Roberto Firmino laid it off to Adam Lallana and straight away slid down the goal line. It was an empty goal, and even some of the spectators must have cheered just by seeing Lallana coming through the middle to tap it in. But then, Firmino looked behind and his head immediately went between his hands. A few yards away, Lallana was down on his knees and the crowd ‘oooh’ed in disbelief.
That is because Lallana, one of the most gifted players England have produced in recent times, had mugged it. He got a touch to the ball all right, but could not control it and his foot acted as nothing more than a stop gap for the ball as it bounced away almost in the same direction Firmino had passed it. That moment, summarised the match that was played between Liverpool and Manchester City at the Etihad stadium, one that was frantic and filled with attacking quality that lacked a clinical touch to it in the end. Just a few minutes later, Sergio Aguero skied a volley that he could have buried any time of the day. Maybe this is why, despite the abundance of attacks and the sheer pace with which the two teams played the match, it ended in a 1-1 draw.
FIRMINO KNEE SLID THEN REALIZED LALLANA BOTTLED LMAO pic.twitter.com/gifxND3JlM
— Jay (@JayStucchio) 19 March 2017
Sunday was a day when a few clips would have been collected by those creating the blooper reels for the season. While Lallana’s “shot” would rank high, Middlesbrough goalkeeper Victor Valdes’ blunder would also find a place. Boro were trailing 2-1 at home to Manchester United and had the latter on a knife point with wave-after-wave of attacks. But, late into the match, the ball was passed back to former Manchester United keeper Valdes, who pulled off some extraordinary saves throughout the match. Valdes backed up a little to create room for a launch up the field but as he did so, he slipped and the ball was just rolling in the box unguarded with an empty goal post inviting some one to feed it. The tireless Antonio Valencia graciously accepted that invitation and walked the ball home, ending the match and letting Jose Mourinho jump and punch the air as he walked back into the dressing room.
— Sky News Sport (@SkyNewsSport) 20 March 2017
What Jose Mourinho felt at that moment must have been the exact opposite of what Arsene Wenger was going through around that time in Arsenal’s match at the Hawthorns. Arsenal’s lacklustre, almost uninterested showing made West Brom’s Allan Nyom look like Neymar at one point and let Michael Dawson score the second and third goal of his Premier League career. Arsenal lost 3-1 and Wenger assured that he will disclose details of his future “very soon.” Arsenal’s defending would be one for the aforementioned blooper reels.
Leicester City continued their resurgence under Craig Shakespeare with a win over West Ham United in what was a thriller of a match. Riyadh Mahrez scored the first goal inside five minutes and Robert Huth doubled that lead soon enough. Manuel Lanzini, who seems to be fitting more and more into the void left behind by Dimitri Payet pulled one back for West Ham with a brilliant free kick. Jamie Vardy then scored the third for Leicester, but West Ham kept knocking on the door and it took a virtuoso performance from Kasper Schmeichel to keep them out.
Chelsea completed what is now a routine Premier League win and this time it was over Stoke City 2-1. It is their 22nd victory of their season which means they have picked 66 points out of the maximum 72. Still Antonio Conte was celebrating the winner like his life depended on it. Tottenham Hotspur showed that they don’t always need Harry Kane to win them matches in their 2-1 victory over Southampton. Bottom placed Sunderland earned a valuable point with a goalless draw against Burnley while Bournemouth have now all but ensured their survival with a 2-0 win over Swansea City. Everton ran riot over Hull City in a 4-0 win with Romelu Lukaku scoring twice. Crystal Palace snatched a 1-0 victory over Watford.