Cibulkova reaches Miami semis, cracks world top 10

Written by admin on 07/30/2019 Categories: 苏州美睫

With both players struggling in cool, blustery conditions, the 10th seeded Cibulkova reached the final four for the first time in eight visits to Miami despite being broken 10 times, committing 51 unforced errors and eight double faults.

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The match was certainly not of the same quality the pair showed in their Australian Open semi-final earlier this year, as Cibulkova waited until the fourth game of the second set before managing to hold serve for the first time.

“I have to say I’m really glad, especially about my win today,” said Cibulkova, who will move into the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time with the win.

“It wasn’t easy at all to play today against Aga with the wind and conditions and I had to stay aggressive all the time even if I missed many shots.”

With the wind whipping and swirling around centre court, the game opened with five consecutive breaks before Radwanska held serve to grab a 4-2 lead.

But the set would end the way it began with three more breaks and Radwanska taking a 1-0 lead.

The slew of breaks extended into the second set with three more breaks before Cibulkova held serve for the first time.

Trailing 5-4 in the second set and serving to stay alive, Cibulkova staved off three match points before holding and then breaking Radwanska en route to winning the set in a tiebreak.

“It was so close, the second set,” said Radwanska. “But I think, you know, in those matches you have to play good and you have to be lucky.

“I was just playing good and she was both.”

Radwanska, with her left knee and right shoulder already heavily taped, called for the trainer at the changeover and had even more plaster applied to right hand.

When play resumed Radwanska quickly found herself down a break and could never regain control, Cibulkova eventually falling onto her back and raising her hands in triumph after watching the Pole’s return sail long.

Cibulkova, who took out three-time champion Venus Williams in the fourth round, will now await the winner between world number two Li Na and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who play later on Wednesday.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Tevez at the double as Juve restore lead

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A brace from Carlos Tevez in a cagey 2-1 win over 10-man Parma restored Juventus’s 14-point lead over Roma and kept the champions on track for a third consecutive Serie A title.

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Roma had cut the gap on Tuesday with a last-minute 2-1 win at home to Torino.

But any expectations Juventus would drop points and hand Rudi Garcia’s team hopes of a title slip-up were effectively over by the 65th minute in Turin on Wednesday, when Parma, having reduced the arrears thanks to Cristian Molinaro’s half-volley, were reduced to 10 men when Amauri saw red for fouling defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Roberto Donadoni’s visitors pushed the champions all the way but Juve held on for a 26th win that also kept them on track to become the first Serie A champions with 100 points from the season.

While Roma tightened their grip on second place, Napoli stayed in the hunt for the second automatic Champions League qualifying spot with a 4-2 win away to Catania.

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez left Gokhan Inler, Goran Pandev and Gonzalo Higuain on the bench for the trip to Sicily, where the hosts were looking for only their second win over their rivals in their last 10 league encounters.

Striker Duvan Zapata honoured his rare start, in place of Higuain, by scoring a brace, with Napoli’s other goals coming from Jose Callejon and Brazilian defender Henrique.

Benitez’s men held on to claim an 18th win which kept them third but still six points off Roma, who also have a game in hand.

Napoli were handed an unexpected favour when Phillipe Mexes and Mario Balotelli, from a free kick, scored one apiece in a shock 2-0 win away to Fiorentina to boost AC Milan’s flagging campaign.

Fiorentina are also chasing the third and final Champions League qualifying spot and although still fourth Vincenzo Montella’s men are now 10 points adrift of Napoli.

Elsewhere, Atalanta’s 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Livorno, coupled with Lazio’s shock 2-0 defeat away to Genoa, pushed the Bergamo-based side up to seventh and only four points off the first Europa League qualifying place held by fifth-placed Inter, who are in action against Udinese Thursday.

Verona slipped further out of Europa League contention with a 1-0 defeat away to Cagliari, a result which helped push Sampdoria, who snatched a 2-1 win away to struggling Sassuolo, up to ninth place.

