Another EPL title contender stumbles
LIVERPOOL 2, TOTTENHAM 0
One by one, Chelsea’s closest challengers are falling away in the English Premier League title race.
After implosions by Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal over the past month, it was secondplace Tottenham’s turn to trip up Saturday.
Spurs were outplayed at Liverpool in a 2-0 loss and could be 12 points behind Chelsea if Chelsea beats Burnley today. With 13 games remaining, Chelsea could then canter to a second title in three years.
Sadio Mane scored both goals in a two-minute spell in the first half as Liverpool rediscovered its form of the first half of the season to gain a first league win in six attempts in 2017.
It was Tottenham’s third loss this season, and instead of having faint hopes of catching Chelsea, Manager Mauricio Pochettino’s players will place a priority on preserving a top-four place to get into the Champions League.
Arsenal and Manchester United also won by 2-0 scores against Hull and Watford, respectively, as the race for a top-four finish intensified. Two points separate Tottenham and sixth-place United.
Mane scored in the 16th and 18th minutes to cap a first half in which Liverpool blew away Tottenham with intensity and movement that had been lacking in recent games.
Spurs were so overwhelmed, they should have lost by a bigger margin.
“It’s difficult to fight for the Premier League if you show that performance,” Pochettino said. “There was a lack of aggression and desire to play for a win.”
At Old Trafford, Anthony Martial took his opportunity to impress Manchester United Manager Jose Mourinho. The France winger set up Juan Mata for a 31st-minute opener against Watford before scoring the second in the 60th minute in a comfortable win.
And at Emirates Stadium in London, it was a tale of two handballs. Alexis Sanchez bundled in his first goal from close range using his right hand, with officials deciding it was accidental as the ball deflected off goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic.
In injury time, Hull midfielder Sam Clucas blocked a header from Lucas Perez on the goal line using his hand and was sent off. Sanchez drove home a low penalty for his league-high 17 th goal of the season.
SPAIN: Gruesome injuries marred victories by Real Madrid and Barcelona as both powerhouses won on the road to stay atop the league.
Madrid needed goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Francisco “Isco” Alarcon to beat last-place Osasuna, 3-1. Two players were carried off on stretchers.
Osasuna’s Cayetano Bonnin was the more serious. He broke the tibia and fibula of his right leg when he knocked legs with Isco.
Madrid defender Danilo also was taken to a hospital in Pamplona after he couldn’t continue in the second half when an Osasuna player stomped on his left ankle.
Barcelona’s big three of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar led a 6-0 rout at Alaves that included a nasty injury to teammate Aleix Vidal and a violent clash between rival fans.
Vidal was carried off near the end of the game and taken to a hospital after a sliding challenge from Theo Hernandez. Barcelona said Vidal would be sidelined for five months with a displaced right ankle.
“We feel horrible for him and for the team,” Barcelona Coach Luis Enrique said.
ITALY: Long ignored by Spain’s national team, Borja Valero let his talent and creativity shine at Fiorentina.
The playmaker scored one goal and set up another as Fiorentina beat Udinese, 3-0, in Florence to move back within striking distance of the Europa League places. Valero redirected in a rebound of a shot from Federico Bernardeschi that hit the crossbar before halftime. He then set up a goal for Khouma Babacar after the break.