EFL

Championship: Leeds United pull clear of chasing pack

By Sports Desk February 22, 2020

Leeds United beat Reading 1-0 at Elland Road to move five points clear of the chasing pack in the race for automatic promotion from the Championship.

Third-placed Fulham were held 1-1 by Derby County on Friday and Brentford in fourth played out a 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

Nottingham Forest and Bristol City also dropped points, drawing 0-0 with QPR and losing 3-0 to leaders West Brom respectively, with the Baggies maintaining their four-point gap on Leeds.

Elsewhere, Wigan Athletic and Barnsley picked up wins to boost their survival hopes.

LEEDS, WEST BROM PULLING AWAY

Pablo Hernandez's 57th-minute strike earned Leeds back-to-back 1-0 home wins.

West Brom appear over their mid-season wobble after making it four wins in five matches with a comfortable victory.

Callum Robinson put Slaven Bilic's side on course for an 11th away win of the campaign with a fortuitous opener and Hal Robson-Kanu netted twice, either side of Romaine Sawyers' straight red for grabbing Jamie Paterson by the throat.

CHASING PACK FALTER

Brentford fought from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Blackburn as they joined west London rivals Fulham in dropping points.

Ollie Watkins scored an impressive volley and Said Benrahma netted from the penalty spot to cancel out Adam Armstrong's double.

Forest missed out on the chance to move up to third after failing to break down QPR in a stalemate at City Ground, while Preston North End recovered from a goal down to beat Hull City 2-1.

HOPE FOR WIGAN, BARNSLEY

Shaun Hutchinson's own goal was enough for Wigan to earn just an eighth league win of the campaign at home to Millwall, while Barnsley built on their shock 3-0 win at Fulham last weekend with a 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough.

Wigan and Barnsley are now two and five points adrift of 21st-placed Huddersfield respectively following the Terriers' 3-1 defeat at Swansea City.

Luton Town are now occupying bottom place, with Lyle Taylor's double earning Charlton Athletic a 3-1 win.

Elsewhere, a Callum Paterson own goal and a scrambled finish from Joe Allen saw Stoke City earn a 2-0 home win against Cardiff City that leaves them three points clear of the drop-zone.

SIX-GOAL THRILLER AT ST ANDREW'S

Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday remain locked on 45 points following a 3-3 draw.

Garry Monk was denied a winning return to one of his former clubs by Scott Hogan's equaliser in added time, the Aston Villa loanee's fourth goal in five matches.

Wednesday had twice battled back from a goal down before Jacob Murphy put them in front, but they are now winless in six outings.

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  • Premier League data dive: Alisson the hero as Liverpool take Champions League box seat Premier League data dive: Alisson the hero as Liverpool take Champions League box seat

    Champions League qualification is all that is left to be settled in the Premier League, and there was another huge twist on Sunday.

    With Liverpool heading for what could have been a costly draw at relegated West Brom, an unlikely hero cropped up in the form of goalkeeper Alisson.

    Before Alisson's heroics at the Hawthorns, Crystal Palace overcame Aston Villa, Tottenham kept on their push for a European finish by beating Wolves, while Everton's dismal home form continued with what Carlo Ancelotti labelled an "embarrassing" defeat to lowly Sheffield United in the late game.

    Using Opta data, we take a look at the best facts from across Sunday's games.

    Crystal Palace 3-2 Aston Villa: Mitchell completes Eagles comeback

    Sunday kicked-off with what turned out to be a five-goal thriller – Palace coming from behind twice to win 3-2. Villa have lost four of their last seven Premier League matches when scoring first (W1 D2). Prior to this, they had won 12 of their first 13 league matches this season after netting the game's opening goal.

    Palace scored three goals in a Premier League match for the first time since their 5-1 win over West Brom in December, while they did so at Selhurst Park for the first time since beating Leeds United 4-1 in November.

    There were 42 attempts at goal in this match (23 for Palace, 19 for Villa), with only Manchester United's 6-2 defeat of Leeds seeing more in a Premier League game this season (43).

    Tyrick Mitchell became Palace's youngest top-flight scorer (21y 257d) since Clinton Morrison in May 1998 against Sheffield Wednesday (18y 361d), while he is the youngest to score and assist in a Premier League game for the club since George Ndah in January 1995 against Leicester (20y 22d).

