Salah penalty leads Liverpool past Brighton (video)

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  • Liverpool snaps mini-skid
  • Salah converts penalty
  • Reds have 73 percent possession

Mohamed Salah won and converted an early second half penalty as Liverpool scrapped its way to a 1-0 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

Liverpool goes seven clear of Man City ahead of the latter’s Monday match with Wolves.

The match marked the first time Brighton was shutout in a home match since March.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

After a mostly chance-free first half, Salah won a penalty after being harassed by Pascal Gross in the box. Gross was all over Salah’s shoulder, and the Egyptian comically made sure it was spotted with an airkick and back-flop to the deck. If he hadn’t fallen, it may not have been called, and it was certainly a penalty, but my was it funny.

Gross had a chance to level it blocked in the box, as Brighton was undeterred by its concession.

The Seagulls stuck around despite Liverpool’s chance creation, the Reds’ attack typified by Georginio Wijnaldum just missing on a drive through traffic in the 80th minute.

Salah casually missed a tremendous chance to make it 2-0 in the 88th.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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Title hopes alive! Man City upends Liverpool

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  • Liverpool millimeters from 1-0 lead (video)
  • Aguero puts Man City ahead
  • Firmino ties it, 64′
  • Sane registers winner 8 mins later

What a game, and it may have just kept the Premier League title race open for business.

Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane scored for reigning champions Manchester City, who ended Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season with a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The win brings City back into second place, four points back of Liverpool.

Roberto Firmino scored the Reds’ lone goal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The tackles and fouls came hard and fast, with Man City’s Fernandinho plowing into Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson putting a foot into ex-Liverpool man Raheem Sterling.

Liverpool thought it had gone ahead after an incredible team play found Mohamed Salah putting Mane on goal, but the Senegalese player’s shot hit the post and City’s harried clearance was saved from own goal status by John Stones at the line.

How close was it? Both teams seemed to stall in progression as referee Anthony Taylor looked at his watch.

Dejan Lovren then went in the books with a professional foul to get in the way of a Sergio Aguero break. David Silva oversaw the free kick, but his lofted ball to Aguero found the Argentine offside.

Sterling cued up David Silva for a shot inside the Liverpool box, but the Spaniard needed an extra touch and saw his effort blocked by the Reds defense.

It was Aguero who would dent the scoreboard, racing to the corner flag for a celebratory kick moments after he thought he’d won a penalty off Virgil Van Dijk.

Bernardo Silva played Aguero’s near post run perfectly, and the Argentine had a yard from Lovren to blast past a slow-to-react-at-close-range Alisson Becker. 1-0, City.

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

City pushed for a second goal at the start of the second half, but Liverpool’s defenders proved stout.

Sterling saw a penalty appeal denied in the 52nd minute, as Anthony Taylor waved away the claim after Andrew Robertson blocked the Man City man from getting to his cutback.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was more adventurous as the game wore on, and blasted a shot into the outside of the goal.

A City error set Roberto Firmino up for an equalizer bid, but Vincent Kompany cleared the 63rd minute danger.

Firmino got the leveler within a minute, Alexander-Arnold crossing to fellow full back Robertson. The Scottish left back nodded across goal, and Firmino met the chance with his head for an easy-enough finish.

City went back ahead with a sensational finish by Sane, who took a pass from Sterling and carved out some room inside the 18 to drive a low pass off the far post and home. The angle was his only avenue into the goal.

Alisson bailed out his backs when Aguero was played 1v1 with him in the 83rd minute. And Ederson came close to meeting the quality of that stop with a flick of Salah’s bid to level the score in the 84th.

Bernardo Silva took the ball off Lovren and forced Alisson into another save, and Sterling rocketed his chance for a first goal against his former mates wide of the goal.

Liverpool duo, Aubameyang are CAF Player of the Year finalists

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Mohamed Salah‘s bid to become the third player to win consecutive African Player of the Year awards faces some stiff competition.

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Salah (Egypt) is joined by Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) as finalists for the confederation’s award, set to be handed out Jan. 8 in Senegal.

The Egyptian won in 2018 — his first year as a finalist — edging second place Mane and third place Aubameyang last year. Aubameyang won the award in 2015, and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez claimed the honors in 2016.

Salah will be the heavy favorite despite Aubameyang’s outstanding year, if only because he was the lone member of the three to appear in the 2018 World Cup.

