Ronaldo’s Duel With Salah Takes Centre Stage As Man United Face Liverpool

A cardboard cut out of new signing Cristiano Ronaldo is held by Manchester United supporters during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on August 29, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah will go head to head for the right to be billed as the Premier League’s top dog when Manchester United face arch-rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp risked irking United striker Ronaldo ahead of the crunch clash when he hailed Salah as the best player in the world last weekend.

The Egypt forward has been in superb form, with his sublime strikes against Manchester City and Watford already goal of the season contenders.

But Ronaldo hasn’t been far behind with a series of crucial goals underlining his superstar status.

While Paris Saint-Germain duo Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe can also stake their claim to be the world’s best, in the Premier League there is little doubt that Ronaldo and Salah are the main men.

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates after he scores his team's fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 1, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates after he scores his team’s fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England on February 1, 2020. PHOTO: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

So who will be this season’s preeminent force?

Sunday’s crucial showdown at Old Trafford will go some way to deciding that question.

Without a win in their last three league games, United are four points behind second-placed Liverpool.

United need Ronaldo to continue his knack of rising to the big occasion, while unbeaten Liverpool hope Salah can continue his blistering streak.

Salah has scored 12 times in 11 games this season, with Ronaldo netting six times in eight matches since returning to United from Juventus in August.

Salah became the first Liverpool player to score in nine consecutive games after striking twice in the Champions League win at Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Just 24 hours later, Ronaldo stole the European spotlight with the late headed winner that completed United’s fightback from two goals down to beat Atalanta 3-2.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer naturally leans towards his player in any debate about the best of the best.

But he admitted Salah’s red-hot run makes him a fearsome proposition.

“I’ll always back Cristiano in any competition. He’s unique. That being said, Salah, at the moment, he’s on fire,” Solskjaer said.

“We know we have to be at our best to defend against him. We have to focus on them for 95 minutes to keep a clean sheet.

“I’m a big fan of Liverpool’s front three. We have to enjoy the players, though not Salah on Sunday, of course.”

– True greatness –

Asked to debate the virtues of the pair on Friday, Klopp took a diplomatic approach as he highlighted each star’s quality.

“Why should we compare Cristiano Ronaldo and Mo Salah? Obviously both are world-class players, so that’s how it is,” he said.

“Even when Ronaldo’s left foot is not that bad, I would say Mo’s left foot is probably better.

“Maybe then Cristiano in the air is slightly better and the right foot is probably better.

“But speed-wise they are both pretty quick, very desperate to score goals, so maybe that’s it.”

It is the ability to propel a team to silverware that defines true greatness and, on that front, Ronaldo has the edge, for now.

While Salah has won one Premier League title with Liverpool, Ronaldo is a three-time English champion, not forgetting his combined four league titles at Real Madrid and Juventus.

Salah has one Champions League crown, but Ronaldo has lifted Europe’s elite club prize five times.

Salah, whose contract expires in 2023, is reportedly looking for a new deal that would make him one of the Premier League’s highest paid players alongside Ronaldo.

Liverpool will surely have to bow to the 29-year-old’s demands, given he has scored 137 goals in 214 games for the club since joining from Roma in 2017.

Ronaldo has such longevity that even Salah might not be able to match all the Portugal legend’s achievements.

The 36-year-old has amassed 124 goals in 300 United appearances over his two spells with the club.

He has also won the Ballon d’Or fives times and is the record goalscorer in both the Champions League and international football.

However, Klopp believes Salah has the right character to stay at the top for years to come.

“Mo is incredibly professional. He’s really the first and very often the last out of all the players,” Klopp said.

“He’s constantly interested in all the different things he has to do to improve. He has still a lot to give, 100 percent.”

AFP

African Players In Europe: In-Form Salah Equals Drogba Record

File Photo of Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah. (Photo by Peter Byrne / POOL / AFP)

 

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah equalled the Premier League goals record for an African when he scored in a 5-0 rout of Watford at the weekend.

The Egypt forward has netted 104 times in the world’s most watched domestic league, matching the total of former Ivory Coast attacker Didier Drogba during two spells with Chelsea.

