Saturday, May 16, 2015

It Happened in England: Mane sets a record as Saints stomp Aston Villa, relegation clears up a bit

Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa
Sadio Mane was the man scaring Aston Villa fans towards relegation. Mane scored twice on opportune deflections off Shea Given and again on a great transition passing play. All of this happened in less than three minutes. It was the fastest hat trick in Premier League history clocking in at two minutes and 56 seconds from first goal to third. Impressive stuff. Those were just the goals that went in early. Southampton could easily have had five or six in the first twenty minutes. Mane could have had four on his own.

Southampton did add their fourth in the 26th minute. Only this time it was Shane Long. The nicest goal of the day came from Long again in the 38th minute with a 30 yard curling bomb.
Christian Benteke headed home a cross during first half stoppage time just to make it look like they were on the pitch. Southampton's final tally came in the last ten minutes from Graziano Pelle.

This was a truly embarrassing showing for Aston Villa. The last thing you want to do in a relegation battle is waltz out there and give up five goals before halftime. Sure they have the FA Cup final in two weeks, but you'd think they would decide to get off the train and play a game to help avoid the drop. Thankfully for them, Hull's loss keeps them up next season. On the flip side, Southampton takes a very loud step towards playing in the Europa League next season.

West Ham 1-2 Everton
Everton comes from behind and gets a late winner from Romelu Lokaku. Stuart Downing scored for West Ham in the 62nd to briefly give the Hammers the lead. It only lasted them six minutes before Everton leveled with Leon Osman. Lokaku's winner came three minutes into stoppage time to end this clash of irrelevant midtable finishers.

Tottenham 2-0 Hull City
This one went down just about how I expected it to. Hull looked like they might have squeaked out a result, then Spurs unloaded and scored twice in less than ten minutes. First it was Nacer Chadli in the 54th, then Danny Rose in the 61st. Hull's relegation battle is now a real uphill climb despite other results going their way today.They host Manchester United next week needing a win to stay alive.

QPR 2-1 Newcastle
Queens Park Rangers may already know their fate as a relegated club, but that won't stop them from making life difficult for the other relegation candidates. They overcome Newcastle's 24th minute goal from Emmanuel Riviere to score twice in the second half. Matthew Phillips leveled in the 54th and Leroy Fer's upper 90 screamer in the 61st gave them the win. Newcastle now sits on the very edge of safety going in to the final day of the season. Should they fall to West Ham at home, a shock win for Hull against Man U. will send them down.

Burnley 0-0 Stoke City
So meaningless I didn't exactly feel the need to a pay attention. Already relegated Burnley and midtable Stoke decide to kick the ball around the yard and not score. Now, on to more pressing matters.

Sunderland 0-0 Leicester City
I really expected more from this game. I expected to see two sides desperately trying to get a win as they try to stay up in the Premier League. Instead, I got a game where neither side was able to put together an attack. Leicester had the best chance to win about a minute into stoppage time when Sunderland's keeper Costel Pantilimon misplayed a ball on the edge of his box allowing Andrej Kramaric a shot at a mostly wide open goal. Saying he half-assed the attempt would be giving him too much credit, though. The point for Leicester secures their safety for next season, while Sunderland is up three points on Hull with a game in hand. Yes, that game is against Arsenal, but, knowing Arsenal, they can still pull off a shocking result. A loss against both Arsenal and Chelsea coupled with Newcastle and Hull wins on Sunday could send them down on goal difference.

Liverpool 1-3 Crystal Palace
The game meant nothing for the standings aside from Liverpool's Europa League spot, but it was Steven Gerrard's final game at Anfield so it meant something to the fans. Adam Lallana got it off to a good start for the home crowd by forcing a turnover in the Crystal Palace half in the 26th minute. His run down the final third led to an easy opening goal. Palace then got on the front foot and were eventually rewarded for their efforts with a free kick barely outside the box. Jason Puncheon drilled the shot past a hopeless Simon Mignolet in the 43rd minute. That made the score 1-1 at the break.

Wilfried Zaha then followed to single handedly spoil the Gerrard party. He was introduced as a sub in the 59th minute and almost immediately made his mark. His first touch came less than a minute into his afternoon and ended in goal. He then drew a penalty at the end of the 90 minutes that led to Glen Murray scoring on the rebound after his penalty kick was saved. 

Liverpool's loss opens the door for Southampton to leapfrog their way into the Europa League next week. The Reds still control their own destiny, however.

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