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.

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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.

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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.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

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Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

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L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.

Clark County “declines to prosecute” Ronaldo for rape

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not face sexual assault charges for a June 2009 incident in the United States, attorneys say.

An American woman filed a civil lawsuit against the Juventus superstar last year, claiming that Ronaldo forced himself upon her while she was in a prone position in his hotel room.

[ MORE: Bayern keen on Zaha ]

Ronaldo had expressed belief that he would be cleared of the claims, and claimed that graphic documents produced by German publication Der Spiegel were altered and fabricated.

Las Vegas police issued a warrant in a bid to get Ronaldo’s DNA, and the DA’s office says the woman’s refusal to name her attacker stopped them for collecting “vital evidence.” The woman reached a civil settlement with Ronaldo in 2010.

From News3LV.com:

“Based upon a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the D.A.’s office said. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”

Bayern Munich kicking the tires on big Zaha bid

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A sensational report is linking Wilfried Zaha not just with a move away from Crystal Palace, but a move clear of the Premier League altogether.

90min.com says that Bayern Munich has turned to Zaha, having been rebuffed in their pursuit of Manchester City’s Leroy Sane.

Palace wants $100 million for Zaha, but so far has only received a $50 million offer from Arsenal for his services. Reports Monday said Arsenal is upping its bid, and offering a loan of Reiss Nelson as a make-good. Palace has had good Fortune with loans from the big boys of the PL, in particular with Ruben Loftus-Cheek two seasons ago.

A lot of this makes sense for all parties, apart from Sane, and it will be interesting to see if the report brings a bigger bid from the Gunners.

Zaha is a sensational player, and has created chances year-after-year for the Eagles. He wants to taste the Champions League, but Palace is not willing to let him go for (much) less than its asking price given its sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United.

Bayern will spend less on Zaha than it would on Gareth Bale or Sane, and get a determined player who is very much in his prime. Zaha would also get the chance to showcase himself with actual breathing room on the pitch, thanks to Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, and others.

And Palace, of course, will end up with between $80-100 million and the knowledge that it won’t need to mark Zaha on a Premier League pitch. More importantly, the money raised from Zaha and Wan-Bissaka will allow them to strengthen at nearly every position (above what they have now, not above AWB and Zaha).