Arsenal 2-0 Southampton: Giroud double extends Gunners lead at the top (video)

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Arsenal stretched their lead at the summit of the Premier League standings with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The Gunners were gifted their first goal as a calamitous from Saints goalkeeper Artur Boruc let Olivier Giroud tap into an empty net. To their credit Southampton pushed the league leaders hard and had some great opportunities to draw level through Jay Rodriguez and Victor Wanyama.

Late on Arsenal sealed the win when Giroud scored from the penalty spot, as the Gunners wen four-points clear of second-placed Liverpool and six points ahead of Southampton in third.

After the kick off was delayed at the Emirates Stadium due to problems on the London Underground, visitors Southampton took the game to the Gunners as the Saints took the game to the home side.

The first chance of the game almost produced a goal as Jack Wilshere surged into the box and his delicate chip towards the back post got the faintest of touches from Southampton ‘keeper Boruc who deflected the strike onto the post and away to safety.

In the 17th minute the Gunners hit the woodwork again as Mesut Ozil cut in from the right and found Aaron Ramsey with a delicate cross. The Welsh international performed a terrific back heel flick towards which looked to be going in but clipped the far post.

Shortly after Southampton shot themselves in the foot with an absolute howler from Polish goalkeeper Boruc. The ball was played back to him and instead of launching it upfield or out of play, he tried a Cruyff turn to get around Olivier Giroud three times before he was dispossessed by the French striker who then tapped home the opener into an empty net.

Arsenal looked quite comfortable after they were handed a 1-0 lead but the Saints did press forward and Adam Lallana forced Wojiech Szczesny into a fine stop as the England man volleyed a superb effort goalwards. Shortly after Lallana’s fellow England international Jay Rodriguez forced Szczesny into making another great stop.

Saints came back into the game as the half time whistle went but that costly mistake from Boruc proved the difference at the interval.

After the break Saints had the majority of the play as Daniel Osvaldo came on and the South Coast club threw the kitchen sink at Arsenal. Both Rodriguez and Lambert went close as Arsenal planned to pounce on the counter attack.

The Gunners, as always, looked controlled in possession but Saints looked incredibly dangerous from set pieces and in the 78th minute a James Ward-Prowse corner was cleared to the edge of the box and Victor Wanyama hammered a shot just over the bar as Southampton pushed for an equalizer.

Late on Arsenal opened up their legs and substitute Theo Walcott almost wrapped up the win against his former side but his rasping shot went wide of the far post in the 82nd minute.

In the 85th minute Arsenal did seal the win as Giroud scored his and Arsenal’s second from the penalty spot following Jose Fonte’s tug on Per Mertesacker in the box.

The Saints were their own worst enemies as the Gunners marched on at the top of the table, with a ninth win from 12 PL games this season.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta (Rosicky, 74), Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil (Monreal, 81), Cazorla (Walcott, 70), Giroud

Goals: Giroud (21), Giroud (85)

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Shaw (Davis, 45), Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse, Lallana (Osvaldo, 54), Rodriguez, Lambert.

CCL: Toronto wins; Wild Herediano comeback

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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On a single-digit Tuesday that severely limited the attendance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC dueled in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Jonathan Osorio’s second half goal put the Reds in front and Sebastian Giovinco had a goal and an assist and the visitors take a 2-0 decision back to Ontario.

The best chance of a preseason quality first half saw Dominique Badji flub the best chance of the stage into the feet of Alex Bono.

Toronto took the lead, nabbing the away goal through Osorio’s header of a Sebastian Giovinco cross. And the Atomic Ant got on the board with a goal of his own off an Auro assist with 17 minutes to play.

[ MORE: Georgia teen heading to Schalke ]

Tuesday’s other first leg saw Herediano and Tigres play to a 2-2 draw in Costa Rica, with the Liga MX visitors taking a pair of away goals but shocked by a pair of stoppage time concessions.

Francisco Meza scored in the 15th minute and Lucas Zelarayan seemingly put it to bed with 15 minutes to play.

But Yendrick Ruiz converted a 90th minute penalty kick before ex-DC United forward Jairo Arrieta did this ahead of the Feb. 22 second leg in Mexico.

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

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Schalkamerica?

Bundesliga mainstays Schalke have added yet another American, this one 17-year-old Zyen Jones of Atlanta United. Jones is a forward with the U.S. U-17 national team.

Like Josh Sargent, who signed his deal with Werder Bremen on Tuesday, he’ll head overseas and sign a pro contract on Aug. 25, his 18th birthday.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Jones will join several potential USMNT teammates in Gelsenkirchen, including injured senior team midfielder Weston McKennie and youngster Nick Taitague (19). Forward Haji Wright is on loan at Sandhausen.

Report: Simon Dawkins making move to Minnesota

Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
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The Loons are taking a flier on Simon Dawkins.

The London-born Jamaican international hasn’t done a ton since returning to MLS from Derby County, and turned 30 over the offseason, and Paul Tenorio says the player is on his way to Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Dawkins scored 14 goals between 2011-12 with San Jose, but scored just five times in his return to California and was blanked in 14 appearances last season. He registered just 10 shots in those matches.

The left winger would join an attack with Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay, and a pair of Generations Adidas forwards: Abu Danladi (2017 SuperDraft) and Mason Toye (2018).

Champions League Weds. preview: Sevilla-Man Utd, Shakhtar-Roma

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Jose Mourinho says Manchester United is one round away from having legitimate hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

That makes the Round of 16 tie against Sevilla — beginning Wednesday in Spain — a bit of a dream qualifier for the Red Devils.

“I normally say that Champions League dreams start around the quarter-finals and not yet in the last 16,” Mourinho said on ManUtd.com. “Last 16 still looks a long way to go. When a team reaches the quarter-finals, I think it’s the moment where even the teams that are not favourites – which is our case – they start realising that anything is possible.

The injury-hit side got a bit of a boost on Tuesday in Sevilla, where Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera all trained ahead of the first leg.

As for the hosts, manager Vincenzo Montella admitted that he hopes Pogba won’t play, and joked that he’d prefer to tie up and “padlock” Alexis Sanchez in a bid to defend against the Chilean star.

The final Round of 16 tie to start will be Roma’s pairing with Shakhtar Donetsk, with the first leg taking place in Ukraine.

Shakhtar hasn’t played in some time, but the great equalizer is the bitter cold at Donbass Arena, where the temperature is set to be between 21 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit come kickoff.

Don’t worry, Roma fans, Daniele De Rossi is busy breathing fire into any teammates angling for excuses:

“The cold weather could affect things a little because we’re not used to it but at the end of the day it comes down to how well you perform out there. We must be mentally ready from the get-go because the cold might hit us in the opening minutes.

“If it was that much of a factor, these teams would win the Champions League every year. You don’t go through because of the weather.”