Jonathan Cook’s World Game

Liverpool on track for four trophies

Liverpool kept alive their chances of picking up four trophies this season by knocking Premier League rivals Manchester City out of the FA Cup to earn a place in the final.

Jurgen Klopp’s side will meet Chelsea at Wembley on May 14 after the Blues beat Crystal Palace, 2-0, in the other semi-final.

Liverpool’s first trophy of the season, the Carabao Cup, was won at Wembley against Chelsea in February. The Reds are also in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League and are fighting with City for the Premier League title.

Pep Guardiolia’s side were no match for Liverpool in an FA Cup first-half goalscoring spree that was helped by a dreadful error from City’s reserve goalkeeper Zack Steffen. His hesitation with the ball at his feet gifted Sadio Mane the first of his two goals.

Ibrahima Konate was also on target as Liverpool took a 3-0 lead into the half-time break.

Jack Grealish scored early in the second half to give City hope but Bernardo Silva’s second goal for City came too late to rescue the game.

Ronaldo hat-trick flatters United

Cristiano Ronaldo’s second Premier League hat-trick in just three games couldn’t disguise the underlying challenges Manchester United face in their push for fourth place.

While Tottenham Hotspur lost 1-0 to Brighton and Arsenal came undone by the same score against Southampton, United strengthened their push for the last automatic Champions League spot.

But a 3-2 win over rock bottom Norwich City was hardly inspiring.

As Norwich rallied to draw level, United fans showed their disappointment with the performance by singling “you’re not fit to wear the shirt.”

But when Norwich keeper Tim Krul failed to keep out Ronaldo’s free-kick to seal victory, the tune had changed.

United are fifth, on the same points as sixth-placed Arsenal and three points behind fourth-placed Spurs.

Injury overshadows Burnley draw

Interim manager Mike Jackson oversaw a 1-1 draw against West Ham United as his first game in charge of Burnley was overshadowed by a serious injury to Ashley Westwood.

Last week, Burnley sacked manager Sean Dyche, who after almost a decade in charge was the Premier League’s longest serving manager, leaving Jackson in charge of the club’s survival push.

Three minutes after Westwood was taken off on a stretcher with an ankle injury, Burnley hit the front through Wout Weghorst. And they should have doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time but Maxwel Cornet fired wide from the penalty spot.

West Ham finally drew level at the London Stadium with 14 minutes to play when Tomas Soucek bundled the ball home from close range.

Burnley remain third bottom, three points behind Everton.

Young Glory hit for six again

A Lachlan Wales hat-trick helped Western United inflict another heavy defeat on a young Perth Glory side.

The 6-0 thrashing in Launceston on Saturday came just six days after a 6-1 defeat against Newcastle Jets. A 1-0 loss to Wellington Phoenix was wedged between the two.

Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich has been in charge for six defeats and a draw since taking over from Richard Garcia in March. A heavy schedule of games hasn’t been helpful to Glory but Zadkovich was more concerned with the effort on the day.

“I’m fuming to be honest and there will be repercussions for some people,” he said.

But without a string of key players including captain Brandon O’Neill, former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge and Uruguayan Socceroo Bruno Fornaroli, it’s difficult to see where Zadkovich can turn with three games left.

Madrid end Chelsea challenge

Just what will it take to end Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League charge this season?

At times brilliant and others baffling, Real did just enough last week to see off Chelsea’s challenge and earn a semi-final clash with Manchester City.

Despite having a 3-1 first leg lead, Madrid were dragged into a dogfight after Chelsea scored three goals without reply in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The home side looked dead and buried before Rodrygo scored an 80th-minute goal to send the match into extra time. Karim Benzema, whose hat-trick against Paris St Germain had turned the round-of-16 tie in Real’s favour, came to the rescue again with a goal that secured a 5-4 aggregate victory.

Liverpool, 6-4 aggregate winners over Benfica, and Manchester City, who had a fiery 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid, also progressed to the semi-finals.

Villarreal, whose season in Spain’s La Liga is unlikely to end any higher than seventh place, stunned German heavyweights Bayern Munich.

A 1-1 draw in Munich, sealed by substitute Samu Chukwueze’s 88th-minute goal, earned a 2-1 aggregate victory that has set up a semi-final clash with Liverpool.

Hammers knocking on European door

West Ham United moved into the semi-finals of a European competition for the first time since 1976 with a stunning 3-0 second-leg win over Lyon in France.

The Hammers now face a Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt, the same club West Ham beat in the European Cup Winners’ Cup semis some 46 years ago.

Although West Ham have been transformed since David Moyes took over in late 2019, they will have to dig deep to overcome Frankfurt, whose 3-2 win in Spain sent Barcelona out of the competition last week.

Germany’s RB Leipzig beat Italian side Atalanta to progress to a semi-final against Glasgow Rangers, who were 3-2 aggregate winners over Portuguese side Braga.

Mariners spoil Phoenix return

Central Coast Mariners gate-crashed Wellington Phoenix’s homecoming party and disappointed more than 18,000 home fans on Sunday.

Phoenix returned to play an A-League game in New Zealand for the first time in 322 days after COVID-related travel restrictions, hoping to make a big impression. Instead, they got a slap in the face.

Goals from Beni Nkololo, Jason Cummings, Moresche and Matthew Hatch earned Central Coast Mariners a 4-0 win that has reignited their finals push.

The Mariners are eighth on the table but just two points off sixth place. Wellington are fifth.

Third-placed Melbourne Victory extended their unbeaten streak to 11 matches with a 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets.

Francesco Margiotta headed home a stoppage time winner for Tony Popovich’s side.

Milan back on top in Italy

AC Milan found their shooting boots to beat Genoa 2-0 and climb back to the top of Italy’s Serie A.

After successive goalless draws against Bologna and Torino, Milan rediscovered the way to goal through Rafael Leao and Junior Messias.

Milan’s recent stumbles had briefly allowed their city rivals Inter to go above them on Friday when Simone Inzaghi’s side won 3-1 away to Spezia.

Milan, on 71 points, are two ahead of Inter, who have a game in hand on the leaders. Third-placed Napoli, on 66 points, can close the gap with victory over Roma tonight (April 18).