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AFP
July 13, 2020

Wolves move into top six, Man City crush Brighton

Sports

AFP
July 13, 2020

LONDON: Wolves bounced back from back-to-back defeats to move into the Premier League’s top six on Sunday by inflicting another miserable away day on Everton in a 3-0 win at Molineux.

Raul Jimenez’s penalty and Leander Dendoncker’s header a minute either side of half-time put the game out of Everton’s reach before Diogo Jota beat Jordan Pickford at his near post 16 minutes from time to round off another performance that will see the England number one scrutinised.

Should Wolves win their next two games against Burnley and Crystal Palace, they could have the chance to snatch Champions League football from Chelsea when they visit Stamford Bridge on the final day of the season.

Goals have been hard to come by for Nuno Espirito Santo’s men since the season’s restart last month with just four in their previous five games.

But they were given a helping hand by an Everton side meandering towards the end of the campaign with little purpose.

Daniel Podence lured Lucas Digne into committing a penalty in first half stoppage time and Jimenez coolly sent Pickford the wrong way for his 25th goal of the season.

Dendoncker doubled the hosts advantage early in the second half as he flicked Pedro Neto’s in-swinging free-kick into the far corner.

Pickford has made a string of eye-catching errors since the Premier League’s return and was inches away from conceding an embarrassing third as Podence’s shot squirmed between his legs before he just recovered in time to prevent the ball going over the line.

Burnley’s Nick Pope shone in a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Saturday to end Liverpool’s perfect home record in the Premier League this season to further his case for ousting Pickford at international level.

And the Everton stopper did his case little favours when Wolves’ third goal did arrive as Jota controlled Ruben Neves’s great long pass over the top before firing in at the near post from a narrow angle.On Saturday, Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City ensured they will finish in the Premier League’s top four with a 5-0 win over Brighton.

Too often City have been found wanting for failing to take their chances and punished for defensive lapses at the other end.

However, there was never any chance of Brighton adding to their nine defeats this season once Sterling curled home his 25th goal of the season with unerring accuracy into the far corner.

Gabriel Jesus’s deflected shot came back off the crossbar and he then teed up Riyad Mahrez with some nifty footwork only for the Algerian to curl a great chance wide.

Jesus could be burdened with the responsibility of leading the line when City’s 2019/20 Champions League season gets back underway in August with Sergio Aguero facing a race against time to be fit after knee surgery.

The Brazilian has not always been the most prolific finisher, but showed striker’s instincts to tap Rodrigo’s flick-on for a corner to make it 2-0 just before half-time with his 20th goal of the season.

Sterling notched his second of the night in unusual fashion by crashing home a header from Mahrez’s teasing cross.

Brighton did themselves no favours for the fourth as Mat Ryan spiled a Bernardo Silva shot he should have held and Jesus teed up the Portuguese midfielder to roll into an unguarded net at the second attempt.

Guardiola was then able to ring the changes as he continues to prepare for next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal and the return of the Champions League next month.

Sterling was left on as Kevin De Bruyne and Jesus made way to give him the chance of securing a hat-trick and he did so with a hint of fortune as the ball ricocheted off his head after he had fallen to the floor inside the area and Dan Burn failed to clear the ball off the line.