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Liverpool avoids damaging defeat to Man United but drops points in three-way race for the title

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Having ended Liverpool’s quadruple challenge, Manchester United looked set to deliver a major blow to Jurgen Klopp’s hopes of bowing out at the end of the season with a second Premier League title.

Time will tell how damaging a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday will be to the Merseyside club in the three-way fight at the top, but it could have been so much worse if not for Mohamed Salah’s late penalty.

“We should have won the game, that is clear,” Klopp said. “As far as I’m concerned, we have a point more than we did before.”

It wasn’t only the prospect of defeat at the home of Liverpool’s fiercest rivals that felt so significant, but the nature of it.

Klopp’s team had totally dominated by raining down shots on United’s goal in a mismatched first half, but only managed to lead 1-0 at the break through Luis Diaz’s goal.

The atmosphere totally changed when Bruno Fernandes struck a stunning equalizer from inside the center circle after a Liverpool mistake and Kobbie Mainoo curled a superb shot into the top corner to give United the lead.

After victories for Arsenal and Manchester City on Saturday, Liverpool was heading toward a second defeat to United, after losing in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup last month.

That was until Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s reckless lunge at Harvey Elliott led to referee Anthony Taylor pointing to the spot and Salah converting.

The draw moved Liverpool level on points with first-place Arsenal, but behind on goal difference. City is a point behind in third in an ever-tightening title race.

“You shouldn’t do what we do today constantly, that won’t be enough. Definitely not,” Klopp said.

Klopp said in January that he would step down at the end of the season. He has already led Liverpool to the English League Cup and the club is still in contention to win the Europa League. Klopp is hoping to win the Premier League title for a second time after ending the club’s 30-year wait for the trophy in 2020.

United has been a bogey team for Liverpool this season — with two draws in the league and victory in the FA Cup.

Arsenal still has to travel to Old Trafford in the league, but Klopp predicted a similar performance by United would be punished by Mikel Arteta's league leader.

“I’m really sorry to say it, but we should have won both games and didn’t. That’s our fault,” Klopp said.

UNITED FIGHTS

Erik ten Hag needed a performance from his players in front of new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe.

A desperately disappointing week had seen his team blow winning positions in stoppage time at Brentford and Chelsea to deliver blows to United’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League.

While this was another late setback, United’s response to being totally outplayed in the first half will have provided some encouragement to the manager.

“When you put yourself three times in a week in a winning position, just before the end of the game, but then drop points, it is very disappointing,” Ten Hag said.

Pressure is on Ten Hag to salvage a campaign that has failed to live up to expectations. Ratcliffe is overhauling United's soccer operations in an attempt to end its wait for the title, having last lifted the trophy in Alex Ferguson's final season in 2013.

That won't happen this year, but Ten Hag could still win the FA Cup with his team playing second-tier Coventry in the semifinals later this month.

He still has hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, with fifth place potentially being enough, dependent on how English teams perform in Europe this season.

“We will keep fighting and we have to do the same and learn from the moments,” Ten Hag said.

LATE DRAMA

On Thursday, it was Chelsea pulling off a late comeback to stun United.

On Sunday, Mauricio Pochettino’s team was on the wrong end of stoppage-time drama as last-place Sheffield United fought back to earn a 2-2 draw at Bramall Lane after Ollie McBurnie’s equalizer in the third minute of added time.

Chelsea twice squandered the lead after opening the scoring through Thiago Silva and going in front again through Noni Madueke.

While Sheffield United looks almost certain to be relegated this season, it showed fight in front of its home fans.

Jayden Bogle leveled the game in the first half before McBurnie’s late effort.

“Today is not about finding excuses, in the last few minutes we needed to kill (the game), that is the reason we are in the position we are," Pochettino said. “We are scoring and the problem is we are conceding a lot, we are going to keep working and believing."

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Tottenham moved up to fourth after a 3-1 win against Nottingham Forest to take charge of the race for the last guaranteed Champions League place.

Spurs moved above fifth-place Aston Villa on goal difference and also has a game in hand on its closest rival.

Forest, meanwhile, missed the chance to move further clear of the relegation zone and is above 18th-place Luton on goal difference alone.

An own-goal from Murillo put the hosts ahead at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before Chris Wood leveled for Forest in the first half.

But two goals in the space of six minutes from Micky van de Ven and Pedro Porro after the break sealed the win for Ange Postecoglou’s team.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer