The cream of the crop is beginning to truly shine through in the ePremier League tournament.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diogo Jota, Raheem Sterling, and Dwight McNeill all advanced their teams through to the semifinals, some in dominating fashion, as Liverpool, Wolves, Manchester City, and Burnley are left standing as the last four remaining sides.
Alexander-Arnold was first up on Friday, and he had no troubles with Christian Atsu of Newcastle, winning 4-1 to open the quarterfinal action. He fell behind 1-0 as Atsu took the lead through a goal from Allan Saint-Maximin, but Alexander-Arnold used a brace from Roberto Firmino to lead the comeback charge. Up 2-1 at halftime on goals by Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum, he tacked on two more after the break as Mohamed Salah found the back of the net and Firmino grabbed his second. Salah’s was the backbreaker, putting Liverpool 3-1 up on a cross from Sadio Mane in the 66th minute.
After Liverpool booked its place in the semis, Diogo Jota brought Wolves into the mix as he obliterated Lys Mousset of Sheffield United 5-2. He produced a brilliant display, including a brace by his own virtual character. Jota’s second was a Goal of the Tournament candidate, putting the icing on the cake with a brutal, slightly disrespectful chip of Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson to cap off a delicious set of passes in midfield to spring the break.
A big moment in the game was a dramatic own-goal after Wolves hit the post, the ball unluckily came back to the feet of a Sheffield defender charging back, whose momentum carried himself into the net to put Wolves 2-1 up. Mousset would eventually equalize at 2-2, but Jota took charge from there in the second half. Jota has been a dominating force in this tournament, obliterating Wilfried Ndidi 8-2 in the opening round before his takedown of Mousset in the quarters.
Raheem Sterling booked Manchester City’s place in the semifinals after a 4-2 victory over Everton’s Andre Gomes which can be tabbed as the closest match of the quarterfinals. Sterling used a virtual hat-trick from superstar Sergio Aguero to see his way through, with Kevin de Bruyne scoring the other. Everton got a pair of goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson, but it wasn’t enough as Gomes came close, but couldn’t find the final touch.
The game was in doubt with 10 minutes to go, as Sterling led 3-2 and Gomes saw a chaotic spell end with the ball cleared off the line, ending the threat of equalizing and allowing Sterling to go on and claim the match with Aguero’s hat-trick late on.
Finally, Burnley passed a tough test as the last semifinal team with McNeill grabbing a golden goal from Jay Rodriguez to defeat Brighton & Hove Albion’s Neil Maupay 1-0. It seems that not even the coronavirus can stop Burnley, with the Clarets in form on the field headed into the league shutdown, but they continue to roll virtually in the ePremier League tournament.
The game took over 120 minutes to complete, with nothing to separate the sides after 90 minutes of regulation, and a game went to golden goal for the first time this tournament. In the restarted match, Brighton nearly went through on a free-kick with Maupay over the ball, but he just missed the top-right corner with the effort from right outside the box. After a defensive masterclass by both sides, Maupay admitted a mistake in bringing his center-back up too high in the 60th minute of the restarted match, and that allowed McNeill to complete a set of passes through the top of the box for Rodriguez to finish it off.
In the semifinals on Saturday, Liverpool and Manchester City will square off as Raheem Sterling takes on his old club, up against Trent Alexander-Arnold. In the other matchup, Jota and Wolves will meet McNeill and Burnley.