Salah Double-Fires Liverpool Into Premier League Victory

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 14, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool moved 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League thanks to Mohamed Salah’s double, but had some wasteful finishing from bottom-of-the-table Watford to thank for a 2-0 victory at Anfield.

The Hornets remain six points adrift of safety, but will wonder how they headed home empty handed after enjoying the vast majority of the chances against the European champions.

Salah produced the two moments of real quality for Jurgen Klopp’s men by finishing off from a rapid counter-attack from a Watford corner to open the scoring before flicking home a second a minute from time.

Nigel Pearson was taking charge of Watford for the first time and the impetus of a new manager showed with the 40-point difference between the sides at opposite ends of the table not in evidence in their performances.

However, the big difference was obvious in both boxes as the league’s lowest scorers passed up a host of huge opportunities, whilst Salah was deadly.

Only Watford’s profligacy allowed Liverpool to keep a first clean sheet at Anfield all season as Troy Deeney just failed to reach a teasing cross across the face of goal before Will Hughes dragged a shot just side.

Abdoulaye Doucoure then completely miscued with the goal at his mercy from Etienne Capoue’s clever cut-back with what incredibly was only the second most embarrassing mishit of the half from Watford.

After so many missed chances, the visitors were made to pay by the ruthless runaway leaders as 15 seconds after a Watford corner, the ball was in their net.

All three of Liverpool’s attacking trident were involved as Roberto Firmino’s pass over his head freed Sadio Mane down the left and he fed Salah to cut inside on his weaker right foot to bend the ball brilliantly into the far corner.

Watford should still have been level before the break when Ismaila Sarr somehow also failed to connect with Alisson Becker grounded after parrying Gerard Deulofeu’s cross.

Sarr was wasteful again at the start to the second half as he blasted straight at Alisson with Deeney pleading for a cross.

Liverpool’s extra quality in the final third was in evidence once more when Mane headed in from Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross, but the Senegalese’s celebrations were cut short when the goal was ruled out by a VAR for the most marginal of offside calls.

That handed Pearson’s men a lifeline, but again they failed to take their chance to capitalise when Deulofeu broke clean through on goal only for Alisson to save once more.

This was Liverpool’s seventh game in a run of 15 matches in 50 days across five competitions and the strain on Jurgen Klopp’s squad was not only shown in a jaded display but another injury blow.

Georginio Wijnaldum limped off on the hour mark and could now be a doubt for the Reds’ attempt to win the Club World Cup in Qatar later this week.

However, Liverpool will travel to the Middle East in buoyant mood even if Leicester manage to cut their double-digit lead back to eight points when the Foxes host Norwich later on Saturday.

Salah made sure of the points late on with an imaginative finish to turn home Divock Origi’s mishit shot.

AFP

Salah’s Ankle Nothing To Worry About, Says Klopp

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah is seen to by a medic during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 27, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp moved to allay fears over Mohamed Salah’s left ankle problem saying his departure five minutes before the end of Premier League leaders Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur was a precautionary measure.

The 27-year-old Egyptian star — who had missed the previous match with Manchester United due to the injury — scored the decisive goal to bring up his half century of goals at Anfield.

Salah, who reached the landmark in 58 matches with only Roger Hunt getting there faster, has a few days to rest up before Saturday’s away game at Aston Villa as he was highly unlikely to feature in Wednesday’s League Cup clash with Arsenal.

“It’s the ankle, the ankle he has struggled with since the Leicester game,” said Klopp.

“It’s good but the longer the game goes the muscles get a bit tired, stuff like this, (and) if you get a knock on it then you feel it more.

“It makes no sense to try to push it through because we had other players, still options to change, and that’s what we did. No, nothing serious.”

Klopp, whose side maintained their six point lead over champions Manchester City, said conceding an early goal to the team they beat in last season’s Champions League final had helped concentrate their minds.

The charismatic German — who took Liverpool agonisingly close to their first Premier league title last term only to lose out to City by a point — was delighted in the manner in which his players had responded.

“I am absolutely pleased, but to be honest, I expect it as well,” added Klopp.

“An early goal is obviously not the best thing that can happen, but sometimes it makes one thing clear: game on.

“The counter-press was exceptional, it was kind of back. I loved that, that was really good.

“I told the boys at half-time; ‘The only problem in this game so far is the result — apart from that, it’s good’.”

AFP

Salah Back In Liverpool Line-Up For Genk Tie

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions league Group E football match between Liverpool and Salzburg at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 2, 2019./AFP

 

Mohamed Salah returns to the Liverpool line-up for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Genk in Belgium after missing the weekend draw with Manchester United due to injury.

The Egyptian sat out the Premier League match at Old Trafford, which finished 1-1, because of an ankle problem.

He teams up with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the Liverpool attack in Genk, but Jurgen Klopp’s side are missing key players elsewhere.

With Trent Alexander-Arnold ill, captain James Milner fills in at right-back, while Dejan Lovren plays alongside Virgil van Dijk in central defence as Joel Matip is sidelined.

There are also rare starts in midfield for Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Liverpool are currently on three points in Group E, one point behind leaders Napoli after two outings. Genk, the Belgian champions, are bottom of the section with just one point but held Napoli at home in their last European outing.

AFP

FIFA Awards: Salah, Egypt FA Fall Out Again

 

Egypt’s football association has asked FIFA for clarification after its vote for national icon Mohamed Salah was dropped from the final tally for the world’s best player award.

The results are based on the votes of national coaches, team captains and members of the press in selecting their top three players of the year.

When FIFA released its results, Egypt was curiously absent from the final vote count.

In comments online blame was aimed at Egypt’s football federation for failing to ensure Salah would be given the maximum chance in all votes, although he eventually finished fourth, 20 votes behind winner Lionel Messi.

Salah hinted at his disappointment through his social media activity, changing his Twitter bio to say he only plays for Liverpool and removing any mention of his affiliation to Egypt.

To add insult to injury, Hany Daniel, the Egyptian journalist in the voting, picked Senegalese forward Sadio Mane, Salah’s Liverpool team-mate, ahead of the Egyptian striker who he relegated to third place behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi won with 46 votes while Salah scored only 26 in fourth.

Salah posted a conciliatory tweet after saying “no matter how much they try to change my love for you and your people”, referring to Egypt, “they won’t be able to”.

Hours after the controversy, the Egyptian Football Association said it had asked FIFA for an explanation about why its vote “was not approved”.

The statement released late Tuesday said the association had sent its votes officially to FIFA on August 15 and they were registered on August 19.

“National team captain Ahmed al-Mohamedi voted while the Olympic team’s manager Shawki Ghareeb voted after the resignation of the coaching staff,” it added.

Egypt’s coach Javier Aguirre and the entire board of the association resigned after the country’s abysmal showing in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations that it hosted.

The Pharoahs were knocked out in the second round by South Africa after being dogged by a lack of preparation and a sexual harassment scandal involving player Amr Warda.

Salah and the EFA have butted heads before several times, most prominently when a photo of him was plastered on the squad’s plane ahead of the 2018 World Cup, causing sponsorship problems for the star.

The EFA has been beset with governance issues and was vehemently pilloried by fans for Egypt’s early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.

It was most recently headed by Hani Abou Rida, a powerful FIFA Council member, who was investigated for a massive corruption case that embroiled senior FIFA officials in 2015.

AFP

Mane, Salah Hand Liverpool 3-1 Victory Over Newcastle

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane celebrates after he scores the team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Newcastle at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 14, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah ensured Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent start to the Premier League season by coming from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 at Anfield on Saturday.

The European champions have a history of starting slowly in early kick-offs under Jurgen Klopp and only arose from their slumber after the Magpies took a shock lead through Jetro Willems on seven minutes.

Mane turned the tide before half-time with a sumptuous finish into the top corner before profiting from an error by Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka for his second.

READ ALSO: Benzema Hands Madrid Win Against Levante

Dubravka redeemed himself after the break with a string of fine saves to keep the final score down but was helpless when Salah finished coolly from Roberto Firmino’s cute backheel.

Klopp’s men open up a five-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table, but the champions can cut that gap back to two with victory at Norwich later on Saturday.

Newcastle sprung a huge surprise by claiming their only win of the season so far at Tottenham three weeks ago. They followed the same script as they frustrated the hosts in the early stages before stunning Anfield by going in front.

Willems turned inside Trent Alexander-Arnold before drilling a fierce shot past the helpless Adrian.

Liverpool trailed at home for the first time since March but quickly rallied to record a 14th straight Premier League victory.

Mane was furious with Salah after being substituted in a 3-0 win away to Burnley before the international break, accusing the Egyptian of being too greedy in his eye for goal.

But it is the Senegalese who has more goals so far this season and he arrowed into the far corner from Andy Robertson’s pass to get Liverpool back on level terms.

Firmino had been rested from the start after his travels to the United States with Brazil during the international break, but he was soon called into the action as Divock Origi limped off injured.

And Firmino made an instant impact as his pass towards Mane was spilled by Dubravka for the Liverpool number 10 to roll into an empty net.

Liverpool had only one scare once they were in front as Emil Krafth blasted over a great chance to bring Newcastle level again at the back post.

However, it was only a matter of time before the Reds made the game safe as Dubravka saved brilliantly from Robertson and twice denied the excellent Firmino, who was named man-of-the-match despite only coming on eight minutes before half-time.

The Brazilian bagged another assist when his flick freed Salah, who took his time before leaving Dubravka grounded and placing the ball into the far corner.

Mane was denied his hat-trick and Firmino a triple of assists by the offside flag, but Liverpool cruised through the final stages with one eye already on the start of their defence of the Champions League away to Napoli on Tuesday.

AFP

African Trio Share Premier League Golden Boot

 

The race to be crowned the English Premier League’s leading scorer this season ended in a three-way tie on Sunday as the African trio of Sadio Mane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Salah shared the Golden Boot.

Gabon forward Aubameyang scored twice for Arsenal at Burnley to join Salah and his Liverpool teammate Mane, who netted a final-day double against Wolves, on 22 goals for the Premier League season.

Sergio Aguero, of champions Manchester City, was next in line with 21 goals.

Salah has now won the award two seasons in a row but this term’s winning tally was the lowest by players in English football’s top-flight since 2010/11 when Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez shared the Golden Boot with 20 goals apiece.

Aubameyang was delighted to be a member of an all-African trio of winners, saying in quotes reported by the BBC: “I share this trophy with two other guys I like, great players and African. We are representing Africa, that’s cool.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Chase Euro Dreams After Losing League Title To City

“I am happy we won, and I am sharing this trophy with two other guys I like.

“My teammates knew about the Golden Boot, I said nothing. I did not want them to play and only focus on me. I am a team player.”

For Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp there was the satisfaction of knowing he had a played a part in the careers of all three of this season’s Golden Boot winners, having signed Aubameyang from Saint-Etienne in 2013 when he was in charge of Dortmund.

“Auba too? Do they have three boots?” said Klopp, who suffered the last-day heartache of seeing Liverpool finish just one point behind City.

“It is good. They are all my players,” the German added.

Salah scored 32 league goals last season, a record for a 38-game Premier League campaign.

The 26-year-old is the sixth player to win the Golden Boot award in consecutive seasons.

AFP

Liverpool Seek New ‘Heroes’ With Salah Absent Against Barcelona

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England on September 22, 2018. PHOTO: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool face mission impossible as they seek to overturn a 3-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg deficit on Tuesday against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona without forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

The absence of two of their most potent weapons leaves Jurgen Klopp’s side at a huge disadvantage in a match that was already a massive challenge — but defender Trent Alexander-Arnold says it will be a night for someone else to rise to the occasion.

“Obviously we’ve got two of our main goalscorers out, but it also presents an opportunity for some of the other lads to come in, make a name for themselves and make themselves heroes,” said Alexander-Arnold.

“If we do overturn the deficit tomorrow then whoever scores, their name will always be remembered because I am sure it will be one of those really special nights.”

Liverpool look like ending the season empty-handed after Manchester City’s nervy 1-0 win over Leicester on Monday put Pep Guardiola’s men in the driving seat to regain their Premier League title on Sunday.

Klopp hopes to have Salah back for the final league match against Wolves on Sunday, providing the Egyptian recovers from the concussion he suffered in a collision with Newcastle ‘keeper Martin Dubravka in the 3-2 win on Saturday that kept alive their chances of a first league title for 29 years.

“It’s a concussion so that means he would not even be allowed to play (on Tuesday),” Klopp said on Monday.

“He feels OK but it is not good enough from a medical point of view that is all. He’s desperate (to play) but we cannot do it.”

It is the second year running that Salah has suffered the cruellest of luck in the Champions League — in last season’s final he had to leave the field with an injured shoulder after he was wrestled to the ground by Sergio Ramos. Real Madrid went on to win 3-1.

Klopp was realistic about his side’s chances of progressing to a second consecutive final, but with the memory of Liverpool’s remarkable comeback in the 2005 final against AC Milan fresh in their fans’ minds, the German refuses to give up hope.

“Together with our supporters it was a long season and there is at least a little chance to make it even longer,” Klopp added.

“Two of the world’s best strikers are not available tomorrow night and we have to score four goals against Barcelona to go through after 90 minutes.

“It doesn’t make life easier, but as long as we have 11 players on the pitch, we will try it.”

– Anfield an extra man –
Luis Suarez scored the opening goal against his former club in last week’s first leg at the Camp Nou, but ahead of his return to Anfield, the Uruguayan warned his current teammates that Liverpool will get a huge lift from playing on home soil.

“To play at Anfield is like playing with an extra man for what the fans transmit to the Liverpool players,” said Suarez.

And Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes attack will be the best form of defence — if the Catalans get an away goal, Liverpool will need to score five.

“What we have to do is score,” said Valverde.

Suarez will be joined by Messi and Philippe Coutinho on his return to Liverpool after a £142 million ($186 million) move to Barca last year.

But the often-injured Ousmane Dembele is missing due to a hamstring problem and Valverde believes the Frenchman will be missed just as much as Salah and Firmino.

“We don’t want any player to be injured. It would have been extraordinary to see them all on the field. They are all important,” he said.

“Dembele’s absence is a problem. Against a team that concedes space (in behind) it is always important to have player like Ousmane.”

AFP

Klopp Urges Salah To Draw Inspiration From Teammate, Mane

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp addresses a press conference on the eve of the UEFA Champions League, last 16, second leg football match Bayern Munich v Liverpool in Munich, southern Germany, on March 13, 2019.
Christof STACHE / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Mohamed Salah should use Sadio Mane as inspiration as the Egypt star looks to hit peak form after an inconsistent season.

Salah scored 44 times in his debut season with Liverpool, but his second campaign has not been so smooth.

Although Salah has 20 goals in the current campaign, his goalless run of seven matches is the longest he has experienced since a 10-game streak for Roma in 2015-16.

READ ALSO: Pogba Wants ‘Happy Coach’ Solskjaer To Stay At Man Utd

That is a concern, with Liverpool chasing their first English title since 1990 and also through to the Champions League quarter-finals.

Fortunately for Liverpool, Senegal winger Mane is in fine form and has moved level on 20 goals with Salah, after netting 11 in as many games.

Mane had gone goalless in eight outings in November and December during a spell of 17 matches in which he scored just three times.

Having seen Mane work through his drought successfully, Klopp believes Salah will soon see his luck change in front of goal as well.

“Sadio played pretty much always like this but now he is always in the right spot in the right moment. In football it’s sometimes like this,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website.

“He is in a really good moment, of course. The only thing he did when he was not always in the right spot was work and work and work.

“That’s exactly what Mo has to do, exactly the same, just work, do the right things and it will come again.

“He’s just rather unlucky, where Sadio is lucky at the moment, he is in brilliant shape, that’s true.

“But then, he is in the right shape and maybe a yard away from him is Mo, but somebody else scored. That’s how it is, all good.”

AFP

Fans Baffled As Liverpool Star Mohamed Salah Goes Offline

File Photo: Referee Anthony Taylor gives Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (L) a yellow card for simulation during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London on May 6, 2018.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Fans were left baffled on Wednesday after Liverpool’s star Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah appeared to have deleted all of his social media accounts where his followers number in the millions.

The Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts of Salah, who is idolised in Egypt and Liverpool, went offline without warning a day after he posted a cryptic tweet.

“2019 Resolution: Time to get in touch, for real,” said the final tweet, screenshots of which were shared widely on social media.

Those navigating to his Twitter account on Wednesday could only see a message reading “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”.

On Instagram, the message read “The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.” A similar message appeared on Facebook.

It was not immediately clear whether the shutdowns were deliberate.

Some fans speculated that Salah deleted his accounts due to a dispute he has had with the Egyptian Football Association over his image rights.

Others saw it as a possible new year’s resolution.

Salah has taken the Premier League by storm since signing for Liverpool in the summer of 2017, scoring 50 goals for the English club in just 72 appearances.

Earlier this month, Salah was named the African Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.