Still injured from a Sergio Ramos challenge in the UEFA Champions League Final, Salah scored both of the Pharoahs goals as Egypt failed to claim a point in a group with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay.

Salah already won the BBC’s award. Surprisingly, Aubameyang was left off the BBC’s five-man shortlist, which instead chose Kalidou Koulibaly, Mehdi Benatia, and Thomas Partey. That’s trying a bit too hard, in this man’s view. Alex Iwobi and Wilfred Ndidi were also denied by the CAF.

El Hadji Diouf, Samuel Eto'o, and Yaya Toure were the others to win back-to-back African POTY honors.

PST writers’ Premier League Best XI of the year 2018

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The calendar is turning to 2019, so who have been the best players in the Premier League since New Year’s Day?

[ MORE: Liverpool rips Arsenal | Spurs shocked ]

We asked our staff to search their hearts and search their minds a la Bryan Adams to find their PL Best XI from the second half of the 2017-18 season and the top half of 2018-19.

Here are the results.


Joe Prince-Wright (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, Virgil Van Dijk, Andrew Robertson

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Christian Eriksen

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling

David Silva (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Nick Mendola (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Virgil van Dijk, Aymeric Laporte, Marcos Alonso

Midfielders: Fernandinho, N'Golo Kante, David Silva, Christian Eriksen

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

N’Golo Kante (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Kyle Bonn (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Ederson

Defenders: Kyle Walker, John Stones, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson

Midfielders: Fernandinho, Eden Hazard, Raheem Sterling

Forwards: Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Salah

Kyle Walker, John Stones, and Raheem Sterling(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Dan Karell (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Virgil Van Dijk, Toby Alderweireld, Ben Chilwell

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, David Silva

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang  (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Player ratings: Liverpool dismantle Arsenal at Anfield

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Liverpool put the sword to Arsenal on Saturday, thrashing the hapless Gunners to the tune of 5-1 at Anfield.

[ MORE: Liverpool go nine points clear with dismantling of Arsenal ]

It was a banner day for the Reds’ free-flowing attacking quartet; not so much for the porous Arsenal defense.

Liverpool

Alisson: 6 – Only asked to make two saves, he made one of them.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7 – Salah is brilliant on his own, no doubt, but TAA’s overlapping runs give him the freedom to roam the entire field, making him even more dangerous.
Dejan Lovren: 6 –
Virgil Van Dijk: 8 – An imperious mountain of a man, Van Dijk walked the field with Aubameyang tucked into his back pocket for 71 minutes.
Andrew Robertson: 6 – Completely lost track of his man on the game’s opening goal. Fortunately, it mattered very little in the end.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7 – As solid as ever in midfield, Wijnaldum keeps the Liverpool clock ticking over minute after minute.
Fabinho: 8 – Quickly growing into his role as the midfield engine.
Mohamed Salah: 8 – One of the best, and simultaneously coolest, assists you’ll see all season (WATCH HERE). Affecting the game in so many ways beyond scoring goals.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 6 – Given the contributions of his running mates, someone had to have the “quiet” game.
Sadio Mane: 7 – Scored goal no. 3 and wasn’t required to be brilliant.
Roberto Firmino: 9 – Genuinely unplayable in the first half, and that goal. Oh, this goal. Got his hat trick, albeit from the penalty spot, and deservedly so.


Arsenal

Bernd Leno: 4 – Despite giving up five goals, still made five saves.
Stephan Lichtsteiner: 3 – On a day of terrible defensive performances, Lichtsteiner made a strong case for the worst.
Shkodran Mustafi: 4 – Subbed off at halftime. In fairness, it was a tough game to return after three weeks out injured.
Sokratis: 3 – Gave away a penalty on a half-hearted challenge after being wildly out of position.
Sead Kolasinac: 4 – Arsenal’s best defender for 60 minutes, until he gave away a silly penalty of his own.
Lucas Torreira: 4 – Far and away his worst performance in an Arsenal shirt.
Granit Xhaka: 5 – Along with Torreira, completely and helplessly overrun by Liverpool’s attacking quartet.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 6 – Scored the game’s opening goal before disappearing, through little fault of his own.
Aaron Ramsey: 6 – Arsenal’s best player going forward should have scored early in the second half to make it 4-2.
Alex Iwobi: 5 – Assisted the opening goal and nearly scored one of his own.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5 – Thoroughly uninvolved, through little fault of his own.