Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Aston Villa: Spurs clinch Europa League (video)

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Aston Villa, having clinched safety with last week’s victory over Hull, had absolutely nothing to play for at White Hart Lane – and it showed. Well, kind of. With Villa’s form this season, it was rather difficult to tell if they didn’t care, or if they just couldn’t find a way to score…or defend.

It was to Tottenham’s advantage, though. Before 40 minutes were up, the hosts had a 3-0 lead, and were able to cruise through the second half, happy in the knowledge that they’d cemented sixth place and thus a Europa League spot. Or at least, they seemed happy. They didn’t try to throw away the win or anything.

source: AP
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, left, and Aston Villa’s Matthew Lowton.

Right from the start, Spurs were on top, forcing multiple saves from Brad Guzan before ten minutes were up. The first goal came in the 14th minute. Again, Guzan managed to save, this time a shot from Paulinho. But the Brazilian was quick to pick up the rebound, burying it in the back of the net.

Villa, proving that this season, they often are their own worst enemy, doubled Tottenham’s lead in the 35th minute. Danny Rose sent in a cross, with Emmanuel Adebayor getting a touch on it. But it was Villa defender Nathan Baker that got the final flick, putting Spurs up 2-0.

Things just got worse. Three minutes after Baker’s own goal, another Villa player got in the way of the ball. This time, though, it was Gabby Agbonlahor getting in the way of Sandro’s shot, with the ball hitting off the forward’s arm. Jonathan Moss wasted no time pointing to the spot, Adebayor duly converted, and Tottenham had a 3-0 lead.

About the only thing of note the visitors managed was a shot from Fabian Delph, but the midfielder put his 57th minute strike wide. It looked like Villa were determined to bury this season in the past and move on, preferably with new ownership and possibly with a new manager at the helm. Maybe that’ll be what they need to finish higher than 15th, which is where they wound up at the end of Sunday.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches, Dawson, Rose; Sandro (Veljkovic 62); Sigurdsson (Pritchard 83), Paulinho (Bentaleb 75), Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane

Goals: Paulinho (14′); Baker o.g. (35′); Adebayor (38′)

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand, Bacuna (Robinson 83), Westwood, Delph, Weimann, Bowery (El Ahmadi 45), Agbonlahor

Pique: Copa-losing Barca still “really hurting” from UCL exit

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Barcelona was the favorite to win La Liga, the UEFA Champions League, and the Copa del Rey for the majority of the season, but only claimed one.

Liverpool’s amazing comeback to beat Barca in the second leg of the UCL semifinals met Saturday’s loss to Valencia in the Copa del Rey Final to give Barca a league title alone.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Even with that La Liga advantage being decisive — Barca carried the table by 11 points over Atletico Madrid and finished 19 ahead of Real Madrid — there’s a very dour mood and promised change for the Camp Nou set.

And Gerard Pique says it all traces back to the loss against Liverpool. From The Liverpool Echo:

“I believe that if we had gotten through at Liverpool, we would have won the treble. We would have come here [to the Copa del Rey final] with a different mood, and I’m convinced we would have won the Champions League final, but that is football. We are really, really hurting.”

There are hints of a massive clear-out at Barcelona, with Lionel Messi and Pique two of the only safe bets to stay. When will Barca get over it?

Brazilian team tangles in locker room futmesa (video)

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It was defense versus attack in the Brazil dressing room.

Neymar and Gabriel Jesus squared off with international teammates Filipe Luis and Ederson in a game of futmesa/table soccer this week.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Neymar and Filipe Luis are used to be on different sides of the field from their time in La Liga, while Jesus and Ederson are teammates at Manchester City.

Brazil is hosting this summer’s Copa America and is the favorite to win its first tournament since 2007, when it claimed its fourth in five tries.

It’s really impressive stuff for us normal to subpar athletes, even if standard for those with such deft talent.

Quite a winner from Man City’s young striker.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).

Report: Chelsea, Real $38M apart on Hazard

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How much for Hazard?

Real Madrid are willing to pay $127 million, no small fee, to bring Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but that’s well off the Blues’ evaluation according to Sky Sports.

Chelsea sees Hazard’s price as $165 million. Belgian writer Kristof Terreur told Sky that Hazard wants his future sorted by June 4.

[ MORE: Bayern wins double ]

The Blues’ superstar is entering the final year of his contract, and could begin negotiating with other clubs in January and leave on a free transfer.

Hazard turns 29 in January. He recorded 19 goals and 16 assists in 51 matches this season, his best output in a Blues uniform.

The report says Chelsea feels no pressure to sell Hazard, but it would be a surprise if it dug in its heels too deeply considering the state of the Belgian’s contract.

Even for Chelsea, letting over $100 million walk out the door is wild, and for all Hazard’s won with Chelsea there’s also been consternation under several managers and a more than occasional habit of disappointing on the table.