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Sadio Mane keeps Liverpool title hopes alive

Sadio Mane kept Liverpool in the Premier League title hunt with a priceless second-half equaliser in a gripping 2-2 draw with leaders Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp’s side sat 14 points behind City in January, but a 10-game winning run cut the gap to just one point to set up what many billed as a title decider at the Etihad Stadium.

Diogo Jota cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne’s opener in an enthralling start, and Mane followed suit swiftly after the interval following Gabriel Jesus’ 36th-minute strike.

Neither side could find a winner, with Raheem Sterling seeing a goal disallowed, as Pep Guardiola’s home side kept their slender lead intact with seven games left to play.

Sterling squandered a glorious chance after five minutes as he was denied by the onrushing Alisson following a square Jesus pass, but City were ahead just seconds later.

De Bruyne profited from a quick Bernardo Silva free-kick before arrowing a left-footed effort home, the ball going in off the right post following a fortuitous deflection off Joel Matip.

Liverpool responded within eight minutes, with Andy Robertson finding Trent Alexander-Arnold, who played the ball back from the far post for Jota to squeeze a low strike under Ederson.

De Bruyne whipped narrowly wide in search of his second before Jesus latched onto a Joao Cancelo cross and coolly finished via the underside of the crossbar.

Mane levelled up within a minute of the second half getting under way, racing onto Mohamed Salah’s throughball to slot powerfully past Ederson, who thwarted Jota’s prodded effort shortly after.

Sterling thought he had nudged the hosts ahead again, but a VAR check showed the forward was offside when De Bruyne passed the ball, while Salah curled just off target at the other end.

Substitute Riyad Mahrez provided a late scare for the visitors as he clipped the post with a free-kick, and then chipped over after a sublime De Bruyne pass, but there would be no decisive goal.

his result defied a trend for when the Premier League has seen its top two meet in the final 10 games of a season. In the last eight such meetings, prior to this, the team starting the day in second place had won seven times – including the last five in a row.

City, who have now not lost against Klopp’s side in the last five Premier League meetings (W2 D3), seemed set to take the three points when they became the first team to lead Liverpool at half-time in the league this season, but Mane’s composed finish means this race has a long way still to run.

De Bruyne’s excellence was on show as he lashed in his sixth goal in as many games – netting in four games in a row for City in all competitions for the first time – before Jesus came to haunt Liverpool once more.

He has only scored more for City against Everton (eight) than against the Reds in all competitions (five), while this was the fourth time he has netted in the league against Klopp’s side. Jamie Vardy (eight) and Harry Kane (six) are the only players to score more past Klopp’s Reds.

Salah-Mane link-up delivers

Mane and Salah have combined for 21 Premier League goals for Liverpool, with only Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman coupling up for more (24).

While the Egypt forward has just one goal in his last eight games across all competitions, and has not scored in the league in open play since February 19, Klopp will be pleased with his forward’s contributions amid ongoing contract negotiations.

Mane’s goal was timed at coming just 46 seconds into the second half, catching City cold.

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Mohamed Salah scored his 150th goal for Liverpool and Luis Diaz struck his first for the club as the Reds came from behind to beat Norwich City 3-1 at Anfield.

Liverpool had the better of the first-half opportunities with Norwich’s Angus Gunn called upon to deny Sadio Mane and Konstantinos Tsimikas.

But Norwich shocked the hosts when they went ahead on 48 minutes through Milot Rashica’s deflected shot.

Liverpool rallied with two goals in four minutes. Mane equalised with an overhead kick from Tsimikas’s cushioned header on 64 minutes. Salah then collected a long pass from Alisson to finish with his right foot from outside the area.

Diaz opened his Liverpool account nine minutes from time to seal the Reds’ fifth successive league win which puts them six points behind Man City with a match in hand on the leaders.

Successive defeats send Norwich to the bottom of the table with 17 points.

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Mohamed Salah will go head-to-head with Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane for Africa Cup of Nations glory after Egypt joined Senegal in the final by beating Cameroon on penalties.

The Pharaohs won the shoot-out 3-1 after 120 goalless minutes in the semi-final as Cameroon’s hopes of winning a sixth title on home soil came to an end.

