AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

Mane leads Liverpool past Bayern Munich (video)

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  • Mane bags brace
  • Gnabry, Lewandowski force Matip own goal
  • Milner finds Van Dijk for goal

Sadio Mane scored two goals and was an all-around menace as Liverpool defeated Bayern Munich 3-1 at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday to score a berth in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals after a scoreless first leg.

Virgil Van Dijk also scored for the Reds, who conceded via a Joel Matip own goal in the win.

The quarterfinal draw is Friday morning. Four of the eight quarterfinalists are from the Premier League.

Andy Robertson picked up a yellow card in stoppage time, and will miss the first leg of the next round.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Liverpool made an early change when Jordan Henderson was hurt, bringing Fabinho into the XI.

Out of nothing, Roberto Firmino lashed a shot wide of Manuel Neuer’s far post.

Liverpool then took the lead on a horrible mistake from Neuer, as Mane turned him inside out on the edge of the 18 and swept a shot across the line.

Robert Lewandowski then bounced a shot to Alisson, as Bayern knew it would need to score twice without conceding.

Neuer stopped a marauding Andy Robertson at the near post in the 34th minute.

It all went level in the 39th minute, as Serge Gnabry cooked Robertson and Joel Matip‘s desperation bid to clear Gnabry’s cross toward Lewandowski went into the goal.

David Alaba zipped a free kick over the wall that Alisson Becker saved, and it remained 1-1 into halftime.

Mohamed Salah stung the palms of Neuer with a 50th minute rocket, as Liverpool looked for a goal to put victory firmly in its grasp.

Lewandowski then just missed a Gnabry cross before Bayern gave the Reds a pair of corner kicks.

The second was James Milner‘s assist on Van Dijk’s thumped back post header, and Liverpool was in very good shape with a little more than 20 minutes to play in Munich.

Salah could’ve earned a penalty after contact in the box but fought through it and had a chance denied by Bayern.

Substitute Renato Sanches missed wide with an 83rd minute effort to tie the second leg.

And in the end, Mane was just too much. The Senegalese star completed his brace in the 84th minute.

Lukewarm Liverpool back atop table after Manchester United draw

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  • Lingard subs on, off as United uses all 3 subs before half
  • Liverpool goes atop table
  • Reds manage just one shot on target

With the odds in its favor at Old Trafford, Liverpool’s attack was tepid in a scoreless draw with Manchester United on Sunday.

The draw pushes the Reds a point clear of Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.

United drops into fifth with its 52nd point of the season.

[ MORE: JPW’s from OT | Stars+Duds ]

Liverpool earned the first bit of danger, when David De Gea had to deal with Ashley Young‘s poor pass and gave away an early free kick which came to nothing.

Marcus Rashford slipped in hitting a shot toward Alisson Becker in the seventh minute.

An unlikely source won a dangerous free kick for Liverpool, as Joel Matip’s fine dribble saw Ander Herrera foul the Cameroonian defender outside the box.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

United was hit with another midfield injury as Ander Herrera joined Nemanja Matic on the sideline, meaning the Red Devils midfield was Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, and Paul Pogba with 70-plus minutes to play.

Then Mata was felled! Unreal scenes, with Jesse Lingard coming into the match despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s pre-match comments that he wasn’t fit for a 90-minute grind. Well, how about 64?

Paul Pogba tore into a right-footed effort that Virgil Van Dijk headed out for a corner in the 37th, and the big center back dealt with the set piece, too.

Alisson then made a terrific sliding intervention when Lukaku fooled Van Dijk to slip Lingard on goal.

United had to use its third sub in the 42nd minute, as Lingard limped off the pitch.

Alexis Sanchez replaced him, and promptly found Lukaku at the back post. Alisson collected the resulting header.

[ MORE: Box scores, lineups, more ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A second half free kick saw Pogba nod tamely to Alisson, but the Frenchman was offside as well.

Georginio Wijnaldum missed a headed chance off a 70th minute corner, and a second corner went for nought when Joel Matip couldn’t turn the ball on frame. Scott McTominay was the marker in both cases, and both players called for penalties against the Scotland international.

Matip conceded an own goal on a Luke Shaw free kick, then exhaled deeply when the offside flag was raised.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Liverpool 0-0 Man United: Stalemate at Anfield

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  • 1 win in eight for Liverpool
  • United remain unbeaten in PL
  • No win in 7 PL games v United for Liverpool¬†
  • 1 shot on target for Man United

Liverpool and Manchester United played out a tense, tight 0-0 draw at Anfield on Saturday as the home side had the better chances but failed to take them.

[ MORE: Klopp questions United’s tactics ]¬†

For the first time in history there have now been four successive draws between these bitters rivals across all competitions.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Three things ]

David De Gea made a wonderful save from Joel Matip in the first half and Romelu Lukaku squandered a glorious chance for United just before half time.

Jose Mourinho and United will be happier with the point as they go top of the table, momentarily, and remain seven points ahead of Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool after eight games of the Premier League season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

Liverpool started the brighter of the two teams with Salah causing plenty of problems from the right flank but David de Gea wasn’t forced into anything other than routine saves early on.

United grew into the game and Lukaku finally started to get involved, especially down the right flank and Nemanja Matic spanked an effort which flew just wide from the edge of the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

De Gea made a stunning stop before the break as Roberto Firmino‘s cross found Joel Matip but his effort was wonderfully saved be De Gea’s outstretched left foot. The follow up fell to Salah who fired home but it was all about DDG’s superb reflex save.

Lukaku was lucky to escape a booking for a cynical hack on Joe Gomez and had a great chance just before half time but hit his tame effort straight at Simon Mignolet.

There was also another flash-point involving Lukaku where United’s striker appeared to clip Dejan Lovren in the face with his boot while Lovren was on the floor.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Liverpool were by far the better team early in the second half and Emre Can had a glorious chance to put them ahead but he hooked a lovely ball forward from Joe Gomez just over.

Mourinho sent on Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford with 25 minutes to go to try and create some problems for Liverpool’s defense and spark United into life.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

It didn’t work as Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain improved Liverpool after jumping off the bench but neither side could find a winner and they had to settle for a second-straight 0-0 draw at Anfield in their rivalry in the Premier League.

PL Playback: Who is the most complete striker?

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STYLISH STRIKERS

Tall ones. Small ones. Fast ones. Strong ones. Everywhere you look in the Premier League there are different types of strikers ripping it up.

Romelu Lukaku has six goals in six games. So does Alvaro Morata for Chelsea and Sergio Aguero for Manchester City. Harry Kane has six goals in his last four games for Tottenham in all competitions. All four are battling it out for the golden boot, something Kane has won two seasons on the spin.

The sheer variety of world-class strikers now on show week in, week out in the Premier League is sumptuous. It’s as diverse a finishing school as you’ll ever see.

Morata took most of the headlines in Week 6 and rightly so as he scored a hat trick at Stoke City in Chelsea’s 4-0 win. The Spaniard, 24, has taken a little while to adapt to life in England but he is showing that with elegance and quickness of thought he can be just as destructive as Diego Costa who finally departed for Atletico Madrid last week.

Yet it is Harry Kane who oozes class in everything he does.

In Tottenham’s derby win at West Ham on Saturday he scored twice in the first half, linked play up and hit both posts in the second half. That performance left Kane’s manager, Mauricio Pochettino, professing his love for Kane at the London Stadium.

“For me Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in the world. It is too hard to find the word to describe him. In the last three seasons I am telling you how he is. I am in love, like the fans are in love, like the teammates are in love, not only because he scores goals,” Pochettino explained. “He is professional, humble and he is a very good example in football today that is a big business. He keeps all the values that managers like me appreciate a lot. That is why I say to you I am in love with him for many different reasons.”

Yes, the “I’m in love” part of Poch’s response will get the biggest play but the second part, for me, is the most important. Kane does everything well. He holds the ball up, he battles for every ball, he finds others with crisp passes and he leads from the front with his incessant work rate.

Morata is majestic, a finely tuned ballerina who can turn and accelerate in the blink of an eye before dinking a whirling-dervish of a finish home just like he did for his second goal on Saturday. Lukaku can power past defenders and his persistence saw him grab the winner, at the second attempt, in a gritty United display at Southampton on Saturday. And Aguero is always on hand to snap up the final ball of a flowing City move with his darting, speedy runs.

But Kane, well, Kane has all of that and more. He is the most complete striker in a Premier League which has a vast array of world-class strikers who all score goals in different ways. We haven’t even mentioned Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexis Sanchez, Javier Hernandez or Sadio Mane in terms of their goal-getting ability.

Kane was announced as a nominee for the FIFPro World 11 (only Lukaku of the three aforementioned strikers joined him) last week and the Englishman once again proved why he is considered not only one of the best strikers in the Premier League, but also one of the best on the planet.


LIVERPOOL WILL NOT CHANGE UNDER KLOPP

Life is never dull under Jurgen Klopp. Ever.

Since he took charge of Liverpool in October 2015, no PL club has been involved in more games which have seen five or more goals scored. On 17 occasions Liverpool fans have seen five goals scored in games involving their team and, most worryingly, all too often they’ve been against them.

[ MORE: Joel Matip speaks to Pro Soccer Talk ]

Liverpool’s 3-2 win at Leicester City on Saturday summed up everything which should concern the Reds.

They led 2-0 early on and looked to be on their way to a routine win. Then, right on half time, came a mistake from goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to make it 2-1. At 3-2 he then gave away a penalty kick but saved it as the maddening world of watching Liverpool was encapsulated in a nutshell.

Last week I sat down with Liverpool’s center back Joel Matip who told me why he believes the Reds should not change the way they play.

“Both parts only work together. I cannot stand at the back and our attackers go forward and there is so much big space. We all have to fit together. It is not always easy but this is our way of play but I think that is a good way of playing,” Matip said. “Everything has its positive and negative sides but I have no doubt about our way of playing.”

Plenty of Liverpool’s fans, pundits and neutrals doubt their defensive solidity and even though it is fun to watch Liverpool rip open opposition defenses with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, their inability to defend simple set pieces situations will cost them any chance of challenging for major trophies.

Klopp’s style of play is only one part of this. Simply put: he has to invest in better defenders and goalkeepers if his time at Liverpool is to be considered a success.

If he doesn’t do that the German coach will soon come under pressure from some fans even though his team entertains and delivers plenty of drama. Liverpool had enough drama under Brendan Rodgers. The majority of the fanbase want silverware and Klopp’s current defensive unit will cost them that.


RELEGATION DARK HORSES

Crystal Palace is in a dark, dark place heading into Week 7 with no points and no goals to their name so far this season. Roy Hodgson knows he has a big task to turn the Eagles around but perhaps he feels like it is doable as plenty of perennial midtable teams look like they will struggle this season.

Newly-promoted teams Newcastle United, Brighton and Huddersfield have had very good starts and all three have won at least twice in their opening six games but that bubble could burst soon and its very rare that the three new boys all survive or at least push away from the drop zone in their debut campaign in the PL.

Add to that the likes of Bournemouth, Stoke City, Swansea City and West Ham United all looking a bit of a mess right now and there are plenty of early-season contenders for those three relegation spots.

Bournemouth have lost five of their opening six games and the worrying thing for Eddie Howe‘s side is that they don’t seem to be learning from their mistakes. They led against Manchester City but lost 2-1. They led against Everton but lost 2-1. With more experienced campaigners on board this season you’d expected less naivety from the Cherries. Their next four games are against Leicester City, Tottenham Stoke and Chelsea. All of a sudden the man with seemingly the safest job in the PL could be under serious pressure.

Stoke have been hit, very hard, by injuries, especially in defense as Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross and Kevin Wimmer were all out for the 4-0 hammering to Chelsea at the weekend and then Bruno Martins Indi was injured late on. Mark Hughes‘ men have one win from their first six games and even though they are usually slow starters, recent displays have been worrying.

Swansea are struggling to put away chances as Paul Clement‘s men have lost all three games at home so far and Watford won late at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday after the Swans dragged themselves back into the game. Like Stoke it is perhaps a little too early to worry but Clement will be far from impressed with the start.

West Ham United are in a real mess and their creaky defense looks like shipping goals galore. Slaven Bilic‘s situation is unsettling the entire club with the Croatian only contracted until the end of the current season and his players appear to have plenty of fight and spirit to drag themselves back into games late on, yet whether or not they’re fighting for themselves or Bilic remains to be seen. With four points from their opening six games the Hammers are in trouble.

With the PL’s top six, plus Everton, spending big and seeming to be head and shoulders above the rest, the scramble to stay out of the bottom three may be the best (or most nerve-wracking, depending on who you support) in recent memory. If Crystal Palace can somehow recover from the worst start in league history they will drag a heck of a lot of teams into the relegation mire.


CHICHARITO MISUSED?

After West Ham’s spirited, yet deeply flawed, 3-2 defeat against Tottenham in a big London derby on Saturday, I asked Hammers boss Slaven Bilic if getting the best out of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in the right areas was a big challenge.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned from Spurs v West Ham ]

His answers was just as confusing as why Chicharito isn’t been played in his natural position.

“I spoke to him after West Brom game and today he started as a center forward and then he had to change the position because we wanted to stay in the same system as it was working well. Even then, he was in good areas so you can’t say he was out wide,” Bilic explained. “Against top teams everyone has to defend and he was in a position where he would have been if we were playing two strikers. When we were attacking he was not playing on the wing, he was a striker. It’s not very easy to play with him, Andy, Antonio and Arnautovic and play with three center backs.”

Hernandez headed home to make it 3-1 with 25 minutes to go and had another chance to make it 3-2 which was well saved by Hugo Lloris but he was unable to impact the game from wide positions as Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer cut a frustrated figure at the final whistle.

He was involved in a large scuffle near the end of the game and he carried on his spat with Fernando Llorente after the final whistle too. Bilic has to find a way of playing Chicharito in his best position, which is through the middle, because early on it was working very well for the Hammers.

It is easy to see why Hernandez is frustrated. After three goals in six games he is still being shunted out wide by Bilic and when Michail Antonio was injured early in the loss to Spurs, Andy Carroll came off the bench to take his central role and Hernandez was told to play out on the right.

With Andre Ayew on the bench, did it not make more sense to put him out wide and leave Hernandez up top to stick to the same game plan which had actually caused Spurs plenty of problems?

That’s what Hernandez will be asking himself and it would be legitimate for Hammers fans to ask themselves exactly why they signed the former Manchester United striker if he’s going to be played out wide.


USMNT UPDATE

DeAndre Yedlin was at the center of controversy in Newcastle United’s 1-0 defeat at Brighton on Sunday.

The right back was involved in a coming together with Tomer Hemed and the big Israeli striker, who scored the winner for Brighton, appeared to stamp on Yedlin’s calf as the former Seattle Sounders star led on the ground. The FA is said to be reviewing the images and could hand Hemed a ban for his stamp. It certainly looked deliberate as Yedlin had a tough afternoon trying to lock down Solly March on Brighton’s left flank.

In other USMNT news both Geoff Cameron and Danny Williams are out injured. Cameron remains missing with a hamstring injury he suffered against Manchester United two weeks ago, while Williams has suffered an injury to his foot.

Pro Soccer Talk understand Williams has not broken a small bone in his foot, as his manager David Wagner first feared, but he is still expected to be out for two to three weeks. That is incredibly frustrating as the German-American had just worked his way into the starting lineup and played well in the Terriers’ 1-1 draw against Leicester City and many were calling for him to be recalled for the USMNT for the key 2018 World Cup qualifiers next month.

Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here. 

Klopp’s reliance on top CB pair nothing new, but a problem

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When Jurgen Klopp was hired at Borussia Dortmund in 2008, he did something right away that would set the stage for BVB’s run back into Bundesliga power.

Klopp brought defender Neven Subotic with him from Mainz, and took Mats Hummels on loan from Bayern Munich.

The 19-year-old Subotic played 38 times for BVB that season, and Hummels played well on way to a permanent transfer.

[ MORE: Klopp left fuming at defending ]

Largely, Klopp seemed to “set it and forget it” with his center backs from that point forward: No big summer buys, and neither Subotic nor Hummels was headed anywhere.

That didn’t change until 2013-14, when Klopp bought¬†Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Werder Bremen, adding Matthias Ginter the next season.

Klopp left BVB after a disappointing 2014-15, taking the job at Liverpool in October 2015.

He didn’t do much in January, but agreed to terms with Schalke center back Joel Matip in February and landed Ragnar Klavan from Augsburg in the summer. The Reds already had bought Dejan Lovren from Southampton in the Summer of 2014, and Klopp seemed set.

[ MORE: League Cup Weds. wrap ]

Lovren improved a lot with Matip next to him, and Klavan made just 15 appearances for the Reds last season. The Reds went hard at Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk, but failed to get him for any number of reasons.¬†Still, Klopp figured his quartet, including young Joe Gomez in a pinch, would be just fine this season.

And maybe they will be, but there are daunting signs for the Reds in the first couple months of the season. Klopp has used Matip in eight matches, tied for the most on the team with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. He’s used Lovren six times, and Klavan four.

Liverpool’s record by CB pair (admittedly a tiny sample size):

Matip-Lovren: 3W-2D
Matip-Klavan: 1W-1D-1L
Gomez-Klavan: 1L (today)

The center backs, sans Matip and Lovren, especially hurt the Reds in the 2-0 loss to Leicester on Tuesday. All three moments of Leicester threat in this highlight package find either Klavan or Gomez cooked or out-of-place.

Look, a lot of teams are going to be hurt when using their second-choice CB pair, and many won’t be bothered by Liverpool’s exit from the League Cup. Furthermore, it’s not like anyone has been mistaking Lovren and Matip for Puyol and Pique.

But look at every English team in Europe, including the ones with far fewer defensive frailties heading into this summer than Liverpool.

Chelsea bought Antonio Rudiger.

Everton added Michael Keane.

Manchester United bought Victor Lindelof.

Spurs bought Davinson Sánchez and Juan Foyth.

Arsenal didn’t buy anyone besides Alexandre Lacazette, while Man City bought full backs and has received plenty of criticism for failing to add to its center back corps of Vincent Kompany, John Stones, and Eliaquim Mangala.

Liverpool? They sold Mamadou Sakho.

It’s problematic, yes, and it can’t be fixed until January. The question is whether Klopp sees a need to spend in the winter window. As illustrated above, he loves to ride his horses, even if Lovren and Matip aren’t quite Hummels and Subotic.

Think of what’s ailed Liverpool in recent seasons: Are some of those flops against lesser Premier League teams changed with more rest for their top pair or a better option for the mix?