Crystal Palace v Southampton - Premier League

Crystal Palace 0-1 Southampton: Rodriguez’s bizarre strike seals Saints’ win (video)

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Southampton beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday, as a first half strike from Jay Rodriguez was enough to give Saints all three points.

Palace battled hard throughout the match but Saints bossed possession and Rodriguez’s 11th Premier League goal of the campaign came courtesy of a bizarre finish in the 37th minute. Rodriguez raced through on goal after nipping the ball in front of Palace’s defense and won a block tackle with ‘keeper Julian Speroni before rolling the ball into an empty net from 30-yards out, while laying on the ground.

Saints came close to a second as they hit the post through Rickie Lambert but held firm, despite Palace’s intense pressure, to seal their first win in four games. With the victory Mauricio Pochettino’s side stay in ninth spot on 42 points, while Palace remain in the relegation battle just two points and two places above the bottom three.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup – Chelsea extend lead, Man United click, huge win for Cardiff)

Southampton started the game well but Palace pushed forward early on and forced the issue in front of a fanatical group of home supporters at Selhurst Park.

As the first half wore on Saints imposed themselves on the game more as Palace struggled to get hold of the ball.

source: Getty Images
Saints celebrate Rodriguez’s game-winner, as the South Coast club prevail.

Saints had 72 percent of possession in the opening 30 minutes but had no real clear cut chances to show for their efforts. Adam Lallana, Rodriguez and Luke Shaw were all making clever runs going forward but to no avail. Midway through the half Jack Cork suffered a nasty ankle injury and was replaced by Victor Wanyama. Soon after Saints were 1-0 up as a hopeful punt forward was chased down by England international Rodriguez who nipped the ball past Damien Delaney, then won a 50-50 challenge with Palace’ keeper Speroni before slotting home while he sat on the floor.

The goal gave Southampton a 1-0 lead at the break, which could’ve been 2-0 but Lambert was denied by the post, as Saints were finally rewarded for dominating possession.

After the break Saints sat back and Palace went on the attack as Yannick Bolasie raced clear and could only be brought down by Dejan Lovren for a free kick. Luckily for Saints and Lovren, right back Nathaniel Clyne was covering so it meant no red card and the Eagles wasted a great opportunity from the set piece.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

Palace continued to press and put Saints under intense pressure, but the away side went close midway through the first half via Lambert’s free kick which flashed just over the crossbar. The Eagles made a double substitution to liven things up as Tom Ince and Cameron Jerome were thrown on to give Palace a chance of snatching a point or more.

But despite their best endeavors the Eagles couldn’t break down a stubborn Southampton side as the South Coast club completed the double over Palace this season.


Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Moxey, Dikgacoi (Jerome, 66), Jedinak, Ledley, Puncheon (Ince, 66), Bolasie (Thomas, 83), Murray. Subs: Hennessey, Gabbidon, Bannan, Thomas, Ince, Gayle, Jerome

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Cork (Wanyama, 34), Schneiderlin, S. Davis (Ward-Prowse, 89), Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert (Gallagher, 75)

Goal: Rodriguez (37)

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.