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English Premier League

Arsenal 5 – 1 Everton

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Arsenal 5 - 1 Everton

Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification for a sixth successive season despite a comfortable victory over Everton on the final day.

The Gunners needed to beat Frank Lampard’s side and hope Tottenham lost at already relegated Norwich, but with Spurs winning 5-0 at Carrow Road theirs was a forlorn task.

Mikel Arteta’s side took the lead midway through the first half. Gabriel Martinelli stroked home a penalty after his shot struck Alex Iwobi’s arm, with the spot-kick awarded after a video assistant referee check.

Eddie Nketiah nodded in following a corner to extend the hosts’ lead on 31 minutes, before substitute Donny van de Beek, in what is likely to be his last game for Everton, side-footed in.

It proved to be a short reprieve as two second-half goals in three minutes ended the game as a contest. Both came from corners as Cedric Soares slotted home, and then Gabriel poked in after Everton had initially cleared.

Martin Odegaard added a late fifth as Arsenal finished in fifth place, two points behind Tottenham. Though they missed out on the top four, their fans were at least able to celebrate a return to the Europa League after missing out this season.

Meanwhile, Everton’s record-equalling 13th away defeat meant they finished four points clear of the relegation zone.

The Gunners did all they could to try to finish in the top four for the first time since 2016, but the damage had been done in their two previous games – defeats at north London rivals Spurs and resurgent Newcastle.

The second of those losses prompted Granit Xhaka to question his teammates’ character, but they showed an appetite to make up for their performance at St James’ Park by putting Everton under pressure from the start.

Buoyed by the home crowd, who booed former Tottenham midfielder, Dele Alli, on his first Everton start, Odegaard was Arsenal’s key orchestrator and had two efforts blocked. Asmir Begovic, who replaced Jordan Pickford in goal, also denied Martinelli.

Everton looked like they had weathered the storm initially, but then former Gunner Iwobi gifted the hosts a penalty.

Martinelli’s shot hit the Everton midfielder’s arm, and although referee Andre Marriner missed it, once he had checked on the VAR monitor, he reversed his decision.

The goal was Martinelli’s sixth season, and he had a hand in the second too, flicking on a corner, which Alli had failed to clear, and Nkeitah headed in.

The two-goal lead allowed the hosts to settle, though there were chances for Demarai Gray before Rob Holding allowed the ball to run across him for Van de Beek’s first Everton goal since his loan move from Manchester United.

Two goals in three minutes put the match out of Everton’s reach, though, and a second-half comeback akin to their heroics against Crystal Palace on Thursday never looked likely, especially when Odegaard grabbed the goal his performance deserved.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on the top four, the season can still be seen as progress for Arteta’s young side.

Everton fans will be further relieved their team extended their 68-year stay in the Premier League on Thursday, as their wretched away form continued.

They have won only once away from Goodison Park since August, though a much-changed side did show glimpses of attacking threat.

Top scorer Richarlison missed out through injury, while Pickford was rested. Tom Davies also made his first start since November following a knee problem.

For much of the first half, Lampard’s side had to retreat to a back five, and although Gray drew a save from Aaron Ramsdale and fired over, they could not deal with Arsenal’s superior movement and energy.

But what will disappoint Lampard most was his side conceding three goals from corners, especially with Michael Keane, Mason Holgate and Jarrad Branthwaite making up the back three.

The visiting supporters were in good spirits until Arsenal took a three-goal lead, but having celebrated their top-flight survival on Thursday, their partying was probably done.

They still found the energy to celebrate, though, when they heard Manchester City had taken a 3-2 lead against Aston Villa, denying Liverpool the title.

source – BBC

English Premier League

Liverpool 2-1 Brighton

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Liverpool 2-1 Brighton

Liverpool 2-1 Brighton.Liverpool moved top of the Premier League – for a couple of hours at least – as Mohamed Salah ended Brighton’s resistance to secure a vital victory at Anfield.

With title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal meeting later on Sunday, Liverpool knew the significance of beating the resolute Seagulls in the early kick-off.

