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EPL: Liverpool, Manchester United win to strengthen hold on top-4 places

Liverpool capitalised by securing all three points with Salah's 84th-minute effort to maintain their pursuit of a second-place finish.

Reported by: AP , London [ Updated: March 31, 2018 23:23 IST ]
Image Source : AP

Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring a goal

Mohamed Salah scored his 37th goal of the season as Liverpool came from behind to secure a vital 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Sadio Mane scored the Liverpool equaliser early in the second-half and was fortunate to avoid a red card. The visitors capitalised by securing all three points with Salah's 84th-minute effort to maintain their pursuit of a second-place finish.

Palace led at halftime following Luka Milivojevic's penalty but, after conceding another late goal at Selhurst Park, the south London club remain at risk of relegation from the Premier League.

"We kept going, kept fighting right until the end," Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said.

"Thankfully Mo got the goal for us. We maybe could have got in behind a bit more first half, we were a little bit disappointed with the first half in terms of we could have moved the ball a little bit quicker and created a few more chances.

"We knew coming here would be difficult, I thought the lads reacted brilliantly to grind out a result."

It was Juergen Klopp's 100th league game in charge of Liverpool

Palace had been boosted by Wilfried Zaha passing a late fitness test to start and he demonstrated his importance when he tested Loris Karius early on.

After being sent one-on-one with the goalkeeper following a fine ball from Cabaye and despite minimal time and space, he controlled with his left foot amid suspicions of handball before shooting with his right and watching Karius clear.

When he again went rushing through on goal, Karius needlessly rushed out and clumsily took him down, leaving referee Neil Swarbrick with little choice but to award the hosts a 13th-minute penalty.

For the seventh time this season, Milivojevic scored from the penalty spot, shooting powerfully into the bottom left corner while Karius dived right, to give Palace the lead.

It was then that Mane attempted to impose himself. In his own attempts to win a penalty, he appeared to dive under minimal contact from James McArthur and was booked.

He has at times struggled to reproduce the same form as last season while Salah has excelled, and it was the Egyptian who tested Palace's Wayne Hennessey with a curling effort the goalkeeper jumped to collect.

With a low header from Salah's corner, Mane then forced Hennessey into a diving reaction save before McArthur scrambled clear, but Palace absorbed that pressure to retain its lead until four minutes into the second half.

Following James Milner's low ball from the left wing, the alert Mane finished low at the near post beyond Hennessey and was soon fortunate not to be sent off.

Christian Benteke missed the first of two fine chances against his former team when a header from Milivojevic sent him one-on-one with Karius before his composure deserted him and he hooked harmlessly wide.

Almost immediately after, Andros Townsend's run and pass put him into a promising position, but he then snatched at the ball and shot over the crossbar.

With Liverpool still under threat, Mane conceded a free-kick with a blatant handball that should have led to a second yellow card.

He was soon substituted and then watched as his replacement Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain contributed to Salah's winning goal.

The midfielder's cross from the right wing found Andrew Robertson on the left, and when he played the ball towards Salah, the Egyptian coolly finished low into the bottom corner to secure all three points.

Apart from Liverpool, Manchester United also beat relegation-threatened sides to strengthen their places in the Premier League's top four. Alexis Sanchez scored after setting up Romelu Lukaku's opener as United beat Swansea 2-0 on Saturday.

For United and Liverpool, the target in the league is finishing in the four Champions League places since Manchester City, which is at Everton in the late game, is running away with the title.

Third-place Liverpool are 10 points clear of Chelsea but has played two games more than the fifth-place champions. United are two points better off in second place with a game in hand on Liverpool. Chelsea host fourth-place Tottenham on Sunday.

It is unlikely that West Bromwich Albion will still be in the league next season, remaining 10 points from safety in last place after losing 2-1 to Burnley. Next-from-last Stoke are at Arsenal on Sunday. Southampton, which occupies the remaining relegation place, lost 3-0 to West Ham.

Palace remained two points above the drop zone, a point below Huddersfield, which lost 1-0 to Newcastle. Swansea, like Huddersfield, are only three points clear of the bottom three.

Also Saturday, Bournemouth drew 2-2 at Watford and Leicester won 2-0 at Brighton.

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