Premier League: Benteke brace sinks Liverpool, Man United inch closer
Crystal Palace's Zaire-born Belgian striker Christian Benteke (L) celebrates scoring a goal against Liverpool. Photograph: (AFP)
Christian Benteke's double for Crystal Palace against his old club Liverpool dealt perhaps a fatal blow to their hopes of Champions League football whilst boosting Manchester United's chances on Sunday.
United had already done their chances no end of good earlier on Sunday as Anthony Martial responded positively to criticism by Jose Mourinho in scoring one and being involved in Wayne Rooney's second beating Burnley 2-0 to move up to fifth spot and a point off Manchester City -- who they play on Thursday.
However, it is Liverpool who will be the most worried about missing out on the lucrative Champions League spot next season as they are just two points clear of United who have two games in hand.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pondered how Palace had been in danger of relegation when their performance belied their lowly position.
Palace now look certain to preserve Sam Allardyce's proud record of never being in charge of a club that has gone down.
However, Klopp issued a rallying call to the fans and his players not to give up hope on the Champions League.
"It is frustrating, disappointing of course," Klopp told the BBC.
"Everyone thinks the Champions League has slipped through our fingers but we have one more month to stay positive.
"We have to try everything to squeeze everything out of this season."
Allardyce, who has engineered victories over Chelsea, Arsenal and now Liverpool in recent weeks, said there was a sense of relief that there was clear breathing space now between them and the bottom three -- they are seven points clear of Swansea.
"It has been hard work but we are looking up," he told BBC.
"We have five games to go but Tottenham on Wednesday will come too early.
"We will have to change the side to get fresh legs into the side. It is a big result today, it makes life so much easier," added Allardyce.
Palace forward Andros Townsend refused to accept they could relax and plan for another season in the Premier League.
"We have seen the other teams at the bottom are winning matches. We are almost there," he told Sky Sports.
United may be down to the bare bones in certain areas because of injury but even with leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic out with a serious knee injury and Marcus Rashford rested till a late appearance as a substitute they made light work of a Burnley side who are not out of trouble yet.
However, Mourinho denied fourth place was their priority as United he said are in the business of winning trophies and it is what he is being paid for.
"If we beat Celta Vigo (their Europa League semi-final opponents) we go to the final and yes it is important for us to play Champions League, but this club wants trophies," said Mourinho.
"We cannot give the club the Premier League. We have 25 percent chance to win the Europa League and we have to put everything on it."