Hull City 0-1 Southampton: Fonte’s second half winner pushes Saints up the table (video)

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Extending their unbeaten run to six games, Southampton took full points from the KC Stadium on Tuesday, a result that temporarily moves the team eighth in the Premier League. On the back of a second half goal from Jose Fonte, Mauricio Pochettino’s team claimed a 1-0 victory over Hull City, a result that completed their season’s double over the Tigers.

Although Southampton had beaten Hull 4-1 earlier this season at St. Mary’s, the team would find things slightly more difficult further north. Despite two early chances for Rickie Lambert, the Saints were taken to halftime scoreless, having nearly opened the scoring when Jay Rodriguez hit the crossbar in the 31st minute.

In the second half, a steady stream of Southampton pressure finally paid off in the 69th minute, with a barrage of chances from in front of Steve Harper’s goal final producing the game’s only score.

The result prevents Hull from vaulting into the table’s top half while blunting the momentum the Tigers took from this weekend’s win at Sunderland. Now, having lost at home, Hull remain four points above the drop, the team still in danger of slipping back into a fight against relegation

Hull nearly conceded within the first five minutes when an attack down the right ended with a ball falling for Lambert near the spot. As Hull’s defense turned to face the ball, the England international had all the time he needed to find Harper’s upper-left corner. Pushing the ball just wide, Lambert missed an easy chance to make it 1-0.

Two minutes later, after a Steve Davis through ball put Lambert in on Harper, the Saints striker couldn’t lift his shot above an oncoming keeper, missing a second chance to put his team in front.

In the 14th minute, against the run of play, a speculative shot from Tom Huddlestone was glanced toward Artur Boruc’s far post by a Shane Long header, forcing the Southampton keeper to dive to keep the shot outt. The resulting rebound went off the post and off Boruc before finding early substitute  George Boyd, who volleyed the bouncing ball order the bar from just outside the six-yard box.

By the mid-point of the first half, the match had reached its equilibrium. Southampton was controlling play while seeing their advances halted just before Hull’s penalty area, while the Tigers were living off the counter, generating two threats down Ahmed Elmohamady’s flank. The closest the visitors came to an opener was Jay Rodriguez’s arching curler from 26 yards that went off the top of the crossbar in the 31st minute. Hull’s best chance saw a cross from Elmohamady find Nikica Jelavic before the Croatian international stabbed a shot to Boruc. The game went into halftime 0-0.

In addition to resuming control after halftime, Southampton increased their intensity, pinning the Tigers deep in their end soon after the game’s second kickoff. In the 69th minute, that intensity finally paid off after a series of chances, Harper saves, and goal line clearances gave way to a Jose Fonte goal. From just outside the six-yard box, the Saints defender make it 1-0.

Late match changes saw Hull mount more pressure over the game’s final half-hour, but with Southampton having made its own adjustments, the Tigers were left rolling the dice with half-chances and long distance speculation. As stoppage time arrived, Jack Cock slammed a 24-yard shot off Harper’s left upright, reminding Hull the result could have been worse.


Hull City: Harper;  McShane (Boyd 12′), Davies, Bruce, Figueroa (Brady 76); Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Livermore, Meyler (Aluko 75′); Long, Jelavic

Southampton: Boruc; Chambers, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw; Schneiderlein, Cork; Lallana (Ward-Prowse 88′), S. Davis, Rodriguez; Lambert (Guly 77′)

Goals: Fonte 69′

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.