English Premier League: Liverpool end losing run to close in on top four

10:20 PM Mar 01, 2021 | FPJ News Service

Sheffield: Liverpool ended their four-match losing run and moved to within two points of the top four with a 2-0 win at Sheffield United.

The heroics of Sheff Utd goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale had frustrated Liverpool as he made five first-half saves, including two in as many minutes to deny Mohamed Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum.


Liverpool eventually found a way past Ramsdale on 48 minutes when Phil Jagielka's clearance from a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross fell invitingly for Jones to stroke in just his second Premier League goal.


Oliver McBurnie then passed up a great chance to equalise, heading Oliver Norwood’s cross wide, before Liverpool made their hosts pay.

Roberto Firmino danced through the Sheff Utd defence and hit a shot that deflected in off Kean Bryan for an own goal.

The win could have been greater had Salah not missed an open goal from a tight angle late on.

Liverpool move a point behind fifth-placed Chelsea, their next opponents, while Sheff Utd stay bottom, 15 points from safety.

The 20-year-old academy graduate Curtis Jones made the breakthrough for Liverpool in the 48th minute when he fired in off Trent Alexander-Arnold's deflected cross. There was a brief check for whether the ball had gone out of play in the buildup but there was no conclusive evidence that it had.

Oliver McBurnie sent a header wide in Sheffield's best chance of levelling the score before Liverpool made it 2-0 in the 64th.

Roberto Firmino weaved through the defense before hitting a shot which took a deflection before going past Ramsdale. The Premier League ruled it was an own-goal for Sheffield's Kean Bryan, meaning Firmino went a seventh game without a goal in the league and Champions League.

"We should have scored three times before we scored the two goals, so it just shows that how we created was really good," Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp told Sky Sports.

"The finishing was good enough for today but we know we can improve that still."

The second goal took the game out of reach for a Sheffield team with just three league wins all season as Liverpool marked its first league game without conceding a goal since a 0-0 draw with Manchester United on Jan. 17.

Man U's title bid drifts away

London: Former champions' Manchester United's bid to hit the top met with yet another set back as they were held to goalless encounter against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge, here on Sunday.

It was the fifth time United has been held in the nine Premier League matches since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side went top 47 days earlier.

No wonder Solskjaer downplayed the elevated status, even after the Jan. 12 victory over Burnley gave United a glimmer of hope of ending an eight-year title drought.

With only three wins since then, United has allowed Manchester City to take control - with City showing the attacking strength completely lacking in United's display at Stamford Bridge.

"We were both quite sort of safe," United defender Luke Shaw said.

"I don't think we created too many chances. So a bit disappointed with that. We needed to win because obviously the gap's getting bigger."

United does remain second in the standings, but City has now been able to extend its lead to 12 points after beating West Ham on Saturday.

It is fourth-place West Ham in Chelsea's sights. Drawing a blank in a drab encounter against United kept Chelsea unbeaten in the two months under Thomas Tuchel but the west London club remained a point behind West Ham in the pursuit of Champions League qualification.

Man United wants to be achieving more than just top-four finishes but its record against the biggest six teams has been dismal. Not a single goal has been scored all season by United from open play in the league against City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and, of course, Chelsea.

"We are not scoring enough," Solskjaer said.

"The next step for this team is to win these games."

United was left grumbling about the refereeing at Chelsea after not being awarded a penalty in the first half for what looked like handball by Callum Hudson-Odoi.

"I'm a bit concerned that we don't get those penalties after the noises that were made a month or two ago about us getting penalties," Solskjaer said.

"So clearly there is a point of managers influencing the referees which they shouldn't do."

The manager even claimed a "cheeky" item on the Chelsea website was "influencing referees" which pointed to how United captain Harry Maguire had "survived VAR reviews" of fouls on their players in recent encounters.

"What they are saying about Harry Maguire puts pressure on the referees to give penalties against us," Solskjaer said, deflecting attention away from the ineffective attack featuring Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.

Shaw went much further with a claim about what referee Stuart Attwell told Maguire.

"I heard the ref say to H, If I give a pen it's going to cause a lot of talk after,'" Shaw said.

"H was told it was a pen by VAR, but I'm not going to moan."

Tuchel pointed out that United striker Greenwood had actually handled the ball.

"You see this one second on the iPad and I see it on the field live," Tuchel said.

"I don't understand why he needs to check it, but I'm glad it's not a penalty because it would have been even worse."

A game that ended with Christian Pulisic being deployed from the bench as Olivier Giroud's replacement to lead the attack offered little attacking quality.

"Now it is a moment to hang in and to show performances every three or four days which demands a lot," Tuchel said.

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