaney average age is 31.3.

Riedewald played for Palace boss Frank De Boer at Ajax. From Palace’s official site:

“He will be an excellent addition to our squad, Jairo is a young player but already has a lot of experience. I know he is looking forward to playing in the Premier League.”

Riedewald played the majority of his Eredivisie matches at center back, but has 18 appearances as a defensive midfielder and another 12 at left back.

He’s Palace’s second addition of this summer, the other being a loan of Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Chelsea.

Russian farmer’s straw stadium pokes fun at World Cup costs

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KRASNOYE, Russia (AP) Russia is desperate to control its spending on the 2018 World Cup, and a farmer might just have the answer – straw.

In a project straight out of the “Three Little Pigs” fairytale, Roman Ponomaryov has built a straw replica of the 43 billion ruble ($700 million) stadium in St. Petersburg which will host World Cup semifinals.

His arena made of 4,500 straw bales comes with tiered seating for 300 and flagpoles. It hosted its first tournament – for local teams only – last weekend using modified soccer rules.

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“It’s good to get people excited and create a sports atmosphere ahead of the World Cup,” Ponomaryov said in a recent interview.

The real St. Petersburg Stadium has drawn ire for its cost, corruption scandals, delays, and workers’ deaths.

Ponomaryov is a fan of the Zenit St. Petersburg club and says he modeled his straw stadium on Zenit’s new home in a gentle dig at the problems around the construction.

“It seemed pretty strange … how the cost of the stadium and its construction timeframe were increasing,” he said. Russia’s total World Cup budget is around $10.7 billion.

Zenit has accepted the straw stadium with good humor, offering Ponomaryov a ticket to a game at the real thing.

The harvest will keep him on the farm for the next few weeks, though, and he has in mind another project – organizing a Straw World Cup.

Spain’s sports court opens disciplinary procedure vs. Villar

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Spain’s administrative court for sport has initiated disciplinary procedures against Spanish Football Federation president Angel Maria Villar after he was arrested and jailed in a corruption probe.

The opening of the disciplinary procedure on Monday clears the way for Spain’s sports authority, the Higher Council of Sport, to rule whether it will temporarily suspend Villar when they meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time (1700 GMT).

The court’s decision had been expected since Thursday, when the Higher Council of Sport asked the court to act against Villar following his arrest.

Villar, his son Gorka, federation vice president Juan Padron, and Ramon Hernandez, the secretary of the regional football federation of Tenerife, were arrested last Tuesday when police raided the national federation’s headquarters and other properties.

The four were arrested on charges of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

National Court judge Santiago Pedraz ordered last week that the Villars and Padron remain in jail without bail after questioning them. Hernandez’s bail was set at 100,000 euros ($116,000).

The elder Villar is FIFA’s senior vice president and also a vice president of UEFA. He’s been president of the Spanish federation since 1988.

Judge Pedraz said the 67-year-old Villar is suspected of misappropriating private and public funds received by the federation “at least since 2009.”

MLS rejected $4 billion deal which wanted promotion/relegation

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Major League Soccer has confirmed it brushed aside a $4 billion TV deal which insisted on promotion and relegation coming into place in North America’s top-flight.

A report from the Sports Business Journal stated that the owner of NASL side Miami FC Riccardo Silva gave a presentation to the league and owners on June 26, offering a 10-year deal for the domestic and international TV rights from 2023 with one clause: promotion and relegation had to become commonplace in MLS.

Of course, Silva, who founded the media company MP & Silva who put in the bid, would love for there to be promotion and relegation in MLS as his team cannot currently rise above the second-tier NASL.

Jeff Carlisle from ESPN has the following statement from Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president of communications.

“As was stated to Mr. Silva both in person and in a subsequent letter, Major League Soccer is prohibited contractually from engaging in discussions about our media rights with other distributors. We are not in a position, nor are we interested, in engaging with Mr. Silva on his proposal.”

“It is also important to note that since its inception, MLS, like the other North American leagues, has dealt directly with its domestic broadcast partners, rather than through agents and brokers. This ensures that the league and its partners can structure an agreement that addresses all elements, such as scheduling, marketing and digital distribution, that are required for a successful partnership.”

This deal would quadruple the current annual TV deal MLS has with Fox, ESPN and Univision, but it has been stated that no new deal can be discussed until at least 2021.

With cities across the U.S. and Canada lining up to pay the $150 million MLS expansion fee, league commission Don Garber has stated multiple times that promotion and relegation is not needed in the U.S. Soccer pyramid.

With USL and NASL now both second-tier, the only way they can become a top-tier franchise is by buying into MLS with two markets set to be selected later this year from 12 current expansion bids, plus David Beckham’s franchise in Miami still pushing ahead with plans to join the league.