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EPL PIX: Liverpool move closer to title; United in top-four hunt

June 25, 2020 08:28 IST
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Images from the English Premier League matches played on Wednesday

Liverpool move closer to title with 4-0 win over Palace

Liverpool

IMAGE: Liverpool's Fabinho celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Liverpool were back at their lethal best to beat Crystal Palace 4-0 at Anfield on Wednesday, moving within two points of securing the Premier League title.

The victory, with goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane, ensured Juergen Klopp’s side could be crowned champions on Thursday if second-placed Manchester City fail to win at Chelsea.

 

Should Pep Guardiola’s side win at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool could finish the job with a victory in their next game, against defending champions City, on July 2.

“We’ve worked hard for this over the past few years and as a squad this is what we’ve dreamed of. We’re in a good position so hopefully we’ll be able to get across the line pretty soon,” said right back Alexander-Arnold, whose superb free kick broke the deadlock.

It was such a dominant performance from Klopp’s side, who had been held to a 0-0 draw by Everton on Sunday, that Palace did not have a single touch in Liverpool’s penalty area — the first time that has occurred in the Premier League since Opta began collating such stats in 2008.

After the Liverpool anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was played in front of the empty stadium, Roy Hodgson’s Palace suffered an early blow when Wilfried Zaha limped off injured in the 15th minute.

Alexander-Arnold fired Liverpool ahead in the 23rd minute with a perfectly-executed curling free kick into the top corner.

Salah doubled the advantage, a minute before the interval, chesting down a cross-field pass from Fabinho before skipping goalwards and slotting home.

Brazilian Fabinho made it 3-0 with a thundering drive from 25 metres out before Mane added the fourth, finishing off a classic break from Liverpool’s front three.

Mane started the move, slipping the ball inside to Roberto Firmino who found Salah on the right, the Egyptian delivering a perfect pass to the on-running Mane who confidently drove home.

Liverpool have 86 points from 31 games with City 23 points behind ahead of their trip to Chelsea.

Martial treble keeps Man United in top-four hunt

Manchester United

IMAGE: Manchester United's Anthony Martial in action with Sheffield United's Sander Berge. Photograph: Michael Steele/Reuters

Anthony Martial scored Manchester United’s first Premier League hat-trick for seven years to inspire a 3-0 home win over Sheffield United on Wednesday and maintain their hopes of a top-four finish.

The French forward’s maiden career treble was also the first by a United player in the league since former manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 after they won their record 20th league title.

United stayed fifth in the standings on 49 points from 31 games, two behind fourth-placed Chelsea whose game in hand is a home clash with champions Manchester City on Thursday.

Martial was delighted after taking his league tally to 12 goals, surpassing his previous record of 11 amassed in the 2015-16 season.

“I feel very good, it’s the first hat-trick in my career,” he told Manchester United television.

“I’m happy because the team played very good today. (Marcus Rashford) gave me one or two assists today, so the most important thing is to win. I tried to give him a chance to score, no competition, we just want to win.”

Martial linked up to devastating effect with Rashford as United, playing at Old Trafford for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic halted the league in mid-March, dismantled the visitors.

The Frenchman scored two similar goals in the opening half, firing United into a seventh-minute lead when he reacted instinctively with his weaker left foot after good work by Rashford on the right.

After Rashford and Bruno Fernandes went close as United dominated, Martial made it 2-0 in the 44th minute when he steered home a low Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross amid more static defending by the visitors.

Mason Greenwood’s deflected shot sailed inches wide of the post before Martial capped a fine performance with a superb finish, dinking the ball over goalkeeper Simon Moore from another Rashford assist.

The hosts missed chances to add to their tally as substitute Odion Ighalo was denied by Moore and the lively Wan-Bissaka dragged his shot from 10 metres wide of the far post.

Keane goal gives Everton 1-0 win over rudderless Norwich

Everton

IMAGE: Everton's Michael Keane celebrates scoring their first goal. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/Reuters

A second-half header by Michael Keane gave Everton a 1-0 away win against bottom side Norwich City in the Premier League on Wednesday, as the Canaries showed little sign of the spark they will need to avoid relegation.

Norwich did pressure the visitors on occasion in the first half, but it took until stoppage time for Lukas Rupp to test Everton keeper Jordan Pickford with a shot on target.

Everton upped the tempo considerably in the second half, taking the lead in the 55th minute when Keane sent a glancing header from a corner flying past Norwich keeper Tim Krul into the net.

