Jurgen Klopp called Thursday’s 3-0 home defeat to Atalanta a “low point” in Liverpool’s season as their Europa League hopes were left hanging by a thread.

Liverpool looked flat throughout the quarter-final first leg and ended the night perhaps fortunate Atalanta had not taken one of the many late chances they had to add to a lead given to them by Gianluca Scamacca’s brace and a late Mario Pasalic goal.

Harvey Elliott hit the post in the first half and Mo Salah had a goal ruled out for offside in the second, but Liverpool lacked the spark needed to beat a well-organised Atalanta side, who will be confident of finishing the job next Thursday in Bergamo.

Before Klopp can think about that match, he must lift his players for Sunday’s visit of Crystal Palace in the tight battle at the top of the Premier League table.

“It was a really bad game, oh my God,” Klopp said after Liverpool’s first home defeat in nearly 14 months.

“We started well, really well and then didn’t continue. They broke, they scored and we just lost the plot a little bit. We were here and there in midfield, I didn’t recognise it.

“It was really strange but in football terms it was tactical discipline. There was a big chance for Darwin (Nunez) and then it was unlucky with Harvey, but they scored and we kept playing into their hands.

“We played a bad game and we we deserved to lose. We must feel that now but we have exactly this night to feel bad about it and then we have to build up for Palace.”

Klopp made six changes to his side following Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United, but his bid to freshen up the side failed, and their chances of ending the German’s reign with a showpiece final in Dublin have taken a huge hit.

“I believe it’s not the moment to talk about that,” Klopp said when asked if the tie was still alive. “I’m not in the mood to think about the game in a week’s time when we have another in between.

“Definitely we have to try, we want to win the game but now is not the moment to have a big mouth. We have to play a really good game.

“Where we are, this is probably a low point for us performance-wise so it should be possible to play a little bit better and we can play a lot better. But first and foremost it’s about Sunday now.”

The final whistle brought huge celebrations for Atalanta and their travelling fans. Gian Piero Gasperini said he wanted to enjoy the moment, but warned the job is only half done.

“Tonight was amazing,” he said through a translator. “I didn’t make any changes until 10 minutes to go and the only one change because it is hard to touch something about a team that held until the 90th minute in the best way.

“Such a victory, it’s OK to celebrate but we all know we ill have to conquer everything in seven days’ time in Bergamo because Liverpool is a really strong team and they can score goals quickly.

“We will have to play another very precise game in every aspect and repeat tonight’s game because everything remains to be played. But our advantage makes us hope for the best.”

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been left out of the Egypt squad for a forthcoming international friendly tournament.

The 31-year-old left the Africa Cup of Nations early when he picked up a hamstring injury on January 18 against Ghana and, after appearing as a second-half substitute against Brentford in mid-February, was then sidelined again with what manager Jurgen Klopp said was muscle fatigue.

Salah returned to training this week and came off the bench in the 74th minute of their 5-1 thrashing of Sparta Prague in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Liverpool top-scorer has 19 goals this campaign and his return to fitness sparked a club-versus-country row, with Egypt previously rejecting Liverpool’s request to exempt their captain from the tournament in Abu Dhabi, where they will face New Zealand and then either Tunisia or Croatia in the final.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp previously admitted: “Two games with Egypt is really not up to me.

“We want to be careful, we have to be careful, but we’re in the middle of a super-intense period of the season and we need everyone.”

However, Salah has now been omitted from the squad announced by the Egyptian Football Association on Sunday and so will be able to remain with Liverpool to work on his fitness for the title run-in.

Mohamed Salah’s muscle injury is “more serious than first thought” and could keep the Liverpool forward out of action for nearly a month, according to his agent.

On Sunday, Liverpool announced the 31-year-old would be returning from the Ivory Coast, where he was representing Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations, to undergo treatment with the aim of returning to the Pharaohs if they progressed to the knockout stages of the competition.

