Liverpool Steamroller Ajax To Cruise Into Champions League Last 16

In this file photo, Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures on the touchline during the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 13, 2022.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool shrugged off their Premier League problems to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League with a 3-0 win over Ajax on Wednesday.

Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott were on target in Amsterdam as the Reds reached the knockout stage for a sixth consecutive season.

Jurgen Klopp’s men still have a mountain to climb next week when Napoli visit Anfield if they are to finish top of Group A.

Liverpool trail the Italians by three points and need to better Napoli’s 4-1 win when the sides met last month to get the better of the head-to-head record.

Defeat ends Ajax’s chances of reaching the last 16 and the Dutch champions were left to rue not taking advantage of a fast start as they flew out the traps.

Steven Berghuis should have opened the scoring after just two minutes when he fired against the post with just Alisson Becker to beat.

Berghuis then shot just wide from range and Dusan Tadic should have done better when he blasted into the body of Trent Alexander-Arnold at the back post.

Liverpool have now won as many Champions League matches this season as they have in 11 Premier League games.

The contrasting form of Jurgen Klopp’s men between domestic and European action is reflected in Salah’s scoring record.

Of the Egyptian’s nine goals this season, six have come in the Champions League as he produced a cool finish over Remko Pasveer from Jordan Henderson’s through ball to settle Liverpool nerves.

The visitors should have been out of sight before half-time but for an astonishing miss from Nunez, who hit the post with the goal gaping from Roberto Firmino’s unselfish pass.

Nunez has had a rollercoaster start to his career with the Reds after a 75 million euro ($74 million) move from Benfica and he quickly made amends after the break.

The Uruguayan rose highest to power Andy Robertson’s corner in off the far post on 49 minutes.

Three minutes later, Liverpool were cruising when Salah picked out the run of Elliott, who fired high past Pasveer from a narrow angle.

Klopp pointed much of the blame for his side’s lack of consistency in the opening months of the season to a catalogue of injuries.

And with another five games still to come before the World Cup break next month, a commanding lead meant the Liverpool could take their foot off the gas in the final half-hour with Nunez, Fabinho and Henderson among those handed a rest by Klopp.

AFP

Man City Boss Guardiola Apologises After Offensive Hillsborough Chants

Manchester City’s Coach, Pep Guardiola

 

 

Pep Guardiola has apologised for offensive chants by Manchester City fans referring to the Hillsborough and Heysel tragedies during his side’s defeat at Liverpool.

The Anfield club expressed their disappointment over the conduct of City supporters after the fiery Premier League clash at Anfield on Sunday, referring to “vile chants relating to football stadium tragedies” that took place in the 1980s.

Mohamed Salah struck in the second half as Liverpool beat Premier League champions City 1-0.

As well as the chants, similarly themed graffiti was also daubed in a number of places on the concourse of the Anfield Road end stand.

Guardiola became the first person from City to speak publicly on the matter at his regular pre-match press conference on Friday.

“I didn’t hear the chant,” he said. “If it happened I’m so sorry. It doesn’t represent what we are as a team and a club — if this happened.

“But don’t worry, we can behave perfectly (after) our mistakes, without a problem.”

The chanting and vandalism was not the only unsavoury issue to mar City’s meeting with Liverpool on Sunday.

Coins were thrown at Guardiola during the match and the City bus was struck by a missile as it left Anfield.

Asked if he felt the rivalry between the two clubs had become toxic, Guardiola said: “I don’t think so. From our side, I’m pretty sure of that.”

City, second in the Premier League table, host Brighton on Saturday.

Mane And Salah Renew Rivalry With Top African Award Up For Grabs

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah

 

 

Another chapter in the personal rivalry between former Liverpool teammates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will play out in Rabat on Thursday when the annual African award winners are announced.

Mane was a key figure in the Senegal team that defeated Salah-captained Egypt in the 2021/2022 Africa Cup of Nations final and in a 2022 World Cup play-off.

