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battle hard
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LONDON -- Steven Gerrard scored twice from the penalty spot as Liverpool stretched its Premier League winning streak to nine matches and returned to the top of the table with a 2-1 win at West Ham on Sunday, while Arsenal was dealt another blow by a top-five team in a 3-0 thrashing by Everton. For once, the free-scoring Reds had to battle hard to claim a hard-fought victory ahead of their much-anticipated clash against Manchester City in a meeting between the two main title contenders. "It is going to be a magnificent atmosphere at Anfield," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. "The supporters really urged us on today and we want to see if we can get 10 in a row." With five games remaining, Liverpool leads Chelsea by two points as it pursues a first league title since 1990. Manchester City is four points off the pace but has two games in hand. Earlier, Everton made Arsenal pay for their poor defending with strikes from Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku as well as an own goal from Mikel Arteta. "You could say there was a lack of fight," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "Its a massive worry. We have to come back with much more personality and much stronger challenges." Arsenal has secured only two points from its last four matches as the Gunners remain in fourth place in the standings, but only one point above Everton, which has a match in hand and a better goal difference. Gerrard put Liverpool ahead in the 44th minute after West Ham defender James Tomkins handled a flick by Luis Suarez in the area. But West Ham defender Guy Demel equalized on the stroke of halftime when Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet spilled a cross following a challenge from former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll. The assistant referee initially signalled for a foul on Carroll, but referee Anthony Taylor overruled him despite protests from the Liverpool players. Gerrard then scored his second in the 71st minute after Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan was brought down by West Ham goalkeeper Adrian. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger criticized his players for their poor display and admitted his side is now facing an uphill task. "Im 100 per cent determined to fight to make the top four but it will be difficult," said Wenger. "We have a run-in that is feasible but we must focus on the quality of our displays before dreaming of places." While Everton continued its superb attacking form to cut its deficit to the Gunners to one point in the battle for the fourth place, Arsenal stuttered again against a strong team. The Gunners have lost all their away league matches against the current top five, also losing 6-3 at Manchester City, 5-1 at Liverpool and 6-0 at Chelsea. Everton, which has scored 12 goals in its last four games, claimed a sixth consecutive league win. "It would mean everything," Naismith said about his teams possible top-four finish. "But we have believed from the start of the season and we have shown that in these recent performances." The defeat piled pressure on Wenger, who is chasing a first trophy with the Gunners since 2005 and has guided them to Champions League football in each of his 16 full seasons in charge. Everton had beaten Arsenal just once in their last 15 league meetings but looked the superior team on Sunday. Naismith opened the scoring in the 14th minute from inside the box after Leighton Baines picked Lukaku with a low ball. The Belgium international forced Wojciech Szczesny into a save but the Arsenal keeper could not hold the ball and Naismith fired home the rebound. Arsenals defence buckled again with Lukaku hardly challenged when he doubled the Merseyside teams lead in the 34th minute following a good collective move. The powerful forward collected a through ball from Kevin Mirallas then cut inside and fired a low shot past Szczesny. Wengers team improved after the interval, but Everton decided the game when Bacary Sagna lost the ball to allow Mirallas to launch a quick counterattack. The Belgian slipped the ball to Naismith who could not round Szczesny but the loose ball came into Mirallas path before rebounding into the net following a challenge from Arteta. Carolina Hurricanes Shirts . The trade deadline is Monday, Mar. 2 at 3pm et/Noon pt. TRADES COMPLETED SINCE OCT. 1, 2014: Feb. 15, 2015 Toronto Maple Leafs acquire: F Olli Jokinen, F Brendan Leipsic, 1st Round Pick (2015) Nashville Predators acquire: D Cody Franson, F Mike Santorelli Feb. Stitched Hurricanes Jerseys . - Kevin Labanc and Joseph Blandisi were a potent combination for the Barrie Colts on Friday night. https://www.cheaphurricanes.com/.C., has been named Canadas top female official, winning the 2014 SOC Award of Excellence. Cranes career as a figure skating judge has spanned over 40 years. Carolina Hurricanes Pro Shop . Coach Jorge Sampaoli resisted naming any major surprises in the list published Tuesday at the site of Chiles football association. Chile is pinning its hopes on the recovery of Vidal. Fake Hurricanes Jerseys . A groundswell for raising the number of playoff qualifiers to seven in each conference figures to get plenty of support from the 32 owners. Most notably, Arizonas Bill Bidwill, who saw his Cardinals go 10-6 and not get in, while Green Bay (8-7-1) qualified by winning the NFC North.ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Semyon Varlamov emptied the net with 2:39 left, and a penalty on Minnesota 25 seconds later gave Colorado a two-man advantage. This time, with a record roaring crowd on their side, the Wild held firm and sent the Avalanche back home with a long to-do list. Charlie Coyle scored his third goal of the series, and the Wild dominated the Avalanche for the second straight game on their way to a 2-1 win on Thursday night that evened the first-round matchup at two apiece. The Wild outshot the Avalanche a stunning 32-12, establishing a franchise record for fewest allowed by Minnesota. Colorado has been outshot 78-34 in the last two games, with Ryan OReilly getting the only goal. "Every game is a new game and you have got to always bring that energy and same focus, but I think we fed off of last game and how well we played," Coyle said. Jared Spurgeon used a slap shot to get a puck past Varlamov just 3:47 into the game, much quicker than the 65:08 the Wild needed to score in Game 3. Game 5 will be in Denver on Saturday night. Coyle was in perfect position on a power play to backhand in a friendly bounce of the ricochet of Jason Pominvilles rocket off the glass behind the net, giving the Wild a two-goal lead with 7:05 left in the second period. Just 30 seconds later, OReilly gave the Avalanche their first goal against Wild rookie Darcy Kuemper in the series after 42 shots and more than 124 minutes without one, a long-range shot from the top of the circle without any traffic in front that cut the lead to 2-1. But that was all they could scrap together on another off night by stars Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny and Gabe Landeskog, who were the highlights for the Avalanche in winning the first two games. "Weve just got to stay on the pedal here and continue this push," Kuemper said. Roys daring removal of Varlamov with 3:01 remaining worked in Game 1, when Stastny tied the game with 13 seconds left and won it in overtime. This time, with the Avalanche in a 6-on-4, Mikael Granlund followed his dramatic diving overtime goal in Game 3 with some daring defence. He lost his stick at one ppoint, but he still managed to block a shot without it as the arena erupted in approval with the final seconds ticking away.dddddddddddd The announced attendance of 19,396 was the most ever to watch a Wild playoff game. "Weve had some exciting games since Ive been here in this building, but Ive never heard anything like that tonight. That was fun," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. The Avalanche failed to score on all four power plays and fell to 1 for 15 in the series. Roy didnt look fazed, though, even if his players were frustrated and disappointed. "When we have the type of performance that we have from our goaltender, theres no reason for us to not believe in ourselves, coming back home," Roy said. Even without suspended left wing Matt Cooke, the Wild sure werent missing any energy. They zipped crisp, purposeful passes all over the ice and again kept the play in the Avalanche zone for the majority of the night to raise the level of the crowd noise along with that. The Avalanche, angered by Cookes act, played more physically than in the last game. Granlund was a frequent target of the rough stuff. But the quality of their play further deteriorated. "Were still not testing this goalie enough. Were making him look good by taking shots from the outside and nobody being in front," Landeskog said. The Wilds defence had a lot to do with that, particularly on those power plays, but the Avalanche showed little semblance of an attack and fumbled with the puck often. "Thats part of the playoffs," Stastny said. "We knew it was going to be a tough series. Nothings going to come easy." NOTES: The Wilds win raised the home teams record in the Western Conference playoffs so far to 14-1. ... The Avalanche matched their playoff record for fewest shots on goal. They had 12 on June 2, 2001, against New Jersey in the Stanley Cup finals. ... This was the first time in seven all-time playoff series the Wild have won their first two home games. ... Avalanche-Wild playoff games have been decided by one goal 12 out of 17 times. ... MacKinnon left for the locker room in the second period, but returned soon after. ' ' '
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