Fulham 0-3 Southampton: England stars give Saints win (video)

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Southampton surged to an impressive 3-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday, as three England internationals stole the show.

Goals from Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez in 12 second half minutes did the damage as Saints sped away from Fulham with a marvelous display.

The opening 45 minutes was a largely even affair, if anything, Fulham shaded it, but this damaging defeat at home sees Rene Muelensteen’s side bottom of the table and three points from safety.

While Saints are now unbeaten in four games, with the South Coast club sitting pretty in ninth spot on 35 points after their win.

(MORE: Premier League Standings)

Early on Fulham youngster Dan Burn headed over the bar early on, as the Cottagers settled well at home.

Southampton looked decent on the break, but Fulham had done all the pressing as new signing Lewis Holtby and Steve Sidwell both hit shots off target in a good opening for the Cottagers.

Brede Hangeland then had a header saved terrifically by Artur Bourc, as Fulham piled on the pressure at Craven Cottage.

In the 29th minute Morgan Schneiderlin saw his header cleared off the line, as Saints recovered well from their shaky start. But then Fulham kept coming back as Darren Bent was thwarted by Boruc twice in quick succession.

Saints started to get their free-flowing style going as half time approached, as Adam Lallana got on the ball and delivered a great cross that Jay Rodriguez couldn’t quite get on the end of. The teams went in at the break locked at 0-0.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup – Massive wins for Stoke, Sunderland, Cardiff)

After the interval Saints went close after Schneiderlin’s acrobatic effort went just over the bar and the visitors began to build some pressure.

Soon that was too much for Fulham to handle as Rickie Lambert played in Lallana and the England international smashed an effort into the bottom with his left-foot to put Saints 1-0 up.

Southampton were then on the rampage as Lambert, Jose Fonte, Jay Rodriguez  and Steven Davis all went close to adding a second. Then in the 69th minute they did, as Lambert finished off clinically after a sweeping move from Saints saw Nathaniel Clyne get free on the right and deliver it on a plate for England striker Lambert.

Rodriguez then curled in a cracker in the 75th minute, as all three of Southampton’s England international got on the score sheet in front of Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson.

Saints played out the game by knocking the ball around comfortably, and Fulham are now in a whole spot of bother at the bottom of the standings. Saints deserved winners.

LINEUPS

Fulham: Stekelenburg; Riether, Hangeland, Burn, Richardson; Duff (Dempsey, 65), Sidwell, Kvist (Tankovic, 83), Parker (Kasami, 74), Holtby; Bent.

Southampton: Boruc, Chambers (Clyne, 58), Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw, Wanyama (Cork, 45), Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Lallana, Rodriguez (Gallagher, 87), Lambert.

Goal: Lallana (63), Lambert (69), Rodriguez (75)

Ajax reunion at Palace as De Boer signs center back

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Crystal Palace has added much needed depth and youth to its corps of center backs with 20-year-old Ajax man Jairo Riedewald.

The left back in Ajax’s UEFA Europa League loss to Manchester United, Riedewald completed better than 92 percent of his passes in Eredivisie play. He also nabbed 2.2 interceptions per match.

[ MORE: Russia’s straw stadium ]

Fellow Palace center backs James Tompkins, Scott Dann, and Damien Delaney average age is 31.3.

Riedewald played for Palace boss Frank De Boer at Ajax. From Palace’s official site:

“He will be an excellent addition to our squad, Jairo is a young player but already has a lot of experience. I know he is looking forward to playing in the Premier League.”

Riedewald played the majority of his Eredivisie matches at center back, but has 18 appearances as a defensive midfielder and another 12 at left back.

He’s Palace’s second addition of this summer, the other being a loan of Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Chelsea.

Russian farmer’s straw stadium pokes fun at World Cup costs

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KRASNOYE, Russia (AP) Russia is desperate to control its spending on the 2018 World Cup, and a farmer might just have the answer – straw.

In a project straight out of the “Three Little Pigs” fairytale, Roman Ponomaryov has built a straw replica of the 43 billion ruble ($700 million) stadium in St. Petersburg which will host World Cup semifinals.

