x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Sterling performance for Liverpool at White Hart Lane to defeat Tottenham

Liverpool produce an irresistible performance to beat a toothless Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Steven Gerrard, centre, and company had it go all their way at White Hart Lane, defeating host Tottenham Hotspur 3-0. Olly Greenwood / AFP
Steven Gerrard, centre, and company had it go all their way at White Hart Lane, defeating host Tottenham Hotspur 3-0. Olly Greenwood / AFP

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0, LIVERPOOL 3

Tottenham - Player 00’, 00’ Liverpool - Sterling 08’, Gerrard (pen) 49’, Moreno 60’

Liverpool reasserted their English Premier League title credentials with a breezy 3-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday as Mario Balotelli made his return to English football.

After Raheem Sterling had put Liverpool ahead in the early stages, Steven Gerrard scored a penalty and Alberto Moreno netted his first goal for the club to give Brendan Rodgers victory in his 100th game as manager.

Balotelli started for Liverpool after his £16 million (US$26.5 million) move from AC Milan on Monday and he produced an enterprising display before being withdrawn in the 62nd minute.

The result saw Liverpool bounce back from a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in their previous outing and ended Tottenham’s 100 per cent start to the campaign under new coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Back in England after a 19-month stint in Milan, former City striker Balotelli almost crowned his return with an early goal, only for Hugo Lloris to parry his header from Daniel Sturridge’s cross.

The 24-year-old Italy striker’s finishing was to prove wayward throughout the afternoon, but it did not prevent his side from taking control of the game.

They made the breakthrough in the eighth minute. Sturridge released Jordan Henderson with a ball down the right flank and the England midfielder played a low cross across the box that Sterling tucked away at the far post.

After Emmanuel Adebayor had lobbed over and Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet had parried a fierce drive from Nacer Chadli, Gerrard doubled the visitors’ lead from the spot in the 49th minute after Eric Dier had held back Joe Allen.

Moreno sealed victory on the hour with a memorable first goal for Liverpool, dispossessing Spurs substitute Andros Townsend on halfway and surging into the box before drilling a shot into the bottom-right corner.

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ASTON VILLA 2, HULL CITY 1

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Aston Villa - Agbonlahor 14’, Weimann 36’

Hull City - Jelavic 74’

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Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann scored as Aston Villa extended their unbeaten start with a victory at home to Hull City.

Villa had been dumped out of the League Cup by third-tier Leyton Orient in mid-week, but first-half efforts from Agbonlahor and Weimann got them back to winning ways and ended Hull’s own unbeaten record.

Nikica Jelavic replied for Hull with 16 minutes to play, but although it prevented Villa from opening the season with three clean sheets for the first time since 1900, Paul Lambert’s side held on for the three points.

It was a second successive setback for Steve Bruce’s Hull, who were knocked out of the Europa League by Belgian side Lokeren on Thursday, and a ninth win in 10 games for Villa against the East Yorkshire club.

Both sides made seven changes to their starting XIs, with captain Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph among the players returning for Villa, and Michael Dawson making his Hull debut in place of the suspended James Chester.

Delph was awarded his first England call-up on Thursday and he almost marked the achievement with an early goal, sending a shot against the crossbar from the left in the second minute after being found by Weimann.

Twelve minutes later Villa made the breakthrough, with Agonlahor tucking away a low strike from Weimann’s lay-off to register his first goal at Villa Park in 2014.

Hull had a penalty appeal turned down when Andy Robertson’s cross struck Ashley Westwood on the arm, but Villa were bossing the game and in the 36th minute Kieran Richardson teed up Weimann to crash home the hosts’ second goal with his left foot.

Villa rattled the woodwork again shortly before half-time when a free-kick from Westwood hit the post after Curtis Davies had been booked for felling the lively Delph.

Jelavic hit back for Hull in the 74th minute with a header from a Robbie Brady free-kick that flicked into the net off Villa left-back Aly Cissokho.

Hull might have snatched a late equaliser, but Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan produced a finger-tip save to thwart Jake Livermore.*

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LEICESTER CITY 1, ARSENAL 1

Leicester City - Ulloa 22’

Arsenal - Sanchez 20’

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Arsenal was frustrated by newcomer Leicester on Sunday, dropping points for the second time in three Premier League games in a 1-1 draw. Alexis Sanchez followed up his first Uefa Champions League goal for Arsenal on Wednesday with his first domestic strike in the 20th minute in central England.

But Leonardo Ulloa headed in Leicester’s equalizer inside two minutes to leave Arsenal with one win and two draws from its opening matches of the domestic campaign.

The game underlined Arsenal’s need for striking reinforcements as Yaya Sanogo struggled to make an impact. Sanogo was given the responsibility to lead Arsenal’s attack after Olivier Giroud was ruled out until late December with a broken tibia.

“We are open (to signing a striker),” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We work on it but let’s not fool ourselves the solution every time you don’t win is to buy a player.”

But it had been a positive opening at Leicester when Alexis pounced for his first league goals. Neat play saw Santi Cazorla loft the ball to Sanogo and, when the striker made a hash of his effort, the ball fell to Sanchez to smash in from six yards.

The lead lasted just two minutes though as Per Mertesacker allowed Jeff Schlupp to run and his cross was headed into the net by Ulloa from 12 yards.

The striker beat Larent Koscielny to the ball with the France defender still feeling the after-effects of an earlier knock and he was immediately replaced by Calum Chambers.

Sanogo struggled against Leicester’s backline with the hosts closing ranks to deny Cazorla and Mesut Ozil space.

David Nugent was busy for Leicester and Chambers was almost caught out by the striker in first-half stoppage time but wriggled free before Riyad Mahrez fired at goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Ulloa continued to threaten after the break and should have fired Leicester ahead. Schlupp’s ball dissected Arsenal and when Chambers dived in the striker could only hit the side netting from eight yards (metres).

Arsenal immediately broke and Aaron Ramsey headed straight at goalkeepers Kasper Schmeichel with Sanogo waiting for a tap in before the striker himself was thwarted by a smart save.

“We just weren’t clinical enough in front of goal to convert the chances into goals,” Ramsey said.

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