Liverpool 1-1 West Bromwich Albion: Semi Ajayi scores dramatic late equaliser


Sadio Mane has scored six Premier League goals in 2020-21

Semi Ajayi scored a dramatic late equaliser against leaders Liverpool to earn struggling West Brom their first point since Sam Allardyce took charge.

Jurgen Klopp’s side looked to be going five points clear at the top of the table when Sadio Mane chested down Joel Matip’s long ball forward to fire past Sam Johnstone.

Liverpool dominated for long periods without adding to their lead but the Baggies improved after the break and equalised in the 83rd minute.

Ajayi leapt high above the home defence to send a header in off the post to spark jubilant celebrations from the away team at Anfield.

West Brom keeper Johnstone made a superb save to deny Roberto Firmino a winner near the end.

Reds frustrated by Baggies

There was a deep sense of frustration at full-time from Liverpool’s players after they dropped league points at Anfield for the first time this season.

Klopp walked to the Kop to acknowledge the 2,000 fans allowed into the ground as the home team headed for the dressing room knowing they had let two points slip.

It has been a monumental 2020 with the Reds ending a 30-year wait for a league title, but this was not the result they wanted in their final home game of 2020.

Klopp’s side dominated the first half, enjoying 84% possession, but were unable to add to a sumptuous finish by Senegal forward Mane.

Their dominance was highlighted by captain Jordan Henderson, who completed 39 more passes (85) than West Brom as a team (46) before half-time.

But the visitors were livelier after the break and, after Liverpool lost defender Joel Matip to injury, the hosts allowed West Brom a way back.

Alisson did well to keep out Karlan Grant after the forward had got the better of Rhys Williams before Ajayi’s equaliser.

Johnstone’s save to keep out Firmino at the end only added to Liverpool’s frustration, their lead at the top now three points.

Battling West Brom show fight

It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for West Brom when Mane struck early but the Baggies dug deep to return to the Black Country with a crucial point.

This result will give Allardyce, the last opposition manager to win a Premier League game at Anfield, with Crystal Palace in April 2017, huge encouragement as he looks to keep his new team in the Premier League.

A week after being beaten 3-0 at home by Aston Villa in his first game in charge, West Brom refused to go under against the leaders and showed the spirit and character needed in a relegation battle.

Having drawn 1-1 at Manchester City in Slaven Bilic’s final game in charge, the Baggies have now taken points off last season’s top two clubs.

Allardyce, whose side are still five points from safety, will need help when the transfer market opens next month.

But this result against a Liverpool side which had won the previous eight home league games will lift morale ahead of Tuesday’s home game with Leeds.

Liverpool fail to win for a sixth time – the stats

  • Liverpool have failed to win six of their 15 Premier League games this season, as many as they did in the entire 2019-20 season.
  • Having picked up just one point from their opening six away league games this season, West Brom have since earned two from their last two on the road away to Manchester City and Liverpool.
  • This was the first time Liverpool failed to win a Premier League home game against a side starting the day in the relegation zone – despite taking the lead – since a 2-2 draw with Slaven Bilic’s West Ham in December 2016.
  • Among defenders since the start of the 2018-19 season, only Virgil van Dijk and Aaron Pierre (both nine) have scored more headed league goals in England’s top four tiers than West Brom’s Semi Ajayi (eight).
  • Sadio Mane scored his 69th Premier League goal for Liverpool, moving him level with Luis Suárez and behind only Robbie Fowler (128), Steven Gerrard (120), Michael Owen (118) and Mohamed Salah (86) for most goals in the competition for the Reds.

What’s next?

Liverpool’s festive programme continues at Newcastle on Wednesday (20:00 GMT), while West Brom host Leeds United on Tuesday (18:00 GMT).

Player of the match

JohnstoneSam Johnstone

West Bromwich Albion

  1. Squad number1Player nameJohnstone

  2. Squad number6Player nameAjayi

  3. Squad number2Player nameFurlong

  4. Squad number27Player nameO’Shea

  5. Squad number18Player nameGallagher

  6. Squad number11Player nameDiangana

  7. Squad number12Player nameMatheus Pereira

  8. Squad number7Player nameRobinson

  9. Squad number3Player nameGibbs

  10. Squad number10Player namePhillips

  11. Squad number29Player nameGrant

  12. Squad number19Player nameSawyers

  13. Squad number15Player nameAustin

  14. Squad number20Player nameIvanovic

Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 1Alisson
  • 66Alexander-Arnold
  • 32MatipSubstituted forR Williamsat 60′minutes
  • 3Fabinho
  • 26Robertson
  • 17JonesSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 83′minutes
  • 14Henderson
  • 5Wijnaldum
  • 11Salah
  • 9FirminoSubstituted forOrigiat 90′minutes
  • 10Mané

Substitutes

  • 7Milner
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 18Minamino
  • 23Shaqiri
  • 27Origi
  • 46R Williams
  • 47Phillips
  • 62Kelleher
  • 76N Williams

West Brom

  • 1Johnstone
  • 2Furlong
  • 6Ajayi
  • 27O’SheaBooked at 56mins
  • 3Gibbs
  • 7RobinsonSubstituted forCosta Pereiraat 73′minutes
  • 10Phillips
  • 19Sawyers
  • 18GallagherSubstituted forIvanovicat 90+1′minutes
  • 11Diangana
  • 29GrantSubstituted forAustinat 78′minutes

Substitutes

  • 12Costa Pereira
  • 13Grosicki
  • 15Austin
  • 16Harper
  • 17Krovinovic
  • 20Ivanovic
  • 22Peltier
  • 24Kipré
  • 25Button

Referee:
Kevin Friend

Attendance:
2,000

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Late Leicester equaliser ends Manchester United’s away winning streak


Marcus Rashford had missed a wide-open header but put United ahead in the 23rd minute with a cool finish after being slipped in by Fernandes before Harvey Barnes equalised eight minutes later with a fine shot from the edge of the box.

Rashford had a great chance to put United back in front on the hour but his powerful drive was well saved by the right hand of Kasper Schmeichel.

Two minutes later Anthony Martial had an effort disallowed for offside but the influential Fernandes restored United’s lead in the 79th minute, drilling into the bottom corner after being found inside the area by substitute Edinson Cavani.

Again though, the lead was short-lived as Vardy’s first time shot on the half-turn from a low cross from Ayoze Perez, went in off Tuanzebe and earned a point for the Foxes.

“Disappointed we didn’t win today because we had loads of big chances and we could’ve finished it off but they’re a dangerous side,” said Solskjaer.



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Palace snatch equaliser to draw with Spurs, Southampton hammer Blades


Ben Davies struck the crossbar and Guaita made stunning saves from Kane and Eric Dier as Tottenham sparked back into life late on but they had to be content with a draw.

Saints cruise past Blades

Southampton striker Che Adams scored against his former club, and midfielders Stuart Armstrong and Nathan Redmond struck after the interval against Sheffield United at St Mary’s Stadium.

Nathan Redmond scores for Southampton.Credit:Getty Images

Southampton dominated possession and went ahead on 34 minutes as the Blades failed to properly deal with a James Ward-Prowse free kick and Adams reacted quickest to tap home his fourth league goal of the season in front of 2000 supporters.

Armstrong doubled the home side’s lead in the second half with a low shot that gave Blades goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale no chance as it took a big deflection off defender Phil Jagielka and rolled into the net.

Substitute Redmond scored his first goal of the season seven minutes from time with a side-footed finish following an exchange with midfielder Oriol Romeu to heap the pressure on Chris Wilder’s bottom-placed side.

“We knew it would be a tough one. They’re quite defensive. We knew that they would want to get something from the game,” Armstrong said in a post-match interview.

“It was important to get that breakthrough early on. The first few minutes of the second half were a bit difficult, but we found our feet and deserved the win.

“Ultimately we want to be at the top end of the table. We’ve found ourselves in the bottom half in recent years … We take things game by game, but today’s a good start.”



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Manchester United 2-2 Southampton: Late equaliser sets back hosts’ top-four hopes


Southampton have avoided defeat in both Premier League matches against Manchester United for the second time, after doing so in 2013-14 (both 1-1 draws)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his players “will put it right” after they missed a chance to climb into the Premier League’s top four by conceding an injury-time equaliser against Southampton.

United led 2-1 for 73 minutes before substitute Michael Obafemi scored in the 96th minute, bundling in a set-piece at the back post after it had been flicked on by Jan Bednarek.

Stuart Armstrong had given Southampton a 12th-minute lead, but Anthony Martial set up Marcus Rashford to equalise before firing a superb second goal for United.

Solskjaer’s side were on course to leapfrog top-four rivals Chelsea and Leicester – who both suffered defeats over the weekend – and move up to third but they remain fifth with three games left in the chase for Champions League qualification.

“The mentality has been brilliant. We have had a few setbacks this season. This is another challenge for us,” said Solskjaer.