Both the African title decider in Cameroon and the Qatar eliminator in Senegal were won by the Teranga Lions after penalty shootouts.

Mane scored in each shootout while the final was decided before Salah could take his kick, and he blazed wide in the play-off.

The Senegalese successes have made Mane favourite to win a second straight Player of the Year award after 2019 — the following two editions were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Should Mane win in the Moroccan capital, he will become the first Bayern Munich star to be voted the top African footballer.

The closest a player from the German giants has come to winning was in 1999 and 2001 when Ghanaian Samuel Kuffour finished second.

Mane moved to Bayern last month on a three-year deal after joining Liverpool in 2016 from Southampton and Anfield boss Jurgen Klopp calls him “a complete forward”.

“My only criticism of Sadio is that maybe at times he is the only one not to realise just how good he is.”

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson hailed the predatory instincts of the 30-year-old: “Whenever he is in front of the goal you do not think he will miss.”

Salah lifted the award in 2017 and 2018 and the victory of Mane the following year raised to four the number of winners from Liverpool with another Senegalese, El Hadji Diouf, topping the 2002 vote.

– South Africans dominate women hopefuls –
The Egyptian had an outstanding 2021-2022 season for the Reds, sharing the Golden Boot award with South Korean Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur.

Salah was voted Premier League Player of the Season by both the Professional Footballers’ Association and the Football Writers’ Association.

Algeria captain and Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez is the other former winner among the 10 nominees having come first in 2016 after helping rank outsiders Leicester City become Premier League champions.

Mahrez and Algeria have struggled lately, however, with the defending champions making a humiliating first round exit from the Cup of Nations, then losing a World Cup play-off against Cameroon.

The 10 candidates for the Club Player of the Year include Brazilian Tiago Azulao, whose chart-topping seven goals in the CAF Champions League took Angolan outfit Petro Luanda to a surprise semi-finals spot.

South Africans dominate the Women’s Player of the Year nominees with 2018 winner Thembi Kgatlana, Andile Dlamini, Refiloe Jane and Bambanani Mbane among 10 hopefuls.

Ghana, notable absentees from the ongoing Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco after losing a first round qualifier against Nigeria, have two representatives, Evelyn Badu and Doris Boaduwaa.

Nigeria, the powerhouse of women’s football in Africa for decades, have one candidate, highly decorated Asisat Oshoala, who plays for 2022 European Champions League runners-up Barcelona.

Ruled out of the Cup of Nations in Morocco by injury, Oshoala has been voted African Player of the Year four times, most recently in 2019.

Choosing the best women’s national team will be delayed until after the Cup of Nations final between Morocco and South Africa in Rabat on Saturday.

African football legends, CAF technical committee members, coaches and captains of national teams and of some clubs and selected media pick the winners.

Mohamed Salah, Sam Kerr Win English Football Writers’ Awards

A Photo combination of Liverpool Foward Mohamed Salah and an Australian professional soccer player who plays as a forward for Chelsea in the FA Women’s Super League, Sam Kerr.

 

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been voted footballer of the year by sportswriters in England, while Chelsea’s Australian striker Sam Kerr won the women’s award.

Salah took 48 percent of the vote for the Football Writers’ Association award, ahead of Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

Salah, whose 30 goals this season have spearheaded Liverpool’s bid for a quadruple of trophies, is in talks about a new contract, with the club increasingly hopeful the Egyptian international will stay at Anfield.

The 29-year-old wins the football writers’ award for the second time.

Players from the two clubs locked in the Premier League title race, Liverpool and Manchester City, dominated the votes, with nine of manager Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool squad nominated and a total of six City players recognised.

Kerr, whose 18 goals have helped Chelsea top the Women’s Super League table, claimed 40 percent of the vote with Arsenal’s Dutch international forward Vivianne Miedema in second place and Lauren Hemp of Manchester City third.

