Mohamed Salah goal helps Liverpool bounce back as Arsenal close gap on top four

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah reacts at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Bournemouth at Anfield in Liverpool, which the Reds nicked with a 2-1 win. (AFP)
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Updated 07 March 2020

Mohamed Salah goal helps Liverpool bounce back as Arsenal close gap on top four

  • Jurgen Klopp’s men had suffered three defeats in four games in all competitions

LONDON: Liverpool moved to within nine points of claiming the Premier League title by coming from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1 as Arsenal boosted their charge toward the Champions League places with a 1-0 win over West Ham.
Jurgen Klopp’s men had suffered three defeats in four games in all competitions, including their first in the Premier League for 45 matches at Watford last weekend.
Callum Wilson’s controversial early opener threatened another major upset. But all of Liverpool’s setbacks of late have come away from Anfield and they set an English top-flight record for 22 consecutive home league wins as two quickfire goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane turned the game around.
The runaway league leaders still needed a miraculous goal-line clearance from James Milner to deny Ryan Fraser an equalizer, but defeat leaves Bournemouth still marooned in the bottom three.
“We are not geniuses, but we can really fight and that’s all we have to do until the end of the season and see what we get from it,” said Klopp.
The spread of coronavirus could have a big impact on the Reds’ title celebrations in the weeks to come with the possibility of games being played behind closed doors.
But the abandonment of the normal pre-match ritual of handshakes was the only disruption to the Premier League calendar this weekend.
Despite the coronavirus risk there was no halt to players celebrating wildly with each other and Arsenal players piled on top of Alexandre Lacazette after a long VAR review of the Frenchman’s winner at the Emirates.
West Ham were made to rue a series of missed chances as they remain just outside the relegation zone on goal difference.
Jarrod Bowen hit the woodwork and Bernd Leno made a string of saves from Michail Antonio and Sebastien Haller, but it was Arsenal who made the breakthrough 12 minutes from time.
Mesut Ozil was originally flagged offside as he latched onto Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s deflected shot and headed down for Lacazette to sweep home.
But the goal was finally given after a delay of several minutes to move Arsenal to within five points of the top four.
Wolves missed the chance to move into the top four as a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Brighton left them still two points adrift of Chelsea in fifth.
A vital point for the Seagulls edges them two points clear of the relegation zone.
Sheffield United moved above Manchester United and Tottenham into sixth to further their dreams of Champions League football next season thanks to captain Billy Sharp’s winner to beat bottom-of-the-table Norwich 1-0.
Roy Hodgson celebrated his new contract as Crystal Palace boss with a 1-0 win over Watford as the Eagles moved into the top half of the table.
Newcastle also secured the win that should guarantee their survival courtesy of Allan Saint-Maximin’s strike to beat 10-man Southampton 1-0.
Moussa Djenepo gave the Saints a mountain to climb when he was shown a straight red card for a lunge of Isaac Hayden on 28 minutes.
Alex McCarthy kept Southampton in the game as he saved Matt Ritchie’s penalty, but Saint-Maximin stabbed home the winner 11 minutes from time to take the Magpies eight points clear of the drop zone.


Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

Updated 31 October 2020

Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

MADRID:  Real Madrid will be hoping to leave their sticky patch behind them when they play Huesca in La Liga on Saturday, with an early six-point lead to preserve over Barcelona.

The resignation of Barca’s club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has overshadowed what has been a dramatic week for Madrid, who barely salvaged a 2-2 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Trailing 2-0 with three minutes left, Madrid were facing a defeat that would have squandered the momentum gained from last weekend’s Clasico win at Camp Nou.

A late double from Karim Benzema and Casemiro ensured Zinedine Zidane’s side snatched a draw that felt like a win but to consolidate that positivity, they cannot afford another slip this weekend.

“The team is what it has shown, it’s about a reaction,” said Zidane. “The first half was very good, we played well. The pity is we conceded the first goal, but we continued to think it was possible, even at 2-0.

“That showed the character of the team and I’m very proud of them. We are not happy because we want to win, but we must be happy with the performance.”

Madrid play a Huesca side that is yet to win this season, as they followed four consecutive draws with a 4-1 loss away at league leaders Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Zidane could also hand Eden Hazard his first start since August, after the Belgian came off the bench in midweek.

That was Hazard’s first appearance of the season as he tries to overcome his latest injury setback, which the club have only described as a muscle injury.

“It’s good. I’m here to play football,” said Hazard on Wednesday. “After two or three months off the pitch, I’m so happy. I just want to play football, that’s why I’m here.”

On the last-gasp draw in Germany, Hazard said: “We showed great character, to be 2-0 down with five minutes to play, I think we could have scored one more, I could have scored one more, but I missed. It’s not three points but it feels like a victory.”

Zidane was determined to give Hazard time to recover fully and he believes the club will have to be cautious.

“He’s just started playing. It is his first game after a long time away,” said Zidane. “The plan was for him to try to play but little by little is what we have to do.”

A Madrid victory against Huesca could send them back to the top of the table, above Real Sociedad who are the only team to have retained top spot in consecutive rounds so far this term.

Real Sociedad play away at Celta Vigo on Sunday, just before third-placed Granada host Levante and struggling Valencia play at home to Getafe.

If Atletico Madrid win their two games in hand they will go top, with Diego Simeone’s side away at Osasuna on Saturday.

Barcelona, who beat Juventus on Wednesday, also have two games in hand but are seven points off the lead. Their new era without Bartomeu begins in La Liga away at Alaves on Saturday night.