SWANSEA, WALES - FEBRUARY 08: Cardiff player Fabio (l) and keeper David Marshall look on as Wayne Routledge scores the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Cardiff City at Liberty Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Swansea, Wales.

Swansea City 3-0 Cardiff City: Swans compound Cardiff misery (video)

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If Cardiff thought all they needed to do to survive in the Premier League was to rely upon their new January signings, well, they learned a harsh lesson against Swansea on Saturday. The hosts finally looked like the side that often enthralled last season – in the second half, at least. Three Swans goals in the final 45 minutes means Cardiff are still suffering, sitting 19th and still three points from safety.

The first half got off to a terrific start, with both sides playing some fine soccer. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and this particular good thing ended quicker than most. With both sides anxious to avoid relegation, the quick start faded away into cautious play before the whistle blew at the end of the first 45.

Before five minutes were out, Swansea had a penalty appeal waved away. Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall came out to challenge Wilfried Bony, who was free on goal. The challenge looked perfectly fine, terrific even, with Marshall just nicking the ball off Bony’s feet. The home side hoped for the spot kick, but the referee made the right decision.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup Chelsea go top, Liverpool hammer Arsenal, big wins at the bottom)

Cardiff missed a great chance to take the lead in the 24th minute. Craig Bellamy came flying up the left, exchanging a neat one-two with Declan John. Bellamy perhaps should’ve taken the shot for himself, but instead put the cross in for Kenwyne Jones. The forward’s shot went just barely wide.

Fortunately for all those contemplating an afternoon nap, Swansea – who’ve scored the vast majority of their goals this season in the second half – woke us all up with a goal early after the restart. Gary Monk replaced loanee Marvin Emnes with Pablo Hernández, who needed just two minutes to make an impact. His through ball sliced through the Bluebirds to find Wayne Routledge, who cut inside before sending his shot into the bottom right corner.

It’s enough to make you wonder why the Spaniard wasn’t on from the start.

The goal woke up viewers and it woke up Cardiff. Just a few minutes later, Bellamy shook off Chico Flores to try his luck from the edge of the box. His powerful shot shook the upright, and the hosts breathed once more.

Still Swansea had to search for a second goal, worried that their often leaky defense might result in dropping points. It finally came in the 80th minute, after some lovely play from the Swans. Hernández was involved once more, but it was Routledge’s looping cross that caught the eye. Nathan Dyer came diving in, doubling Swansea’s lead when his header landed in the bottom left corner.

Hernández must be a shoo-in for a return to the starting lineup after the third goal. John fouled Dyer on the right side of the area, and Pablo’s fantastic, curving free kick looped into the center of the box. Bony sent his sharp header into the roof of the net, ensuring all three points went to Swansea.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Britton, de Guzman (Cañas 69), Emnes (Hernandez 45), Dyer (Taylor 88), Routledge, Bony

Goals: Routledge 47′; Dyer 79′; Bony 85′

Cardiff City: Marshall; John, Caulker, Turner, Fabio (McNaughton 69); Whittingham, Medel, Kim, Zaha (Mutch 77); Bellamy, Jones (Campbell 55)

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USC wins NCAA women’s soccer national championship

Southern California's Morgan Andrews celebrates after scoring a goal against West Virginia during the first half in the NCAA Women's College Cup soccer final, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
AP Photo/Tony Avelar
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Katie Johnson broke a tie in the 75th minute and Southern California won the NCAA women’s soccer title Sunday, beating top-ranked West Virginia 3-1 at Avaya Stadium on Sunday.

The second-seeded Trojans (19-4-2) also won the College Cup in 2007.

The Mountaineers (23-2-2) lost for the first time since a 1-0 setback to Georgetown on Sept. 18. West Virginia had a 17-game unbeaten streak snapped, and allowed three goals for the first all season.

Johnson, who also had the winning goal in USC’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Georgetown on Friday, was wide open in front of the net when Leah Pruitt took a pass up the left sideline, beat defender Easther Mayi Kith, and delivered a perfect cross. Johnson simply rolled the ball into the goal to the right of goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

Johnson scored again off an assist from Nicole Molen in the 87th minute.

The Trojans got on the board just 1:22 into play after Julia Bingham directed a corner kick to the top of the penalty box, where Savannah Levin headed the ball forward to Morgan Andrews, whose header from 5 yards eluded Foster.

West Virginia’s Ashley Lawrence, a member of the 2016 Canadian Olympic team, tied it in the 66th minute when she ripped a shot from the top left corner of the penalty box just inside the near post.

After USC took the 2-1 lead, the Mountaineers nearly drew even in the 81st minute on a shot by Heather Kaleiohi that was stopped on a diving save by goalkeeper Sammy Prudhomme.

The Mountaineers outshot USC 21-8 and held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.

The Trojans joined North Carolina (21 titles), Notre Dame (3) and Portland (3) as the only multiple winners of the College Cup.

USC won its 126th national team title on the same day its men’s water polo team lost 10-8 to Cal in the NCAA final just 45 miles away in Berkeley.

West Virginia, in its first College Cup final, was hoping to claim its first NCAA title in any sport besides its co-ed rifle team, which has won 18 national titles.

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN