London – Liverpool returned to winning ways and the top of the Premier League table while Manchester United climbed into fourth place on Saturday as English football paid tribute to the late Emiliano Sala.
First-half goals from Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum together with Mohamed Salah’s 48th-minute effort saw Liverpool to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth at Anfield.
Victory meant Liverpool, who had been second on goal difference, leapfrogged Manchester City by three points ahead of the reigning champions’ match at home to Chelsea on Sunday.
Meanwhile United’s revival under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continued with an equally comfortable 3-0 win away to Fulham.
Liverpool had dropped points in successive 1-1 draws against Leicester and West Ham, sparking suggestions they were losing their nerve in a quest to end the club’s 29-year wait to be crowned champions of England once again.
– ‘Convincing’ Liverpool –
Mane, however, eased the pressure with an early headed goal at Anfield.
Liverpool doubled their lead through Wijnaldum’s delightful 34th-minute lob before Egypt striker Salah sealed victory with a curling shot.
“We knew we were not happy with our performance in the last two or three games,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. “We want to play convincing football we want to perform.
“That was the reaction we wanted to show today,” the German added.
In London, Paul Pogba scored two goals — including a second-half penalty — either side of an emphatic Anthony Martial strike, as United made it 10 wins in 11 game since former striker Solskjaer was put in temporary command.
Chelsea could regain a spot among the Champions League qualifying places against Manchester City.
But United, 11 points adrift of the top four when Jose Mourinho was sacked in December, are back in the hunt now.
“There are so many games left, but we hope to stay in the top four,” said Solskjaer.
Arsenal inflicted more misery on Huddersfield with a 2-1 win away to the bottom-of-the-table club.
Alex Iwobi volleyed the Gunners into an early lead and Alexandre Lacazette made it 2-0 before half-time, with Sead Kolasinac’s own-goal too late for the Terriers.
Elsewhere under-pressure Everton manager Marco Silva’s return to Watford ended in a 1-0 defeat thanks to an Andre Gray goal.
Everton’s loss was compounded when Kurt Zouma was sent off after the final whistle for complaining to referee Lee Probert.
– Cardiff climb as they mourn Sala –
An emotional week for Cardiff ended with a dramatic 2-1 win away to Southampton that saw them climb out of the relegation zone just days after the death of transfer-window signing Sala in an aeroplane crash was confirmed without him having played a game for the Welsh club.
The Argentinian’s body was formally identified by an English coroner on Thursday, a day after it was recovered from an underwater wreckage in the Channel.
Cardiff wore special shirts embroidered with a yellow daffodil, the national emblem of Wales and the team colour of French side Nantes, Sala’s former club, with a minute’s silence observed prior to kick-off.
Bluebirds captain Sol Bamba’s second-half volley gave Cardiff the lead only for Jack Stephens to equalise in stoppage-time.
But there was still time for Kenneth Zohore to score a 93rd-minute winner at St Mary’s Stadium.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks,” said Bamba. “I know Emiliano Sala was looking from up there so it’s good to get the three points.”
Burnley were in the relegation zone after Cardiff’s win.
But they moved three points clear in a 3-1 late kick-off win at Brighton, Chris Wood scoring twice as Southampton were left in the bottom three.
London rivals Crystal Palace and West Ham drew 1-1, with Hammers captain Mark Noble scoring with a first-half penalty before Eagles striker Wilfried Zaha marked his return from suspension with an equaliser 14 minutes from time at Selhurst Park.
Third-placed Tottenham welcome Leicester to Wembley on Sunday, with in-form Wolves at home to Newcastle on Monday.