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English Premier League

Wolves 0- 1 Manchester United

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Marcus Rashford turned from villain to hero as he came off the bench to score the only goal against Wolves and move Manchester United into the Premier League top four.

Manager Erik ten Hag left Rashford out of his starting line-up for “internal disciplinary” reasons.

But after a disappointing opening period, in which Rashford’s replacement Alejandro Garnacho wasted the visitors’ best chance when his shot was saved by Jose Sa, the England man scored 14 minutes from time.

Rashford picked the ball up outside the Wolves area, then, after exchanging passes with Bruno Fernandes, held off three defenders before driving home his 11th goal of the season in all competitions.

It was the first time he had scored in three successive games for United since December 2019.

The result ended Julen Lopetegui’s two-match winning start as Wolves manager and kept them in the relegation zone.

However, they came so close to snatching a point in stoppage time when Raul Jimenez’s goal-bound header was turned away at point-blank range by David de Gea.

The availability of loan signing Matheus Cunha for Wednesday’s West Midlands derby at Aston Villa cannot come soon enough for a side that struggles so badly to turn impressive approach play into goals.

Lopetegui said: “The way they fought a big team like Man Utd, in the end, I thought we deserved more.”

Ten Hag proved with his treatment of Cristiano Ronaldo that reputation would not get in the way of reinforcing team discipline.

Evidently, Rashford’s indiscretion was not on a serious scale as he was named on the bench, but, given Garnacho, was stopped from playing during the club’s pre-season tour because of persistent lateness, Ten Hag would view his actions as confirmation the same rules apply to all players, no matter what their status.

As it turned out, Garnacho produced a decent first-half display but, with United failing to make the most of limited opportunities, Rashford replaced the 18-year-old at half-time.

Ten Hag has made it clear he wants striking reinforcements this month. In their absence, Rashford remains United’s most potent goal threat.

The determination he showed to drive through so many defenders and score his latest effort indicates a hunger that was absent for much of last season.

Rashford thought he had a second near the end but his close-range effort was ruled out for handball after Sa saved his initial shot.

The win moved Manchester United into the top four at full-time, the first time they have been in the Champions League qualification places this season.

Ten Hag said: “We made a good step today – the first time we are in the top four but it means nothing.

“We have to win every game. We want to try and win something. It depends on hard work from everyone.”

In his first league home game in charge of the Wolves, Lopetegui was a demonstrative presence on the edge of his technical area.

If not quite as manic as Tottenham manager Antonio Conte, the former Sevilla boss was open with his feelings.

That included demanding a yellow card for Casemiro when he blocked Ruben Neves off during the first half, then letting the fourth official know it should have been two as referee Rob Jones finally a yellow card to the Brazilian when he fouled Daniel Podence.

Once he calms down from such injustices, Lopetegui will know – as he always has – the answer to Wolves’ problems comes through finding the net.

Lopetegui said: “We have to improve. I believe in my players. But it is not about one or two players. It is a team task. If we have more chances, we may score more.”

Diego Costa worked hard for little reward before the break and, until Jimenez was introduced once the Spaniard was replaced, there was no focal point for the Wolves midfield to play to.

Neves almost pulled one of his wonder strikes out of his repertoire to put the hosts in front, but De Gea was equal to that, just as he was when Jimenez’s stoppage-time effort was heading into the net.

source – BBC Sport

English Premier League

Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle United

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Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle United

Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle United. Rasmus Hojlund broke his 10-game scoring drought to seal victory for Manchester United in a thrilling Old Trafford encounter with Newcastle.

Anything other than a win for Erik ten Hag’s side would have condemned them to their lowest league finish in 34 years.

Instead, they go into the final day needing to better Newcastle’s result to claim a place in next season’s Uefa Conference League, although they will qualify for the Europa League if they beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley on 25 May.

Kobbie Mainoo put the home side in front after 31 minutes when he applied a cool finish from 10 yards after being played onside by Kieran Trippier.

Anthony Gordon levelled four minutes after the restart and Manchester United needed a brilliant tackle from Sofyan Amrabat to stop them from going behind as Alexander Isak failed to finish a three-on-one counter.

