Liverpool sweep past Southampton for sixth straight Premier League win

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
0

Liverpool sweep past Southampton for sixth straight Premier League win

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool kept up their perfect record in the Premier League with a sixth straight victory on Saturday after beating Southampton 3-0 at Anfield.
Switzerland international Xherdhan Shaqiri marked his first start for the club with a role in two first-half goals.
His deflected cross was turned in by Wesley Hoedt for the opener and a brilliant curling free-kick against the crossbar presented Mohamed Salah with a simple close-range effort for the third.
Either side of those goals, Joel Matip scored his first at Anfield as Southampton were pulled apart by a Liverpool side still nowhere near top gear.
Juergen Klopp’s team are top with 18 points though Chelsea can go level on points if they win at West Ham on Sunday.
Liverpool still have some way to go to match the club’s best start to a campaign, though, as the 1990-91 side won 10 successive competitive matches.
Klopp changed his system to accommodate Shaqiri, switching to 4-2-3-1 with Salah moved to the center and Shaqiri playing behind.
In the 10th minute Shaqiri cut in from the left to race onto Sadio Mane’s perfectly-weighted throughball, hitting a right-footed shot off Shane Long onto Hoedt with scrambling goalkeeper Alex McCarthy unable to keep it out.
Salah was denied by a superbly timed block from Cedric Soares after combining with Roberto Firmino but that led to the second goal as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner was powerfully headed home by Matip, making his first start since March 31.
Salah avoided the worst drought of his short Liverpool career in first-half added time thanks to his anticipation and no shortage of Shaqiri brilliance, netting his 30th goal in his last 31 Anfield appearances.
He was denied a second for offside in the 89th minute after Mario Lamina had cleared James Milner’s shot off the line.
The only downside to the afternoon was the departure of Virgil van Dijk with a bruised rib.
For Southampton it was a third loss in six league matches.


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
0

Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”