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

Mourinho’s agent: Coach paid $27 million in taxes in Spain

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Jose Mourinho manager of Manchester United stands alongside his substitute Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on December 4, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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MADRID (AP) Jose Mourinho’s agent says the Manchester United manager paid more than 26 million euros ($27 million) in taxes when he lived in Spain from 2010-13.

The information was made public on Tuesday by Gestifute, a company run by Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes.

[ MORE: Pulisic wanted by Arsenal, Spurs ]

The Portuguese company has been releasing details about its clients’ tax declarations after European media outlets published what they claimed were details of apparent tax arrangements made by top soccer players and coaches, including Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil.

Gestifute, which also has Ronaldo as a client, has already published documents allegedly showing that Spanish fiscal authorities have certified that Mourinho and Real Madrid star Ronaldo are “up to date on … obligations.”

Mourinho coached Real Madrid from 2010-13 and took charge of United this season.

Staying in Dallas: New contract for MLS Defender of the Year Hedges

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 12:  Giles Barnes #10 of the Houston Dynamo battles for the ball with Matt Hedges #24 of FC Dallas during their game at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 12, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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This is going to turn out to be one of the most exciting years of Matt Hedges’ life.

The FC Dallas man lead one of the best back lines in Major League Soccer to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.

[ MORE: PST talks with Hedges, Zimmerman ]

He’s also likely set for a chance to return to the USMNT fold under new coach Bruce Arena, as Hedges is one of the best players to be largely ignored by Jurgen Klinsmann.

Hedges, 26, was named the MLS Defender of the Year and made the Best XI, and now he’s inked a new long-term deal with FC Dallas.

The four-year deal will keep Hedges in Dallas through his 30th birthday. Capped once, Hedges has 159 appearances with 11 goals for FCD.

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Two more Pulisic suitors in North London? USMNT teen in demand

Dortmund's Emre Mor, left, celebrates with Dortmund's Felix Passlack and Dortmund's Christian Pulisic, right, after scoring during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and SV Darmstadt in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Dortmund defeated Darmstadt with 6-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Christian Pulisic is one of the most exciting young prospects in the world.

It’s a statement that isn’t often said without hyperbole when it comes to American standouts, but the 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund man has seen his names in the gossip pages a few times this year.

While Liverpool has often been the destination, Italian site Calcio Mercato says Premier League interest is wider than Merseyside. The clubs? Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

[ VOTE: Who should win USMNT player of year? ]

Dortmund doesn’t want to sell the youngster, who is locked up through 2019. The whispered price has been $31 million at a minimum, but perhaps BVB would be tempted given their wealth of young attacking options.

Pulisic has made 27 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, nabbing four goals and six assists. He has 11 caps and three goals for the USMNT as well.

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Real Madrid asks for “utmost respect” to Ronaldo following tax drama

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 03:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid reacts after missing a chance during the La Liga  match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou on December 3, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo had been linked with massive tax evasion, but Real Madrid would ask you to kindly go back to treating him like a king now that he’s proven his innocence.

In a move usually reserved for politicians aiming for high office, Ronaldo’s agent released some of his tax documents to prove everything’s above board.

It all looks good, unlike what befell Neymar and Lionel Messi, so back off, huh?

[ MORE: Wednesday’s Champions League preview ]

From Real Madrid:

In view of the stories published over recent days and in consideration of the certificate issued by the Spanish Tax Agency which confirms that our player Cristiano Ronaldo is up to date with all of his tax obligations, Real Madrid C. F. call for the utmost respect to be shown towards Cristiano Ronaldo, whose conduct has been absolutely exemplary throughout all of his time at our club.

Only the utmost for CR7.

Real Madrid hosts Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday in a match which will decide Group F of the UEFA Champions League.

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