Suarez shines in Liverpool win

first_imgStriker Luis Suarez continued his incredible run of form with two more goals to fire Liverpool to the top of the table and make Cardiff manager Malky Mackay’s position even more difficult – if that was at all possible. The Uruguay international, who caught everyone by surprise by signing a new long-term contract on Friday, made it 19 for the season as Cardiff were despatched 3-1. Raheem Sterling was also on the scoresheet in between Suarez’s two brilliant strikes and although Jordon Mutch’s reply just before the hour breathed new life into Cardiff, the home side’s grip on the three points was not to be loosened. In truth the result made little difference to Mackay’s future, which appears to have already been pre-determined by Vincent Tan. The owner was present at Anfield to see his side torn apart in the first half. How much longer Mackay lasts may be assessed in terms of hours rather than days – having been told by Tan earlier in the week to resign or be sacked – but what is enduring are Liverpool’s title challenge credentials. Fuelled by Suarez’s goals they have now overtaken long-time leaders Arsenal, who face fellow top-four side Chelsea on Monday, and with the season almost halfway through must now be classed as credible rivals to the favoured front-runners in the Gunners, Manchester City and Chelsea. Brendan Rodgers’ side must face both the latter in their next two matches but with Suarez in the form he is they can go into the games with confidence. The figures are staggering – and that is not a reference to the reported £200,000-a-week the striker will receive from next season as a result of his new deal. He has 19 in 12 league matches, including 10 in his last four games, and he set a Premier League record with his first goal – which was his ninth in December, outstripping the previous best in a single month. It was the purest example of a striker at his best – but also showed there is more to him than just goals. Having initially begun the move he continued his run towards the penalty area where Jordan Henderson picked him out with an inviting cross which was expertly volleyed past goalkeeper David Marshall. That maintained his record of scoring in every home match – six in total – he has been available for this season, having been suspended early on. In doing so be became the first player since Fernando Torres (who scored in eight) in May 2008 to achieve that feat. Cue the inevitable Liverpool onslaught which saw Martin Skrtel head over, Sterling have a shot blocked and Jon Flanagan and Philippe Coutinho both hit the post – the latter’s effort only just kept out by the outstretched boot of Marshall. It seemed despite Liverpool’s dominance their lead would be a slender one at half-time but three minutes before the break they struck again, thanks to their two best players in recent weeks. Henderson’s through-ball was superb in itself but no surprise considering his improved quality this season. What was a shock was the sight of Suarez, with only Marshall to beat, squaring the ball for Sterling to slot home. Suarez’s second of the game highlighted exactly what that sort of investment brings. Henderson’s backheel was all the invitation the Uruguayan needed as he opened his body to curl a shot around a pack of bodies in the penalty area and inside Marshall’s left-hand post. The second half should have been a procession for the home side but that was interrupted by Mutch’s unchallenged header from a free-kick in the 58th minute. Cardiff subsequently enjoyed their best spell of the game but that was ended when Sterling forced Marshall to save in a one-on-one and Suarez followed up to blast a shot against the post. The win means Liverpool could still be top for Christmas should Arsenal fail to win on Monday and that would be the first time that has happened since 2008. The last four champions have all been top on Christmas Day. It may still be wishful thinking for Rodgers, who claims he will only consider their chances with 10 games to go, but with Suarez in current form he may have to reassess that sooner rather than later. Press Associationlast_img read more

Spartans invade Madison, leave with 62-46 victory

first_imgFreshman guard Lindsay Smith (above) got the start Thursday as head coach Bobbie Kelsey hoped to match Michigan State’s smaller, more agile lineup. Smith and her fellow Badgers struggled to contain the Spartans inside, as they finished the game with 40 points in the paint.[/media-credit]With only one player reaching double figures, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team struggled on both ends of the floor Thursday night in a disappointing 46-62 defeat at the hands of the Michigan State Spartans.Anya Covington led all scorers with 10 points, but shots consistently fell short or bounced off the rim with the shot clock inside five seconds as the Badgers spent most of the night chasing a hot-handed Michigan State team at the Kohl Center. UW limped to a 20 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc and sunk 38.5 percent of its shots from the field. Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey called it her team’s worst performance of the year.MSU dominated play by scoring a commanding 40 points in the paint and outrebounding the Badgers handedly by a 38-21 margin.“You’re going to have a game or two like this; this is really our first game where we played this poorly all year,” Kelsey said. “I thought we pretty much remained very competitive in our other games. So that’s the most disappointing part of the game, is that we did not give ourselves a chance to really compete to get the win.”Though Wisconsin reigned in the Spartans’ lead to nine heading into halftime following a four-point boost from freshman guard Lacia Gorman, Michigan State controlled the second half. Never letting their lead slip below 11 and boasting a game-high 20-point cushion with 5:42 remaining, the Spartans silenced any thought of a UW comeback in the final 20 minutes. Critical to MSU’s victory was senior forward Lykendra Johnson, who powered the Spartans’ post presence with 16 points to go along with seven rebounds. The Spartans’ physicality and aggressiveness on the boards were things head coach Suzy Merchant, whose team leads the Big Ten in defensive rebound percentage, emphasized heading into the contest.“They were 1-10 when they were outrebounded, so that was a big focal point for us, and we won it,” Michigan State head coach Merchant said. “… That was another key defensive point.”Wisconsin struggled to find any true offensive rhythm against a suffocating MSU defense, as Taylor Wurtz, the foundation of UW’s fast-paced offense, went 3-of-13 from the field and 1-of-6 from three-point land.Wurtz was held to only two points in the first half – both of which came on free throws – and coaches and players agreed that Wisconsin lacked the confidence with the ball early to emerge with a statement win in Madison. The Badgers held the lead just once in the game, and it came in the opening minute at 2-0, quickly allowing Michigan State to take over.“We didn’t come out with energy, and that’s what we needed to do,” Covington said. “Michigan State always brings energy, and that’s what we lacked at the beginning of the game. Without energy, you don’t do the little things like get bouncing balls and get the rebounds that you could get.”One of the few bright spots for the Badgers was Gorman’s nine points, which tied a career-high for the young point guard. Tiera Stephen, who finished with six points, also provided a nice spark off the bench with two quick steals midway through the first half that allowed Wisconsin to temporarily halt MSU’s momentum.Against a skilled Michigan State squad that hit the Kohl Center hardwood winning three of its last four games, Kelsey pointed out that Wisconsin’s sloppy ball-handling and lack of urgency around the glass were simply too much to overcome.“We didn’t help ourselves by not being aggressive on either end,” Kelsey said. “And we had some spurts; I’m not saying it was all negative, but with a team like this you can’t have so-so here and there, being very inconsistent, or they’re going to capitalize on it, which they did.”last_img read more