Southampton 1-4 Leicester: Foxes thrash sorry Saints

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  • Okazaki scores twice
  • King, Mahrez grab a goal each
  • Four wins on the spin for Leicester

Leicester City beat Southampton 4-1 at St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday with former Saints boss Claude Puel seeing his side put on a show during his first return to Southampton.

The Foxes were 3-0 up at half time and it could’ve been more with Riyad Mahrez scoring a fine goal, then Shinji Okazaki and Andy King tapping home before the break.

Saints pulled one back through Maya Yoshida early in the second half as the hosts threatened an unlikely comeback but another devastating counter from Leicester saw Okazaki finish Southampton off.

With the win Leicester are in eighth place and five points off the top four with just one defeat in 12 games, while Saints have 18 points and are just four points above the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Saints started the game well as Maya Yoshida went close from two corners but Leicester always looked lively on the break and Jamie Vardy almost found Shinji Okazaki early on.

The home side didn’t heed that warning and Mahrez made it 1-0 to Leicester with a fine finish as he ran towards the box after two Saints players slipped up trying to tackle him, then struck low into the far corner from 25 yards out. Another beauty for the Mahrez collection.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Leicester took control of the game after going ahead with Okazaki’s deflected shot heading towards the top corner but Fraser Forster tipped wide.

Moments later the Japanese international through he had made it 2-0 but his shot was cleared off the line by Mario Lemina. Vardy was then brilliantly denied by Forster but soon after it was 2-0 as Christian Fuchs volleyed towards goal and Okazaki cleaned up in front of the net.

And it got worse for Saints as the Foxes flooded forward and from a set piece center back Harry Maguire whipped in a great cross for King to make it 3-0. Charlie Austin had a shot on target which Kasper Schmeichel beat away but that was as good as it got for Saints. A stunning first half for Leicester.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Saints were stunned and Manolo Gabbiadini came on at half time to try and salvage some pride.

They at least scored. A corner from the right found Yoshida and his header towards goal missed Tadic on the line and went in. 3-1. It should have been 3-2 soon after but somehow Schmeichel denied Austin from close range after a fine cross from Ryan Bertrand.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Any hope of a remarkable Saints comeback was extinguished with 20 minutes to go as a poor cross-field ball from Cedric found Mahrez who played the ball to Vardy and his cross was swept home by Okazaki for his second and Leicester’s fourth goal of the game. Game over.

Rapids hire Patel as director; Highest ranking female exec in MLS

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The Colorado Rapids have hired Ena Patel as their new director of player personnel. She becomes Major League Soccer highest ranking female executive, according to the Denver Post.

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According to the Rapids, she’ll report to club GM Padraig Smith and “oversee player contracts, salary budget, regulatory compliance, and soccer operations protocols.”

The move comes about a month-and-a-half after Sporting KC hired Megan Cameron as an assistant director of player personnel, the first woman hired to an MLS team’s technical staff.

Patel’s resume is outlandishly strong, though this is her first foray into the sports world. Here are some words from Smith, from ColoradoRapids.com:

“Ena’s hiring is the final piece of the puzzle for us on the front office side,” Smith, the Rapids executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement released by the club. “Bringing in a sharp, legal mind who can oversee our contractual processes and complex league mechanisms is a really important part of ensuring that we’re fielding the best possible team. We can’t wait for her to get started.”

Guardiola happy to reach final, knows Man City to be judged by hardware

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Bristol City made its interesting late with a pair of goals, but Manchester City’s League Cup destiny was never in jeopardy in a 3-2 second leg win at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

[ RECAP: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

That sent the club into the Feb. 25 final with a 5-3 aggregate win, and it’s very difficult not to leap to the story line that is Pep Guardiola‘s chance at a first significant title in his reign at Man City.

The closest City came to hardware last season was being bounced by Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. This time, City is the favorite to win at least three of its four entered competitions: the Premier League, the League Cup, and the FA Cup.

But to hear Pep say it, for now the club is just happy to have earned one final berth. From the BBC:

“We are so happy to be there, to reach this final. We played an amazing game until 2-0 and then we lost control, these type of games never end until the end. This is a lesson for next weekend in Cardiff in the FA Cup and especially for the Champions League.

“It’s not for me, it’s for Manchester City, a club who are trying to reach another level. … I know that we will be judged by trophies we win but we are so happy. Nobody can take away what we have done, but Chelsea or Arsenal are strong teams.”

Guardiola was serious about not overlooking the Robins, as he rolled out a very similar lineup to the full-strength bunch that beat Newcastle United 3-1 at the weekend. That may have cost City late, but it had already built a 4-1 aggregate lead with two superior away goals.

Yes, Guardiola is a man who measures himself by the way his club plays but also by winning in that attractive fashion. Expect a determined club to stride into Wembley late next month.

Chelsea and Arsenal square off Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium for the right to match up with Man City, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2016. Even year dominance?

Man City into League Cup final (video)

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  • City outshoots Bristol 28-5
  • Sane, Aguero put MCFC up 2-0
  • Pack, Kent pulls two back for Bristol
  • De Bruyne answers in stoppage
  • City wins 5-3 on aggregate

A pair of late goals put a scare into Man City, but the Premier League leaders scored just before and right after halftime to insure its first leg lead en route to a 3-2 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

City wins 5-3 on aggregate in the League Cup semifinal, with Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, and Kevin De Bruyne scoring in the second leg.

Pep Guardiola moves to within 90 minutes of his first significant title as Man City boss, and will face either Chelsea or Arsenal on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

Marlon Pack and Aden Flint scored for Bristol City.

[ MORE: Full stats, box score ]

Sane scored in the 43rd minute and Sergio Aguero struck less than four minutes after the teams returned from the halftime break.

An errant John Stones clearance helped Bristol to the scoreboard in the 64th minute, with Pack scoring the goal.

Flint then nodded home in stoppage time to give the Robins hope for a miracle win, but new contract hero De Bruyne scored within a minute to burn those hopes to the ground.

Bristol would be in the Football League Championship playoffs if the season ended now, sitting in fifth place.

Midfielder Lassana Diarra joins PSG on short-term deal

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain has made its first signing of the winter transfer window by hiring midfielder Lassana Diarra on a short-term deal until June 2019.

The 32-year-old holding midfielder will once again try to revive his career in the French league after a successful stint at PSG’s bitter rival, Marseille, that ended last year.

The much-traveled Diarra, who was born in Paris, then played for a few months with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Diarra, a former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid player, won English and Spanish league titles in 2006 and 2012. He has 34 caps for France and featured at the European Championship in 2008.

His strong performances with Marseille earned him a recall from France, but he eventually pulled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 because of a left knee injury.

“I am very happy to have signed for my hometown club,” Diarra said. “Paris Saint-Germain represents a lot to me and, with the international dimension the club has taken in recent seasons, it is every player’s dream to play here. I am lucky enough to make this dream come true.”

Diarra joined on a free transfer and his signing won’t affect PSG’s bank accounts, which are under UEFA’s scrutiny.

PSG is under pressure to sell players to balance the books after splashing out 402 million euros ($473 million) on forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year. That led to Qatari-owned PSG being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.