Mohamed Salah Retains African Player Of The Year Award

English Premier League Top Scorers
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates: Photo; Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Mohamed Salah completed a memorable day for Egyptian football by retaining his African Player of the Year title in Senegal Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Liverpool star finished first with club-mate Senegalese Sadio Mane and Arsenal and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the other finalists.

It was an identical outcome to last year when Salah became only the second Egyptian after 1983 winner Mahmoud al-Khatib to be voted the best footballer in Africa.

Egypt crushed sole rivals South Africa 16-1 earlier on Tuesday in a CAF executive committee vote in Dakar to decide which country succeeded Cameroon as 2019 Cup of Nations hosts.

Delays to preparations and concerns about security resulted in the central African nation being replaced as hosts, and they will stage the 2021 tournament instead.

While the 15-vote winning margin for Egypt was unexpected, the success of Salah was anticipated as he continues to score regularly for the English Premier League leaders.

Salah netted 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season — his first with the Anfield club — and has bagged 13 Premier League goals so far this season.

Ironically, Aubameyang has scored one league goal more than Salah, topping the charts with Tottenham Hotspur and England star Harry Kane on 14.

Salah was born in a northern Egyptian town Nagrig and used to make eight-hour return trips on buses to train with Cairo-based El Mokawloon (Arab Contractors).

Spotted by scouts from Swiss club Basel, he moved there in 2012 before joining Premier League giants Chelsea two years later.

Salah found scoring difficult early in his professional career and was nicknamed “chancentod” (chance killer) by the Swiss media.

Off-target

Later, playing for Chelsea in a League Cup tie, the Egyptian was so off-target with a goal attempt that the ball trickled over the touchline for a throw-in.

Unhappy with his two-goal return, Chelsea lent Salah to Italian outfits Fiorentina and Roma, then sold him to the latter club.

Salah blossomed in Rome, averaging close to a goal every two matches, and Liverpool paid almost 37 million pounds (about $47 mn/41 mn euros) to sign him two years ago.

The Egyptian had his share of setbacks last year, too, with an injury in the Champions League final loss to Real Madrid also keeping him out of a World Cup defeat by Uruguay.

He returned to score against hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, but the Pharaohs exited their first appearance at the global showpiece in 28 years without securing even one point.

Salah netted twice and missed two penalties three months later in a 6-0 Cup of Nations rout of Niger and snatched the late winner in a 3-2 victory over Tunisia in the same competition.

Having defended his Player of the Year title, his next goal will be to match the four straight wins in the competition by former Manchester City and Ivory Coast star Yaya Toure.

The other male awards went to France-born Morocco coach Herve Renard, the Mauritania national team, and Moroccan Achraf Hakimi in the youth category.

South African Chrestinah Kgatlana was voted Women’s Player of the Year and South Africa coach Desiree Ellis and the Nigeria national team were the other female winners.

The Goal of the Year award also went to Kgatlana.

Salah In Line To Retain African Player Of The Year Award

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on August 25, 2018. Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

Title-holder Mohamed Salah of Egypt was among 10 African stars named Friday in a Premier League-dominated short-list for the 2018 CAF Player of the Year award.

The 26-year-old scored 44 goals for Liverpool in all competitions last season, his first at Anfield after moving from Roma, and is set to be voted number one in Africa again.

After a slow start to his second season in England, Salah is joint leading Premier League scorer on 10 goals with Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal.

Salah and 2015 African Player of the Year Aubameyang are among five nominees from England’s top flight, with Manchester City winger Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez, who won the award in 2016 after helping Leicester City to a historic Premier League title, joining them.

Salah’s Senegalese Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane, and Nigerian Alex Iwobi of Arsenal are the other candidates from the most-watched football league in the world.

There are two goalkeepers vying to become the first to win the award since Badou Zaki of Morocco 32 years ago — Cameroonian Andre Onana of Ajax Amsterdam and Ugandan Denis Onyango from South African club Mamelodi Sundowns.

Moroccan defender Mehdi Benatia, Egyptian midfielder Walid Soliman and Tunisian striker Anis Badri complete the list.

French coach Herve Renard, who won the Africa Cup of Nations with Zambia and the Ivory Coast and is now in charge of Morocco, is among three Coach of the Year contenders.

His rivals are Aliou Cisse of Senegal and Moine Chaabani, who guided Tunisian side Esperance to the CAF Champions League title after being put in charge just one match before the final.