Salah showed why he is one of the most in-form players in the world with a stunning solo effort as he danced between four defenders to score for the eighth consecutive game.

Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the major European leagues.

ENGLAND

SADIO MANE, MOHAMED SALAH (Liverpool)

Mane became just the third African player to score 100 Premier League goals after Drogba and Salah as Liverpool overwhelmed Watford. Salah was the provider for Mane’s landmark effort with a brilliant pass for the Senegal attacker to slot home his sixth goal of the season.

PATSON DAKA (Leicester)

Zambia forward Daka grabbed his first Leicester goal as the Foxes inflicted more misery on Manchester United with a 4-2 win. Daka has played just 39 minutes of Premier League football since his mid-year move from Salzburg, but made his mark off the bench with the final goal of the game in stoppage time as he tapped home at the back post from a free-kick.

EDOUARD MENDY (Chelsea)

The Senegal goalkeeper repelled a late Brentford barrage to secure a 1-0 win. The European champions needed Mendy to make three stunning saves to hold out for a victory to take them back to the top of the table. “He’s a world-class goalkeeper and is the one we’ve got to thank,” said Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.

ITALY

VICTOR OSIMHEN (Napoli)

The Nigeria forward scored his fifth Serie A goal of the season as Napoli defeated Torino 1-0 to maintain their perfect start to the season. Osimhen headed in after 81 minutes, making the most of an attempted clearance that ricocheted off team-mate Eljif Elmas. “It was the most important goal of my career,” said Osimhen. “The atmosphere at the stadium was incredible. The fans pushed us forward and we managed to get the three points.”

GERMANY

TAIWO AWONIYI (Union Berlin)

Fresh from his international debut, the Nigeria forward bagged his fourth goal in three games to hand Union a surprise 2-0 win over Wolfsburg. The home crowd sang Awoniyi’s name after he put Union ahead just after half-time by scoring his sixth league goal this season. “He is our life insurance”, said goalkeeper Andreas Luthe.

IHLAS BEBOU (Hoffenheim)

Togo striker Bebou opened his Bundesliga account for the season with two goals in Hoffenheim’s 5-0 thrashing of Cologne. Bebou scored in the first half and doubled the lead after the break with a neat backheel to send Hoffenheim on the way to their second-highest Bundesliga victory.

ODILON KOSSOUNOU (Bayer Leverkusen)

Ivory Coast defender endured a torrid afternoon at the back as a young Leverkusen side were put to the sword by league leaders and reigning champions Bayern Munich. Kossounou and his teammates were powerless to stop Bayern’s marauding front line in the first half, as Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Mueller and Serge Gnabry smashed in four goals in seven minutes. The 5-1 win sent Bayern back to the top of the table.

FRANCE

KAMALDEEN SULEMANA (Rennes)

The Ghanaian teenager scored a magnificent solo goal to take his haul for the season to four in a 3-0 victory at Metz. Sulemana, who started both World Cup qualifying wins over Zimbabwe, poked the ball through the legs of a defender before smashing in via the crossbar as Rennes put the game out of reach by half-time.

VITAL N’SIMBA (Clermont)

The Angola-born Democratic Republic of Congo defender bagged his first Ligue 1 goal to give promoted Clermont a memorable 1-0 win over reigning champions Lille. N’Simba crashed home a powerful low drive from 20 metres to end a run of seven games without a victory for his side.

African Players In Europe: Salah Set To Break Drogba’s Goal Record


Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah runs for the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England, on October 3, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Mohamed Salah netted a brilliant solo goal for Liverpool in a 2-2 draw with Manchester City at the weekend, and moved closer to overtaking Didier Drogba as the leading African scorer in the English Premier League.

Retired Ivory Coast great Drogba bagged 104 goals in two spells with Chelsea while Salah lifted his total to 103 with a wonderful goal against City at Anfield.

While scoring is second nature to the Egyptian, Ghanaian Iddrisu Baba claimed his first for Real Mallorca in his 102nd appearance for the La Liga outfit.

Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the five major European leagues.

ENGLAND – MOHAMED SALAH/SADIO MANE (Liverpool)

Salah and Mane dazzled with two goals and an assist between them in a thrilling draw against Manchester City. Mane put the Reds ahead by scoring his 99th Premier League goal with a powerful finish across Ederson in the 59th minute after being released by Salah. The Egyptian gave the Reds the lead again in the 76th minute, bamboozling City’s defence with his dribbling and finding the far corner from a tight angle to score for the seventh consecutive game.

JEFFREY SCHLUPP (Crystal Palace)

Schlupp scored Palace’s equaliser 48 seconds after entering the fray as a substitute to haunt former club Leicester in a 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park. The Ghana international — part of Leicester’s title-winning 2015/16 squad — headed past Kasper Schmeichel with his first touch in the 72nd minute.

KELECHI IHEANACHO (Leicester)

Iheanacho celebrated his 25th birthday by opening the scoring for Leicester on his first Premier League start of the season. The Nigerian dispossessed Joachim Andersen and raced clear to score his third goal of the campaign.

SPAIN – IDDRISU BABA (Mallorca)

It has taken 102 matches but, finally, Ghanaian midfielder Baba made it on to the score sheet for Mallorca, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Levante. Baba, who joined Mallorca’s youth setup in January 2014, rose above the defence at the back post to head home Pablo Maffeo’s cross four minutes before halftime.

ITALY – MUSA BARROW (Bologna)

Gambian international forward Barrow set Bologna on their way to a surprising 3-0 win over Lazio with a superb strike. The 22-year-old unleashed a curling shot which whipped around Pepe Reina and gave the hosts a 14th-minute lead, which they then used to end a mini-crisis early in the season.

GERMANY – TAIWO AWONIYI (Union Berlin)

The Nigerian striker scored Union Berlin’s 100th Bundesliga goal as he led his side’s superb second-half comeback in a 2-1 win at Mainz. Having missed several chances earlier in the game, Awoniyi struck twice in the space of four minutes against his former club as Union recorded their first away victory of the season.

ELLYES SKHIRI (Cologne)

The Tunisian midfielder also scored twice to keep Cologne’s excellent start to the season going with a 3-1 home win over Greuther Fuerth. Skhiri put Cologne ahead early in the second half before scoring again in stoppage time.

OMAR MARMOUSH (Stuttgart)

Egyptian Marmoush picked up his first Bundesliga assist as his side beat local rivals Hoffenheim 3-1. Marmoush, on loan from Wolfsburg, set up Stuttgart’s opening goal, picking out Marc-Oliver Kempf with a corner.

FRANCE – STEPHANE BAHOKEN (Angers)

The Cameroon forward struck the winning goal in stoppage time as Angers twice came from behind to beat Metz 3-2. Bahoken turned in from close range after coming on as a late substitute to net his second goal of the season and send Angers back into the top four.

KAMALDEEN SULEMANA (Rennes)

The Ghanaian teenager played a leading role as Rennes upstaged a Paris Saint-Germain side featuring Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar by inflicting a 2-0 defeat at Roazhon Park, putting an end to their 100-percent record in Ligue 1. Sulemana delivered the cross for Gaetan Laborde to volley in the opener and twice went close to scoring himself.

AFP

Liverpool’s Salah Set To Play In Tokyo Olympics

File photo: Egypt’s Mohamed Salah vies for the ball against Congo’s Tobias Badila during their World Cup 2018 Africa qualifying match between Egypt and Congo at the Borg el-Arab stadium in Alexandria on October 8, 2017. TAREK ABDEL HAMID / AFP

 

 

Egypt coach Shawky Gharib told AFP on Thursday that Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah was ready to add significant weight behind the country’s quest for a first-ever Olympic football medal in Tokyo.

“I have made it public that I’d like to have him on board in our Olympic campaign and he hasn’t refused, which means he also wants to play with us,” Gharib, the celebrated former Egyptian player turned manager, said.