“I am very confident in [the players’] mentality. I’m disappointed of course, but you have to take the disappointments as well as the positives. We have learned a hard lesson. We will put it right. I trust the boys in that respect.”

Armstrong had opened the scoring for Southampton, following Paul Pogba’s mistake, and after fighting back to draw, the visitors now sit five points outside of the top 10 and level on points with Everton.

Despite United’s setback, they will still qualify for the Champions League if they win their last three games, as they travel to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester on the final day of the season.

Solskjaer was unhappy with what he called a “nasty” first-half challenge by Oriol Romeu on Mason Greenwood, for which the Southampton midfielder went unpunished after a video assistant referee review.

“I know my ankle wouldn’t take that challenge,” Solskjaer said. “It was a nasty one but we have said enough about VAR.”

Man Utd chained to fifth spot

United’s fate remains in their own hands.

But the late goal from Obafemi came as a blow for the Red Devils, who had been the better side for most of the match.

They had chances to extend their lead at 2-1 – Martial proving a constant threat throughout, while Rashford came close with a driven effort from long range after having a goal ruled out for offside in the first half.

But the Saints never looked out of it and the clinical edge United had shown coming into this match – they had scored 15 goals in their five previous games – seemed to evade them in the second half when Rashford’s effort was blocked on the line by a sliding Ryan Bertrand.

There will be concern for Solskjaer over Luke Shaw, who hobbled off in the second half after he seemed to twist his ankle, before Brandon Williams took a heavy blow to the head.

However, United’s hopes of Champions League football are still very much alive.

Saints’ bright form continues

Southampton took an early lead through Stuart Armstrong

Southampton were full of confidence heading to Old Trafford, having lost just one of their past five matches and seen off Manchester City earlier this month.

They showed that in the opening stages – Bertrand and Kyle Walker-Peters getting in behind the United defence before Nathan Redmond’s cross to Armstrong was fired into the far corner for the opening goal.

But United’s in-form attackers were quick to respond – Martial’s neat first touch, smart turn and determined poke through finding Rashford unmarked in the box for the equaliser before he cut inside of Walker-Peters with ease and smashed it beyond Alex McCarthy for their second.

That goal looked set to be the winner as Rashford and Martial continued to threaten and Southampton remained in the game thanks to Bertrand’s stunning block in the six-yard area.

But as the game went on, Southampton sensed there was an opportunity – Redmond drew a save from David de Gea with five minutes of normal time remaining before Bednarek’s flick wasn’t dealt with by United and Obafemi pushed the ball over the line, having been on the pitch for less than 10 minutes.

Man of the match – Anthony Martial

Martial (two assists) and Rashford (four) have combined for six Premier League goals this season – no Manchester United duo have ever combined for more in a single campaign. The Frenchman also became the 10th player to score 50 Premier League goals for Manchester United

‘The guys deserved the point’ – what they said

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, speaking to Sky Sports: “If you stop being brave, stop being on the front foot, then you have problems against one-on-one quality.

“It was a very strong start from my side. We scored and we were really aggressive.

“We gave two chances away but then just before half-time we got back to our game and then I could feel we were better. We had good possession and good balance and had good chances in the second half. The guys really deserved the point, I think.”

Ralph Hasenhuttl praises ‘multi-dimensional’ Saints display

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, speaking to Sky Sports: “It was the worst time to concede a goal but it happens in football. We have won so many games in that way. It is all part of the learning for this team. You think you have three points in the bag but we probably didn’t deserve three points today.

“Southampton are a good team, they run, and run and chase. We never got into our rhythm today. We played some fantastic football at times. The two goals we scored were very, very good. It was just one of those days where we did not take our chances and they took theirs.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer unhappy with tackle on Mason Greenwood

The best of the stats

  • Obafemi’s equaliser for Southampton was the latest Premier League goal Manchester United have conceded since Opta began collecting exact goal-time data (2006-07).
  • In this season’s Premier League, Manchester United have now lost one home match (against Crystal Palace) and drawn another (against Southampton) thanks to conceding in the 90th minute or later – in their 519 home games in the competition before this season, they’d only dropped two points as a result of conceding so late (one draw).
  • United are unbeaten in their past 18 games in all competitions (W13 D5), last having a longer run between April and November 2010 (29 games).
  • Southampton’s Armstrong has been involved in five goals in his last six Premier League games (two goals, three assists) – as many as he had been in his previous 40 appearances in the competition.

What’s next?

Southampton host Brighton in their next Premier League match on Thursday, 16 July (20:15 BST), while Manchester United play at Crystal Palace at the same time.





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