Man United player ratings as Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard impress

Alex Rea 31/03/2018
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Alexis Sanchez celebrates his goal

Romelu Lukaku’s 100th Premier League goal set Manchester United on course for a comfortable victory against relegation-threatened Swansea.

Putting aside the spectre of Manchester City winning the title in next weekend’s derby clash, Jose Mourinho’s men regained second spot from Liverpool thanks to a superb first-half display at Old Trafford.

Summer signing Lukaku’s 100th top-flight goal was complemented by Alexis Sanchez’s second since arriving in January as United ran out deserved 2-0 victors against Carlos Carvalhal’s Swansea.

Here, we rate the United players after a comfortable win.

MAN UNITED (4-2-3-1)

David De Gea – Is there a debate? The best goalkeeper in the world right now and justified that tag once more with two outstanding saves to deny Tammy Abraham. United must pony up – money that is and not hair – to ensure he remains with the club. 8

Antonio Valencia – With Mata operating more infield, the emphasis was on Valencia to provide width from the right but his delivery, as is often the case these days was below standard. A rock defensively but that’s not enough for a modern right-back anymore. 6

Victor Lindelof – Vindicated the decision of Mourinho to start him and looks far more assured in this United team now. Stepped out of defence to be the extra option in midfield and provided quality passing out the back. Aggressive when he needed to be as well. 7

Chris Smalling – There is a collective pang of disgust from United fans when Smalling is named in United’s starting XI and his shaky display will do little to erode the feeling Eric Bailly should be in the side when fit. 5

Ashley Young – As was the case with Valencia on the opposite flank, Sanchez’s insistence to wriggle infield meant he was required to deliver quality from the left. He didn’t, three crosses was the second most for United and all were inaccurate. 6

Nemanja Matic – Mourinho opted for a midfield axis of Pogba and Matic for the first time since the defeat to Newcastle and both oozed class. Matic bossed the ball in the air and on the deck. 7

Paul Pogba – The 4-2-3-1 seems almost designed to bring the worst of Pogba but the Frenchman was bright, particularly in the first half. Forced to impact the game from a deeper position but he dictated United’s points of attacks with his varied passing. 7

Juan Mata – Mata probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves but his influence on United’s attackers is huge. He brings so much balance when he’s in the XI and the Spaniard’s presence brought the best out of Sanchez and Lingard. 8

Jesse Lingard – Electric. He impressed for England during the international break in a more central role and took up the No10 spot against Swansea, picking at the space between the lines and laying on a superb assist for Sanchez. 8

Alexis Sanchez – The goal will lift a lot of pressure off his shoulders. Took it beautifully, timed his run masterfully and Mourinho will be delighted to see the Chilean on the end of moves rather than deeper in the build-up. Also grabbed a neat assist for the opener. 7

Romelu Lukaku – The youngest ever foreign player to reach 100 Premier League goals. The Belgian was irrepressible at times. A little fortunate with his strike deflecting into the back of the net but a big performance from Lukaku. 7

SUBSTITUTES

Marcus Rashford – Game was effectively over when he arrived on the scene for the last 15 minutes. 6

Ander Herrera – Brought on alongside Rashford as United professionally saw the game out. 6

Scott McTominay – Was brought on during injury time for Mata. N/A

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Mohamed Salah's hot streak continues as Liverpool come from behind to beat Crystal Palace 2-1

Carl Markham 31/03/2018
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Mohamed Salah celebrates his winner

Mohamed Salah scored his 37th goal of the season in all competitions as Liverpool came from behind to secure a vital 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace.

Sadio Mane had scored the Reds’ equalising goal before being fortunate to avoid a red card, and the visitors capitalised by securing all three points with Salah’s 84th-minute effort to maintain their pursuit of a second-place finish.

Palace led at half-time following Luka Milivojevic’s penalty but after conceding another late goal at Selhurst Park they remain at risk of relegation from the Premier League.

In addition to Wilfried Zaha passing a late fitness test to start, Roy Hodgson’s team had been further strengthened by the return to their starting XI of the fit-again Yohan Cabaye for the first time since the defeat at Everton on February 10.

They are yet to secure a league point this season in Zaha’s absence and he again demonstrated his importance to their ambitions when he tested Loris Karius early on.

After being sent one-on-one with the goalkeeper following a fine ball from Cabaye and despite minimal time and space, he controlled with his left foot amid suspicions of handball before shooting with his right and watching Karius clear.

When he again went rushing through on goal, Karius needlessly rushed out and clumsily took him down, leaving referee Neil Swarbrick with little choice but to award the hosts a 13th-minute penalty.