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Real Madrid beaten again as Atletico win

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Real Madrid suffered a huge blow to their La Liga title hopes with a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla, their second defeat in four days.

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Colombian striker Carlos Bacca struck twice on Wednesday to give the hosts a sixth consecutive league win after Cristiano Ronaldo had opened the scoring.

Atletico Madrid now lead Real Madrid by three points at the top of the table and have a better head-to-head record against Los Blancos after they beat Granada 1-0.

Barcelona moved into second place, a point behind Atletico, with a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou thanks to a double from Neymar.

But it was a bittersweet night for the Catalans as goalkeeper Victor Valdes may have played his last game for the club after suffering cruciate ligament damage that will rule him out of the World Cup.

Madrid were looking to react from a first defeat in 32 games on Sunday as they lost a thrilling El Clasico 4-3 to Barcelona and they started brightly with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema going close inside the first 10 minutes.

Ronaldo did open the scoring 14 minutes in as his free-kick cannoned off Ivan Rakitic to leave Sevilla goalkeeper Beto helpless.

The lead lasted only four minutes as Bacca finished off a fine move by converting Jose Antonio Reyes’ pass from close range.

Reyes could then have put his side in front as Bacca returned the favour, but the former Arsenal man dragged his shot just wide.

Ronaldo was somehow denied his second of the night moments later as this time he lifted the ball over Beto, but the ball struck the inside of the post and rolled across the line before being cleared by a Sevilla defender.

Madrid continued to press after the break, but were struck on the counterattack 18 minutes from time when wonderful play by Rakitic took him past Pepe and the Croatian played in Bacca to fire home his second of the night.

Beto was called into action once more to deny Ronaldo moments later, but for all their possession Madrid failed to carve out another clear opening and their hopes of salvaging anything from the game disappeared when Bale’s free-kick flew over in the final minute.

Barcelona now have the destiny of the title in their own hands as they host Atletico on the final day of the season.

However, their joy was tempered by Valdes’ injury.

Valdes collapsed to the ground holding his right knee whilst making a routine save and was in tears as he was stretchered from the field.

“Victor Valdes has ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that will require surgery,” the club confirmed via its official Twitter account.

“It is very bad luck and a very costly injury, too much for a game that means just three points,” Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta told Barca TV.

And midfielder Andres Iniesta admitted it was difficult for the Barca players to concentrate on the game after the injury.

“It was an uncomfortable situation on the pitch. The players weren’t the same, the fans weren’t the same. Everything seemed a bit strange.

“The important thing now is that he recovers well.”

Neymar had already put the hosts in front before Valdes’ injury as he tapped home Alexis Sanchez’s cross.

Lionel Messi continued his fine run of form to make it 2-0 from a wonderful Iniesta pass on the half hour before Neymar rounded off the scoring 23 minutes from time.

It was a quieter evening at the Vicente Calderon as Atletico continued to demonstrate their title credentials with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Granada.

In a game short on clear-cut chances, it was once again Diego Costa who made the difference for Diego Simeone’s men as he headed home Jose Sosa’s corner 27 minutes from time to register his 32nd goal of the season.

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Government’s proposals are a free pass to vilification

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Since the Federal Court found that the racially-charged polemic of Australia’s self-proclaimed “most-read” political columnist, Andrew Bolt, had breached the Racial Discrimination Act, conservatives have rediscovered a zest for human rights otherwise absent from their thinking.

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Most righteous of these new champions has been Senator George Brandis who has released plans to replace the current law protecting people from speech designed to offend, insult, intimidate or humiliate them on the basis of ethnicity. Instead, he wants to narrow these protections to clear examples of hate speech and threats of violence – and then exempt almost everyone from this law.

Senator Brandis has released plans to strip back protections against racially charged offensive under the Racial Discrimination Act and replace them with an explicit ban on hate speech and physical threats. He says these are much worse things than were previously mentioned in the Act, which merely protected ‘hurt feelings.’

