LIVERPOOL, England (AP): Manchester United relied on brilliant goalkeeping by David de Gea and a late, opportunistic finish by Wayne Rooney to snatch a 1-0 win at great rival Liverpool yesterday, sparking talk of an unlikely run at the Premier League title. With Arsenal only drawing 0-0 at Stoke a few hours later to return to first place on goal difference above Leicester, United trimmed the gap to the leaders to seven points – with 16 matches still to play in one of the most erratic title races in years. Talk of United even challenging for the title would have been dismissed as fanciful at the end of 2015, when the team was on an eight-game winless run and manager Louis van Gaal’s future looked precarious. Things look very different now. “Our competitors (for the title) have lost points,” said Van Gaal, whose side climbed one place to fifth. “When the gap is like this, seven points, you can overcome that. We started 2016 very good, with a lot of wins and a draw and we didn’t lose. I think this will give a big boost to players, fans, everyone in the environment of Manchester United.” Finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League is the minimum requirement for United and Tottenham are only two points away in fourth place. With Rooney back in the scoring groove, things look much brighter for the 20-time champions. The England captain took his tally for 2016 to five goals in four games by smashing home a volley from close range in the 78th minute after Marouane Fellaini’s header rebounded off the bar. It was United’s first shot on target, with the team indebted to De Gea for keeping the score at 0-0. De Gea produced two excellent saves to deny Emre Can, one with his feet and the other a diving, one-handed stop to his right. Liverpool started without a recognised striker – playing Roberto Firmino alone up front – and while that helped the team dominate midfield, it left them short of firepower. In 19 shots, only four were on target. Ninth-place Liverpool dropped eight points behind Spurs in a damaging blow to their Champions League aspirations. “A lot of the things we did today were good,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. “Our finishing wasn’t good.” Goalkeepers were on top at Britannia Stadium, too, with Stoke’s Jack Butland and Arsenal’s Petr Cech getting most of the plaudits after a tight, tense game. Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud had early chances in each half, but Butland reacted well to stop an angled shot and then a powerful header. Though chasing possession for much of the second half, Stoke could have taken all three points if not for a superb double save by Petr Cech midway through the second half. Aaron Ramsey also cleared a shot from near the goal-line as Stoke mounted late pressure. Arsenal, missing injured playmaker Mesut Ozil, failed to capitalise on Leicester’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on Saturday and dropped four points this week after also drawing at Liverpool on Wednesday. However, a draw at Stoke was welcome to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose team hasn’t won at the Britannia since 2010. “We needed to be strong physically and had a great spirit,” Wenger said. “We fought very hard but couldn’t take our chances. It is a hard-fought 0-0. We have done better than years before at this ground and showed we can fight even when we miss certain players.”
The Glendon ‘Admiral’ Bailey effect was felt right away on the Tivoli Gardens bench. Bailey, who previously won two titles with Tivoli Gardens, returned to lead the struggling team to a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Rivoli United in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex yesterday. It’s a return and a result that has left the Tivoli Gardens faithful a lot more confident in their belief that their team will avoid relegation after what has been a very disappointing season so far. The fixture was originally rescheduled after being abandoned due to a sewage-logged field. Things didn’t start too well for the hosts and it looked at, one point, to be heading towards another undesired result when Rivoli right back Kevin Graham slipped unmarked through the Tivoli Gardens defence to spank home the visitors’ opener with nine minutes on the clock. Rivoli enjoyed much of the early exchanges and certainly dominated the scoring chances from open play, while Tivoli Gardens were left to scrap off half chances and dead ball situations. The visitors almost doubled their lead, when from one of their many counter-attacks Nicholas Scott was dragged down in the penalty area by Tivoli’s Shavar Campbell as Rivoli continued to threaten. Campbell had to pay the price of a yellow card, but Jeremy Nelson’s ensuing penalty kick miss in what was the 39th minute spared both Campbell and his team any further setbacks. A few rolls of the die by the Tivoli Gardens bench saw Jamaica College standout Donovan Dawkins being replaced by the experienced Jermaine ‘Teddy’ Johnson, and the return was almost immediate as the hosts regained some attacking flair in the second half. Tivoli Gardens dominated the contest from this point and Andrew Christie brought them level in the 58th minute after heading home from point blank range. The winner also came from a header as captain Andre Morgan punched home the vital strike in the 88th minute to send the home crowd in a frenzy. In his first game back in charge, Bailey said: “In the second half, I think we showed guts and courage and the mentality that it takes in order to come out of relegation, so I am pleased with that aspect.” “There is a lot of work to be done. I am not promising anybody anything but I am just trying my best to ensure that the end of the season we will be in the league. I only can try,” Bailey told The Gleaner. Meanwhile, Rivoli United’s assistant Bradley Stewart blamed “poor officiating” for his team’s loss. Tivoli moved out of the relegation zone, to 10th place on 23 points, after leapfrogging Rivoli (22), and Waterhouse FC (21). SHOTS ON GOAL
PORTLAND, USA:Omar McLeod’s coach, Douglas Case, was beaming with delight following the athlete’s gold- medal win in the men’s 60m hurdles at the IAAF World Indoor Championships at the Oregon Convention Centre yesterday.”I knew the competition was very good, but then I watched him at practice every day and I knew how good he could be, and I hate to say I expected him to win, but I really did. He looked like he could do it in practice, and from everything I saw, he was the guy to beat in reality,” Case told The Gleaner.It was sweet redemption for McLeod after his disappointing sixth-place finish at the outdoor World Championships in Beijing, China, last August.”It’s been a great indoor season. We really tried to have a minimal indoor season. We under- trained and under-raced because it’s a big Olympic year for him and I think he’s got a lot more to come from him this year,” Case added.