Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool: Ibrahimovic salvages Red Devils point

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  • Pogba penalty leads to Milner goal
  • Ibrahimovic equalizes in 84th minute
  • Point sees Liverpool move to 3rd

A rivalry with plenty of buildup produced a clunky game that needed a late moment to savor a draw as things ended level 1-1 at Old Trafford.

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A penalty for handball on Paul Pogba gave Liverpool a 1-0 first-half lead, and the Reds seemed comfortable to defend that advantage.

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It broke down late, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic produced an incredible looping header to draw United level and salvage a point with six minutes to go.

 [ MORE: Klopp blasts “long ball” United ]  

United had most of the early chances, with Anthony Martial sending one to the far post for Zlatan Ibrahimovic that was just out of the Swede’s outstretched leg on 13 minutes. A Liverpool mistake at the back nearly cost them, as Dejan Lovren‘s back-pass was too short and came to Ibrahimovic, but Simon Mignolet did just enough to see the ball land on the roof of the net with Zlatan waiting to pounce on the empty net. Moments later Paul Pogba was fed through by Henrikh Mkhitaryan but scuffed his shot just inches wide right.

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As Liverpool worked themselves into the game, they would press forward and win a penalty in the 27th minute. The ball popped up into the air in the United penalty area, and Pogba completely lost sight of it, finally getting a bead on it and awkwardly getting a head to it, but he also handled the ball in the process, and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. James Milner stepped up and buried the penalty to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead.

United came close past the half-hour mark as Ibrahimovic delivered a venomous free-kick that forced Mignolet into a sharp save low to his right. Mignolet was required again five minutes from halftime as Mkhitaryan was played through by Ander Herrera, but Mignolet was there to parry the shot from a tight angle.

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The hosts made a surprising change out of the break, with manager Jose Mourinho replacing Michael Carrick with Wayne Rooney. They had the first chance out of the break but couldn’t capitalize. Ibrahimovic sprung Mkhitaryan down the right, and his heavy touch brought out Mignolet, but he was still able to get the ball into the middle where Anthony Martial was streaking in. Martial tried to rabona the ball into the empty net, but under pressure from Trent Alexander-Arnold he couldn’t get a touch.

Both teams brought on playmakers past the hour mark as Juan Mata and Philippe Coutinho came on. Coutinho had a chance straightaway with a brilliant touch to Roberto Firmino whose close-range shot was saved by David De Gea.

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Wayne Rooney crashed his studs into the shin of James Milner, causing a bit of a delay and a bit of controversy, as replays showed he stepped over the ball onto Milner’s leg. No card was shown by the referee. Wayne Rooney nearly had a moment to remember, a goal away from breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record at United but his 82nd minute shot was saved.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Man United, Liverpool ] 

As the game wore down and Liverpool defended comfortably, Mourinho brought on Marouane Fellaini and changed tactics, targeting Ibrahimovic and Fellaini with long balls instead of the flowing play they had been using prior. This caused Liverpool problems and produced a late equalizer, as Fellaini’s initial header clanged off the post, but it came back to Ibrahimovic who ducked down low and brilliantly looped a header into the corner in the 84th minute. There looked to be a missed offside call early in the buildup, but Liverpool’s frantic defending with the ball in the air did them in.

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There were some tense moments down the stretch, and a scuffle as well as Ander Herrera nearly ripped off Roberto Firmino’s shirt, and the Brazilian reacted violently, earning both yellow cards. The managers got into it at the same time, seeing Jurgen Klopp bouncing up and down mocking Mourinho.

The game ended level, leaving Liverpool third in the table, failing to take the opportunity to move into second. Manchester United will be disappointed with the point as well, up to 40 points and still in sixth, two points behind Manchester City.

Man United 4-1 Newcastle: Pogba’s star (re)turn

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  • Red Devils fall behind early
  • Pogba’s return: goal, assist
  • Gayle’s goal, Yedlin’s assist
  • Martial, Smalling flip the score before HT

It was like Paul Pogba hadn’t been away for even one day of the last 10 weeks, as the French superstar returned from a hamstring injury and inspire Manchester United’s 4-1 victory over Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic also returned from the torn ACL he suffered in April, making his first appearance in seven months — two months ahead of schedule — as a 77th-minute substitute.

Saturday’s rout wasn’t always straightforward and easy for Man United, as the final score might deceive.

Newcastle struck first in an action-packed, goal-filled first half. U.S. national team right back DeAndre Yedlin tallied his first assist of the PL season, as he sped to the end line and cut a low cross toward the penalty spot, finding the late-arriving Dwight Gayle for a gentle finish

The lead lasted 23 minutes, until Pogba marked his return to action with a delightful assist for Anthony Martial‘s equalizer (above video). Pogba danced past Isaac Hayden, raced toward the end line and floated a delicate ball to the back post, where his compatriot headed home.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Right on the stroke of halftime, United went 2-1 up after Chris Smalling headed home Ashley Young‘s lofted cross to the back post. Smalling remained forward after a short corner Young acres of space to pick his head up and hit the right ball.

United required only nine minutes to double their lead, and it was Pogba, once again proving his worth to the side, who got the goal. Romelu Lukaku floated a cross to Marcus Rashford at the back post, and Rashford’s cushioned header dropped the ball into no-man’s land. Pogba reacted quickest. 3-1. Pogba’s back, and so is United’s swagger.

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Seconds after Pogba was subbed — without incident — Lukaku pounced on Florian Lejeune‘s botched clearance inside his own penalty area and slammed a left-footed shot past Robert Elliot.

As exciting as the performance and result were, it was only enough to keep United on pace — eight points back — with Premier League leaders Manchester City, who also won on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp hails “perfect day” for Liverpool

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Jurgen Klopp has had far from an ideal week but his Liverpool side ruthlessly dispatched Southampton at Anfield to end it on a high note.

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Klopp was sent to hospital earlier this week when he felt unwell but the German coach was given a big boost as Mohamed Salah scored twice in the first half, which included a stunning opener, and Philippe Coutinho finished Saints off in the second half as the Reds eased to victory and stayed in touch with the chasing pack behind runaway leaders Manchester City.

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Klopp was happy with what he saw from his side after he was fit enough to be on the bench on Saturday.

“Difficult game, Southampton are a really good football side. It was an open game, we had more chances before we scored. We need to be patient in a lively way,” Klopp said. “The first goal, wow, I have nothing to do with the goal and the second was a fantastic pass and Mo Salah makes great runs. We could have scored more often but it was a perfect day for us.”

Klopp, 50, sees his side just three points off second place after 12 games of the Premier League season, while his side remain firm favorites to qualify for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

So far, so good.

Yes, Man City will take some catching (and a collapse of their own) but Liverpool’s aim should be to secure a second-straight top four finish and go from there.

With Sadio Mane, Salah, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in the form they showed on Saturday, plus a fifth clean sheet in six PL games this season at Anfield, the defensive woes Klopp’s team have faced away from home this season aren’t troubling them at home.

Next up is Chelsea at home for Liverpool, which will be a supreme test of their newfound defensive solidity at home. Their results against title contenders this season have been up and down with a draw against Manchester United, hammerings at Tottenham and Man City and a thrashing of Arsenal at home.

Liverpool’s clash against top four rivals Chelsea is followed by five winnable games before they travel to Arsenal on Dec. 22.

Between now and then we will see if Liverpool’s season will amount to more than just a top four challenge. Saturday’s shellacking of a lackluster Southampton may have been “perfect” but a much tougher test awaits next week against a rejuvenated Chelsea side who have Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard purring in attack

Can Liverpool’s oft-fragile defense cope? We are about to find out.

Burnley’s Barnes: “Can we finish the season now?”

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Ashley Barnes broke his season duck in classy fashion, scoring and adding an assist as Burnley stayed in the thick of the race for Europe with a 2-0 win over Swansea City at Turf Moor on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Burnley 2-0 Swans ]

The win shouldn’t be a surprise, as Burnley is humming in style. The Clarets entered the day with a win at Chelsea and draws at Liverpool and Spurs, so why would a visit from Swansea lead to anything than three points.

It’s dream world, really.

From the BBC:

“We’re on a fantastic run. We’re working hard every day and today we were different class.

“Can we finish the season now? No, I’m kidding. there’s still a long way to go and we need to pick up as many points as possible.”

Every win makes more and more believers of the Burnley Football Club. Perhaps more important to the Clarets, each win makes it less likely that Sean Dyche will leave the club for a better gig (Everton), at least right now.

Crystal Palace 2-2 Everton: Toffees battle back for point

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  • Eagles took lead through McArthur, Zaha
  • Baines, Niasse equalized
  • Palace remain bottom of PL table

Crystal Palace and Everton played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The Eagles twice took the lead in a wild first half with James McArthur giving Palace the lead less than a minute in but Leighton Baines soon equalized from the penalty spot. Wilfried Zaha made it 2-1 but Oumar Niasse equalized right on half time and it finished 2-2 after a tense second half.

With the point Palace stay bottom of the table on five points, while Everton are in 16th place on 12 points.

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A rapid start to the game saw Palace take the lead with just 51 seconds on the clock.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek‘s shot was saved by Jordan Pickford but McArthur was on hand to tap home and give the Eagles an early lead.

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Soon after Everton were level as Oumar Niasse went down under Scott Dann‘s challenge in the box and Baines smashed home the spot kick. 1-1 with less than seven minutes in.

10 minutes before half time Palace retook the lead as Joel Ward’s cross found Zaha and his flick beat Pickford to make it 2-1. Just when it looked like Palace would lead at half time, Everton leveled.

Julian Speroni had a howler as he gave the ball straight to Idrissa Gana Gueye who played it to Gylfi Sigurdsson who put it on a plate for Niasse to make it 2-2. The Senegalese forward came so close to joining Palace on Transfer Deadline Day back in the summer and came back to haunt them.

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A tense second half saw plenty of players booked in the rain in south London as Palace pushed hard for the winner with Loftus-Cheek going close but Everton’s defense held firm.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Late on Christian Benteke, on his long-awaited return from injury, also went close for Palace but the game ended even at Selhurst.