Rather than sparking the home side into life, Norwich looked completely rudderless after they went behind, and the closest they came to an equaliser was when substitute Adam Idah forced a late corner.

Norwich remain bottom on 21 points, six points behind 17th-placed West Ham United with seven games left to play, and manager Daniel Farke said he can still see a way for his side to avoid the drop.

“I can just praise the workload, the togetherness. In terms of attitude, we showed today organisation and I can just give compliments,” he said.

“When you wear this yellow shirt you have responsibility and big pride. As long as there is a chance, we won’t give up.”

Everton, whose boss Carlo Ancelotti said they were aiming for European football next season, are 10th on 41 points, four behind seventh-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

“What we needed from this game was three points, the three points arrived and now we can dream to climb up the table. The players satisfied me a lot,” Ancelotti said.

El Mohamady strikes as Villa fight back to draw at Newcastle

Aston Villa

IMAGE: Aston Villa's Ahmed Elmohamady celebrates scoring their first goal with Kortney Hause. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

Aston Villa substitute Ahmed El Mohamady scored with seven minutes remaining to give his beleaguered side a potential lifeline from relegation as they claimed a point in a 1-1 Premier League draw at Newcastle United on Wednesday.

Villa remained in the bottom two but will be buoyed by their fightback at St James’ Park after substitute Dwight Gayle had put the home team in front in the 68th minute.

Newcastle, who beat Sheffield United 3-0 on Sunday in their first game after the COVID-19 lockdown, stayed in 13th place as they advanced to 39 points from 31 games.

Villa are on 27 points, having drawn two of three games played in a seven-day spell after the league’s return to action.

Gayle had only been on for a minute when fellow replacement Andy Carroll provided a telling cross to allow him to score but El Mohamady steered home a glancing header from a corner in the 83rd minute to earn Villa a point.

Villa had made a lively start but Mahmoud Trezeguet missed after ghosting in behind the defence and Mbwana Samatta failed to get enough power onto a good headed opportunity.

John McGinn and Matt Targett also failed to convert half-chances to keep up Villa’s poor scoring record - they have netted twice in their last five Premier League games.

Newcastle were brought to life by Allan Saint-Maximin in midfield but the quality of his service was not matched by the strikers.

The hosts should have gone ahead in the 57th minute when Miguel Almiron found himself in space in front of goal but he allowed Tyrone Mings time to block the effort.

Jimenez-Traore show seals win for Wolves over Bournemouth

Wolves

IMAGE: Wolverhampton Wanderers' Adama Traore in action with Bournemouth's Nathan Ake. Photograph: Mike Egerton/Reuters

Another episode of the Adama Traore-Raul Jimenez show delivered Wolverhampton Wanderers a precious 1-0 win over struggling Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday.

In an almost carbon copy of Saturday’s opener in the win over West Ham United, Traore’s surging run and inch-perfect cross on the hour was met by Jimenez for his 15th league goal of the season.

Ten of Mexican striker Jimenez’s goals have been assisted by Spanish winger Traore, making them the most lethal combination in the Premier League this season as Wolves continue to press for a Champions League qualification spot.

Victory put them on 49 points in sixth place, the same total as fifth-placed Manchester United who have a better goal difference. Fifth place could possibly offer a Champions League berth this season, pending the outcome of second-placed Manchester City’s appeal against a UEFA ban.

Bournemouth showed more grit than when losing to Crystal Palace in their first game back after the restart, although they created precious little at a sweltering Molineux, failing to manage an attempt on target.

Eddie Howe’s side remained third-from-bottom with 27 points, behind West Ham on goal difference. They are yet to earn a point away from home in 2020 and are in imminent danger of missing out on a sixth successive top-flight season.

Wolves struggled to open up Bournemouth in a first half in which neither goalkeeper was required to make a save.

Ominously for the visitors Traore began to warm to the task though and one scintillating run from deep in his own half was crudely ended by Steve Cook who was yellow-carded. Traore then fired over the crossbar shortly before the break.

Inevitably it was Traore who prised Bournemouth open, accelerating past Adam Smith and picking out Jimenez who controlled his header to perfection.

“It was a poor first half in terms of football but in the second half we managed to create a couple of situations and eventually the combination of Adama and Raul worked out,” manager Nuno Espirito Santo told BT Sport.

Wolves face Aston Villa at the weekend.

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