LONDON: Mohamed Salah’s second-half penalty was enough to give Premier League leaders Liverpool a 1-0 win away to Brighton on Saturday that saw them go seven points clear at the top of the table.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were enduring a frustrating afternoon on the south coast until Egypt forward Salah converted a spot-kick after being brought down in the box by Pascal Gross at the Amex Stadium. Second-placed reigning champions Manchester City, fresh from a 9-0 out of Burton Albion in the first leg of a League Cup semi-final, will look to close the gap at home to Wolves – who knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup – on Monday.
Saturday’s early kick-off saw teenage midfielder Declan Rice score his first West Ham goal in a 1-0 win at home to London rivals Arsenal. Victory, in front of a London Stadium record crowd of over 59,000, cemented the Hammers’ place in the top half of the table. Rice’s 48th-minute strike saw the midfielder give himself an early present ahead of his 20th birthday on Monday. West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic waved to home fans when substituted in the 71st minute which suggested Austria forward, linked with a move to the Chinese Super League, may have played his last game for the club.
“We will see what happens in the next days,” Manuel Pellegrini, the Hammers manager, told Sky Sports when asked about the future of Arnautovic. Defeat dented Arsenal’s bid for Champions League football ahead of next week’s clash at home to Chelsea. The fourth-placed Blues will be six points clear of the Gunners if they beat strugglers Newcastle in Saturday’s late kick-off at Stamford Bridge “This afternoon is a bad result for us,” said Arsenal manager Unai Emery. At the other end of the table, 10-man Southampton moved a point clear of the bottom three with a 2-1 win away to Leicester. James Ward-Prowse’s penalty, awarded after Nampalys Mendy fouled Shane Long, gave the Saints an 11th-minute lead.
But the visitors found themselves a man down when Yann Valery was shown a red card for a second bookable offense after tugging the shirt of Marc Albrighton. Southampton still doubled their lead just before half-time when Long pounced on a mistake by goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. The Foxes scored a second-half goal through Wilfried Ndidi but it wasn’t enough and defeat saw Leicester, managed by former Saints boss Claude Puel, booed by their own fans come full-time at the King Power Stadium.
Fulham remained in the relegation zone after a 2-1 loss to Burnley that saw them concede two own-goals in three minutes at Turf Moor as the Clarets – who didn’t have a shot on target – moved three points clear of the drop. Andre Schurrle put Fulham ahead in just the second minute but Burnley equalized in the 20th minute through Joe Bryan’s own-goal and was soon in the lead when Denis Odoi also put through his own net. Craig Cathcart scored at both ends as Watford won 2-1 away to Crystal Palace in a match coinciding with the second anniversary of former Hornets manager Graham Taylor’s death.
Watford defender Cathcart gave Palace, whose manager Roy Hodgson is also a former England boss, a 38th-minute lead with an own-goal. But he equalized midway through the second half before Tom Cleverley’s volley into the top corner won the game for Watford with 16 minutes left. Huddersfield remained bottom of the table following a goalless draw away to relegation-threatened Cardiff. Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur faces Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday when Everton are at home to Bournemouth.
