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Man United close in on Champions League spot, Firmino saves Liverpool

premier league afc bournemouth v manchester united
Manchester United's Casemiro celebrates scoring the winning goal

Midfielder Casemiro scored a brilliant acrobatic volley to give Manchester United a 1-0 Premier League win at Bournemouth on Saturday that took them closer to Champions League football next season.

United moved to 69 points in fourth place in the table, behind Newcastle United on goal difference.

The visitors dominated the opening exchanges and went ahead in the ninth minute when Cherries defender Marcos Sensesi tried to hook away a Christian Eriksen pass behind the defence, but only succeeded in teeing up Casemiro for a brilliant spinning volley.

The home side found their feet midway through the first half as Dominic Solanke controlled a long ball into the box and unleashed a shot that David De Gea had to dive to his left to save.

That sparked a positive spell for Bournemouth, with Victor Lindelof forced into a number of defensive headers, but they were soon on the back foot again as United took control again in the second half.

The visitors had plenty of chances without adding another goal and were almost made to pay when substitute Kieffer Moore and Senesi both went close late on, but United held on for a win that prompted wild celebrations from the travelling supporters.

Elsewhere, Roberto Firmino scored a dramatic late equaliser to keep Liverpool’s slim chances of a top-four Premier League finish alive with a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Brazilian, in his final appearance at Anfield after eight seasons with the Merseyside club, scored in the 89th minute to the delight of the crowd in Liverpool’s last home game of the season.

Juergen Klopp’s side are fifth with 66 points with one game remaining, but three points adrift of fourth-place Manchester United who have a game in hand. Unai Emery’s Villa are seventh with 58 points from 37 games.

Jacob Ramsey put Villa ahead in the 27th minute, after a period of sustained pressure, darting to the back post to head a cross from Douglas Luiz past goalkeeper Allison.

Villa could have taken the lead five minutes earlier when they were awarded a penalty, but Ollie Watkins sent his shot sailing wide.

Liverpool thought they had levelled early in the second half from a close-range goal by Cody Gakpo, but after a lengthy VAR check it was ruled out for offside.

Liverpool must win their final game at Southampton next week, and hope that Man United and Newcastle United lose their remaining two games to secure a Champions League berth.

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