    Mitchell scored the winner after teeing up Christian Benteke – only Olivier Giroud (32) has scored more headed Premier League goals than the Belgian (31) since the start of 2012-13.

    John McGinn and Anwar El Ghazi netted for Villa, but Wilfried Zaha's 11th goal of the season, his most in a single top-flight campaign, levelled the scores before Mitchell's winner.

    Tottenham 2-0 Wolves: Kane keeps on golden boot charge as Spurs aim for Europe

    Harry Kane struck as Tottenham moved into the top six with a 2-0 win over Wolves. Kane has now scored 22 goals and provided 13 assists in the league this season – the only players who can better his 35 goal involvements in Europe's top five leagues are Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi.

    Kane has also hit the woodwork nine times in the Premier League this season, the most since Kevin De Bruyne in 2016-17 (also nine). Since full shot data is available for the Premier League (2003-04), the only player to hit the woodwork more in a season is Robin van Persie in 2011-12 (10).

    Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg set up Kane's opener and then got Spurs' second just after the hour, scoring and assisting in a Premier League game for the first time in his 145th appearance.

    Tottenham have now won each of their first three home league matches under Ryan Mason, making him the first Spurs boss to do so since Harry Redknapp in November 2008.

    Meanwhile, since winning three of their first five away games in the Premier League in 2020-21, Wolves have only won two of 13 on the road in the competition (D5 L6).

    West Brom 1-2 Liverpool: Alisson makes Reds history

    Liverpool's Champions League chances were hanging by a thread as they won a late corner at the Hawthorns, but the most unlikely hero rescued three points.

    In Liverpool's entire history since they were founded in 1892, Alisson is the first goalkeeper to ever score a competitive goal for the club, after he headed in Trent Alexander-Arnold's delivery.

    His goal was Liverpool's latest Premier League away winner (94:18) since Benteke vs Crystal Palace in March 2016 (95:10), while the Brazilian scored the very first headed goal by a goalkeeper since the formation of the competition in 1992.

    Hal Robson-Kanu put West Brom ahead with his first Premier League goal since November 2017, the Welshman having last started a top-flight game in December of that year.

    Mohamed Salah equalised with an excellent first-time finish, his 125th goal for Liverpool in all competitions, and he is still level with Spurs' Kane in the race for the golden boot.

    Liverpool have now won six of their last eight Premier League games (D2), the same number as they registered in their 19 top-flight games beforehand (W6 D5 L8), and with Chelsea and Leicester City meeting this week, the Reds are in a strong position to snatch a Champions League spot.

    Everton 0-1 Sheffield United: Toffees' European hopes fall flat

    European qualification may be finally beyond Everton now after they suffered their ninth home defeat of the campaign – their joint-worst total in a league season, alongside 1912-13, 1947-48, 1950-51 and 1993-94.

    Bottom club Sheffield United picked up only a second win from their past 24 away league outings (D3 L19), and ended a run of seven straight Premier League defeats on the road since beating Manchester United 2-1 in January.

    Only Fulham (four) have earned fewer home points in the Premier League in 2021 so far than Everton's tally of six (P11 W1 D3 L7), with the Toffees' one win the joint-fewest on home soil in the competition this calendar year (level with Burnley and Fulham).

    Daniel Jebbison (17y 309d) marked his full Premier League debut with the winner, the teenager becoming the youngest player to ever score on his first start in the competition, breaking Danny Cadamarteri's (17y 343d) record set for Everton against Barnsley in September 1997, which was also scored at Goodison Park.

    Jebbison is also the youngest player to score a match-winning goal in a Premier League game since Federico Macheda (17y 232d) in April 2009.

  • Klopp reveals his role in dramatic Alisson winner against West Brom Klopp reveals his role in dramatic Alisson winner against West Brom

    Jurgen Klopp has revealed his role in Alisson's "world class" late winner against West Brom: not telling the Liverpool goalkeeper to head back to his own box.

    The Reds goalkeeper kept his team's hopes of Champions League qualification on track as he headed in a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner to make it 2-1 in injury time at the Hawthorns on Sunday.

    In doing so, the Brazilian became the first goalkeeper in the club's 129-year history to find the back of the net in a competitive fixture.

