SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Liverpool fans display a banner prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on March 1, 2014 in Southampton, England.

Southampton 0-3 Liverpool: Reds slip into second (video)

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After beating Southampton 3-0, will Liverpool fans dare to dream of a title? After all, the win lifts them into second place, even on points with Arsenal and just four points behind table-toppers Chelsea. Reality might sink in upon realizing that Manchester City, two points back, have two games in hand, but for now, it must be nice to be a Red.

It came as quite a surprise – and certainly a disappointment for the majority of fans assembled at St. Mary’s – when the first half finished 1-0, the only goal coming from Luis Suárez. It was Southampton that looked the better side for the majority of the first 45, yet somehow, it was Liverpool that went into the break holding the lead.

The goal seemed to come out of nowhere. Suárez and Danny Sturridge exchanged passes after a throw-in, but nothing that seemed too threatening. Then José Fonte’s attempt to clear the ball resulted in his delivering it straight to Suárez, who of course took advantage. The Uruguayan made no mistake, placing his shot neatly into the corner of the net, past a diving Artur Boruc.

Southampton pushed their way back into the match, with Rickie Lambert placing a difficult shot over the top of the bar in the 25th minute. Five minutes later, Lambert chested down for Adam Lallana, whose low shot collided with the post.

Then it was Lambert and Lallana combining once more, with some help from Luke Shaw, to set up Jay Rodriguez, who put his shot just high. Rodriguez very nearly had an equalizer just before the break, getting on the end of Shaw’s cross to force a one-handed save from Simon Mignolet.

But Brendan Rodgers knew that the one goal lead wouldn’t be enough and so, in the 57th minute, replaced Philippe Coutinho with Raheem Sterling. It took just 80 seconds for the substitute to make an impact. Steven Gerrard sent the ball up from the back, perfectly placed for Suárez to run onto. Dejan Lovren went the wrong way, allowing the Uruguayan to pull back and provide Sterling the opportunity to score Liverpool’s second.

As if that wasn’t enough for poor Southampton – who’d certainly put on a good show in the first half, at least – Gerrard had to add to the humiliation by putting in a penalty with the final play of the game. Fonte, who really was not having a very good game, foolishly brought down Suárez inside the area. The Liverpool captain coolly converted with a shot into the top corner.

Southampton: Boruc, Chambers, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Cork (Wanyama 77), Schneiderlin, Davis (Ramírez 46), Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert (Gallagher 76)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan, Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Coutinho (Sterling 57), Sturridge (Aspas 85), Suárez

Goals: Suárez 16′, Sterling 58, Gerrard 90+5′

Gotze’s Bayern future remains uncertain; Sadio Mane still Liverpool’s Plan B?

MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 14: Mario Goetze of Muenchen celebrates after the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Hannover 96 at Allianz Arena on May 14, 2016 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Getty Images For MAN)
Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Getty Images For MAN
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Sadio Mane has been an extremely in-demand commodity since last summer, when Manchester United and a handful of other Premier League and foreign clubs failed to pry the Southampton winger away from the South Coast in either one of the summer or January transfer windows.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Great players will always be in demand, though, which means another summer full of transfer rumors linking the ever-dangerous 24-year-old to clubs across England and Europe.

Enter stage left: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who’s eager to undertake his first summer transfer window since taking the Anfield job last October.

[ MORE: Man United confirm Mourinho as new manager ]

Mario Gotze is said to remain Klopp’s no. 1 target this summer — the 23-year-old has said he intends to remain at Bayern Munich and fight for his place under new manager Carlo Ancelotti, but the Bayern hierarchy (Ancelotti included) perhaps see it differently — with Mane a not-so-terrible Plan B should Gotze remain at the Allianz Arena or land elsewhere. Gotze has scored just 22 Bundesliga goals in three seasons at Bayern (36 in all competitions) since making a big-money move from Borussia Dortmund three years ago.

