EPL

Darwin Nunez nets long-awaited goal as Burnley win sends Liverpool top

By Sports Desk December 26, 2023

Liverpool moved top of the Premier League after Darwin Nunez ended his goal drought in a 2-0 success at second-bottom Burnley.

Nunez fired Jurgen Klopp’s men into a sixth-minute lead at Turf Moor with his first strike in 13 matches in all competitions before substitute Diogo Jota sealed victory late on with his 50th goal for the club.

Mohamed Salah hit the crossbar and Harvey Elliott saw his second-half strike ruled out for offside with the score still 1-0, while Jacob Bruun Larsen almost snatched an equaliser for the Clarets.

Victory for the Reds lifted them two points above Arsenal, who host West Ham on Thursday, while lowly Burnley are five points from safety following a 14th defeat of the season.

Chris Wood retuned to haunt Newcastle with a stunning hat-trick as Nottingham Forest handed new boss Nuno Espirito Santo the first Premier League victory of his reign.

Wood, who joined Forest from the Magpies in January, produced two fine second-half finishes to secure a 3-1 comeback success at St James’ Park.

Newcastle went ahead through Alexander Isak’s 23rd-minute penalty but slipped to a sixth defeat in seven games in all competitions after Wood tapped home Anthony Elanga’s cross just before the break and went on to complete his treble in style.

Forest remain two points above the relegation zone after 18th-placed Luton pulled off a 3-2 success at bottom club Sheffield United thanks to two late own goals.

Blades pair Jack Robinson and Anis Ben Slimane each turned the ball into their own goal during the final 14 minutes of a chaotic clash at Bramall Lane.

Chris Wilder’s hosts had looked set for a vital three points after second-half strikes from Oli McBurnie and Anel Ahmedhodzic overturned Alfie Doughty’s 17th-minute opener.

In-form Bournemouth continued their remarkable resurgence by moving into the top half of the table thanks to a thumping 3-0 victory over Fulham.

Justin Kluivert put the Cherries ahead just before half-time at Vitality Stadium before Dominic Solanke’s eighth goal in seven games – a penalty after Joao Palhinha brought down Antoine Semenyo – doubled the lead.

Substitute Luis Sinisterra sealed an emphatic success late on as Andoni Iraola’s hosts made it 19 points from the last 21 available.

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  • Jurgen Klopp not worried about Liverpool legacy but wants fitting finale Jurgen Klopp not worried about Liverpool legacy but wants fitting finale

    Jurgen Klopp has insisted he is not worried about what his legacy at Liverpool might be – but he wants to end the season by giving fans something more to celebrate.

    As Klopp goes into the final weeks of his reign, having announced he will step down at the end of the season, Liverpool remain locked in a tight three-way fight at the top of the Premier League as they prepare for Sunday’s match against Crystal Palace.

    This season’s Carabao Cup is already in the cabinet, but their Europa League hopes took a potentially fatal blow in Thursday’s 3-0 home defeat against Atalanta in the first leg of their quarter-final tie – something Klopp wants to turn into a positive.

    “For me I’ve had enough parades and parties, it was never about that and it will never be (about that) but I would love to give the people the opportunity to celebrate something special and I think it would be right as well,” Klopp told Sky News.

    “I’m still happy we are still in that fight. I want to make sure we really go for it. Sometimes life and football are the same – you need a proper smash to realise why you do what you do and we got that smash and we will use it.”

    But asked what it would mean for his legacy, Klopp added: “I don’t care… would that make me a great manager? I never considered myself a great manager. Never, ever in my life.

    “I am surprised until this day that people see me that way, that’s 100 per cent true but I accept it that people see me like that.

    “What’s important is that the Liverpool people are happy with what we did that’s the only important thing…

    “On my gravestone, I don’t want, ‘here is one of the most successful managers on the planet’, you are still lying three feet under. No, not for me. I want to be remembered as somebody who helped people through life.”

    Klopp, 56, announced in January that he would step down at the end of the season, having said he was “running out of energy”, and plans a break from football.

    “There’s a few things (Klopp’s wife) Ulla told me – I have to learn cooking and a dance class,” he said. “I said you don’t want me to have a break because if I do that I will start working after four weeks again! I should learn cooking probably so I can at least make some breakfast or whatever.

    “This will be the first time in my life where I don’t have a real idea of what I will do and that’s exactly what I want.”

    Asked about his cooking repertoire, he added: “No. Hot water, tea, does that count? During Covid I did scrambled eggs but after that I forgot it again.

    “I was raised in the Black Forest with two sisters, the only reason I knew where the kitchen was because the smell came from there! I’m pretty useless in private life.”

    Before then, the popular Klopp can expect a big sendoff from Liverpool no matter how the final weeks of the campaign play out.

    He has one obvious selection for the soundtrack, and one more obscure choice.

    “It’s Liverpool so it would be The Beatles 100 per cent, they could easily choose the song because I love them all,” he said.

    “Actually, the band that is alive is Die Toten Hosen, the translation is The Dead Pants. It’s a punk rock band and the lead singer Campino is a good friend of mine and the biggest LFC supporter on the planet – that would be the biggest day of his life.

    “They sing in German so no one would understand but that’s fine.”

  • Neil Dewsnip ‘absolutely delighted’ as Plymouth defeat leaders Leicester Neil Dewsnip ‘absolutely delighted’ as Plymouth defeat leaders Leicester

    Plymouth director of football Neil Dewsnip was “absolutely delighted” with his side’s shock 1-0 Championship victory at home to leaders Leicester that eased their relegation worries.

