Premier League: Liverpool beats Crystal Palace to cut Manchester City’s lead

Liverpool's Fabinho is hailed by team-mates Jordan Henderson (L) and Takumi Minamino after scoring in a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

Liverpool reduced the gap at the top of the Premier League to nine points after a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace on Sunday (Monday NZ time).

Virgil Van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored in the first half but Patrick Vieira’s side reduced the deficit through Odsonne Edouard’s goal after the break.

It took a string of saves by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker to keep the lead for the visitors before Fabinho scored a penalty in the 89th minute to seal the win that took advantage of leader Manchester City drawing at Southampton on Saturday.

This was Liverpool’s fifth game without Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane while they are at the African Cup of Nations.

Andrew Robertson’s corner created the opener for Van Dijk’s header in the eighth minute. It was a poor goal for the hosts to give away and they could not handle Liverpool’s relentless pressing in the opening exchanges with Oxlade-Chamberlain firing off target twice in quick succession.

But then Robertson spotted the late run of Oxlade-Chamberlain into the area and picked out his teammate with a superb crossfield ball. The midfielder, back after a minor ankle injury, controlled on his chest and rifled into the net in the 32nd.

Jordan Henderson could have put the game to bed at the start of the second half but he fired wide on the turn after another fine delivery from Robertson.

Palace did finally get on the scoresheet in the 55th. Jean-Philippe Mateta beat the offside trap to collect Jeffrey Schlupp’s excellent through ball and squared for Edouard to tap in for his sixth goal of the season.

Joachim Andersen was the next to go close for Palace with a long-range strike that whizzed just wide before Schlupp fired into the side-netting.

The big moment arrived with seven minutes left when Andersen sent Michael Olise away and his lobbed effort was brilliantly tipped wide by Alisson, who clattered into the post.

Liverpool’s Diogo Jota went through minutes later but missed his kick and then collided into goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

After referee Kevin Friend had waved away appeals, VAR called for the official to have another look and he pointed to the spot.

Fabinho tucked away the penalty with a minute left to close the gap on City, with Pep Guardiola’s side having also played a game more than Liverpool, which visits the Etihad in April.

Once Hakim Ziyech’s curling, dipping strike landed in the Tottenham goal, Chelsea never looked back in their London derby.

Sure, it took until two minutes into the second half to break the deadlock. But the space gifted for Thiago Silva’s header in the 55th minute to seal a 2-0 win was a snapshot of this most lopsided of London rivalries.

Chelsea should never have doubted its four-match winless run in the Premier League would end on Sunday. Not even with former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte going nine league matches unbeaten at the start of his Tottenham reign before the visit to Stamford Bridge.

It’s now 33 wins for Chelsea against Tottenham in the Premier League era – more than against any other opponent. Not since 2018 has a Tottenham player even scored against Chelsea in the league when the north London side last won this derby.

Tottenham will have complaints that Harry Kane was denied a first-half goal when it was ruled out for what appeared his slight touch on Thiago Silva before racing through on goal to meet Ryan Sessegnon’s cross.

But for all Kane harangued referee Paul Tierney at halftime, Tottenham crumbling so soon after the break made the win for Chelsea look inevitable. Tottenham was also denied a spot in the League Cup final by Chelsea winning both semifinal legs this month.

Victory for Thomas Tuchel’s side shores up a top-four place that was starting to look shaky before winning for the first time since December 26.

Chelsea stayed a point behind second-place Liverpool, which won 3-1 across London at Crystal Palace. The results will give a flicker of hope that Manchester City can still be caught after the champions were held at Southampton to Saturday to now sit only nine points in front of Liverpool having played a game more.

While Tottenham is in seventh place, the coronavirus postponements distort the standings. Tottenham fell to 11 points behind Chelsea but with four games in hand. And Man United is only two points ahead in the fourth Champions League place having played two more games than Tottenham.

What helped Conte slightly was Arsenal being held 0-0 by Burnley. Arsenal did move above Tottenham into sixth place on goal difference but having played an extra game.

Tottenham couldn’t recreate the drama from Wednesday night when two stoppage-time goals turned around a game at Leicester to win. And Leicester disappointed again on Sunday, drawing 1-1 with Brighton.

Burnley returned to Premier League action for the first time in three weeks and held Arsenal 0-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Clarets have seen games postponed this month due to not having enough players available due to injuries and coronavirus cases and fell to last place as their rivals were able to fulfil fixtures.

Wins for fellow relegation candidates Norwich and Newcastle only heaped pressure on Burnley. But Sean Dyche’s side moved within four points of safety, with four games in hand over Norwich in 17th place.

The Gunners got their north London derby meeting with Tottenham postponed last weekend so head into the international break having lost to Manchester City and drawn with Burnley in their only league matches this month.

Arsenal are two points behind fourth-place Manchester United with a game in hand.

Brighton held Leicester City to a 1-1 draw after Patson Daka scored for Leicester immediately after halftime and former England striker Danny Welbeck equalised for the Seagulls in the 82nd minute.

The victory ensured Brighton stayed in ninth place – one position and four points ahead of Leicester.

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