“Salah’s participation in the Olympics is endorsed by the state, represented by the Sports Ministry and the Egyptian Football Association, in our concerted effort to garner an Olympic medal in football for the first time,” he added.

He said the “three-way” decision will be up to Salah, Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp and Gharib himself.

READ ALSOInjured Pepe Out Of Portugal World Cup Qualifiers

Despite Liverpool’s stuttering title defence, Salah is still this season’s joint English Premier League top-scorer alongside Harry Kane on 17, with a tally of 25 goals in all competitions.

File photo: (L-R) Egypt’s Mohamed Abdel-Shafy, Tarek Hamed, Essam El-Hadary, Mohamed Salah, Saleh Gomaa, Ahmed Fathy, Mohamed Elneny, Hassan Ahmed, Ramadan Sobhi, Ahmed Hegazi, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy pose for a team picture during their World Cup 2018 Africa qualifying match between Egypt and Congo at the Borg el-Arab stadium in Alexandria on October 8, 2017. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

 

“Salah, as one of the three best players internationally, will lift the Pharoahs to a whole new level in the Olympics,” Gharib said.

“His presence with us will make a huge difference,” he added, likening Salah to Neymar who helped Brazil clinch their first football gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

AFP

Salah, Mane Also Guilty Of Diving, Clattenburg Slams Klopp

A file photo combination of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.

 

Mark Clattenburg has criticised  Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp over his comments about Manchester United, claiming certain Liverpool stars were equally guilty of diving to trick referees into awarding penalties.

Klopp had said United had more penalties in two years than the Reds had had in five-and-a-half years. This was after Liverpool lost 1-0 to Southampton.

But Clattenburg, known not to spare one’s blushes when it comes to the beautiful game, tore into the Red’s boss claiming he (Klopp)  “sounds like a hypocrite” after he inferred that United players sort to win games by penalties.

”The likes of Mo Salah and Mane are just as capable of employing similar tactics,” the 45- year-old referee wrote in an article on Daily Mail.

The Englishman noted that “there were a couple of things to take from Klopp’s comments after that game. First, he sounds like a hypocrite if he is suggesting United’s players are looking to win penalties.”

READ ALSO: WHO Tackles New Strains As China Logs First COVID-19 Death In 8 Months

He also remarked that the former Dortmund boss hates losing and makes him irritable while also dismissing any form of favouritism given to the Red Devils.

File photo: Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp attends a press conference at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England on October 1, 2019, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group E football match against FC Salzburg. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

”But he is wrong to suggest there is an aura around United that sees them given favourable decisions,” he added. “There used to be when Fergie was there, but that has eased massively since he left.”

Ole Gunnar Solkjaer’s men will face their next test as they travel to Anfield on Sunday to face defending champions Liverpool to solidify their top spot on the Premier League log.

 

 

 

 

PHOTOS: How Ronaldo, Messi, Salah, Nigerian Footballers, Others Marked Christmas

A photo combination of Nigerian star, Wilfred Ndidi and Mohamed Salah.

 

Nigerian footballers have joined players like Argentine maestro, Lionel Messi, Juventus star, Cristiano Ronaldo, Egyptian forward, Mohamed Salah and others to mark this year’s Christmas celebrations.

Messi’s wife, Antonela Roccuzzo shared photos of herself, and children, while on holiday with the Barcelona forward in his home country.

READ ALSO: Aubameyang Urges Young Arsenal Players To ‘Be Patient’


“We wish you a Merry Christmas!! Full of love, health and happiness,” Messi’s archrival, Ronaldo tweeted alongside a photo of his family. 

Leicester City midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi was among Nigerian players who took to various social media platforms to share photos of themselves and family celebrating the birth of Christ.

“Merry Christmas, “the U-17 World Cup winner wrote alongside a photo of himself, wife and children he shared on Instagram, Friday morning.

 

Everton star, Alex Iwobi equally shared photos of himself, mother, father and sister on his Instagram handle on Thursday evening.

 

 

Other Nigerian players like Manchester United striker, Odion Ighalo, and Shehu Abdullahi and several African stars such as Salah, Gervinho, Yaya Toure, to name a few, also marked the holiday period in style as seen below:

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Gervinho (@gervinhofficial)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Yaya Touré (@realtoureyaya)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mohamed Salah (@mosalah)

 

 

 

 

FIFA Awards 2020: Lewandowski Joins Messi, Ronaldo On Ten Man Shortlist

 

European player of the year Robert Lewandowski is one of 10 players on the shortlist for the Best FIFA Men’s Player award unveiled Wednesday, alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe.

Besides Polish striker Lewandowski, one other winner of the Champions League with Bayern Munich made the list, Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who joined Liverpool in September.

The English champions also count Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Dutchman Virgil van Dijk on the shortlist.

Paris Saint-Germain, beaten Champions League finalists, are represented by Mbappe and Neymar.

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos complete the list.

Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, who led Leeds into the English Premier League, headlines a list for the men’s coach award, which also features Bayern’s Hans-Dieter Flick, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane.

 

READ ALSO: Ibrahimovic Hints At Possible Sweden National Team Return

 

Three finalists from categories also including men and women’s goalkeepers, and women’s players and coaches will be announced on December 11, with the award handed out on December 17.

Shortlists for Best FIFA awards

Men: Thiago Alcantara (ESP/Bayern Munchen/Liverpool), Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Juventus), Kevin De Bruyne (BEL/Manchester City), Robert Lewandowski (POL/Bayern Munich), Sadio Mane (SEN/Liverpool), Kylian Mbappe (FRA/Paris Saint-Germain), Lionel Messi (ARG/Barcelona), Neymar (BRA/Paris Saint-Germain), Sergio Ramos (ESP/Real Madrid), Mohamed Salah (EGY/Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (NED/Liverpool)

Women: Lucy Bronze (ENG/Lyon/Manchester City), Delphine Cascarino (FRA/Lyon), Caroline Graham Hansen (NOR/Barcelona), Pernille Harder (DEN/Wolfsburg/Chelsea), Jennifer Hermoso (ESP/Barcelona), Ji So-yun (KOR/Chelsea), Sam Kerr (AUS/Chelsea), Saki Kumagai (JPN/Lyon), Dzsenifer Marozsan (GER/Lyon), Vivianne Miedema (NED/Arsenal), Wendie Renard (FRA/Lyon)

-AFP

Salah Left On The Bench For Liverpool Return

Mohammed-Salah-Loss-To-Chelsea
File: 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

 

Mohamed Salah was left on the bench for Liverpool’s first game in 106 days as the Reds look to move within one win of the Premier League title at Everton.

Salah’s place in the front three alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino goes to Takumi Minamino, while Andy Robertson also misses out at left-back with James Milner deputising.

The Egyptian is Liverpool’s top scorer in the league this season with 16 goals.

Jurgen Klopp’s men can end a 30-year wait to win a league title this week with victory in the Merseyside derby and at home to Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Despite concerns over supporters congregating around the stadiums, Sunday’s clash will take place at Everton’s Goodison Park, less than a mile from Liverpool’s Anfield home.

Salah, Mane And Mahrez Battle For African Player Of Year Award

 

Mohamed Salah will face competition from Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane if he is to sweep a third consecutive African Player of the Year award.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) tweeted that Egypt’s Salah, Mane of Senegal as well Manchester City’s Algerian forward Riyad Mahrez were on the shortlist for the award.

Salah was crowned the continent’s top player in 2017 and 2018 while Mahrez took it in 2016.

READ ALSO: Oshoala, Osimhen, Chukwueze Make Final List Of 2019 CAF Awards

Salah and Mane helped Liverpool to the Champions League, European Super Cup, and Club World Cup this year.

Mahrez, meanwhile, was part of the City team who successfully defended the Premier League title.

He was also a key part of the Algerian squad which triumphed in the African Cup of Nations.

The winner of the African Player of the Year award will be announced in Egypt on January 7.

