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English Premier League

Fulham 2 – 2 Crystal Palace

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Fulham 2 - 2 Crystal Palace

Fulham 2 – 2 Crystal Palace. Joel Ward’s late equaliser earned Crystal Palace a battling point against Fulham in a mid-table clash at Craven Cottage.

Defender Ward scrambled the ball home from close range at the second attempt with eight minutes remaining for his first Premier League goal in more than four years.

Fulham had been heading for victory thanks to two goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic, who was making his first start since returning from his eight-match ban for pushing a referee.

The Serbian scored a penalty in first-half stoppage time to cancel out Odsonne Edouard’s opener, before heading home Willian’s free-kick after the break.

Willian could have extended the home side’s lead, but his fizzing effort from distance was well tipped over by Sam Johnstone.

The draw extends Fulham’s unbeaten run to three matches and leaves them 10th in the table. Crystal Palace have moved above Chelsea into 11th, although the Eagles have played two games more than their London rivals.

There was a distinct end-of-season feel about the match at kick-off on a warm spring day on the banks of the River Thames, with both teams having little more than pride to play for.

That Palace are safe in mid-table is testament to the job done by Roy Hodgson, who has now lost just two of his nine games in charge to steer the Eagles away from danger.

The former England boss only signed a short-term deal until the end of the season, but would not be drawn on whether he will extend his stay ay Selhurst Park.

“I shall worry about that when the time comes,” the 75-year-old told BBC Match of the Day. “At the moment, I am just looking forward to ending the season in a good way and being grateful for the enjoyment I’ve had in these last two months.”

Palace offered little attacking threat early on, choosing to sit deep and hit on the counter – which proved devastatingly effective for the opener.

The lively Eberechi Eze drove the ball through to Edouard, who got in behind the Fulham backline and thumped the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

Mitrovic’s double then looked to have taken the game away from the visitors, who were restricted to efforts from distance from Eze and Edouard, before they levelled late from a set piece.

A free-kick from the left cannoned off a Fulham defender and fell to Ward, whose initial effort was saved by Bernd Leno before he forced the ball home for his first goal since February 2019.

Mitrovic has now scored three goals in around 115 minutes since returning after his lengthy ban, including one as a substitute against Southampton last weekend.

This Saturday, he was involved in nearly all of Fulham’s good play in a match that only sporadically burst to life.

The Cottagers had an early shout for a penalty turned down when Mitrovic tangled with Tyrick Mitchell in the area, but the same Palace defender brought down Harry Wilson seconds before the break, which allowed the former Newcastle striker to level from the spot.

He should have put Fulham ahead seconds after the restart when he dragged wide from 12 yards, but made no mistake when he met WIllian’s near-post free-kick and sent a bullet header beyond Johnstone.

“I said the eight games [suspension] was exaggerated if you compare to other things that happened this season, but that’s our opinion and we respect all decisions,” Fulham boss Marco Silva told Match of the Day.

“Everyone knows how we missed a top goalscorer like him. He’s a very important player but our group handled the situation well.”

Despite the disappointment of conceding a late equaliser, Fulham can reflect on a hugely satisfying first season back in the top flight, the first time they have avoided an immediate return to the Championship since 2002.

“It has been a brilliant season for this football club,” added Silva. “All the predictions said we would be first to go down. The way we started the season, we showed that was not going to happen.

“Now we have to look forward and analyse the season and see what we need to keep improving.”

source – BBC

English Premier League

Luton Town 1-2 Manchester United

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Luton Town 1-2 Manchester United

Luton Town 1-2 Manchester United. Rasmus Hojlund scored for the sixth successive Premier League game as Manchester United survived a Luton Town display of fierce determination to stay in contention for the top four with victory at Kenilworth Road.

United’s £72m summer signing from Atalanta has hit a red-hot streak after early struggles in front of goal and scored twice in the first seven minutes to set up a fourth successive league win for Erik ten Hag’s side.

The 21-year-old pounced on Amari’i Bell’s error after only 37 seconds to round keeper Thomas Kaminski and score, adding a second in the seventh minute, instinctively diverting Alejandro Garnacho’s shot into the net.

Luton Town, in an uproarious atmosphere, responded with defiance and character, Carlton Morris swiftly giving the Hatters hope with a header as United struggled to cope with the intensity of the home side, especially in the opening half.

United lost defender Luke Shaw to injury before the interval, while Harry Maguire and Casemiro also went off at the break, but for all Luton’s second-half endeavour it was the visitors who created the better chances, Kaminski denying Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, and a Hojlund hat-trick.

However, there was one more nervous moment for the visitors in stoppage time when Ross Barkley’s glancing header clipped the top of the crossbar.

The win means United are now only five points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa.

United needed leaders to see them through an encounter that became an ordeal for long spells, especially in the opening half, and they emerged from unlikely sources as another important three points were secured.

While experienced players such as Casemiro, so lucky to avoid a second yellow card, Maguire and Raphael Varane struggled and were exposed by the sheer energy of Luton’s approach, it was match-winner Hojlund and outstanding 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo who stepped up.

