Jurgen Klopp insisted Liverpool would keep fighting for the Premier League trophy after a 1-1 draw with Tottenham dealt their title hopes a huge blow.

It could have been worse for Klopp's team, who fell behind to a close-range strike from Son Heung-min but kept going and snatched a draw thanks to Luis Diaz's deflected shot.

Liverpool had 22 shots to Tottenham's eight, but only three of those efforts from the Reds hit the target, with 13 blocked as Tottenham produced a doughty defensive effort.

The point took Liverpool top of the table, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference, but their title rivals have a game in hand and that comes on Sunday when Pep Guardiola's men face Newcastle United.

Klopp told BT Sport: "I'm really happy with the performance and proud of the mentality we showed against an incredibly good opponent with a game plan.

"I said before the game we have to win. I thought we had a few things today that were on a different level. The counter-press was absolutely outstanding.

"They scored a goal, and we had to keep our calm and increase the pressure. That's a massive challenge, but we did, and we scored an equaliser. It was not the result we wanted, but it was the performance I wanted, so from that point of view I'm fine."

Klopp even suggested Liverpool had it in their thoughts that they might score a goal such as the one Diaz came up with.

"We said before the game that the box would be full, so we need to give the deflection a chance," Klopp said.

His team were in midweek Champions League action, battling past Villarreal to reach the Champions League final on Tuesday night in Spain, keeping hopes of a quadruple alive.

That four-trophy bid has taken a knock, and a 12-game winning streak in the league at Anfield has been halted, but Klopp is not giving up on the dream outcome.

He said: "It's incredibly difficult to play against an opponent with world-class players and a world-class manager, and they have a full week to prepare, and we play every three days. But I'm really fine with the performance, and we will keep going.

"The dressing room is not flying at this moment, but come on, it was always clear something like this could happen. It's not that we need now tomorrow a defeat of City against Newcastle. There are other games to play, and we just have to keep going."

Neither side could be particularly happy with the final outcome, given three points for Tottenham would have lifted them to fourth, above north London rivals Arsenal who they will face on Thursday. Liverpool are back in action against Aston Villa on Tuesday.

Son said Tottenham delivered a "really good" display and described the reward as "a big point", albeit saying he was "gutted" Tottenham did not take advantage of a late chance when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was unable to find Harry Kane.

South Korean forward Son is Tottenham's leading scorer this term and took his Premier League tally for the campaign to 20, making him just the second Tottenham player to hit 20 or more goals in a season without having a penalty among the haul, after Gareth Bale in 2012-13 (21 goals).

Son has scored (12) and been involved in (17) more Premier League goals than any other player in 2022.

"It was a good team play and very proud, but it should be more," Son said. "The point is always good at Anfield, it's a really, really difficult place, but hard work has paid off."

Tottenham are itching to be involved in the Champions League next season, and whether they reach that objective may yet affect the future of key personnel.

"I want to play Champions League next season, this is clear in our minds," Son said, "so I think it was a big, big point."

Next comes the Arsenal derby, and Son said: "It's a big game like today, but we are playing at home, so we should take advantage. We need to prepare for four days and go for it, give everything we have and see what happens."

Luis Diaz spared Liverpool a rare Anfield defeat, but a 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Saturday represents a major blow to the Reds' title ambitions.

Son Heung-min left the famous old stadium shaken early in the second half when he tucked in from close range to give Antonio Conte's visitors a shock lead.

That was his 20th league goal of the season, and Liverpool knew anything other than a win would put City within sight of the Premier League trophy.

Liverpool have an unprecedented quadruple in their sights, and Diaz's deflected strike for an equaliser in the 74th minute just about kept the dream alive, but hopes might be fading. They go top for now, level on points with a City side who have a game in hand, against Newcastle United on Sunday.

Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane had early shots blocked, before Virgil van Dijk nodded wide after getting on the end of an outswinging Andy Robertson corner from the left.

A misdirected defensive header from Ryan Sessegnon almost gave Salah a tap-in, but Hugo Lloris was alert to the danger.

Van Dijk headed against the top of the Tottenham crossbar from a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner, before Luis Diaz drew a save from Lloris with a fizzing low strike. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg served a reminder of the visitors' threat when his skidding drive hit the outside of the left post.

Liverpool were full of purpose, swarming and probing early in the second half for the big chance that might bring a breakthrough.