That optimistic plan, at least according to Ramy Abbas Issa, now looks to have suffered a significant setback.

Posting to his personal account on X (formerly Twitter), the agent wrote: “Mohamed’s injury is more serious than first thought and he will be out for 21-28 days, and not two games.

“His best chance at participating in the current AFCON is by undergoing intensive rehabilitation in the UK and rejoining the team as soon as he is fit.”

The PA news agency has contacted Liverpool for comment.

An Egyptian FA statement, posted on Liverpool’s official website on Sunday evening, read: “After additional examinations were conducted on Mohamed Salah during the last hours, and after communication between the national team’s medical staff and his counterpart at Liverpool FC, it was decided that the player will return to England after the Cape Verde match tomorrow to complete his treatment, with the hope that he will join the national team in the semi-final of the AFCON if we qualify.”

Premier League leaders Liverpool initially struggled to create in the absence of their talisman during Sunday’s game at Bournemouth, but moved five points clear at the top thanks to a crushing 4-0 win earned by second-half doubles from Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota.

Speaking after the victory at the Vitality Stadium, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp said it “makes sense” for Salah to fly back to Merseyside from the tournament.

“That’s the plan,” the German said before the news was confirmed. “If that’s already decided 100 per cent, I don’t know. But that’s the plan.

“However long he’s out, probably everybody sees it like this, it makes sense that he’s doing the rehab with us or with our people. If that’s written in stone already, I don’t know.

“I spoke with him directly after, the night when it happened. Since then he’s in contact with our doctor. I think he will be back.”

Injured Egypt forward Mohamed Salah has accepted criticism of his recent performances as he backed his team-mates to beat Cape Verde without him in their must-win fixture on Monday.

The Liverpool star was hurt in Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Ghana, and may have already played his last match in this tournament if Egypt cannot find a way past group leaders Cape Verde.

The 31-year-old attended Sunday’s pre-match press conference alongside coach Rui Vitoria but declined to give an update on his injury, saying there would be a joint statement from Egypt and Liverpool by Monday.

Having been criticised for his displays in Egypt’s opening two matches, draws against Mozambique and Ghana, Salah said: “No worries about that. I accept it openly. I played in one-and-a-half matches only.

“Maybe the performance wasn’t the best in the first match. I’m not here to play individually but as part of the team.

“The positive thing is that despite being behind in the first two matches, we came back and drew. I don’t have a specific explanation for the performance, but football is a team game, and the most important thing is to win the next match.

“This is the Egypt national team, not Salah’s team. I’m a player among the others on the squad…I have already won all possible tournaments at all levels. I want to win the Africa Cup of Nations, and I believe it will happen sooner or later.”

Cape Verde have already secured qualification and top spot by winning their opening two fixtures, but coach Bubista has no plans to take it easy on Egypt.

“Everyone should be ready to contribute,” he said. “We have confidence in all the players, and we will do everything to win against Egypt.

“We have a great responsibility to win in front of our fans, and the group points are not closed yet. We must win against Egypt and we will play in the same way we played against everyone.”

Liverpool cruised into the Europa League knock-out stages with a match to spare as a 4-0 victory over LASK confirmed their place as group winners.

Early goals from Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo were enhanced by a second-half Mohamed Salah penalty – his 199th goal for the club – and an added-time strike by Gakpo as Toulouse’s draw with Union Saint-Gilloise means a dreaded round-of-32 play-off was avoided.

That mere fact alone will have delighted manager Jurgen Klopp, whose pre-match press conference had been littered with references to the intense December period ahead, but a club-record 12 points in the group stage shows how dominant the tournament favourites have been.

The Reds’ 100 percent home record was extended to 10 games and a third successive Anfield clean sheet for the first time since October 2022 means they have only conceded four times in front of their own fans while scoring 30.

In reality, that record was never in danger as the Austrians are the weakest side in the group and that frailty was exposed twice inside three minutes early on by a home side registering nine changes, with only Salah and left-back Kostas Tsimikas retained from the weekend draw at Manchester City.

