Liverpool 4-0 Everton: Sturridge double seals scintillating Merseyside derby win (video)

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LIVERPOOL — One of the most one-sided Merseyside derbies in recent history saw Liverpool blow away neighbors Everton 4-0 at Anfield on a pulsating night under the floodlights at the famous old ground on Tuesday.

Steven Gerrard’s header midway through the first half gave Liverpool the breakthrough they needed after an even start to the match.

The Reds never looked back.

Daniel Sturridge then scored twice in quick succession just after the 30 minute mark, as his first was a cool finish before the England international nonchalantly lobbed Tim Howard to make it 3-0 before the break.

In the second half Everton threatened a brief comeback but Luis Suarez ran from the halfway line before slotting home to make it 4-0 in the 49th minute, and the contest was over. Sturridge missed a penalty for his hat trick and spurned several other chances as the Reds piled on the misery against an Everton side who looked shell-shocked.

With the famous win Liverpool cement their place in fourth and are just six points off top spot, with 46 points from their 23 games after their biggest win in the rivalry match since 1982. Everton stay in sixth and are now four points behind their Merseyside rivals in the race for fourth.

With the first attack of the game Ross Barkley surged forward and smashed a rasping left-footed effort just over the bar from 25-yards out. Moments later Jordan Henderson tried his luck from distance as Liverpool hit back, but the ball was palmed away by Howard.

(MORE: After dazzling win, can Liverpool make Champions League dream a reality?)

The pace of the game was intense as the rain teamed down at Anfield and playing conditions suited both sides.

In the 8th minute Suarez was thwarted by USMNT ‘keeper Howard as the Uruguayan international hit a snap shot from the edge of the box that Howard tipped wide to his left as Liverpool’s first effort came in on goal.

Liverpool had more efforts on goal, but an anxious home crowd seemed wary whenever the Toffees surged forward. But all those nerves dissipated when captain fantastic Gerrard hammered home a header from a fizzing corner from Suarez in the 21st minute to send Anfield wild. Suarez was getting lambasted by the Everton fans before taking the corner kick in front of the away supporters… but he soon had the last laugh.

Cries of “Steve Gerrard, Gerrard” rung around Anfield as the home side went 1-0 up and Everton were rocking.

Everton briefly fought back and went close on two occasions as first Gareth Bary flashed an effort wide following a goalmouth scramble and then Kevin Mirallas put a low effort just wide of the post.

source: Getty Images
Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard celebrates his opening goal as Anfield erupts.

However in the 33rd minute Sturridge slotted home coolly following a sublime through ball from Philippe Coutinho to make it 2-0.

Then two minutes later Sturridge delivered a marvelous finish for his second and Liverpool’s third, with a marvelous lob over the advancing USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard as Anfield erupted into scenes of euphoria.

Liverpool led 3-0 at half time, as Everton had one heck of a mountain to climb to salvage anything from the 222nd edition of the Merseyside derby.

But any thoughts of Everton fighting back were all but over within five minutes of the restart as Suarez intercepted Phil Jagielka on the half way line and ran over 50 yards before coolly slotting home to make it 4-0.

Cue scenes of utter jubilation from the home fans at Anfield.

Things should’ve been even more comfortable for the Reds in the 54th minute as Raheem Sterling was brought down by Howard for a penalty kick. However the ball was handed to Sturridge to secure his hat trick… but the red-hot striker smashed his effort high over the bar and into the Kop.

(MORE: Premier League Standings)

Liverpool eased into second gear for the rest of the derby, as Everton tried to get things going but were severely lacking up top after the loss of Lukaku early through injury. A barrage of corners and set pieces in the 60th minute almost saw Liverpool extend their lead as Everton somehow scrambled the ball clear on multiple occasions.

Everton had plenty of possession but just couldn’t get anything going as Liverpool’s makeshift back four of Flanagan, Skrtel, Toure and Cissokho defended resolutely.

Leon Osman made a difference in the second half but despite the Toffees best efforts, Liverpool prevailed on derby day with a massive win that made sure thier fans have bragging rights until next season.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet, Cissokho, Skrtel, Toure, Flanagan (Kelly, 73), Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho (Alberto, 79), Sturridge (Moses, 72), Sterling, Suarez

Goals: Gerrard (21) Sturridge (33 & 35), Suarez (49)

Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Mirallas, McCarthy, Lukaku (Naismith 24), Barry, Barkley (McGeady, 75), Pienaar (Osman, 45), Stones, Alcaraz

PL title & FA Cup in sight, Conte says Chelsea still rebuilding

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Antonio Conte might be just seven games away from guiding Chelsea to a Premier League and FA Cup double this season, but the Blues’ first-year Italian manager insists his squad is nowhere near being a finished product.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking after Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal triumph over Tottenham Hotspur, Conte insisted that the team he inherited last summer, after a disastrous 10th-place finish in the PL, is “in a period of transition” and that “[they] need time” as the club moves on from an accomplished, foundational generation — quotes from Sky Sports:

“I think that now at Chelsea we are in a period of transition. In this season, we have lost (Branislav) Ivanovic, (John Obi) Mikel and next season we lose John Terry.