Relevant: Liverpool bounced back from two consecutive defeats to remain on course for a first league title in 29 years, but were made to wait before breaking down an obdurate Brighton thanks to Mohamed Salah’s 50th-minute penalty in a 1-0 win today. Victory reestablished Jurgen Klopp’s side’s seven-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table, which was reduced to four when the champions inflicted Liverpool’s only Premier League defeat of the campaign to breathe new life into the title race nine days ago. Liverpool was far from their fluent best on England’s south coast but ground out a vital win to settle any nerves caused by that defeat thanks to a 13th clean sheet in 22 league games this season. Klopp made wholesale changes for Monday’s FA Cup elimination to Wolves to underline his priorities for this season and he recalled a host of first-team regulars, including Salah. However, the Egyptian and the rest of Liverpool’s forward line were starved of service before the break as Brighton sat deep and the visitors dominated possession without any cutting edge. Roberto Firmino just failed to reach a dangerous Andy Robertson cross, while Xherdan Shaqiri nodded inches wide. But neither side managed a single shot on target in the first half as Glenn Murray headed Albion’s best chance over the bar. Salah immediately signaled a change in Liverpool’s intent after half-time as his powerful shot at the end of a purposeful run was well saved by David Button. Brighton, though, were architects of their own downfall moments later. Salah was given too much room inside the area to turn and Pascal Gross then hauled down last season’s Premier League player of the year. Salah stepped up to blast the penalty past Button and move level with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane as the league’s top-scorer on 14 goals for the season. One moment of madness from Gross undid Chris Hughton’s gameplan to defend and frustrate the league leaders. Yet, the German midfielder had a chance to make amends almost immediately with Brighton’s best opportunity to level, but his shot was bravely blocked by Fabinho. From then on Liverpool looked more likely to add to their lead than concede as Firmino’s fierce strike from outside the box was placed too close to Button before Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane fired wide. Salah passed up a glorious chance two minutes from time when he turned James Milner’s driven cross wide from point-blank range. That could have proved costly when Florin Andone escaped in behind the Liverpool defense in stoppage time, but his low cross found no takers. And Liverpool held out to ensure a largely forgettable 90 minutes could be remembered as another important step on course to the title come May.
Fans baffled as Liverpool star Mohamed Salah goes offline
CAIRO: Fans were left baffled on Wednesday after Liverpool’s star Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah appeared to have deleted all of his social media accounts where his followers number in the millions.
The Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts of Salah, who is idolised in Egypt and Liverpool, went offline without warning a day after he posted a cryptic tweet.
“2019 Resolution: Time to get in touch, for real,” said the final tweet, screenshots of which were shared widely on social media.
Those navigating to his Twitter account on Wednesday could only see a message reading “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”.
On Instagram, the message read “The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.” A similar message appeared on Facebook.
It was not immediately clear whether the shutdowns were deliberate.
Spain to help China develop football
MADRID: La Liga and China’s Super League on Friday signed an accord to “make Chinese football grow throughout the world.”
“We are going to learn from La Liga as much about developing young players as about promoting our brand,” Dong Zheng, the general secretary of the Chinese league told a press conference in Madrid.
“I hope that with the help of La Liga, the Chinese Super League can become a premier league at the Asian and even the World level,” said Zheng.
The agreement is for four years and covers the sport as well as the organization and financial controls.
Chinese professional football said Javier Tebas, the Liga president, “is looking to organize as we do in the biggest leagues in the world.”
“We will work together on strategies of financial oversight, one of the concerns of Chinese football with the increasing influx of a lot of private investment,” Tebas added.
In the last five years, La Liga has applied rigorous economic controls including, cleaning up club accounting and centralizing the sale of TV rights.
The agreement also includes collaboration in marketing and digital development, in which “we will try to share experiences and make Chinese football grow all over the world,” Tebas said, who added that the project could help fulfill the ambitions of Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who once said he wants to see China win the World Cup.
“If we work in Chinese professional soccer, in a strong Chinese league, we contribute to the dreams of the Chinese president of being able to organize a World Cup in China, qualify for a World Cup and, one day, win the World Cup,” said Tebas.
Messi scores 400th La Liga goal for Barcelona
BARCELONA: Lionel Messi scored his 400th goal in La Liga against Eibar on Sunday to extend his record as the division’s all-time top scorer.
Messi collected the ball off Luis Suarez and drove it into the bottom corner in the 53rd minute at Camp Nou to give Barca a 2-0 lead over Eibar and notch his quadruple century after 435 matches.
It is 14 years since the 31-year-old Argentine scored his first La Liga goal and he has gone on to build an enormous lead at the top of the league’s all-time scoring chart.
Cristiano Ronaldo remains the second highest scorer with 311 goals in 292 games while Spain’s Telmo Zarra is third with 251 goals in 278 games.
Messi has finished top scorer in La Liga five times. He has 17 goals already this season.