Jonathan Cook’s World Game Wrap-Up

EPL title in City’s grasp

Manchester City have strengthened their grip on top spot with just three games to play in the race for the English Premier League title.

Pep Guardiola’s team put aside the disappointment of their mid-week Champions League exit to hand Newcastle United a 5-0 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium.

Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and City made the most of the slip-up with goals from Raheem Sterling (two), Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and Phil Foden.

City are now three points ahead of Liverpool and have a 68 goal difference compared to the Reds’ 64.

Both teams will face Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa as the season comes to a close, while City also have a potentially difficult clash with West Ham. Liverpool’s other remaining game is against Southampton.

Everton out of relegation zone

Mason Holgate breathed new life into Everton’s Premier League survival plan with the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over misfiring Leicester City.

The win, which came after Vitaliy Mykolenko’s stunning hit was cancelled out by Patson Daka, was Everton’s first away from home since August.

Frank Lampard’s side is now fifth bottom, just a point ahead of 17th-placed Burnley and Leeds, who occupy the last relegation place.

Burnley were beaten 3-1 at home to Aston Villa, while Leeds lost 2-1 away to Arsenal.

Brighton smash United

Erik Ten Hag might be wondering what he’s got himself into after Manchester United’s latest flop.

Once among the most feared teams in Europe, United were dealt another harsh lesson in a miserable season as Brighton dished out a 4-0 hiding to record their first home win of 2022.

Ten Hag, who is manager of Dutch side Ajax, will replace Ralf Rangnick at United at the end of the season.

Rangnick, who was preceded by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was unable to stop the rot in a season that will result in United’s lowest ever Premier League points tally.

Brighton, who had won only three times in 27 games against United, went ahead through Moises Caicedo after just 15 minutes and wrapped up a comfortable victory with second half goals from Marc Cucurella, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard

Madrid leave it late

Is there any stopping Real Madrid? Carlo Ancelotti’s side pulled off another remarkable come-from-behind victory to reach the UEFA Champions League final.

Trailing Manchester City 5-3 on aggregate in the semi-final, Rodrygo scored in the 90th and 91st minutes to send the game into extra time. And Real weren’t done there.

In front of their home fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Karim Benzema scored an extra time penalty to clinch victory.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side have made a habit of leaving it late to steal victory having reversed a two-goal deficit to beat Paris Saint Germain in the round of 16 and scoring two late goals to see off Chelsea in the semi-finals. But this topped the lot to send them into the final.

Liverpool did it tougher than expected before beating Villarreal in the other semi-final. The Reds’ 2-0 first leg lead was wiped out in the first half with goals from Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin.

But Fabinho, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane were all on target in the second half to record a 5-2 aggregate win.

Watford down again

Watford slipped out of the English Premier League with a whimper as Wilfried Zaha’s first half penalty for Crystal Palace consigned the Hornets to relegation.

Palace have also landed a final blow on their former manager Roy Hodgson, who came out of retirement to try to resurrect Watford’s season.

Hodgson was Watford’s third manager of the season after Xisco Munoz was replaced by Claudio Ranieri, whose time came to an end in January.

Hodgson, who is also a former England manager, is set to return to retirement when his Watford contract expires at the end of the season.

Blades and Hatters into play-offs

Sheffield United and Luton Town earned their respective places in the English Championship play-offs after the final day of the league campaign.

The Blades beat Championship winners Fulham 4-0 and Luton saw off Reading, 1-0, to reach the play-offs. Remarkably, Luton’s win came just a week after they were beaten 7-0 by Fulham.

Middlesbrough, who had gone into the final game of the season still hoping for a play-off place, finished five points adrift after losing 4-1 to Preston.

Third-placed Huddersfield will meet Luton and Sheffield United face Nottingham Forest with the winners to progress to the play-off final at Wembley on May 29.

The reward for the winner is a place in the Premier League next season.


Celtic home and hosed

Rangers will take comfort from securing a place in their first European final in 14 years after Celtic earned another victory that has virtually clinched the Scottish Premier League title.

