LONDON: Tottenham blew a huge hole in Liverpool’s Premier League – and quadruple – hopes as Son Heung-min’s 20th goal of the season earned them a 1-1 draw at Anfield to gift the advantage to Manchester City.
Despite Luis Diaz’s 74th-minute equaliser and manager Jurgen Klopp going for broke, knowing he had no other option, the hosts now require their title rivals to lose one of their four remaining matches.
Even though the point took Liverpool top of the table, it was only courtesy of a superior goal difference of one and Pep Guardiola’s side will go three points clear with a win at home to Newcastle on Sunday.
The draw did little for Spurs’ top-four hopes either as they remain a point behind north London rivals Arsenal, who host struggling Leeds a couple of hours before City kick off.
Liverpool’s chances of overhauling City, who have only the title to focus on after their dramatic Champions League exit to Real Madrid in midweek, in this pulsating race were always balanced on a knife edge as they knew one slip-up would probably mean their hopes were over.
Tottenham were seen as the biggest challenge of their remaining four matches and so it proved as Antonio Conte brought a disciplined game plan to Anfield.
The tactics were evident from the off – five at the back, four in midfield, double-up on Mohamed Salah and Diaz and look to hit the space behind their opponents’ full-backs, particularly Andy Robertson.
It was fine in theory, but Liverpool’s recovery of possession was up with the best it has been all season and Spurs barely had a moment’s peace.
The three biggest cheers in the opening 12 minutes were for team combination which retrieved a lost ball, Trent Alexander-Arnold dispossessing Harry Kane down by the corner flag in front of the Kop and Jordan Henderson sliding in to block a Kane shot from a rare Spurs counter.
Tottenham’s plan also relied on them not conceding set-pieces in dangerous areas, but that was easier said than done, with Virgil Van Dijk missing the target with one header from a corner and hitting the crossbar with another late in the half.
Hugo Lloris only just managed to claw away Ryan Sessegnon’s header back across goal with Salah lurking, while the France goalkeeper also got down well to blow a low Diaz effort after a quick exchange with Sadio Mane.
Tottenham’s one effort of any threat saw Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg hit Alisson’s right-hand post from distance, although the Liverpool goalkeeper looked like he had it covered all the way.
But the visitors decided to open the game up in the second half and it paid dividends in the 56th minute when Kane was allowed to run from deep and pick out Sessegnon on the left of the penalty area and his low cross was turned in by Son at the far post.
The South Korean became the fifth different Spurs player to score 20-plus Premier League goals in a season, following in the footsteps of Teddy Sheringham, Jurgen Klinsmann, Gareth Bale and Kane.
Ibrahima Konate flicked a header over as Liverpool continued to squander set-piece opportunities, while being fortunate to escape conceding another when Son diverted wide from close range.
Almost immediately Klopp switched to 4-2-4, replacing Henderson with forward Diogo Jota and introducing the fresh legs of Kostas Tsimikas at left-back for the tired Robertson.
Ben Davies’ flying block to repel Salah’s drive felt like a pivotal moment, but with 16 minutes remaining Diaz’s low strike deflected off Rodrigo Bentancur and inside Lloris’ right-hand post.
Anfield erupted and, encouraged by the cacophony of noise, the hosts redoubled their efforts.
Conte sent on Davison Sanchez for Sessegnon and later the more defence-minded Harry Winks replaced Dejan Kulusevski, but surprisingly Liverpool did not test Lloris nearly as much as they would have hoped and, as their seconds ticked away, so seemingly did their title hopes.
Manchester United’s players were subjected to chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” from their own fans as their faint hopes of Champions League qualification were extinguished by a 4-0 thumping at Brighton.
Goals from Moises Caicedo, Marc Cucurella, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard humiliated United and ensured they will finish with their lowest points tally of the Premier League era.
Protesting travelling supporters once again took aim at the club’s ownership, in addition to their outclassed and outfought team, on a remarkable and chastening evening in front of record crowd of 31,637 at the Amex Stadium.
Ralf Rangnick’s sixth-placed side were second best for the duration and can now only accumulate a maximum total of 61 points this term – three fewer than they managed in 2013-14, which began under David Moyes and finished with the caretaker management of Ryan Giggs.
United’s performance was arguably their worst of a miserable season – which has featured 11 defeats – to highlight the extent of the job facing incoming manager Erik ten Hag
A stunning victory for rampant Brighton was a first in nine games on home soil, dating back to Boxing Day, to boost their hopes of a first Premier League top-half finish.
United were bullied from the outset and it did not take long for chants against the club’s owners to emerge from the travelling support.
Cries of ‘love United, hate Glazers’ and ‘we want Glazers out’ rang out in the early exchanges amid a blistering start from Brighton.
Albion then took a deserved 15th-minute lead to further dampen the mood among the disillusioned away end.
Ecuador midfielder Caicedo made the breakthrough, firing through the legs of Victor Lindelof and into the bottom left corner from distance to claim his first Seagulls goal after Gross’ initial effort was blocked by Alex Telles.
Brighton’s boisterous fans created a carnival atmosphere and were clearly determined to enjoy the penultimate home game of their club’s finest Premier League season.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s maiden appearance at the stadium brought a mixture of awe and derision from the majority in attendance.
The Portuguese star – who repeatedly attracted both camera phones and jeers – barely had a sniff in the opening period and suffered a whack from Joel Veltman for his troubles. He later fired well over from a free-kick, before being booked for a sliding challenge on Lewis Dunk.
Impressive Albion should have doubled their lead three minutes before the break.
Raphael Varane made a complete mess of Robert Sanchez’s long kick forward but former United forward Danny Welbeck squandered a golden chance by lobbing over with only David De Gea to beat.
Interim boss Rangnick reacted to a dismal opening 45 minutes by introducing Fred and Edinson Cavani.
However, things swiftly went from bad to worse for the visitors.
Left-back Cucurella joined Caicedo in claiming his first Albion goal, doubling the hosts’ lead by sweeping into the roof of the net after Trossard pulled the ball back from the left.
German midfielder Gross expertly slipped the ball beyond De Gea in the 57th minute before Trossard bundled home from close range just three minutes later after Diogo Dalot cleared Welbeck’s initial dinked effort off the line.
A brief interlude as VAR checked Trossard’s goal for a possible handball gave United’s followers chance to vocally question the commitment of their side.
It could have been even worse for the away side as Alexis Mac Allister hit a post as he and Gross attempted to walk the ball in.
A first-half penalty from Wilfried Zaha confirmed Watford’s relegation from the Premier League as they lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The Hornets already needed a miracle to survive but it was old nemesis Zaha who had the decisive say to ensure his former manager Roy Hodgson endured an unhappy return to south London.
Hodgson, who received a CBE at Buckingham Palace in midweek, saw his 19th-placed side struggle throughout and defeat confirmed they will be back in the Sky Bet Championship next season with Hassane Kamara also sent off to further blight a bad day for the club.
Defeat at home to Burnley last weekend had virtually confirmed the Hornets’ instant return to the second tier, which meant the veteran manager went back to his previous stomping ground on a sour note.
It was last May when the ex-England boss revealed his intention to walk away from management for good and while a reduced crowd of 6,500 spectators – due to coronavirus restrictions – bid farewell to him in a 3-1 loss to Arsenal at the end of last season, this occasion at least enabled the 74-year-old to take in a sold-out Selhurst Park for one final time.
Todd Boehly was left with his head in his hands as Chelsea relinquished a Romelu Lukaku-inspired two-goal lead to slip to a 2-2 Premier League draw with Wolves.
Visiting captain Conor Coady rescued a point with an added-time header for Wolves to stun the Blues, who had stormed into a 2-0 second-half lead through Lukaku’s smart double.
ncoming Chelsea owner Boehly was on hand at Stamford Bridge just hours after signing a purchase agreement to buy the west London club from Roman Abramovich.
The 46-year-old US tycoon was left bemused by VAR, delighted by Lukaku’s return to form – his first league goals since December – and then deflated by the Blues allowing a winning position to slip away.
Chelsea’s club-record £98million signing Lukaku’s brace should have won the day for the Blues but Wolves had other ideas, with Francisco Trincao and then Coady turning the match on its head.
Trincao’s fine 18-yard effort dragged Wolves back into the contest, with the 22-year-old fearing he had blown it by skewing wide from an even better chance.
Coady came to his team-mate and Wolves’ rescue, however, nodding home Chiquinho’s cross to floor a stupefied Chelsea.
Mike Jackson suffered his first defeat in caretaker charge of Burnley as a 3-1 loss to Aston Villa deepened the Clarets’ relegation worries.
Steven Gerrard did both Everton and Leeds a big favour as his side ripped Burnley apart – Emi Buendia made the most of only his second start since February with a goal and an assist, Danny Ings haunted his former employers with a fourth goal in four against them, and Ollie Watkins applied the killer blow.
Substitute Maxwel Cornet thumped home a stoppage-time consolation goal for Burnley but the damage had already been done – perhaps doubly so with key defender James Tarkowski hobbling off in the second half.
Jackson had taken an unlikely 10 points from a possible 12 since replacing the sacked Sean Dyche last month but a fourth straight victory – which would have matched Dyche’s tally all season – proved well beyond his side as Villa, who sent Norwich down last weekend, were clinical in front of goal.
Defeat means Burnley could end the weekend back in the bottom three if Leeds and Everton can pick up points from tough fixtures away to Arsenal and Leicester respectively on Sunday.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl faced the wrath of his own supporters as his side were comfortably beaten at Brentford.
The Bees eased to a 3-0 victory as skipper Pontus Jansson and recalled Yoane Wissa struck in the first half before Kristoffer Ajer’s first Brentford goal all-but rubber-stamped their top-flight status.
Saints, meanwhile, are stuttering towards the end of the season and are still not mathematically safe from the drop, albeit a catastrophic series of results would be required to see Hasenhuttl’s side relegated.
They never looked like winning just a second league game in their last 10 and Hasenhuttl’s hopes of a strong end to the campaign are all-but over.