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Liverpool thrash Newcastle

By Reuters - Dec 26,2018 - Last updated at Dec 26,2018

Leicester City's Ricardo Pereira scores their second goal against Manchester City at King Power Stadium, Leicester, Britain, on Wednesday (Reuters photo)

LONDON — Liverpool treated their fans to some Christmas cheer with a 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle United at Anfield on Wednesday, extending their lead at the top of the table. 

The win put Liverpool on 51 points at the halfway point in the season, six ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, who hammered Bournemouth 5-0, and seven ahead of champions Manchester City who lost 2-1 at Leicester City. 

Returning to the club he led to the Champions League title in 2005, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez picked his team with defence in mind, stringing five players across the back. 

But defender Jamaal Lascelles inadvertently teed Dejan Lovren up for the opening goal, carelessly heading an attempted clearance into the path of the Liverpool centre back, who cracked home a fine half-volley in the 11th minute.

Newcastle managed to hold firm until halftime, but within minutes of the restart they were two down as Mohamed Salah scored his 13th league goal of the season from the penalty spot following an innocuous foul on him by Paul Dummett. 

Liverpool's enormous pressure threatened to give them a third goal at any moment, and it came when Xherdan Shaqiri stabbed home Trent Alexander-Arnold's low cross from close range in the 79th minute. Fabinho made it 4-0 by heading home Salah's corner. 

Liverpool's fans burst into song as news reached the Anfield stands that Manchester City had lost at Leicester, giving the Merseysiders the Christmas gift they wanted, as they chase a first league title since 1990. 

 

Solskjaer wins 

Old Trafford debut

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continued his dream start as Manchester United caretaker manager with a 3-1 Premier League win over Huddersfield on his Old Trafford debut in the dugout on Wednesday. 

Paul Pogba scored two superb goals in the second half after Nemanja Matic fired United ahead in the 28th minute to continue United's revival under their former striker Solskjaer, who hit the ground running in Saturday's 5-1 win at Cardiff City.

The result left United sixth on 32 points from 19 games halfway through their campaign, while Huddersfield stayed rooted to the bottom with 10 points after suffering their sixth successive league defeat. 

Serbian enforcer Matic swept in a rebound from two metres after visiting keeper Jonas Lossl parried a glancing Victor Lindelof header from a corner to fire United ahead after the home side had suffered an early scare.

Defender Terence Kongolo blazed his 10th-minute shot over the bar for Huddersfield, but United never looked back after taking the lead and their incessant pressure produced two sublime Pogba strikes after the break.

The France World Cup winner drilled in a fierce low shot from 13 metres in the 64th minute and sealed United's win with a rasping long-range effort in the 78th before Mathias Jorgensen netted a late consolation for Huddersfield. 

 

City lose after 

Ricardo stunner

 

Manchester City suffered their second straight Premier League defeat, as they were stunned by a late strike from Leicester City's Ricardo Pereira in a 2-1 loss on Wednesday.

City were looking to bounce back from their 3-2 defeat by Crystal Palace and were in front after 14 minutes when Bernardo Silva finished with his left foot after being played through by Sergio Aguero. 

But four minutes later Leicester were back on level terms after Marc Albrighton met Jamie Vardy's cross with his head from close range.

Leicester's defence held tight despite an onslaught from City, with Fabian Delph and Aguero both missing good chances.

Pep Guardiola's team were may to pay for those spurned opportunities as Ricardo unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top left corner beyond Ederson with less than 10 minutes from the end.

Things went from bad to worse as Delph was shown a straight red for following through in a challenge on Ricardo, capping a miserable afternoon for City who slipped to third in the league.

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