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Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes suffer blow, Sheffield Utd relegated

LONDON — Liverpool’s fading Premier League title hopes were dealt a near-fatal blow on Saturday as West Ham rescued a draw against Jurgen Klopp’s men while Sheffield United dropped through the relegation trap door.

On a dramatic day in the top-flight, Aston Villa’s top four challenge was dented by a 2-2 draw against Chelsea, whose furious manager Mauricio Pochettino claimed VAR has “damaged the Premier League” after his side had a late goal controversially disallowed.

Manchester United’s push for Europe was held up by Burnley in a 1-1 stalemate and Everton secured their top-flight status with a 1-0 win at home to Brentford.

Klopp’s glittering reign at Anfield appears to be ending on a flat note after they dropped points for the fourth time in five league games at the London Stadium.

Liverpool would have moved level on points with leaders Arsenal with a victory at West Ham, at least temporarily, but they failed to make the most of their chances.

The Gunners are on 77 points, two clear of Liverpool with a game in hand, while defending champions Manchester City have 76 points with two games in hand on the Reds.

Jarrod Bowen put West Ham ahead shortly before half time but Liverpool looked a different side in the second period, equalising through Andy Robertson before an own goal from West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.

But the home side levelled in the 77th minute when Bowen wriggled free down the right and lifted a cross towards Michail Antonio, who headed home to make it 2-2.

Klopp attempted to play down a touchline spat with Mohamed Salah, who was left out of the starting line-up, but the Egypt forward fanned the flames.

“There’s going to be a fire today if I speak,” he told reporters.

Pep Guardiola’s City, who play relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest on Sunday, are hot favourites to secure an unprecedented fourth straight English top-flight title while Arsenal face a tough away day at Tottenham.

Newcastle’s 5-1 win against basement club Sheffield United strengthened their push for European football next season but sent Chris Wilder’s team down to the Championship after just 12 months.

Anel Ahmedhodzic gave the visitors an early lead at St James’ Park but Alexander Isak scored twice as the home side roared back.

“We have not been good enough,” Wilder told the BBC. “The league has been too powerful for us right the way through the season.”

Newcastle remain in seventh place but are just one point behind Manchester United, who conceded a late penalty in a 1-1 draw against Burnley.

Brazilian winger Antony scored his first Premier League goal of the season but Zeki Amdouni levelled from the spot in the 87th minute, giving Burnley hope they can stay up.

Ten Hag said his team, who have a nasty habit of throwing away leads, “gave it away.”

Fourth placed Villa blew a two-goal lead against Chelsea after Marc Cucurella’s fourth minute own goal and Morgan Rogers’ 42nd minute strike had put the hosts in control.

Noni Madueke got one back in the 62nd minute and Conor Gallagher curled in the 81st minute equaliser for Chelsea, who felt aggrieved that a stoppage-time Axel Disasi header was disallowed for a foul by Benoit Badiashile.

“For me it has damaged a little bit the Premier League and English football. If we want to be the best league in the world it should be protecting the spectacle and the decision,” Pochettino said.

“The referee is unbelievable and it’s ridiculous. It is difficult to accept.”

Villa are seven points clear of Tottenham in the race to qualify for the Champions League, but the north Londoners have three games in hand.

Idrissa Gueye scored in the 60th minute at Goodison Park to make it four wins out of five for Sean Dyche’s Everton, who are safe despite being docked eight points this season for breaches of Premier League financial rules.

Wolves deepened Luton’s woes with a 2-1 win and Fulham drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace. –AFP