Juan Zuniga

Watford 3-1 Manchester United: Super-Sub Zuniga downs poor United

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Manchester United continues to struggle putting the parts together as a whole, and they were downed by a true team effort.

Marcus Rashford appeared to have rescued a point for the visitors, but Juan Zuniga scored 50 seconds after coming on in the 83rd minute, and Watford earned a dramatic and deserved victory at Vicarage Road.

Watford took the game to Manchester United throughout the first 45 minutes. The home fans shouted for a penalty in the early going as they took a long throw into the box as Marouane Fellaini found himself with a fistful of Troy Deeney‘s shirt, but no call was made. Moments later, they had a big chance of the early going as a free-kick from Jose Holebas found Sebastian Proedl at the far post who headed across the face to an unmarked Deeney but it was just out of his reach.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With the home side still roaring forward, Odion Igahlo had a glaring miss, failing to capitalize on a rare miss by David De Gea. The Manchester United goalkeeper came out to claim a long-ball for no one in particular, but miscommunication saw him barrel into Chris Smalling and they both spilled to the turf while the ball bounded free. Igahlo had a wide-open net, but his hit on the volley sailed harmlessly over the net. Yet another Watford chance before 20 minutes required De Gea to make a spectacular save as a header from Deeney tested the Spaniard.

Finally the visitors had a chance as a deflected cross came to Zlatan Ibrahimovic streaking at the far post but he struck the side-netting with a powerful shot. Paul Pogba nearly stunned the Vicarage Road crowd past the half-hour mark with an absolute thunderbolt from a good 25 yards out that smashed the crossbar so powerfully that it rebounded back out above the box.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Finally, for all their earlier chances, Watford bagged a deserved opener. Anthony Martial was dispossessed deep on the right flank, and Darryl Janmaat found Etienne Capoue unmarked near the penalty spot to smash home the opener, his fourth goal of the season alrady. The moment was not without controversy, as Miguel Britos won the ball off Martial but also cleaned him out in the process, and referee Michael Oliver let it go. United was forced to substitute Martial off after the goal, clearly foggy from an earlier clash of heads.

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The second half was cagey past the hour mark until Manchester United took their moment to equalize. Ibrahimovic burst down the left on the break and lofted in the ball to Rashford in front of net. His first headed effort was weak and stopped by the wall of defenders, but the rebound fell to his feet and he recovered to poke home from point-blank range.

Watford appeared to be tiring, and United nearly won all three points with 11 minutes left. A beautiful ball in from Fellaini met the head of Ibrahimovic, who powered a header on net only kept out by a full-stretch save by Heurelho Gomez. Manager Walter Mazzarri brought on Zuniga for Capoue, and he became an instant hero when he buried Roberto Pereyra‘s cutback, producing a winner not unlike the opener.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Manchester United could do nothing but get in their own way, and their urgency only served to win Watford a penalty deep into stoppage time. Troy Deeney thumped the penalty home, sealing the win.

United brought on Memphis Depay in desperation after falling behind, but it did no good. United’s loss leaves them a full six points behind leaders Manchester City, a significant gap so early in the season. Watford, meanwhile, earn their second win of the season to push them into the top half of the table, and they send Jose Mourinho to his third straight defeat in one season, something that hasn’t happened in 14 years.

Watford snares physical center back Zuniga from Napoli

Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images
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Watford manager Walter Mazzarri has continued his defensive revolution with a big addition from his Serie A stomping grounds.

Coming on loan to the Hertfordshire club is Juan Camilo Zuniga. The 30-year-0ld Napoli defender has 62 caps for Colombia and spent the last half of last season on loan at Bologna.

[ OFFICIAL: Kante joins Chelsea ]

Mazzarri managed Zuniga for four years at Napoli, the final three of which saw Partenopei as one of the Top Five defenses in Serie A. Last season he claimed that forces above the Napoli manager kept him on the sidelines for the first half of the season.

Watford’s problem in their Premier League return was scoring, but Zuniga is a nice addition to the back line (provided he can avoid breaking superstar backs with his knee).

Neymar bags late winner to lead Brazil over Colombia

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Brazil took on some familiar faces at Sun Life Stadium in Miami as they defeated Colombia 1-0 in a fiery South American matchup.

