Liverpool rescue win over Fulham as Mohamed Salah stutters once again

Mohamed Salah’s goal drought continued as the Egyptian has scored just once now in his last 10 games. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Liverpool rescue win over Fulham as Mohamed Salah stutters once again

  • Egyptian striker has suffered from a poor run of form in recent weeks
  • Liverpool jumped above Manchester City to take top spot in the Premier League

LONDON: Liverpool jumped above Manchester City to take top spot in the Premier League but needed a James Milner penalty nine minutes from time to see off lowly Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
The on-form Sadio Mane put the visitors in front midway through the first half, but a rare defensive mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker allowed Ryan Babel to give his former club a huge scare 16 minutes from time.
Fulham’s awful defending all season is the reason they are heading back to the Championship after just one season back in the top flight, and the hosts gave Jurgen Klopp’s men a much-needed gift when goalkeeper Sergio Rico bundled over Mane and Milner secured all three points from the spot.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah’s goal drought continued as the Egyptian has scored just once now in his last 10 games, but it was his shot that Rico spilled before the Spaniard unnecessarily pulled down Mane.
Salah should have got a much-needed confidence boost when released clean through by Mane during the second half, but Rico saved low to his left.
The Egyptian striker has suffered from a poor run of form in recent weeks.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said: “It was (exactly) like how we are at the moment — we started really well, did a lot of good things and then lost the rhythm a little bit.
“I’m not the most experienced manager but I’ve had similar problems after Champions League games — the first-half was a bit rusty. We could’ve finished it off in the second-half but if you don’t kill the game at 1-0 up, it’s clear something like that can happen.
“I have no doubt about my players’ nerves. I always want perfection but it’s rare that you get it. People will say we should be more convincing in games like this but this is us, we are in the middle of a development, not at the end. How the boys dealt with it was brilliant.
“(It was an) average game, sensational result,” Klopp added.
“City don’t look like they will drop a lot of points, so we have to win and win and win. That’s our job to do.”
Fulham boss Scott Parker, who replaced Claudio Ranieri as the boss at Craven Cottage was looking for the positives after another damaging defeat for the west Londoners.
”The back end of the game we came strong and caused Liverpool some problems. It was pleasing, but we have lost (but have) some positives to take from the game.
“These players have been working really well for the two weeks I’ve been here. But you need to stay in the game against Liverpool. First half we did that. We changed things around a little bit and were in the ascendancy. The goal was what we deserved. We were in a position then to get the right side of it.
“I have seen some massive positives. I stand here two weeks on from being involved and these players are working to a maximum. The attitude and passion that comes with that means this club will be in a better place.”


Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

Updated 20 May 2019
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Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

  • Milwaukee’s MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggles to just 12 points
  • He then fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period

LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard scored eight of his 36 points in the second overtime period Sunday to lead the Toronto Raptors to a gritty 118-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The Raptors, who dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Milwaukee, clawed their way back to 2-1 in front of home fans and will try to level the set when they host game four on Tuesday.
Pascal Siakam scored 25 points and Spanish center Marc Gasol added 16 for the Raptors, who got off to a quick start and led much of the night but had to battle to put the Bucks away.
“We just played a lot tougher,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were up guarding, we were physical. We were ready to play tonight.”
Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled to just 12 points on five-of-16 shooting.
Antetokounmpo’s 23 rebounds helped the Bucks stay in touch, but he didn’t reach double figures in points until the middle of the fourth quarter and he produced eight of the Bucks’ 20 turnovers.
Antetokounmpo fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period.
Moments later the Bucks managed to edge ahead 105-103 — taking the lead for the first time since Antetokounmpo scored the game’s opening basket — but Leonard and the Raptors roared back.
Leonard’s steal and dunk put Toronto ahead 112-109 and his driving bank shot gave Toronto a 114-110 lead with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Leonard played a key role in limiting Antetokounmpo and Nurse said his defensive play was “probably the biggest key of the game.”
“Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and break aways,” Nurse said.
“Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while and any time you can get a steal and a break out it’s a huge momentum play.”
Toronto had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let a 96-91 lead slip away in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton’s putback basket from his own miss with 2.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
The Raptors led 103-99 with 1:29 remaining in the first extra session.
But Malcolm Brogdon floated in a shot and George Hill drained two free throws to tie it before Leonard’s jump shot fell short.
The Raptors overcame a slow night from Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points before fouling out with 6:12 left in the fourth.
Although Leonard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and both overtimes, some grimaces from the Raptors star sparked concerns he might be injured.
“I’m feeling all right,” he said. “This is playoff basketball. Everybody’s hurting, you just have to keep fighting.”
Hill led the Bucks with 24 points and fellow reserve Brogdon added 20. Center Brook Lopez led the Bucks starters with 16 points.
“I feel like we gave ourselves several chances,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We weren’t able to get over the hump.
“When you have opportunities you’ve got to make them and we didn’t quite make enough of our good ones. I think we’ll be better in game four, Giannis, everybody.”