Sports

Apr 112016
 
Dele Alli, who turns 20 on Monday, scored his eighth goal of the season for Tottenham

Tottenham maintained their Premier League title challenge with a thumping victory over Manchester United.

Having seen Leicester beat Sunderland earlier, Tottenham scored three goals in six second-half minutes to stay seven points behind the Foxes.

Dele Alli slotted in from inside the area and Toby Alderweireld headed home, before Erik Lamela’s sweet strike.

Anthony Martial drove straight at Hugo Lloris after a weaving run, to register the away side’s only shot on target.

Kick-off was delayed by half an hour as the United team bus was stuck in London traffic en route to White Hart Lane.

And they barely provided a threat in the match, taking until the 62nd minute to test goalkeeper Lloris and capitulating in the second period.

Relive the action from White Hart Lane

Report: Leicester edge closer to Premier League title

Spurs do their bit to stay in touch

Spurs had not beaten their opponents at home since 2001, a run of 14 games, while manager Mauricio Pochettino was winless in six previous games against United.

But the home side ended that sequence with a stunning passage of attacking play to stay second in the table and in touch with leaders Leicester.

Tottenham went backwards to go forwards for their third goal scored by Erik Lamela

There was concern among the home fans as the deadlock lasted for 70 minutes, before Alli – who turns 20 on Monday – latched on to Christian Eriksen’s pass for the opener.

Four minutes later, Alderweireld looped in a header to calm the nerves, and Argentine Lamela, who missed a header from six yards out in the first half, stroked in his 10th goal of the season.

Tottenham, who have conceded the fewest goals in the league this season (25), still need help from leaders Leicester if they are to clinch their first league title since 1961, but this deserved victory keeps their title bid alive.

Listen: Kane wasn’t even on my radar for U21s – Stuart Pearce

Van Gaal’s tactics baffle

Having turned up to the ground late, United seemed set up to contain the opposition and finished with just five shots in the match.

Defeat means the Red Devils face a struggle to finish in the Champions League places at the end of the season, slipping four points behind rivals Manchester City, who currently occupy the crucial fourth place.

Tottenham (left) had 16 shots in the match, eight of which were on target. Manchester United (right) had just five shots, one which hit the target

Bizarrely, Louis van Gaal decided to substitute young striker Marcus Rashford at half-time and sent on winger Ashley Young, who played as the furthest man forward for the second 45 minutes.

Young made little impression, while 18-year-old right-back Timothy Fosu-Mensah was United’s best player, defending robustly with five tackles, five interceptions and six clearances during his 68 minutes on the pitch.

Just two minutes after the Dutchman was replaced by Matteo Darmian because of injury, Tottenham broke the deadlock in a move that came from his side of the pitch.

The scoreline might have been worse for Van Gaal’s side, as goalkeeper David de Gea saved a deflected Eric Dier shot and tipped over Harry Kane’s looping header.

Man of the match – Dele Alli

Another impressive performance from the England youngster, a day before his 20th birthday, capped off by a well-taken goal

What’s next?

Tottenham travel to Stoke in the Premier League on Monday, 18 April (kick-off 20:00 BST), while Manchester United face West Ham in their FA Cup quarter-final replay on Wednesday, 13 April (19:00 BST).

The stats you need to know:

  • Manchester United failed to produce a single shot on target in the first halves of both games against Tottenham this season
  • Erik Lamela scored and assisted in the same game for only the second time in a Premier League match, having done so against Manchester City earlier in this campaign
  • Dele Alli scored his first goal at White Hart Lane since November, when he netted against Aston Villa
  • There were just five minutes and 46 seconds between Spurs’ first and third goals

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Liverpool 4-1 Stoke City

 Posted by at 1:34 AM
Apr 112016
 
Origi now has eight goals in 29 appearances for Liverpool

Substitute Divock Origi scored twice as Liverpool made short work of Stoke to leapfrog their opponents and go eighth in the Premier League.

A long-range shot from Alberto Moreno put the Reds ahead before Bojan escaped his marker to nod in Stoke’s equaliser.

Daniel Sturridge put away Sheyi Ojo’s cross to regain the lead and Origi then headed in, before his attempted cross drifted in after the break.

Stoke rarely threatened apart from a late run from Mame Biram Diouf.

Relive Liverpool’s comfortable win

Origi or Sturridge? Or both?

