Premier League Premier League Liverpool title bid rocked by Everton Manchester United survive Blades scare
Wednesday, 24 Apr 2024 18:30 pm


Liverpool's Premier League title bid suffered a devastating blow in a 2-0 defeat at Merseyside rivals Everton, while Manchester United spared Erik ten Hag's blushes with a 4-2 victory against lowly Sheffield United on Wednesday

Jurgen Klopp's side were beaten at Goodison Park for the first time in 14 years in a brutal setback to their hopes of catching leaders Arsenal

Jarrad Branthwaite put Everton ahead in the 27th minute as the defender prodded the ball under Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker via the post after the Reds made a hash of clearing a free-kick. With Liverpool's Mohamed Salah once again struggling to convert chances to equalise, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin delivered the knockout punch with a 58th-minute header.

Second-placed Liverpool remain three points behind Arsenal, who have a vastly superior goal difference, with both sides having four games left. Third-placed Manchester City, who visit Brighton on Saturday, will be crowned English champions for an unprecedented fourth successive season if they win their last six matches

Liverpool have reportedly opened talks with Feyenoord's Arne Slot to take over from Klopp, whose long goodbye looks set to end with a whimper. It hardly the scenario Klopp envisioned when Liverpool beat Chelsea in the League Cup final in February. Back then, his team were in contention for a quadruple that would have capped his final season in spectacular fashion.

Instead, the end of Klopp's nine-year reign is becoming a damp squib, with Liverpool knocked out of the FA Cup quarter-finals by Manchester United and losing to Atalanta at the same stage of the Europa League as their title challenge evaporates

"Arsenal and Manchester City must have a very bad moment," Klopp said when asked if Liverpool can win the title. "I don't know. I can only apologise for today to the people. We should have done better but we didn't."

At Old Trafford, Ten Hag's side twice trailed to the league's bottom club before Bruno Fernandes came to his beleaguered manager's aid in the second half.

Jayden Bogle put the Blades ahead and although Harry Maguire equalised before half-time, Ben Brereton Diaz restored the visitors' advantage soon after the interval.

Fernandes to the rescue

Fernandes bailed out Ten Hag with a penalty equaliser before the Portugal midfielder's long-range rocket put United in front with nine minutes left. Rasmus Hojlund got United's fourth to ensure they could finally enjoy a first league win in five games since beating Everton on March 9.

It was a temporary reprieve for Ten Hag, who hopes to salvage sixth-placed United's dismal season by winning the FA Cup and finishing high enough to qualify for the Europa League. Ten Hag endured stinging criticism after United stumbled into the FA Cup final with a spluttering penalty-shootout win after blowing a three-goal lead against second-tier Coventry on Sunday.

"I think we played quite well, also creating many more chances. Many positives. But also negatives. Conceding two goals from giveaways. It's unacceptable. We want to play dynamic, attacking football," Ten Hag said

Referee Stuart Attwell was embroiled in further controversy after contentiously disallowing a Wolves goal in Bournemouth's 1-0 win at Molineux. Attwell was already in the spotlight for his role as VAR in denying Nottingham Forest three penalties in Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Everton, which led Forest to insinuate bias as he supports relegation rivals Luton

This time, he adjudged Matheus Cunha to have fouled Justin Kluivert in an off-the-ball incident in the build up to Hwang Hee-chan's second-half equaliser, which looked to have cancelled out Antoine Semenyo's opener. Attwell remained in the thick of the action as he showed a straight red card to Bournemouth defender Milos Kerkez for a foul on Matt Doherty.

Jean-Philippe Mateta scored for a fifth consecutive home match to fire Crystal Palace to a 2-0 win over Newcastle. Mateta broke the deadlock in the 55th minute and added the second late on to end Newcastle's four-match unbeaten run and damage their prospects of qualifying for Europe.