Of course, the burden of proof for “offence” has always been much higher than hurt feelings. But by the Attorney-General’s own admission, vilification and hate speech should never be a feature of ‘intellectual debate.’ So why does the Abbott Government want to introduce broad exemptions from the law?

Unlike the current law which protects views offered in good faith, the Government’s proposals give people vilifying ethnic and racial groups a free pass as long as they can link their comments to any, “political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter.”

That means comments on an online newspaper, political or art blog making incendiary, racist comments. It would include a sign threatening a Jewish group at a neo-Nazi rally against immigration. It’s hard to imagine any conduct that falls outside these exemptions.

Perhaps all of these examples fall into what Senator Brandis had described as the fundamental “right to be a bigot.” He believes that the government should never be in the business of penalising people who hold objectionable views (unless, of course, you’re an artist) in the interests of freedom of speech.

But it is worth drilling down further into the reason that freedom of speech – or rather freedom of political communication – is protected in democratic societies.

Small and big L liberals both worry about the ability of people to live as they wish.

Liberal Party types like Senator Brandis are usually preoccupied with the power of government to constrain the behaviour of citizens. They rightly observe that freedom to speak out against government is protected because the individual needs a means to defend themselves.

But as small L liberals know, government isn’t the only powerful actor in our community.

Businesses decide what good and services consumers can access and how much they’ll pay, unless they are restrained by fair trading law. Large companies have the power to make life difficult for small business, unless they are checked by the ACCC. And it is the great goal of the labour movement to ensure bosses fairly wield their power over workers when they set wages and conditions.

But the greatest and most widespread disparity in power in Australia, as in most societies, is between those who experience social privilege and those who do not.

Privilege is the advantage someone receives by virtue of their identity or situation. They are the expectations about the way the world is and the accommodations made to reflect those expectations. For those who enjoy privilege, they are the bundle of things they usually don’t have to think about.

Examples of privilege are everywhere. Able-bodied people can presume they’ll be able to access any building and not have to check for a ramp or an elevator. Anglo-Australians don’t expect to have their motives questioned by suspicious shop owners when meeting in a mall. Men don’t have to keep their hand on their mobile phone in case they’re sexually assaulted on the way home.

Our society is structured around the universality of an identity that isn’t universal at all. And because it is structured that way, it reaffirms and validates one identity and is indifferent – or worse, hostile – to others. It means that some groups have more than others: more opportunities, more confidence, more resilience. And more power.

When Section 18C was introduced in 1994, it was not in order to eliminate racist attitudes. Bigots are those people so blinded by hatred and so convinced of their position that neither law nor rather argument can dissuade them. Section 18C is designed to recognise and provide recourse for racism.

Section 18C is an attempt to address the power imbalance that exists between those who are structurally vulnerable and those who, from a position of privilege, attack people on the basis of the very characteristic that makes them vulnerable. No wonder those groups which are confronted with their difference every day know that Section 18C provides an important means of protection.

They know this kind of language can intimidate, causing people to be scared of identifying with or expressing their culture – a much more pronounced version of the “chilling” of free expression to which Senator Brandis has been eager to pay lip-service. It can cruelly and unjust curtail the free speech of the least powerful people in our community.

Senator Brandis isn’t just facing opposition from ethnic communities. Members of his own party room are speaking out against the changes, even threatening to cross the floor.

Maybe it’s because they understand that the very principle that leads Liberal members to want to uphold protections against the power of government is the principle at work in the Racial Discrimination Act. It’s about protecting people from privilege.

And it is a pity that the reconstructed humanitarian in the Attorney-General’s portfolio has decided that his sole policy contribution on coming to Government will be to give the green light to hate speech.

Lisa Singh is a Labor Senator for Tasmania and is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Attorney-General.

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5 Seconds of Summer: We’re no 1D

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5 Seconds of Summer insist they are more of a rock band than One Direction.

