world soccer 17.3.2018 08:40 pm

Salah’s four-goal blitz fires Liverpool, Palace improve survival hopes

Pep Guardiola endured a bruising first season in English football as Manchester City failed to challenge for the Premier League title, eventually finishing 15 points adrift of Chelsea in third place

Pep Guardiola endured a bruising first season in English football as Manchester City failed to challenge for the Premier League title, eventually finishing 15 points adrift of Chelsea in third place

Mohamed Salah’s stunning debut season with Liverpool hit a new high as the Egypt winger’s four-goal spree set a club record in a 5-0 demolition of Watford, while Crystal Palace boosted their bid for Premier League survival with a 2-0 victory at Huddersfield on Saturday.

After a 2-1 defeat at arch rivals Manchester United in their last game, Salah’s latest masterclass helped Liverpool get back on track with a fourth win in their last five league games.

Salah has scored 36 goals for Liverpool in all competitions since joining from Roma last year — the most by any player in a debut season with the Reds.

Spain striker Fernando Torres netted 33 times for Liverpool in 2007-08.

Salah took just four minutes to shred the Watford defence as his clever turn left Miguel Britos sprawled on the turf and opened space to drill past Orestis Karnezis.

The 25-year-old’s struggles with Chelsea four years ago are a distant memory and Salah etched his name in the Liverpool history books in the 43rd minute with a close-range finish from Andrew Robertson’s cross.

Salah turned provider for Roberto Firmino’s goal in the 49th minute with a pin-point cross that the Brazilian guided into the net with an audacious mid-air back-flick.

Salah wasn’t finished yet as he twisted past a group of bewildered defenders to complete his treble in the 77th minute.

He is the first Egyptian player to score a Premier League hat-trick and capping a memorable evening, Salah was on hand to slam in his fourth in the 85th minute after Karnezis spilled Danny Ings’ shot.

Liverpool move two points above Tottenham into third place as they aim to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.

“I have to thank everyone but mainly my team-mates, without them I couldn’t reach this number,” Salah said.

“Each game we try to win the three points, but every game I want to score and help the team.”

After four successive defeats, Palace climbed out of the relegation zone.

Palace took the lead in the 23rd minute at the John Smith’s Stadium when James Tomkins struck from close range.

Roy Hodgson’s team wrapped up the points in the 68th minute when Luka Milivojevic stroked home a penalty after Andros Townsend was fouled by Mathias Jorgensen.

Palace’s first win in eight league games leaves them two points above the bottom three.

Huddersfield are three points clear of Southampton, who drop into the relegation zone.

“It is vitally important. We have had a difficult run of games and not got any points,” Hodgson said.

While Palace remain hopeful of retaining their lucrative top-flight berth, bottom-of-the-table West Bromwich Albion seem destined for relegation after an agonising 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth.

– ‘Hurtful blow’ –

Albion went in front in the 49th minute at Dean Court when Salomon Rondon’s header was met by Jay Rodriguez with a fierce finish for his first goal since January.

But Jordon Ibe levelled for Bournemouth in the 77th minute and Junior Stanislas gave the Cherries their first win in five league games with an 89th-minute free-kick.

West Brom’s seventh successive defeat equals their longest losing streak in the Premier League.

They have won just one of their 17 league matches under Alan Pardew and lie nine points from safety with only seven matches left.

“This was an opportunity to just get a win and get our confidence up, instead we have had a really hurtful blow,” Pardew said.

Cenk Tosun’s double pushed Stoke deeper into the relegation mire as Everton won 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium.

In a snow blizzard in the Potteries, Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam lost his cool in the 30th minute when his reckless lunge on Wayne Rooney earned a straight red card from referee Martin Atkinson.

Everton had lost their last five away league games, but Tosun’s 69th-minute strike put them in front.

Second-bottom Stoke, three points from safety after one win in their last 12 league games, looked like snatching a point in the 77th minute when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting equalised.

But Tosun had the final word with an agile diving header in the 84th minute.

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