Salah and Kerr, 28, are set to receive their awards at the Footballer of the Year dinner in London on May 5.

FWA chair Carrie Brown said: “Both Mo and Sam have been outstanding this season, breaking records for both club and country.

“As well as their performances on the pitch, they are leaders and standard bearers of excellence at their clubs and respective leagues.”

Klopp Unsure If His Own Liverpool Deal Will Persuade Salah To Stay

Mohamed Salah and Jurgen Klopp

 

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he does not believe his new deal will be the deciding factor in whether star forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane commit their long-term futures to the club.

Salah and Mane, along with fellow attacker Roberto Firmino and midfielder Naby Keita, have contracts that expire next year.

With Klopp now staying until 2026, there is a greater degree of security at the club, but the German is not convinced that will make a huge difference to individual players’ decisions.

“If it is a positive sign for the boys, great, but I don’t think this will be the one decisive thing for whatever decision they want to make,” he said on Friday.

“It is their own life but we just wanted to guarantee that everyone who wants to be here knows what he can expect.”

Egypt international Salah, whose negotiations have dragged on for several months, admitted last week it was not certain he would remain at Anfield, stressing the decision was not just about the money.

But Klopp said he did not make judgements about players’ loyalty based on whether they wanted to go elsewhere.

“If a player tells you early enough he wants to go then you have to deal with it,” Klopp said.

“I don’t judge people if they are loyal or not if they say during a contract ‘I want to go somewhere else and see what the weather is like or how the grass is there’.

“That’s not the case. I think you see loyalty in other areas.”

Salah was named the Football Writers’ Association player of the year on Friday.

Klopp takes his side to Newcastle for the early kick-off on Saturday, looking to put pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester City, who are playing later at Leeds, by opening up a two-point gap at the top.

With one foot in the Champions League final after a 2-0 win over Villarreal in the first leg of their semi-final and an FA Cup final against Chelsea next month, an unprecedented quadruple remains a possibility.

Klopp, whose side have already won the League Cup this season, said his new contract was the start of a new era at the club.

“We don’t think about changing the team in the next two or three years or whatever, but you have to prepare the little things so that you are ready for the future as well,” he said.

“That’s why I really think it’s a really good place to be or a good place to join, if not the perfect place.

“We cannot wait 10 years. We have to do it now. It’s no threat. This is only the start, to be honest. That’s the plan, that we really, really go for it.”

Salah Vows Revenge As Egypt And Senegal Fight For World Cup Place

FILE PHOTO: Egypt’s forward Mohamed Salah walks past the trophy after loosing the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. PHOTO: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Egypt captain Mohamed Salah has vowed to avenge an Africa Cup of Nations final loss last month to Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal when they clash again on Friday in a 2022 World Cup play-off.

Failure in the continental final was particularly bitter for prolific Liverpool scorer Salah as he was also part of the Egyptian team that lost the 2017 Cup of Nations final against Cameroon.

Liverpool teammate Mane played a pivotal role in the first Cup of Nations triumph of Senegal — atoning for a penalty miss in regular time by converting the spot-kick that won the shoot-out.

READ ALSO: John Noble, Lookman Arrive Nigeria As Eagles Roster Swells To 25

Egypt host the first leg on Friday and Senegal have home advantage next Tuesday with the aggregate winners filling one of five places reserved for Africa at the 32-nation finals in Qatar.

Here, AFP Sport looks ahead to the five first legs with Cameroon seeking a record-extending eighth appearance by an African nation at the World Cup and Mali hoping to reach the finals for the first time.

 

Egypt v Senegal

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse says the Cup of Nations triumph is history and all that matters is securing a second straight World Cup appearance.

“Winning the Cup of Nations is not an end in itself because we share a common goal of playing at the World Cup again,” he told reporters.

With a ‘spine’ comprising Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye and Mane, Senegal are well equipped to succeed.

