LONDON: Liverpool’s Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah vies with Fulham’s English-born US defender Antonee Robinson and Italian-born Nigerian defender Calvin Bassey at Craven Cottage on April 21, 2024.— AFP
LONDON: Liverpool’s Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah vies with Fulham’s English-born US defender Antonee Robinson and Italian-born Nigerian defender Calvin Bassey at Craven Cottage on April 21, 2024.— AFP
Liverpool win at Fulham to reignite title challenge
Forest fume after Everton defeat, Aston Villa tighten grip on top four

LONDON: Liverpool got their Premier League title challenge back on track with a 3-1 win at Fulham on Sunday to move level on points with leaders Arsenal. The destiny of the title remains in Manchester City’s hands with the defending champions one point behind the top two with a game in hand.

However, Liverpool and Arsenal have put the pressure on Pep Guardiola’s men by bouncing back from shock defeats last weekend. Jurgen Klopp said ahead of the game at Craven Cottage that the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota from injury was what gave his side “a chance” at clawing their way back into the title race.

Both were on target, either side of Ryan Gravenberch’s first Premier League goal. Klopp took the brave decision to rest a series of first-team regulars among five changes to the side that won 1-0, but failed to overturn a 3-0 first leg deficit against Atalanta in the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday.

Mohamed Salah, Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Curtis Jones and Ibrahima Konate dropped the bench. Alexander-Arnold was one of the few shining lights in Bergamo and was restored for his first Premier League start in over two months.

The England international showed the quality the Reds have been missing when he curled in a stunning free-kick to open the scoring on 32 minutes. Liverpool failed to hold onto the lead until half-time as the defensive lapses that have cost them in recent weeks reappeared. Timothy Castagne swept home a loose ball into the far corner after Rodrigo Muniz’s header was blocked. Klopp had his stellar cast of substitutes warming up after a sluggish start to the second period.

But one wayward pass from Alex Iwobi cost Fulham. Harvey Elliott intercepted on his return to Craven Cottage and teed up Gravenberch to curl in from the edge of the area. Jota then made the points safe with his 100th goal in English football when his low effort had too much power for Bernd Leno 18 minutes from time. Two more away trips at local rivals Everton and West Ham await Liverpool in the next six days. But with just five more games of the Klopp era to come, they remain at least in the hunt to give the German a glorious goodbye to his transformative time at Anfield. — AFP

Earlier, Aston Villa tightened their grip on Champions League football next season with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth as Nottingham Forest launched an astonishing rant at the officiating in their 2-0 defeat to Everton on Sunday.

Villa shrugged off the exertions of having to go to extra-time and penalties in midweek to book their place in the Europa Conference League semi-finals against Lille. Unai Emery’s men even had to come from behind after Dominic Solanke opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

Morgan Rogers’ fine finish just before half-time proved to be the turning point. Moussa Diaby slotted in from Ollie Watkins’ pass to put Villa in front.

Watkins was the provider once more for Leon Bailey to tap in to seal the points 12 minutes from time. Victory takes Villa six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham. Spurs have two games in hand but still have to play all of title challengers Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool in their final six matches.

Forest enraged

Everton took a giant stride towards extending their 70-year stay in the English top-flight in a highly controversial victory over Forest. Idrissa Gueye and Dwight McNeil scored the goals that took the Toffees five points clear of the relegation zone.

Forest remain just one point above the bottom three and were left dismayed at being denied three strong penalty appeals. The club’s official account on social media platform X called into question the Premier League’s integrity by claiming the VAR official is a fan of relegation rivals Luton.

“We warned the PGMOL (referees’ governing body) that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game but they didn’t change him,” Forest said in a statement said. “Our patience has been tested multiple times. NFFC will now consider its options.” David Moyes’ future as West Ham manager looks more uncertain after they were thrashed 5-2 at Crystal Palace. Fresh from their shock 1-0 win at Liverpool last weekend, the Eagles scored four times inside the first 31 minutes. Michael Olise headed in the opener before Eberechi Eze’s spectacular acrobatic effort found the roof of the net.

Emerson Palmieri’s own goal made it 3-0 before Jean-Philippe Mateta struck twice for Palace either side of half-time. Michail Antonio’s strike and a Tyrick Mitchell own goal was scant consolation for West Ham as a miserable day rounded off a poor week after they were dumped out of the Europa League by Bayer Leverkusen.

The Hammers could have gone sixth with victory but now need a reaction to finish even in the top 10 having played more games than the sides around them. Liverpool are aiming to get their title challenge back on track later when Jurgen Klopp’s men visit Fulham. Victory will take the Reds level on points with leaders Arsenal. Klopp has responded to signs of fatigue from his side in recent weeks by dropping Mohamed Salah to the bench among five changes. — AFP

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