Thursday Kickoff: Hernandez leads Man United; Real Madrid at center of controversy; and more

JavierHernandezManUnited1 (AP)

By DAN KARELL

It was supposed to be Luis Suarez’s night to shine, but instead it was a different Latin American star who stole the spotlight.

Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez proved to be the difference as he scored in his first start of the season to take his club on top of arch-rivals Liverpool, 1-0, in the third round of the Capital One Cup. The Mexican international scored just a minute into the second half on a corner kick, beautifully opening his body up in mid-air to angle the shot in for a goal.

Also in action on Wednesday evening in England, Nicklas Bendtner made his Arsenal return after more than two years, playing all 120 minutes in the Gunners’ 4-3 win in penalty kicks after the score was level at 1-1.

The League Cup fourth round draw also occurred on Wednesday, drawing Man United with Norwich City and highly attractive tie between Arsenal and Chelsea.

Here are some more stories to start your Thursday:

CONTROVERSIAL FINISH IN ELCHE

Spain has woken up on Thursday morning to more sporting controversy, this time surrounding Real Madrid.

Los Blancos looked set to settle for a 1-1 draw against Elche after forward Boakye headed home in the 91st minute to tie the match. However, four minutes later in stoppage time, referee Muñiz Fernandez awarded a dubious penalty kick to Real Madrid, setting the table for Cristiano Ronaldo to score his second goal of the match.

Madrid’s Pepe and Elche’s Carlos Sanchez were battling for position in the box on a corner kick as both fell over, with video evidence suggesting that Pepe pulled down Sanchez. Despite this, Fernandez awarded the penalty kick to Madrid and not a free kick to Elche.

Fernandez was also the referee on September 14 when Barcelona defeated Sevilla, 3-2, with a goal by Alexis Sanchez in the fourth minute of extra time, which some claim went longer than it should have. Reports in Spain state that Fernandez is likely to be sanctioned by La Liga, and won’t be assigned for any matches for the time being.

ROMA STAY PERFECT TO START THEIR SEASON

Whatever AS Roma head coach Rudi Garcia is doing in his first year in charge of the club, it’s working wonders.

The Giallorossi won their fifth straight match to start the Serie A season, a new club record, defeating Sampdoria on the road, 2-0, thanks to two second half goals. The win leaves Roma alone on top of the league table with 15 points.

Summer signing Mehdi Benatia opened the scoring with a run forward from central defense, making two Samp defenders miss with some top-level dribbling before an accurate sliding finish in the 65th minute. Former Arsenal winger Gervinho put the match away in the 88th minute with a close-range finish from the left of the box.

QUICK KICKS

Chelsea midfielder and summer signing Marco Van Ginkel’s is set for six to nine months on the sidelines after suffering a torn ACL suffered in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory against Swindon Town. (REPORT)

AC Milan midfielder Nigel De Jong has earned a Netherlands recall for the first time since last November as he’s overcome his injuries and is in solid form in the early season. (REPORT)

The Spanish Football Federation has reportedly written to FIFA to determine whether Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa can file his one-time switch from Brazil to Spain. (REPORT)

FIFA have provisionally suspended a Bulgarian player on club Ludogorets, thought to be Yordan Minev, for testing positive for a banned substance. (REPORT)

UEFA have ordered Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb to play their next two UEFA Europa League home matches behind closed doors as well as pay a fine of €70,250 for racism, throwing missiles/fireworks, and “improper conduct of the team.” (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Did you expect Man United to beat Liverpool? Do you feel that Real Madrid and Barcelona are awarded favorable calls? Do you see Roma continuing their fine form?

Share your thoughts below.

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35 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: Hernandez leads Man United; Real Madrid at center of controversy; and more

  1. PD says:

    biggest. mouth. ever.

    • Lost in Space says:

      Just learned that Mexico didn’t Qualify for the 2014 WC…
      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Mike E. says:

    Match fixing in La Liga. Fun times.

  3. PD says:

    BTW has anyone seen this? Apparently there are some shockingly bad working conditions connected to the Qatari WC…

    link to theguardian.com

    • Clyde Frog says:

      Is anyone NOT aware of that?

      • PD says:

        Being that it’s not an above the fold story on every soccer site, I’m not going to assume. This should be the lead for every soccer journalist until it stops. Less people died building the Hoover Dam for crying out loud.

        • Clyde Frog says:

          This has been one of the dominant issues facing the countries of the region for decades. It’s very very well known.

          • Nate Dollars says:

            i didn’t know about it until yesterday. i see no reason why anybody should stop talking about it, at least until it merits an article on this site.

    • SBB says:

      Since it comes from the English “press” I would take this with a huge grain of salt.

      • SBB says:

        A butt-hurt English “press” at that.