Egypt welcome back star goalkeeper Mohamed el Shenawy, who missed the Cup of Nations final through injury, but they were the second best side in the African title decider and start as underdogs.

The Egyptian media reported Egypt captain Mohamed Salah telling his teammates after the penalty shoot-out defeat in Cameroon that “we meet them (Senegal) again next month and inshallah (God willing) we will take revenge”.

 

Ghana v Nigeria

Nigeria are favoured, but tradition suggests a close affair with each nation winning twice in previous World Cup qualifiers and four other meetings drawn.

Both fared poorly at the Cup of Nations with Ghana shock first-round casualties after losing to minnows Comoros and Nigeria making a timid last-16 departure against Tunisia.

Nigeria boast a stronger squad than they had in Cameroon with forwards Emmanuel Dennis, Odion Ighalo and Victor Osimhen now available, but injured midfielder Wilfred Ndidi misses out.

Ghana fired Serb coach Milovan Rajevac after the Cup of Nations debacle and brought in Otto Addo with former Newcastle and Brighton boss Chris Hughton lending assistance.

 

Cameroon v Algeria

Hosts Cameroon fired Portuguese Toni Conceicao after finishing third at the Cup of Nations and hired legend Rigobert Song on the orders of President Paul Biya.

Song has chosen most of the team eliminated by Egypt in the semi-finals and there will be much interest in how he treats Bayern Munich forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Choupo-Moting was furious at the not making the starting line-up against the Pharaohs and teaming up with captain and leading Cup of Nations scorer Vincent Aboubakar and Karl Toko Ekambi.

Algeria suffered a disastrous Cup of Nations title defence, going out after the first round, and coach Djamel Belmadi has dumped 11 of the squad he took to Cameroon in January.

 

DR Congo v Morocco

The Democratic Republic of Congo are alone among the 10 contenders in not having the benefit of match practice at the Cup of Nations — they came third in a qualifying group and missed out.

It could be advantageous, though, as Morocco will not have recent footage of the Leopards, whose only previous World Cup appearance was in 1974 when the country was called Zaire.

However, it is no secret that Dieumerci Mbokani is the man Morocco must shackle after the 36-year-old scored four goals in qualifiers having been recalled after several years in the wilderness.

Cup of Nations quarter-finalists Morocco boast a star full-back in Ashraf Hakimi, but Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech will be absent due to a fall-out with coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

 

Mali v Tunisia

Mali and Tunisia met at the Cup of Nations in Cameroon and a tale of two penalties ended with the Eagles from west Africa winning 1-0 after Ibrahima Kone scored and Wahbi Khazri missed.

More close encounters are likely with Mali hoping to create history, and deny Tunisia a sixth World Cup appearance.

A boost for Mali is the belated decision of France-born Everton midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure to represent the country of his parents.

Tunisia, who fell to Burkina Faso in the Cup of Nations quarter-finals, have recalled forward Taha Yassine Khenissi after he completed a six-month doping ban.

AFP

Salah’s Egypt Target Revenge In World Cup Play-Off After AFCON Defeat

File photo: Egypt’s forward Mohamed Salah. PHOTO: Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

Mohamed Salah’s Egypt are hoping to avenge their Africa Cup of Nations final defeat at the hands of Senegal when the countries meet again in a decisive two-legged World Cup play-off next month.

The Pharaohs fell short of winning a record-extending eighth continental crown as they went down 4-2 in the shoot-out in Yaounde after Sunday’s final finished 0-0 at the end of extra time.

Mohamed Abdelmonem and Mohanad Lasheen both failed to convert their penalties, meaning Salah did not get the chance to step up before Sadio Mane converted the winning kick for Senegal to give them their first-ever AFCON crown.

READ ALSO: Senegal Declares National Holiday To Celebrate AFCON Win

“We will pick ourselves up from this. Today we were not able to win but we will be better next time,” said Egyptian goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal, who was named man of the match after saving a Mane penalty in the seventh minute.