A move which started on the left ended up on the right from where Joe Gomez crossed for Diaz to stoop and power home a twisting header.

The second goal came from the same flank as Salah, teed up by Diaz, picked out Gakpo at the far post for the simplest of close-range volleyed finishes.

Tsimikas smashed a fierce drive against the crossbar and the overwhelming confidence of the hosts was exemplified by Gomez, who has never scored in eight years at the club, drilling a 25-yard shot just wide.

Much of the half appeared to revolve in getting Salah to his double century as the team tried to pick him out at every opportunity, whether he be menacingly poised on the shoulder of the last defender or inside the penalty area.

Two chances went begging when his angled shot turned into more of a cross but still evaded Gakpo before he fired tamely at the goalkeeper.

Six minutes into the second half Salah finally found the net but he owed it all to Gakpo.

The Netherlands international’s short through-ball to Diaz missed his intended target but the Dutchman was alert enough to chase his own pass and somehow get there before goalkeeper Tobias Lawal, who brought him down.

Lawal showed a similar lack of reaction in watching Salah tuck the penalty into the corner of the net without even attempting a dive.

That was enough to put the result beyond doubt but the feeling was there were more goals to be had as Gakpo hit the base of a post from outside the area, although the Dutchman eventually got a deserved second in added time.

The arrival of Darwin Nunez, and to a lesser extent Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones, livened up proceedings, with the former putting in one of his now typical all-action hit-and-miss performances.

It erred more towards the latter as, after Harvey Elliott’s deflected shot was repelled by the goalkeeper’s legs as he dived the other way, the Uruguay international had one effort diverted wide and then shot straight at Lawal from eight yards.

Marin Ljubcic blazed over the visitors’ best chance with only Caoimhin Kelleher to beat and the Liverpool goalkeeper, set for his longest run in the side due to Alisson Becker being sidelined for a fortnight with a hamstring injury, did not have anything to do until the last 20 minutes.

When he was called upon he was not flustered, coming out to smother Ibrahim Mustapha, repelling Moses Usor’s shot and producing a reaction stop from LASK’s top scorer Robert Zulj, but even Sunday’s shot-shy visitors Fulham – scorers of only 13 goals in as many games – will provide a sterner test.

Mohamed Salah continued his remarkable Anfield scoring record with two goals in Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Brentford to bring up his 200th in English football.

Only Manchester City’s Erling Haaland has scored more in the Premier League this season than the Egypt international, who took his tally to 10 by scoring for the sixth successive home game to write another entry in club’s history books.

Intriguingly, the pair will meet in a mouthwatering first-versus-second encounter at the Etihad Stadium immediately after the international break in what will be a true test of Liverpool’s title credentials.

After a complete midfield rebuild over the summer following a fifth-place finish, the primary aim was to regain their Champions League status, but after eight wins in their opening 12 matches – and a 100 percent record at home in every competition – a different complexion has developed as they have emerged as City’s chief chasers again.

After taking 39 minutes to break down a stubborn Brentford, Salah’s double either side of half-time was added to by Diogo Jota’s late strike to put a quick end to questions over a mini-stumble after the draw at Luton and Europa League defeat in Toulouse.

In becoming the first Liverpool player to score in each of their first six home matches, Salah joined Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry in having scored or assisted in 15 consecutive Premier League home games.

And, while he claimed the plaudits once again, in many ways the architect of the victory was Darwin Nunez, whose rapid development this season continues to impress.

The Uruguay international, criticised for his wayward shooting last weekend, had two goals disallowed for offside – one only very marginally by VAR – and provided yet another assist for Salah.

His total of nine assists in his Liverpool career have all been for the Egypt international and in the Premier League it is only the third time two players have combined for an individual’s first seven in a campaign – Kevin Campbell for Ian Wright (first 10) and Troy Deeney for Odion Ighalo (seven) the others.