By making seven changes to his starting line-up, including first Premier League starts for Ojo and Kevin Stewart, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp revealed his priorities for the season’s run-in.

The lure of European silverware – and the resulting Champions League place – means their Europa League quarter-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday now takes precedent over their vanishingly slim chances of gate-crashing the Premier League top four.

Daniel Sturridge (left) roamed far and wide as he made 49 touches, while Divock Origi concentrated his effort more on the penalty box, making 21 touches as a second-half substitute

Klopp opted to play Origi as a lone striker in the first-leg draw in Germany and Sturridge looked lively in the first half as he attempted to win back his place for the return against Dortmund.

After Moreno’s opener, the England international rattled the advertising hoardings with a powerful low shot and showed excellent instincts to get on the end of Ojo’s cross to score.

But Origi also took his chance to shine, adding muscular movement to the Liverpool attack after coming on at the break. The Belgian might have had a hat-trick had he managed to keep a header on target from a Moreno cross.

The two worked well in tandem as Sturridge completed 90 minutes for the first time since 28 February, but surely it is a case of either or against Dortmund on Thursday.

Stoke’s wait goes on

Stoke have now won just three times in 61 league meetings with Liverpool – and the last of those victories came in 1959.

Before the match, Potters’ manager Mark Hughes had noted, rather hopefully, that that win – like this match – was on Grand National weekend,

But his side were relegated to rank outsiders as soon as Liverpool moved two goals clear early in the second half.

Hughes instead will have to take the long-term view. His side are in the same ninth place that they managed in in his previous two seasons at the club, seven points off last season’s total of 54 with five games remaining.

Record signing Giannelli Imbula showed he can provide a platform for Stoke’s attack to shine, but his good work went to waste as the likes of Ibrahim Afellay and Xherdan Shaqiri faded from the game.

Understudies to principals

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Klopp ‘really proud’ of ‘smart’ Liverpool

Klopp’s fourth home league win since taking charge in October took the Reds to within nine points of fourth-placed Manchester City, but perhaps more valuable were the lessons he will have learned about some of his fringe players.

Joe Allen, who is likely to step up from understudy to first-team regular after Jordan Henderson’s injury, used the ball intelligently while Ojo showed electric pace to beat Shaqiri and set up Sturridge’s goal.

Klopp also got several reminders of his side’s weak points though as Ryan Shawcross and Philipp Wollscheid won headers in dangerous areas just as 5ft 7in Bojan did to score his goal.

Man of the match – Joe Allen

Allen (left) was replaced by Lucas Leiva on 78 minutes, but made more tackles than any other Liverpool player – eight – and registered the Reds’ third-highest passing accuracy with with 86.7%

What they said:

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “Today, I’m really proud. We made changes and it was a completely new formation. I’m sure the players have never played together before in this line-up.

“Stoke played 70 to 80% long balls to Peter Crouch, and you have to be tuned into that. It was a smart performance.

“Divock is still a young lad. We have to be patient. He can play together with Daniel.

“There’s absolutely no doubt about that. We hope it stays like this that we have two strikers available like this because we have a big number of games to go.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes: “Once goals go in, it becomes difficult. It could have become embarrassing for us. It was damage limitation in the end.

“I was reasonably happy with the first-half performance, even though we were behind. But we kept on letting ourselves down by not switching on when the ball went dead.

“It was a difficult day, where we didn’t acquit ourselves well enough.

“Today’s result has hurt us obviously. We allowed Liverpool to go above us and teams around us are picking up points. But when we have a setback, we almost always bounce back, and we need to do that.”

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Difficult day for Stoke – Hughes

The stats you need to know

  • Liverpool have won five of their last six league meetings against Stoke, with the other game being a 6-1 loss on the final day of last season.
  • Liverpool netted four goals in a game at home for the first time under Jurgen Klopp.
  • Daniel Sturridge has been directly involved in seven goals in seven Premier League appearances against Stoke with four goals and three assists.
  • Alberto Moreno scored his first Premier League goal since December 2014, ending a run of 42 games without a goal.
  • James Milner has provided more assists than any other Liverpool player in all competitions this season with 10.
  • Bojan scored in consecutive Premier League appearances for the second time this term. The Spaniard had gone 11 games in all competitions without a goal before this run.
  • Divock Origi, who netted his first Premier League brace, has scored in back-to-back games for Liverpool for the first time.