        • PD says:

          sorry to be this guy, but you should know that in my mind, your choice of adjective makes your argument hold less water, not sound more cool.

          • SBB says:

            I wasn’t really looking for your approval. I was just pointing out the fact that the English press shouldn’t be trusted especially in matters related to the World Cup, thence the butt hurt adjective.

            • PD says:

              Nor should you seek my or anyone’s approval, but if you want folks to listen to you perhaps you should consider HOW you say what you’re saying. I was just sharing an observation that when you talk like that some folks might take you less seriously (at the risk of sounding being annoying). You can decide that this is either my problem or something you might want to change. Either way, I didn’t mean any offense.

        • Clyde Frog says:

          Why should the Guardian as a source be less well regarded than a US newspaper? You do understand that there is a difference between generally respected (if rather politicized) British newspapers, like the Guardian and the Times, and the British tabloids, don’t you?

          In any case, the working conditions for migrant labor in the wealthy Gulf countries are abhorhent, as has been docunented for decades. Time to re-evaluate your news sources if this is the first you are hearing about it.

          • PD says:

            I don’t disagree with you that this is old news. What is new is the fact that the eyes of the world are now focused on this region and it’s preparations for the World Cup. It’s the ultimate bully pulpit.

      • Increase says:

        To best honest though, that sort of behavior happens all over the Middle East. It’s well documented and well known. The press did is connect this sort of behavior directly with Stadium construction.

        The Middle East is not a nice place for quite a number of reasons.
        This for example.

        link to bbc.co.uk

        • PD says:

          OK, but if one of the stated the purpose of holding an event like this in this part of the world is about helping the region “open up” due to the positive peer pressure of being on the world stage, don’t we need to step it up on such an issue? Where is FIFA’s outrage? Where is the world press following up? Being held to this standard is the cost of landing a premier sporting event in the world…

          • Increase says:

            Agreed, I’m of the opinion that there is just too much money being thrown around the Press has to step it up and be offended. Not just the English press.

          • beachbum says:

            well said, and agree with the argument that says the World Cup is an event the press can use to publicize anything on the grandest of scales, like the working conditions of the region exemplified by those conditions associated with workers building for the World Cup

  4. Clyde Frog says:

    That penalty was a disgrace.

  5. biff says:

    Here’s the video and you can see clearly that Pepe grabs his arm and then falls, pulling him down and then looking at the ref for the penalty. Disgusting.

    link to youtube.com

    • Nate Dollars says:

      yep. one of the reasons i can’t stand pepe is that, not only is he a dirty, violent player, but he’s also one of the more pathetic divers.

      one of my favorite clips of him is when arbeloa (i think) is yelling at pepe to get up after he’s been rolling around on the ground.

    • Increase says:

      There is very little positive that can be said about Pepe.

      • whoop-whoop says:

        Can’t freaking stand this player. I just don’t get it… he is very skilled, but is literally without conscience. The poster-boy for what ails the game… made what should have been stellar matches/displays of soccer skill between Barcelona/Madrid into embarrassing exhibitions with players pathetically rolling and writhing on the ground with little or sometimes no contact. Very least, you’d think someone who acts/dives so much would be practiced enough to be good at it. Loath this and can not fathom how a man could watch one clip of himself doing this and face the world the next day.

  6. biff says:

    Link to the game highlights below shows Elche equalizing. After they do it, the Real Madrid defenders look as if they are about ready to cry, as if the game should have been handed to them, which it ultimately was. And Ronaldo, after he converts the penalty kicks, celebrates like he had made some sort of fantastic shot to win the World Cup. Pitiful. I am now officially a former fan of Madrid after this atrocity.

    link to youtube.com

    • Nate Dollars says:

      to be fair to ronaldo, he hadn’t seen the replay, so he didn’t know it was an obvious dive.

      to be fair to biff, ronaldo doesn’t just do a happy celebration, but rather a warrioresque strutting celebration, as if he hadn’t just scored a (undeserved) winning penalty against probably the worst team in the league.

      all this after madrid should’ve had ramos sent off for a second yellow.

  7. Skinnyj says:

    Sanctions for the ref??? Thats not going to solve anything. He saw a guy go down in the box and made a call without the benefit of instant replay. He can’t be expected to watch 18 bodies in the box simultaneously. The sanction HAS to be placed on the player! Give him a 5 game ban without pay and see if that curtails the issue. That was just a disgusting play and total lack of class and gamesmanship.

  8. alabamafutbol says:

    Does anyone else feel like Chicharito has a “longer” mouth than most humans? he can open it to abnormally large proportions. Looks like one of those creatures in I Am Legend

    • Kevin says:

      HA! some you people are nuts, reminds me of the other SBI poster who said dos Santos looked a girl, or that he was the Mexican sydney leroux.