His all-round play has improved immeasurably from last season’s erratic performances and, while still prone to the odd aberration, he is gradually morphing into the all-action number nine the team needs.

After an early deflected cross was saved at the near post by goalkeeper Mark Flekken, Nunez poked home in the 22nd minute after Dominik Szoboszlai’s shot was deflected into his path.

It was not the first time he would have a goal ruled out for offside, although it was the most marginal.

When he buried an overhead kick after Flekken had parried Virgil van Dijk’s header it was apparent he had returned from an offside position.

Brentford had been limited to counter-attacks but almost snatched a goal when Bryan Mbeumo outpaced Trent Alexander-Arnold, but Alisson Becker got a crucial touch on the shot and Liverpool’s right-back got back to collect.

The defender was equally effective at the other end in the 39th minute when he picked out Nunez on the edge of the area and he laid off for Salah to tuck a left-footed shot inside the far post for a goal of brilliant simplicity.

A Nunez piledriver, a Salah volley over from Alexander-Arnold’s delicious chipped diagonal pass over the Brentford defence and a perfectly-judged Nathan Collins’ recovery tackle to deny the Uruguay striker a one-on-one with the keeper saw the half end on a high for the hosts.

Eighteen minutes into the second half Liverpool benefited from VAR as it ruled Kostas Tsimikas’ cross to the far post had remained in play as there was real doubt cast by Salah’s muted celebrations after heading in.

Jota capped a dominant performance with the third in the 74th minute, cutting in from the left to fire home from the edge of the area.

Late on Alexander-Arnold hooked away Collins’ goalbound header and Alisson tipped over Ethan Pinnock’s effort from the resulting corner to keep Liverpool ahead of Arsenal on goal difference and add yet more significance to the trip to the Etihad.

0800 – As of Wednesday, these were the six biggest-spending clubs in the world for 2023-24. How different will that list look come close of play tonight?


0735 –
Amid all the transfer speculation, reports and conjecture, two deals that have already been agreed and are expected to be completed today are that of Matheus Nunes to Manchester City and Ryan Gravenberch to Liverpool.

0730 – Chelsea are no strangers to the transfer market and they could take their spending past the £1billion mark since Todd Boehly’s takeover with Cole Palmer of Manchester City a reported £40million target.


0725 –
Manchester United are looking to bolster their injury-hit squad with the likes of Sergio Reguilon, Marc Cucurella and Sofyan Amrabat among the players reportedly in their sights. 

0715 –
Mohamed Salah’s future is set to be one of the biggest talking points of transfer deadline day. Liverpool are hoping to keep hold of the 31-year-old Egypt international but speculation of big-money interest from Al-Ittihad persists.


0700

Welcome to the PA news agency’s live transfer deadline day blog .

The 2023 summer transfer window closes this evening at 11pm for Premier League and EFL clubs while it is midnight for teams in Scotland.

In the major European leagues there are various different deadlines today, from 1700 BST in Germany to 2300 BST in Spain, while the big-spending Saudi Pro League can continue buying players until September 7.

The likes of Karim Benzema, Neymar, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane and Aymeric Laporte have already swapped Europe for the Middle East this summer and it remains to be seen if they will be joined by any other big names in the coming week.

Clubs in the Women’s Super League, which does not kick-off until October, still have a few more weeks until their transfer window closes.

Injury-ravaged Manchester United’s search for a midfielder and left-back is likely to dominate transfer deadline day as Liverpool aim to keep hold of star man Mohamed Salah.

Erik ten Hag’s side have been hit by injuries throughout the first period of the season, seeing the likes of Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, Mason Mount and even new signing Rasmus Hojlund all face time off the pitch, with experienced defender Raphael Varane also now missing for the next few weeks.

United have been linked with Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat throughout the window, which shuts at 11pm on Friday, while left-back Marc Cucurella has been tipped to replace the injured Shaw on loan from Chelsea.

Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino kept his cards close to his chest on Wednesday night about possible talks between the two clubs over the future of the 25-year-old.