What’s next?

Liverpool meet Borussia Dortmund at home in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday before travelling to Bournemouth on Sunday in the Premier League. Stoke have an eight-day break before playing Tottenham at home next Monday.

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Sunderland 0-2 Leicester City

 Posted by at 11:10 PM
Apr 102016
 
Jamie Vardy scored his 20th and 21st league goals of the season

Jamie Vardy scored twice as leaders Leicester won at Sunderland to move to within three victories of their first top-flight title.

The Foxes are also guaranteed a top-four place finish following Tottenham’s 3-0 win over Manchester United.

Vardy coolly slotted in the first at Sunderland, before outpacing the opposition defence and tucking home a second deep into injury time.

The hosts’ best chance fell to Jack Rodwell, who blazed over.

Sunderland remain 18th in the Premier League table, four points from safety.

Relive the action from the Stadium of Light

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Emotional Ranieri ‘very happy’ with win

Solid in defence, clinical in attack

Leicester’s remarkable surge towards the title shows no signs of slowing up after a battling victory over relegation-threatened Sunderland.

Foxes goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said there is “no pressure” on his side in the run-in and there were certainly no signs of nerves at the Stadium of Light.

Simple but effective. Danny Drinkwater (4) found the run of team-mate Jamie Vardy (9) with a long ball forward for the opening goal

England internationals Danny Drinkwater and Vardy combined for the striker’s 20th league goal of the season, the first Leicester striker to reach the milestone in the top flight since Gary Lineker in the 1984-85 season.

His 21st in injury time was superb, leaving Patrick van Aanholt floundering before going round Vito Mannone to slip the ball into an open net.

Claudio Ranieri’s men have now won their past five league games without conceding, picking up their 14th clean sheet of the campaign on Sunday. They have lost just three of their 33 league games so far.

The supporters stayed inside the ground well after the final whistle chanting “we’re gonna win the league” and it now seems only an astonishing collapse will stop them from lifting the trophy.

Toothless Black Cats need to find goals

Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland side gave a good account of themselves against the leaders, but that is not enough at this stage of the season as they cling on to their Premier League status.

They left the Stadium of Light without any points and are 18th in the table, although they do have a game in hand on Norwich, who are four points and one place above them.

Kaboul’s all-action game in defence saw him make 25 clearances (left) gain possession back six times (middle) and make three tackles (right)

Centre-back Younes Kaboul, who should have done better with a header in the first half, made 25 clearances in the match – the most by a player in the division this season.

And German Jan Kirschoff, patrolling the space in front of the defence, kept key Leicester man Riyad Mahrez quiet, completing seven tackles and gaining possession back 18 times.

However, their problems lie at the other end of the pitch, having scored just four goals in their past six games.

The result could have been different had Rodwell buried his gilt-edged chance, while top scorer Jermain Defoe, with 12 league goals, was on the periphery for much of the game.

Man of the match – Younes Kaboul

Sunderland defender Kaboul was unlucky to be on the losing side against Leicester

What they said:

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce: “I can’t accept how we conceded the first goal. We allowed Jamie Vardy to play to his strengths. One ball over the top… not coping with that was the reason why we lost today.

“Our most costly games were not today. A 0-0 draw would have been good for us. The costly ones were the last three, we should have won all three. That wouldn’t have seen so much pressure on ourselves and that is what told today.”

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Sunderland 0-2 Leicester: Allardyce says side are now feeling pressure

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri: “The fans must continue to dream but we must continue to be concentrated and focused. Now we have two tough matches at home, the Champions League is on the table and we have to keep it. We haven’t achieved anything yet.

“You make this job for the emotion you feel inside, but it is difficult for me to tell what kind of emotion.”

What next?

Sunderland travel to Norwich on Saturday (kick-off 12:45 BST) in a crucial game at the bottom of the table, while leaders Leicester will be looking to take a further step towards the title when they host West Ham the following day (13:30 BST).

The stats you need to know:

  • Leicester City have won 33 points in 2016 – more than any other team in the Premier League
  • The Foxes have kept five consecutive clean sheets in the top flight for the first time in their history
  • All five of Danny Drinkwater’s Premier League assists this season have been for Jamie Vardy
  • Sunderland have enjoyed just one win in their past 11 Premier League games (drawn six, lost four)

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