Ross Barkley and Everton are on a roll.

Newcastle United 0-3 Everton: Ruthless transition vaults Toffees fifth in Premier League (video)

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Goals from Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku, and Leon Osman have lifted Everton into fifth place in the English Premier League, a 3-0 win over Newcastle United that allows Roberto Martínez’s team to renew its lingering Champions League dreams. Leveraging a transition game that countered the Magpies into submission, the Toffees moved within six points for fourth place Arsenal, with their convincing win in Newcastle revitalizing faint top-four hopes.

Barkley opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, capping a 65-yard run after a Newcastle corner to beat Tim Krul from close range. Early in the second half, Romelu Lukaku beat the Magpies’ defense to a ball rolled into the six-yard box by Gerard Deulofeu, his one-timed shot giving the Toffees their 16th win of the season. Three minutes before time, Osman scored from the middle of the Newcastle area to give the Toffees a convincing three-goal result.

The loss keeps Newcastle eighth, five points behind Manchester United, but deals a blow to their Europa League hopes. It also marks the seventh time in eight games the Toon has gone scoreless in the absence of striker Loïc Rémy.

A flurry of Newcastle chances near the second minute got the game off to an engaging start, with Luuk de Jong and Papiss Cissé drawing goal mouth blocks from James McCarthy before Yoan Gouffran whiffed on chance from 14 yards out. Everton quickly came into the match and was pushing toward Krul’s goal minutes later, foreshadowing a half of ambitious soccer from each side.

Newcastle’s nine shots over the first 45 minutes hinted the Magpies had the better for play, a deceiving figure in light of what happened in the 22nd minute. Off a corner to the right of Tim Howard’s goal, Everton broke out, eventually feeding Barkley as the young attacker first full speed going into Newcastle’s end. The aspiring England international took it from there, carrying the ball to the edge of the six-yard box before finishing high into Krul’s goal, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Early in the second half, Lukaku doubled that edge. Again executing in transition, Everton saw a ball sent in from the right by Gerard Deulofeu cross goal just inside the six-yard box. There Lukaku was able to beat the Newcastle defense to put home his 12th goal of the season, Everton having countered their way to a decisive lead at St. James’ Park.

Newcastle’s best chance to get back in the game came in the 78th minute when substitute Hatem Ben Arfa, dribbling through the Everton defense, rolled a ball far post for Vurnon Anita. Sliding at the right post, the Magpies’ midfielder pushed his shot wide, relegating the home side to being shutout.

In the 82nd minute, another transition opportunity ended any lingering hopes of a Newcastle comeback, with a break sparked by Steven Naismith ending when a ball played back for Osman was fired into in Krul’s upper-left hand corner. The midfielder’s third goal of the year gave Everton its final margin of victory, rekindling hopes the Toffees can still record their second top four finish in the Premier League era.

LINEUPS

Newcastle United: Krul; Yanga-Mbiwa (Marveaux 75′), Williamson, Coloccini, Dummet; Sissoko, Anita, Tioté, Gouffran (Shola Ameobi 90′); de Jong, Cissé

Everton: Howard; Baines, Distin, Stones, Coleman; Barry, McCarthy; Deulofeu, Barkley (Naismith 82′), Osman; Lukaku

Goals: Barkley (22′), Lukaku (52′), Osman (87′)

Robbie Keane still entertaining offers ahead of return

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Soccer Player Robbie Keane arrives at the Premiere of IFC Films' "Pele: Birth Of A Legend" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Robbie Keane is still sorting out his future, and it seems unlikely he’s heading back to the past.

Keane is training in Dublin ahead of a return to the pitch. The 36-year-old striker left the LA Galaxy this offseason, and says he’s had several offers from Championship squads in England as well as a few clubs abroad.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Although he’s starred for Wolverhampton and Leeds, destinations where fans would welcome his arrival, Keane says not to hold your breath.

From TalkSport.com:

“I’ve had a lot of people asking me about coming back to Leeds and Wolves, and they’re great clubs I’ve played for, but you can’t go somewhere if people actually don’t offer you anything.

