Sterling show spurs Liverpool

Last Updated 20 April 2014, 16:33 IST

Liverpool took a giant step towards their first title in 24 years with a 3-2 win at a plucky Norwich City on Sunday, opening up a five point lead over second-placed Chelsea with three matches remaining.

Two goals to Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez's 30th league strike of the season helped them to their 11th consecutive Premier League victory and ensured them a top four finish and qualification for next season's Champions League, the first time they have reached Europe's elite club competition since 2009-10.

They moved to 80 points, five ahead of Chelsea, while third-placed Manchester City, on 71 points and with two matches in hand, play West Bromwich Albion on Monday.

Norwich, who remain mired in the relegation battle in 17th place, two points above Cardiff City and Fulham and three ahead of Sunderland, failed to roll over for their higher placed opponents.

After Gary Hooper had scored for Norwich early in the second half, Robert Snodgrass' 77th minute goal ensured a nervy finish for the visitors who had appeared to be heading for a comfortable win at 3-1 up.

Liverpool have not finished top since 1990, two years before the Premier League began, and they can put themselves on the brink of ending that drought when they meet Chelsea at Anfield next Sunday.

Suarez, who now has 12 league goal in five matches against Norwich, refused to get carried away with their position.

Norwich face Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in their final three matches, but manager Neil Adams, who replaced Chris Hughton earlier in the month, said Sunday's performance gave him hope they would avoid the drop.

"We had a belief we could go and do something against the top sides," he said.

"We've got three big games left and that second half performance is what we need."

Meanwhile, Arsenal kept themselves in the hunt for a place in Europe's elite club competition with a 3-0 win at Hull City in a dress-rehearsal for next month's FA Cup final.

Arsenal, for whom Lukas Podolski scored a double after Aaron Ramsey's opener, moved to 70 points.

Shock loss

Chelsea's title ambitions suffered a major blow with a shock 2-1 home defeat by bottom side Sunderland on Saturday.

It was manager Jose Mourinho's first league defeat at home in English football, with the winner coming from a cooly converted penalty by former Chelsea player Fabio Borini, who is on loan at Sunderland from Liverpool.

The Italian forward tucked home the spot kick in the 82nd minute after Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta brought down Jozy Altidore.

Sunderland's Connor Wickham had equalised in the 18th minute to cancel out Samuel Eto'o's early opener.

(Published 20 April 2014, 16:33 IST)

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