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English Premier League

Manchester City 2 – 1 Leeds United

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Manchester City 2 - 1 Leeds United

Manchester City 2 – 1 Leeds United. Manchester City moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League by surviving a late scare to beat a Leeds side playing under new manager Sam Allardyce for the first time.

Two fine first-half goals by Ilkay Gundogan had done the damage for City, who appeared utterly dominant as they headed towards their 10th straight league win.

Gundogan’s first neat finish, which came after Riyad Mahrez found him in space on the edge of the area, was into the bottom left-hand corner of Joel Robles’ goal.

His second, again with Mahrez the provider, was identical apart from that he found the opposite corner of the net.

City were in full control but could not find a third goal to finish Leeds off after the break. Even Erling Haaland, for once, failed to score – his best effort came back off the post.

Their best chance to wrap the game up came with six minutes to go, when Pascal Struijk fouled Phil Foden inside the area and referee Andrew Madley pointed to the spot.

Regular penalty-taker Haaland passed up the chance to take it and add to his 51-goal tally for the season, but saw Gundogan miss out on a hat-trick when he sent his effort against the post.

That gave Leeds hope and, only 58 seconds later, they were somehow back in the game. Manuel Akanji failed to deal with a long ball and substitute Rodrigo beat Ederson with a low finish.

Their noisy supporters roared them forward in search of an unlikely equaliser but City were not in the mood to let the three points slip.

Pep Guardiola’s side march on, with the next step in their Treble bid coming against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Tuesday, in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

They now have four Premier League games left and for the first time this season have a significant lead over second-placed Arsenal, who travel to third-placed Newcastle on Sunday.

Leeds and Allardyce, meanwhile, only have a grim fight against relegation ahead.

With three games left, they remain out of the relegation zone on goal difference – but they will have to show far more attacking intent in the next few weeks if they are to avoid the drop.

Gundogan’s contract ends in the summer, and it is games like this that show how foolish it would be for City to allow him to leave after seven years at Etihad Stadium.

The 32-year-old Germany midfielder is far less flamboyant than some of his City team-mates but his knack for finding space or timing his run to make or score a goal remains an important weapon.

He made the difference here, even if he should probably leave the spot-kicks to Haaland in future.

Until the late drama that followed Gundogan’s miss, this was exactly the kind of stroll that City wanted before they face Real in a tie that will define their season.

Guardiola made seven changes from the team that beat West Ham on Wednesday, many of them with Madrid in mind, but there was no sign of any loss of rhythm.

The biggest concern will be an injury to left-back Nathan Ake, who was forced off in the second half and must be a doubt for Tuesday.

Allardyce’s comments at his unveiling in midweek, when he claimed to be the equal of any manager in the Premier League, succeeded in taking the pressure off his players before kick-off, but he could do little more to help them once the game began.

As anticipated, his plan to stop City involved defending deep and in numbers. Initially it worked, but with Leeds so timid, it seemed only a matter of time before the leaders found a way through, which they duly did.

At 2-0, it felt like damage-limitation was Allardyce’s main goal and, on that front at least, this was mission accomplished – his side did not ship chances or goals in anything like the same numbers as they have in recent weeks.

Their late rally was something of an unexpected and, probably, undeserved bonus. But, far from being battered, as many people expected, this was a performance to build on – starting at home to Newcastle on 13 May.

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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