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The Australian group is comprised of Michael Clifford, Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood and Ashton Irwin and will support the British five-piece on their Where We Are Tour, starting in April.

Inevitable comparisons have been made between the two acts, but the boys are adamant that they are completely unique.

“The next One D is kind of an awkward comparison,” Irwin squirmed to MTV UK.

“They’re amazing at what they do and we sort of do our own thing and that’s actually why we chose to go on the tour because it’s so dynamic.

“We’re doing like a rock show thing and they do what they do and it’s kind of like, ‘Woah, they’re totally different acts.'”

Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne have been supporting the band as they rise to fame by promoting their music on Twitter.

Horan, 20, was also recently spotted at one of their London gigs.

The other boys are also reluctant to put themselves in the same camp as One Direction.

“When you see them together it kind of shows how different and that we’re not the same thing, you know what I mean?” Clifford continued.

Hemmings agreed: “Yeah I don’t think that we’re trying to be anything we’re not trying to be, if that makes sense. We’re not doing anything that’s fake, it’s just us, we’re trying to be the next 5 Seconds of Summer.”

The Where We Are Tour kicks off on April 25 in Colombia and will continue through South America, Europe and North America, before finishing in Miami on October 5.

5 Seconds of Summer are looking forward to the shows.

“It’s gonna be a big opportunity to get our music out to even more people and get a bigger audience and get more live experience,” Hemmings said.

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Celtic title win fastest in 85 years

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Celtic claimed the fastest Scottish title win in 85 years when they sealed their 45th crown with a resounding a 5-1 win over Partick Thistle.

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It is the earliest the Scottish top flight title has been won since 1928/29, when Rangers won it on March 16.

Anthony Stokes got the party started early on Wednesday night as he headed Celtic into a third minute lead before substitute Liam Henderson grabbed his first goal for the Hoops just four minutes after coming on at the interval.

Stefan Johansen then drilled an unstoppable shot past Paul Gallacher in the 53rd mintue and Leigh Griffiths and Stokes both had efforts ruled out for offside before Christie Elliott netted an 85th minute consolation for Thistle

Stokes sent a sensational strike past Gallacher before Kris Commons had the final word with a goal in the third minute of stoppage time to send Celtic 26 points clear of Aberdeen with seven games remaining and seal a 45th league championship.

The Hoops have dropped just nine points on their relentless march to the title, tasting defeat just once in a season where ‘keeper Fraser Forster set a new Scottish shut-out record of 1,256 minutes.

It is a third successive league title for Celtic and manager Neil Lennon, who celebrated four years in the job on Tuesday, to add to the five championships he clinched as a player with the Parkhead club.

Aberdeen’s draw with Ross County on Tuesday meant the Hoops fans arrived at Firhill in jubilant mood knowing that a win would clinch a third title success in a row.

They didn’t have long to wait for the party to get into full swing as Stokes headed Celtic in front with just over two minutes on the clock.

Emilio Izaguirre swung the ball over from the left and the Irish striker was left unmarked in the box to nod past Gallacher from close range.

However, the expected goal glut didn’t materialise and Thistle slowly began to get a foothold in the game without really troubling Forster.

Former Dundee United player Prince Bauben tried to pick his spot from 20 yards but saw his shot blocked before Kallum Higginbotham curled a free-kick harmlessly wide.

Celtic’s leading scorer Commons then floated a free-kick over the bar while Griffiths dragged a shot well wide from long range.

Henderson replaced Adam Matthews at the interval and the 17-year-old took just over three minutes to open his account for Celtic.

Izaguirre’s cross was dummied by Commons and Griffiths before arriving at the feet of the galloping Henderson who sent an angled drive beyond Gallacher.

Johansen sealed the win in the 53rd minute. Griffiths touched the ball into the path of the Norwegian midfielder who drove into the box past two Thistle defenders and drilled an unstoppable shot beyond the keeper for his second goal in two games.

Elliott claimed a consolation in the 85th minute when he chested down a high ball that was misjudged by Virgil van Dijk and cracked a shot past Forster.

