Mohamed Salah scored a stunning goal as Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-0 yesterday and kept their noses in front of Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.
Champions City held top spot for a couple of hours after they won 3-1 at Crystal Palace, with Raheem Sterling scoring twice. But a Sadio Mane header and a brilliant strike from Salah gave Liverpool a vital home win over fourth-placed Chelsea.
The result restored Liverpool’s two-point lead at the top, though City have a game in hand.
“It’s really big,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said.“It’s another big game we have won. We have to concentrate on ourselves, work hard on the training pitch and the focus is on the next game.
“We are enjoying it and that’s the main thing.” With City winning at Palace earlier in the day, Liverpool knew they could not afford to slip up.The home side dominated possession in the first half but Chelsea held firm in defence to keep it goalless at the break.
But two goals in three minutes turned the game in Liverpool’s favour. First Mane headed Henderson’s cross into the net for the opener on 51 minutes before Salah rifled in an unstoppable shot from 25 metres to double their lead.
Eden Hazard hit the post for Chelsea and forced a good save from Alisson but Liverpool held on to keep themselves in front.City avoided a potential banana skin as they won 3-1 at Palace, with Sterling scoring the first two goals, before Gabriel Jesus added a late third.
“We controlled the ball really well but one moment in the game and they are back in it,” Sterling said. “But we responded again and got the third goal.”“We always knew coming here in the past that it’s a difficult place to come. We got two goals but knew we couldn’t switch off.“We kept pushing and kept making it difficult — glad to get the third goal. We knew we had to be on it from the first minute.”
Sterling had City 2-0 up by the hour mark, having earlier missed a simple chance to open the scoring.The England forward put the champions in front after 15 minutes but Palace, who won at City earlier in the season, held out for the rest of the half.
Sterling doubled the lead on 63 minutes but Luca Milivojevic gave Palace hope with a clever free kick nine minutes from time. Palace had a couple of half-chances to threaten an equaliser but Jesus dashed any hopes of a comeback with the third, although replays suggested he was marginally offside.
“This pressure is incredible,” City manager Pep Guardiola said of the title run-in as they bid to win every trophy possible this term.“We are fighting to be champions back to back. In two seasons we’ve got 83 points with five games left. We’ve won two titles (Community
Shield and League Cup) and now it’s the FA Cup final. Sterling said he expects the title race to go right down to the final day.“100 per cent, the way Liverpool have been playing,” he said.
“It will go down to the wire. I don’t see us slowing down now. Liverpool have a great squad, great self-belief, but so do we.” Palace remain 13th and manager Roy Hodgson had no complaints about the result.
“We got better as the game went on and in the second half we gave it a good shot,” he said.
Crystal Palace 1 (Milivojevic 81) Manchester City 3 (Sterling 15, 63, Jesus 90)
Liverpool 2 (Mane 51, Salah 53) Chelsea 0 Courtesy:ThePeninsula