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August 19, 2019

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Sheffield United earns 1st victory back in the EPL

John Lundstram’s second-half goal gave Sheffield United a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace yesterday, in the first English Premier League game at Bramall Lane for 12 years.

Palace manager Roy Hodgson restored Wilfred Zaha to his starting line-up after starting him on the bench for the scoreless opening-week draw against Everton, while Chris Wilder started with the same side that secured a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth.

Zaha, who has been linked with a move away from the club before the European transfer window closes on September 2, was kept under control by the Sheffield defense as Palace once again struggled to create scoring opportunities.

David McGoldrick missed a great opportunity to put the home side ahead just before halftime, but 25-year-old midfielder Lundstram made no mistake early in the second period, lashing the ball home after it was steered into his path by Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Lundstram’s strike means he has now scored a goal in each of England’s top four divisions.

Employing a more direct approach to try to force an equalizer, Palace had plenty of possession, but the Sheffield rearguard dealt comfortably with the attacks as it sealed its first win of the season.

Sheffield United will host Leicester City next while Palace, which has yet to score in the league, faces a daunting trip to Manchester United. Leicester was at Chelsea yesterday.

On Saturday, Manchester City was forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur after the EPL champion was denied a dramatic winner by VAR, while Liverpool extended its perfect start to the title race with a 2-1 win at Southampton.

Pep Guardiola’s side failed to win for the first time in 16 EPL matches dating back to last season following a controversial finish at the Etihad Stadium.

City thought it had stolen three points when Gabriel Jesus fired home in stoppage-time, but its celebrations were curtailed when a VAR review showed Aymeric Laporte had flicked the ball on with his arm.

Sublime cross

The drama echoed Tottenham’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second-leg triumph at City’s expense last season when it went through on away goals after Raheem Sterling had a late goal ruled out by VAR.

City was in front in the 20th minute when Kevin De Bruyne’s sublime cross was met by Sterling at the far post and the City winger headed back across Hugo Lloris for his fourth goal of the season.

But Tottenham hit back inside three minutes as Erik Lamela beat City goalkeeper Ederson from the edge of the area.

City’s lead was restored in the 35th when Sergio Aguero glanced in a close-range finish from another De Bruyne cross.

However, after less than 20 seconds on the pitch as a replacement for Harry Winks, Brazil forward Lucas Moura climbed higher than Kyle Walker to head Tottenham level from Lamela’s corner.

Aguero exchanged angry words with Guardiola when he was substituted for Jesus, who was even more frustrated than his teammate as he protested to the officials at the final whistle.

Calling for VAR’s decision-making to be tweaked, Guardiola said: “I thought we left that situation in Tottenham in the Champions League last season. But it is the same. The referee and VAR disallow it. It’s the second time, it’s tough.

“They have to fix it.”

At St Mary’s, Liverpool matched a club record of 11 successive EPL wins to move two points clear of City as it built on last week’s 4-1 thrashing of Norwich.

Juergen Klopp’s side took the lead in first-half stoppage-time when Senegal winger Sadio Mane, who scored twice against Chelsea in the European Super Cup victory in midweek, returned to haunt his former club with an agile turn and curling strike into the far corner.

Roberto Firmino made it two with his 49th league goal for Liverpool, the Brazil forward taking Mane’s pass, dribbling and then firing home in the 71st.

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian started despite suffering an ankle injury when a fan slid into him during the celebrations against Chelsea in Istanbul.

But Adrian was guilty of a mistake in the 83rd when he hit a panicked clearance against Danny Ings, the ball bouncing off Southampton’s former Liverpool striker into the empty net.

“I really loved how much respect we showed today,” Klopp said. “I said before the game that this looks like the biggest banana skin in history; everybody is waiting for it and probably all the headlines were written already.

“I told the boys the headline I would prefer is ‘the mentality giants were in town’. The boys did an outstanding job.”

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was Arsenal’s match-winner again as it beat Burnley 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium.

Gabon forward Aubameyang had netted the only goal in last weekend’s victory at Newcastle United and he emulated that crucial contribution with another decisive strike.

Alexandre Lacazette’s first goal of the season had given Arsenal the lead before Ashley Barnes equalized for Burnley just before half-time.

With two successive wins to start the season for the first time in 10 years, the early signs are promising for Unai Emery’s team ahead of sterner tests against Liverpool and Tottenham in its next two games.


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