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;).

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.

League Cup semi: Man City take 2-1 lead into 2nd leg vs. Bristol

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Manchester City can move one step closer on Tuesday to claiming their first of four potential trophies this season, when Pep Guardiola‘s men take on Bristol City in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday ]

After coming back to beat the Robins in the first leg at home, Man City must now go on the road and take care of business to reach the Feb. 25 final at Wembley Stadium. As he has done so many times — and so famously — in the sky blue of City, Sergio Aguero grabbed the late winner (91st minute — WATCH HERE) 14 days ago.

For a few not-so-insignificant periods of the game, Bristol were very much the aggressors and appeared more likely to make the score 2-0 than for City to get back to 1-1. Bobby Reid converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after her was brought down under John Stones‘ wild, sliding tackle. Kevin De Bruyne leveled things up 10 minutes into the second half, setting the stage for Aguero’s late heroics.

[ MORE: Alexis-for-Mkhi swap complete | De Bruyne’s new contract ]

Since the first leg on Jan. 9, City have failed in their bid to finish the PL season with an unbeaten record before bouncing back to beat Newcastle United on the weekend, courtesy of a hat trick from Aguero — Guardiola quotes, from Sport24:

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have. Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.”

[ MORE: One dream January signing for each top-six side ]

Bristol, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times: it’s been nearly a month (Boxing Day, to be specific — five losses, one draw) since Lee Johnson’s side last won a game in any competition, and they’ve fallen from second to fifth in the Championship table — Johnson quotes, from the Guardian:

“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win. It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?

“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”

The winner of Arsenal versus Chelsea (0-0 after the first leg) awaits in the final.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal between Arsenal and Manchester United finally becoming reality (0:20), Swansea’s stunning 1-0 victory over Liverpool (9:20), Southampton’s much-needed draw with Spurs (22:30) and Watford’s decision to part ways with Marco Silva (36:20). The gents end the show sharing their memories of the late English striker, Cyrille Regis (39:45).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.