His arena made of 4,500 straw bales comes with tiered seating for 300 and flagpoles. It hosted its first tournament – for local teams only – last weekend using modified soccer rules.

[ VIDEO: Man United beat Real Madrid ] 

“It’s good to get people excited and create a sports atmosphere ahead of the World Cup,” Ponomaryov said in a recent interview.

The real St. Petersburg Stadium has drawn ire for its cost, corruption scandals, delays, and workers’ deaths.

Ponomaryov is a fan of the Zenit St. Petersburg club and says he modeled his straw stadium on Zenit’s new home in a gentle dig at the problems around the construction.

“It seemed pretty strange … how the cost of the stadium and its construction timeframe were increasing,” he said. Russia’s total World Cup budget is around $10.7 billion.

Zenit has accepted the straw stadium with good humor, offering Ponomaryov a ticket to a game at the real thing.

The harvest will keep him on the farm for the next few weeks, though, and he has in mind another project – organizing a Straw World Cup.

Spain’s sports court opens disciplinary procedure vs. Villar

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Spain’s administrative court for sport has initiated disciplinary procedures against Spanish Football Federation president Angel Maria Villar after he was arrested and jailed in a corruption probe.

The opening of the disciplinary procedure on Monday clears the way for Spain’s sports authority, the Higher Council of Sport, to rule whether it will temporarily suspend Villar when they meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time (1700 GMT).

The court’s decision had been expected since Thursday, when the Higher Council of Sport asked the court to act against Villar following his arrest.

Villar, his son Gorka, federation vice president Juan Padron, and Ramon Hernandez, the secretary of the regional football federation of Tenerife, were arrested last Tuesday when police raided the national federation’s headquarters and other properties.

The four were arrested on charges of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

National Court judge Santiago Pedraz ordered last week that the Villars and Padron remain in jail without bail after questioning them. Hernandez’s bail was set at 100,000 euros ($116,000).

The elder Villar is FIFA’s senior vice president and also a vice president of UEFA. He’s been president of the Spanish federation since 1988.

Judge Pedraz said the 67-year-old Villar is suspected of misappropriating private and public funds received by the federation “at least since 2009.”

MLS rejected $4 billion deal which wanted promotion/relegation

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Major League Soccer has confirmed it brushed aside a $4 billion TV deal which insisted on promotion and relegation coming into place in North America’s top-flight.

A report from the Sports Business Journal stated that the owner of NASL side Miami FC Riccardo Silva gave a presentation to the league and owners on June 26, offering a 10-year deal for the domestic and international TV rights from 2023 with one clause: promotion and relegation had to become commonplace in MLS.

Of course, Silva, who founded the media company MP & Silva who put in the bid, would love for there to be promotion and relegation in MLS as his team cannot currently rise above the second-tier NASL.

Jeff Carlisle from ESPN has the following statement from Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president of communications.

“As was stated to Mr. Silva both in person and in a subsequent letter, Major League Soccer is prohibited contractually from engaging in discussions about our media rights with other distributors. We are not in a position, nor are we interested, in engaging with Mr. Silva on his proposal.”

“It is also important to note that since its inception, MLS, like the other North American leagues, has dealt directly with its domestic broadcast partners, rather than through agents and brokers. This ensures that the league and its partners can structure an agreement that addresses all elements, such as scheduling, marketing and digital distribution, that are required for a successful partnership.”

This deal would quadruple the current annual TV deal MLS has with Fox, ESPN and Univision, but it has been stated that no new deal can be discussed until at least 2021.

With cities across the U.S. and Canada lining up to pay the $150 million MLS expansion fee, league commission Don Garber has stated multiple times that promotion and relegation is not needed in the U.S. Soccer pyramid.

With USL and NASL now both second-tier, the only way they can become a top-tier franchise is by buying into MLS with two markets set to be selected later this year from 12 current expansion bids, plus David Beckham’s franchise in Miami still pushing ahead with plans to join the league.