Soccer — English LeagueMonday, March 17, 2014
Liverpool crushes Man United
Arsenal edges Tottenham as title race heats up
Liverpool and Arsenal capitalized on a rare slip-up by Premier League leader Chelsea by claiming away wins against their fiercest rivals to close up an intriguing four-team race for the title.
LONDON — Two Steven Gerrard penalties and a Tomas Rosicky thunderbolt helped Liverpool and Arsenal claim precious derby wins yesterday to crank up the pressure on Premier League leader Chelsea.
Liverpool skipper Gerrard dispatched spot-kicks either side of halftime as the in-form Merseysiders humbled bitter north-west rival Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford.
He also thumped the post with a third penalty but Liverpool won at United for only the second time in nearly 10 years, Luis Suárez scoring his 25th league goal of the season to pile on the agony for the hosts who had Nemanja Vidic sent off.
Liverpool’s win put the onus on Arsenal to respond and it did so at north London rival Tottenham Hotspur, although its grinding victory in bright spring sunshine was in marked contrast to Liverpool’s stroll.
Rosicky’s spectacular shot after 72 seconds proved enough to seal the points for Arsenal and move them alongside second-placed Liverpool on 62 points from 29 games, four behind Chelsea who have played a match more.
With Manchester City on 60 points from only 27 games a thrilling final two months are in store in the title race, with Liverpool emerging as serious threats to end their 24-year title drought.
“I think we showed today (yesterday) that we are genuine contenders and we’re going to fight till the end for this,” Gerrard, who was a goalpost away from becoming the first player to score a hat-trick of penalties in the Premier League, said. “This is one of the most difficult places to come to in the Premier League. So to come here and dominate from start to finish was great. We’re still going away slightly disappointed that we didn’t score more goals.”
There was a desperate look about a United side which managed only one shot on target and its hopes of finishing in the top four are slipping away. It remains in seventh place, 12 points behind fourth-placed Man City.
“It’s one of the worst days I’ve ever had in soccer,” United striker Wayne Rooney, the only player to test Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet, told MUTV. “It’s hard to take. You have to give Liverpool credit — they played well — but it’s difficult to take. Nobody wants to lose, especially in this way, in your own stadium. It’s not nice.”
Coach David Moyes, whose first season in charge of United has been a chastening experience, conceded his side were now struggling to qualify for next season’s Champions League, unless they overturn a 2-0 deficit against Olympiakos in Wednesday’s last-16 tie and go on to win the trophy.