Liverpool's Title Charge and the Greatest World Football Moments of the Weekend
Despite Liverpool having 18 league titles beneath their belts, a top-spot finish has thus far eluded them in the Premier League era. Over the weekend, however, they showed their mettle with a crucial victory over fellow challengers Manchester City.
Philippe Coutinho's vital winner leads our list of the biggest moments in world football from the weekend...
Philippe Coutinho Brought Liverpool a Step Closer to the Title
The excitement of the Premier League is often exaggerated, but Liverpool's 3-2 win over Manchester City on Sunday was a rather fantastic advertisement for a league that purports to be the best in the world.
On a weekend dominated by tributes to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, Liverpool pulled off a famous victory over their fellow title contenders, putting them in the driving seat for their first-ever Premier League title.
Raheem Sterling put the Reds up in the sixth minute when he wrong-footed Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart. Martin Skrtel doubled the advantage from a corner before a rampant period in the second half pulled the visitors even.
The match was won when Philippe Coutinho capitalised on another Kompany mistake 12 minutes from time. A Jordan Henderson red card and a blatant Luis Suarez dive (for which he was lucky not to receive a second booking) were minor blemishes on a fantastic day for the Reds.
The title is now in the Anfield side's hands, as they can finish on a maximum of 89 points, compared to Chelsea's 87 and Manchester City's 88.
Barcelona Slipped Up in the Title Race
It's not been a great week for Barcelona.
After being eliminated from the Champions League by Atletico Madrid—a team they have been unable to beat in five attempts this season—the Blaugrana lost their chance to (temporarily) go top of La Liga with a 1-0 defeat at Granada.
Algerian midfielder Yacine Brahimi made the difference in the 16th minute, putting the Catalans four points behind Atletico in the title race. Per 101 Great Goals, the Spanish press seem to believe that Barcelona's season is now over, as a four-point deficit may be too much to overcome in their final five games.
Barca enjoyed an incredible 81 percent of possession, as per WhoScored.com, but still managed to lose to a single goal.
If ever proof was needed that possession means nothing without goals, this is it.
Bayern Munich's Losing Streak Continued
After going on a record 53-game unbeaten run and securing the Bundesliga trophy in record time, Bayern Munich now appear incapable of winning.
The champions were battered 3-0 by Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena on Saturday thanks to goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus and Jonas Hofmann. This defeat—Pep Guardiola's biggest ever loss as a coach—comes on the back of a defeat to Augsburg and a draw with TSG Hoffenheim.
With 17 points between the sides at the top of the table, the result is inconsequential, but with the DFB Pokal and the Champions League still to play for, Guardiola will need to be wary of this apparent drop in form.
Clint Dempsey Scored a Superb Free-Kick
Deuce scored twice in Seattle's 3-2 win over Dallas, the first a superb free-kick and the second a late winner. The former was taken from distance and beat Dallas keeper Chris Seitz as it crept in under the crossbar.
The woodwork favoured Dempsey on that occasion, but it denied a potential goal-of-the-season opportunity later on.
Clearly, the highest-paid player in MLS is earning his money at the moment.
Dries Mertens Scored a Serie A Golazo
Napoli helped to cement their grip on Champions League qualification with a 4-2 victory over Lazio in which Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat-trick.
The best goal of the afternoon, however, was scored by Dries Mertens in the 41st minute.
The Belgian midfielder put an unstoppable 25-yard drive past Lazio keeper Etrit Berisha to make the score 1-1 going into the break. It was his eighth goal of the Serie A campaign.
Mauro Icardi and Maxi Lopez
Internazionale thumped Sampdoria 4-0 on Sunday in a game that pitted Mauro Icardi against Maxi Lopez. Once teammates at Samp, Icardi and Lopez were unwitting members of a love triangle when Icardi started dating Lopez's ex-wife, Wanda Nara.
Lopez snubbed Icardi's handshake in the pre-match line-up, but the Argentinean striker sought revenge for the slight by scoring the opener and Inter's third.
To make matters worse, the jilted lover Lopez also managed to miss a penalty. So, Icardi stole the girl and the headlines!
Elsewhere in the game, Hernanes provided a moment of light relief by getting on all fours.
Riccardo Montolivo Scored a Long-Range Beauty at the San Siro
Elsewhere in an eventful weekend in Serie A, Milan beat Serie B-bound Catania 1-0 thanks to a stunning long-range strike from Riccardo Montolivo.
The Rossoneri have been enduring a largely forgettable season but have now managed four straight wins, bringing them to within five points of Internazionale and a potential Europa League berth.
Arsenal Scraped Their Way into the FA Cup Final
Championship side Wigan have an excellent recent history of FA Cup upsets, having overcome Manchester City in this season's quarter-finals and last year's final.
When the Latics went 1-0 up in their semi-final clash with Arsenal thanks to a well-taken Jordi Gomez penalty in the 63rd minute, the Gunners' only chance at silverware looked to be in serious doubt—as did Arsene Wenger's medium-term job prospects.
Lukas Podolski's substitution shortly after the goal was booed, and Arsenal were short on pace and the qualities of a side that was leading the Premier League earlier this season.
Per Mertesacker netted a vital equaliser in the 82nd minute before Lukasz Fabianski turned hero by saving penalties from Gary Caldwell and Jack Collison in the shootout.
Hull and Sheffield United Played an Eight-Goal Thriller
Arsenal's bout with Wigan wasn't the only FA Cup final with giant-killing potential.
Hull City were trailing 2-1 to League One's Sheffield United at half-time at Wembley on Sunday, thanks to Nigel Clough's superior tactics and an emboldened display from the players.
"We were awful in the first half," said Hull manager Steve Bruce to The Guardian, adding that the Premier League side changed its approach in the second half.
The Blades fought tenaciously to try to become the first third-tier team in over a century to reach the FA Cup final, with star player Jamie Murphy scoring in the 90th minute. A few minutes later, however, David Meyler put the game out of reach to make the final score 5-3.
Hull will now play their first-ever FA Cup final against Arsenal, whom they have only beaten once since 1915.
Levante Took the Worst Free-Kick Ever
Let's wrap up this week with a monumental moment of fail from La Liga.
Levante suffered a 1-0 defeat to Villarreal on Saturday thanks to a 95th-minute goal from Jeremy Perbet. Just one minute before the winner, Levante had an opportunity to steal a victory with a free-kick just outside the box. However, Victor Casadesus and Ruben Garcia apparently forgot to agree who was taking the dead ball, which resulted in an unfortunate collaborative effort.
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