A rematch of the World Cup quarterfinals, which Brazil won 2-1, featured some of the bad blood that was seen a few months ago. Seven players were booked in the match as referee David Gantar looked to put down any possible retaliation from their previous meeting, where Colombia’s Juan Zuniga broke a vertebra in Neymar’s back, forcing the star to miss their semifinal matchup against Germany. We all know how that ended up.

Zuniga and Neymar hugged before the match, clearing the air and putting down the notion of any possible retribution from his Brazilian teammates. However, the game was physical from the opening whistle, with many harsh tackles coming from both sides. Colombia was forced to play with ten men after Juan Cuadrado was sent off following a second yellow card in the 49th minute.

After being named captain by new head coach Dunga, Neymar lived up to his title when he curled a free kick into the top corner late in the game. The 83rd minute goal was enough to secure the win for Brazil in their first match since their World Cup collapse.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDCQoU2OeJA&w=560&h=315]

The match attendance of over 73,000 people set the record for highest attendance at a soccer game in Florida history. The Colombian-dominant crowd didn’t get to see a win, but one bright spot was the return of Radamel Falcao. Manchester United’s new signing came off the bench in his return from knee surgery, much to the delight of the fans. Falcao played thirteen minutes after replacing Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez, and looked sharp following an eight-month recovery from a torn ACL.

WATCH: Neymar makes peace with Zuniga, buries free-kick winner

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Just about two months have passed since Neymar was stretchered off the World Cup pitch after a knee to the back from Colombia’s Juan Zuniga, an incident that ended the Brazilian superstar’s tournament and earned Zuniga death threats from across the world.

But just after the coin toss in Friday’s friendly between Brazil and Colombia, Neymar and Zuniga buried the hatchet.

And then Neymar buried the ball, lashing a free kick in almost as Upper 90 a fashion as possible.

[ MORE: Ronaldinho headed to Liga MX side | Dunga hands Brazil captaincy to Neymar ]

The Neymar goal was the match-winner, and came minutes before Colombia’s Juan Cuadrado condemned his side to playing with 10 men by picking up a second yellow card.

Here’s the post-coin toss moment:

And here’s the otherworldly set piece.

He’s pretty good, and it’s funny to theorize what would’ve happened had he not been injured for the semifinal match against Brazil. It’s easy to make hindsight 20/20 and claim Neymar wouldn’t have made a big difference in the 7-1 semifinal thrashing, but Brazil was clearly a side suffering from the loss of their leader (remember the Neymar tee shirts they wore?).

Neymar tears up in first interview since injury; will root for Messi

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Neymar had to wipe tears away as he spoke with reporters for the first time since being removed from the field on a stretcher during last week’s World Cup quarterfinal against Colombia.

It was a tournament that saw his already-bright public star met by strong on-field play, but instead ended with near paralysis after Colombia’s Juan Zuniga intentionally-fouled the 22-year-old Brazilian with a knee to the lower back.

Just like that, Neymar’s dreams of lifting the World Cup Trophy in his home nation turned to dust.

And the superstar seems to still be reeling from the event.

From the AP’s Tales Azzoni:

“If it had been 2 centimeters to the center…,” he said, struggling to stay composed. “I could be in a wheelchair.”

The 22-year-old striker complained about Zuniga’s challenge, although he said the Colombian called to apologize.

“I don’t know if he was trying to hurt me, but if you understand football you know that it was not a normal challenge,” Neymar said. “I can’t protect myself when I’m not facing the play. The only thing that can protect me from someone coming from behind are the rules. I couldn’t protect myself and I ended getting hurt.”

Calling it the “worst week of my life”, Neymar talked about not being able to play in Brazil’s 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinals. He said losing would’ve been understandable, but the blowout was unacceptable.

The Barcelona attacked also said he will be rooting for his club teammates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano to win despite Brazil’s rivalry with Argentina.

“I’m not cheering for Argentina, I’m cheering for my teammates,” he said.

Neymar said that it would be good for football to have Messi winning a world title.

“He deserves to be a world champion,” he said. “I’m Messi Football Club.”