Three things we learned: Liverpool v. Tottenham

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LIVERPOOL — Liverpool went back to the top of the Premier League table with a crucial 2-1 win against Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday.

[ MORE: Fate playing its part?

Mohamed Salah‘s late header deflected off Toby Alderweireld and in to send Anfield wild, as Liverpool kept their title hopes alive and dealt a big blow to Spurs’ top four chances.

The atmosphere at Anfield was electric, as Liverpool’s fans went crazy after their late winner and at the final whistle.

Here’s what we learned from an epic, tense encounter.


STUTTERING LIVERPOOL SECURE HUGE VICTORY

“Oh well, there’s always next year!” Those were the words of the stewards to a few Liverpool fans seconds before Salah scored the winner in the final minute of the game.

Even though they somehow won this game, a familiar pattern is emerging for Klopp’s side, as they started off well but handed the initiative to Tottenham in the second half. Just like they did in draws against Leicester and West Ham, they took their foot off the accelerator when it looked like they would kick on and grab all three points. They started in electric fashion against Spurs with Firmino’s goal and both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane going close, but then the pressure seemed to get to them as they sat back in the second half. Spurs dominated and eventually broke through and grabbed a deserved equalizer. But Liverpool got the job done thanks to a late goal as they are top of the table. If Man City slip up in midweek Liverpool could go five points clear of City if they win at Southampton on Friday. That scenario is unlikely, but Liverpool have now put the pressure on their title rivals.

Liverpool’s last major speed bump is their home game against Chelsea in a few weeks. They do not have their destiny in their own hands, but they have given themselves a huge chance. With late winners in wild fashion against Everton and now Tottenham thanks to strange mistakes from opposing goalkeepers, there is a sense that fate is starting to play its part in Liverpool’s title push.


SALAH STRUGGLES, BUT DELIVERS

It just had to be him. Mohamed Salah was whistled by his own fans at times throughout this game, as his touch was off, he clipped balls out of play and generally struggled. Then he delivered a huge moment in the title race as his header at the back post somehow trickled over the line and in, via Toby Alderweireld, to hand Liverpool a crucial win. Salah is the main man once again, as he popped up in a pivotal area to lead Liverpool to a massive win.

The Egyptian isn’t at his best. Far from it. But this moment will do wonders for his confidence. The way he wheeled away in delight at Anfield showed just how much this means to him, and Salah is still the hero despite his recent dip in form.


TOTTENHAM DIG DEEP BUT TOP 4 HOPES IN RUINS

Spurs deserved at least a point for their second half display. Tottenham dominated the play and were happy enough to let Liverpool give the ball back to them. When they did, Eriksen and Alli probed and Harry Kane worked tirelessly to try and steal a yard from Virgil Van Dijk. Watching from the stands as he served the final match of his two-game ban, Mauricio Pochetino will be happy with the way his team fought their way back into this game despite the result. In truth, the longer the game went on there seemed to be only one team who were going to win this. That team ended up losing. They didn’t deserve to, but Lloris’ late mistake cost them dear.

Moussa Sissoko missed a glorious chance when one on one with Alisson and Dele Alli curled inches wide. Even a draw would have boosted Spurs’ top four hopes considerably, but this defeat means they are now just one point ahead of fifth-place Arsenal and have played a game more. For now they are still in the hunt with seven games to go and now have the boost of five of their remaining games being at their new stadium at White Hart Lane. Do not write off Tottenham. But losing late at Liverpool was a big blow.

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

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CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

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Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

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