The 33-year-old, who carries his nickname Gabaski on the back of his shirt, also saved from Bouna Sarr in the shoot-out but his efforts were ultimate to no avail.

Salah appeared to be on the brink of tears even before Mane had converted his penalty as he ended up on the losing side in a Cup of Nations final for the second time in three editions after Egypt were also beaten in the 2017 climax by Cameroon.

“Salah is a world-class player and his attitude is the same as anyone else,” said Egypt assistant coach Diaa al-Sayed, speaking because coach Carlos Queiroz was suspended for the final.

“He was determined to win. He has played in and won big competitions in Europe but he really wanted to win this trophy for his country.

“With him we want to qualify for the World Cup. He is just like the captain of any team. He is disappointed that he didn’t achieve his goal.”

The teams will meet again over two legs at the end of March in the final round of African World Cup qualifying, with Egypt due to be at home in the first leg as they look to secure a place in Qatar at the end of the year.

Both sides went to the last World Cup in Russia in 2018, going out in the group stage.

AFP

Salah Spoils Gerrard’s Return To Liverpool

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (R) misses a chance during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 11, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (R) misses a chance during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 11, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Liverpool ensured there was no happy return to Anfield for Steven Gerrard as Mohamed Salah’s second-half penalty earned a 1-0 win over Aston Villa.

Gerrard said he would gladly sacrifice some of his legendary status among the Liverpool support for a result on his first trip to Anfield as part of the visiting team.

However, Villa barely laid a glove on the Jurgen Klopp’s men, who should have been far more convincing winners as they moved back to within a point of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Gerrard was welcomed with gentle applause as he emerged from the tunnel, but there was no great fanfare for the man who scored 186 goals in 710 games as a Liverpool player.

READ ALSO: Sterling Bags 100th Premier League Goal As Man City Beat Wolves

Even a brief chant of his name from the Kop was drowned out by cries of “Liverpool” as the crowd focused their attention on maintaining pace with City at the top of the table.

The Reds should have been well in front by half-time after dominating a frustrating 45 minutes.

Salah has now scored 21 goals in 22 games this season, but showed remarkable restraint to resist a shot at goal from Andy Robertson’s cut-back to allow Trent Alexander-Arnold to blast an effort that was headed for the top corner until it deflected off Matt Targett and behind for a corner.

Robertson was the major threat for Klopp’s men as he exploited the space he was afforded down the left.

The Scotland captain’s deflected header nearly wrong-footed Emiliano Martinez before he had two strong appeals for penalties waved away for challenges by Marvelous Nakamba, who had already been booked.

Klopp grew increasingly agitated at the officiating of referee Stuart Attwell as Liverpool failed to make their dominance show on the scoreboard.

Villa had won three of Gerrard’s first four games in charge, but could not keep the ball for long enough to amount any sort of attacking threat themselves.

A slip by Alisson Becker created the visitors’ best chance of the first half, but Ashley Young failed to turn the ball goalwards beyond the imposing figure of Joel Matip.

Martinez got down sharply to his left to deny Salah just before the break with the first of a string of fine saves by the Argentine number one.

Virgil van Dijk was next to be denied by the former Arsenal ‘keeper as Liverpool camped Villa inside their own half for the first 20 minutes of the second half.

Salah bent another effort narrowly over moments later, but he finally made the difference for the only goal of the game on 67 minutes.

Tyrone Mings was roped into a clumsy challenge on Salah and at the third time of asking, Liverpool got their spot-kick.

Martinez has earned a reputation as a penalty specialist, but Salah’s strike was too precise for the Villa stopper despite guessing the right way.

Going behind suddenly sparked Villa into life as Gerrard introduced Danny Ings and Emiliano Buendia to offer more of an attacking threat.

And they too had a big appeal for a penalty turned down late on when Alisson’s attempted clearance rebounded off Matip towards his own goal and the Brazilian goalkeeper escaped unpunished from a collision with Ings.