“We are talking about players who wrote the history of this club. They won a lot. Now we have to find the right substitutes for these players and then work to put these players at the same level.

“I think that in the period with Carlo (Ancelotti) — and Carlo is the best Italian coach, I have great respect for him — he arrived at Chelsea when they had a really strong squad. Now we are building. We are building something important. We need time.”

[ MORE: Kante takes home PFA Player of the Year | Dele wins Young Player ]

Conte is doing two things with the above comments: 1) he’s tempering expectations for next season, when Chelsea will be back in the UEFA Champions League and automatically expected to repeat as PL champions — not to mention, taking a bit of pressure off in these final two months of the 2016-17 season; and, 2) pointing out just how impressive his work to date has been, the fact he’s potentially seven games away from lifting two trophies in seven days’ time next month.

Ligue 1: Mbappe, Falcao fire Monaco top again

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PARIS (AP) Strikers Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe continued their fine form with a goal each to help Monaco secure a 2-1 win at Lyon and reclaim top spot in the French league on Sunday.

Monaco moves above defending champion Paris Saint-Germain on goal difference, with Monaco having played a game less. PSG has four games left.

“It wasn’t easy and it was a big win for us tonight,” Monaco center half Andrea Raggi said. “We all play for each other and it’s now or never.”

It has been an astonishing season for Monaco, which has now scored 143 goals in all competitions and remains on course for the treble. Monaco faces PSG in the French Cup semifinals next Wednesday.

Falcao and Mbappe scored in midweek when Monaco beat German side Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the return leg of their Champions League quarterfinal to reach the last four 6-3 on aggregate.

Lyon also did well in Europe, going through on penalty kicks away to Turkish club Besiktas to reach the last four in the Europa League.

Falcao and the 18-year-old Mbappe have combined for 51 goals.

Falcao put Monaco ahead in the 36th minute with a header from close range – his 28th goal of the season – and Mbappe made it 2-0 just before halftime with a trademark surging run and cool finish for his 23rd.

“I just try and give my best whenever I play,” said Mbappe, who has recently been called into the France team. “I wasn’t playing much at the start of the season, so I’m still quite fresh and I hope I can help us win the remaining games.”

PSG beat Montpellier 2-0 at home on Saturday with Edinson Cavani scoring his 31st league goal of the season and 44th overall.

Nice has already guaranteed third place and a spot in the qualifying round for next season’s Champions League.

But with four games remaining, it is six points behind Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain. Nice hosts PSG next Sunday.

Striker Corentin Jean gave mid-table Toulouse the lead in the 57th minute. Midfielder Valentin Eysseric continued his fine form with the equalizer three minutes later.

The game was briefly halted early in the first half after a group of Saint-Etienne supporters forced themselves into the stadium.

The match was supposed to be played behind closed doors as a punishment for unruly supporters during Saint-Etienne’s local derby against Lyon.

After a brief delay for police to remove the fans, Slovakia striker Robert Beric put the home side ahead in the 39th and center half Edson Mexer leveled just before the break.

Saint-Etienne is in seventh place, while Rennes is ninth.

Serie A: Napoli waste chance to go 2nd; Juve win big (again)

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MILAN (AP) Arkadiusz Milik scored his first goal since his lengthy injury layoff but it wasn’t enough to prevent Napoli from drawing 2-2 at Sassuolo on Sunday and missing the chance to move second in Serie A.

Milik scored two minutes after coming off the bench to rescue a point for Napoli and move it to within one point of second-placed Roma, which visits bottom club Pescara on Monday.

Second spot in Serie A secures automatic entry into the Champions League group stage, while the team that finishes third has to go through a playoff.

“The road to second spot has got more difficult, we have to hope our rivals slip up,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. “We have a point more than last season, even though we played in the Champions League, even though we lost (Gonzalo) Higuain at the beginning of the season and Milik for four months, so I think the team has had an extraordinary season until now.”

After an even first half, Napoli broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break thanks to a rare header from Dries Mertens. It was the diminutive Belgian’s 22nd league goal of the season – as many as he had scored in total in his three previous seasons at Napoli.

