Villa need to stick together, as a tough second half of the season beckons.

Southampton 2-3 Aston Villa: Possession doesn’t rule the day (video)

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Aston Villa had a mere 23% of the possession at St. Mary’s on Wednesday, yet walked away the winners, hitting Southampton with lethal counter-attacks. It’s the third straight loss for the Saints who, after a fantastic start to the season, have now slid down into seventh. Villa, however, just may have hit their stride, having moved back up into tenth with their fifth straight unbeaten match.

The goals began in the fifteenth minute off a classic counter attack. Jay Rodriguez had just seen his thundering shot from distance saved, allowing Villa to sprint up the pitch ahead of Southampton. Gabby Agbonlahor took the ball from the halfway line and, alongside Libor Kozák, went two on one with Dejan Lorven. Agbonlahor easily gave the defender the slip and put the ball into the bottom corner.

It seemed inevitable there’d be more goals, and sure enough, Southampton started off the second half quickly, with Rodriguez getting his head on the end of a cross from Nathaniel Clyne to put the ball past Brad Guzan. Moments later, Rickie Lambert had a go, but his shot from more than 35 yards was blocked. It was clear that the hosts were intent on a winner, pressing forward and trying to get past a normally fragile Villa defense.

But again it was Villa, and again from almost nothing. A quick counter allowed Karim El Ahmadi the chance to put a cross through to Kozák, waiting in the center. The Czech got his head on the end of it, smashing in from close range, although it must be said that stand-in Saints keeper Paolo Gazzaniga did a bit to help bring it into the back of the net.

The visitors had their lead for a mere five minutes this time, and then their defense fell to pieces. A headed pass from Lambert, who was lurking near the post, was met by Pablo Osvaldo, who was clear to head it into the back of the net.

In the end, though, it was Southampton, who had kept such a strong defensive record for the first ten games, who allowed the final goal. Fabian Delph took the ball up from midfield, scaring off the Saints defense as he went. The midfielder let fly from distance, his scorcher rising and finally settling into the top corner of Gazzaniga’s net.

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Clyne (Fonte 59), Yoshida, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama (Cork 45), S. Davis, Ward-Prowse (Osvaldo 38), Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert

Subs not used: Cropper, Chambers, Hooiveld, Gallagher

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar (Lowton), Clark, Baker, Luna, El Ahmadi (Weimann 86), Westwood, Delph, Agbonlahor, Kozák (Benteke 66)

Subs not used: Steer, Albrighton, Sylla, Tonev

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.