Stokes added a fourth in the first minute of stoppage time when he collected a pass from substitute Samaras and sent a sensational strike past Gallacher from the edge of the box.

Commons rounded off the win in the third minute of stoppage time when Samaras set him up to drill a shot beyond the keeper from close range to send the Celtic fans wild.

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Record-breaking Juventus scrape past Parma

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“It wasn’t easy against Catania at the weekend and it wasn’t easy against Parma either.

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These are the sort of wins that win you the league,” said Tevez, who will miss Sunday’s trip to Napoli (1945 GMT) after being booked.

“I would like to have been there on Sunday. I don’t like not playing.”

Cristian Molinaro pulled a goal back for a spirited Parma just after the hour mark but they lost Amauri to a red card for apparently elbowing Giorgio Chiellini in an aerial challenge almost immediately afterwards.

“It gives me satisfaction to see how we played with 10 men, even if I think the red card was a bit excessive,” said Parma boss Roberto Donadoni.

“I don’t think we showed the same grit and determination in the first half that we showed in the second, but the reaction was good both in terms of determination and quality, which is encouraging.”

Defeat for Parma left them sixth, level on 47 points with fifth-placed Inter Milan, who host Udinese on Thursday.

Atalanta are four points behind the pair after a 2-0 win over 18th-placed Livorno, their fifth victory in a row, thanks to goals from Giuseppe De Luca and German Denis.

Lazio slipped to eighth with a 2-0 loss at Genoa. Antonio Conte’s Juve moved up to 81 points and stayed 20 ahead of third-placed Napoli, who beat bottom side Catania 4-2 in a thrilling game in Sicily.

Rafael Benitez’s team raced into a 4-0 halftime lead thanks to a double from Duvan Zapata, a tap-in from Jose Callejon following a comical defensive mix-up and a stunning volley from Henrique.

“We did very well in attack, but leading 4-0 at half-time made it difficult to maintain concentration,” said Benitez.

“Our objective continues to be reaching Roma in second. We have to do our work, continue winning and see where we end up. After the Juve game this weekend we’ll have only one match per week and that will make it easier for us.”

Napoli are now 10 points ahead of fourth-placed Fiorentina, having lost to Vincenzo Montella’s side in Naples at the weekend, thanks to AC Milan, who relieved the pressure on their under-fire manager Clarence Seedorf with a 2-0 win in Florence.

Milan remain in 12th place on 39 points after a 23rd-minute header from Philippe Mexes and a delicate Mario Balotelli free kick just after the hour mark secured their first league win in five games, offering Seedorf a stay of execution after reportedly being given two matches to save his job.

“A lot of false things were said. I am open to criticism as long as it is constructive, but what I see here is the intention to create controversy by spreading lies disguised as fact,” said a visibly angry Seedorf after the win.

“Those people who wrote certain things about me have to deal with their own conscience, because mine is clear.

“I tried to keep the players focused on the game, but it was impossible not to be aware of what was being said outside.”

Cagliari were the big winners at the bottom of the table, taking advantage of Livorno’s defeat by beating Hellas Verona 1-0 with a bullet Nene header and moving up to 32 points, eight clear of the drop zone.

They are five ahead of Chievo Verona, who inched three points away from the bottom three with a thumping 3-0 win against Bologna.

(Reporting by Terry Daley; Editing by Josh Reich / Ian Ransom) nL4N0MN4TU

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Mitsui helps fund Kiwi bio-fuels pioneer

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New Zealand-founded bio-fuels innovator LanzaTech has attracted $US60 million ($A65.

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24 million) in new capital, including a $US20m commitment from Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsui, which will join the LanzaTech board.

Headquartered in Chicago, but with scientific operations led from its Auckland laboratories, LanzaTech is seeking up to $US80m new funding, with a second tranche possible later this year, according to a report on the BioFuels Digest website.

