On Saturday Cardiff City dug in deep to grab a vital three points away at Southampton, as they put a week marred with turmoil behind them.
For most of the this week, owner Vincent Tan has been busy disciplining his own staff for allegedly leaking team tactics to Crystal Palace in the Bluebirds’ 3-0 defeat last weekend. At St. Mary’s Cardiff were second best for much of the game but they hung on and Juan Cala came up with the game-winner midway through the second half to bag three crucial points.
(MORE: Saints 0-1 Cardiff – Cala’s the man as Bluebirds bag huge win)
Now just three points from safety with four games to go, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side have given themselves a real chance of beating the drop. With Fulham beating Norwich and West Brom throwing away another 3-0 lead, the gap between the bottom three and those outside has shrunk considerably.
Speaking to the BBC after the game, Solksjaer believes the events earlier in the week has helped his side and his hopeful his team can build on just their second away win of the season.
“Sometimes when things happen in football it galvanizes everyone. The team spirit has been fantastic. We were really hurt by performance last week against Crystal Palace. We’ve come here and held our own and towards the end we could have had a couple more goals. I was proud of the effort everyone put in. Today, no matter what would have happened in the last five minutes I would have been proud. Another few clean sheets and we are right in it. We won’t give in until it is over. We don’t expect to win all of our games but we can win a few of them.”
What Cardiff’s Norwegian boss is alluding to at the start of his comments is perhaps the most telling, as the team spirit at Cardiff hasn’t faltered despite testing times on and off the field. That kind of belief and togetherness is vital in the relegation scrap and Cardiff seem to have it in abundance.
You could see that with the way they knuckled down and beat Saints on Saturday.
Now the South Wales side have four games to save themselves. The next three are crucial as they play Stoke City at home, then travel to Sunderland and Newcastle. The Bluebirds then finish the season by hosting Chelsea and they will be hoping that by the time Jose Mourinho’s men roll into town, Cardiff will still be battling to survive in their rookie PL campaign.
It ain’t over until it’s over.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday