Thursday, 30 May

Liverpool battle past Sheffield Utd to return to top

Sports News
Liverpool players celebrating

Jurgen Klopp praised Alexis Mac Allister for the "wonder goal" that helped Liverpool overcome battling Sheffield United and stay in control of the Premier League title race.

The bottom-of-the-table Blades were on course for a shock draw at Anfield, but Mac Allister - a World Cup winner with Argentina - scored with a brilliant 20-yard strike into the top corner to put the Reds 2-1 up.

 

Cody Gakpo added a 90th-minute third as Liverpool returned to the top of the table.

Boss Klopp said: "We needed Macca's wonder goal to turn it around. He is super important for us, a wonderful player and a wonderful boy - I'm really happy for Liverpool that we got him.

"His defensive work has been really good where people were doubting if he could be defensive, but I prefer him in the eight [attacking midfield].

"He is a really good player. In the first half he was playing [as a] six, but we knew we could move him slightly higher. Then he scores this kind of goal, the two biggest screamers of the season [after also scoring from long distance against Fulham] have come from him. Then the free-kick directly after [the goal] - absolutely insane, what a player."

Mac Allister, who joined Liverpool for £35m from Brighton last summer, also hit the crossbar with a curling free-kick.

Liverpool were gifted a 17th-minute lead when Darwin Nunez charged down goalkeeper Ivo Grbic's clearance with the ball rebounding into the net.

Despite having 84% of possession in the first half and wasting numerous chances, the hosts conceded a 58th-minute equaliser as Gustavo Hamer's header bounced off Conor Bradley and into his own net.

But Mac Allister - nominated for March's Premier League Player of the Month award - put the hosts back in front with 14 minutes left, before substitute Gakpo's header sealed a vital success.

The result moved the Reds two points clear of Arsenal and three ahead of reigning champions Manchester City, with eight league games left.

More importantly, it also kept Liverpool's title destiny in their own hands.

They know if they beat Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Everton, West Ham, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Wolves, it will secure their second Premier League title and confirm them as top-flight English champions for a 20th time.

Reds rally for victory, but late goals frustrate Wilder

The visitors were looking to win at Anfield for the first time since Jostein Flo scored twice in a 2-1 win on 2 April, 1994, while Liverpool had not lost a home league match in 27 games - a 2-1 reverse against Leeds in October 2022.

But Sheffield United nearly made a dream start, only for home goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher to make an excellent save to deny James McAtee in the opening 90 seconds. Striker Ben Brereton Diaz was then unable to convert Auston Trusty's flick-on from the resulting corner.

However, the visitors gifted the Reds an early goal with Grbic's clearance charged down by Nunez, who scored his 18th club goal of the season in all competitions.

The only mystery was how it was only 1-0 at half-time. Mohamed Salah twice missed the target when well placed, Nunez headed wide and shot at Grbic and Joe Gomez - still without a Liverpool goal - curled an effort past the post.

Ryan Gravenberch slipped when taking a shot after great skill from Luis Diaz and Dominik Szoboszlai fired just off target and forced a good stop from Grbic. Diaz's 25-yard attempt also went just wide as the chances came and went for Liverpool.

But Klopp's side were given a warning that the match was not over just before the break when Jayden Bogle forced a smart save from Kelleher.

Then, against the run of play, the Blades equalised as Anfield started to get nervous in what could have been a devastating loss of two points.

It needed something special to change the course of the outcome - and Mac Allister provided it with a glorious strike for one of the goals of the season to calm the home fans' nerves before Gakpo put the game to bed.

For the struggling Blades, they would not have expected to get anything from Anfield, with boss Chris Wilder admitting beforehand they needed "a huge night" if they were to cause an upset.

"The narrative at the press conference before the game and in the interviews was a sense that we were just here to make the numbers up and this was going to be a comfortable evening for Liverpool," said Wilder afterwards.

"That was not our motivation, or our emotions and we try to do everything for the club. In possession they dominated, they dominate everybody, but we hung on in there. We had good opportunities.

"We got done by a world-class goal. In the last 15 minutes, you saw the power of the Premier League, and our Achilles heel has been conceding late goals."

The Blades are trying to avoid an instant return to the Championship and are 10 points adrift of safety, although they still have four of their relegation rivals - Brentford, Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Everton - still to play.

 

Liverpool, Premier League winners under Klopp in 2019-20, next face a huge game on Sunday at Manchester United - the side that beat them 4-3 after extra time in a thrilling FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford last month.

Source: BBC