Jonathan Cook’s World Game Wrap-Up

11 April 2022

All square in heavyweight clash

The English Premier League is Manchester City’s to lose after they earned a 2-2 draw against second-placed Liverpool to stay a point clear at the top.

Fourteen points adrift in January, Liverpool put together a 10-game winning streak to reduce the deficit and increase the pressure on city.

With seven games to play, the title is within City’s grasp, although there is no sign of Liverpool giving up the chase.

The Reds twice came from behind in a pulsating match at the Etihad Stadium.

City took the early advantage through Kevin de Bruyne’s deflected shot before Diogo Jota equalised for Liverpool. The home side were in front again through Gabriel Jesus but just a minute into the second half Sadio Mane fired home Mohamed Salah’s pass.

England’s two heavyweight clubs will meet again in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Victory claim derby delight

Melbourne Victory ended their city rivals’ 11-game unbeaten streak with an emphatic 3-0 win at AAMI Park on Saturday.

Defending A-League champions and league leaders Melbourne City had not been beaten since a loss to Adelaide in February. But they were made to look second best against Victory.

After scoring 10 goals in their previous two matches – a 6-0 thrashing of Wellington Phoenix and a 4-0 defeat of Sydney FC – City failed to fire as Victory claimed the derby day honours for the first time since 2019.

A first-half double from Marco Rojas and Jake Brimmer’s early penalty put Victory on their way to a win that has kept them in third place, four points behind Western United and 12 behind City.

Western United lost for just the second time in their past 14 games with Jaushua Sotirio scoring twice in Wellington Phoenix’s upset 4-1 win.

Glory reaching for end of road

The A-League season cannot end soon enough for Perth Glory, who are limping towards the finish line.

With big names sidelined and no hope of finals, an inexperienced Glory side were handed a 6-1 thrashing by Newcastle Jets yesterday, just four days after a 1-0 home loss to Melbourne Victory.

Now without a win in their past 12 games and no sign of a return of injured senior players such as Daniel Sturridge, Bruno Fornaroli, Andy Keogh and Brandon O’Neill, Glory’s final five fixtures will be a test of resilience.

Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich said three games in eight days had taken their toll on the team.

“It’s all about building for next year,” he said.

A first A-League hat-trick for Beka Mikeltadze did most damage for the Jets, whose other goals were scored by Daniel Penha (two) and Kuach Yuel. Ciaran Bramwell scored Glory’s consolation.

Toffees not done yet

Anthony Gordon’s deflected shot earned Everton a 1-0 win against Manchester United and gave the Toffees renewed hope of avoiding the drop.

After successive defeats to West Ham and relegation-threatened Burnley, the mood had been grim at Goodison Park where Frank Lampard has been unable to inspire consistency since his arrival in January.

But this was a satisfying win over misfiring United, whose hopes of a top-four finish and a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League are hanging by a thread.

Everton rarely string two wins in row, so this might be a short reprieve.

They have managed to win successive games only once this season when they won away to Brighton on August 28, and at home to Burnley on September 13.

But the win over United gave Everton a four-point buffer over third-from-bottom Burnley, who were beaten 2-0 by last-placed Norwich City.

Benzema on fire for Real

Not for the first time this season, Karim Benzema has put on a masterclass of finishing for Real Madrid with a sensational hat-trick.

At 34, he should be on the wrong side of his best football, but his performances say otherwise.

After scoring a hat-trick in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 against Paris St Germain last month, the Frenchman did it again in a 3-1 win over Chelsea in a first leg quarter-final victory.

Two brilliant headers in a blistering three-minute spell and an opportunistic finish after a rare error by Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy have given Real a distinct advantage ahead of the second-leg on Wednesday.

Chelsea bounced back from defeat to Real to beat Southampton 6-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.

Diaz a class act

Luis Diaz ignored the boos of the home fans to play a key role in Liverpool’s 3-1 Champions League quarter-final first leg win over Benfica last week.

While Manchester City and Villarreal posted 1-0 first-leg wins over Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively, Liverpool’s victory gave them a more optimistic outlook ahead of this week’s second leg matches.

Diaz, who signed for Liverpool from Benfica’s arch rivals Porto, was booed by the home fans when his name was read out before the game.

But after setting up Sadio Mane for Liverpool’s second goal of the night, the Colombian international fired home a third goal to give Jurgen Klopp’s men breathing space heading into Thursday’s return match.

Milan miss their chance

AC Milan missed an opportunity to extend their lead to four points at the top of Italy’s Serie A after being held to a goalless draw by Torino.

With title-chasing Napoli having been beaten 3-2 at home to Fiorentina, Milan failed to take the chance to stretch their lead with a frustrating performance.

Inter are second, two points behind Milan, after they won 2-0 against Verona on Saturday with goals from Nicolo Barella and Edin Dzeko.

Inter have also played one game fewer than Milan and Napoli, who are behind Inter on goal difference.

Barcelona survive penalty scares

Barcelona survived conceding three penalties to beat Levante 3-2 and return to second place in La Liga.

Levante striker Roger missed one of his side’s penalties, while Jose Luis Morales and Gonzalo Melero converted their spot kicks as Barca came from behind to win.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had levelled for Barcelona, while Pedri and Luuk de Jong also scored to seal the win.

Goals from Casemiro and Lucas Vazquez earned Real Madrid a comfortable 2-0 win over Getafe that kept them 12-points clear at the top of the table.

Sevilla, who trail Barcelona on goal difference, needed two late goals to earn a 4-2 home win over Granada on Friday.