However, they were stunned by Son in the 56th minute, when he slotted past Alisson after Kane's pass to Ryan Sessegnon on the left was followed by a sharp centre to the unmarked South Korean.

Jurgen Klopp threw on Diogo Jota, looking for a spark, and Salah soon had a great chance as he cut inside on his left foot, only for Ben Davies to produce a glorious block.

Diaz hit the equaliser when his 22-yard strike took a massive deflection past Lloris, finding the bottom-left corner, and try as they did, Liverpool could not find a second.

Manchester City have become a shock suitor for disgruntled Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Pogba, 29, has previously spoken about regretting his move to Old Trafford, and had been expected to leave the Premier League in the upcoming transfer window, being strongly linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid.

While the Frenchman has highlighted his desire to compete for trophies, he may not have to leave the city to get his wish, with a chance to insert himself into Manchester football folklore if he ditches the red for sky blue.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TO OFFER POGBA FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH FREE TRANSFER

The Daily Mail is reporting City have interest in bringing in Pogba on a free transfer, while the Guardian claims the French midfielder would like to work with Pep Guardiola, and that the club are willing to offer a four-year deal.

If he makes the move, Pogba would be arguably the biggest name to ever make the switch, rivalling Carlos Tevez, but the Guardian report notes he would be taking a pay cut in doing so.

It is not known if offers coming from Spain would be more lucrative financially, but arguably no team can offer a better chance at European and domestic success than City.

In 154 Premier League appearances since his arrival in 2016, Pogba has scored 29 goals and laid on 41 assists.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting Brighton and Hove Albion manager Graham Potter is considered the favourite to replace Antonio Conte at Tottenham if he is to leave at the end of the season. Brighton are said to be seeking compensation of £10million from Spurs in the agreement.

Manchester United are interested in 19-year-old French striker Hugo Ekitike from Reims, according to the Daily Mail.

– Football London is reporting Chelsea are considering a move for Torino defender Gleison Bremer.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Monaco will not accept less than €70m for Liverpool defender Aurelien Tchouameni.

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting Liverpool have agreed to a £7m deal for Fulham's 19-year-old Portuguese forward Marco Silva.

Antonio Conte urged Tottenham to enjoy the pressure of the Premier League's top-four race as he claimed his side did not expect to be in contention back in November.

Nuno Espirito Santo lasted just four months in charge of Spurs before his dismissal on November 1, with the north London club eighth in the Premier League, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Conte, who departed Inter after guiding the Nerazzurri to the Scudetto last season, replaced the Portuguese coach and became the first Spurs manager to go unbeaten in his first eight league games.

However, Spurs' form nosedived in February, with Conte losing four of five top-flight games for just the third time in his managerial career.

That led to questions over Tottenham's credentials for Champions League qualification, but slip-ups by Arsenal in April allowed Spurs to temporarily occupy fourth place, even if they could not fully capitalise.

Spurs lost against Brighton and Hove Albion after Arsenal were defeated by Southampton, before being held by Brentford as they dropped further ground in the top-four race.

Across those two games, Tottenham failed to register a single shot on target but responded with a 3-1 win over Leicester City in their most recent game, keeping them two points behind Arsenal with four games to play.

Conte acknowledged his side must deal with the pressure as they head towards the crunch period of the season, with a meeting against Mikel Arteta's side coming in the penultimate week of the campaign.

"It can happen in one or two games in a row, you can struggle," the Italian told reporters. "It can happen for many reasons. Maybe sometimes the pressure starts to become strong and you need to be used to this sort of pressure.

"Before these two games against Brighton and Brentford, we were behind the others but when we reached fourth place and we tried to defend this position, we have these strange performances. 

"But I think that this team and group of players are improving every aspect and also at dealing with the pressure.

"I think that we have to enjoy this time and this race. I repeat it was very hard to predict at the start of the season and November that Tottenham could compete for the Champions League.

"We have to enjoy with the right pressure and try to have a game for our fans and the people that watch the game."

Conte's side next visit Liverpool on Saturday at Anfield, where the Reds have lost just one of their last 27 Premier League games against Spurs.

However, Tottenham are the top scorers across their last 16 top-flight games, albeit they have either scored multiple goals (in 11 matches) or failed to find the net (five matches) in that period.

"I think that since November until now, you can see the stats, they’ve improved a lot since November," Conte added. "The goals we scored, the goals we conceded, the chances we created.

"It happened in the last two games against Brighton and Brentford that we weren't able to score. But I think in every game we create a lot of chances and score a lot of goals and the fans see us play football.

"I think the game against Liverpool will be interesting. We play a game face to face against a team that likes to be offensive, and we like to be offensive."

Asked whether Spurs fare better against bigger teams due to the space for Harry Kane and Son Heung-min to counter, Conte responded: "No. I can tell you that we played Chelsea four times this season and we lost four times.

"This comparison is not right. We lost four times to Chelsea and they are on the level of Man United, Man City and Liverpool. I think this is not the reason.

"For sure, when you play against [bigger] teams the pressure is very high but at the same time you enjoy this type of game because you play against a really strong team.

"And in these types of games you can also make an evaluation about your level and progress you made in these months.

"I think in this aspect it will be important not only to get points but to understand our level and the level we have reached, in these types of games and against these types of monsters."

Jurgen Klopp has questioned UEFA's allocation of tickets for the Champions League final, where Liverpool will face Real Madrid.

The game at the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris will be played on May 28, and both participating clubs have been allocated fewer than 20,000 tickets each to sell to fans, despite the capacity of the stadium being 75,000.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Liverpool's Premier League clash with Tottenham, Klopp was asked about the impact of the travelling Reds support this season, and he was keen to point out the ticket issue.

"When you see the ticket prices and all this kind of stuff, the amount of tickets you get only... did I read, is it right that we only get 20,000, they get 20,000, [but] 75,000 in? That makes 35,000, what? Where are these tickets?," he asked.

"I cannot be more appreciative, more thankful for what [the fans] are doing. Unbelievable... It is the only bad thing about the journey [fans struggling to obtain tickets]. I really hope they all can make it somehow and can create an incredible atmosphere.

"That is what I love about this game, really. The world will be red or white, but everybody will be either or, so that's really cool."

The game will be a repeat of the 2018 Champions League final, in which Madrid ran out 3-1 winners in Kyiv thanks to Gareth Bale's brace and a Karim Benzema goal.

Mohamed Salah was forced off injured following a crude Sergio Ramos challenge early in the contest, and the Egyptian has not held back in his assertions that the Reds want revenge this time around.

Salah posted: "We have a score to settle" on social media on Wednesday, before also saying when he received his Football Writers' Player of the Year award on Thursday: "We lost in the (2018) final, it was a sad day for all of us and I think it is revenge time."

Klopp was not quite as forthright, though he did pay tribute to Madrid's astonishing semi-final win against Manchester City, when Los Blancos came from 5-3 down on aggregate heading into the 90th minute of the second leg to win 6-5 after extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"When we lost that final actually my favourite solution would have been to play the final the next year against Real Madrid, to be honest," Klopp admitted. "But we faced Tottenham [in 2019, winning 2-0], which was absolutely fine, in Madrid, so Madrid seems to be our destiny.

"It was strange and unlucky for City, but what Madrid did was outstanding. They got through against Paris Saint-Germain, against Chelsea, and against City, when we said before when we played Villarreal that if you knock out Bayern, you deserve to be in the semi-final, if you knock out these three [teams], you definitely deserve to be in the final.

"It will be great. That we were not happy that night, that's clear, but it was a while ago. I'm happy to go there and give it a try. Until then, we have a lot of games to play and you will ask a lot of questions about Real Madrid until then.

"What Carlo [Ancelotti] did there is absolutely incredible. If you go to a final the idea is you want to win it and that is what we'll work on the week before."

Jurgen Klopp has praised the impact of Luis Diaz since his arrival at Liverpool, describing the Colombian forward as "world-class".

Diaz made the move to Anfield from Porto in the January transfer window for a reported initial fee of £37.5million (€45m), with a further £12.5m (€15m) in add-ons, and he has played a key role in Liverpool's pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple.

The 25-year-old has five goals and three assists from 21 appearances in all competitions for the Reds so far (13 starts), and he has averaged more dribbles attempted per 90 minutes (5.16) and has a higher successful dribble percentage (61.64) than any other Liverpool forward this season.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of his team's Premier League clash with Tottenham, Klopp stated how important the decision had been to bring Diaz in when they did, with the player making a key contribution on Tuesday when Liverpool came from 2-0 down against Villarreal to win 3-2 in their Champions League semi-final second leg and book their place in the Paris final against Real Madrid.