Egypt goalkeeper Gabaski was the hero, saving penalties from Harold Moukoudi and James Lea Siliki, while former Tottenham man Clinton N’Jie missed the target.

It meant Salah was not even needed in the shoot-out as Egypt, who also won on penalties in the last 16 against Ivory Coast, moved one win away from a first Africa Cup of Nations title since 2010.

They will contest Sunday’s final against Senegal with coach Carlos Queiroz in the stands after he was shown a red card in the second half.

Things could have been different had Cameroon scored during a rampant opening.

They dominated early on and came within inches of taking the lead inside the opening 20 minutes.

Defender Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui climbed highest from a corner, but his effort hit the angle of the crossbar and post and then Vincent Aboubakar put the rebound agonisingly wide.

Former Fulham midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa had a chance when he flicked wide, before another golden opportunity presented itself to Ngadeu-Ngadjui as a ball into the box fell kindly at his feet, but he could not get a shot away.

Egypt started the second half better and Salah had a chance he would usually gobble up.

He went through on goal but was denied by Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana as he tried to round him.

The hosts regained the dominance and Karl Toko Ekambi was almost the hero when he flicked a cross towards goal and Gabaski did well to get down and save it.

As the game headed towards the end of the regulation 90 minutes, both teams lost energy and discipline and that spread to the touchline.

Egypt boss Queiroz, who had just been booked by referee Bakary Gassama, was furious after he thought he saw an elbow from a Cameroon player on one of his charges and was sent to the stands for his trouble.

Extra time was low on quality, with Cameroon coming closest as Gabaski spilled N’Jie’s cross, but he escaped and then came good as the game went to penalties.

Aboubakar scored Cameroon’s first penalty, but that was as good as it got as Moukoudi, Siliki and N’Jie missed consecutive kicks to send Egypt through, condemning the hosts to a third-place play-off with Burkina Faso.

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Senegal are through to a second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations final after breaking Burkina Faso hearts in their last-four tie in Yaounde on Wednesday, Abdou Diallo, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Sadio Mane scoring second-half goals to secure a 3-1 victory.

Africa’s top-ranked national team, Senegal will find out their opponents in Sunday’s final on Thursday, when hosts Cameroon take on Egypt in the second semi.

“We dedicate this win to our people,” said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse.

“We are really satisfied this evening. Our objective is to win the trophy because that is what the boys deserve given everything they have put into this.”

Cisse’s side had two penalties awarded in the first half only for the Ethiopian referee to change his mind both times following a VAR review.

However, they went ahead just after the midway point in the second period when Paris Saint-Germain defender Diallo popped up in the box to produce a striker’s finish.

The second arrived on 76 minutes as Mane provided a superb assist for Gueye, also of PSG, to score, and Mane completed the win late on after Blati Toure had pulled a goal back.

Senegal’s two possible final opponents are the most successful sides in AFCON history with 12 titles between them, while the Lions of Teranga are still searching for their first continental crown, two and a half years after losing to Algeria in the final in Cairo.

“We knew it was not going to be at all easy to get to two straight AFCON finals, but the most important for us now is to go all the way and win it, whoever we come up against,” said Mane.

Senegal’s opponents here could not be underestimated.

Burkina Faso have shown themselves to be a talented young side and one driven on by the desire to give joy to supporters in a country reeling after President Roch Marc Christian Kabore was overthrown in a military coup last week.

That happened to a backdrop of a jihadist insurgency in the landlocked country, and their coach, Kamou Malo, talked of the events giving his team “added motivation”.

They showed plenty of fight and matched their opponents for long spells, but they did not trouble Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy in the Senegal goal often enough.

Mendy’s opposite number, Herve Koffi, was stretchered off half an hour in after landing horribly as he went up to punch the ball clear in an aerial challenge with Cheikhou Kouyate.

Referee Bamlak Tessema initially gave a spot-kick before changing his mind after a VAR review, as Kouyate was able to resume but Koffi could not.

“There is nothing to suggest he is seriously hurt, but he is undergoing further tests just so we can be reassured,” said Malo, who said his side had enjoyed “a wonderful adventure”.