For the seventh time this season, Milivojevic scored from the penalty spot, shooting powerfully into the bottom left corner while Karius dived right, to give Palace the lead.

It was then that Mane attempted to impose himself. In his own attempts to win a penalty he appeared to dive under minimal contact from James McArthur and was booked.

He has at times struggled to reproduce the same form as last season while Mohamed Salah has excelled, and it was the Egyptian who tested Palace’s Wayne Hennessey with a curling effort the goalkeeper jumped to collect.

With a low header from Salah’s corner, Mane then forced Hennessey into a diving reaction save before McArthur scrambled clear, but Palace absorbed that pressure to retain their lead until four minutes into the second half.

Following James Milner’s low ball from the left wing, the alert Mane finished low at the near post beyond Hennessey and was soon fortunate not to be sent off.

Christian Benteke missed the first of two fine chances against his former team when a header from Milivojevic sent him one-on-one with Karius before his composure deserted him and he hooked harmlessly wide.

Almost immediately after, Andros Townsend’s run and pass put him into a similarly-promising position, but he then snatched at the ball and again shot over the crossbar.

With Liverpool still under threat, Mane conceded a free-kick with a blatant handball that should have led to a second yellow card.

He was soon substituted, and then watched as his replacement Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain contributed to Salah’s winning goal.

The midfielder’s cross from the right wing found Andrew Robertson on the left, and when he played the ball towards Salah, the Egyptian coolly finished low into the bottom corner to secure all three points.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Mohamed Salah winner has Liverpool star on verge of breaking records

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Mohamed Salah celebrates his winner

There’s no stopping Mohamed Salah this season, even in a game like Saturday’s when it looked like Crystal Palace had figured out how to keep him quiet.

True to form, the Liverpool winger popped up to score his 29th goal of the season and complete the Reds’ comeback from 1-0 down to win 2-1 at what has been a bogey ground for them in recent years.

The Egyptian duly dominates our Seven Deadly Stats from the game.

GOALS BY AN AFRICAN PLAYER IN A SEASON

Didier Drogba won the Premier League Golden Boot in 2009/10 with 29 goals, his best season in England. Salah is set to smash past that, with six games left to score the one goal he needs to take over top spot for himself.

GOALS IN MOST GAMES

Salah’s also about to steal a record that has been the domain of Manchester United players so far, something that will no doubt make Liverpool fans happy.

Cristiano Ronaldo‘s famous 2007/08 season saw him score in 21 different games, a record matched five years later by Robin Van Persie. Again, with six games left, this is a record Salah’s got in the bag.

GOALS BY A LIVERPOOL PLAYER IN A SEASON

Another record in threat is the club mark for most goals in a season across all competitions, with Salah now on 37. Ian Rush scored 47 goals in 1983-84, which will no doubt be in Salah’s sights, especially if they can get past Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Roger Hunt’s 42 goals in 1961-62 and the 40 goals Rush scored in 1986-87 are more likely to fall.

EQUAL OR MORE GOALS THAN SEVEN TEAMS

Salah hasn’t just been embarrassing teams directly on the pitch with his performances – his scoring record is putting teams to shame.

Ahead of the rest of the weekend fixtures, Salah’s 29 goals puts him above or level with seven teams in the goals for column: West Brom (24), Huddersfield (25), Swansea (25), Burnley (27), Brighton (28), Southampton (29), and Stoke City (29).

CLOSING IN ON PL RECORD

The record for a 38-game season is almost certainly going to fall – Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, and Alan Shearer all managed 31, and it’s hard to imagine Salah not scoring three more.

Salah also has an outside shot at taking the overall record – Shearer and Andy Cole managed 34 goals in 42-game seasons. The Egyptian needs six in six to break that and on this season’s form, it would be a bad idea to bet against him.

MANE’S REPRESENTING SENEGAL

Salah’s not the only one at Liverpool breaking or drawing level with long-standing records. Sadio Mane’s equaliser put him on the cusp of earning bragging rights among his countrymen.

He’s certain to become the highest-scoring Senegalese player in Premier League history by the end of this season.

LALLANA’S TRAGIC CAMEO

It wasn’t all smiles for Liverpool, despite their dogged comeback on Saturday. The sight of Adam Lallana lying on the ground just minutes after coming on as a substitute was cause for real concern not only for Jurgen Klopp but also for England manager Gareth Southgate.

The injury seemed to be a recurrence of the hamstring issue that has plagued Lallana all season and puts his World Cup hopes in serious doubt.

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