Liverpool go top after stalemate at injury-hit United

Updated February 25, 2019

Email

MANCHESTER: Liverpool’s Joel Matip (C) vies with Manchester United’s Scott McTominay (second R) during their Premier League match at Old Trafford on Sunday.—AFP
MANCHESTER: Liverpool’s Joel Matip (C) vies with Manchester United’s Scott McTominay (second R) during their Premier League match at Old Trafford on Sunday.—AFP

MANCHESTER: Liver­pool moved one point clear at the top of the Premier League after being forced to settle for a 0-0 draw at injury-ravaged Manchester United on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side climbed above Manchester City into pole position, but left Old Trafford frustrated that they failed to go three points clear after struggling to break down a United team hit by three key injuries.

Liverpool, chasing a first English title since 1990, had few chances to beat their bitter rivals despite United losing Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard before the interval.

The Reds, who had just one shot on target, now have 11 league games remaining, the same number as second placed City.

It was a missed opportunity for Liverpool, who used up their game in hand on City and lost Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino to injury.

Liverpool’s third draw in four games comes in a period in which they have dropped six points in the battle with Pep Guardiola’s champions.

United dropped to fifth place as a result of Arsenal’s win over Southampton.

The pre-match build-up, and intense atmosphere certainly did not disappoint.

But, once the action started, it became more about the four substitutions - three for United, one for Liverpool - that were forced on the respective managers over the first 45 minutes.

Indeed, by the interval, there had been twice as many substitutions as shots on target - the game’s first such effort being a tame Marcus Rashford attempt which he chipped up for an easy Alisson Becker catch.

United midfielder Herrera was the first to go, having injured himself in the process of fouling Joel Matip on the edge of the home area.

Mohamed Salah succeeded only in lofting that free-kick over the home goal although, by the 20 minute mark, Herrera was unable to continue and replaced by Andreas Pereira.

Mata was next, four minutes later, paying the price for an heroic challenge on Salah on the edge of his own area and limping off to be substituted by Lingard.

And Liverpool were not spared disruption of their own when Firmino twisted his right ankle while making a routine pass and was forced off.

The fitness problems would not end there.

Lingard, who had been nursing an injured hamstring, would only last only 18 minutes before coming off three minutes before the interval with what appeared to be a recurrence of the problem.

To add insult to injury, Lingard was replaced having hurt himself in missing the best chance of the first period following a sublime through ball from Romelu Lukaku that split the Liverpool defence.

ARSENAL CRUISE PAST SAINTS

Arsenal cruised to victory over a disjointed Southampton thanks to two first-half goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the Emirates, taking them back into the top four.

Arsenal took the lead in the sixth minute in bizarre circumstances, Lacazette neatly back-heeling in a pass from Mkhitaryan while the rest of the team were still appealing for a penalty after Lucas Torreira took a tumble in the box.

The home side doubled their advantage minutes later when Southampton keeper Angus Gunn, making only his second Premier League appearance, cleared the ball straight into the path of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi.

The Nigerian midfielder bolted forward and passed across the goal to the unmarked Mkhitaryan, who thumped his shot low into the corner.

The result moves Unai Emery’s side up into fourth place in the standings on 53 points.

On Saturday, Newcastle United beat Hudd­ersfield 2-0, while Bournemouth were held to a 1-1 draw by Wolverhampton Wander­ers and Crystal Palace beat Leicester 4-1.

Raul Jimenez equalised for Wolves in the 83rd minute from the spot, canceling out a penalty by Joshua King in the 14th. King had a chance to win it for Bournemouth with another penalty, but fired against the post.

Wilfried Zaha scored twice to help give Crystal Palace a 4-1 win at Leicester as Roy Hodgson became the oldest manager to take charge of a Premier League game.

Zaha put the visitors 2-1 ahead in the 70th minute, shortly after Jonny Evans had equalised for the hosts, and then added the fourth goal in injury time as Leicester’s defense fell apart in the final stages.

Newcastle boosted their hopes of staying up by beating 10-man Huddersfield, leaving the bottom club a step closer to relegation.

After Tom Smith was sent off for a studs-up tackle in the 20th minute, Newcastle took advantage after halftime as Salomon Rondon scored in the 46th and Ayoze Perez struck in the 52nd.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2019