"Unbelievable impact," Klopp said. "There is enough space in each squad in the world for a world-class player, which is what Luis is. That's why we were so desperate to get him, and that's why we were so happy that we could... Thank God we made that decision because it helped everywhere.

"He communicates with everybody without really speaking the language. Okay, we have the Spanish [speakers] and they are really close, they helped him so much… But he's really close with Curtis [Jones] and Harvey [Elliott], I have no idea how they talk. On an emotional basis they are like this (tight), and they were after a week."

As they try to hunt down Manchester City in the Premier League title race, Liverpool go up against a Spurs team on Saturday who have their own aims, with Antonio Conte's men trailing Arsenal by two points as they seek a place in the top four.

Klopp understands the challenge his team will face at Anfield, where Liverpool are unbeaten in 21 league games, having won each of their last 12.

"Massive, massive test," he insisted. "If I were to watch from the outside I would think 'That will be difficult, eh?'

"Tottenham have massive quality. They are, especially away from home, not too bothered about having the ball, they defend compact, and then obviously [have] some of the best counter-attacking players in the world, so we need to find solutions for that."

The former Borussia Dortmund boss was also asked about title rivals City, and whether their agonising Champions League elimination to Real Madrid on Wednesday could have an effect in the Premier League.

City were 5-3 ahead on aggregate going into the 90th minute in the Santiago Bernabeu before two Rodrygo goals forced extra time, with a Karim Benzema penalty clinching the win for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

"With all the things we know about City I would rather think [that the defeat will make them more focused]," he said. "Yes it was a massive blow, I think everybody was ready to switch the television off, then all of a sudden part two started. That was really harsh I can imagine.

"But they will be ready [for Newcastle on Sunday]."

Football in May really can be all or nothing. Some teams have nothing left to play for beyond pride, while others have everything on the line in the closing weeks of the season.

It is safe to say that Liverpool's clash with Tottenham at Anfield on Saturday is in the latter category.

Liverpool remain in the hunt for an astonishing quadruple having already won the EFL Cup and booked their place in both the FA Cup and Champions League finals, while sitting just a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Tottenham, meanwhile, are still in with a chance of securing Champions League football for next season with a top-four finish. They are currently in fifth place, two points behind north London rivals Arsenal.

Such is the precarious position of both teams as they chase glory, any slip-up will in all likelihood spell the end for their hopes and dreams in the league, which sets up their Anfield battle nicely.

Who will end the night with their season still on track, and who will end it wondering if there is any chance of recovering? Stats Perform takes a look at the Opta numbers heading into what should be a fascinating contest.

Reds capable of blunting Spurs

With Liverpool's home record over the years, it feels like most games at Anfield start with people explaining how few wins the visitors have in recent history.

Indeed, the same is the case with Tottenham, as Liverpool have lost only one of their last 27 Premier League home games against them, and are unbeaten in their last 10 since a 2-0 loss in May 2011.

Spurs have become a dangerous opponent for anyone in recent times, which Manchester City will attest to having been beaten 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium in February, allowing Jurgen Klopp's Reds to close the gap at the top in the first place.

However, despite having won four of their five Premier League meetings with Liverpool between November 2010 and November 2012, Spurs have won just one of their last 18 against them.

Will someone pay the penalty?

This time last year, you would have been called a fool for predicting Liverpool would be anywhere near the title race now, let alone being so while potentially winning every other trophy possible as well.

The Reds had a turbulent campaign in 2020-21, which included an unthinkable six home defeats in a row at one point, with no fans or centre-backs, leaving them flailing in their own quest for Champions League qualification, though a late run of wins saw them ultimately finish third.

Since the last of those six home defeats, the Reds are unbeaten in 21 Premier League home games, scoring 52 goals and conceding just nine. They have won each of their last 12 at Anfield, including the last five while keeping a clean sheet – only once have they had a longer run of home wins without conceding in the Premier League (eight between October 2005 and January 2006).

Ensuring another shutout will be easier said than done, though, as Liverpool against Tottenham is the second highest-scoring fixture in Premier League history (170 goals in 59 meetings), while it has seen more penalties awarded than any other match-up in the competition (23).

Kane v Mane

It was a slow start to the season for Tottenham striker Harry Kane, only managing one goal in his first 13 league games, though the England captain has bagged 12 goals in 20 games since.

He also has a good record against Saturday's opponents, having been involved in nine goals in 13 Premier League appearances against Liverpool (seven goals, two assists), with five of these goal involvements coming in seven games at Anfield (four goals, one assist).

Spurs will have to be wary of Liverpool's forward threat too, with Sadio Mane on such a run of form that he is in the early conversation for this year's Ballon d'Or.

Mane also has an impeccable record at Anfield, having scored in 49 different Premier League games at the stadium (one for Southampton and 48 for Liverpool) avoiding defeat in all 49 of those matches (W44 D5) – the most games a player has scored in at a single ground in the competition's history without ever losing.

Conte can dampen Reds title hopes

Having started the season with Nuno Espirito Santo in the dugout after Antonio Conte was among a series of coaches to turn the club down, very few Spurs fans would have been expecting to see the Italian leading their charge for a top-four spot just a few months later.

Conte has unsurprisingly been a success at Tottenham since arriving in November, with 14 wins, four draws and six defeats in his 24 Premier League games so far.

Both of former Chelsea boss Conte's Premier League visits to Liverpool have finished in 1-1 draws – only four managers have avoided defeat in each of their first three away games at Anfield in the competition: Martin O'Neill, Peter Reid, Roy Hodgson and Paul Lambert.

Arguably the most impressive player so far under Conte, Son Heung-min, has scored 19 Premier League goals this season, with none of them coming from the penalty spot. The South Korea international could become just the second Spurs player to score 20 in a Premier League campaign without any of them being penalties, after Gareth Bale in 2012-13.

Antonio Conte says Tottenham must "spend a lot of money" to compete with Premier League title contenders Liverpool ahead of facing the Reds at Anfield.

Spurs are locked in a battle with rivals Arsenal for a top-four finish and travel to Merseyside to face Jurgen Klopp's quadruple-chasing outfit on Saturday.

Tottenham will meet a Liverpool team unbeaten in 21 Premier League home games, while the Reds have not tasted defeat in their past 15 league games overall.

Klopp also saw his team secure the third Champions League final appearance of his seven-year reign with a 3-2 away win over Villarreal on Tuesday.

Looking back on the success Klopp has achieved since arriving at Anfield in 2015, Conte said Spurs require "a big investment" to compete for major honours as he highlighted the strength of their competitors in England.

"The time for Liverpool was easier than now," Conte said, "because when Liverpool started this work with Jurgen, they were a top team, not in a way they are now, so consolidated with an important manager, [but] always the same team, big investment, big money spent on the transfer market.

"They had also the right space to improve and reach this. Now, in my opinion, I am talking about this league, it is more difficult because the space is not so big.

"To reduce this gap, you need to spend a lot of money, because you need to buy important players. You have to know this, otherwise you cannot reduce this gap and hope always for a miracle.

"Don't forget that in England, it is more difficult because you find, in this moment, four teams that if they don't have a bad season they are there to fight for the Premier League, the EFL Cup, the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League. 

"English teams are present in every competition, Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference, Premier League, and the final of the EFL Cup was with Chelsea and Liverpool. Now in the FA Cup, Chelsea and Liverpool; the Premier League is a fight with Liverpool and Manchester City.

"It is not simple because you have a master in front of you; you need time. You need a big investment because you have to spend a lot of money if you want to be competitive and try to reduce this gap; otherwise you have to accept to stay in the middle."

Having drawn 1-1 on each of his two previous Premier League visits to Anfield (both as Chelsea manager), Conte is aiming to become just the fifth coach in the competition's history to avoid defeat across his first three trips to Liverpool, after Martin O'Neill, Peter Reid, Roy Hodgson, and Paul Lambert.

However, Spurs have won just one of their past 18 Premier League meetings with the Reds after winning four of the five before that.

Mohamed Salah is relishing the prospect of facing Real Madrid after they were confirmed as Liverpool's opponents in the Champions League final.

After Liverpool's dramatic second-leg win over Villarreal carried the Reds through to the May 28 trophy match in Paris, Madrid's taste for the epic was exhibited on Wednesday, scoring two goals in injury time and a third in extra time to eliminate Manchester City.

The 29-year-old Salah reacted on Twitter after Madrid's win, affirming that he and Liverpool have a "score to settle".

He has now gone further to suggest everyone at Liverpool wanted to face Los Blancos more than their fierce Premier League rivals at the Stade de France.

"If you ask everybody [at Liverpool], everyone wanted that game," Salah told Sky Sports. "I don't know why we're not allowed to talk about it, but I'm okay to talk about it – I wanted that game. I wanted to play Real Madrid before that game [against Manchester City].

