Crystal Palace 2-1 Manchester City: Wasteful City sink their own title hopes for good (video)

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Though the odds were already long before their Premier League clash between Crystal Palace on Monday, Manchester City’s title hopes appear to be completely dead following their latest slip-up, a 2-1 defeat at Selhurst Park.

Wilfried Zaha nearly put the hosts ahead with just 61 seconds on the clock, as Martin Kelly’s left-footed cross evaded Joe Hart and found Zaha all alone at the far post, but the 22-year-old’s shot was blazed over the bar, letting the Man City defense off the hook.

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Manuel Pellegrini’s side was slow to find their way going forward, but once they got going, Palace were under siege for the next 20 minutes. Joe Hart’s quick distribution past the halfway line put Sergio Aguero in on goal in the 12th minute. Aguero rounded goalkeeper Julian Speroni, squared the ball to David Silva, whose shot was tipped over the crossbar by the head of Speroni as he rushed back in front of goal.

Silva and Aguero linked up once again seven minutes, this time the connection in reverse. Silva found Aguero centrally, 20 yards out in traffic. Aguero created the half-yard of space he needed to unleash his shot, fired through traffic and smacked Speroni’s far post with the ball rebounding back into play.

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The game’s first goal came in the 34th minute, when Scott Dann’s first-time shot was saved by the leg of Hart, but deflected into the path of Glenn Murray who was lurking at the back post, perhaps just in front of Martin Demichelis. Murray calmly put his foot through the ball and the hosts were on top, completely against the run of play (more than 2-to-1 possession held by City at that point).

The second half began just as poorly for City as the first half ended, as Jason Puncheon doubled Palace’s lead less than three minutes into the second period. Puncheon lifted his curling free kick from 25 yards out up and over the wall, then dropped the bottom out of it to beat Hart low and inside his left-hand post. (Current possession ratio: nearly 3-to-1 in favor of City)

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

source:
Yaya Toure pulls one back for City

City continued their dominance of possession through the second half, but failed to create anything with it, until the 71st minute. With 19 minutes left to play, Fernandinho saw his left-footed shot deflected by Yannick Bolasie, but the ball remained goalbound before Murray seemed to intentionally knock the ball down with a raised hand. No penalty given.

Fernandinho saw another chance go begging two minutes later, as James McArthur somehow managed to clear his effort and lift the ball over the crossbar from a yard and a half out.

The breakthrough finally came for City in the form of Yaya Toure’s thunderous, left-footed strike from the edge of the penalty area. Toure hit the ball hard and low, around Speroni as it nestled itself just inside the far post. With 78 minutes left to play, City’s entire season was given a lifeline but the miracle of the 2011-12 season’s final day wasn’t to be recreated on this night in south London.

With their latest disappointing defeat, City now find themselves nine points off the pace of leaders and champions-elect, Chelsea, who still have a game in hand. Palace have leapfrogged Everton for 11th place, just three points below Stoke City for a place in the top half of the Premier League.

LINEUPS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly, McArthur, Ledley, Puncheon, Bolasie (Souare 84′), Zaha (Gayle 88′), Murray (Sanogo 83′)

Goals: Murray (34′), Puncheon (48′)

Manchester City: Hart, Sagna, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Navas (Nasri 77′), Fernandinho (Milner 88′), Toure, Silva, Dzeko (Lampard 66′), Aguero

Goal: Toure (78′)

Manchester United: Solskjaer hopeful of new Paul Pogba contract

Paul Pogba contract
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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is singing a new tune, hopeful that star midfielder Paul Pogba will stick around Old Trafford for the long term.

Reports say that United has an option to extend Pogba’s contract by an extra year beyond its 2021 expiry, but Solskjaer is thinking bigger. He has been praising Pogba plenty since the World Cup winner returned to the lineup.

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It’s a bit surprising given Pogba and his super agent’s constant time in the rumor mill, with Real Madrid often linked with the Frenchman. And that agent, Mino Raiola, has not been so nice when it comes to judging Solskjaer.

But Solskjaer is reportedly hopeful that Pogba can join Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, and others in building a new power.

“I can’t comment on discussions between player and the club but. of course, we want to keep the best players around the club,” Solskjaer said. “We want to build a squad for the future and Scott and Nemanja are a similar position but at different stages in their careers. One at the start, one really experienced one.”

Pogba leads United in key passes per game with 2.3, though his minutes have been severely limited by injuries this season. He had 13 goals and nine assists last season, and turned 27 in March.

The way United’s performed in recent weeks it would not be a surprise if keeping its main talents while adding another stalwart center back and wing would propel it into a more serious table discussion.

Do you buy the idea that Pogba could be with United well into the future?

Suarez goal gives Barcelona win, relegates neighbors Espanyol

Espanyol relegated
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Seventh-place one season ago, La Liga mainstays Espanyol are being relegated from Spain’s top flight.

The final decision came at the hands of their Catalan neighbors Barcelona, who got a second-half goal from Luis Suarez to relegate Espanyol.

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Espanyol are 11 points back of 17th place and can only capture nine more points this season following the 1-0 loss in a match where both teams had a player sent off.

Suarez’s goal was a nice one after Antoine Griezmann’s back heel pass to Lionel Messi saw the Argentine’s shot deflect onto the path of the Uruguayan finisher.

