“World class” Liverpool led by Salah again, title dream intact

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SOUTHAMPTON — It was a familiar story. Liverpool won. Mohamed Salah scored a world class goal.

But that oh so familiar script had stopped playing out in recent weeks. But Salah turned on the magic to lift Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought win at Southampton on Friday.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

If Liverpool are going to win the title, these are the kind of games they have to win. They were away at a fired up side who are scrapping against relegation, but much improved, and Liverpool fell behind early on but then battled their way back into the game.

Drawing 1-1 with 10 minutes to go, Salah broke and ran 50 yards before clipping a delicious shot off the post and in to send Liverpool’s fans wild and move them two points clear of Manchester City (who have played one less game) with five games to go.

Liverpool’s dreams of winning a first league title since the 1989-90 season remain intact, and Salah scored his first goal in nine games in stunning fashion. Speaking after the game about Salah’s recent slump, Jurgen Klopp hailed his Egyptian wizard.

“It was never in doubt about him being a great player, from my side. Goal number 50 for Liverpool, that is an incredible number,” Klopp said. “As a striker you have chances and because each striker is a human being as well, maybe you have better moments and less good moments. He is pretty consistent. The physical things are always there, but it is normal that he has to adapt to the situation, how he always stayed calm to deal with the situations. It is only around us that it is a big thing, we don’t really care but it is a nice moment, and a really good moment for him to score his first goal in a while.”

Salah’s celebration said it all. He whipped off his shirt and surged towards the Liverpool fans. It was one of relief more than delight, as the Egyptian had been struggling but his class shone through at a pivotal moment.

These are the kind of moments Liverpool’s fans will remember most if they do go on and win the title, and Salah forcing a late winner against Tottenham last Sunday and now delivering a moment of sheer class against Saints proves he is back to his pivotal best.

Klopp’s Liverpool struggled early on against Southampton, as they fell behind to a Shane Long goal and could have been 2-0 down had Long finished off a glorious chance. But the longer the game went on, the more Liverpool’s class showed and Naby Keita‘s first half equalizer gave them a foothold in the game.

James Milner and Jordan Henderson came on in the second half to add experience, and late on Salah delivered a moment of brilliance, while Roberto Firmino did superbly to set up Henderson for the third.

Klopp’s trademark smile got wider when he talked about their two late goals to down a spirited Saints.

“The two goals we scored were simply world-class,” Klopp said. “Super, super goal from Mo, Bobby so important to make the run but couldn’t play because the ankle wasn’t so good, fantastic finish. But then Bobby again chasing the whole world pretty much and winning that ball brings it to a one-on-one situation, super pass. 3-1. It was of course close, but that was clear from the first second. Everybody will come here in the future, will feel that. That makes it even more satisfying and brilliant that we could win it. It was really big for us.”

Liverpool have played a game more than Man City, but they have now put the pressure back on the reigning champions who play before them next Sunday.

Klopp’s men are getting the job done, just about, but the fact that Salah is back delivering sensational goals and standing tall when they needed him most will be a huge bonus heading into the final five games of the season.

World record-holding manager Gutendorf dies at 93

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The world record holder for most teams managed has died at the age of 93.

Rudi Gutendorf, who managed in the United States with the NASL’s St. Louis Stars (1968), last managed in 2003 when he led the Samoa national team.

[ MORE: Maguire shining for Man Utd ]

Those are two of 55 teams he led onto the pitch, 22 of which were national teams. He led teams from CONCACAF (Trinidad and Tobago), CAF (Ghana), CONMEBOL (Chile), OFC (Fiji), and AFC (Australia).

The German-born Gutendorf did a lot of his club work in Europe, leading clubs as big as Hamburg, Schalke, Real Valladolid, and Hertha Berlin.

Gutendorf managed Rwanda in the wake of the country’s dark civil war. From DW.com:

“Such hate, you cannot believe. I was able to unite these two tribes to play football, and good football,” he said in a 2013 interview of the mixed Rwandan team of Hutu and Tutsi players.

What a fascinating career Gutendorf had, and the stories he’s told.

Man Utd’s Maguire “showed what a man he is” versus Leicester

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Manchester United is still working to find its form as a team, but center back Harry Maguire continued his run of fine performances when the Red Devils beat his former team on Saturday.

United beat Leicester City 1-0 on the day, a Marcus Rashford penalty the difference, but Maguire and fellow new back Aaron Wan-Bissaka were again exceptional.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 1-0 Leicester City ]

Ashley Young has been through a few iterations of Manchester United, and the long-time club offered up lofty words to credit Maguire’s contributions to the team.

“Again he showed today what a man he is,” Young said. “You know, I think the manager’s said about him, he talks non-stop, he’s a real leader and he can play as well.”

Maguire won five aerial battles and two tackles while completing 83 percent of his passes and managing two shots against his former side (WhoScored). On the season, only Anthony Martial has consistently been more important to the team.

He also did not record a loss of possession, and seemingly was unbothered by plenty of criticism from the traveling fans. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I don’t think it bothers (Maguire) whatsoever,” said Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “You’ve got to be that way and when you play, when you coach, when you manage, we don’t get carried away when we win a game that we maybe didn’t deserve to win, but we don’t get in the dumps when we don’t win.”

Solskjaer also loved Maguire and Victor Lindelof for their performance against pesky Leicester star Jamie Vardy.

“I’ve got loads of admiration for Vardy,” Solskjaer said. “I think he’s my type of centre forward, runs in in behind, harasses and you’ve got to be spot on with the decision-making, when to stay up, when to drop off, and both of them proved their worth today. There were a couple of races and Harry did well.”

Maguire didn’t love being on the other side of Vardy, either.

“It was tough playing against Jamie,” he said. “I’ve played with him for two years and he is a top player who can terrorize defenses when he is on his game. … We knew it was important to get the win, especially after the international break. We have to build on a solid base and we want to keep clean sheets, especially at Old Trafford. We are always going to score goals with the attacking talent we have.”

United hosts Kazakhstan’s Astana on Thursday in the Europa League before visiting West Ham United on Sept. 22.

Watch Live: Bournemouth v. Everton

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin gets the start up top as Everton looks to take down hosts Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Alex Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Richarlison join Calvert-Lewin in attack for the Toffees, who can go fourth with a win.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Bournemouth enters the day in 16th, a point ahead of the bottom three, but can rise into the top half with a win. Early season vibes.

LINEUPS

Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Rico, Ake, Cook, Stacey, Solanke, Billing, L. S. Cook, Wilson, King, Wilson. Subs: Boruc, Surman, Lerma, Ibe, Fraser, Simpson, Mepham.

Everton: Pickford, Digne, Mina, Keane, Coleman, Delph, Schneiderlin, Iwobi, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin. Subs: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Walcott, Sidibe, Bernard, Davies, Kean.

USWNT legend O’Reilly scores stunner on night to honor her career

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USWNT hero and North Carolina Courage playmaker Heather O’Reilly gave her special day its just desserts.

The 34-year-old New Jersey native scored a sweet goal late in North Carolina’s 6-1 demolition of Orlando Pride on Saturday night, which just so happened to be the evening chosen to celebrate her 17-year career.

[ MORE: Fan banned from all NWSL games ]

O’Reilly dribbled down the left before cutting to the middle and slashing a shot across the goal and inside the far post.

She has 231 USWNT caps with 47 goals, a Women’s World Cup crown, three Olympic gold medals, three top-flight domestic titles, two Women’s College Cups, and an FA Cup with Arsenal Ladies.

The Courage have four matches left in the regular season and look set to again be the No. 1 seed, so O’Reilly may yet have more memorable moments left in her playing career.