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Aston Villa 2-4 Southampton: Top six hopes alive for Saints

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  • Tadic scores twice
  • Saints now have 54 points
  • Westwood bags two for Villa

Southampton beat already relegated Aston Villa 4-2 at Villa Park on Saturday with Dusan Tadic scoring twice, plus Shane Long and Sadio Mane grabbing the other goals.

Ashley Westwood scored both goals for Villa but the scoreline doesn’t suggest how one-sided this game was as the Midlands club slumped to a club record 25th defeat of the season.

With the win Saints move on to 54 points and remain in the hunt for a top six finish and Europa League qualification. Villa stay bottom on 16 points, with just three wins to their name all season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Saints started well and should have led in the opening three minutes but Long’s effort came off the underside of the crossbar and out.

After 15 minutes they did lead 1-0 and it was Long who headed home Ryan Bertrand‘s beautiful curling cross. The Republic of Ireland international has now scored six times in his last seven PL appearances against Villa.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

As the first half wore on Villa showed some fight and Jordan Ayew headed just wide at the back post to give the home fans some hope.

Saints continued to pour forward and Virgil Van Dijk hit the post with an effort from a corner and Long had a goal correctly disallowed for offside. Eight minutes before half time Saints went 2-0 up with Leandro Bacuna‘s misplaced pass setting free Long and he squared for Tadic to tap home. 2-0.

However, Villa pulled a goal back right on half time as a loose ball fell to Westwood and his low shot found the bottom corner for his first goal in 70 appearances. 2-1.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

In the second half Southampton continued to push forward with Jay Rodriguez, Van Dijk and others going close.

Then on 71 minutes they grabbed a third as Tadic started a break by feeding the ball to Long and he squared to set up the Serbian for his second of the game. 3-1 to Saints.

Mane, Steven Davis and Long went close to making it 4-1 but USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan stood tall.

With five minutes to Westwood scored again to make it 3-2 after Gestede swung and missed, but it was too little too late for Villa with Long twice going close to extending Saints’ lead. Mane headed home late on to score his fourth goal in his last five outings to make it 4-2 and finally finish Villa off.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Home fans continued to protest against American owner Randy Lerner — they held up signs saying “Proud history. What future?” — despite him taking the blame for relegation earlier this week.

Villa’s miserable season continues as they’ve now gained just 16 points from 35 games and won just three of those.

FOLLOW LIVE: Seattle v. Portland, ATLUTD v. DCU on a busy MLS Sunday

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Strap yourself in for a very busy Sunday of soccer, as four MLS games are set to consume your attention for the rest of the day.

[ FOLLOW: MLS scoreboard, for the next 7.5 hours ]

The day begins with Atlanta United hosting D.C. United in a 3-versus-2 matchup in the Eastern Conference, and ends with the Seattle Sounders hosting the Portland Timbers in arguably the biggest and best rivalry in MLS.

In between all that, a suddenly resurgent Orlando City SC hosts the New York Red Bulls, and FC Cincinnati hosts the red-hot (unbeaten in nine games) New England Revolution, in case you feel the need to cram a little more soccer into your afternoon/evening.

Sunday’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United v. D.C. United — 4 p.m. ET
FC Cincinnati v. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC v. New York Red Bulls — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders v. Portland Timbers — 9:30 p.m. ET

Rumored Neymar for Bale swap: Who wins?

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Who would gain more of an advantage from the rumored, sensational Gareth Bale for Neymar swap: Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid?

Both players are currently problems for their clubs, though neither is known as a true rabble-rouser; Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wants to be done with the newly-minted 30-year-old Bale, while PSG knows Neymar wants to leave and would love to satiate Kylian Mbappe’s appetite to be the man at their club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

Presumably some money would be headed PSG’s way in addition to Bale, and both clubs would be getting a motivated megawatt star.

Neymar doesn’t turn 28 until February, but the difference in age may be offset by the Brazilian’s track record of injuries.

In fact, his injury status last season combines with an off-field accusation of sexual assault and a red card for confronting a fan to overshadow his production: Neymar’s 23 goals and 13 assists in just over 2300 minutes last season, including five and two in the Champions League (and a goal and an assist against defensively-stout Liverpool).

Bale presents very few personality challenges, and PSG won’t have a problem with his massive wages (especially with Neymar off the books). His numbers have dipped in two of three seasons since his otherworldly 2015-16, but La Liga is a more difficult scoring league than Ligue 1.

Neymar has twice been a Ballon d’Or finalist and, presuming his legal troubles don’t persist, could be a title fight changer in La Liga. Imagine the Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic trying to outgun Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suarez? Insane.

We’d say Real would be winning the straight-up swap, and that it’s pretty unlikely to go down that way. So it depends what PSG does with the relative Financial Fair Play freedom that would come with the money that also arrives from Spain. Is it Idrissa Gana Gueye? Someone else who helps take PSG’s Champions League hopes to the next level?

Manchester United in ‘concrete talks’ with Lille over Pepe

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Manchester United are reportedly in “concrete talks” to agree a fee with Lille for much-tracked playmaker Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others, and Lille has admitted he’ll be leaving the club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

United’s reported salvo was around $87.5 million. He’d give them a star who could play across from Anthony Martial or as an attacking midfielder under Romelu Lukaku.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Teji Savanier garnered better season-long ratings than Pepe in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, and Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists stand out from the pack. Only Mbappe had more goals and only Savanier more assists.

Pepe has four goals in 11 caps for the Ivory Coast, and made three starts in Les Elephants’ five-match run at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a fit for the Premier League, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s system. And if the Red Devils can keep him from Liverpool, well, all the better we’re sure.

Report: Manchester United, Leicester agree to monster Maguire fee

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Manchester United and Leicester City have agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, clearing the way for the English center back to join the Old Trafford set.

That fee is a whopping $100 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones. That’s about $4 million more than the world record for a defender, set when Liverpool purchased Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton.

[ MORE: USMNT CB to West Ham? ]

Maguire has been a statistical monster for Leicester City, and he passes the eye test, too.

Manchester United has needed to upgrade its stable of center backs for some time, and now the biggest question is who will work best alongside the 6-foot-4 26-year-old.

The former Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic, and Hull City defender is now 20-times capped by England.

The move could have a ripple effect on the Premier League, as the Foxes have been expected to bid for Burnley star James Tarkowski should Maguire leave the King Power Stadium.