    Recalled Mustapha Bundu scored a 21st-minute winner with an angled strike after running onto a defence-splitting ball from Adam Forshaw.

    Home goalkeeper Michael Cooper made a string of stops as Leicester piled on the pressure but the hosts held on for maximum points as they moved to 16th and now sit five points clear of the bottom three.

    Dewsnip said: “We are absolutely delighted with the result. Made up but we know it’s not done yet. We still have a target and that is to stay in this league.

    “Our aim is to stay in the league. It’s been the same since day one when we started in the Championship. It’s been a great night for Plymouth Argyle Football Club.

    “We still have three more games to play and more points to play for. The players stuck to the shape we wanted and I am delighted we stuck to the game plan.

    “Mustapha’s goal was absolutely terrific. He’s got that finish in him we see every week in training. It does fly over the railings one or two times but credit to him that was a really good goal.

    “The fans from the first minute to the last were just at it. I found myself clapping with them at one point.

    “I am absolutely delighted the team recorded a 1-0 win for them.

    “We have not had a great record defending set -pieces, so we worked on it and got an unbelievable response.

    “Thankfully tonight was our night not theirs. I am sure Leicester will have theirs in the future.

    “Tomorrow I think I will be watching the scores come in, especially as 24 hours ago we weren’t sitting here with these three points.”

    Leicester boss Enzo Maresca took the positives from their second-consecutive loss as they remain level on points with second-placed Ipswich, with Leeds a point further back ahead of their games on Saturday.

    He said: “It has been a tough week with two defeats in a row that we did not expect so we are upset.

    “The only good thing is that fortunately, it is still in our hands.

    “We need to take our chances and start to win games. We have four games to go, three of them at home, with our fans behind us, so hopefully we can finish well.

    “At the end – and I have said it many times – the problem is when you don’t create chances. That is when you have to be worried and find a different solution.

    “At this moment we are struggling to score. We created chances inside the six-yard box, from outside the box and we struggle.

    “But there are moments over the season where we need to win the game and it doesn’t matter which way we need to win the game.

    “But as I said, the positive thing is it’s still in our hands in the last four games. Now we cannot lose any more chances we have to try and win those (four) games.

    “At this moment we need all our players. For sure, when you don’t win games there is always a why?

    “I don’t see a big difference between tonight’s game and when we started the season.

    “When we lose you are always looking for the reason. The team are still competing and are still creating chances.

    “I don’t know if we need all the four games to win the league but we will still go out to win those four games.

    “With one chance they (Plymouth) were clinical and we had more chances and were not clinical.”

  • Championship leaders Leicester stunned by Mustapha Bundu’s winner for Plymouth Championship leaders Leicester stunned by Mustapha Bundu’s winner for Plymouth

    Leaders Leicester missed the chance to move clear at the top of the Championship as they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat away to relegation-threatened Plymouth, thanks to Mustapha Bundu’s 21st-minute winner.

    Second-placed Ipswich remain level on points with the Foxes, with Leeds a point further back ahead of their games on Saturday with all three clubs currently having four matches left.

    Managerless Argyle climbed to 16th on the back of their first home win in seven, under the caretaker management team of director of football Neil Dewsnip and first-team coach Kevin Nancekivell and now sit five points clear of the bottom three.

    It only took five minutes for Leicester to test home goalkeeper Michael Cooper as Abdul Fatawu’s thumping right-footed shot – following a flowing move – forcing him into a diving save low down to his left.

    Ricardo Pereira was next to test Cooper, following a defence-splitting one-two with Wilfred Ndidi. Again it was all diving Cooper could do to parry the ball away.

    Stephy Mavididi latched on to the aerial ball and headed it back across the goal, which resulted in a goalmouth scramble and Argyle eventually clearing the ball.

    Mavididi went close with a curling 13th-minute shot after being teed up by playmaker Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the box. The attacking midfielder’s shot beat Cooper for pace but flew just past the post.

    Totally against the run of play, Plymouth stunned their visitors with a 21st-minute goal on the counter.

    Adam Forshaw intercepted a Leicester attack and released recalled striker Bundu with a superb, measured pass through the middle of the park.

    Bundu sprinted forward and – as he got into the penalty box – let fly with a fierce angled drive from the right that beat diving Mads Hermansen and rocketed into the far corner.

    Harry Winks fired wide from 20 yards as Argyle failed to clear their lines following another City corner with the half-hour mark approaching.

    Argyle’s next best chance fell to Bundu, after good work by Forshaw and substitute Joe Edwards, but this time the striker fired high over.

    Cooper did well to save low at his near post as Dewsbury-Hall fired across the face of goal in the 44th minute from close range.

    Cooper was again called into action early in the second half as he made another save, while Dewsbury-Hall tried his luck from 25 yards moments later.

    Central defender Dan Scarr did well to stoop and head a pacy Fatawu cross from the right away at the near post as Leicester continued to press or an equaliser.

    Fatawu’s next cross from the right – after 56 minutes – found striker Patson Daka and his deft near-post touch beat Cooper but spun past the far upright.

    Daka’s last action was firing wide when well placed at the far post after 67 minutes. He was replaced by former England international striker Jamie Vardy.

    With just over 15 minutes remaining, Wout Faes’ cross from the right was smashed towards goal by Mavididi but again, Cooper was equal to the effort.

    Cooper made an even better stop, bravely diving in to deny Vardy as the Leicester striker broke into the box, one-on-one, in the 88th minute but the hosts held on for the much-needed victory.

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