Espanyol had been in the top flight since 1994 and has only spent four single seasons outside La Liga since 1929. Leganes and Mallorca may join them soon.

Barcelona moves a point back of Real Madrid. Real has four matches left to Barca’s three and holds the tiebreaker.

Klopp reacts to Liverpool wins, says Henderson injury ‘not nothing’

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Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion was a bit more what we’re used to from the Premier League champions.

But that wasn’t the focus of the post-match despite a highlight-reel show from Mohamed Salah, as Reds boss Jurgen Klopp sounded an ominous note when asked about Jordan Henderson leaving the match with injury.

“I don’t know exactly but it was something with the knee I think. We know it’s not nothing.”

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Henderson’s not exactly a player to hit the deck unless he’s feeling pain, and Klopp removed him for James Milner with 10 minutes to play.

That’s about the only bad news from the win, as Liverpool became the first team this season to breach the 90-point mark and saw Salah’s brace move him within three goals of the Golden Boot lead.

Salah would only say, “Let’s take it game-by-game,” but it’s clearly on his mind.

Trent Alexander-Arnold says the Egyptian is hungry to get a share of a third-straight Golden Boot.

From the BBC:

“He has his targets, he’s around the Golden Boot and it’s something he wants to retain,” Alexander-Arnold said. “He’s a world class player who scores so many goals for us and we try to get him on the board as much as possible.”

As for the match, Brighton almost as missed some big chances as Liverpool before the game was out of reach. Klopp admits that it was a challenge.

“We started really well,” Klopp said. “We had to adapt a little bit as we knew what they wanted to do but it was a little bit hard to defend. We left one or two players in a position where if we won the ball we had players in the counter-attack position. We got the first two goals with super balls but we could have scored more. I said to the boys at half-time they could have been 2-2 too. It was a nice game to watch.”

The Reds finish with Burnley, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Newcastle United.

Liverpool march continues with 3-1 win at Brighton

Brighton - Liverpool recap
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Mohamed Salah had two goals and an assist in the first eight minutes of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday.

Salah is now three goals behind league leader Jamie Vardy, and Liverpool’s 92 points are 23 more than Man City. Jordan Henderson also scored for the Reds.

BRIGHTON – LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY

Leandro Trossard scored for Brighton, whose 36 points are nine clear of the bottom three with four matches to play (The 18th and 19th place sides do have a match each in hand).

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Liverpool’s 30 wins through 34 outings is a Premier League record and Jurgen Klopp’s men are chasing several PL records. The Reds finish with Burnley, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Newcastle United.


Three things we learned

1. Salah somehow under the radar: Look, the Egyptian star’s 32-goal league season was an outlier. Not a lot of guys consistently hit 25, let alone the 30 mark in the Premier League. But Salah has rather quietly put together another amazing season with 19 goals and nine assists in PL play plus another four and three in cup competitions. Salah is one assist of joining the a small group of players to get double digit league goals and assists in a top five European league this season.

While it’s become sexy to praise Sadio Mane as the Reds’ top winger, Salah has been just as good. He could’ve had another goal in the 53rd but Mat Ryan made a fine intervention at close range. If Salah is under the radar, it’s because Liverpool has spread the wealth this season and had so many heroes in close matches. But boy, oh boy, is he their best weapon.

2. Lamptey shows glimpses, then youth: The sample size is very small, but 19-year-old Chelsea outcast Tariq Lamptey has played well at right back in most of his outings for Brighton since the return from the coronavirus pause. Lamptey was at blame for Liverpool’s third goal in both the chance conceded and actual finish from Salah, but the $4 million January buy looked well worth the price tag in a terrific first half at the Amex.

3. Seagulls still missing final ball: Brighton produced four big chances in the game to Liverpool’s two, but only put one in the back of the net (SofaScore). That’s sadly been par for the course this season, as Brighton’s style has been worthy of a top half place. Brighton entered the day with seven fewer goals than its expected goals total. Only Everton, Watford, and Norwich have been less fortunate.

Man of the Match:

Salah.


Brighton – Liverpool recap

Salah had a goal and an assist within 500 seconds of kickoff.

The Egyptian took a feed from Naby Keita to score off a Davy Propper giveaway and then set up Henderson’s second to have the Seagulls’ heads spinning early.

Brighton found a chance in the 19th but Neco Williams recovered with a slide to block Leandro Trossard from slotting a point-blank goal.

The Seagulls pulled within one just before halftime when in-form youngster Tariq Lamptey swept a cross into the mix for Trossard to punch home.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Salah could’ve had it 3-1 at one end but Brighton’s Dan Burn asked the Egyptian to hold his drink with a butchered wide-open shot at the back post in the 60th minute.

Jurgen Klopp didn’t like the close score, and brought on Fabinho, Andy Robertson, and Sadio Mane in the second half. One of the players he removed, Naby Keita, had a strong hour before departing the contest.

Henderson almost produced a third Liverpool goal after a rare Lamptey error spring a chance that took a wicked turn off Dale Stephens.

The Reds made it 3-1 off the ensuing corner, Salah’s clinical header in front of Lamptey. Henderson limped off for Liverpool late in the contest.

Ryan denied Salah a hat trick in stoppage time and the Egyptian headed over the bar at the final whistle. He could’ve had five.