English Premier League

Liverpool 3 – 1 Sheffield United

Liverpool battled to victory over bottom-placed Sheffield United to move back to the top of the Premier League and maintain control of the title race.

The hosts 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, Liverpool conceded a 58th-minute equaliser as Gustavo Hamer’s header bounced off Conor Bradley and into his own net.

But Argentina’s World Cup-winning Alexis Mac Allister – nominated for March’s Premier League Player of the Month award – produced a stunning 20-yard strike which flew into the top corner to put the hosts back in front with 14 minutes left.

Mac Allister nearly grabbed a wonderful second but saw his curling free-kick bounce off the crossbar.

But it did not matter as substitute Cody Gakpo headed in Liverpool’s third in the 90th minute to seal the victory.

The result takes the Reds two points clear of Arsenal and three ahead of reigning champions Manchester City, with each side having eight league matches left.

More importantly, it keeps 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.

Mac Allister wonder goal rescues Reds

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 following 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 Jurgen 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 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.


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