Others participating in the round were German industrial giant Siemens, through its venture capital unit, CICC Growth Capital, and several of the firm’s existing investors: US billionaire Vinod Khosla’s vehicle Khosla Ventures, Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 fund, Qiming Venture Partners, and the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund.

Mitsui said, in a statement on Wednesday, it would actively contribute to developing next-generation biofuels and chemicals made from waste gases.

“Through this investment, Mitsui is going to be involved in marketing of LanzaTech’s technology, business development and product take-off worldwide.”

The operating officer for Mitsui’s Energy Business Unit II, Toru Ryoso, has been appointed to the LanzaTech board.

Biofuels Digest reports the latest funds will be used to extend LanzaTech’s core gas fermentation platform and product range, which so far includes fuels such as ethanol, or jet fuel, and commodity chemicals such as butadiene, used in nylon production and propylene, used in plastics manufacturing.

The company’s ground-breaking gas fermentation technique converts waste gases from industrial processes, such as carbon monoxide from steel mills, to commercially useful hydrocarbons and has attracted attention from the highest levels of the American defence industry, Chinese scientific academies, Chinese and Indian steel manufacturers and the civil aviation sector.

More recently, it has been developing processes using carbon dioxide waste streams.

It operates a string of demonstration facilities in China, Taiwan and India, and at the New Zealand Steel facility at Glenbrook.

Its first commercial scale production plant is under construction for completion next year by Chinese steelmaker, BaoSteel.

The company first raised seed capital in New Zealand in 2005/6.

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How to tread the job-interview minefield

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Job interviewers are looking for something.

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But what? And how do you answer those intentionally tricky questions? Here are ways to navigate the minefield of the interview room.

– Show initiative. Interviewers want job applicants to be likable, to stand out, to ask questions. At the end of an interview, ask for the job. Then, follow up based on something that was discussed. The more closely you listened during the interview, the easier it is to think of ways to follow up in a natural and unforced way.

– Read between the lines. “We’ll get back to you” is just one of the things interviewers tell job candidates that can turn out to be lies. Other doozies include “We’ll keep your resume on file” or “We were really impressed with you”.

– Be prepared. Tough questions such as “Why should I hire you?” are par for the course at a serious job interview. Another toughie: “What did you not like about your last employer?” The interviewer has asked you to say something negative about your ex-employer.

You need to turn this around and make it sound like the negative is a positive. Start with, “Actually, there are a lot of good things to say about my ex-employer, however if I need to highlight one area…”

Another possible stumper is: “Have you worked with someone who didn’t like your work?” Avoid making any negative or condescending comments about your past supervisors, because employers will tend to side with past managers and may perceive you as a troublemaker or malcontent.

Give an honest answer while extending yourself the benefit of the doubt, then say something positive about past supervisors, and suggest references.

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Nervy Liverpool stay in title contention

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Liverpool moved to within a point of Premier League leaders Chelsea with a nervy 2-1 win over Sunderland sealed by goals from Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge on Wednesday.

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Ki Sung-yeung’s 76th-minute header for relegation-threatened Sunderland ensured a tense finish at Anfield, with Liverpool forced to hang on to stay in strong contention for a first league title since 1990.

Gerrard’s 25-meter free kick in the 39th minute gave the hosts a 1-0 lead at the break and it looked like they would saunter to victory after Sturridge’s deflected goal in the 48th.

It did not turn out that way.

Liverpool’s seventh straight league win lifted the team two points above Manchester City, which has two games in hand over the sides above them, but this was not as convincing as its previous six victories – when the Reds had scored at least three goals each game.

As halftime approached, the home fans were gripped with nerves that their team was going to waste a great chance to close on Chelsea but Gerrard stepped up.

Santiago Vergini escaped with just a yellow card when he hauled down Luis Suarez when the Argentine defender was the last man. Sunderland hadn’t escaped, though, as Gerrard curled the resulting free kick into the top corner for his ninth goal in 2014.

