Liverpool's title bid rocked by Everton, Man United survive Blades scare

Second-placed Liverpool remain three points behind Arsenal, who have a vastly superior goal difference


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Liverpool's Argentinian midfielder Alexis Mac Allister (10) reacts after the match against Everton. — AFP
Liverpool's Argentinian midfielder Alexis Mac Allister (10) reacts after the match against Everton. — AFP

Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 1:59 AM

Liverpool's Premier League title bid suffered a devastating blow in a 2-0 defeat at Merseyside rivals Everton, while Manchester United spared Erik ten Hag's blushes with a 4-2 victory against lowly Sheffield United on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp's side were beaten at Goodison Park for the first time in 14 years in a brutal setback to their hopes of catching leaders Arsenal.

Jarrad Branthwaite put Everton ahead in the 27th minute as the defender prodded the ball under Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker via the post after the Reds made a hash of clearing a free-kick.

With Liverpool's Mohamed Salah once again struggling to convert chances to equalise, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin delivered the knockout punch with a 58th-minute header.

Second-placed Liverpool remain three points behind Arsenal, who have a vastly superior goal difference, with both sides having four games left.

Third-placed Manchester City, who visit Brighton on Saturday, will be crowned English champions for an unprecedented fourth successive season if they win their last six matches.

Liverpool have reportedly opened talks with Feyenoord's Arne Slot to take over from Klopp, whose long goodbye looks set to end with a whimper.

It hardly the scenario Klopp envisioned when Liverpool beat Chelsea in the League Cup final in February.

Back then, his team were in contention for a quadruple that would have capped his final season in spectacular fashion.

Instead, the end of Klopp's nine-year reign is becoming a damp squib, with Liverpool knocked out of the FA Cup quarterfinals by Manchester United and losing to Atalanta at the same stage of the Europa League as their title challenge evaporates.

At Old Trafford, Ten Hag's side twice trailed to the league's bottom club before Bruno Fernandes came to his beleaguered manager's aid in the second half.

Jayden Bogle put the Blades ahead and although Harry Maguire equalised before half-time, Ben Brereton Diaz restored the visitors' advantage soon after the interval.

Fernandes bailed out Ten Hag with a penalty equaliser before the Portugal midfielder's long-range rocket put United in front with nine minutes left.

Rasmus Hojlund got United's fourth to ensure they could finally enjoy a first league win in five games since beating Everton on March 9.

It was a temporary reprieve for Ten Hag, who hopes to salvage sixth-placed United's dismal season by winning the FA Cup and finishing high enough to qualify for the Europa League.

Ten Hag endured stinging criticism after United stumbled into the FA Cup final with a spluttering penalty-shoot win after blowing a three-goal lead against second tier Coventry on Sunday.

The Blades are 10 points from safety with only four games left as they sink towards relegation just one year after promotion from the Championship.

Referee Stuart Attwell was embroiled in further controversy after contentiously disallowing a Wolves goal in Bournemouth's 1-0 win at Molineux.

Attwell was already in the spotlight for his role as VAR in denying Nottingham Forest three penalties in Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Everton, which led Forest to insinuate bias as he supports relegation rivals Luton.

This time, he adjudged Matheus Cunha to have fouled Justin Kluivert in an off-the-ball incident in the build up to Hwang Hee-chan's second-half equaliser, which looked to have cancelled out Antoine Semenyo's opener.

It was not spotted in real time but Attwell opted to give the foul following advice from VAR Darren England to watch it again on the pitchside monitor.

Attwell remained in the thick of the action as he showed a straight red card to Bournemouth defender Milos Kerkez for a foul on Matt Doherty.

Jean-Philippe Mateta scored for a fifth consecutive home match to fire Crystal Palace to a 2-0 win over Newcastle.

Mateta broke the deadlock at Selhurst Park with a smart 55th-minute finish before he added a second late on to end Newcastle's four-match unbeaten run and damage their prospects of securing European football for next season.


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