Referee Tessema also pointed to the spot in first-half injury time when a Gueye shot struck the arm of Burkina Faso’s Edmond Tapsoba in the area, but again he changed his mind after a review of the images showed the defender’s arm was in close to his body.

The breakthrough arrived with 20 minutes left, Kalidou Koulibaly trying an acrobatic attempt at a corner and inadvertently setting up Diallo to score, beating substitute ‘keeper Soufiane Farid Ouedraogo.

Senegal’s pressing made the second goal as Mane got to the byline and set up Gueye, who just beat Bamba Dieng to the finish.

It was always going to be a huge ask after that for the Stallions against a Senegal side who had conceded only once in the whole tournament.

They did reduce the deficit eight minutes from time as Issa Kabore’s cross was diverted in by Toure’s knee.

Mane had the final say, though, bursting clear in the 87th minute to make it 3-1.

He will find out on Thursday if he will come up against his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah and Egypt in the final.

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Record-breaking Sadio Mane’s 100th Liverpool goal set Jurgen Klopp’s side on the way to 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace which took them top of the table.

Mane became the first player in Premier League history to score against the same opponent in nine consecutive matches, beating Robin van Persie’s eight in a row against Stoke

His close-range strike just before half-time also made him the 18th man to bring up a century of goals for the club in his 224th appearance.

Mohamed Salah’s rich form continued as his volley 12 minutes from time meant he has only failed to score in one of his six games this season with a sumptuous left-footed volley from substitute Naby Keita finishing proceedings with a flourish.

Just like against AC Milan in midweek Liverpool made hard work of a game in which they created numerous chances.

Klopp made six changes – including his entire back four – from the midweek Champions League tie which meant his side started a league match without either Andy Robertson (rested) or Trent Alexander-Arnold (ill) in the team for the first time since December 2018.

It did, however, afford Anfield its first look at summer signing Ibrahima Konate, lining up in central defence alongside the returning Virgil van Dijk.

Perhaps understandably there were some teething problems with a defence that had never played together before and a shaky start saw Alisson forced to tip Wilfried Zaha’s attempted lob from close range onto a post.

Konate was first extended in a foot race with Zaha, with the winger going down in the area but he did not appeal for a penalty and none was given.

The big centre-back passed his second test as well as, one-on-one with Christian Benteke, he blocked the striker’s near-post shot.

They were the rare Palace attacks as the home side dominated throughout and would have been ahead well before the 43rd minute had they shown more composure in front of goal.

Klopp’s side were frustrated for a long period by Palace’s discipline and organisation which saw them get men behind the ball quickly to regain their shape.

Diogo Jota fired over from a narrow angle after Kostas Tsimikas and Mane combined, Jordan Henderson’s far-post attempt was palmed behind, Thiago Alcantara’s weak shot was blocked by a crowd of defenders and an acrobatic Mane effort went for a corner.

But the worst came last as Thiago’s header was parried by Vicente Guaita only for Jota, who had a poor game against Milan, to blaze over from three yards.

Mane showed him how it should be done, however, when Salah’s glancing header from Tsimikas’ corner was half-stopped by the goalkeeper and the Senegal forward pounced to lash home.

Fewer chances were created in the second half as the game became scrappier before Palace boss Patrick Vieira turned to Odsonne Edouard, who scored twice on his debut last weekend, just past the hour.

But the direction of travel remained roughly the same with Guaita producing a double save from Mane and Salah.

Jordan Ayew wasted a promising opportunity when he opted to shoot rather than crossing for Zaha, who had escaped the clutches of James Milner for once in the game, while Edouard was smothered by Alisson as he somehow found space in the penalty area.

But the visitors’ hopes of snatching something from the game were snuffed out when Salah volleyed home at a corner, whipping his shirt off in celebration at his 99th Premier League goal for the club.

Alisson denied Edouard again before Keita added the gloss with a sweetly-struck shot.

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Sadio Mane’s two goals ensured Liverpool delivered when it mattered as the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace secured not only Champions League football but a surprise third-placed finish.

With results for Chelsea and Leicester going their way the eighth victory in an unbeaten 10-match run saw Jurgen Klopp’s side finish the campaign just five points behind second-placed Manchester United.

