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)

How will USMNT line up versus Costa Rica?

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Saturday brings a first look at the United States men’s national team in 2020, though Gregg Berhalter’s bunch won’t look anything like its best self.

The Yanks have an almost exclusively MLS roster for the match, with Hobro’s Christian Cappas, Wolfsburg II’s Uly Llanez and unattached 17-year-old Bryang Kayo in the fold.

Many of Berhalter’s best MLS stars won’t be in Carson either for the 3:55 p.m. ET Saturday kickoff. Jordan Morris, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley are the biggest names.

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Ronald Gonzalez’s Ticos will be similarly hampered, although more of Costa Rica’s A-side play in MLS and domestically.

We’ll leave the breakdown of the visitors for a later date, but who will rep the U.S. in Saturday’s Starting XI?

The travel roster includes keepers Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, and Matt Turner, as well as defenders Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Reggie Cannon, Julian Araujo, Chase Gasper, Justen Glad, Mark McKenzie, and Sam Vines. Listed midfielders Sebastian Lletget, Jackson Yueill, Brenden Aaronson, Cappis, Kayo, and Brandon Servania are joined by forwards Gyasi Zardes, Paul Arriola, Jonathan Lewis, Jesus Ferreira, and Ulysses Llanez.

Goalkeeper is anyone’s guess, but Johnson’s got the most run of the three during the Berhalter era. The younger Turner or more accomplished Hamid may step in there.

It would be surprising to see any other center backs besides Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long given what we know of Berhalter and his respect for regulars. Reggie Cannon should start at right back and it’s between Chase Gasper and Sam Vines for the left. We’ll choose Vines out of intrigue.

Jackson Yueill, Paul Arriola, Sebastian Lletget, and Gyasi Zardes are safe bets to start, and this would seem a spot to give Jonathan Lewis more than subs’ run. That leaves one spot, and we’re pegging Brandon Servania to be the one chosen of four midfielders aged 17-20.

There’s also the matter of whether FC Dallas striker Jesus Ferreira will be internationally cleared to play Saturday. We sure hope he will be!

How do you think Berhalter will line them up?


How Berhalter may go

Johnson

Cannon — Zimmerman — Long — Vines

Yueill — Servania

Arriola — Lletget — Lewis

Zardes


What we’d like to see

Turner

Cannon — Zimmerman — McKenzie — Vines

Yueill — Cappis — Servania

Arriola — Ferreira — Lewis

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Report: Sheffield United in ‘advanced talks’ for $22M Norway star

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Sheffield United is ready to add one of the game’s brightest young talents to its blossoming Premier League side.

Norway midfielder Sander Berge is the name, and he’s been linked with Liverpool amongst others over the past few months.

Berge turns 22 next month and already has 20 caps for Norway in addition to 113 senior appearances for Genk in Belgium and 43 more for Valerenga in his home country.

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The defensive midfielder has chipped in six goals and four assists. He won the Belgian Super League with Genk last year and has a career-best four goals so this season.

It shows what success brings to a club, as Sky Sports reports that Berge turned down a move to Bramall Lane in the summer.

The fee is said to be $22 million, which isn’t small but completely reasonable given his stature for club and country.

This may move may join the Lys Mousset purchase as one of the Blades’ smartest bits of business, especially as Chris Wilder‘s men look for success on multiple fronts. Their success as a newly-promoted side is one of the great stories of the European season, and a place in Europe would be a fantastic achievement.

From The Yorkshire Post:

“It is going well, no doubt about it,” Wilder said. “On the Premier League front and in the Cup. You probably would not think it, but the win at Millwall has given me an enormous amount of pleasure in confirming, not even seeing, what my team is about. Players have come in with the likes of the skipper (Billy Sharp) and other players who are really driving it forward and want to produce individual performances and the atmosphere is good.”

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Espanyol identify 12 fans who racially insulted player

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BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish club Espanyol says it has identified 12 fans who racially insulted an Athletic Bilbao player in the Spanish league last weekend.

Espanyol said on Monday in a statement that nine of the fans were club members and would face punishment that could include suspension or a full-time ban.

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It said a report of its analysis of the video images of Saturday’s game at RCDE Stadium were sent to authorities.

The club reiterated its “categorical condemnation of any displays of violence and racism.”

The fans made monkey noises directed at Athletic forward Inaki Williams, who is black. Television images showed Williams confronting the section of Espanyol fans who taunted him after he was substituted late in the game in Barcelona.

The Spanish league said it will seek a partial stadium closure for Espanyol and will raise the incident with the Spanish soccer federation’s competition committee, which handles disciplinary issues.

Transfer rumors: West Ham want $44M midfielder, Barca eyes Rodrigo

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West Ham United is being linked with a big transfer splash, and it’s not even a striker.

Uruguayan midfielder Nahitan Nandez is the man in question, and West Ham is reportedly tempting Cagliari with a $44 million offer this January.

Nandez, 23, arrived from Boca Juniors for less than half that fee this summer, and has chipped in a goal with three assists for Tommaso Giulini’s sixth-place Serie A side.

He’s got 31 caps for his national team, and is averaging 1.5 tackles per match with Cagliari. Nandez is also averaging a key pass and 1.1 successful dribbles per league outing.

Football-Italia says that Cagliari will try to tie Nandez to a new deal with a $44 million release clause if the move to West Ham is unsuccessful.

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Meanwhile Barcelona’s pursuit of a Luis Suarez replacement isn’t limited to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu admits that Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno is interesting his coaches.

“We don’t talk about players from other teams. But [Rodrigo’s] name is on the table of the coaches, and a replacement will arrive. I do not know whether it will be from Barcelona B or from outside. I like many players.”

The Spaniard has eight goals in 21 caps, and turns 29 in March. Rodrigo has four goals and 10 assists in 23 matches across all competitions this season.

Valencia beat Barcelona this weekend to send the Blaugranas three points back of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.