Cardiff 3-6 Liverpool: Stunning comeback for Reds, as Suarez bags another hat trick (video)

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Liverpool fought back twice against Cardiff City to beat the Bluebirds 6-3 at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, with a hat trick from that man Luis Suarez stealing the headlines.

Cardiff twice took the lead in the first half through Jordon Mutch and Fraizer Campbell, but goals from Suarez and Martin Skrtel made it 2-2 at half time. Then a sluggish Liverpool side woke up after the break, with Suarez, and Skrtel both adding another goal and Daniel Sturridge scoring a fifth in the emphatic comeback win. Late on Mutch scored his second to make it 5-3, but then Suarez sealed his hat trick in stoppage time as Liverpool hit Cardiff for six.

The result was a little harsh on Cardiff, who had bossed the first 45 minutes and Liverpool were second best, but Brendan Rodgers’ men were at their clinical best when it mattered, as they’ve now scored 81 goals this season.

With the victory Liverpool sit in second spot, four points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand. Cardiff remain entrenched in the relegation zone, three points from safety.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Cardiff took a deserved lead early on as Mutch finished well with his left-foot after good work from Campbell to set him up. Cardiff pushed for a second and started very well against an out of sorts Liverpool side. However for all their earlier misgivings, Liverpool were level after 15 minutes as Suarez scored his 26th goal of the season with a delightful finish after Glen Johnson set him up.

Despite that equalizer, Cardiff continued to push on and they took the lead in the 25th minute when Mutch played in Campbell, and the Englishman cut inside and caught Daniel Agger out of position before firing a low shot into the net.

The game ebbed and flowed, but just before the break Liverpool equalized as Philippe Coutinho whipped in a great cross that Skrtel stabbed home, as Cardiff’s slack defending left the Slovakian defender unmarked. Before the break Liverpool pushed to go ahead, as the away side finally got going and Suarez was thwarted by David Marshall who saved brilliantly.

After the break Liverpool finally turned up, as the Reds went 3-2 ahead thanks to Skrtel’s header for his second of the game to give the title-contenders the lead for the first time. That goal knocked the stuffing out of Cardiff, as Liverpool pushed forward with wave after wave of attack that the Bluebirds just couldn’t deal with.

In the 66th minute it was 4-2 to Liverpool, as Johnson’s marauding run down the right saw his cross find Sturridge who then back heeled the ball towards the penalty spot, Suarez arrived to bag his second and Liverpool’s 80th goal of the campaign. Sturridge himself then got on the scoresheet, as Steve Caulker headed the ball straight to Suarez, who slotted in Sturridge to score his 22nd goal of the season and turn the comeback into a rout.

The rest of the match played out with Cardiff struggling to get the ball, and Liverpool looking dangerous every time they surged forward. However the Bluebirds did bag a consolation after a snazzy move which saw Mutch score his second of the match to make it 5-3, but the scoring wasn’t over as Suarez scored in stoppage time to bag his 28th goal of the season.

LINEUPS

Cardiff: Marshall; Fabio, Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Cala, John (Daehli, 65′); Medel, Kim (Zaha, 65′), Mutch; Bellamy (Jones, 70′), Campbell

Goals: Mutch (9′, 85′), Campbell (25′)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan (Cissokho, 73′), Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Coutinho (Sterling, 68′), Suarez, Sturridge (Sakho, 92′)

Goals: Suarez (16′, 60′, 90′), Skrtel (41′, 54′), Sturridge (75′)

Japan upsets ten-man Colombia in Group H opener

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On paper, the 61st-ranked team in the world beating the 16th-ranked team in the world is a massive upset. But considering the circumstances within the game, perhaps this wasn’t an upset after all.

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Two set pieces were the difference as Japan defeated ten-man Colombia, 2-1 on Tuesday morning in Saransk. Colombia played with ten men for nearly the entire match, after Carlos Sanchez was sent off for a handball in the box and a denial of a goal scoring opportunity.

The game took a massive turn in the third minute, as Colombia centerback Davinson Sanchez failed to control a pass and Yuya Osako found himself free on goal. His shot was parried away by Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina but Kagawa’s rebound shot was clearly blocked by Sanchez’s right arm. The referee, Damir Skomina immediately pointed to the penalty spot and went to the back pocket, sending Sanchez to the showers.