Mane became only the second player in Premier League history after Robin Van Persie to score in eight consecutive appearances against the same opponent with goals late in either half.

But while Mane may have been the finisher Thiago Alcantara was the architect, with the Spain international concluding his maiden season at the club displaying the quality which for so long had been absent due to injury and illness.

It was just what the lucky 10,000 inside Anfield had wanted to see having been starved of live football for so long and while the performance was far from their best, there were enough good passages of play to suggest a team devastated by injury this season will bounce back next.

While rivals will mock Klopp’s praising of the achievement in securing Champions League football, a place among Europe’s elite again next season will be vital for a number of reasons – both financial and status – after more than a year operating in a global pandemic.

The players eventually warmed to the occasion having suffered a sluggish start, during which Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend both tested Alisson Becker.

They should have been punished for that when Townsend ran clear after latching onto a loose Trent Alexander-Arnold throw-in but the winger shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

That was the wake-up call Klopp’s side needed as they began to build a head of steam with some slick passing moves but, as on many other occasions at home this season, the final touch was lacking.

Just as Alexander-Arnold whipped a free-kick just wide, news filtered through Leicester had taken the lead meaning Liverpool were in danger of missing out on Champions League football.

The mood was not helped by rookie centre-back Rhys Williams missing a sitter when, unmarked, he headed over from six yards.

Mohamed Salah, attempting to secure his third Golden Boot in four seasons, could not hit the target or beat Vicente Guaita from Thiago’s delicious pass.

Captain on the day Georginio Wijnaldum took the wrong option in passing to Mane, who curled wide, instead of shooting from Salah’s cut-back.

It looks to be the last time that accusation is levelled at Wijnaldum by Reds fans as in his pre-match interview the out-of-contract midfielder said no new deal had been agreed, while he was given a post-match guard of honour by his team.

Set-pieces have been Liverpool’s weakest area for some time in the absence of the injured Virgil Van Dijk but when it mattered most they made one count.

Williams atoned for his earlier error by flicking on Andy Robertson’s corner and Roberto Firmino’s half-control diverted the ball to Mane who poked home from close range, a goal which moved Liverpool into third place.

After Firmino’s header was tipped over early in the second half the hosts’ tempo dropped, as if they were aware of the situation elsewhere and were just trying to see out time.

It would have been a risky tactic had Palace not been so particularly disinclined to attack and, as a result, Liverpool were able to regain their foothold and deliver the finishing blow.

Fittingly it was started by Thiago, who has finished the season stronger than anyone, who intercepted inside his own penalty area to start a sweeping move which ended with Mane’s shot deflecting in off Gary Cahill.

The Golden Boot was obviously preying on Salah’s mind by then as twice he opted to shoot with team-mates better placed but on this occasion his selfishness could be forgiven by fans grateful just to celebrate a top-four finish which looked unlikely only a few weeks ago.

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Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara scored in each half as Liverpool beat Southampton to maintain their hopes of finishing in the top four.

Liverpool started strongly with Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota forcing Fraser Forster into saves, while Georginio Wijnaldum hit the bar.

Che Adams was denied one-on-one by a brave Alisson stop at the other end but Mane broke the deadlock just after the half-hour, heading in Salah’s pinpoint cross for his ninth league goal of the season.

Ibrahima Diallo stung the palms of Alisson and the Brazilian goalkeeper was later forced into a recovery save after gifting the ball to Adams as Southampton pushed for an equaliser.

However, Thiago curled the ball into the bottom corner in the last minute to score his first Liverpool goal and secure victory.

Liverpool leapfrog Tottenham Hotspur into sixth place, six points adrift of fourth-placed Leicester City having played a match fewer.

Southampton stay 16th, 10 points above the relegation zone.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits his side got what they deserved in a 3-1 quarter-final first leg defeat to Real Madrid which leaves their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.

However, he took a bizarre swipe at referee Felix Brych for having what he claimed was a personal issue with Sadio Mane after the German official ruled the Senegal international had not been fouled by Lucas Vazquez on the edge of the penalty area as he ran through on goal.

Mohamed Salah’s 26th goal in 44 Champions League matches had given the Reds a vital away goal and brought the score back to 2-1 early in the second half after a dreadful first 45 minutes saw them concede to Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio.