"Of course, I'm not giving too much credit to them. They're an unbelievable team with a great coach, great players. When they asked me who I wanted, I said Madrid. It's an easy answer."

Salah holds a personal record of one draw and four defeats in the five times he has played against Los Blancos in the Champions League, scoring once – in the first leg of the 2020-21 quarter-final stage.

The 2017-18 final between Liverpool and Madrid was memorable for Salah's early injury and substitution, after a duel with Sergio Ramos where he was dragged down.

Despite personal disappointments for both Liverpool and Roma against Madrid, the Kyiv final four years ago is the one that lingers in the memory, both publicly and individually.

"You just feel so disappointed, so down," Salah said. "'Ah come on, not in this game!' But once you have time, it makes you forget.

"I had work affairs and then I had a holiday after. In that holiday I just asked, 'What do you want? To keep crying about it and be sad about it and it takes you down? Or you just fight back.' And I fought back in the best way and that's why we're here now."

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has urged his players to be "brave" when they take on title-chasing Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday.

Spurs travel to Merseyside with their own ambitions of qualifying for next season's Champions League still in the balance.

Conte's men sit fifth in the table, two points behind north London rivals Arsenal in fourth, with four games remaining.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are still unbeaten in the league in 2022 and have won 13 of their last 14 Premier League games.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds also remain in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, with the EFL Cup already won and an FA Cup final to come against Chelsea. They sit just a point behind Manchester City in the league, and on Tuesday qualified for the Champions League final where they will play Real Madrid in Paris.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday, Conte praised Klopp's stars, in particular the way they overcame Villarreal in their semi-final.

The Reds took a 2-0 lead into the second leg at El Madrigal but were 2-0 down to Unai Emery's team and reeling at half-time, before coming back to win 3-2 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate.

"We know in this moment it is very difficult to play against Liverpool, because they are in really good form," Conte said.

"I watched the game against Villarreal and it was incredible the calm that the team showed in a difficult situation, because after the first half they were 2-0 down and the atmosphere was very, very difficult for Liverpool.

"I have seen great composure, great calm of the team, and now they know that the team is strong, the team is I think one of the best teams in the world with Manchester City."

The former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter boss, who was appointed by Spurs in November, was respectful of Liverpool but insisted he wants his players to play with belief and confidence on Saturday.

Spurs have won five of their last seven in the league, and drew 2-2 with the Reds at home in December.

"We have prepared for the game very well, and I think we need to be very good without the ball, to be good defensively, but if we want to win we have to be very good with the ball," Conte said.

"I said to my players, we need to play a good game and be brave when we have the ball.

"Don't be scared of the pressure and to find a solution because I think we improved a lot, and we can go there to play and to try to get three points."

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane is Karim Benzema's biggest challenger for this year's Ballon d'Or, according to Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry.

Benzema is enjoying the best season of his career in front of goal and has played a crucial role in Madrid's run to the Champions League final, where Liverpool await on May 28.

The 34-year-old has scored 43 times and provided a further 14 assists in all competitions, with no other player across Europe's top five leagues directly involved in more goals (57).

Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe are next on that list with 54 combined goals and assists each, while Mane lags some way behind on 23 for Liverpool – albeit having missed part of the season during the Africa Cup of Nations, which he won with Senegal.

Lewandowski, Mbappe and Anfield team-mate Mohamed Salah have been tipped to rival Benzema for football's top individual award, but Henry believes Mane is better placed. 

"To make the final even bigger, the two favourites for the Ballon d'Or are Mane and Benzema," Henry told CBS Sports. "That will add an extra little spice into it."

Mane played a direct part in five goals for Senegal at AFCON, aiding his cause to be crowned the world's best player.

However, if the former Southampton forward is to have any chance of pipping Benzema to the accolade, Henry says he must win a clean sweep of trophies with Liverpool.

The Reds have already lifted the EFL Cup and are into the FA Cup and Champions League finals, but they trail Manchester City by a point with four Premier League games left.

"I still believe that Benzema is ahead, but if Mane wins [the Champions League] with Liverpool and they do make the quadruple, that is a pretty strong case," Henry said.

"It would be great for Africa, but I'm still going for Benzema."

Benzema finished fourth in the voting for last year's Ballon d'Or, which was won by Lionel Messi for a record-extending seventh time.

