Premier League: Liverpool recover from early scare to beat Bournemouth; super-sub Alexander Lacazette scores as Arsenal win
A scare survived this time, and Liverpool moved closer to lifting the Premier League trophy.
By recovering from conceding early to beat Bournemouth, Liverpool extended its Premier League lead to 25 points
A goal from substitute Alexandre Lacazette earned Arsenal a hard-fought 1-0 win over a wasteful West Ham United side at the Emirates, extending the Gunners’ unbeaten Premier League run to eight matches
Elsewhere, a first-half goal from the in-form Jordan Ayew helped Crystal Palace climb to 10th with a 1-0 home victory over Watford
Liverpool: A scare survived this time, and Liverpool moved closer to lifting the Premier League trophy.
By recovering from conceding early to beat Bournemouth 2-1, Liverpool extended their Premier League lead on Saturday to 25 points, a week after their hopes of an unbeaten title campaign ended.
Defensive lapses were seized on by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as they scored the goals that wiped out Callum Wilson's early strike to hand Liverpool an English top-flight record 22nd straight home win.
Bournemouth would not replicate relegation-rivals Watford last week in taking three points off Liverpool.
Instead, Liverpool can get back to counting down the days until their 30-year title drought ends and second-place Manchester City are dethroned as champions.
Whether that will happen in front of their own fans, or any crowd, remains uncertain with nine matches remaining.
The coronavirus outbreak has opened up the prospect of the closing weeks of the season being played in empty stadiums. The first sign of the measures to try to contain the COVID-19 illness came before kick-off when the players and match officials did not shake hands, instead walking past each other after lining up on the pitch.
Bournemouth players didn't mind the close contact to embrace after racing into a shock lead in the ninth minute. When your team has lost the last five league games against Liverpool by an aggregate score of 17-0, it's worth savouring the chance to celebrate.
It came from a counterattack that was completed in front of the Kop when Wilson pushed past Joe Gomez before passing to Philip Billing. Jefferson Lerma was then played in down the right flank and the ball was squared for Wilson, who had beaten the offside trap.
Liverpool's protests over the push in the build-up were overlooked by the referee and VAR as the goal was given. For the fifth successive game, including a Champions League loss at Atletico Madrid and FA Cup exit at Chelsea, Liverpool were trailing.
They were level by the 25th minute. Jack Simpson, who had replaced injured Bournemouth captain Steve Cook, was trying to play the ball out from the back when he was dispossessed by Mane.
The Senegalese forward picked out Salah, who had time to take a touch around Lerma before netting to take his tally to 20 goals for a third consecutive season.
Liverpool were in front by the 33rd when Lewis Cook lost the ball around the halfway line and Virgil van Dijk sent a defence-splitting pass to Mane, who tucked the ball into the net.
Liverpool were back on top but Bournemouth were never out of the game. It took James Milner, on his first start since January, to keep out the equaliser.
When Ryan Fraser chipped Adrian, who was deputising in the Liverpool goal for the injured Alisson, the 34-year-old Milner scrambled back to hook the ball off the line.
Liverpool are now three wins from clinching the title.
Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Newcastle win
A goal from substitute Alexandre Lacazette earned Arsenal a hard-fought 1-0 win over a wasteful West Ham United side at the Emirates, extending the Gunners’ unbeaten Premier League run to eight matches.
Both sides struck the woodwork in the first half, but the visitors had the better chances and goalkeeper Bernd Leno came to Arsenal’s rescue with an excellent save from Michail Antonio after the break.
Mikel Arteta’s side found the breakthrough when Lacazette fired home from a Mesut Ozil knock-down, although the Frenchman’s celebrations were delayed after the goal was initially ruled out for offside before a VAR review overturned the decision.
Elsewhere, a first-half goal from the in-form Jordan Ayew helped Crystal Palace climb to 10th with a 1-0 home victory over Watford.
Striker Ayew grabbed his fourth goal in the last 11 league games when he shot home from the edge of the penalty area in the 28th minute.
It gave Palace their third successive win in the league and helped 72-year-old manager Roy Hodgson celebrate in style after signing a one-year contract extension in the week.
Down south, Newcastle United leapfrogged Southampton in the standings and moved up to 13th with a 1-0 win at St Mary’s Stadium, thanks to a solo second-half effort from French winger Allan Saint-Maximin.
Southampton struggled to get a foothold in the game after they were reduced to 10 men when winger Moussa Djenepo made a reckless challenge to get sent off in the 28th minute.
With Southampton a man down, it was down to goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to deny the Newcastle players on numerous occasions — particularly Dwight Gayle who had three shots on target blocked — and the goalkeeper finished the first half with six saves.
But McCarthy could do nothing when Saint-Maximin pressed Yan Valery, pinched the ball from his fellow Frenchman and then toe-poked the ball off the post for his second goal of the season to give Newcastle their first league win since January.
Wolves drop points against dogged Brighton
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Premier League top-four ambitions stalled as they were held to a dismal 0-0 draw at home by struggling Brighton.
Last week’s win at Tottenham Hotspur fuelled confidence that Wolves could challenge for a Champions League spot but they were far from their best against a resolute Brighton side.
With Adama Traore left on the bench until late on, Wolves attacking flair was missing and Brighton hung on for what could be a precious point in their fight to avoid relegation.
Bruce, who is set to appear in his 1,000th game as manager, been granted a stay of execution after new Newcastle director Amanda Staveley announced on Friday there would be no immediate decision on his future.
Only seven of the 20 Premier League clubs have more than half of their squads fully vaccinated, according to the most recent data.
Liverpool's habit of avoiding giving big contracts to players aged over 30 has fuelled fears Salah will leave Anfield.