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Rediff.com  » Sports » EPL PIX: Liverpool frustrated as battling Stoke grab a point

EPL PIX: Liverpool frustrated as battling Stoke grab a point

Last updated on: April 28, 2018 23:31 IST

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah goes past Stoke City's Erik Pieters during their English Premier League match at Anfield in Liverpool on Saturday

IMAGE: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah goes past Stoke City's Erik Pieters during their English Premier League match at Anfield in Liverpool on Saturday. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The battle for the top four in the Premier League may go to the final day after Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw at Anfield on Saturday by Stoke City whose point may not be enough in their own scrap against relegation.

With Liverpool still to visit Chelsea, who trail them by nine points with two games in hand, Juergen Klopp's side may have to beat Brighton & Hove Albion on May 13 and rely on their superior goal difference to qualify for the Champions League, assuming they do not secure it by winning this year's trophy.

On paper, Saturday's game looked a mismatch, pitting the only team unbeaten at home in England's top four divisions against the side with the worst away record.

But a Liverpool side with five changes from the starting XI that beat AS Roma 5-2 in the Champions League semi-final, first leg at Anfield lacked their usual intensity and even Mo Salah fluffed a chance almost identical to one he buried in midweek.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was later substituted with a dead leg, also scuffed a shot on the six-yard line while Danny Ings had a goal disallowed for s marginal offside.

Despite enjoying 72 percent possession, Liverpool only had two shots on target and it was the first time since Dec. 26 that 43-goal Salah failed to score after starting a home game.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp applauds fans after the match

IMAGE: Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp applauds fans after the match. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

A dramatic finish saw Liverpool denied a penalty when Erik Pieters handled, while Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross almost snatched what would have been their first league win at Anfield.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson described the incident when the ball hit Pieters' hand as a "blatant penalty".

"For me it was a poor decision by the referee and linesman. They have ultimately cost us the three points," said Henderson, who added that he should be okay for next week's game at Roma despite receiving a kick on his calf in the first half.

Liverpool felt particularly aggrieved over the penalty after James Milner had conceded a spot kick in similar circumstances at home to Roma but Stoke midfielder Joe Allen said the visitors would have felt hard done by if it had been given.

Klopp said Liverpool had no new injury concerns for the Roma game. "We will be ready for Wednesday," he said.

With Stoke's relegation rivals playing later on Saturday, they are three points below the safety zone with two games left.

Huddersfield fretting after 2-0 home defeat by Everton

Huddersfield Town were left sweating over avoiding relegation after goals from Cenk Tosun and Idrissa Gueye condemned them to a 2-0 home defeat by mid-table Everton in a scrappy Premier League clash on Saturday.

The result left Huddersfield 16th on 35 points from as many games, two more than Swansea City - who are hosting Chelsea later on Saturday - and three ahead of 18th-placed Southampton who rekindled their survival hopes with a 2-1 home win over Bournemouth.

The home team's boss David Wagner conceded his outfit were beaten by a better team and was optimistic about securing top flight football next season.

"The support from the stands was great, we gave everything but we were beaten by quality in the end," Wagner told BBC.

"We missed opportunities and they scored with their first effort on goal and then in the second half we were not at the same level.

"We have to deal with it and we will deal with it. The players need a lift and we will give them that. We had good momentum. We will fight until the final end."

Huddersfield dictated the pace in the opening half of a scrappy affair but Everton always looked more likely to break the deadlock. Tosun fired them ahead in the 39th minute with a fine finish from 18 metres after good work by Theo Walcott.

The visitors missed two good chances to double their advantage in the second half before Gueye silenced the noisy home crowd with a superb shot from 20 metres which gave the home keeper Jonas Loessl no chance.

Everton manager Sam Allardyce, who came under fire from the visiting fans, praised his team.

"It was an excellent performance," he said.

"Huddersfield at home have been strong and they were looking to make themselves safe by beating us but we were too good for them.

"It’s a good win and that's 11 points in six games. We are riding high and are finishing the season strongly... we shouldn't keep talking about critics."

Tadic answers Southampton's prayers in Bournemouth win

Southampton's Dusan Tadic kept alive their hopes of retaining their Premier League status by scoring twice in a 2-1 win over south-coast rivals Bournemouth to move them ahead of Stoke City in the battle to avoid the drop.

Mark Hughes recorded his first league victory as Southampton manager with his side showing fighting spirit at just the right time, moving to 32 points and within a point of the safety zone with three games left.

Serbian forward Tadic opened the scoring after 25 minutes with a clinical finish past goalkeeper Asmir Begovic before Bournemouth threatened to spoil the optimism when Joshua King netted an equaliser on the stroke of halftime

But Tadic ensured Southampton ended a dismal run of nine league matches without a victory at St Mary's Stadium with the winner in the 54th minute when he raced onto a long ball and fired a low shot into the bottom corner.

It was a nervous start from both sides but Saints got the early advantage when they produced a superb counter-attack following a poor corner by Bournemouth and opened the scoring.

Nathan Redmond cleared the ball and Southampton had three on one as Mario Lemina burst forward and played the perfect ball into the path of Tadic who calmly slotted the ball past Begovic.

Charlie Austin and Lemina spurned chances to double the lead and Bournemouth made them pay at the end of the first half when King was left unmarked at the far post and directed the ball into the roof of the net from Ryan Fraser's corner.

Saints had thrown away a two-goal lead against Arsenal in their previous home game but Tadic ensured there was no repeat performance as he netted the winner after 54 minutes.

Bournemouth defender Steve Cook failed to deal with a long pass forward from Alex McCarthy and Tadic reacted quickest as he picked up the loose ball and raced towards the penalty area before striking a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

Eddie Howe's Bournmeouth side had claims for a penalty turned down two minutes from time for a handball against Wesley Hoedt, while Southampton's McCarthy made a fine save to keep out Fraser's close-range effort in added time.

Southampton held on to record a priceless three points and will now be full of confidence as they prepare for their final three games against Everton, Swansea City and Manchester City.

Palace ease relegation fears with 5-0 rout of 10-man Leicester

Crystal Palace kept their Premier League survival hopes very much alive with a 5-0 thrashing of 10-man Leicester City, who had Marc Albrighton sent off in the 56th minute, at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Wilfried Zaha put the hosts ahead with his fourth goal in four games from James McArthur’s backheel after both teams had cleared chances off the line – Kelechi Iheanacho from Palace's James Tomkins and Joel Ward denying Leicester’s Jamie Vardy.

The pair combined again to put Palace two up before halftime, McArthur swivelling to shoot low into the bottom corner from a square ball by Zaha, who minutes earlier brought a diving save from Ben Hamer.

Leicester were on top just after the break but wilted after Albrighton was dismissed for bringing down Zaha, leaving Palace to wrap up the points with goals by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Patrick van Aanholt and substitute Christian Benteke’s penalty.

Palace climbed to a season high of 11th in the standings with 38 points, six clear of the relegation zone with two matches to play. Leicester are ninth with 44.

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