However, Napoli gifted Sassuolo the equalizer seven minutes later as Marek Hamsik’s terrible headed backpass to Pepe Reina was intercepted by Domenico Berardi, who fired home from close range.

Mertens almost immediately restored his side’s lead but saw his free kick come off the crossbar, while Lorenzo Insigne’s effort also hit the inside of the post for Napoli.

Sassuolo took the lead 10 minutes from time following a superb save from Reina to deny former Napoli hero Paolo Cannavaro, but Antonino Ragusa hooked the ball back in from the byline for Luca Mazzitelli to drive into the bottom right corner.

Milik was brought on in the 82nd and immediately leveled. Jose Callejon’s corner was knocked down by Raul Albiol and the Poland international spun to fire in from close range for his first goal since he was injured on World Cup duty in October.

AC Milan missed a penalty as the new era at the famous Italian club continued without a win.

Milan drew 2-2 at city rival Inter Milan last weekend in the first match since the $800 million takeover of Milan by Chinese-led Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg ended Silvio Berlusconi’s 31-year reign.

Sunday’s defeat saw Milan remain in the last qualifying spot for the Europa League, two points above Inter.

“If we relate everything to the result, it didn’t go well but I shouldn’t do that,” Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. “We created 15 chances, it’s difficult to create more in Serie A.”

Empoli took a surprise lead five minutes from halftime when Levan Mchedlidze headed in a corner.

Milan should have leveled shortly before the hour, after Lukasz Skorupski pushed over Mario Pasalic, but the Empoli goalkeeper made up for his error by keeping out Suso’s penalty and then parrying a follow-up effort from Gianluca Lapadula.

Empoli doubled its lead in the 67th when Massimo Maccarone nodded on the ball for Mame Thiam to score his first goal in Italian football.

Lapadula reduced the deficit five minutes later, curling into the bottom corner and Milan had a good chance to level when it was awarded an indirect free kick six yards out from goal after Skorupski got the ball, put it down and picked it back up again.

However, with all the Empoli players on the line, Milan couldn’t equalize.

Milan’s teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma kept his side in the match with a fantastic one-handed save to deny Maccarone and it almost proved decisive as Lucas Ocampos volleyed off the crossbar at the other end.

Keita Balde Diao notched a five-minute hat trick as Lazio crushed Palermo to move back into fourth in Serie A.

Ciro Immobile scored two in as many minutes to put Lazio 2-0 up inside 10 minutes, before Keita’s quickfire treble – including a penalty – ensured the match was all but over with less than half an hour played.

Lazio relaxed and Palermo threatened an unexpected comeback with two goals from Andrea Rispoli in five minutes at the start of the second half.

But Luca Crecco extended Lazio’s lead in the final minute with his first ever senior goal.

Juventus continued its march to an unprecedented sixth successive Serie A title by routing Genoa 4-0 to move 11 points clear of Roma.

Ezequiel Munoz scored an own-goal in the 17th and magnificent strikes from Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic put the hosts 3-0 up at the break. Leonardo Bonucci scored another stunning goal in the 64th after sprinting forward from inside his own half. Juventus also hit the woodwork three times.

Crotone kept its faint hopes of survival alive with a surprise 2-1 win at Sampdoria.

The result left it five points behind 17th-placed Empoli and safety with five matches remaining.

Elsewhere, Torino won 3-1 at Chievo Verona, while Udinese beat Cagliari 2-1.

MLS Snapshot: Sounders cruise, 3-0, as Galaxy struggles continue

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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy’s midfield remains… nonexistent, to put it very nicely. It was a problem in 2015; it was a major problem in 2016; and it remains a problem early in 2017. On Sunday, Curt Onalfo’s side (as a quick aside, no, his seat isn’t yet getting hot) sat by and watched — almost literally — as the Seattle Sounders found the back of the net three times in the first half at StubHub Center.

Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris scored the goals for Seattle, to go with an own goal from Ashley Cole. It’s LA’s fifth loss in seven games, while Seattle have their second win of the season and put to bed a three-game winless skid.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS roundup — FCD win battle of unbeatens ]

Three moments that mattered

29′ — Dempsey heads into an open net for 1-0 — Nicolas Lodeiro floated the cross toward the back post, and Dempsey made extremely easy work of it with Brian Rowe scrambling through no man’s land.

35′ — Cole applies the finish into his own net — If it happened at the other end of the field, we’d have said it was a cool, calm, composed finish. Alas…

44′ — Morris fires past Rowe for 3-0 — The counter-attack was quick, what with no one stepping to the ball as Seattle covered two-thirds of the field. The finish wasn’t so simple for Morris.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Clint Dempsey

Goalscorers: Dempsey (29′), Cole (OG – 35′), Morris (44′)