Salah wins play­ers’ award and turns at­ten­tion to goalscor­ing record

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Soccer -

Mo­hamed Salah has been crowned the PFA Player of the Year af­ter an ex­plo­sive first sea­son at Liver­pool.

Few could have fore­seen the Egyp­tian ma­gi­cian’s im­pact af­ter he swapped Roma for An­field last sum­mer in a £34.3 mil­lion (¤39 mil­lion) deal.

It has cer­tainly proven money well spent and Salah’s ex­cep­tional per­for­mances have brought recog­ni­tion from his peers in his first sea­son back in English foot­ball.

The 25-year-old Egyp­tian was named player of the year at the 45th PFA awards in cen­tral Lon­don last night, hav­ing seen off tough com­pe­ti­tion from Manch­ester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.

Leroy Sane – crowned PFA young player of the year on Sun­day – and David Silva were the other City play­ers on the six-man short­list, with Manch­ester United goal­keeper David De Gea and Tot­ten­ham striker Harry Kane com­plet­ing the nom­i­nees.

But it is Salah that has come out on top af­ter one of the great­est de­but cam­paigns in Liver­pool’s his­tory.

“It’s a big hon­our. I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it,” Salah said at the cer­e­mony.

Asked what it meant to be­come the first Egyp­tian to win the award, he said: “Hope­fully I’m not the last one! I’m very proud to win and I’ve worked very hard.”

Chas­ing record

His strike at West Brom on Satur­day was his 31st Premier League goal of the cam­paign, ty­ing the record for the 38-game sea­son.

“You’re com­par­ing your name with some great names,” he said, on the prospect of break­ing the record. “To break the Premier League record is some­thing huge in Eng­land and all over in the world.

“There are still three games to go. I want to break this record and also break the one for [a 42-game sea­son]. Let’s see what will hap­pen.”

Luis Suarez was the last Reds player to win the award in 2014 . They came to see a vic­to­ri­ous coro­na­tion and were not dis­ap­pointed. Manch­ester City fans wit­nessed a mas­ter­class from their freshly crowned cham­pi­ons on what was a fes­tive af­ter­noon.

It was dec­o­rated by a Kevin De Bruyne 20-yard peach that rock­eted past Lukasz Fabi­an­ski af­ter 54 min­utes on a right-left di­ag­o­nal that was as pure a con­nec­tion as pos­si­ble.

This had the per­fec­tion­ist Pep Guardi­ola blow­ing his cheeks in ad­mi­ra­tion and the Eti­had Sta­dium of­fer­ing a col­lec­tive ”ooh”.

This 29th vic­tory takes Guardi­ola’s im­pres­sive team to 90 points, six from break­ing Chelsea’s record Premier League to­tal of 95. If the max­i­mum re­main­ing are taken City will break the cen­tury and fin­ish on 102. They also have 98 goals, six short of break­ing the high­est-ever tally of 103, again by Chelsea.

For his stated mis­sion of end­ing the sea­son with five vic­to­ries Guardi­ola made two changes. Kyle Walker and Leroy Sané be­came sub­sti­tutes – along­side Ben­jamin Mendy af­ter seven months out with a knee in­jury - as Danilo and Bernardo Silva took their places in a still for­mi­da­ble XI.

Car­los Car­val­hal made one al­ter­ation - Lu­ciano Nars­ingh be­ing re­placed by Mike van der Hoorn, as the man­ager con­tin­ued Swansea City’s sur­vival bid. His team formed a pre-game guard of hon­our as a ban­ner was un­veiled that read: “Wel­come to the home of the Premier League cham­pi­ons”.

Guardi­ola’s men be­gan and ended as they nearly al­ways do at home: in con­trol. Fabi­an­ski’s first ac­tion was to catch a

The num­ber of vic­to­ries Manch­ester City have recorded in league so far

Maw­son wan­dered for­ward and took aim at Eder­son. The Brazil­ian col­lected but this was as good as the vis­i­tors were be­fore the break.

The sec­ond half be­gan with a light­en­ing foray that in­cluded a David Silva step-over and ended with Danilo’s cross flash­ing be­fore Fabi­anksi.

Af­ter De Bruyne’s sub­lime fin­ish City con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate. Ster­ling won a penalty, Je­sus’s ef­fort from the spot was palmed on to the post via a Fabi­an­ski palm, and Bernardo Silva slot­ted in the re­bound.

It might have been more but Maw­son’s back-header re­bounded to safety off the left post. There was even time for a 15-minute cameo from Mendy and for City to se­cure a fifth as Yaya Touré’s lob was headed home by Je­sus: it was that kind of day for City. – Guardian

PHO­TO­GRAPH: PHIL NO­BLE/REUTERS

City’s vic­tory was dec­o­rated by a Kevin De Bruyne 20-yard peach af­ter 54 min­utes.

Mo­hamed Salah: saw off com­pe­ti­tion from City’s Kevin De Bruyne

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