Sergio Rico

Goalkeepers star in Watford, Bournemouth stalemate

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Watford and Bournemouth played out a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road on Saturday as Watford still haven’t won a Premier League game this season.

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The Hornets and Cherries had their goalkeepers to thank for a point as Ben Foster and Aaron Ramsdale both made superb stops at each end to keep clean sheets.

With the draw Bournemouth have 13 points, while Watford remain bottom and have five points on the board.


3 things we learned

1. Ben Foster could keep Watford up: Foster made several superb stops in the first half and if he plays well for the rest of the season, the Hornets have a chance to stay up. Foster’s experience is key to holding this Watford defense together and it hasn’t been pretty since Quique Sanchez Flores returned, but they are grinding out draws. The mauling at Man City (which can happen to any team) aside, they have drawn 0-0 at home against Sheffield United and Bournemouth and 1-1 away at Tottenham. They are proving to be tougher to break down and they are building a solid defensive foundation ahead of a big relegation battle.

2. Bournemouth improve defensively, but lacking again in attack: The Cherries have now failed to score in four of their last five games in all competitions and they looked severely lackluster in attack once again. Defensively they have always struggled to keep goals out, and that has improved this season. But it has improved at the expense of their usually fluid attack unit and Eddie Howe looked totally frustrated on the sidelines. Bournemouth are always a team neutrals love to watch because they scored and conceded goals but the boatload. They had to get better defensively and they have, and that is largely down to Billing and Lerma shoring things up in midfield. Going forward they miss the injured Brooks and out of form Fraser, and Howe needs to get a better balance back to this team. That said, Bournemouth are maturing and look way less likely to throw away points. Over the course of the season that is very important.

3. Draw sums up Cherries, Hornets rivalry: Seven of their nine clashes since they were promoted to the Premier League have ended in draws and this is a rivalry with an edge to it. Watford and Bournemouth were promoted to the PL together in 2015 and their trajectory since has been very similar. Both clubs are capable of causing upsets. Both usually (apart from this season, Watford) start the season well and then fade. Both usually finish midtable. It is early in the season but it looks like Bournemouth will finish a lot higher than Watford in 2019-20.

Man of the Match: Ben Foster – In the first half he made a string of fine saves to keep Bournemouth at bay, as Watford held on for a point. Foster has been their star man this season and if the Hornets are going to drag themselves out of trouble, they need him to stay in top form.


Watford had a glorious chance to take the lead early on but Abdoulaye Doucoure somehow smashed over after Aaron Ramsdale spilled the ball.

The Hornets went close again as Gerard Deulofeu‘s corner just missed everyone and hit the post.

Bournemouth then hit the bar as Steve Cook got free of his runner from a corner and the Cherries skipper should have scored with his header.

The Cherries looked dangerous as Philip Billing‘s shot was saved by Ben Foster and then Wilson’s curler went just over. Sergio Rico was then denied by Foster as Watford’s goalkeeper kept them in it.

Josh King then crossed for Danjuma but his low shot was saved superbly by Foster, once again.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At the start of the second half it was Ramsdale’s turn to shine as the youngster spread himself to deny Deulofeu.

The second half turned into a feisty encounter as Roberto Pereyra caught Wilson and things boiled over between both sets of players.

Ramsdale then denied substitute Will Hughes, and Harry Wilson then went agonizingly close to a late winner but his free kick clipped the post and then Ryan Fraser was denied by Foster, of course.

The game ended in a stalemate as neither team looked confident in the final third throughout and both goalkeepers stood tall.

Keylor Navas departs Real Madrid for PSG

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One of the most decorated goalkeepers over the last decade has finally had enough.

After being replaced by Thibaut Courtois as the starting goalkeeper at Real Madrid, Keylor Navas has left the Bernabeu for Paris Saint-Germain, the Spanish club confirmed Tuesday morning. Returning in the opposite direction is PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who joins Real Madrid on a one-year loan deal.

After arriving from Levante in 2014, the 32-year-old won a stunning 12 trophies in five seasons at Real Madrid, including three Champions League titles. He made 162 appearances for Los Blancos across all competitions during his time in Madrid, keeping 52 clean sheets and conceding 159 goals, including 32 clean sheets and 101 goals conceded in 104 La Liga appearances.

However, Madrid actively moved to replace him with Courtois in a move criticized by many as harsh on the Costa Rican, who was unfairly blamed for deep-lying defensive issues. With Courtois as starting goalkeeper last season, Madrid conceded 46 league goals in 38 matches, more than they had in any league campaign under Navas’s watch.

The move establishes Navas as the clear number one goalkeeper at PSG, backed up by other new arrivals in Sergio Rico and Marcin Bulka.

The transfer sets up a fascinating – and almost immediate – revenge match as PSG takes on Real Madrid in the opening Champions League group stage match on September 18.

Early double sparks Magpies rout of Fulham (video)

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Fulham will head to the Championship on a sour note, while Rafa Benitez has something to cling to in contract talks with the club as Newcastle wins 4-0 at Craven Cottage to wrap up the Premier League campaign. Jonjo Shelvey‘s stunner opened things up with Ayoze Perez following up, and Fabian Schar sealed the deal in the second half, with an exclamation mark from Solomon Rondon.

