EPL

Mohamed Salah nets winner as Liverpool keep slim top-four hopes alive

By Sports Desk May 03, 2023

Liverpool turned up the pressure on Manchester United with a 1-0 victory over Fulham moving them four points off fourth place as Mohamed Salah’s winner edged him even closer to a Steven Gerrard record.

There was none of the drama or histrionics of Sunday’s 4-3 win over Tottenham in bringing up a fifth successive Premier League victory for the first time since April last year.

Salah’s 39th-minute penalty, his second in successive games after back-to-back misses, took him to 185 goals for the club, one behind Gerrard, while also going fifth on the club’s list of all-time league scorers with 136.

Manager Jurgen Klopp’s behaviour in the technical area was the very model of exemplary following a Football Association misconduct charge for comments about Sunday’s referee Paul Tierney.

He was perhaps making the most of his time on the touchline as he has until Friday to respond to the charges and, having already served a one-match ban this season, the punishment could be much more severe.

Klopp had written in his programme notes that going 3-0 up inside the opening 15 minutes against Tottenham – a match they eventually went on to win with an added-time goal – had given them some problems.

And although they set off looking like they might replicate that with Trent Alexander-Arnold alone having three attempts on goal in the first 10 minutes, they lacked some of the sharpness they had shown at the weekend.

Also, Fulham were also more organised than their fellow Londoners and that kept opportunities down to half-chances at best.

Alexander-Arnold’s advanced position stepping into midfield allowed him to get closer to his opponents’ goal but, unusually for him, he was off target with two attempts with another hit tamely at goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Salah, whose cross just evaded Darwin Nunez eight yards out, weaved his way past a couple of defenders close to the byline but could not find the target from a narrow angle, while Luis Diaz also had a shot deflected wide.

Liverpool’s mastery of control in the opposition half was almost absolute, regularly winning back possession before Fulham had time to begin the semblance of an attack, but in their own final third it was much less so.

Virgil Van Dijk had to slide in to turn Harry Wilson’s cross behind after the former Liverpool winger had broken into the space behind Kostas Tsimikas, with Carlos Vinicius exploiting Ibrahima Konate’s hesitation to force a good save out of Alisson Becker.

When the breakthrough arrived it was no surprise it came from a counter-press after Nunez had initially lost possession 15 yards outside Fulham’s penalty area.

Tosin Adarabioyo squared a short pass to Issa Diop but the centre-half, back in the team due to Tim Ream’s season-ending injury, dawdled in making his clearance and Nunez was on him like a shot to nick the ball off his toes with the Frenchman’s swing at fresh air catching the forward’s back leg as he went past him.

Referee Stuart Attwell pointed to the spot and Salah scored an identical penalty to the one against Spurs, blasted straight down the middle.

The second half was much of the same, with Liverpool exerting most of the pressure without really pressing home their advantage.

That made their slender lead vulnerable and Alisson had to save well from Vinicius to prevent the equaliser with 13 minutes remaining to keep their slim Champions League qualification hopes alive.

They are, however, still relying on United to drop points as their arch-rivals have two matches in hand, starting at Brighton on Thursday.

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  • David Moyes hopes West Ham over ‘difficult period’ after long-awaited win David Moyes hopes West Ham over ‘difficult period’ after long-awaited win

    David Moyes hopes West Ham have turned a corner after finally beating bogey side Brentford 4-2.

    On a night of firsts, Jarrod Bowen scored a first career hat-trick to ease the pressure on boss Moyes after a rotten run of eight matches without a win.

    The Hammers won their first match of 2024, with Bowen scoring his first goals since before Christmas and becoming the first Hammers player to hit a treble at the London Stadium.

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    “Most teams have difficult periods in the Premier League. Manchester City have, Liverpool have, so West Ham are certainly going to be no different,” said Moyes.

    “We’ve struggled to get our best team out, but overall if we can get our better players out there we can compete with most teams.”

    Bowen scored twice inside the opening seven minutes before Neal Maupay pulled one back for the Bees, who had beaten West Ham in all five of their previous Premier League meetings.

