LONDON: Liverpool closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to one point as the quadruple chasers pushed Everton deeper into relegation trouble with a 2-0 win, while Chelsea beat West Ham 1-0 to ease their top four anxiety on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s side had to work hard to break Everton’s stubborn resistance in a fractious Merseyside derby at Anfield.
They couldn’t muster a shot on target until Scotland defender Andrew Robertson scored with a second-half header. Divock Origi’s late strike ensured Liverpool kept the pressure on champions City, who had crushed Watford 5-1 on Saturday to move four points clear at the top. With five games left for both Liverpool and City, the title race looks destined to go down to the wire.
Liverpool, trying to become the first English club to win all four major trophies in one season, now turn their attention to Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Villarreal. “A football game has two halves; thank god. In the first half, we didn’t pass quick enough. At half-time, I told the players it was easy to improve. We had to work hard for it, but all good,” Klopp said. “There are not a lot of points we can drop, the next one is always waiting around the corner. That is the situation we are in.”
Everton have lost eight successive away games for the first time since 1948 and are in grave danger of relegation to the Championship. Frank Lampard’s men were dumped into the relegation zone by Burnley’s 1-0 win against Wolves earlier in the day. They sit two points behind Burnley with a game in hand as they try to avoid playing in the second tier for the first time since 1954.
“The gameplan was understanding they are one of the best teams in the world. We wanted to be disciplined. If we get the first goal, the game feels different,” Lampard said. “We have to take that spirit forward to the final games. We’ll give everything until the end.”
In the 62nd minute, Origi combined with Mohamed Salah, who crossed to the far post for Robertson to head his second goal this season. Origi, a regular scorer against Everton, grabbed the second goal with a close-range header in the 85th minute as Liverpool made it 12 wins from their last 13 league matches.
Pulisic to the rescue
At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea looked set for more angst on home turf when Jorginho’s penalty was saved by Lukasz Fabianski. But Christian Pulisic came off the bench to inspire third-placed Chelsea, lifting them seven points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the fight to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish. A 4-2 defeat against Arsenal on Wednesday had condemned Chelsea to three successive losses at the Bridge for the first time since 1993, sparking fears they could fall out of the top four.
In the 87th minute, Thiago Silva flicked a header towards Romelu Lukaku, prompting Craig Dawson to concede a penalty with a pull on the substitute. Dawson was initially booked before being sent off after a VAR check, but West Ham avoided further punishment as Jorginho’s weak spot-kick was easily saved by Fabianski. Pulisic spared Jorginho’s blushes in the 90th minute as the United States forward met Marcos Alonso’s cross with a clinical low finish from 10 yards. “It feels like a giant step. We have some games in hand. It was necessary and I’m glad,” Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said.
Burnley boosted their bid for a remarkable escape act as they moved into 17th place thanks to Matej Vydra’s 62nd-minute strike from a Wout Weghorst cross at Turf Moor. Since Sean Dyche’s surprise sacking after 10 years in charge, Burnley’s caretaker boss Mike Jackson has taken seven points from three games to revive their hopes of beating the drop. James Ward-Prowse scored twice as Southampton came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Brighton. – AFP