Stoke City 2-1 Southampton: Crouch haunts Saints again

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  • Stoke have won four of their last six matches against Saints
  • With 15 matches still to play Southampton have lost 12 PL games in 2017 – as many as they lost in 2016
  • Forster saved Berahino’s PK with Stoke 1-0 up

Stoke City beat Southampton 2-1 as Peter Crouch scored a late winner against his former club, the second time in a row he’s been the hero against Saints.

The Potters led 1-0 at half time after Mame Diouf‘s opener but Saido Berahino had a penalty kick saved by Fraser Forster as Saints hung in there.

Southampton thought they’d nabbed a point late on as Maya Yoshida popped up with a fine finish but Crouch struck with a scrappy late goal to seal the victory.

With the win Stoke move on to eight points, the same total as Southampton.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

Stoke started brightly as Eric Choupo-Moting’s shot was deflected over by Virgil Van Dijk, back at the heart of Southampton’s defense for his first start since Jan. 22.

The Potters continued to do most of the pressing in the first half as Xherdan Shaqiri‘s shot was saved well by Forster and then Diouf’s shot was blocked superbly by Mario Lemina.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Nathan Redmond prodded an effort wide for Southampton after racing free and at the other end Stoke had another good chance as Joe Allen burst into the box but his cutback was cleared by Ryan Bertrand.

Choupo-Moting again forced Forster into a fine save as Stoke continued to create the better chances and finally that paid off. Diouf beta Mario Lemina and headed home the opener from Shaqiri’s superb corner and it should have been 2-0 soon after.

Van Dijk clumsily hauled down Berahino in the box but the striker had his spot kick saved by Forster and Saints only trailed 1-0 at half time.

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In the second half the visitors pushed hard for the equalizer as Cedric Soares’ cross was nodded over by Long from a good position.

Saints sent on Sofiane Boufal and Manolo Gabbiadini late on in search of a winner as Mauricio Pellegrino‘s men pinned Stoke back.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

The equalizer did arrive and it came from an unlikely source: Japanese defender Yoshida. He reacted first to Long’s flick on and the center back scored acrobatically to make it 1-1 with 15 minutes left on the clock.

Crouch then popped up to score a scrappy winner as Cedric slipped and Choupo-Moting’s shot was only half blocked by Forster before their substitute pounced to play the hero.

Manolo Gabbiadini had two chances late on but couldn’t take them as Saints suffered their third defeat of the season.

Suspended Villar says Spain in danger of missing World Cup

AP Photo/Paul White
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The suspended president of the Spanish soccer federation, who is under investigation for corruption, tried Monday to stoke up fears that the country could be kicked out of the World Cup because of government interference.

Angel Maria Villar, who is free on bail, spoke at a news conference in Madrid and again denied any wrongdoing. He also blamed the government for meddling in the federation’s affairs by suspending him.

“This government is putting Spain’s participation in the World Cup at risk,” the 67-year-old Villar said in his first news conference since being arrested in July along with his son, Gorka Villar, and two other officials.

[ BLANC: I turned down USMNT talks ]

“The risk is serious,” Villar said. “The only party responsible for Spain not going to the World Cup will be the Spanish government.”

Villar spoke three days after FIFA said it was concerned about the independence of the Spanish soccer federation and that it would soon send a delegation to analyze the situation. FIFA made no mention of a possible suspension of the federation, which could keep Spain out of next year’s World Cup in Russia or even knock Real Madrid and Barcelona out of the Champions League.

Villar, who has spent time behind bars to impede the possible destruction of evidence, and the other three officials are being investigated for alleged improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

Villar resigned his vice presidencies of both FIFA and UEFA following his arrest. But he tried to stay on as the head of Spanish federation, a post he held for three decades.

His refusal to listen to pleas for him to step down led the Spanish government to suspend him from the post for one year pending the outcome of the investigation. Court documents allege that besides misappropriated funds, Villar is suspected of corrupting several regional federations by offering favors in exchange for votes.

Villar fired back at the government, saying his suspension had broken FIFA rules since it represented interference in the federation’s management.

“It’s easy to see that the source of concern was my arbitrary and unjustified removal from the presidency of the federation and for not respecting the presumption of innocence,” Villar said, adding that other teams are ready to take Spain’s place at the World Cup.

“Be careful. There are other powerful countries that didn’t qualify like Italy that are waiting to pounce and take our place,” Villar said.

Spain, which won the World Cup in 2010, is considered to be among the favorites for next year’s tournament.

Blanc: I turned down USMNT talks

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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U.S. Soccer has not been inactive when it comes to the USMNT coaching search, despite its uncertainty with an impending presidential election.

Le Parisien has an interview with Laurent Blanc in which the ex-Bordeaux, France, and Paris Saint-Germain boss says he was approached by the United States Soccer Federation, but was not interested in the gig.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table ]

Blanc said an international job would have to touch his roots, and he’s most certainly not American. The tall 52-year-old had a glittering playing career with Saint-Etienne, Barcelona, Marseille, Inter Milan, and Manchester United amongst other stops.

More important, it shows that Sunil Gulati and his men have to some degree moved forward with keeping their imprint on the national team.

That’s a little worrying on any team: A hierarchy that may not be around much longer may be working to fill a position arguably more important than its own. It’d be nice to have them commit to not hiring anyone until after February’s election.

Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Swansea City

Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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  • Everton leads all-time 15W-9D-3L
  • BUT Swans unbeaten in 7 vs. Toffees
  • Toffees go ninth with win
  • Swans four back of safety

Everton hopes its up-turn in form can end three seasons of futility against visiting Swansea City when the two sides meet at Goodison Park on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Gylfi Sigurdsson gets a chance to face his former club for the first time, while longtime Swans man Ashley Williams may also feature for Sam Allardyce.

Swansea has no time to focus on the past, as Paul Clement‘s men sit deep in the drop zone. The last place Swans are four points shy of safety.

What they’re saying

Everton’s Ashley Williams on facing his former club (again)“The game is a little bit more important to me, I would be lying I said it wasn’t. You always want to play against your old teams and it’s a fixture you always look for.  I have been looking forward to this one and it will be nice to see old faces and old friends. It is a game we want to win and to keep a clean sheet in, especially at home, in order to keep our momentum going.”

Swansea City’s Roque Mesa on the match“This is a massive game for us. We need to pick up points because we are bottom and we need to improve our position. Everton have a new manager and their players have done very well under him – you can see their confidence has grown since he joined. But we did well against West Brom and picked up three points, which was very important. Then we faced Manchester City and they proved too good for us. They are the best team in the league, and unfortunately, we couldn’t match them on the night.”

Prediction

Swans need to move past that Man City loss and build on a 1-0 win over West Brom a few days previous. That may not be possible at Goodison, and the Welsh side would be thrilled to escape with a draw. It seems unlikely. Everton 2-1.

Report: Man City, Guardiola to discuss new contract this summer

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Manchester City does not want to let Pep Guardiola start the third year with the club without signing on for longer term.

Guardiola enters the third and final year of his deal in August, and the BBC reports that Man City plans to negotiate a new deal with the Catalan wizard this summer.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table ]

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given City’s outstanding sophomore season under Guardiola.

Unbeaten City has an 11-point lead on the Premier League table after 18 weeks, with one draw and a PL record 16-straight wins. They have 56 goals scored, conceding just 12.

They’ve won five of six UEFA Champions League matches, only losing a match their opposition needed and they did not, 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. City faces Basel next, and visits Leicester City in the League Cup quarterfinals Wednesday.