“Until it’s actually in writing to me I can’t comment much on it, but I definitely haven’t heard from Leeds or Wolves.”

Whether Stateside or in England, Keane can still have an impact on a team’s fortunes. We look forward to seeing him back on the field, and to hear some more quips as well.

Consider his answer to whether he’d entertain an offer from China:

“If they gave the money Diego Costa was offered, I’d walk there now,” Keane said.

Galaxy adds center mid from Portuguese top flight

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LA Galaxy’s roster reformation continues with the addition of Joao Pedro, a day after formalizing a deal with USMNT midfielder Jermaine Jones.

The 23-year-old center midfielder was with Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal’s top flight, and comes to the club as a “Special Discovery Player” with Targeted Allocation Money.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Pedro has a goal in 17 appearances this season, as Vitoria Guimaraes sits fifth in the Primeira Liga.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“Joao is an extremely talented midfielder who has experience playing at a high level in Portugal,” said Galaxy general manager Peter Vagenas in a written statement released by the club.

“He is only 23 years old and has the best years of his career front of him. We identified him as a top target this offseason and we think he can immediately help strengthen our midfield. We look forward to welcoming Joao to Los Angeles as we continue to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Pedro was a regular for Vitoria Guimaraes but is far from a certainty to star for the Galaxy. We do know that Vagenas has probably done his research as to whether Pedro fits with Jermaine Jones.

AFCON wrap: Senegal clinches first knockout round slot

Senegal's, Sadio Mane, right, is challenged by Zimbabwe's, Willard Katsande, left, during the African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match between Senegal and Zimbabwe at, Stade de Franceville Stadium, in Franceville, Gabon Thursday Jan. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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Senegal has advanced to the knockout rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving three teams to work for the second Group B slot come the final day.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Senegal 2-0 Zimbabwe

Sadio Mane (Liverpool) and Henri Saivet (Saint-Etienne) scored within the first 13 minutes as Senegal clinched Group B with a win over Zimbabwe. There were 48 shots between the two teams, 24 for Senegal, in a fairly open affair. As for the Warriors, they’ll need to beat Tunisia on Monday.

Algeria 1-2 Tunisia

Tunisia rebounded from a loss to Senegal without scoring from the run of play. Lille mid Naim Sliti scored a penalty after an Algeria own goal made it 1-0. Anderlecht midfielder Sofiane Hanni scored for Algeria.

Friday’s matches
Ivory Coast vs. DR Congo — 11 a.m. ET
Morocco vs. Togo — 11 a.m. ET

Wenger concerned Chinese wages become benchmark for players

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 15:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on during an Arsenal press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Barcelona at Camp Nou on March 15, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hoping the high quality of competition in Europe will keep players from leaving for the financial gain in China.

Wenger is facing regular questions about the future of both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, and the big money on offer in the Chinese league can complicate negotiations.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez joined Shanghai Shenhua last month in a deal worth $40 million over two years.

“The danger (is) that the Chinese offers become the benchmark for Europe,” Wenger said Thursday. “You cannot compete with that, but I still think that, when you’re a footballer, the first thing is that you want to play against the best players in the best teams.”

Wenger said players that want the best compensation for playing in the best quality league need not look to Asia.

“I think that combination is the best in England at the moment, so I don’t see why the players should leave the English Premier League,” Wenger said.

Wenger, whose team is fourth in the standings, has made only one signing in the January transfer window, picking up defender Cohen Bramall from non-league club Hednesford.

Arsenal has also decided to keep captain Per Mertesacker for another season. Wenger announced Thursday that the club has taken up a one-year option to extend the contract of the 32-year-old German, who has not played this season because of a knee injury sustained during a friendly in July.

Mertesacker faces a fight to get back into the team because Shkodran Mustafi, an offseason signing from Valencia, has built a strong partrnership with vice captain Laurent Koscielny at the heart of Wenger’s defense.