Indeed, only one player other than Messi and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo has won the award since 2008, with Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric triumphing in 2018.

Allan Saint-Maximin has claimed he is as talented as Liverpool superstar Sadio Mane.

The Newcastle United winger has established himself as one of the most exciting players in the Premier League in the past three seasons.

But Saint-Maximin is more renowned for his dribbling skills and trickery than consistent end product in the final third.

In 2021-22, the 25-year-old has attempted (238) and completed (139) the most dribbles in the league.

However, Saint-Maximin has just five goals and four assists. He has not netted since a 1-1 draw with Watford in January, while his only assist in this calendar year came from a misplaced pass to Sean Longstaff that ran for Joelinton to score at Norwich City.

By contrast, Mane ranks 26th this season for dribble attempts (81, with 44 successful) but has scored 14 times, adding two assists.

Yet Saint-Maximin told So Foot: "Those who have played with me know very well that, in terms of pure quality, I have no reason to envy Sadio Mane."

The former France youth international appears to believe his Newcastle team-mates are the problem.

Callum Wilson remains the Magpies' top scorer with six goals despite being out injured since December, just this week returning to full training. Only Wolves (Raul Jimenez, also six) have had their leading marksman tally so few.

Chris Wood has netted twice since a £25million move in January, with Newcastle widely expected to invest heavily up front in the transfer window, having been linked with Darwin Nunez and Patrik Schick.

Saint-Maximin has created 45 chances from open play this term, the eighth-most in the league and most outside the top six.

"The day when I have a player capable of finishing the actions, I will make seasons with 10 to 15 assists," he said. "I will change dimension in people's heads."

It is perhaps unsurprising Saint-Maximin has such lofty ambitions, given he cites Greek philosophers as his inspirations – along with NBA legend Michael Jordan.

"Doing things that make an impression, changing the rules, that's the goal," he said. "Like what Michael Jordan managed to do.

"Jordan, he changed some people's lives, he gave people work, and that's the beauty of it."

The Seattle Sounders are already looking ahead to taking on either Liverpool or Real Madrid after achieving "immortality" by winning the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Sounders beat Pumas UNAM 3-0 at Lumen Field on Wednesday to complete a 5-2 aggregate triumph and finally deliver a first Champions League title for MLS.

Seattle are the league's third CONCACAF champions but first in the Champions League era after a series of heartbreaks for rival clubs.

Two goals from Raul Ruidiaz and a late clincher from captain Nicolas Lodeiro sparked scenes of mass celebration in front of a raucous, record crowd of over 68,741.

Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders' general manager, gave Extratime his assessment: "Immortality. You get into sports for stuff people can never take away.

"This will be written down, it will be there forever. Hopefully it's the first of many."

Real Salt Lake, CF Montreal, Toronto FC and Los Angeles FC had each previously fallen at this final hurdle.

Now, for MLS, Lagerwey says, Seattle are "the symbol, we're the tip of the spear, we pushed through, we finally did it, we vanquished the demons".

"But everybody's welcome," he added. "We want a crowded mountaintop up here. We don't want to be up here by ourselves."

Playing just hours after Madrid had completed an epic semi-final fightback against Manchester City in UEFA's Champions League, Lagerwey could not help consider a Club World Cup clash with a European giant.

"We're going to play against Real Madrid or Liverpool in a real game for a trophy," he said, with Seattle's place in the tournament secure. "I feel like a little kid. This is the stuff you dream of."

The Sounders had already won two MLS Cups, a Supporters' Shield and four U.S. Open Cups, but this victory takes the club to another level entirely.

"I think we're going to become a global club now," the GM added.

"I've got to think my phone's got to start ringing once some people see what our fanbase, our building... it's as good a soccer environment as anywhere in the world. It just is. This is a pretty special place."

Sensational comebacks are increasingly a staple of the modern Champions League, and this season they have belonged almost exclusively to Real Madrid.

Los Blancos trailed Manchester City 1-0 heading into the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with Pep Guardiola's team leading 5-3 on aggregate.

Yet two goals in the space of 91 seconds from Rodrygo forced extra-time, and Carlo Ancelotti's team set up a meeting with Liverpool in Paris when Karim Benzema converted a penalty to claim a 3-1 win (6-5 on aggregate).

It was the third stunning turnaround Madrid have enjoyed in the knockout stages this campaign, following Benzema's hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 and Rodrygo's goal against Chelsea to secure an aggregate win in the quarters last month.

