Cardiff City's Craig Bellamy celebrates scoring against Norwich City during the English Premier League soccer match at Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Saturday Feb. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/PA, Nick Potts)

Cardiff City 2-1 Norwich City: Comeback win could prove vital for Cardiff

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Cardiff came from behind to defeat Norwich City on Saturday afternoon. The three points may prove vital to the Bluebirds’ campaign – they’re not out of the drop zone yet, but at least they can see the sun. Meanwhile, Norwich are back to biting their nails, sitting just two points above the relegation slots.

Cardiff City may have brought in a number of new faces – and a new manager – in recent weeks, but that didn’t stop them from falling behind early in the match against Norwich. The Bluebirds, who’ve already allowed 40 goals this season, saw their defense fall apart once more in the fifth minute. Martin Olsson got behind the back line to pull the ball back for Robert Snodgrass. The midfielder, completely unmarked, had no trouble putting his shot in the back of the net.

The Canaries continued to dominate the first half, finally forcing Cardiff’s hand. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer grew so frustrated he made his first substitution before the break, putting on new loanee Wilfried Zaha for Peter Whittingham in the 38th minute.

That – or the manager’s halftime talk – must’ve done the trick, because five minutes after the restart, Cardiff were ahead. Zaha proved his value very quickly, seizing on a misplaced pass from Norwich and sending on the through ball. Craig Bellamy got on the end of it to slot home Cardiff’s equalizer.

Just a minute later, the Bluebirds capitalized on a mistake from Norwich once more. When the visitors failed to clear their lines, Kenwyne Jones took advantage, pouncing on the rebound and putting his shot into the top corner of John Ruddy’s net.

Chris Hughton, who’s riding quite the roller coaster this season, waited until the 75th minute to make changes to his side – perhaps he thought one of Snodgrass’s many attempts would land in the back of the net. With fifteen minutes left to go, the Canaries manager made a triple substitution, sending on Leroy Fer, Nathan Redmond and Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

It very nearly worked. In the 80th minute, Redmond forced a save from David Marshall. Gary Hooper sent in his own attempt just after, but Craig Bellamy was back to clear it off the line. Then it was Fer’s turn, with a header that forced another save. Snodgrass again, putting his header against the post.

Then, in the dying minutes of the match, Hooper managed to slot home the equalizer – or so he thought. Instead the goal was flagged offside, and the Canaries found themselves without a point.

Norwich may have just been unlucky at Cardiff. But will Hughton pay the price?

Cardiff City: Marshall; Fabio (Théophile-Catherine 75), Caulker, Turner, John; Whittingham (Zaha 38), Medel, Mutch (Gunnarsson 67), Noone; Bellamy, Jones

Goals: Bellamy 49′; Jones 50′

Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, R Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson (Fer 75), Gutierrez (Redmond 75); Elmander (van Wolfswinkel 75), Hooper

Goals: Snodgrass 5′

WATCH: Walcott compares Wenger speech to Pacino

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What if Tony D’Amato of American football was Antoine Dumond of the world’s game?

Theo Walcott says Arsene Wenger inspired him to make that comparison after a recent pregame speech, a fiery number that convinced the Arsenal attacker how badly his manager wanted to win the Premier League.

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Speaking to Arsenal TV for a series of questions on former and current teammates — and Wenger — Walcott shared a pretty funny tidbit:

“The manager did a speech the other day. I won’t be able to do the speech because it was that good.”

“It genuinely reminded me of the film ‘Any Given Sunday’. I actually said that to him, and I was little bit embarrassed.’ You remind me of that film, that speech,’ I didn’t know if he had seen the film.

“Just showing the passion and how hard, and how long it’s been as well. He really wants it, like all of his players.”

Here’s the thing, though: Walcott doesn’t give us the answer as to whether Wenger has seen “Any Given Sunday”. And how about you, Theo, do you see yourself in Willie Beamon or Cap Rooney?

CAS rejects Serbia’s challenge to Kosovo joining UEFA

Supporters of Kosovo's national soccer team raise Kosovo flag during their international friendly soccer match at Adem Jashari Stadium in Mitrovica, Kosovo on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Kosovo host Turkey for their second friendly match of the country's national football team. Turkey won the match 6-1. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Serbian soccer federation’s appeal against Kosovo joining UEFA has been rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court ruled that Kosovo met the standard of UEFA entry rules because it is “recognized by the majority of the United Nations member states as an `independent state.”‘

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Serbia argued that Kosovo, which joined European soccer’s governing body last May despite not being a U.N. member, should be blocked.

CAS decided that because “there is no formal recognition of countries by the U.N.,” then acceptance of Kosovo’s statehood by most countries was valid for the soccer application.

European soccer federations voted 28-24 in favor of Kosovo’s entry to UEFA after Serbia led opposition to its former province.

Serbia and its allies, including Russia, have not recognized Kosovo since the Balkan republic declared independence in 2008.

UEFA’s decision led to Kosovo joining FIFA one week later, and being fast-tracked into a 2018 World Cup qualifying group.

Still, Ukraine hosted Kosovo in neutral Poland in October, because its government also does not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

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First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”