Perez brings Newcastle three points closer to safety (video)

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  • Perez scored his seventh Premier League goal of the season
  • Almiron played 78 minutes before being substituted
  • Vardy fails to score after three goals in two games
  • Newcastle up to 13th place on 38 points

Ayoze Perez scored a first half header and Newcastle’s stayed resolute against late Leicester City pressure to secure three crucial points on the road. Newcastle defeated Leicester City, 1-0, at the King Power Stadium on Friday evening, with James Maddison nullified at one end and Perez scoring the winner at the other.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

January signing Miguel Almiron was like the energizer bunny, constantly making lung-bursting dribbles forward down the wing or through the heart of the defense to help push the ball out of Newcastle’s half of the field, though he failed to score again.

With the win, Newcastle moves up to 13th place with 38 points, and may have just secured safety in the Premier League for another season. Newcastle now sits ten points above Cardiff, which is in the final place in the drop zone to head back down to relegation. For Leicester, it remains in seventh place, but it has played two more games than eighth-place Wolves. Both clubs are on 47 points in the table.

Leicester City seemed to set out to pass their way through the Newcastle defense, with Rafa Benitez‘s side sitting in a low block and inviting pressure to allow Perez and Almiron to race forward and create counter attacking chances. Newcastle came closest to scoring in the 15th minute, when Solomon Rondon absolutely smashed a curling free kick off the crossbar, before it was headed away to safety by Leicester City.

The Magpies did get on the board finally thanks to some strong dribbling work at first from Almiron. The Paraguayan tried to dribble through two Leicester City defenders before Ricardo Pereira stepped in and knocked the ball away. It fell though right to Matt Ritchie and in the 32nd minute, Ritchie’s near-post cross was flicked past Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel and in for a goal.

Leicester City took the game to Newcastle in the second half, but just couldn’t find its way past the Newcastle backline. Leicester City’s best chance of the match came in the 78th minute. Star forward Jamie Vardy, who had three goals in his last two games, was played through into the box and was one-on-one with Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. However, Vardy’s looping strike went over the bar, the latest of many occasions in which Brendan Rodgers‘ side failed to execute properly in front of goal.

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.