CARDIFF CITY 0 LIVERPOOL 2
April 21 (Reuters)- Liverpool regained their place at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win at Cardiff City on Sunday that restored their two-point lead over Manchester City.
Juergen Klopp’s side, who have lost just once in the league all season, have 88 points, a club record in the Premier League era, while City, who beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on Saturday, are on 86 but have a game in hand.
That extra game for City will be played on Wednesday when Pep Guardiola’s side travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United and the champions will make the short trip with the pressure firmly back on.
Against a Cardiff side battling for Premier League survival, it was a confident, patient performance from Liverpool who have now enjoyed nine straight wins in all competitions.
“It was prepared to be a proper banana skin and we knew that, the boys were unbelievable. It was clear, difficult for all of us,” said Klopp.
“The boys try really with all they have, we only speak about the things we have to do.”
“Their attitude is outstanding and it’s a tough season but a very positive one as well,” added the German.
Cardiff defended deep and in numbers and limited Liverpool’s opportunities but Roberto Firmino missed a great chance to open the scoring in the 22nd minute, finding himself one-on-one with keeper Neil Etheridge but lifting the ball over the bar.
Etheridge was then quick off his line to save with his legs from Mohamed Salah while Cardiff offered a warning when Alisson Becker tipped over Oumar Niasse’s close-range effort.
After an intense spell of pressure following the interval, Georginio Wijnaldum broke the deadlock for Liverpool in fine style with a first-time strike from a clever short corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold. Sean Morrison then missed a golden opportunity for relegation-threatened Cardiff to equalise, making a hash of a header when he had an open goal at his mercy after Alisson misjudged a cross.
Late in the game, Morrison was judged to have pulled down Mohamed Salah in the box and substitute James Milner converted the 81st-minute penalty to make sure of the crucial three points for Klopp’s side.
Liverpool’s ability to avoid slip-ups against lowly opposition has been a key part of their season — they have taken 52 points from a possible 54 against teams in the bottom half of the table.
Cardiff remain in 18th place, the final relegation spot, and are three points behind 17th placed Brighton & Hove Albion, having played a game more.
ARSENAL 2 CRYSTAL PALACE 3
April 21 (Reuters) – Crystal Palace put a dent in Arsenal’s Champions League qualification hopes after strikers Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha made the most of defensive errors in a 3-2 win at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The visitors took a shock early lead inside 20 minutes when captain Luka Milivojevic’s freekick found an unmarked Benteke, who headed it past Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno for his first league goal since April last year.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery responded with the introduction of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi at the start of the second half but it was Mesut Ozil who scored the equaliser after a sweeping move.
The German playmaker combined with Iwobi and striker Alexandre Lacazette before scooping the ball past Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.
But Arsenal paid for a lapse in concentration at the back as Zaha took advantage of Shkodran Mustafi’s error in judgement to grab the lead for the visitors, before Palace added a third with a headed goal from James McArthur.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reduced the deficit for the hosts with his 19th league goal of the campaign to set up a pulsating final 10 minutes but Palace held on to end Arsenal’s 16-match unbeaten run at home in the league.
The result ensured Palace’s Premier League status for another season as they moved to 12th spot in the standings with 42 points.
“It’s nice to get over the 40-point marker and to have safety mathematically confirmed,” Palace manager Roy Hodgson said.
“Our defensive shape was fantastic. We remained compact and narrow. We made it difficult to find spaces behind us. I then thought on the counter-attack we were remarkably dangerous.”
Hodgson was particularly impressed by Benteke’s return to the scoresheet after 19 league games and now expects the Belgian striker to finish the season with a flourish.
“Christian Benteke must be very confident after today’s performance,” the manager added.
“It wasn’t the fact he scored and set one up, he worked tirelessly and did a job offensively and defensively. He and Wilfried Zaha will feel they really did a job for the team.
“For Christian who’s had a rough time with injuries and not scoring the amount of goals he wants maybe with the final few games he will score a few more.”
Arsenal remain fourth but fail to take advantage of defeats for Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United earlier this weekend.
EVERTON 4 MANCHESTER UNITED 0
A woeful Manchester United suffered their fifth straight away defeat, in all competitions, with a 4-0 Premier League hammering at the hands of a vibrant Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.
United did not manage a shot on target until the 86th minute as they fell to their sixth loss in eight games since their memorable victory at Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League.
The euphoria felt in Paris and at the start of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign seems a distant memory after a performance that lacked not only quality but aggression and fire.
United must now somehow pick themselves up in time for the visit of Manchester City to Old Trafford for the derby on Wednesday.
For Marco Silva’s improving Everton, in seventh place, this was their third top six scalp in as many home games following victories over Chelsea and Arsenal.
Brazilian Richarlison fired Everton ahead in the 13th minute with an acrobatic high volley after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked on a long throw.
Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with a low drive from over 25 yards out that United keeper David De Gea was slow to react to as the home side ran rampant.
Solskjaer took off the ineffective Fred for Scott McTominay at the break while Ashley Young came on for the injured Phil Jones at the back but the change in personnel made no difference to the flow of the game.
Everton were faster, sharper and more aggressive while United’s midfield pair of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba were spectators for most of the game.
Lucas Digne then blasted in the third in the 56th minute after De Gea punched out a corner to the French full-back with United struggling to get even a foot in the game.
Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson then put substitute Theo Walcott through with a clever pass through the legs of Victor Lindelof which the former Arsenal striker confidently converted.
“The first goal was the key,” said Sigurdsson.
“After that we defended really well. It was important for us to get the next goal after going 2-0 up. It gave us constant belief and we controlled the game after that,” he added.
United, eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona on Tuesday, remain in sixth, outside the four qualification spots for next season’s campaign.
The Red Devils have not lost five straight away games since 1981 and they ran 8.03 km less than Everton.