The award winners will be announced on January 8 at a ceremony in Dakar.

African awards shortlists

Player of the Year

Alex Iwobi (Nigeria, Arsenal/ENG), Andre Onana (Cameroon, Ajax/NED), Anis Badri (Tunisia, Esperance), Denis Onyango (Uganda, Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA), Mehdi Benatia (Morocco, Juventus/ITA), Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool/ENG), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon,Arsenal/ENG), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria, Manchester City/ENG), Sadio Mane (Senegal, Liverpool/ENG), Walid Soliman (Egypt, Al Ahly)

Women’s Player of the Year

Abdulai Mukarama (Ghana), Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria), Bassira Toure (Mali), Chrestinah Kgatlana (South Africa), Elizabeth Addo (Ghana), Francisca Ordega (Nigeria), Gabrielle Onguene (Cameroon), Janine van Wyk (South Africa), Onome Ebi (Nigeria), Raissa Feudjio (Cameroon), Tabitha Chawinga (Malawi)

Youth Player of the Year

Achraf Hakimi (Morocco), Franck Kessie (Ivory Coast), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)

Coach of the Year

Aliou Cisse (Senegal), Herve Renard (Morocco), Moine Chaabani (Esperance/TUN)

Women’s Coach of the Year

Desiree Ellis (South Africa), Joseph Ndoko (Cameroon), Thomas Dennerby (Nigeria)

National Team of the Year

Madagascar, Mauritania, Uganda

Women’s National Team of the Year

Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa

AFP

Liverpool Qualify For Champions League Knockout Stage

English Premiership giants Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League knockout stage. 

Mohamed Salah’s stunning solo effort saw Liverpool edge out Napoli for a place in the Champions League last 16 thanks to a 1-0 win at Anfield on Tuesday.

Salah wriggled beyond two Napoli challenges before finishing from a narrow angle 11 minutes before the break on a night when only Liverpool’s profligacy in front of goal cost them a more comfortable margin of victory.

And they were nearly made to pay in stoppage time when Alisson Becker produced a crucial save to deny Arkadiusz Milik a dramatic equaliser.

However, despite losing all three of their away games in Group C, three home wins at fortress Anfield were enough to see Liverpool through to the knockout stage on goals scored over the Italians in second place behind Paris Saint-Germain, who won 4-1 away to Red Star Belgrade to secure top spot.

Salah signalled his return to top form by scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 win at Bournemouth on Saturday that sent Liverpool to the top of the Premier League, and his 13th goal of the season saw luck shine on last season’s Champions League finalists.

The Egyptian fluffed his first chance of the night when he miscontrolled Andrew Robertson’s excellent cross with just David Ospina to beat.

Napoli were left aggrieved 15 minutes in when Virgil van Dijk was only shown a yellow card for a dangerous lunge on Dries Mertens.

Van Dijk did play the ball first, but his follow through took out the Belgian international and could easily have been punished with a red card by Slovenian referee Damir Skomina.

Napoli had not been beaten in Europe this season before travelling to England’s north-west and showed the danger they posed when Marek Hamsik fired inches over from Mertens’s cross.

Liverpool Take Control

However, Liverpool began to take control as the first half went on.

Sadio Mane had the ball in the net, but was rightly ruled offside before Salah broke the deadlock.

Salah outmuscled Mario Rui and skipped past Kalidou Koulibaly before squeezing the ball underneath Ospina from a narrow angle.

Had Liverpool conceded they would have had to win by two goals due to their 1-0 defeat in Naples, and the hosts failed to cash in on their dominance of the early stages of the second half to avoid a nervy ending.

Salah pulled his shot into the side-netting with a far better angle from the one he scored, while Milner and Van Dijk sent long-range efforts flying just wide of the target.

But Liverpool couldn’t build on their advantage as Ospina made acrobatic saves to keep out Salah and Mane once more.

And they should have been made to pay on two occasions as firstly Jose Maria Callejon spooned over a glorious chance at the back post 12 minutes from time.

Mane missed another two sitters in front of the Kop to Jurgen Klopp’s amazement.

But Liverpool lived to fight another day thanks to Alisson, who paid back some of his £67 million ($85 million) then-world record fee for a goalkeeper in July, by spreading himself bravely to block from Milik to keep his 12th clean sheet of the season.

AFP