Kagawa stepped up and cooly sent Ospina the wrong way to put Japan on top.

Late in the first half, after both teams had chances on target, Colombia came back and evened the scoreline.

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Juan Fernando Quintero, starting in place of the recovering James Rodriguez, smartly took a free kick and fired it low, under the wall as it jumped. Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima reacted late and although he arrived as the ball was crossing the line, he couldn’t keep it from going over, tying the game in the 39th minute.

Ultimately, despite its efforts, Colombia began to tire and on a corner kick, the Blue Samurai took back the lead and control of their destiny in Group H. A corner kick from Keisuke Honda was re-directed past Ospina by Osako, who jumped well over Santiago Arias, to give Japan a 2-1 lead in the 75th minute.

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Rodriguez was introduced in the 57th minute but try as he did, Colombia was unable to find the final pass in the box, and Japan held on for the unexpected victory.

With the win, Japan top Group H ahead of a meeting with Senegal, while Colombia will have to regroup to face Poland.

In a World Cup full of unexpected results, Tuesday brought yet another memorable win for an underdog.

New Zealand women footballers rebel against national coach

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) Only weeks after New Zealand Football made headlines by signing a revolutionary equal pay deal with its female players, the organization is facing a mutiny by members of its women’s team against the national coach.

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New Zealand Football confirmed on Tuesday it had received a letter signed by a number of New Zealand players complaining about the methods and tactics employed by Austria-born coach Andreas Heraf.

The complaints follow the New Zealand team’s recent 3-1 loss at home to Japan. Heraf angered his players, and fans of the Football Ferns national team, by taking an entirely defensive game plan into the rare home international.

Heraf then further angered his players with comments defending his approach.

He said there was “a big difference in quality” between the New Zealand and Japanese players and that New Zealand “will never have that quality” to compete with top teams like Japan. He said the scoreline might have been 8-0 if New Zealand had not adopted a defensive approach.

One of New Zealand’s leading players, United States-based Abby Erceg, retired after playing 132 matches for New Zealand, citing Heraf’s approach in previous international matches.

She later told New Zealand media: “I couldn’t stand to wear that (national symbol) on my chest any more when his vision was to cower in a corner and not get beat by too much.”

New Zealand Football defended Heraf against the media and public criticism but admitted his comments were “strange” and “wrong” and did not accurately reflect his views. Heraf later apologized and said he had not expressed himself clearly.

But efforts to dampen the controversy have failed. New Zealand Football said in a statement it had “received a letter from the NZ Professional Footballers Association (NZPFA) last night with a number of complaints from the players of the Football Ferns.”

The mutiny comes only weeks after New Zealand gained international headlines for a deal which gives female pay parity with their male counterparts.

New Zealand Football signed the deal which provided female players with equal match payments, travel arrangements and prize money.

At the time, New Zealand women’s captain Ali Riley said the deal meant New Zealand would “be able to compete against the top teams, to be able to do well at a World Cup and the Olympics – this is what we needed.”

VIDEO: Colombia sees red, Japan takes early lead

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The first red card of the World Cup came just moments after fans took their seats in Saransk.

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After David Ospina blocked a breakaway opportunity from Yuya Osako in the third minute of the match, Japan star and former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa fired the rebound on goal. But his shot was blocked by the arm of Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez, which earned him a straight red card from referee Damir Skomina and an early trip to the locker room.

Kagawa then stepped up to the spot and calmly sent Ospina the wrong way to give Japan the shock early lead.

Colombia will play the rest of the match with ten men and no James Rodriguez, who was named to the bench for this match as he recovers from a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez out of Colombia starting XI

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Taking a page out of Egypt’s book, Colombia will be without its talismanic playmaker for its first match, Tuesday morning against Japan.

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Juan Fernando Quintero replaced James Rodriguez in Colombia’s starting Xi to take on Japan in Saransk as Colombia coach Jose Pekerman clearly hopes a few extra days of recovery for the injured Rodriguez will help him return to 100 percent fitness. Rodriguez is battling a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez scored six goals and had two assists in five games at the last World Cup in Brazil, helping guide Los Cafeteros to their first World Cup quarterfinals appearance.