Amad Diallo drove home his first Premier League goal just before the hour mark as Newcastle failed to clear a corner to put Manchester United back in front, although Eddie Howe’s visitors were inches away from an equaliser as Miguel Almiron just failed to turn home a low cross from the excellent Gordon at the far post.

It was left to Hojlund to settle home nerves, stepping to his right before sending a low finish into the bottom corner for his 15th goal of the season.

However those nerves still jangled a bit, as Newcastle left-back Lewis Hall fired home from the edge of the box in the second minute of stoppage time but the home side held on.

Newcastle need a final-day win at Brentford to be certain of a top-seven finish for the first time in two decades.

Newcastle’s appalling Old Trafford record gets no better and on the journey back to the North East they will reflect on a chance missed to get the draw they craved.

Even Manchester United, a team who have made an art form of tossing away winning positions late in games, could not be pegged back, despite Hall’s excellent injury-time effort.

Much of the damage was self-inflicted. There was simply no excuse for a player as experienced as Trippier, looking straight down the line to be so far back to allow Mainoo to score.

And then, having equalised, Newcastle pressurised Aaron Wan-Bissaka into an error, found themselves with three men up against a desperate Amrabat, who was alone in chasing back, and somehow failed to get themselves in front as Isak’s effort was blocked.

Gordon certainly did not deserve to be on the losing side and must have impressed watching England coach Steve Holland with his direct running and invention.

His low cross for Almiron should have brought Newcastle a goal but the Paraguayan could not apply the final touch at the far post.

He was inches away, as was Dan Burn’s first-half header that Casemiro headed off the goal-line just in time.

Newcastle have now won once in 29 visits to this stadium and European qualification now relies on the failings of others.

After all the grief he received for his positioning on Sunday against Arsenal, Casemiro was a surprise starter in central defence given Lisandro Martinez was available and had demanded to play against the Gunners.

Martinez’s conversation with Ten Hag before this game could only be guessed at and when the Brazilian wandered into midfield in the opening minutes and then gave the ball away to set up a dangerous Newcastle counter attack, the selection was under even greater scrutiny.

Yet rather than drifting out of the game, Casemiro delved into his vast experience to play a starring role for the remainder of the first-half.

Perfectly positioned to head Dan Burn’s header off the line barely a couple of inches before it became a goal, Casemiro then produced a brilliant tackle on Anthony Gordon that denied Newcastle a shooting chance with only Andre Onana to beat.

Howe was convinced his side should have had a penalty as part of that move and presumably shared the sentiments of Wolves in questioning the validity of VAR as Jarred Gillett opted against overruling Rob Jones’ on-pitch decision that Sofyan Amrabat had not illegally impeded Gordon.

Casemiro also went close with an overhead kick and when he sees the replays may wonder if Trippier will be subjected the same vilification as he has received over the past three days.

The overall outcome means Manchester United have something to play for on the final day, which did not always look like being the case.

And, as Ten Hag pointed out at the start of his side’s lap of appreciation, his side finish their season at Wembley in the FA Cup final against Manchester City, when he promised his side “will give everything”.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Brighton 1-2 Chelsea

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Brighton 1-2 Chelsea

Brighton 1-2 Chelsea. Cole Palmer’s brilliant season with Chelsea continued as his goal helped the Blues boost their European qualification hopes with a win at Brighton in the Premier League.

Palmer netted his 22nd league strike of the season, meeting Marc Cucurella’s cross with a looping header into the far corner in the 34th minute.

And the visitors added a second 14 minutes after the restart when Christopher Nkunku coolly dispatched Malo Gusto’s cutback.

Having been so dominant Chelsea gifted Brighton a way back into the game when substitute Reece James – playing just his second match in 2024 after coming back from a long-term injury – was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Joao Pedro.

In the 97th-minute Danny Welbeck netted to halve the deficit, tapping in a Pedro cross, but the visitors held on.

Chelsea moved up to sixth in the table and currently sit in a Europa League spot.

They will guarantee a place in Europe next season if they claim a point at home to Bournemouth on the final day.

