Soccer

Paul Pogba on the spot for fortunate Man United

14 April 2019 - 00:00 By AFP


Manchester United needed two Paul Pogba penalties to stay in contention for a top-four Premier League finish by beating West Ham 2-1, while Tottenham moved up to third thanks to Lucas Moura's hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Huddersfield yesterday.
United had lost four of their previous five games in all competitions and were fortunate to get back to winning ways as West Ham had a goal ruled out for offside, hit the crossbar and saw David de Gea make a wonder save to deny Michail Antonio giving them a late lead.
But a much-needed win moved Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men up to fifth, at the expense of Arsenal, and to within two points of Chelsea in fourth.
United were gifted a first-half lead when Robert Snodgrass's clumsy challenge brought down Juan Mata and Pogba sent his first spot-kick down the middle of the goal.
West Ham were deservedly level four minutes into the second half when Felipe Anderson turned home at the back post, and the visitors enjoyed the better chances.
Antonio crashed a shot off the bar before De Gea produced a stunning save to claw the West Ham forward's header away.
Within seconds of being saved by their captain, United had a second penalty 10 minutes from time when Ryan Fredericks chopped down Anthony Martial, and Pogba buried his penalty into the bottom corner.
Tottenham had no such strife despite missing Harry Kane, expected to miss the rest of the season due to ankle ligament damage.
Dele Alli was also sidelined by a broken hand, and Mauricio Pochettino took the chance to rest some other key personnel, including Son Heung-min, ahead of the second leg of his side's Champions League quarterfinal against Manchester City, with Tottenham holding a 1-0 lead in the tie.
Lucas took his chance to shine against the already relegated Terriers to show Pochettino he could be an important weapon in Kane's absence.
"Players need to play to show their quality. The hat-trick is going to build his confidence," said Pochettino.
Victor Wanyama opened the scoring on 24 minutes. Lucas made it 2-0 three minutes later and struck twice in the last minutes.
While the title and fight for top-four places look set to go down to the wire, the relegation battle could be all but over should Brighton beat Cardiff on Tuesday. The Welsh side are five points adrift of safety after a controversial 2-0 defeat to Burnley.
Chris Wood gave the hosts a half-time lead, but Cardiff were furious after referee Mike Dean overruled his assistant's decision to award a penalty to the visitors.
Brighton remain catchable for Neil Warnock's men as they succumbed to a humiliating 5-0 home defeat to Bournemouth.
Fulham's relegation to the Championship is already assured, but they secured just a fifth win of the season by beating Everton 2-0.

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