Premier League

Three Premier League talking points as City edge United in derby thriller

Manchester City's Erling Haaland (L) celebrates with teammates Bernardo Silva (C) and Phil Foden (R) after scoring their third goal against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on March 3, 2024. PHOTO/AFP

Manchester City underlined their hunger to win an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League title with a vital victory against Manchester United.

Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez kept the leaders just ahead of City with a controversial winner, while Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino is feeling the heat.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points from this weekend’s action:

Same city, different league
Manchester United threatened to cause a twist in the title race for nearly an hour at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, but Manchester City’s 3-1 victory eventually did justice to the champions’ dominance of their bitter rivals.

Only an astonishing miss from Erling Haaland and some fine goalkeeping by Andre Onana kept United’s lead — given to them by a stunning strike from Marcus Rashford — intact until half-time.

Phil Foden finally turned the screw after the break by blasting into the top corner and then coolly slotting home his 18th goal of the season after a slick one-two with Julian Alvarez.

Haaland added the icing on the cake in stoppage-time to atone for his earlier miss and move second-placed City one point behind leaders Liverpool with 11 games left.

An 11th league defeat of the campaign leaves United’s hopes of Champions League football next season hanging by a thread.

Erik ten Hag’s squad has been beset by injuries, but they were outclassed by City once Pep Guardiola’s men found their groove.

Rashford’s effort was their only shot on target and they enjoyed less than 30 percent possession.

A run of finishing behind City in every season since they last won the league in 2012/13 will continue with seemingly no end in sight as the blue half of Manchester reigns supreme.

Liverpool’s Nunez silences critics
Jurgen Klopp was delighted to see Darwin Nunez’s controversial winner silence both his critics and the taunts from Nottingham Forest fans.

Nunez has come under fire for some profligate performances this season, but the Uruguay striker has retained Klopp’s faith throughout his rocky time at Anfield.

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Marking his return from a three-game injury absence by heading home Alexis Mac Allister’s cross in the ninth minute of stoppage-time, Nunez showed he is untroubled by the doubters.

He also ignored the Forest supporters who made unflattering reference to the similarity in his looks, playing style and lack of goals to former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll.

Forest complained the goal should not have stood because referee Paul Tierney had stopped play before the build-up for an apparent head injury to Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate.

After Konate quickly recovered, Tierney dropped the ball to Liverpool keeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who started the move that led to the goal.

“It’s such an important goal. Before people start singing that song more often, it’s the best way to immediately calm it down,” Klopp said.

“But they can sing it if Darwin responds like he did today. He had really good moments.

“Yes, I think he understands it (the song), so that’s the best answer.”

Chelsea ‘frustrated’ as pressure mounts
Axel Disasi conceded Chelsea are feeling “frustrated” after a 2-2 draw at Brentford piled pressure on boss Mauricio Pochettino.

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Disasi’s late header rescued a point for Chelsea, who led through Nicolas Jackson’s first-half goal before Brentford’s Mads Roerslev and Yoane Wissa struck for the hosts.

It was another unconvincing display from Chelsea and Pochettino was subjected to calls for his sacking from angry Blues fans, whose club are languishing in 11th place and recently lost the League Cup final against Liverpool.

“To be honest we are left frustrated. I think in the first half we deserve to score maybe one goal more,” Disasi said.

“We had the quality to win the game, so the feeling is a little bit sad. I’m happy to score, but it would be a much better feeling if this goal was for the win.”

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