LIVER­POOL GO 16 POINTS CLEAR

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

Liver­pool, UK - Liver­pool stretched their com­mand­ing lead at the top of the English Premier League (EPL) to 16 points and ad­van­tage over Manch­ester United to 30 as goals from Vir­gil van Dijk and Mo­hamed Salah earned a 2-0 win over their his­toric ri­vals at An­field.

A 13th straight league win since the sides last met at Old Traf­ford in Oc­to­ber con­tin­ues Liver­pool's re­lent­less run to­wards a first league ti­tle in 30 years, while United re­main five points off the top four in fifth.

Liver­pool also have a game in hand to come on clos­est chal­lengers Manch­ester City and could have been more com­fort­able win­ners af­ter see­ing two first half goals ruled out and a host of clear chances go astray.

United are the only team to take EPL points off the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons this sea­son, but it rarely looked like light­ning would strike twice once the hosts went in front on 14 min­utes.

Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer's game plan was un­done by a sim­ple set­piece as Van Dijk rose high­est to power home Trent Alexan­derArnold's cor­ner. The Nor­we­gian had set up with a back five, with Luke Shaw forced to deputise out of po­si­tion as a third cen­tre-back, and only a great chal­lenge from the former Southamp­ton left-back de­nied Sa­dio Mane a cer­tain sec­ond as he burst onto Roberto Firmino's pass.

Jur­gen Klopp's men did have the ball in the net twice more be­fore the break, but VAR and the off­side flag came to United's res­cue to keep the score down.

Shorn of in­jured top scorer Mar­cus Rash­ford, United failed to even muster a shot in anger for the first 40 min­utes un­til An­thony Mar­tial pulled his ef­fort wide of the near post. How­ever, they could eas­ily have been level against the run of play mo­ments later when An­dreas Pereira could not stretch to turn home Aaron Wan-Bis­saka's ball across the face of the goal.

At the other end, De Gea had one more key in­ter­ven­tion be­fore the break as he saved with his feet from Mane's driven ef­fort.

But Liver­pool's fail­ure to put the game to bed could have cost them when Mar­tial blazed over United's best chance of the game af­ter a well-worked one-two with Pereira just be­fore the hour mark.

Just like in the 1-0 win at Tot­ten­ham last week­end Liver­pool tired in the fi­nal 20 min­utes, with Klopp forced to with­draw Mane and Firmino to bol­ster the mid­field. How­ever, the hosts held out for a sev­enth con­sec­u­tive clean sheet in all com­pe­ti­tions and took an­other gi­ant step to­wards the ti­tle as Salah se­cured the three points with vir­tu­ally the last kick of the game. The Egyp­tian was picked out by goal­keeper Alis­son Becker and ran from in­side his own half be­fore slot­ting un­der De Gea.

Ear­lier on Sun­day, Burn­ley fought back to boost their bid for EPL sur­vival as Ash­ley West­wood's late goal clinched a 2-1 win over Le­ices­ter on Sun­day.

Chelsea rocked

On Satur­day night, Frank Lam­pard ad­mit­ted he wants to sign a new striker af­ter New­cas­tle dam­aged Chelsea's bid for a top-four fin­ish in the EPL with a dra­matic 1-0 win at St James' Park. Lam­pard's side were un­able to muster the cut­ting edge re­quired to break down stub­born New­cas­tle and fell to Isaac Hay­den's header with just 20 sec­onds left in stop­page-time.

Le­wandowski strikes

Ber­lin, Ger­many - Robert Le­wandowski hit his 20th league goal this sea­son as Bay­ern Mu­nich climbed to sec­ond in the Ger­man League on Sun­day with a 4-0 romp at Hertha Ber­lin to trim RB Leipzig's lead to four points.

Hav­ing seen RB Leipzig go five points clear with a 3-1 vic­tory over Union Ber­lin on Satur­day, Bay­ern climbed a place in the ta­ble with sec­ond-half goals by Thomas Mueller, Le­wandowski, Thi­ago Al­can­tara and Ivan Perisic.

Other re­sults: Satur­day: Hof­fen­heim 1 Ein­tra­cht Frankfurt 2, For­tuna Dues­sel­dorf 0 Werder Bre­men 1, Mainz 1 Freiburg 2, Augs­burg 3 Borus­sia Dort­mund 5, Cologne 3 VfL Wolfs­burg 1, RB Leipzig 3 Union Ber­lin 1 ; Sun­day: Pader­born 1 Bayer Lev­erkusen 4. Ital­ian League: Satur­day: Lazio 5 Sam­p­do­ria 1, Sas­suolo 2 Torino 1, Napoli 0 Fiorentina 2; Sun­day: AC Mi­lan 3 Udi­nese 2, Bologna 1 Hel­las Verona 1, Bres­cia 2 Cagliari 2, Lecce 1 In­ter Mi­lan 1, Genoa 1 Roma 3.

Span­ish League: Satur­day: Le­vante 0 Alaves 1, Os­asuna 0 Val­ladolid 0, Eibar 2 Atletico Madrid 0; Sun­day: Real Mal­lorca 4 Va­len­cia 1, Real Betis 3 Real So­ciedad 0, Vil­lar­real 1 Es­panyol 2.

(AFP)

Liver­pool's Dutch de­fender Vir­gil van Dijk (left) cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing the open­ing goal against Manch­ester United at An­field, UK, on Sun­day

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