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Premier League Wrap: Salah reaches 50 thanks to Speroni shocker

By Opta
Mohamed Salah

London, January 19: Mohamed Salah's brace moved Liverpool seven points clear of Manchester City in the Premier League title race as Julian Speroni's error saw Crystal Palace go down 4-3 at Anfield.

Palace led thanks to Andros Townsend's first-half goal, but quickfire strikes from Salah and Roberto Firmino turned the game around eight minutes into the second half.

James Tomkins headed Palace level but an awful error by veteran goalkeeper Speroni, tipping James Milner's cross towards his own goal for Salah to score his 50th goal in the Premier League, gave Liverpool a lead that was later added to by Sadio Mane.

Palace netted a stoppage-time consolation through Max Meyer but Liverpool - who had Milner sent off for a second bookable offence late in the second half - held on to stretch their cushion at the top, with Manchester City away to managerless Huddersfield Town on Sunday.

Fabinho fired an early effort over Speroni's crossbar, the 39-year-old goalkeeper becoming the oldest player to feature in the Premier League this season.

Joel Matip then headed a Milner corner narrowly wide as Liverpool pushed for the opener, but it was Palace who took the lead in the 34th minute.

Townsend, who moments earlier survived a penalty appeal for handball, slammed in a first-time finish after Wilfried Zaha beat makeshift right-back Milner far too easily to send in a fizzing low cross.

But Liverpool were level within a minute of the restart, Salah pouncing from close range with a deft close-range finish after Virgil van Dijk's speculative drive deflected high into the air.

Within seven minutes Liverpool were in front after another stroke of fortune, Naby Keita setting up Firmino for a shot that took a deflection to beat the helpless Speroni.

Palace drew level in the 65th minute, however, as Tomkins took advantage of slack marking to head home Luka Milivojevic's corner at the back post, but Liverpool hit back again 10 minutes later.

Speroni's misjudgment of a Milner cross saw the ball again loop invitingly for Salah to finish from virtually on the line.

Jeffrey Schlupp missed a great chance to score an equaliser for Palace and Liverpool were reduced to 10 men after Milner was dismissed for a second yellow card having tripped Zaha.

But Liverpool's threat on the counter was maintained and they made sure of the points in the third minute of added time when Mane cut in from the left wing to beat Speroni.

There was still time for yet another goal, though, as substitute Meyer beat Alisson from inside the box.

What does it mean? Palace almost party-poopers again

Winning a title needs some luck and Liverpool certainly had fortune on their side as Salah and Firmino benefited from deflections to score before Speroni gifted them the third goal. Former Reds boss Roy Hodgson will be wondering how his side managed to lose after scoring three.

Record-breaking win for Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's fine start continued as Manchester United's caretaker manager became the first boss in the club's history to win his first six league games following the 2-1 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Almost 25 years to the day since Matt Busby died, Solskjaer made it seven wins from seven in all competitions on the one-month anniversary of his appointment as two of the players to have shone in his short tenure scored again.

Paul Pogba converted a 27th-minute penalty he won himself for his fifth goal in his last three games at Old Trafford before Marcus Rashford marked his 150th appearance with the second prior to the interval.

Pascal Gross pulled one back for Brighton, but United claimed the three points to move into fifth, above Arsenal, ahead of the Gunners' home game with fourth-placed Chelsea later on Saturday.

Rashford and Pogba had already threatened the Brighton goal before United were awarded a penalty.

Pogba latched onto a long Nemanja Matic pass on the right flank by taking a touch inside Gaetan Bong, who bundled into the back of the Frenchman to concede the spot-kick.

The usual stuttered run-up followed but Pogba placed his effort into the right-hand corner, past David Button's right hand to put United in front.

Button was able to make himself big and prevent Anthony Martial making it 2-0, while Brighton's Glenn Murray fired a great chance wide with a miss that would look even more costly before the break.

With three first-half minutes remaining left-back Diogo Dalot, a late inclusion in the starting XI due to Luke Shaw's injury, fed Rashford and he cut inside Gross before bending a fine right-footed finish into the far corner.

Rashford continued to look in the mood after the interval, firing in a cross that Jesse Lingard somehow failed to direct home from close range.

Martial blasted into the side netting but United's intensity dropped and Brighton were given hope with 18 minutes to go.

Davy Propper's outside-of-the-foot cross reached Gross, who chested the ball down and poked the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.

A nervy finish for the home side therefore ensued and though Pogba was unable to alleviate the tension when rifling just wide, United held on to round off a fantastic first month in the job for Solskjaer.

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    Story first published: Saturday, January 19, 2019, 22:50 [IST]
    Other articles published on Jan 19, 2019
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