Mohamed Salah stunner helps Liverpool beat Chelsea and top Premier League

Mohamed Salah duels for the ball with Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek. (AP)
Updated 14 April 2019
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Mohamed Salah stunner helps Liverpool beat Chelsea and top Premier League

LIVERPOOL: Jurgen Klopp hailed "fantastic" Mohamed Salah as the key to Liverpool's title dreams as they powered back to the top of the Premier League thanks to the Egypt star's stunning strike in a 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday.
Klopp's side had surrendered pole position a few hours earlier when Manchester City won 3-1 at Crystal Palace, piling pressure on the Reds to respond as the title race heats up.
But Liverpool rose to the challenge as Sadio Mane's opener five minutes after the break and a blistering long-range drive from Salah two minutes later moved them two points clear of second-placed City on a raucous afternoon at Anfield.
"It was a fantastic goal from Mo. I had the best view," Klopp said after Salah's first goal from outside the area in the league since January 2018.
"What a finish, what a shot. But the whole move around it. Wow, brilliant.
"I'm so proud of the team, it was a fantastic performance. I'm so thankful I can be a part of this. It's overwhelming at times."
City have five games left compared to just four for Liverpool, leaving the destiny of the title in the hands of the champions.
But there is a growing feeling at Anfield that this will be the season Liverpool finally end their 29-year wait to be crowned kings of English football.
With City having difficult league fixtures looming against Tottenham and Manchester United, Klopp's men are convinced they can hold onto pole position.
Their run-in is undoubtedly less daunting than City's, with Cardiff, Huddersfield and Newcastle on the schedule before a potential title party against Wolves at Anfield.
"The first question in the meeting today was 'what is the City score?'. You cannot avoid knowing about it," Klopp said of a gripping title battle.
"We expect them to win all their games so we just need to get as many points as possible.
"If we're champions then great, but if not we are still a really good football team."
For fourth-placed Chelsea, the loss was a blow to their bid for Champions League football next season and they will drop to fifth if Arsenal win at Watford on Monday.
Claiming that Liverpool's first goal should have been ruled out for a foul on Emerson, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri grumbled: "In my opinion there was a foul. I think the level in Premier League is the best in the world but not for the referees.
"We stayed in the match for 50 minutes. It's not easy of course but we have to fight to the end (for the top four)."
On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster that killed 96 Liverpool fans and in the week that club legend Tommy Smith passed away, there was even more emotion at Anfield than usual.
After a minute's silence featuring mosaics reading "30 years" and "96" held up by fans around the ground, Liverpool's focus was trained on avenging one of the more painful defeats in the club's recent history.
Steven Gerrard's infamous slip in 2014 led to a defeat against Chelsea that effectively gifted the title to Manchester City when Liverpool had looked odds-on to lift the trophy.
But Klopp insisted his players wouldn't be haunted by the ghosts of that collapse and they were true to his word.
"We have closed the book on that now, Klopp said about Liverpool's Chelsea demons.
The crucial opener arrived in the 51st minute.
When Salah scampered onto Roberto Firmino's flick in the Chelsea area, Blues defender Emerson could only prod the ball to the influential Jordan Henderson and his deft cross reached the unmarked Mane, who headed home at the far post.
Any Liverpool nerves had been wiped away by jubilant celebrations and soon after Salah blew the roof off Anfield with a moment of pure genius.
Taking possession wide on the right flank, Salah cut inside and glided away from Emerson before unleashing a sumptuous 25-yard drive that arrowed past Kepa Arrizabalaga into the far corner.
It was a sweet moment of vindication for the Egypt forward after a group of Chelsea fans were filmed chanting "Salah is a bomber" before their team's Europa League tie at Slavia Prague on Thursday.
And Salah, a practising Muslim, celebrated his 22nd goal of the season by adopting a prayer position in front of the Kop as Liverpool moved a step closer to their holy grail.


FIFA: Iran must allow women into football games

Updated 14 min 38 sec ago

FIFA: Iran must allow women into football games

DUBAI: The ban on women attending football matches in Iran is “unacceptable” and must be lifted, the head of the sports’ world governing body said in a statement.

FIFA’s position is “clear and firm” and that women “have to be allowed” into football stadiums in the country, according to president Gianni Infantino.

Iran’s ban on women attending sports stadiums was put in place shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, despite international pressure to let them attend.

Infantino’s call comes shortly after the death of Sahar Khodayari, a female fan who set herself on fire after she was denied access to a football stadium in Tehran.

Khodayari, dubbed the “Blue Girl” because of the colors of the team she supported, Esteghlal FC, was detained and charged with “openly committing a sinful act” by “appearing in public without a hijab” after attempting to enter a stadium “dressed as a man” in March.

She died of her injuries on September 9 in a hospital after setting herself on fire outside a court earlier this month.

“I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation,” Infantino said in a statement.

“I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.

“We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.”

Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has asked the judiciary to investigate the circumstances of Khodayari’s death, although the department’s spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, has said that Khodayari “had clearly confessed her mistake during questioning, accepted it and expressed regret.”

FIFA has sent a letter to the to the Iranian Football Federation in June, requesting a timeline that would allow women to be able to buy tickets for World Cup qualifiers. Iran’s men’s national team takes on Cambodia in a World Cup qualifying game on October 10.