He said: “I don’t know anything (about Cucurella). All the players that are involved every day on the training ground with us are in our plans. Then, things happen, it’s the decision of both the club and the player, and if something happens in the next few days, we will communicate to you.”

The future of Salah has hit the headlines over the last week with Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad heavily linked with the forward, although Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has already dismissed any potential idea of the Egyptian leaving.

One potential incoming at Anfield could be Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch.

Manchester City are expected to bring in Wolves midfielder Matheus Nunes after a £53million deal was struck between the clubs, with Kevin De Bruyne currently sidelined.

The 25-year-old is likely to join Josko Gvardiol and Jeremy Doku as new faces at the Etihad Stadium this summer.

Chelsea have once again been busy in the window, splashing the cash on the likes of Moises Caicedo, Romeo Lavia, Christopher Nkunku, Axel Disasi, Nicolas Jackson and Robert Sanchez, while Cole Palmer could be the next from City.

Tottenham are yet to replace striker Harry Kane, who has joined Bayern Munich, but are linked with a move for Nottingham Forest forward Brennan Johnson.

Brighton are set to bring Barcelona forward Ansu Fati to the Amex Stadium on loan in the closing stages of the window, with another Barcelona player in Clement Lenglet likely to head to Aston Villa.

Fulham could land Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi, with Joao Palhinha reportedly a target for Bayern, while Crystal Palace are set to clinch a deal for Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Mohamed Salah’s agent has dismissed speculation linking the Liverpool forward with a move to Saudi Arabia as the 31-year-old “remains committed” to the club.

A report in the Middle East claimed talks were taking place between the Egypt international’s representatives and Al-Ittihad over a deal said to be worth over £155million over two years to the player.

Salah’s former team-mate Fabinho has already made the move to Al-Ittihad this summer in a £40m transfer.

In that context the £60m fee being touted for Salah – who has scored 139 goals in 231 Premier League appearances – appeared to under-value a player who is only 12 months into a three-year deal which is the most lucrative contract in Liverpool’s history.

And Salah’s representative insists the former Chelsea and Roma forward has no intention of leaving Anfield in any case.

“If we considered leaving LFC this year, we wouldn’t have renewed the contract last summer. Mohamed remains committed to LFC,” Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas posted on Twitter.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits his side failed to live up to expectations this season and has no issue with Mohamed Salah saying the team let down fans.

Writing on social media after Manchester United’s win over Chelsea on Thursday night consigned Liverpool to Europa League football, the Egypt international said he was “devastated” and there was “absolutely no excuse” for not making the top four.

Klopp had already resigned himself to not playing Champions League next season and admits he even thought fifth place was out of reach prior to their current 10-match unbeaten run, which includes seven victories.

“It was a just a normal description of his situation, of his feeling, and in that moment directly after the game he’s right, it’s not the moment to immediately send any optimistic messages,” said Klopp.

“But I saw him now in the canteen and he was smiling. I don’t know for which reason as I didn’t ask him, but he is not in a bad mood. That’s it.

“We didn’t deliver what everybody wanted or expected but but we are still really united, that’s the good thing about it.

“The dressing room is not in a bad mood. We have learned to deal with the situation. We didn’t get divided in one moment between manager and team, which is super helpful.

“For a long time and it was clear from a specific point on it would not be a historically good season. We made mistakes, we couldn’t deliver often enough and were not consistent enough.

“We didn’t point fingers at each other. That’s all good. If you don’t qualify for the Champions League, the best place you can possibly end up is fifth, so that’s what we did.

“If you’d have asked me 10 games ago if that was possible, I’d have said no. That the boys did that is really good but it’s not perfect.

“We didn’t end up fifth because of the last 10 games, we ended up there because of the lack of consistency before that.”

Failure to qualify for the Champions League is set to cost Liverpool at least £50million next season but there may be implications in the shorter term as UEFA’s second-tier competition is likely to be less attractive to leading players.