 

AFP

Salah Hits Hat-Trick As Liverpool Humiliate Man Utd

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring their fifth goal, his third during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on October 24, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Liverpool inflicted a historic hammering on Manchester United as Mohamed Salah scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clinging to his job.

For the first time in Premier League history, United trailed 4-0 at half-time and failed to score in a hopelessly one-sided contest. The Red Devils have now taken a run of one point from a possible 12 in the league.

Naby Keita started the rout before Diogo Jota doubled Liverpool’s lead inside 15 minutes.

Salah then took centre stage to take his tally for the season to 15 goals in 12 appearances and become the top-scoring African player in Premier League history in the process.

To round off a miserable day for United, Paul Pogba lasted less than 15 minutes as a second-half substitute as he was shown a straight red card for a reckless lunge that forced Keita to leave the pitch on a stretcher.

Liverpool’s first victory in front of a crowd at Old Trafford under Jurgen Klopp moves them back above Manchester City into second, just a point behind leaders Chelsea.

By contrast, United’s hopes of a first league title since 2013 already look over as they remain eight points off the leaders.

That gap is likely to grow in the coming weeks with Tottenham and City to come in the next fortnight before an international break.

Whether Solskjaer will still be in charge come November is now in serious doubt as he has completely failed to form a balanced team from a talented collection of star players.

The Norwegian will wonder what might have been had Bruno Fernandes not fired over a glorious chance to open the scoring on three minutes.

But soon the defensive cracks that have blighted United’s season began to appear.

Salah teed up Keita to open the floodgates after just five minutes with a composed low finish past David de Gea.

United came from 2-0 down at the break to beat Atalanta 3-2 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

But former midfielder Paul Scholes’ warning after that match that Liverpool would be 4-0 up in 45 minutes if handed the same space to attack into came to fruition.

Jota justified his selection ahead of Sadio Mane as he stretched to turn in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross to double Liverpool’s advantage.

Salah has now scored in 10 consecutive games and overtook Didier Drogba with his 105th Premier League goal when the Egyptian turned home Keita’s cut-back with the United defence all at sea.

Cristiano Ronaldo was lucky to avoid a red card as United’s frustrations bubbled over in first-half stoppage time when he was booked for lashing out at Curtis Jones in a sign of what was to come as the home side lost their discipline.

Liverpool inflicted further punishment before the break when Salah smashed home his 14th goal in 12 games this season at De Gea’s near post.

Salah then completed his hat-trick with another cool finish five minutes into the second-half after Jordan Henderson’s pass dissected the United defence once more.

Ronaldo thought he had pulled a goal back only for a VAR review to catch him in an offside position.

Another VAR check saw the end of Pogba’s brief cameo for a horrendous studs-up challenge on Keita that forced the Guinean off.

Solskjaer sacrificed Fernandes and Marcus Rashford to try and stop the bleeding as Old Trafford emptied during the final half-hour.

De Gea ensured Liverpool failed to match their record margin of victory against United with an incredible save from Alexander-Arnold’s drive.

However, that did not subdue the mood among the travelling fans as they mockingly chanted for Solskjaer to remain in his job.

Salah Wants To End Career At Liverpool

Liverpool's Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah eyes the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on October 19, 2021. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP
Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah eyes the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on October 19, 2021. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Mohamed Salah has told Liverpool he wants to stay for the rest of his career, but the Egypt forward insisted the success of his contract negotiations with the club “doesn’t depend on me”.

Salah’s current contract expires in 2023 and Liverpool are trying to finalise a new long-term deal.

The 29-year-old has so far been unable to come to terms with the Reds amid reports he wants wages that would make him one of the Premier League’s top earners.

That has sparked fears Salah will leave Anfield eventually, a concern fuelled when he flirted with Real Madrid last season.

