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English Premier League

Manchester City 5 – 1 Fulham

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Manchester City 5 - 1 Fulham

Manchester City 5 – 1 Fulham. Erling Haaland capped a golden week by completing a second-half hat-trick as Manchester City extended their 100% start to the Premier League season with a win over Fulham.

On Tuesday, Haaland was named PFA Player of the Year. On Thursday, he got a similar award from Uefa.

Here, he was back doing what he does best – putting the ball into the net, as he took his tally to six for the campaign.

Haaland had set up the opener for Julian Alvarez – and with the score at 2-1 going into the second half, the favour was returned, as the Argentine sent him charging into the box with a fine first-time pass for City’s third.

The Norwegian then kept his nerve to score City’s fourth from the penalty spot after Issa Diop had fouled Alvarez.

Haaland had already been named man of the match when he applied the superb first-time finish to Sergio Gomez’s cut-back to claim yet another match ball.

Fulham would argue the pivotal moment in the game came just before the break, after Tim Ream had equalised within a minute of Alvarez’s opener on the half hour.

Video assistant referee Tony Harrington ruled an offside Manuel Akanji was not interfering with play as Nathan Ake’s 10-yard header bounced past him, even though the Swiss made a play for the ball.

Fulham boss Marco Silva evidently thought otherwise and was booked as he led the protests.

Victory means City enter the first international break two points clear of their nearest challengers.

That will be a concern for them all because Pep Guardiola’s side have not won their opening four games since his first season in charge – meaning they didn’t manage it in any of their five title-winning campaigns under the illustrious former Barcelona coach, who is currently recovering from back surgery.

For half an hour in this game, they were off the pace.

Without the injured Jack Grealish, £55m new arrival Jeremy Doku was handed his debut. The Belgian produced an encouraging performance, including one excellent touchline burst that nearly set up Phil Foden.

But until Alvarez scored, City were below par and the way they let Ream run unchecked to the far post to equalise hinted at a lack of focus.

Ake’s goal changed the complexion of the entire contest, allowing Haaland to take centre stage as he has done so often.

Incredibly, the 23-year-old now has Premier League 51 goal involvements – 42 goals and nine assists – in just 39 appearances. It is the fastest anyone has achieved that, breaking Andy Cole’s record by four games.

With six goals in four league games, Haaland has matched his start to last season. Already City and their star striker have laid down a marker it will be difficult to match.

There will presumably come a point when Fulham boss Silva starts to bite his tongue over the perceived injustices being meted out to his side.

He has not arrived at that stage yet.

When VAR Harrington indicated to referee Michael Oliver that Ake’s header should stand, the Fulham manager erupted.

Bernd Leno raced from his goal to tell Oliver he had been impeded by Manuel Akanji, who made a play for the ball as Ake’s header went past him. Leno could hardly be claimed as a neutral witness but TV replays did indicate the German’s movement in making a save began after the ball went past Akanji.

Silva was still complaining to fourth official Michael Salisbury long after play restarted, which itself took an age as the players continued to argue around the centre circle.

Having now lost 15 successive games to this particular opponent, Fulham were not expected to claim victory.

However, their chances were hardly helped by the absence of star man Joao Palhinha, whose hoped for move to Bayern Munich fell through on Friday afternoon, even though he had travelled to Germany passed his medical, posed in a Bayern shirt and carried out in-house interviews.

Eighteen-year-old academy product Luke Harris will have learned from his extended appearance, although that came at the expense of an injury to captain Tom Cairney, which, all in all, contributed to a day Fulham would probably prefer to forget ever happened.

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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