But Brighton striker Danny Welbeck stunned the hosts by thumping a strike into the top corner with only 87 seconds on the clock.

Liverpool responded strongly and began to dominate possession, with Luis Diaz poking home the equaliser from close range before the half-hour mark.

Salah, making his first league start since New Year’s Day, had missed a host of chances but eventually made one count when he coolly slotted in from Alexis Mac Allister’s pass in the 65th minute.

The hosts thought they had all but sealed the win when Diaz fired in after 73 minutes but his effort was ruled out by the video assistant referee for a tight offside.

Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk came closest to snatching a draw for the visitors, but saw two headers saved by home keeper Caoimhin Kelleher in quick succession.

Former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana also fired wide just moments after coming on as a substitute late on.

Ultimately Salah’s strike proved the difference as relieved Reds fans greeted the final whistle with an exuberant celebration.

Liverpool move on to 67 points, three ahead of Arsenal – who have a superior goal difference – and four in front of City before their match at Etihad Stadium.

The title race has developed into a fascinating three-way battle where it feels like every dropped point could be crucial.

And, with Liverpool playing before their two rivals go head-to-head, Easter Sunday has long been circled as a potentially pivotal day in the league campaign.

All the Reds could do was focus on winning their game against a Brighton side with a good record against Jurgen Klopp’s team, and led by a manager in Roberto de Zerbi being touted as a potential successor to the German.

The hosts had to show fight, belief and patience before Salah, not for the first time, ended up being the match-winner in a game of huge magnitude.

For more than an hour it had looked like it was not going to be the Egyptian forward’s day as a host of chances went begging for the Reds talisman.

Salah had seven shots in the first half without really stretching Brighton keeper Bart Verbruggen, while he could not quite reach Diaz’s dinked cross to the far post after half-time.

Another opportunity came when Mac Allister’s slick through ball cut through his former club’s defence and this time Salah found the bottom corner with a composed finish.

Only time will tell – especially with so many twists and turns to come in the remaining nine rounds of games – exactly how important this victory will be.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Luton Town

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Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Luton Town

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Luton Town. Son Heung-min scored a late winner as Tottenham recovered from a goal down to beat Luton and move into the top four of the Premier League.

Son collected half-time substitute Brennan Johnson’s clever pass before beating Hatters goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski with a low shot, which took a deflection off Daiki Hashioka on its way in.

Tahith Chong’s well-worked goal had given the Hatters an early lead, but Spurs responded well and equalised early in the second half when Johnson’s cross was turned into his own net by Issa Kabore.

Spurs laid siege to the Luton goal after restoring parity, but a series of crucial last-ditch challenges kept Ange Postecoglou’s team at bay – and Alfie Doughty somehow prevented Johnson’s close-range effort from rolling over the line.

However, there was nothing Luton could do about Son’s 15th goal of the season, which means Tottenham have come from behind to win four of their past five home Premier League matches.

Aston Villa will reclaim fourth place with a draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers later on Saturday. Luton, meanwhile, drop into the relegation zone.

Tottenham’s 3-0 defeat at Fulham before the international break was described by Son as a “big wake-up call”, but it took Postecoglou’s team a while to hit their stride against Luton.

The opening goal was a sloppy one to concede, with Son dispossessed on the edge of the Luton area and Yves Bissouma beaten far too easily by Andros Townsend in the build-up to Chong’s crisp finish.

But Spurs were left cursing their luck when Son’s shot rattled the inside of the near post, rolled across the goalline, struck the other post and bounced clear – moments after Timo Werner had dragged a shot wide from an excellent position.

In the same move, Werner’s follow-up effort was blocked by Kabore before Teden Mengi blocked Pape Sarr’s goalbound shot on the line.

Tottenham have now failed to score a first-half goal in six consecutive games, but they were level early in the second half when Johnson – who replaced the ineffective Dejan Kulusevski at half-time – drilled a low ball across the face of goal and Kabore slammed it into his own net.

It seemed only a matter of time before Spurs’ relentless pressure would pay off, but when Doughty’s last-gasp intervention denied Johnson, Tottenham fans could have been forgiven for thinking it might not be their day.