    Bowen headed his third midway through the second half and Emerson Palmieri hit a 20-yard rocket before Yoanne Wissa pulled another back.

    “I’m really pleased for Jarrod, his performances have gone unnoticed as we’ve not been playing well,” added Moyes.

    “Tonight it happened for him, his all-round play, the way he was working, he was a threat all night and hopefully the goals will get him back in (England manager) Gareth (Southgate’s) thinking.

    “If you can play wide and you’re a goalscorer you will be of interest to the international manager.”

    Maupay, Brentford’s premier wind-up merchant, was seen having a heated discussion with Hammers coach Kevin Nolan as the teams came back out of the tunnel for the second half.

    “I actually didn’t know who the row was with, I thought maybe it was with the fourth official. I didn’t see it so I can’t really tell you anything about that,” said Moyes.

    Brentford, already plunged deeper into the relegation scrap earlier on Monday following Everton’s points deduction being reduced from 10 to six, suffered another defeat – their 12th in 15 matches since beating West Ham at home in November.

    “Today we didn’t hit a good level individually and collectively. West Ham hit a good level, Bowen was unplayable, Emerson hit the top corner and we lost 4-2,” was boss Thomas Frank’s blunt assessment.

    “I need to watch the game back because one of the things we’ve been good at is consistent performances. There are very few games where we don’t perform to a certain level and this was only the third this season we’ve been below our level.

    Asked whether the Everton situation had an effect, Frank replied “Absolutely not.

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  • Jarrod Bowen hat-trick inspires West Ham to victory over Brentford Jarrod Bowen hat-trick inspires West Ham to victory over Brentford

    Jarrod Bowen scored a hat-trick as West Ham beat bogey side Brentford 4-2 to ease the pressure on David Moyes.

    The Hammers won their first match of 2024, with Bowen scoring his first goals since before Christmas, to end a miserable run of eight games without a victory which had prompted more questions about the manager’s future.

    Played five, lost five was their sorry Premier League record against Brentford, the only team of the 43 Moyes had faced in the top flight and not previously beaten.

    Finally the rot was stopped as Brentford, already plunged deeper into the relegation scrap earlier on Monday following Everton’s points deduction being reduced from 10 to six, suffered another defeat – their 12th in 15 matches since beating West Ham at home in November.

    Where this West Ham have been for the past two months is anyone’s guess. They should have led after only three minutes when James Ward-Prowse flicked on Vladimir Coufal’s cross, only for Tomas Soucek to blaze over from six yards out.

    But moments later they did go ahead when Ward-Prowse sent Emerson Palmieri down the left wing.

    The Italian defender pulled the ball back for Bowen, who took a touch before lashing his shot past Mark Flekken.

    Bowen, who had not scored a Premier League goal in seven matches, suddenly had two inside the first seven minutes.

    This time Coufal found the England hopeful 10 yards out and he calmly slotted past Flekken to double the lead.

    But the Bees were stung into action and responded in the 13th minute through Neal Maupay, who stole in to score his fifth goal in as many starts against the Hammers.

    West Ham looked for a third before half-time, but Soucek missed his kick in front of goal, fit-again Lucas Paqueta volleyed wide and a Mohammed Kudus drive was held by Flekken.

    It had not been a particularly niggly half, but Maupay, Brentford’s premier wind-up merchant, seemed to say something which riled Hammers coach Kevin Nolan as they came back out of the tunnel, with Bees defender Mathias Jorgensen separating the pair.

    Ivan Toney was inches away from an equaliser when he just failed to get a touch to an inviting cross from Keane Lewis-Potter.

    Instead, in the 64th minute, Bowen completed his treble – the first by a West Ham player at the London Stadium – with a simple header from Kudus’ cross.

    Home keeper Alphonse Areola saved a Frank Onyeka volley down low at his near post before the Hammers grabbed their fourth in style.

    Another Kudus cross was headed out to Emerson, 20 yards out, and the full-back launched a rocket past Flekken into the top corner.

    Bees substitute Yoane Wissa pulled another back late on and Areola denied Toney in stoppage time as West Ham held on for a win which was almost as impressive as it was unexpected.

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