Bob Bradley has Stabæk third after win over Norway’s defending champions

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Three wins in a row has Stabæk, 10 matches into its top-flight return, sitting third in Noways’ Tippeligaen, with former U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley exceeding early expectations in his first European job. With his team’s Tuesday victory over defending champions Strømsgodset, Bradley has his new club in third place, transcending predictions last year’s First Division runners up would settle in near the bottom of the 16-team table.

Though the team defeated last year’s runners up Rosenborg this weekend, today’s victory creates a new high mark in the former champions’ return. With goals from Fredrick Brustad and Franck Boli, Stabæk handed Strømsgodset its second loss of the season, 2-1, with only Peter Kovacs’ second half equalizer keeping Ivorian Mande Sayouba from keeping his first clean sheet of the season.

Combined with his two wins in cup competition, Bradley has now won eight of 12 games as Stabæk head coach, with only Molde and Strømsgodset, last year’s cup and league winners, separating the Blues from the top of the table. They’re six points ahead of Bodø/Glimt, the club that bested them last year’s first division (second tier), while the team’s averaging 1.70 goals per game. Two months into the season, eight different players have already gotten on the scoresheet for Stabæk, with 20-year-old Ivorian Franck Boli second in the league with six goals.

If there are any warning signs, that’s Stabek’s defense (which has allowed 15 goals) as well as a schedule that’s allowed the club to play six of its first 10 at home. For a team that was in the second tier six months ago, those are relative qualms. One-third of the way through the season, Stabæk is more relevant than most predicted. Given this is Bradley’s first foray into Europe, he’s off to a very nice start.

 

Uruguay reaches Round of 16 courtesy of Suarez

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The first two nations have advanced to the knockout phase out of Group A.

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Uruguay reached the Round of 16 on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, who has been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.

Hosts Russia will also reach the knockout rounds with the Uruguay win, thus eliminating Egypt as well.

The Barcelona striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute, after a poor read from Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais.

Suarez was given a wide-open finish at the far post off the corner kick for his first goal at the World Cup. The 31-year-old had scored a combined five goals during his last two World Cup appearances (2010 & 2014).

The Uruguyans dictated the tempo throughout much of the match, but Saudi Arabia’s back line held strong for the majority of the game.

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Uruguay will close out group play against Group A leaders and hosts Russia on June 25, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt will tango that same day.

Video: Goalkeeping error grants Suarez, Uruguay gift

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Luis Suarez was clearly upset with his lack of finishing in Uruguay’s opener last Friday, but the Barcelona man is finally on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup.

[MORE: Ronaldo’s early header gives Portugal win over Morocco ]

The veteran striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute after a close-range finish off of a corner kick.

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais came out to try and collect the cross, however, he was slow in his reaction, allowing the ball to slip through to Suarez for the easy finish.

The Uruguayans will reach the Round of 16 with one match remaining if they hold on to their 1-0 lead.

NZ women’s coach placed on leave after player complaints

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) The coach of New Zealand’s women’s football team has been placed on leave pending an investigation of complaints about his conduct from members of the national team.

[ MORE: Senegal holds off late Poland charge for Group H win ]

The complaints centered around tactics Andreas Heraf used in a recent home international against Japan and his comments to media after that match. Players reportedly objected to the defensive nature of Heraf’s tactics in the 3-1 loss.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said at a news conference on Wednesday that his organization had received a letter from the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association, containing letters of complaint from 13 national team members.

Defending his approach at a news conference after the match, Heraf said the New Zealand players would never have the “quality” to compete with a team of Japan’s ability and might have lost 8-0 if they had not adopted a defensive style.

Further reports have emerged of player concerns about Heraf’s behavior, including allegations of bullying.

Martin was repeatedly questioned at the news conference about when New Zealand Football first had notice of the players’ concerns about Heraf. He insisted he was not aware of any problems until the letter from the NZPFA containing the players’ complaints was released on Monday.

In a statement, New Zealand Football Chairman Deryck Shaw said player welfare was “of utmost importance.”

“We hold player welfare as a matter of utmost importance and that is why we are conducting a thorough, independent review. We want to ensure we better understand these issues in an objective review. There is no place for inappropriate behavior of any kind with New Zealand Football.”

Ronaldo’s early tally gives Portugal win over Morocco

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It was far from a convincing performance, but manager Fernando Santos and Co. came away with their first win at the World Cup and now sit in the drivers’ seat in Group B.

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Portugal earned a narrow 1-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s early header proved to be the difference.

Santos’ group now sits atop Group B with four points, while Morocco is eliminated after losing its first two matches.

It took just four minutes for Portugal to break the deadlock, with Ronaldo once again at the center of the Portuguese attack.

The Real Madrid man brilliantly latched onto a header at the near post off of a corner kick, giving Ronaldo his fourth goal at this World Cup (seventh goal overall).

Morocco did well to insert its presence in the match following the early goal, but various chances from Medhi Benatia and Hakim Ziyech weren’t enough to break past Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

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The African side also had a legitimate appeal for a penalty kick in the first stanza, however, referee Mark Geiger opted to play on despite the Moroccan protest.

Morocco continued its pressure in the second half, and Patricio was forced to make an incredible save in the 57th minute when Younes Belhanda headed a cross towards the far corner.

Portugal will close out Group B play on June 25 against Iran, while Morocco takes on Spain