The game opened up immediately and Newcastle scored inside the opening 10 minutes, on a brilliant strike from Jonjo Shelvey. A looping volley from the top-right corner of the box found the opposite corner, a highlight-reel goal on the final day of the season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Newcastle bagged the second just two minutes later with Perez bundling home to double the lead. Sergio Rico couldn’t handle an initial shot from Christian Atsu, and Perez was first to reach the rebound.

Fulham held a significant amount of possession through the first half, but couldn’t do much with it. Newcastle, meanwhile, made the most of its touches, nearly finding a third before the break with Rico nervously palming away a corner which looked destined to find the back of the net.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Whites looked better after the break, but Newcastle held at the back amid a few corners to defend. The Magpies went further ahead on the hour mark with Fabian Schar getting wide open on a corner and bagging a header to make it 3-0. The game ended in open end-to-end fashion and the Magpies got a fourth as Rico again couldn’t collect at the post and Rondon finished from an absurdly tight angle with stoppage time beckoning.

The Whites finish the season in 19th on 26 points, a massively disappointing result given their summer spending spree. Newcastle will cling to 13th on 45 points, and hope that the punctuating result can help convince their Spanish boss to stay.

Fulham hires Scott Parker as full-time head coach

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Fulham has taken its first step towards next season in the Championship by locking down a boss, hiring interim boss Scott Parker as full-time head coach, the club announced on Friday, signing a two-year deal.

Parker spent the final four years of his playing career at Fulham, making 128 appearances for the club before retiring in 2017 and joining the backroom staff. He remained part of the coaching staff through multiple managerial changes in the Premier League this season, finally being tabbed as caretaker manager after the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri in late February.

Under Parker’s guidance, Fulham finished the season strong despite being strapped with relegation. They lost their first five matches under Parker, but three of those came against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. They then won three in a row against Everton, Bournemouth, and Cardiff City in mid-April despite having won just four matches all season previously.

“Scott was brave to accept a very difficult challenge in February when appointed as our Caretaker Manager,” said club chairman Shahid Khan in the official team announcement . “Since that time, day by day, whether in training or on matchday, we’ve undeniably become a better football club. Scott will now have another challenge to face, and that is to return Fulham to the Premier League. I fully believe Scott is more than up to the task.”

The 38-year-old former Fulham captain feels he is ready for his first managerial gig, having previously played nearly 600 career matches for Charlton, Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham.

“Now, the challenge lies with me to move things forward,” said Parker in the official team release. “Ultimately, success comes from a culture and a desire – that needs to be our foundation. We’ll drive a culture here that our fans will recognize.”

A big focus for Parker is the atmosphere in the dressing room, which Parker believes he can influence as a recent player. “I’ve got 20 years of playing experience and 20 years of being in changing rooms,” Parker said. “I want to use that experience to help the club be successful and move things forward.”

The job ahead is a tough one moving forward given the Fulham squad is in a state of horrible flux. Young winger Ryan Sessegnon is out of contract next summer and therefore likely to be sold unless he changes course and signs and extension with the club. Striker Aleksandr Mitrovic and midfielder Jean-Michel Seri could also be out the door given their level of talent, potentially avoiding dropping down a league with the club. Sergio Rico, Calum Chambers, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Havard Nordveit, Andre Schurrle, and Luciano Vietto are all loanees scheduled to return to parent clubs after the season ends. Denis Odoi, Floyd Ayite, and Neeskins Kebano are all out of contract this summer and could depart as well.

Wolves beat Fulham, all but seal seventh (video)

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  • Dendoncker scores winner
  • Wolves stay in 7th place
  • Fulham’s run of wins ends

Wolverhampton Wanderers all but secured seventh place in the Premier League table as they beat Fulham 1-0 at Molineux on Saturday.

Leander Dendoncker‘s volley was enough to seal all three points, as Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side went close on several occasions as Diogo Jota was a constant menace.

With the win Wolves move on to 57 points, and that means that unless Leicester City win their final two games and Wolves lose to Liverpool on the final day of the season, the newly-promoted club will finish in seventh which would secure European qualification if Watford lose to Man City in the FA Cup final later this month.

Already-relegated Fulham ended their run of wins after three-straight and they will finish in 19th place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Early on Jota went down on the edge of the box under a hefty challenge, and was then booked for simulation after going down in the box.

Jota was then denied by Sergio Rico who made a fine stop down to his left to deny the in-form Wolves forward.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

That man Jota then flashed an effort just wide of the far post as Wolves continued to push forward. Joao Moutinho‘s whipped cross then found Leander Dendoncker but his header hit the crossbar.

Wolves failed to break through before the interval and Fulham had a decent chance as Joe Bryan forced Rui Patricio into a stop.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

In the second half Jota dragged another effort just wide as Wolves huffed and puffed, but didn’t work Rico.

At the other end Aleksandar Mitrovic squandered a wonderful chance as Ryan Sessegnon set him up but the Serbian blasted over from a great position.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ruben Neves then smashed in a low effort which was saved by Rico, and Matt Doherty was brilliantly denied by Rico at the back post.

Wolves won it late on as Doherty crossed for Dendoncker who volleyed home to spark wild celebrations at Molinuex.

Jota smashed the crossbar late on, but Wolves were worthy winners as they all but secured seventh place.