Here's a few other incredible comebacks to jog your memory.

Real Madrid 3-1 PSG (3-2 agg), 2022

Madrid have done it the hard way this season, as they target a 14th European title. 

Not many fancied them to get through against PSG, especially when Kylian Mbappe, who had scored a stunning goal in the first leg in Paris in February, put Mauricio Pochettino's team ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu with a crisp finish.

Yet Gianluigi Donnarumma's slack play enabled Benzema to pounce and pull one back, with the striker then scoring twice in two minutes to turn the tie on its head and set Madrid en route to the final.

Barcelona 6-1 PSG (6-5 agg), 2017

Barcelona remain the perpetrators of the most remarkable of all Champions League comebacks, at least in terms of deficit overhauled.

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive strike for the visitors.

However, two quick Neymar goals – the second a highly controversial penalty after an apparent Suarez dive – levelled the tie at 5-5.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck to create a slice of Champions League history – no side had ever turned around a four-goal first-leg deficit before.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg, Roma won on away goals), 2018

The boot was on the other foot when Barcelona were dethroned in the Italian capital last year as Roma completed one of the most unlikely turnarounds in quarter-final history.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last eight on away goals after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca completely fell to pieces.

Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg), 2019

Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Divock Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute.

Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Messi and Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.

Andrew Robertson's injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen once more. The Reds went on to beat Tottenham in an all-English final.

Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5-3 agg), 2019

Despite their impressive display in their 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Ajax could turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not – he earned a booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra-game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid completely capitulated amid a fearless and thrilling Ajax – the type of which Liverpool might yet be faced with in the final.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.

PSG 1-3 Manchester United (3-3 agg, United won on away goals), 2019

It really had been quite the season for upsets in Europe's premier competition. A day on from Ajax's thrashing of Madrid, United made history at Parc des Princes.

No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home, and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United's chances looked slim.

Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat's equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.

As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe's arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager's job grew louder.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (5-4 agg), 2004

Deportivo were among Spain's major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with AC Milan, they stunned the Italians at home.

Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with Fran Gonzalez – who played for them in the second division in the late 80s and is still their record appearance holder – fittingly scored the fourth to make sure of their passage.

Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (AET, 3-2 on pens), 2005

That famous night in Istanbul. Liverpool found themselves on the end of a hiding at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final, as Paolo Maldini and a Hernan Crespo brace had the Serie A side 3-0 up.

But the second half proved to be one of the most iconic 45 minutes in Liverpool's history, with goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso levelling the match up by the hour mark.

Milan then failed to hold their nerve in the penalty shootout, as Jerzy Dudek's leggy antics in the Liverpool goal helped the Pole outsmart both Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko after Serginho blazed the first kick over, resulting in the Premier League side lifting their fifth European title.

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, 1999

Possibly the two most dramatic minutes in the history of European club football.

United were trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the 1999 final at Camp Nou, with Mario Basler's skidding free-kick into the bottom-right corner looking set to be enough for the Bavarian giants to end a 23-year wait for glory in the continent's top-tier competition.

However, the United of Alex Ferguson's era could never be discounted until the final whistle, and substitute Teddy Sheringham swept Ryan Giggs' shot into the bottom corner to bring the scores level in the 91st minute.

Solskjaer, another late substitute and now the man in the United dug-out, avoided the need for extra time by stabbing Sheringham's header from a David Beckham corner into the roof of the net as United completed an historic treble in astonishing fashion.

Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (AET, 6-4 agg), 2000

A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had Barca in danger of being on the wrong end of a major 1999-00 Champions League upset prior to the Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalans showed their true class.

Tore Andre Flo's 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia scored seven minutes from the end of regulation to force extra time.

Rivaldo then converted a penalty after Celestine Babayaro was sent off and Patrick Kluivert wrapped things up, crushing Chelsea's dreams.

Mohamed Salah and Liverpool will get another shot at revenge against Real Madrid, who progressed past Manchester City to secure a place in the Champions League final on Wednesday.

Liverpool saw their way past Villarreal on Tuesday, coming back to win the second leg 3-2 to win 5-2 on aggregate.

Immediately following Real Madrid's dramatic win over City, Salah took to Twitter to state his feelings. 

The 29-year-old famously went off injured early as Real Madrid defeated Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final in Kyiv.

He scored as Liverpool also lost 3-1 on aggregate in the 2020/21 quarter-final stage.

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