READ ALSO: Haaland Out For ‘Several Weeks’ With Hip Injury

But, on the eve of Liverpool’s clash with arch rivals Manchester United on Sunday, Salah put the ball in his club’s court as he said he would stay forever given the chance.

“It doesn’t depend on me, but if you asked me I would love to stay until the last day of my football career,” Salah told Sky Sports on Friday.

“But I can’t say much about that, it’s not in my hands. It depends on what the club wants. It doesn’t depend on me.

“At the moment, I can’t see myself ever playing against Liverpool. That would make me sad.

“It’s hard. I don’t want to talk about it, but it would make me really sad and at the moment I don’t see myself playing against Liverpool, but let’s see what will happen in the future.”

Salah has been in superb form for Jurgen Klopp’s side this season, scoring 12 goals in 11 appearances in all competitions.

He is the first Liverpool player ever to score in nine successive games in all competitions and he also became the fastest player to score 100 goals for Liverpool in September.

Salah’s majestic goals against Manchester City and Watford recently were considered early contenders for goal of the season.

 

AFP

UCL: Salah Delivers Again As Liverpool Beat 10-Man Atletico

Liverpool's Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on October 19, 2021. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring his team’s third goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on October 19, 2021. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Mohamed Salah continued his blistering run of form on Tuesday by scoring twice in a 3-2 victory over 10-man Atletico Madrid as Liverpool took charge of Group B in the Champions League.

Salah gave Liverpool the lead with another splendid goal at the Wanda Metropolitano after dancing past three Atletico defenders and firing in to make it nine consecutive games the Egyptian has scored in.

But a wild contest in Madrid had several twists and turns still to come as Naby Keita doubled the advantage only for Atletico to strike twice before half-time, Antoine Griezmann pulling his team back into the match and leaving Liverpool looking temporarily dishevelled.

Yet Griezmann was sent off in the 52nd minute for a high foot into the face of Roberto Firmino and Liverpool made Atleti pay, a clumsy challenge by Mario Hermoso on Diogo Jota giving Salah the chance to win the game from the spot.

READ ALSO: Klopp Not A Fan Of Atletico Style Despite Respect For Simeone

Even with 10 men, Atletico thought they might have snatched a draw late on as Luis Suarez, on off the bench, prepared to take a penalty against his former club with his first touch.

Instead, referee Daniel Siebert infuriated the home crowd by cancelling his decision after consulting the replay.

Liverpool move five points clear at the top of the group, with Atletico seemingly left to scrap it out with Porto for second place. They have four points each.

Between his two goals, Salah was often on the fringes of a game that was high on adrenaline but low on craft and creativity.

Yet the 29-year-old proved the difference again, adding his 11th and 12 goals of the season and showing why many now have him as favourite for the Ballon d’Or.

Diego Simeone’s plan seemed to be to have Thomas Lemar doubling up with Yannick Carrasco when Salah moved into threatening positions but in the eighth minute, Salah just nipped past both of them.

He collected the ball far out on the right towards the corner flag, danced inside Carrasco, Lemar and then finally Koke before unleashing from the edge of the box, his shot deflecting off James Milner.

Atleti had barely paused for breath when Liverpool made it two, this time Felipe with some uncharacteristically limp defending, his wild clearance plopping up to Keita, who whacked it first time on the volley into the net.

Liverpool were faster, stronger and cutting through Atletico almost at will but little by little the home side resisted and found their way back.

A chipped pass from the impressive Joao Felix had to be poked out of Carrasco’s reach at the back post and from the resulting corner, Atleti pulled one back.

Lemar wriggled round the back of Keita and his cross bypassed everyone in the area before landing with Koke, who did well to shoot low into the crowd, where Griezmann diverted in.

The wait for a VAR check gave Simeone a second chance to thrash his arms towards the home crowd, with Atletico believing again.

Felix scuttled clear but Alisson blocked the finish and then Felix surged past Keita on the left touchline.