When the second goal did arrive there was an element of luck about it, but it was a slice of good fortune Son and his team-mates deserved after going agonisingly close on more than one occasion.

Luton took less than three minutes to extend their club-record scoring run to 18 successive top-flight fixtures, but once again they were unable to retain their advantage.

Rob Edwards’ men are just the third side in Premier League history to lose three successive games in which they have led at half-time, after Aston Villa in May 2021 and Sunderland in April 2003.

The visitors even went close to doubling their advantage in the first half, but the retreating James Maddison produced a crucial block to deny Carlton Morris at the near post.

Luton continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack in the second half, with Ross Barkley and Jordan Clark both testing Guglielmo Vicario with low drives from the edge of the penalty area.

Kabore produced several important blocks after putting through his own net, and Kaminski and Doughty combined to keep out Johnson – but Spurs’ pressure finally told when Son’s shot crept in off the unfortunate Hashioka.

With trips to title-chasing Arsenal and Manchester City still to come before the end of the season, it appears Luton’s home form will be key to their hopes of preserving their Premier League status.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Sheffield United 3-3 Fulham

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Sheffield United 3-3 Fulham

Sheffield United 3-3 Fulham. Rodrigo Muniz scored with a spectacular injury-time bicycle kick as Fulham came back from two goals down to deny bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United a vital victory.

In the third of 14 scheduled additional minutes at the end of regulation time, Muniz connected with Adama Traore’s cross in an incredible second half at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United threw away a two-goal advantage to draw 2-2 at Bournemouth last time out and the Blades let slip another glorious winning chance, having been 3-1 ahead at the 86-minute mark.

But Fulham substitute Bobby de Cordova-Reid made an instant impact by shooting into the net from 25 yards to set up a frantic finish before Muniz grabbed his eighth goal in eight games.

The Blades had looked on course to secure what would have been only their fourth Premier League win of the season and went ahead through Ben Brereton Diaz, on loan from Villarreal, in the 58th minute.

Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo had given the ball away and Oli McBurnie produced an excellent cross from the left with the outside of his right boot, with Brereton Diaz converting.

The visitors equalised four minutes later when an unmarked Joao Palhinha headed in from Andreas Pereira’s right-wing corner.

But Chris Wilder’s team scored twice in a three-minute spell as they looked to have taken the game away from the London side.

Brereton Diaz pulled the ball back for McBurnie to put the hosts back in front in the 68th minute, and Chile international Brereton Diaz made it 3-1 by heading in Gustavo Hamer’s cross.

The hosts thought they had got a fourth when McBurnie finished, but it was ruled out by a video assistant referee (VAR) decision, which showed Vini Souza was standing in an offside position and blocking goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s view.

If that goal had been given, the Blades would surely have gone on to win, but once more they could not hold on to their advantage as Fulham fought back to leave with a point.

The result leaves the Blades seven points behind Nottingham Forest in 17th and Luton in 18th, but Wilder will be again reflecting on a missed opportunity.

They had only scored 24 goals in their previous 28 league matches and were heading for one of their best results of the season before the late drama.

Once again, defensive mistakes proved to be their undoing.

Palhinha was given far too much space for Fulham’s first, while Wilder will also be unhappy with the second goal conceded, before Muniz’s moment of brilliance.

Indeed, Fulham could have snatched a winner at the end, only for Ivo Grbic to deny Tom Cairney in the 16th minute of additional time.

Sheffield United have now conceded 24 goals in their past five home matches in all competitions.

This result comes after they lost 5-2 at home to Brighton in the fourth round of the FA Cup, suffered successive 5-0 league defeats by Aston Villa and Brighton and were hammered 6-0 by Arsenal.

Fulham came 10th in the Premier League last season and Marco Silva’s side are 12th, still with an outside chance of qualifying for next season’s Europa Conference League.

As it stands, finishing seventh would be enough to qualify, although if Championship side Coventry City won the FA Cup then Fulham would need to come in the top six.

Fulham are five points behind seventh-placed West Ham, but just like Sheffield United, will be wondering how they did not win this game.

source – BBC

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