Everton Hold Liverpool in Merseyside Derby, Reds 23 Points Clear


*Chelsea fight back to beat Aston Villa

Liverpool edged a step closer towards the Premier League title last night after a goalless draw with Everton in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.

In a low-tempo encounter, Everton went closest when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s flick was kept out by Alisson, and Tom Davies’ follow-up shot hit the post.

Liverpool dominated possession but had few chances, with Joel Matip heading wide from a free-kick.

The point means the Reds are 23 points clear at the top of the table.

If Manchester City win against Burnley tonight, crowning of Liverpool will be delayed by another week or two.

Chelsea on the other hand returned to Premier League action by coming from behind to beat relegation-threatened Aston Villa and strengthen their bid for a top-four finish.

The Blues dominated the first half but fell behind when Kepa failed to hold Anwar El Ghazi’s shot and Kortney Hause was on hand to bundle in.

Chelsea fought back after the break and turned the game on its head with two goals in as many minutes.

First, substitute Christian Pulisic smashed Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross into the roof of the net at the far post before Olivier Giroud drove in from 15 yards with the help of a slight deflection.

The win means fourth-placed Chelsea restored their five-point advantage over Manchester United and Wolves, who are fifth and sixth respectively.

Aston Villa, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone, one point from safety after taking one point from their first two games back following the resumption of the Premier League.

The suspension of the season had perhaps come at a frustrating time for Chelsea. They had just beaten Liverpool 2-0 in the FA Cup fifth round and then thrashed Everton 4-0 in the league.

But, 105 days on from that win against the Toffees, Chelsea looked fresh and motivated from the outset against a Villa side fighting for survival.

The only concern, however, was their inability to turn chances into goals – particularly in the first half.

Mason Mount saw a powerful strike kept out by Villa keeper Orjan Nyland before Ruben Loftus-Cheek, making a welcome return to the side after a year out with injury, just failed to turn home a teasing ball across the face of goal.

It could have proved costly, particularly when Villa scored from only their second shot on target to take the lead.

In the end Chelsea got the job done but, with 19 attempts on goal, they should perhaps have won by a more comfortable margin.

The signing of Timo Werner for next season will hopefully address Chelsea’s struggles to make the most of their opportunities but for now, Frank Lampard will hope his current forwards will use the striker’s impending arrival as motivation to be more clinical in the end-of-season run-in.

Earlier, Steve Bruce remains unconvinced that his Newcastle side have secured their Premier League status despite an emphatic 3-0 victory over Sheffield United which moved them 11 points clear of the relegation zone.

The Magpies have 38 points with eight games remaining, and a win over struggling Aston Villa on Wednesday would all but secure safety.