Hojlund has really come to the fore in recent weeks, now getting the goals all his hard work – even early in the season when they were in short supply – deserve, his first a composed piece of work and his second quick thinking as United established early control.

The Denmark forward showed commendable hold-up play, a willingness to engage in the physical exchanges with Luton’s defence, and was only denied a treble by Kaminski’s block before he departed to a standing ovation from United’s away support.

Mainoo, meanwhile, rose above the blood and thunder with rare composure for one so young. United have a gem on their hands.

The visitors improved after the break and even though Luton pressed, they were the more dangerous side, Kaminski and Albert Sambi Lokonga denying Rashford before a combination of the goalkeeper and Bell thwarted Garnacho.

In the end, Hojlund’s early goals were enough as United extended their winning run.

Luton lost another home game to one of the Premier League’s big guns but once again more illustrious visitors to Kenilworth Road were made to fight every inch of the way.

United joined Manchester City and Arsenal in chalking up a narrow wins while Liverpool were held to a draw – and it is no surprise when Luton’s approach in this wonderfully hostile environment is taken into account.

The Hatters could have been forgiven for thinking their day was done when they conceded two goals in only seven minutes but, galvanised by the home support, Rob Edwards’ side responded superbly and were right back in it after Morris’ goal.

The reborn Barkley prompted from midfield with confidence while Lokonga was one of the game’s outstanding performers.

Luton faded after the break but showed enough to suggest they can make a real fight of things before the relegation places are decided, the standing ovation at the final whistle merited for their efforts.

Barkley almost snatched a point when his header glanced off the bar in the closing seconds but it was not to be for battling Luton.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Sheffield United 0-5 Brighton

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Sheffield United 0-5 Brighton

Sheffield United 0-5 Brighton. Brighton thrashed 10-man Sheffield United, who stayed bottom of the Premier League and conceded five goals at home for the third consecutive game.

The game swung in the 12th minute when United’s Mason Holgate caught Kaoru Mitoma in midfield with a horrific challenge just below the knee.

The Everton loanee was shown a yellow card, but the decision was upgraded to a red after intervention from the video assistant referee (VAR).

Against 10 men, Brighton attacked at will, taking the lead through Facundo Buonanotte, who bundled in a corner.

Danny Welbeck doubled the advantage, firing in a rebound after keeper Wes Foderingham denied Mitoma.

The hosts thought they had pulled a goal back just before the break through Ben Osborn, but his hooked volley has ruled out for offside.

Brighton got a deserved third midway through the second half when United defender Jack Robinson diverted Mitoma’s cross into his own net.

Simon Adingra added two late goals, burying Pascal Gross’ cutback and benefiting from a looping deflection.

Sunday’s victory was only Brighton’s second in the league in 2024, although they have won twice in the FA Cup, including a 5-2 triumph over United at Bramall Lane in the fourth round.

Even before Holgate’s sending-off Roberto de Zerbi’s side were routinely carving forward.

Adingra, back from winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast, had a cross deflected off Anel Ahmedhodzic and narrowly kept out by a diving Foderingham.

At 2-0, Yasser Larouci twice cleared off the line for United, denying Mitoma and Gross from close range. Foderingham also smartly kept out Welbeck and Mitoma either side of half-time.

Brighton’s win is their biggest away from home in the top flight, and they have scored four or more goals seven times in all competitions this season.

Seventh-placed Brighton face teams from the bottom half of the table in their next five games.

They host Everton on Saturday, a game De Zerbi will expect to win.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea

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Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea

Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea. Rodri dramatically rescued a point with a late leveller for Manchester City to deny Chelsea victory and maintain his side’s long unbeaten home record.

City still lost ground in the title race after seeing Liverpool and Arsenal both post emphatic wins earlier on Saturday, but this has to go down as a point gained given how close they came to defeat.

Raheem Sterling had given Chelsea the lead just before half-time, finishing off a brilliant counter-attack by meeting Nicolas Jackson’s cross, cutting inside Kyle Walker and curling his shot home.

The visitors looked threatening on the break all game, with Jackson earlier spurning an even better chance from Malo Gusto’s cross when a heavy touch allowed Ederson to smother his shot, and City’s keeper also denied Sterling a second from point-blank range.

City were racking up the chances too, but seemed unable to take any of them, or even seriously test Chelsea goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic despite piling on the pressure in the second half.

Erling Haaland was the main culprit, with his worst miss coming when he somehow headed wide from a delicious Kevin de Bruyne cross.

The defending champions were facing their first home league defeat since November 2022, until Rodri struck with seven minutes to go.

After Walker’s shot was deflected into his path on the edge of the box, Rodri fired in a ferocious first-time strike that was going in anyway but took a touch off Chelsea substitute Trevoh Chalobah on its way into the net.

The draw sees City drop to third in the table, four points behind leaders Liverpool but with a game in hand – they can close the gap, and leapfrog second-placed Arsenal, if they beat Brentford here on Tuesday.

Chelsea, who were minutes away from a third successive away win, stay 10th, but head to Wembley for next weekend’s Carabao Cup final on the back of one of their best displays of an erratic campaign.

source – BBC

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