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EPL PIX: United, Leicester keep up top-four chase with wins

July 17, 2020 09:49 IST
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IMAGE: Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring the first goal for Manchester United against Crystal Palace in London, on Thursday. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Manchester United kept up their chase for a Champions League qualification spot with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial on target in a 2-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Thursday.

 

With two games remaining, United are in fifth place on 62 points, behind Leicester City on goal difference, with third-placed Chelsea on 63.

After West Ham visit Old Trafford on Wednesday, United go to Leicester on the final day of the season in what could be a decider for fourth place.

"We need to smile and go into this, we have earned this right, no-one thought in January that we would be in with a shout for top four," said United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose team are 19 unbeaten on all competitions.

"We have done fantastic since the restart. These are the games that matter. That is the thing at Manchester United, you have to step up and show your personality," he said.

IMAGE: Anthony Martial scores the second goal for Manchester United. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Solskjaer's side were not at their best in South London and survived a scare just before the break when Wilfried Zaha went down under challenge from Victor Lindelof but referee Graham Scott turned down the penalty appeal.

Moments later, Rashford put United in front, his smart footwork sending the Palace defence the wrong way before he coolly slotted home.

Mid-table Palace thought they had drawn level in the 55th minute when Jordan Ayew slid in a low cross from Wilfried Zaha but the goal was ruled out for the tightest of offsides after a VAR review.

United made sure of victory, vital after Leicester's 2-0 win over Sheffield United, when Bruno Fernandes and Rashford combined smartly to feed Martial who held off Scott Dann ad drove in the second.

"It was a tight game and we didn't get the rhythm in our passing but two fantastic goals won it for us," said Solskjaer.

Palace, who have now lost six games in a row, suffered a blow when defender Patrick van Aanholt was taken off on a stretcher after colliding with Martial and sustaining what appeared to be a serious shoulder or arm injury.

Leicester boost top-four hopes with win over Blades

IMAGE: Leicester City secured a 2-0 home win over Sheffield United to keep up their chase of a place in the top four in the Premier League. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Leicester City boosted their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four as goals by Ayoze Perez and substitute Demarai Gray secured a 2-0 home win over Sheffield United on Thursday.

The result left Leicester fourth on 62 points from 36 games, three ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United who were visiting Crystal Palace in a later game and one behind Chelsea in third.

Leicester centre-back Jonny Evans stressed that the Foxes were aiming to respond to a crushing 4-1 defeat at relegation-threatened Bournemouth on Sunday and praised 19-year old debutant Luke Thomas who set up the first goal.

"It was very important, our heads dropped after the second and third goal the other day against Bournemouth, it was important we showed pride tonight," Evans told Sky Sports.

"Thomas was outstanding and everything he did was immaculate, man of the match without a doubt. He's been training really well and everyone has been really impressed with him."

IMAGE: Ayoze Perez scores the first goal for Leicester City past Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson. Photograph: David Davies/Pool via Getty Images

Having won only one of their last six league games, Leicester needed a victory to get back on track in their bid to secure a berth in next season's Champions League and they delivered with a dominant performance.

Perez fired them ahead in the 29th minute with a crisp low shot from 14 metres thanks to a fine cut-back by Thomas and Gray sealed the contest in the 79th with a clinical finish after a fast break.

The Foxes missed a string of chances to win by a bigger margin as visiting goalkeeper Dean Henderson made several reflex saves while top scorer Jamie Vardy hit the outside of the post shortly after halftime.

The defeat means Sheffield United stay eighth on 54 points, two points behind sixth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers who occupy a Europa League qualifying spot, after their timid performance brought a four-match unbeaten run to an end.

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