[ MORE: VIDEO — Marcus Rashford scores a debut England goal

After a promising debut in England saw Mane score 10 goals in 30 PL games two seasons ago, the Senegalese dynamo followed up with an 11-goal haul in the PL season just completed (15 goals in all competitions), much of which was shrouded in transfer rumors and clear discontent at St. Mary’s Stadium. Mane will cost anyone a great deal more — think 10 to $15 million more — than the $30 million Bayern hope to recoup in their sale of Gotze (they paid roughly $40 million for him in the summer of 2013).

Pre-EURO int’l friendly roundup: Rooney, Rashford score as England win again

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 27:  Wayne Rooney of England scores his team's second goal of the game during the International Friendly match between England and Australia at Stadium of Light on May 27, 2016 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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A roundup of international friendlies as 24 European nations prepare for EURO 2016…

[ MORE: Man United confirm Mourinho as new manager ]

England 2-1 Australia

Roy Hodgson seems to have one of those good dilemmas on his hands: with Danny Welbeck already out for EURO 2016, and Daniel Sturridge injured yet again, does he take 18-year-old Marcus Rashford to France next month? The Manchester United striker is certainly making his case after a breakout finish to the 2015-16 Premier League campaign, which he followed up on Friday with a goal all of three minutes into his England debut (WATCH HERE).

Wayne Rooney doubled England’s lead 10 minutes after he entered the game as a halftime substitute (WATCH HERE), extending the England and Man United captain’s record goal haul to 52 in his international career. Eric Dier scored an embarrassing header to pull one back for the Australians in the 75th minute (WATCH HERE).

England will host Portugal at Wembley Stadium next Thursday in either side’s final pre-EURO friendly.

[ MORE: VIDEO — Marcus Rashford scores another debut goal

Ireland 1-1 Netherlands

The Dutch aren’t headed to EURO 2016 themselves, but the Irish certainly are, and Martin O’Neill’s side picked up a bit of positive momentum in the form of a 1-1 draw with the 2014 World Cup semifinalists.

Southampton’s Shane Long put the Irish ahead when he cleaned up a goal-line scramble on the half-hour mark, but former Newcastle United striker Luuk De Jong turned home a free kick to equalize for the visitors with five minutes remaining in regular time.

[ MORE: Mourinho — “I prefer to forget the last three years at United” ]

Elsewhere in international friendlies

Northern Ireland 3-0 Belarus
Croatia 1-0 Moldova
Czech Republic 6-0 Malta
Slovakia 3-1 Georgia

Former NBA exec named CONCACAF’s new secretary general

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MIAMI (AP) CONCACAF has appointed former NBA executive Philippe Moggio as its general secretary.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | BC | D ]

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said Moggio will take his position June 13.

Moggio previously served as senior vice president and managing director of Latin America and the Caribbean for the NBA.

[ MORE: Preview — USMNT faces Bolivia in final Copa America tune-up ]

As CONCACAF general secretary, Moggio will be in charge of the organization’s daily business and operations. He succeeds Ted Howard, who has served in the role since last May.

CONCACAF has undergone changes in its governing structure since the sport’s global corruption scandal hit.

VIDEO: Man United’s Marcus Rashford scores 3 minutes into his England debut

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 26:  Marcus Rashford of England arrives at the team hotel on the eve of their international friendly against Australia at the Hilton Gateshead on May 26, 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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12 months ago Nine months ago Six months ago Three months ago, if anyone asked you, “who is Marcus Rashford?” you, just like me, probably would have responded as such: “I haven’t a clue. Should I know who he is?”

[ MORE: Man United confirm Mourinho as new manager ]

Stars are, of course, born overnight in the sports world, and the 18-year-old Manchester United striker, who spent 12 years with the club’s youth academy, is just the latest example. On Feb. 25, he made his first-team debut and scored twice in the Europa League. Three days later, he made his Premier League debut, again scoring twice.

[ MORE: Mourinho — “I prefer to forget the last three years at United” ]

Fast forward to Friday, and Rashford is a fully-fledged England international. In keeping up with the theme of his other debuts this season, he marked his international debut with a goal against Australia after just three minutes of play at the Stadium of Light.

It remains to be seen whether Rashford completes his hat trick of debut braces this year. We’ll update this post if he does so.