Gerrard's homecoming ends in defeat; Ronaldo scores as Man United beat Norwich

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard (right) and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah greet each other after the game at Anfield on Saturday. — AFP
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard (right) and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah greet each other after the game at Anfield on Saturday. — AFP

Liverpool - Manchester City edge 10-man Wolves, while Chelsea see off Leeds



By AFP/Reuters

Published: Sun 12 Dec 2021, 12:23 AM

Mohamed Salah’s penalty ensured Steven Gerrard’s return to Liverpool as Aston Villa manager ended in a 1-0 defeat while Manchester City and Chelsea also needed spot-kicks to avoid slipping up in the Premier League title race on Saturday.

City edged 10-man Wolves 1-0 thanks to Raheem Sterling’s controversial winner, while Chelsea required two Jorginho spot-kicks to see off Leeds 3-2.

Gerrard was given a subdued reception at Anfield as the former Liverpool captain faced his old side for the first time in his playing or coaching career.

Villa were largely outplayed, but stayed in the game thanks to a combination of dogged defending, good goalkeeping from Emiliano Martinez and a couple of calls in their favour from referee Stuart Attwell, who dismissed two first-half appeals for a Liverpool penalty.

However, Gerrard’s men did not escape for a third time when Tyrone Mings pulled down Salah inside the box 25 minutes from time.

Salah smashed home his 21st goal in 22 games this season to ensure Liverpool remain just one point behind City at the top of the table.

“The first 75 minutes was incredible football,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. “We played in the spaces we wanted to play but we did not finish the situations which is tricky.”

The champions had fortune on their side to see off Wolves thanks to Sterling’s 100th Premier League goal.

Wolves boss Bruno Lage was furious as Raul Jimenez was dismissed for two quickfire yellow cards before half-time.

The Mexican was booked for a trip of Rodrigo and then sent off for preventing the Spaniard taking a quick free-kick.

“The first yellow card is a crazy decision for me, in my opinion. A hard decision to accept,” said Lage.

The visitors’ anger was compounded by the origin of the winning goal as Joao Moutinho was judged to have handled Bernardo Silva’s cross despite the ball appearing to come off the Portuguese midfielder’s body onto his upper arm.

Sterling showed no mercy as he coolly slotted home from the spot to bring up his century of Premier League goals.

“His contribution to this club is massive,” said City boss Pep Guardiola, who has routinely left the England international out over the past year. “He is back scoring goals, has confidence. It’s good.”

Chelsea needed late drama at Stamford Bridge to prevent their title challenge stumbling for the fourth time in six games.

Leeds took the lead through a penalty of their own converted by Raphinha.

Mason Mount levelled for the European champions and order seemed to have been restored when Jorginho slotted home the first of his two spot-kicks just before the hour mark.

However, an injury-ravaged Leeds hit back once more when teenager Joe Gelhardt came off the bench to level with his first touch seven minutes from time.

But four minutes into stoppage time a third penalty of the game was awarded for Mateusz Klich’s challenge on Antonio Rudiger.

Jorginho has missed a number of high-profile penalties for Italy of late, but is yet to miss for his club this season and converted to keep Chelsea just two points off the top.

“We needed this win desperately, for the belief, for the mood and for the atmosphere,” said Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.

“I’m very happy with how we got it, how we played. Now we have two days off and it creates a good feeling for the boys.”

Arsenal shrugged off the absence of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang due to a disciplinary issue to ease past Southampton 3-0.

Aubameyang was not included in Mikel Arteta’s squad after reportedly missing training on Friday.

The Gunners comfortably bounced back to winning ways as Alexandre Lacazette and Martin Odegaard struck before half-time.

Gabriel then rounded off the scoring on 62 minutes as Arsenal moved up to fifth and within one point of the top four.

RONALDO PENALTY

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo converted a 75th-minute penalty to give Manchester United a barely deserved 1-0 win at Norwich City after the visitors struggled to create chances at Carrow Road.

The result lifted United to fifth place in the standings on 27 points from 16 games, behind fourth-placed West Ham United on goal difference, while Norwich stayed bottom on 10 points.

Ralf Rangnick will be pleased United kept a second successive clean sheet in the league under his tenure but they lacked cutting edge until Ronaldo drove in the spot-kick after he was hauled down by home defender Max Aarons.

Ronaldo saw a shot beaten away by Tim Krul in the 37th minute and the home goalkeeper also tipped over a Harry Maguire header on the stroke of halftime after Alex Telles hit the bar with a deflected free kick early on.

United fizzled out in the second half and Norwich looked more likely to break the deadlock as David De Gea kept out a Teemu Pukki shot from the edge of the area before Ronaldo struck, sending Krul the wrong way.

The home side piled on pressure in the closing stages and De Gea rescued United again when he clawed out an Ozan Kabak header before Eric Bailly deflected a Billy Gilmour shot with a last-gasp lunge. — AFP/Reuters


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