AFP

Liverpool Survive Salzburg Test To Reach Champions League Last 16

Liverpool’s Guinean midfielder Naby Keita, Liverpool’s English midfielder Jordan Henderson and Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino react during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between RB Salzburg and Liverpool FC on December 10, 2019 in Salzburg, Austria.
KRUGFOTO / APA / AFP

 

Liverpool struck twice in two minutes through Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah to avoid an embarrassing early Champions League exit by winning 2-0 in Salzburg on Tuesday.

The European champions needed to avoid defeat against the Austrian champions to book their place in the last 16 and victory ensured they did so as winners of Group E ahead of Napoli.

Salah had been guilty of missing a host of big chances as Liverpool walked a tightrope for nearly an hour, but made amends with a sumptuous finish from a narrow angle after Keita’s header had settled the holders’ nerves.

Salzburg had scored 87 goals in 24 previous games this season, including three when Liverpool edged a seven-goal thriller between the two back in October.

But Norwegian wonder kid Erling Braut Haaland was thwarted as the Reds recorded their first clean sheet in the Champions League this season.

READ ALSO: France Extend Deschamps’ Contract Until 2022

Liverpool needed goalkeeper Alisson Becker to be at his best early on as the Brazilian blocked from Takumi Minamino and Haaland.

However, the better chances were coming for the Premier League leaders at the other end.

Salah dragged his first big chance wide on his favoured left foot at the end of a brilliant Liverpool break from one end of the field to the other.

Keita had been rewarded for his goalscoring return to the team in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Bournemouth and seemed keen to make a mark against his former side.

But the Guinea midfielder failed to beat Cican Stankovic when played in by Salah’s slick reverse pass in first half stoppage time.

Salah was the culprit of more missed opportunities at the start of the second half when he fired over from Sadio Mane’s brilliant through ball and seconds later he was denied by Stankovic as he tried to round the goalkeeper.

Liverpool’s profligacy could have been punished when Haaland had his big chance to live up to the hype linking him with a host of Europe’s top clubs, but the 19-year-old hit the side-netting with just Alisson to beat.

Seconds later the visitors finally made the breakthrough when the two ex-Salzburg men in Mane and Keita combined.

Stankovic rashly rushed off his line as Mane sped onto Andy Robertson’s pass and his dinked cross was headed into an unguarded net by Keita.

A minute later, any hope left for Salzburg to spring an upset evaporated when Salah implausibly scored from the most difficult chance he had all evening.

The Egyptian seemed to have been forced too far wide on his right foot as Stankovic raced from his goal once again, but Salah somehow bent the ball with unerring accuracy into the far corner.

In each of the last two seasons Liverpool have also needed to get points in their final group game before going onto reach the final and no one will want to face Klopp’s men again come the knockout stages.

A first Premier League title in 30 years may be the priority on Merseyside with an eight-point lead over Leicester at the top of the table.

AFP

 

Salah Fires Liverpool To Comeback Win Over Spurs

 

Mohamed Salah ensured Liverpool survived a major scare with the winner in a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur that saw the Premier League leaders restore their six-point advantage over Manchester City.

The Egyptian smashed home a 75th-minute penalty, the 50th Anfield goal of his Liverpool career, as the Reds came back from going a goal down just seconds after kick off to maintain their unbeaten league record with their ninth win in 10 matches.

Salah’s decisive spot-kick was awarded after Serge Aurier allowed Sadio Mane to gain a goalside position on him before tripping him in the process of making a tackle.

It was a decision that angered the visitors but one that allowed Liverpool to complete a second-half comeback that was started when Jordan Henderson cancelled out a dramatic early opening goal from Harry Kane.

After recent question marks over Liverpool’s ability to maintain their majestic early-season form, this was an impressive win that came after Kane had put Spurs ahead just 47 seconds into the contest.

The 26-year-old’s header made him the joint-third highest scorer in Tottenham’s history with 174 goals.

It was also one of the simplest after Moussa Sissoko sparked a scrambling counter-attack and set Son Heung-min racing upfield.

– Kane shocks Anfield –

The South Korean’s powerful strike from the edge of the area took a wild deflection off the head of Dejan Lovren before hitting the left-hand post but the rebound fell kindly for Kane to stoop and head into the gaping net.