But they conceded another to Vinicius to leave them with a tough task at a fan-less Anfield next week.

“First and foremost I don’t think we deserved to win tonight, we didn’t play good enough and that is my first concern,” said Klopp.

“Especially in the first half we didn’t play good enough football. We conceded the first goal, served the second on a plate (after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s mistake), but that was not the real problem of the game.

“Of course conceding goals is a problem but it is not the problem. The second half we did better, we scored our goal which is the positive of the night and that’s how it is.

“Did we deserve more than the 3-1? I’m not sure.”

Klopp was baffled as to why Mane did not receive a free-kick and Vazquez a red card for the challenge late in the first half.

“The situation with Sadio, what the ref did tonight I have to say I don’t understand,” he added.

“For me that was something personal because he dealt with the situation with Sadio, which was a clear foul, like he was a diver or whatever.

“From that moment on whenever Sadio went down he didn’t get anything. That is not right. That is what I told him after the game, that I thought he was unfair with Sadio.
“That doesn’t change anything at all. He (Brych) didn’t lose the game. We were not good enough to get a better result, but in these moments you need just an ‘OK’ ref. That would have been enough.”

The pace of Vinicius was a problem for Liverpool all night and the Brazilian’s first double in a game was well deserved, according to coach Zinedine Zidane.

“I am happy for him because what he is doing and what all the guys are doing is a great job, especially from a defensive point of view,” said the Real boss.

“Maybe he was missing some goalscoring with the work he is contributing to the team so to score two goals is big to provide a lot of confidence and he deserves that.

“I don’t know if that was his best match but two goals in the quarter-finals is important for him and the team.

“I am happy because of the football. At the beginning of the second half we had a bit of difficulty but at the end of the day we are happy with 3-1 as it was a huge effort.

“We have to enjoy what we did today.”

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Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane each claimed a goal and an assist as Liverpool recorded a 3-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur to go fourth in the table.

Spurs thought they had made the breakthrough on four minutes, but Son Heung-min’s goal was overturned for offside following a review by the Video Assistant Referee.

Liverpool took the lead in first-half stoppage time as Mane squared for Roberto Firmino to tap in his fifth goal in six matches versus Spurs.

Alexander-Arnold made it 2-0 on 47 minutes, fizzing a shot into the far corner after Hugo Lloris could only parry Mane’s shot into his path.

Spurs, who took Harry Kane off with a double-ankle injury at half-time, responded immediately as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg scored with a powerful strike.

Mohamed Salah had a 56th-minute goal also overturned for a handball in the build-up, before Liverpool restored their two-goal lead.

Alexander-Arnold’s deep delivery took a touch off Joe Rodon and fell invitingly for Mane to hammer into the roof of the net.

Liverpool have 37 points, four behind leaders Manchester City, who have a match in hand.

Spurs lie sixth with 33 points.

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Liverpool star Sadio Mane scored as Senegal won 1-0 in Guinea-Bissau Sunday to become the second qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals after hosts Cameroon.

The reigning African Footballer of the Year struck after 82 minutes against opponents reduced to 10 men by the red-carding of Jorge ‘Bura’ Nogueira midway through the second half in Bissau.

It has been a memorable five days for Mane, who scored the first goal and created the second when Senegal beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0 in Thies near Dakar last Wednesday.

The two victories lifted Senegal, currently the top ranked national team in Africa, to a maximum 12 points from four matches in Group I, and they qualified with two matches to spare.

Senegal complete their schedule between March 22 and 30 by travelling to Congo Brazzaville and hosting eSwatini, and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will probably request that Mane be rested.

Congo have six points, Guinea-Bissau three and eSwatini none in the struggle to qualify with 2002 and 2019 runners-up Senegal.

A win for the Congolese in eSwatini Monday would put them in pole position to reach the finals after missing out on the 2019 tournament in Egypt.

Another Liverpool star who scored was Guinea midfielder Naby Keita, but Ahmat Abdaraman levelled just before half-time for Chad, who forced a 1-1 Group A draw in N’Djamena for their first point.

Guinea top the table with eight points from four matches, but Mali can overtake them by winning in Namibia Tuesday.