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English Premier League

Crystal Palace 2 – 0 Bournemouth

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Crystal Palace 2 - 0 Bournemouth

Crystal Palace 2 – 0 Bournemouth. Eberechi Eze praised his freedom under Roy Hodgson after his two goals earned Crystal Palace a win over Bournemouth.

Eze slammed home shortly before half-time, before curling into the top corner following Michael Olise’s fine pass as the Palace number 10 made it 10 league goals this season.

Six of those have come in Hodgson’s eight games in charge since the veteran coach succeeded Patrick Vieira.

“I just feel like I am more free,” Eze said after the game.

“He has given me licence to run at people. Under him I do my best to positively affect the games.”

There was little riding on this match between sides 12th and 14th, safe from Premier League relegation.

However, that did not stop Eze showing again why, when fully fit, he is one of the division’s brightest midfielders.

“Ebs is quality,” Palace defender Joel Ward said. “It’s incredible what he does on the ball – the way he glides over the pitch is mesmerising.

“He’s taking over control of midfield too, and linking up well with the front guys. His future will be very bright.”

Victory ensured Palace completed the league double over Bournemouth, having won 2-0 at Vitality Stadium on 31 December.

That proved to be their final win under Vieira, who was dismissed after they failed to win any of their subsequent 12 top-flight matches.

It was a run which threatened the Eagles’ Premier League status, however their descent was halted by the appointment of Hodgson and five wins from their past eight games.

The question is now whether the 75-year-old, contracted to the end of the season, will extend his second spell at Selhurst Park.

A few weeks ago this game could have been earmarked as a relegation six-pointer. Instead, it was a low-stakes end-of-season meeting between two sides with their top-flight status secure.

Joachim Andersen however appeared unaware Palace have little left to fight for, as he evaded a first-half red card following a lengthy video assistant referee (VAR) check after catching Jefferson Lerma in the face.

“Andersen punched Lerma in the face – Jefferson has a broken nose,” Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil told Match of the Day.

“It’s difficult on the pitch to see that, but I have no idea how VAR can give it as check complete.”

Palace roused themselves earlier, the quick and skilful wing play of Olise and Wilfried Zaha providing Bournemouth with plenty of problems, before Eze opened the scoring four minutes before the break.

Zaha spun inside, found Andre Ayew who teed up Eze six yards out for the midfielder to slam past Neto.

The second goal was even better. Olise earned his 10th Premier League assist of the season – a new record for a Palace player – as he played a lovely ball to Eze on the left who controlled, cut inside and thumped into the top-right corner.

“They make my life easier – I give them the ball and they do their magic,” Ward said of Palace’s attackers. “The world is Michael’s oyster, he is going to set the bar so high and go on to special things.”

Ward was also full of praise for Hodgson as the inspiration for Palace’s good form. “One of the things is familiarity, the message he brings is clarity to players on the pitch, and freedom to the lads to express themselves which we keep it solid at the back,” he said.

“With Ebs, Michael, Wilf up front, we can hurt teams.”

A worry from this game for Palace is that Zaha could have played his final match for the club after being forced off in the second half with what looked like a hamstring injury.

The Ivorian winger’s contract expires this summer, and the Selhurst Park crowd gave him an ovation as he left the pitch, in case this was Zaha’s 457th and final Palace appearance.

“Zaha felt his hamstring which is worrying, but we won’t know how serious [it is] until he has the scan,” Hodgson told Match of the Day. “Hopefully it will only take a few days rather than a couple of weeks.”

Bournemouth meanwhile have conceded 69 Premier League goals in 2022-23, just one short of their highest figure in 2018-19.

O’Neil has ensured Bournemouth survive this season in relative comfort, but has plenty of work ahead to solve their defensive issues and admitted his team were second best here.

“We were well beaten by the better side today. If we are not at our level this happens to you in Premier League games,” he told Match of the Day. “We dropped levels all over the pitch – it was a really disappointing afternoon.”

Certainly he will be glad to see the back of Palace for some time – this was Bournemouth’s fifth consecutive Premier League defeat against the Eagles.

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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