Prodding inside to Griezmann, the gap was not obvious, but Virgil van Dijk had his angles wrong and the Frenchman’s first touch was decisive, piercing him through Liverpool’s defence and offering space for a cool finish.

Lemar and Carrasco both went close either side of half-time and Atletico appeared to have the initiative, Liverpool’s early authority lost.

But Griezmann’s red card changed the complexion again, the striker sent off after lifting his foot high enough to connect with the side of Firmino’s head, even if his eyes were fixed firmly on the ball.

The dismissal spoiled the flow as Atletico, and Simeone, looked for every chance either to squeeze a Liverpool red card from Siebert or waste time.

They looked like they might hold on for a point until Hermoso blinked in the 76th minute, his clumsy challenge on Jota under a high ball in the area prompting Siebert to point to the spot.

Jan Oblak jumped right, Salah rolled left.

AFP

Mane Scores 100th Liverpool Goal In Palace Stroll

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (C) vies with Crystal Palace’s English defender Joel Ward (R) during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Sadio Mane scored his 100th Liverpool goal as the Senegal star inspired a 3-0 win against Crystal Palace that sent his side top of the Premier League on Saturday.

Mane’s milestone strike came in his 224th appearance for the Reds, breaking Palace’s rearguard action late in the first half at Anfield.

Egypt forward Mohamed Salah and Guinea midfielder Naby Keita netted in the second half to move Jurgen Klopp’s team three points clear of second-placed Manchester City.

It was fitting that Mane should make it to his century against Palace as he set a new Premier League record for the most consecutive games a player has scored against one opponent.

It was the ninth successive match that Mane had netted against Palace.

More importantly for Klopp, Mane already has four goals this term, suggesting he is ready to put last season’s disappointing personal campaign behind him.

After Liverpool’s lacklustre, injury-hit defence of the Premier League title, they are back in the groove in the chase to regain the trophy from Manchester City.

Klopp’s men have opened the season with an unbeaten run of four wins from five games, with just one goal conceded and 12 scored.

French defender Ibrahima Konate, signed from Leipzig in the close season, was handed his Liverpool debut as one of six changes from the midweek Champions League win over AC Milan.

Klopp switched his entire back four, with Virgil van Dijk returning, James Milner playing on the right instead of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kostas Tsimikas replacing Andy Robertson.

 

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (C) celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Mane Stars

Initially, Liverpool seemed unsettled by Klopp’s alterations and Palace nearly took advantage of a defensive blunder that ended with Alisson Becker pushing Wilfried Zaha’s shot onto the post.

Diogo Jota led the Liverpool response as the Portugal forward fired across goal from a tight angle.

Jordan Henderson scored Liverpool’s winner against AC Milan and the England midfielder was close to netting again when his half-volley from Mane’s cross forced Vicente Guaita to make a good stop.

Jota missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock, firing over from three yards after the ball was palmed out to him by Guaita.

But Mane ended Palace’s spirited resistance in the 43rd minute.

Salah’s header from Tsimikas’ corner was saved by Guaita and Mane pounced to slam the rebound past the Palace keeper.

Alisson had to make a fine save from Joel Ward’s drive to preserve Liverpool’s lead at the interval.

Palace were inches away from earning a second-half penalty when Conor Gallagher was tripped right on the edge of the area.

Christian Benteke wasted the free-kick, before Van Dijk headed just over at the other end.

Keita’s shot was repelled by Guaita, who scrambled to his feet to deny Salah’s follow-up attempt.

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah removes his shirt as he celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Salah wouldn’t be denied a goal for long and the Egypt star delivered the knockout blow in the 78th minute.

Van Dijk helped on a Liverpool corner and Salah was perfectly placed to slot home at the far post.

Keita, on as a second-half replacement for Thiago Alcantara, put the seal on Liverpool’s stroll when he volleyed in from the edge of the area in the 89th minute.

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

AFP