Given Liverpool’s effervescent attacking play this season, it was no surprise when the second goal arrived less than three minutes into the second half. Sturridge collected a short ball from Jordan Henderson and curled a shot that deflected off Sunderland defender Wes Brown and into the corner.

“We’re going to win the league,” was the chant roared out from The Kop.

That goal ensured two Liverpool strikers have scored at least 20 league goals in the same season for the first time in 50 years, when Roger Hunt and Ian St. John were prolific for the Reds.

Suarez’s current haul stands at 28.

It also took the Suarez-Sturridge partnership to 48 goals this campaign – and it almost became 49 in the 72nd minute when Sturridge crashed a shot against the crossbar.

In Wednesday’s other game, West Ham ended a three-game losing streak as an own-goal by James Chester secured a 2-1 win over 10-man Hull in a match between two mid-table teams.

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Right royal ruckus for Sir Tony

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Arise, Sir Tony.

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Amid the merry-making over the prime minister’s decision to bring back knights and dames was a more serious issue about priorities.

Governments face political danger when disconnects emerge between how they appear to be spending their time and what the public wants them to do.

If you were looking at Canberra from afar early in the week you would have thought that reinstating honours and allowing bigots to blog, tweet, taunt and insult without legal consequences were upper-most on the government’s agenda.

The debate also reminded voters of one of Abbott’s stereotypes – a staunch monarchist out of touch with modern values.

The debates were somewhat surprising because the coalition doesn’t have a lot of political capital to work with.

Abbott’s week began with Newspoll marking the government down, giving Labor a 52-48 two-party lead.

Labor also, against the odds, managed to hold onto power in South Australia albeit with the support of an independent and only 47 per cent of the statewide vote.

A recent in-depth opinion survey by JWS Research examined the idea of a disconnect between the government and community opinion.

Immediately after the election, voters registered steady or increased confidence in government on their highest priority policy areas of health, the economy and education.

But six months later confidence has declined, most sharply in the area of economic health and the direction of business and industry.

According to the survey, 66 per cent of Australians rate the economy and finances in their top five most important issues, yet just 21 per cent rate the performance of governments as good or very good in this area.

Eight in 10 voters cited health as a top five issue, but only 17 per cent were happy with government performance.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the issue of government priorities will come into sharper focus as parliament rises for a six-week break before the May 13 budget.

“Every budget is a window onto a government’s soul,” he told the National Press Club this week, adding it was a sign and signal of its priorities.

He followed up with a series of questions in parliament to the prime minister about the coalition’s “twisted priorities”, citing the $5.5 billion paid parental leave scheme, the abolition of the income support bonus and the potential cuts to trade training and research.

Abbott responded by citing lifting the burden of the carbon and mining taxes from families and business, and cleaning up the union movement as his key priorities.

“This is a government which is focused on doing the right thing by the families of Australia,” he told parliament.

He urged Labor to fulfil its pre-election promise to terminate the carbon tax and not renege on support for the billions of dollars in budget cuts it had lined up to legislate before losing office.

Treasurer Joe Hockey began laying the political groundwork for the government’s first budget – a strategy to convince voters that Labor is to blame for the state of the books.

“It’s your deficit,” he yelled across the chamber this week during a debate on whose budget figures were more rubbery.

The strategy has the potential to backfire as voters wonder when the government plans to take responsibility for its own action, such as adding $14 billion in extra spending since the election.

The announcement of plans to sell Medibank Private and the first major review of national competition policy in more than two decades helped to refocus the coalition at the end of the week.

The Medibank Private decision not only reinforces the government’s pro-business message but also gives state governments some political cover for asset sales – something they have been unable to do in recent years due to public antipathy towards privatisation.

Abbott and Hockey are keen for the states to release much-needed capital tucked away in their ports, rail and other assets to spend on new infrastructure.

While knights will have their day, the helmets voters are more interested to see are the hard-hats on construction sites – preferably schools, hospitals and congestion-cutting roads and rail lines.

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