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.

source: Getty Images
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;).

Klopp hopes for speedy solution in club, fans’ ticket-price dispute

Liverpool's fans wave flags during the English League Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
AP Photo/Jon Super
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From his time at Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp is used to a much more positive, family-like, everyone-pulling-in-the-same-direction atmosphere at his club of employment, so the present goings-on at Liverpool understandably have the Reds’ first-year manager feeling more than a little uneasy.

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Saturday’s late 2-2 draw with Sunderland wasn’t the first time Liverpool fans have headed for the exit before the final whistle, leaving Klopp feeling all alone, but it was the first time the fans have departed from Anfield early in a pre-planned, organized manner (Klopp missed the game himself with appendicitis). The Anfield faithful didn’t walk out on 77 minutes due to their team’s poor performance — Liverpool were 2-0 ahead at the time — but in protest of steadily rising ticket prices, which were unveiled at $111 per game to sit in the 132-year-old stadium’s new main stand next season.

Klopp, coming from the Bundesliga, where a season ticket at clubs the size of Bayern Munich and Dortmund doesn’t cost much more than a single-game ticket at many Premier League grounds, understands the fans’ frustration. At the end of the day, though, he works for the club, which is why he just wants the whole thing settled quickly, for the sake of his squad — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s not what we want. What I know is everyone in the club has a big interest in finding a solution for this. We don’t want people to leave the stadium before the game is finished.”

An LFC TV appearance by Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre, in which he was expected to answer fan-submitted questions, was consequently canceled on Monday due to the ongoing dispute.

West Ham want Payet to sign new contract for fear of losing him this summer

Dimitri Payet, West Ham United FC (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Dimitri Payet is going to be a red-hot commodity during this summer’s transfer window, there’s no doubt about it.

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Given he’s currently contracted to one of the Premier League’s “smaller” clubs — in comparison to some of the giants which are bound to be interested — West Ham United, there’s a decent-to-good chance he could be wearing a different club’s shirt come August. Especially if the 28-year-old attacker shows up and shows out at this summer’s European Championship in his native France.

If I can foresee the interest in Payet, then so too can the executives at West Ham, which is why manager Slaven Bilic took to the press on Monday to convey his desire for Payet to consider signing a new, increased contract at his earliest convenience — quotes from the Guardian:

“We are moving, the club is moving, with the new stadium, with the revenue and everything. We have to move and the most important move is to keep your best players and to add some new players who are needed and Dimitri Payet is our best player — I have no problem whatsoever to say that. Of course, I would love to have him happy, long term, at the club.”

Of course West Ham want Payet to sign a new deal immediately — doing so would accomplish two things in the club’s eyes: 1) increase the likelihood he remains at the club next season, or 2) insure the club receives a higher transfer fee for the player if he leaves in the summer anyway. The more total money remaining on his West Ham contract, the more they can demand of a prospective buyer.

[ MORE: Ronaldo commits himself to Real Madrid through 2018 ]

From Payet’s side — unless he has absolutely zero desire to move to a club like Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United, where he’d likely be paid close to $200,000 per week — he’d be crazy to sign a new contract at this point. Not only would it make a move this summer more difficult, but a strong showing at EURO 2016 could be worth another $15,000 or $20,000 per week on a new contract with West Ham (his current contract is rumored to be close to $100,000 per week).

With as many as five seasons still remaining on his current contract (a one-year club option can be exercised at any point), and his stock perhaps at an all-time high, the next six months could hold Payet’s last chance to get really, really paid before he hits the downside of his career.

USWNT players’ union responds in USSF lawsuit

FILE - In this Sunday, July 5, 2015 file photo, the United States Women's National Team celebrates with the trophy after they beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The U.S. Soccer Federation’s original lawsuit against the union for its champion women’s national team has been sealed after the governing body realized it had disclosed the home addresses and email accounts of many players, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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(AP) — The union that represents the Women’s World Cup-winning American national team opposed an expedited schedule in the lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Soccer Federation last week, insisting no collective bargaining agreement exists.

The federation sued in an attempt to establish it has a contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association that runs through this year’s Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.

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The USSF filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago asking for an expedited schedule, and the submitted opposition papers Monday that claim “facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed.”

The union also maintains the USSF knew about the disagreement since July but did nothing about it.

An initial status conference is set for April 4.

Lionel Messi to undergo tests for lingering kidney problems

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi holds the ball during a quarterfinal, second leg, Copa del Rey soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi is to undergo medical tests to assess a recurrence of kidney problems.

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup | Barca win on Sunday

Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal in December due to a renal colic, an abdominal ailment often related to the presence of kidney stones within renal ducts.

Barcelona says in a statement Monday that the tests to be conducted by Tuesday at the latest, are “to assess the evolution of the kidney problem he suffered last December.”

[ MORE: Champions League returns next week — KO round matchups ]

The statement says Messi will resume training with the squad on Wednesday, when Barcelona travels to Valencia for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals in which it carries a 7-0 lead.