Mohamed Salah stars again as Liverpool go second in the Premier League

Mohamed Salah has now scored 23 goals in the Premier League so far this season
Updated 24 February 2018
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Mohamed Salah stars again as Liverpool go second in the Premier League

LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah was inevitably on the scoresheet as Liverpool took full advantage of the inactivity of their top-four rivals to thrash West Ham United 4-1 at Anfield and provisionally move into second in the Premier League.
With leaders Manchester City facing Arsenal in the League Cup final on Sunday, when Manchester United host Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur travel to Crystal Palace in the league, Juergen Klopp’s free scorers topped 100 goals for the season in their 40th match.
Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane also netted in another Liverpool goal rush that moved them 15 points behind Pep Guardiola’s City.
Liverpool’s win was not quite as routine as the scoreline suggested with West Ham occasionally threatening on another nerve-tingling Anfield afternoon although David Moyes’ long wait for a first win at the ground continues.
Salah scored for the sixth successive game in all competitions and his goal took him level with Harry Kane at the top of the Premier League scoring charts with 23 this season.
But Can was equally influential in Liverpool’s win, heading the opener and laying on a superb through pass for Firmino to score Liverpool’s third before Mane chipped in with a fourth goal in two games.
“It is difficult to be top, Manchester City are too far away, but of course we want to finish second,” said the German, whose six league goals represent the best haul of his Liverpool career which could be in its final season as his contract expires at the end of the campaign.
At the bottom of the table, the future of West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew looks increasingly bleak after their 2-1 defeat at home to relegation rivals Huddersfield Town.
Swansea City crashed 4-1 at Brighton & Hove Albion and Bournemouth came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Newcastle United.


Saudi Arabia out to make up for wasted opportunities against Egypt in World Cup dead rubber

Updated 8 min 4 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia out to make up for wasted opportunities against Egypt in World Cup dead rubber

  • Green Falcons to face Egypt in final game of Group A
  • Both side already out of the World Cup after defeats to Russia and Uruguay

VOLGOGRAD: Fahad Al-Muwallad has promised to make up for wasted opportunities when he and his Saudi Arabia teammates face Middle East neighbors Egypt in their final match of the World Cup on Monday.
Al-Muwallad, the pacy forward heralded as the Green Falcons’ most dangerous goal-threat, was left on the bench for much of his team’s embarrassing opening day defeat to Russia. By the time he was introduced in the 64th minute, Saudi Arabia were already 2-0 down and would go on to concede three more without response. In their second match, the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay, the diminutive winger was recalled to the starting line-up and employed as a center forward, but struggled against a dominant defense that included the twin towers of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez. 
“The first match was very difficult,” said Al-Muwallad, who spent the past six months on loan at Levante from Al-Ittihad.
“We were surprised, taken aback and confused. We wanted to win. Our match against Uruguay then became a decisive match because we needed to get the three points, but were unable to do so. Against Egypt, we have another difficult match and hope to get the three points.”
The poor results prompted much scrutiny at the highest levels of Saudi Arabian football with Turki Al-Alsheikh, the head of the country’s General Sports Authority, simultaneously taking responsibility and blaming the players.
Al-Muwallad, when asked if the administrative issues had affected their preparations for their final Group A match, instead focused on his team’s chance to make amends.
“Everyone has done their best,” he said.
“The managers of the team gave us a great deal of support, Saudi Arabia supported us. Perhaps we wasted a few opportunities, but we have a chance to make up for what happened since the beginning. We have a bright future ahead of us as players. We want to win the three points and we want to make the Saudi fans happy and hope that we will be able to do so.”
While the Green Falcons are without a World Cup win for 12 consecutive games, a streak running back to 1994, Egypt have never won at the tournament. Yet it is the Pharaohs that have the better record against their neighbors from across the Red Sea. After six FIFA-recognized meetings, Egypt lead the head-to-head series with four wins and a draw. With English Premier League top goalscorer Mohamed Salah in their ranks, Hector Cuper’s side will enter the match at Volgograd Arena as favorites. 
“Of course our match against Egypt will be a very difficult match,” Al-Muwallad said. “Every squad and team dreams of winning a World Cup game. We want those three points, regardless of the opponent and while we respect them, I think they recognize that the Saudi team a is a team to be reckoned with. We will enjoy the match.”
Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Saudi Arabia coach, said he has no specific plan to combat the threat of Salah, much like he employed no particular man-marking plan against Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. His Green Falcons, however, are well aware of the Liverpool forward’s threat.
“When you face an opposition that has high individual qualities, you have to show this to your players and prepare them so they know what to do to stave them off,” said Pizzi. “Salah has huge qualities and it is no coincidence that he has had such a wonderful career — especially this past year in England — so we will take precautions and try to contain him — although not only him — and stave off any sort of attacking play that they might try to develop.”
With midfielder Taiseer Al-Jassem pulling his hamstring against Uruguay and Omar Hawsawi and Mohammed Al-Burayk also struggling to be fit, Pizzi will likely need to shuffle his pack. Yet while the Argentine conceded he is already thinking about next January’s Asian Cup, he said he does not intend to use the dead rubber as a chance to give younger players experience. 
“We will field the best team possible,” Pizzi said. “Of course, we have 23 players in the squad, but we will choose the team that will provide us our very best opportunity in a match that is very important for us. We will give our very best and play our best possible line-up. 
“Regarding strategies and tactics, we know how Egypt play. I have a very good relationship with Hector Cuper and have known him for a very long time. So we will try to impose our way of playing and try to prevail with a win.”