Brighton fell to a seventh defeat in ninth matches but remain in 10th place.

Palmer is one of the signings of the season. Before he joined Chelsea from Manchester City in the summer, the 22-year-old had never scored in the top flight.

In this campaign he has managed 22 goals and 10 assists in 33 league games.

Palmer’s side had the better of the first half and were given an early penalty when referee Michael Salisbury adjudged Facundo Buonanotte to have fouled Cucurella in the penalty area.

That call was eventually overturned after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) advised Salisbury to look at the pitchside monitor.

And VAR was called into action again towards the end of the first half to uphold Salisbury’s decision to disallow a Nicolas Jackson headed finish, after the Chelsea striker pushed Tariq Lamptey in the build-up.

Palmer, though, once again shone in an eventful game that was sparked into life when James reacted to a Pedro tackle and caught the Brighton striker’s leg with his studs.

But Chelsea managed to hold on, scraping a fourth consecutive win for the first time since 2022.

With a three-point gap to Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino’s side could even finish the season as high as fifth if results fall their way on Sunday.

It would mark an incredible recovery as the Blues were ninth in the league and 13 points behind Spurs when they lost 5-0 to Arsenal last month.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal

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Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal

Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal. Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League and ensured the title race will go to the final day with victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Gunners delivered an unconvincing display against a severely depleted United side but did enough to secure the win that puts them one point ahead of Manchester City having played a game more.

Leandro Trossard struck after 20 minutes when lazy defending from struggling veteran Casemiro played Kai Havertz onside and his cross was turned in by the Belgian at the near post.

United showed plenty of endeavour but suffered from a glaring lack of quality and never seriously tested Arsenal keeper David Raya, as their own hopes of European football next season faded further.

Arsenal must now hope north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur do them a favour by getting a result at home to Manchester City on Tuesday.

The Gunners host Everton in their final game of the season next Sunday, while City are at home to West Ham.

Co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe chose to cast another eye over Erik ten Hag’s struggling side rather than travel to Wembley to watch United win the Women’s FA Cup for the first time.

It is hard to work out what Ratcliffe would have learned from watching another home defeat – other than it simply re-affirming the size of the job he has on his hands lifting this fallen football giant.

United’s squad, hardly fit for purpose when all players are available, was stripped of key assets such as captain Bruno Fernandes, who watched from the directors’ box with a pained expression.

Ten Hag, his smart suit soaked by a torrential downpour amid a thunderstorm that hit Old Trafford late on, will point to his lack of resources – and rightly so on this occasion.

But the fact United were unable to cause Arsenal keeper Raya any serious problems was a sobering lesson in the current state of the Red Devils.

Kobbie Mainoo tried to galvanise the hosts’ midfield while Alejandro Garnacho ran tirelessly out wide, but it was a tough afternoon for young striker Rasmus Hojlund, who got very little change out of Arsenal defensive duo William Saliba and Gabriel.

United are a club that needs a reboot and re-invigoration and – while this was not the day to make judgements on Ten Hag – it is becoming increasingly difficult to see how the Dutchman can be part of the new era and structure under Ratcliffe.

The elation of Arsenal’s fans at this vital win was not dampened by the storm that arrived in Manchester just before the final whistle as skies darkened and lightning flashed around the stadium.

Arsenal know Manchester City’s fate still lies in the champions’ own hands and two wins against Spurs and West Ham will take a fourth successive title to Etihad Stadium.

Mikel Arteta’s side, however, have done all they can and two hazardous-looking fixtures – away to Spurs in the north London derby and here at United, where they have suffered before – have been safely negotiated.

No matter that this was an Arsenal display lacking their usual fluency – at this stage of the season the only currency that counts is wins and the visitors did the job.

Once again Trossard made the difference with a trademark swoop at the near post ahead of Casemiro and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for the decisive moment.

Arsenal will now hope Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou is as good as his word and they can somehow raise themselves to upset City.

The Gunners still have a chance of their first title in 20 years going into the final game of the season – and they would have happily settled for that in August.

source – BBC

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