It was a lead that lasted until the 52nd minute, when a Henderson cross was headed clear and turned back into the area by Fabinho.

Danny Rose appeared to nudge Roberto Firmino in the back but, with referee Anthony Taylor unmoved, the ball continued to the corner of the six-yard area where Henderson hit it on the half-volley into the Spurs goal.

Minutes earlier, Spurs might have doubled their lead when Son was sent clear on the end of a long clearance by keeper Paulo Gazzaniga, rounded Alisson Becker but could only strike the cross-bar from a tricky angle.

But the equaliser was no more than Liverpool deserved after a dominant first-half spell in which only an inspired performance from stand-in goalkeeper Gazzaniga maintained the visitors’ lead.

In one breathless, four-minute spell, Liverpool carved out five excellent chances with Gazzaniga peerless in dealing with them.

The best of the Argentine’s masterclass saw him first save from Salah and then keep out a fierce follow-up blast from Firmino.

The keeper also did well to tip over a Virgil van Dijk header and parry Trent Alexander-Arnold’s powerful shot in a first half that ended in fractious fashion before Liverpool opened the second in a similarly dominant mood.

Before the equaliser Gazzaniga saved well once more, from Firmino’s close-range header, and afterwards the keeper somehow blocked a shot from the Brazilian by sitting on the ball on his goalline.

Having taken the lead, Liverpool weathered the concluding minutes in relative comfort although Alisson was forced to save well from Son and from an injury-time header from Toby Alderweireld.

Salah Sends Egypt Into Cup Of Nations Last 16

 

Mohamed Salah scored his first goal of the Africa Cup of Nations as hosts Egypt secured a place in the last 16 on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ahmed Elmohamady prodded Egypt ahead on 25 minutes after a wicked Salah cross and the Liverpool star slammed in a second shortly before half-time to spark frenzied celebrations at a packed Cairo International Stadium.

Record seven-time champions Egypt rode their luck at times as DR Congo twice struck the crossbar in the first half but the Group A leaders held firm to join Nigeria as the first teams through to the knockout phase.

Egypt overcame the distraction of Amr Warda being banished from the squad earlier in the day over mounting sexual harassment allegations. The claims surfaced earlier this week on social media platforms. Multiple women posted screenshots and testimonies of Warda’s alleged lewd comments.

Coach Javier Aguirre fielded the same side that defeated Zimbabwe 1-0, with centre-back Ahmed Hegazy sporting a mask after breaking his nose in the opening game of the tournament.

Salah was guilty of missing a hatful of chances in the curtain-raiser and this season’s Premier League joint top scorer again threatened inside five minutes here when an interception broke his way only for the Egyptian to skew wide under pressure.

After four days of small crowds, a capacity 75,000 crowd again turned out to cheer on the hosts in the capital, but they were nearly silenced when Marcel Tisserand slammed against the bar at a corner.

DR Congo came to Egypt as one of the most unpredictable qualifiers having finished third in 2015 only to make a timid quarter-final exit two years ago, and they fell behind for the second straight game as Elmohamady forced home after the ball fell kindly to him following an aerial challenge with Christian Luyindama.

Having created the opener with his vicious right-wing cross, Salah then stung the palms of Ley Matampi with a powerful 25-yard free-kick.

Egypt would be rescued by the woodwork once more though when a deep cross was nodded back across goal by Bokadi Bope before Jonathan Bolingi’s looping header bounced back off the bar.

With his side riding their luck, Salah rose to the occasion and settled Egyptian nerves two minutes before half-time with a typically brilliant finish.

Played into space down the right by Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan, Salah skipped inside Tisserand and ripped a crisp low drive inside Matampi’s near post to cue a volcanic eruption from the masses of delirious Egyptians supporters.

Mohamed El Shenawy produced an excellent sprawling second-half save to claw out a Jacques Maghoma header, but despite an improvement on a horror first outing, DR Congo now know they must beat Zimbabwe in their final game in order to possibly advance as one of the four best third-place finishers.

AFP