    But, when asked if he had called for his No.1 to go up for his big moment, Klopp replied: "No, I looked at the corner. I don’t exactly know. I saw Ali starting [to go up]. 

    "My part of the goal is that I didn’t shout, 'Stay back!' I just let him run. 

    "The last minute of the game, nobody has to ask usually a ‘keeper to go in the opposite box when you have to win, which we obviously had to. 

    "He went there and what a goal! It was incredible. Wow. We saw it now already 10 times back in the dressing room. It's absolutely incredible. 

    "If Olivier Giroud scores a goal like this everybody says it's a world-class goal. When Alisson is doing it, we have to say the same."

    After scoring, Alisson was swamped by team-mates who are fully aware of what he has been through during a difficult year that was made even more testing by the loss of his father.

    On that reaction, Klopp added: "The way that his team-mates showed today how much they like him is the best description. 

    "He is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful person and [he is] funny, smart, thoughtful, intense in moments. 

    "He is just a great guy and it couldn't have been for a better person to have such a special moment after all that he went through. I am really, really happy for him."

    Klopp did not only have good news to share as he reflected on a big win, though, the German revealing that Liverpool have been hit by two further injury blows.

    And they mean Diogo Jota and Ozan Kabak will not feature in the remaining two games of the season against Burnley and Crystal Palace.

    He continued: "Diogo, I don't know actually. As I said, it is not too serious but as always, you have to wait [to see] how it develops, how it heals. 

    "It is a little bone in the foot and we have to see. I think he will now be in a boot for two weeks or so and when he gets out of the boot then the doctors will check how it developed, how far the progress is, so I don't know that but of course, it is not a top moment. 

    "Ozan isn't in the long-term [injuries] but nobody is coming back, I think."

  • 'I hope he was here to see it' – Emotional Alisson pays tribute to father after dramatic goal 'I hope he was here to see it' – Emotional Alisson pays tribute to father after dramatic goal

    Alisson paid an emotional tribute to his father and family after scoring a last-gasp winner in Liverpool's vital 2-1 victory over West Brom.

    The Brazilian became the first goalkeeper to score a competitive goal in the club's 129-year history as he nodded home Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner deep into stoppage time.

    Touching scenes followed at full-time with the 28-year-old, who lost his father in tragic circumstances in February, seen fighting back tears as he embraced his team-mates.

    And he later hailed his goal as an uplifting moment in what has been a testing year on a personal level.

    "I'm too emotional these last months for everything that happened with me, my family," he told Sky Sports.

    "But football is my life, I played since I remember with my father. I hope he was here to see it; I'm sure that he saw with his God at his side, celebrating. 

    "For my family, for the boys, what a fight! Sometimes, we are fighting, fighting and things just are not happening, as with this afternoon here. 

    "Scoring this goal, I'm really happy to help because they really fight a lot, we fight a lot together, and we have a strong goal to achieve the Champions League. 

    "We won it once and you know that everything starts with qualification, so I can't be more happy than I am now."

    Alisson went on to thank players, managers and clubs across the Premier League for reaching out during his lowest moments.

    The Brazil international declared that he would not have been able to move on from his father's death without such shows of support.

    He added: "I've been away from interviews for a long time, it was a difficult time because always when I talk about it I get emotional. 

    "I just really want to thank all of you, all the Premier League, all the players, I receive letters from managers, from teams. 

    "For example, Everton and [Carlo] Ancelotti, all the players, Manchester City, Chelsea. I don't want to be not fair with the others that I don't remember. 

    "I just want to say thank you to everybody for the support, if it wasn't for you I could never get through this. 

    "I'm away from my family since the thing happened, I mean my mother. My wife has been amazing with me and my kids give me energy.

    "This is the way God loves us, through people, and we should do that every time every day. I just want to say thank you in this moment."

    He also explained how his remarkable winner at the Hawthorns came about, revealing that Liverpool's goalkeeping coach played a key role. 

    He continued: "I tried to look at the bench but nobody called me and then John Achterberg called me with conviction and it was the perfect time. 

    "The cross was brilliant, I tried to put my head on the ball and I think it was one of the best goals I saw. It's the best I ever scored! 

    "I don't know how to celebrate and hopefully I don't need to come so many times to the box to score a goal. 

    "Hopefully our players will do that for me and I just have to think to defend and help them there."

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