Celtic came from behind to beat Hearts 4-1 on Saturday before Rangers beat Dundee United 2-0 yesterday, leaving them six points behind Ange Postecoglou’s side.

Celtic’s superior goal difference (64 to 44) gives them breathing space even in the unlikely event of losing their final two matches against Dundee United (Thursday, WA time) and Motherwell (Saturday, May 14).

Their Glasgow rivals Rangers have the UEFA Europa League final on May 19 to focus on after beating Germany’s RB Leipzig in the semi-finals. Rangers won 3-1 at Ibrox to clinch the tie 3-2 on aggregate.

Rangers will face another German side in next week’s final after Eintracht Frankfurt completed a 3-1 aggregate victory over West Ham United.

Birthday boy’s Milan gift

Sandro Tonali celebrated his 22nd birthday by scoring twice as AC Mlan took a step closer to sealing the Serie A title.

Hellas Verona’s Davide Faraoni had given Milan an early scare with the opening goal before birthday boy Tonali struck either side of half-time.

Alessandro Florenzi scored late in the game to wrap up a 3-1 victory.

Mlan regained their two-point lead at the top of the table after Inter Milan had temporarily gone above them with a 4-2 win over Empoli on Friday.

Inter take on Cagliari and Sampdoria in their last two games of the season, while Milan are at home to Atalanta before facing Sassuolo on the last day of the season.

Kerr double as Chelsea win title

Sam Kerr scored two stunning goals in a 4-2 victory that sealed the Women’s Super League title for Chelsea.

The West Aussie volleyed home with either foot against Manchester United to help Chelsea clinch a third successive league title.

England’s top women’s competition went down to the wire with Chelsea needing victory over United to overtake Arsenal at the top of the table.

The Blues twice came from behind to win with Kerr, the league’s top scorer, producing two goals from the top drawer.

Chelsea finished just a point above Arsenal.

Glory season ends on high

Perth Glory ended a dismal season on a high note with a 2-0 win that has left Melbourne City needing a win in their final game to claim the Premier’s Plate.

Two goals from Callum Timmins sealed a fourth win of the season for Glory, who finished last on the table for the first time in the club’s history.

City are two points behind Melbourne Victory, who finished the season with a 4-1 win over Sydney FC on Saturday.

Melbourne City can finish top of the table with a win over Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park tonight.

Adelaide seal fourth

Adelaide United won their fifth successive match to finish fourth on the A-League table and set up a finals match against Central Coast Mariners.

A stunning strike from Javier Lopez drew Adelaide level after Dylan Wenzel-Hall had given Western United the lead.

In keeping with Lopez’s strike, Ryan Kitto sealed a 2-1 win with another stunning finish for Adelaide just six minutes into the second half.

Western United finished third on the table and will take on Wellington Phoenix on in an elimination final.

Barca book Champions League place

A Jordi Alba injury-time volley sealed a 2-1 win over Real Betis and Barcelona’s place in next season’s Champions League.

Alba fired home a brilliant winner that has put Barca, who are second behind champions Real Madrid, 11 points clear of fifth-placed Betis with three games to play.

Ansu Fati had put Barcelona in front only for ex-Barcelona defender Marc Bartra to equalise.

But Alba rifled home a winner four minutes into stoppage time.

Atletico Madrid have almost secured their Champions League place after Yannick Carrasco’s penalty earned a 1-0 win over La Liga winners Real Madrid.

Rovers hit magnificent seven

There are unlikely victories that earn promotion, and then there is the remarkable efforts of Bristol Rovers.

The League Two club needed to beat Scunthorpe by five more goals than their promotion-chasing rivals Northampton could manage against Barrow.

Northampton won 3-1 and Bristol Rovers won 7-0 against relegated Scunthorpe to earn an unlikely promotion.

Both Northampton and Bristol Rovers finished on 80 points and with a +22 goal difference. Rovers, who are managed by former Manchester City and Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton, clinched automatic promotion having scored more goals than their rivals.