The club have already pulled out of the running for primary target Jude Bellingham after the asking price for the Borussia Dortmund midfielder became prohibitive and reports this week suggested Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount’s preferred destination is Old Trafford.

Klopp is keen to get his business done early and is hopeful finishing fifth will not put a spanner in the works of their planning.

“I don’t think so but we will see. That is obviously possible, it’s always possible things don’t go as quick as you want. It’s not only possible, it is probably likely,” he added ahead of Sunday’s final match of the season at Southampton.

“The better the players you want the lesser is the desire of the other club to let him go and that’s exactly what we are prepared for.

“But it’s a long window and a long pre-season and a long break in-between so we have time. If we get in players tomorrow or in six or seven weeks it is not a game-changer for me to be honest.

“In an ideal world they all sign tomorrow and I can tell them when to be and we can start giving them the plans for the summer break but that will not likely happen likely.”

Fulham manager Marco Silva claims the award of Liverpool’s match-winning penalty was embarrassing as his side slipped to an eighth defeat in 10 games.

Mohamed Salah scored from the spot for the second successive match to secure a 1-0 win after Issa Diop was adjudged to have brought down Darwin Nunez.

Silva was not convinced, however, saying: “The way they scored the goal, I have to say that is embarrassing.

“Today in football to give a penalty like that, after the VAR didn’t take that penalty (away) it is difficult to understand.

“I will not say nothing more because after it will be difficult for me and I don’t want to create more problems for me. It is difficult to understand that penalty,” Silva said.

“When Darwin touch the ball he start to dive himself but after he touched his left leg with Issa.

“They are going to say it is harsh but the referee gave and after the VAR cannot take (away). It is always the same conversation. I didn’t speak with the referee at the end or at half-time. I had some words with the fourth official.

“Issa told me that it is clear not penalty. The referee made a mistake and the VAR is there to take that decision and not allow the penalty to go on. That’s clear for me.”

The victory secured a fifth successive win for Liverpool for the first time since April 2022 and maintained the pressure on fourth-placed Manchester United, whom they trail by four points having played two matches more.

“Really pleased with big parts of the game: first half controlling, creating not finishing situations off,” said manager Jurgen Klopp.

“The penalty I like a lot because it a counter-pressing situation; Darwin is fully in the situation and gets a pen and Mo finishes it off.

“We then don’t close the game early and we have to fight to the end and we needed Ali (Alisson Becker) obviously, the save from (Carlos) Vinicius was sensational and he was happy about the clean sheet more than anyone.

“Five wins in a row is super-difficult. It felt it was ages ago we did it and the more I like it.”

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.

Robert Lewandowski won the men's FIFA Best award for the second year running at a ceremony at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich on Monday.

The Bayern Munich striker beat fellow nominees Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah to the award, having also won it the last time it was up for grabs in December 2020.

Lewandowski scored 58 goals in 47 games in all competitions in 2021, which included breaking two long-standing records previously held by the legendary German striker Gerd Muller. He bagged 41 goals in a single Bundesliga season for Bayern, and 43 Bundesliga goals in a calendar year.

The Pole has scored 34 goals in 27 games so far this season, including nine in the Champions League group stage.

 

The 33-year-old was presented the award in Munich surrounded by Bayern's chief executive officer Oliver Kahn, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

"Thank you very much. I am very honoured to win this trophy," he said upon receiving the award. "I feel very proud, very happy. This trophy also belongs to my team-mates and my coaches."

Lewandowski was also asked about breaking the records of Muller, who passed away in August last year at the age of 75.

"I never dreamed I could break [Muller's] records, to score 41 goals in 29 games, if you asked me a few years ago if this was possible I would tell you 'no'.

"But now he's not with us anymore, and these old records that I broke, I also say to him 'thank you' because he had so many records and for us, the next generation players, that was like the next step. To try to break these records and I did, so I am very honoured and very proud of this as well."

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