Southampton v Everton - Premier League

Southampton 2-0 Everton: Two own goals hurt Toffess’ top four hopes (video)

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Southampton beat Everton 2-0 at St. Mary’s on Saturday, as two first half own goals saw the Toffees shot themselves in the foot and deal a huge blow to their hopes of finishing in the top four.

Saints were 1-0 up inside the first minute, as an incisive move down the left saw Rickie Lambert cross into the box and back up Everton center back Antolin Alcaraz somehow headed the ball into his own net after just 58 seconds.

Everton tried to atone for that early error but Saints were buoyed by going ahead as Steven Davis really should have put them 2-0 up but he slotted wide. Soon after Everton continued to implode, as a right wing cross from Nathaniel Clyne saw both Alcaraz and John Stones miss the ball and Seamus Colman headed past Tim Howard to make it 2-0.

After that calamitous opening, Everton failed to recover and their dreams of making the UEFA Champions League now look to be all but over as Arsenal can take a four point lead by beating Newcastle on Monday. With the win Saints stay in eighth on 52 points, equaling their record points tally from 2000-01 and 2002-03, and Everton remain in fifth on 69 points with two games to go.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Southampton took a dramatic lead as the Toffees gave the ball away straight from the kick off and Saints pounced to punish the away side. Good build up play from Adam Lallana released Lambert on the left and his curling cross was inexplicably headed into his own net by Alcaraz who was under no pressure. It was a dream start for Saints, as Everton’s stand-in central defender was guilty of a major miscue.

Everton almost got themselves into more trouble early on, as the Toffees tried to play themselves out of danger as Saints pounced to nick the ball back and had appeals for a penalty kick against a potential handball from Stones turned down. The Toffees came back into the game with various set piece opportunities but failed to carve out a clear cut opportunity in the opening stages.

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Alcaraz heads into his own net for Southampton’s first goal.

Saints should have gone 2-0 up after 21 minutes, as Lambert was again set free down the left and he put the ball on a plate for Steven Davis but the Northern Ireland captain slotted his effort just wide of the far post. Everton whipped in some good deliveries but Saints defended them well and on the half hour mark Everton’s day went from bad to worse. A surging right wing run from the impressive Clyne saw his cross somehow missed by both Alcaraz and Stones as the ball ricocheted off Coleman’s head and into the far corner of the net. Southampton were 2-0 up… and none of their players had even scored. The home side were buoyed by that second goal, as Lallana appealed for a penalty after another handball from Stones was waved away from Michael Oliver. At the other end Steven Naismith felt Dejan Lovren handled in the box but Saints saw out the half 2-0 up.

After the break Saints continued to press Everton as Lallana cut inside and smashed over, while the home side continued to win all of the second balls in midfield. Everton brought on Leon Osman at half time and Aiden McGeady on the hour mark to try and freshen things up. In the 60th minute Saints were close to a third as Lambert deceived everyone by whipping a 25-yard free kick around the outside of the wall but the ball clipped the outside of U.S. national team ‘keeper Tim Howard’s left-hand post as Everton survived.

A huge moment of controversy arrived soon after, as Osman was brought down in the box by Dejan Lovren who slid in dangerously but the referee booked Osman for diving as Everton’s players were incensed. Saints pushed hard for a third, as Lallana appealed for yet another handball against Stones as the home side looked to put the game to bed. Good work from McGeady on the left found Romelu Lukaku in the box but the big Belgian striker headed straight at Saints’ ‘keeper Artur Boruc.

Late on Saints pushed hard for a third but Howard came up with some big saves but his side still suffered a demoralizing defeat in their hunt for a top four spot.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama, Cork, S. Davis (Do Prado, 90′), Lallana (Reed, 86′), Lambert, Gallagher (Ward-Prowse, 76′)

Subs: Ward-Prowse, Guly, Chambers, Hooiveld, Targett, Reed

Goals: Own goals – Alcaraz (1′), Coleman (31′)

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines (Garbutt, 90′), Stones, Alcaraz, Barry, McCarthy, Naismith, Barkley (Osman, 45′), Lukaku, Deulofeu (McGeady, 58;).

Bremen beats Wolfsburg to leave Bundesliga relegation zone

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Serge Gnabry of Germany reacts during the Men's First Round Football Group C match between Germany and Fiji at Mineirao Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.

Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.

It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.

Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.

Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.

Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.

Mancini reportedly not interested in Leicester City, De Boer says no

GENOA, ITALY - APRIL 20:  Head Coach of FC Internazionale Roberto Mancini looks during the Serie A match between Genoa CFC and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on April 20, 2016 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.

Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”

However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.

That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.

“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”

Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.

Win over Las Palmas again has La Real on edge of CL spot

GETAFE, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11:  Xavi Prieto of Real Sociedad in action during the La Liga match between Getafe CF and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium on December 11, 2015 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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All it took was one mistake. Real Sociedad’s Xabi Prieto capitalized, and has La Real once again on the verge of next year’s Champions League.

La Real finished 7th in 2013/14, and 9th in 2015/16, and this year, they’re closer than ever. Preito’s goal on the mistake by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas gave Real Sociedad the 1-0 road win and has them just a point off a Champions League place.

[ MORE: Antonio Conte pulling from experience to keep Chelsea on top ]

That could be even closer next week, as fourth-placed Atletico Madrid has to welcome Barcelona to the Calderon tomorrow, leaving the door open for La Real to make another move next weekend.

The goal down the stretch is not just to win the games they should, but make the teams above them work. La Real has won seven of their last ten matches, but the three losses came to Real Madrid, Villareal, and Sevilla, all teams fighting at the top of the table. They still have chances down the stretch, with matches against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Eibar coming up, with the latter on the docket next weekend.

Conte pulling from prior experience as title race pushes on

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea looks on during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at Molineux on February 18, 2017 in Wolverhampton, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Antonio Conte has recalled some painful memories to push himself and his players forward despite their commanding lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Chelsea sits eight points clear of Manchester City, and has the chance to go even further in front with many of the top teams off this weekend, but that won’t give the Italian any better sleep at night.

In the 1999/2000 season, Conte was nearing the end of his 13-year Juventus tenure. He’d won three league titles already, plus two league cup trophies and a Champions League title with the Serie A giants. With a comfortable nine point lead after 26 matches, the club became complacent. They would lose four of their final eight matches, collapsing on the final day in the pouring rain, allowing Lazio to come roaring back to win the title.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks for Week 26 ]

“I was captain of the team,” Conte said. “I remember after this game I must go to the European Championships with the national team. I didn’t sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title.”

Clearly, that still haunts him. “I have experienced this,” Conte continued. “When I continue to repeat that there are 13 games, there are 39 points… there is a long time before we can say we won the title. We must be focused, we must go step by step.”

The Blues host Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday before a trip to West Ham next weekend. If anyone believes the Chelsea players are complacent holding such a significant lead with 13 matches to go, it’s clear that’s not nearly the case. Anything can happen in three months.