Liverpool thrash Everton at Goodison Park; Gerry Thornley’s Munster Q&A

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Rafael Benitez saw his Everton side beaten 4-1 in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

Rafael Benitez saw his Everton side beaten 4-1 in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

The three-horse race for the Premier League title picked up pace last night with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool all picking up three points and pulling further away from the rest at the top of the table. It was another miserable evening for Rafael Benitez and Everton - now with just two points from their last eight fixtures - as they were thrashed 4-1 in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah gave the visitors a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes but the Toffees fought back before half-time through Demarai Gray. However a mistake by Ireland captain Seamus Coleman let Salah in for his second just after the hour mark, with Diogo Jota completing the scoring. Elsewhere goals from Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech gave Chelsea a 2-1 win away to Watford, with the game postponed for a lengthy period in the first half after a fan was taken ill in the stands at Vicarage Road. Meanwhile Manchester City condemned Steven Gerrard to his first defeat as Aston Villa boss with a 2-1 win at Villa Park. The night’s three other games were draws - West Ham 1 Brighton 1, Southampton 2 Leicester 2 and Wolves 0 Burnley 0. Tonight all eyes will be on Old Trafford as Michael Carrick takes charge of Manchester United again for the visit of Arsenal (kick-off 8.15pm), while in the other fixture Spurs host Brentford (7.30pm).

With the majority of Munster’s travelling party to South Africa having finally been given the green light to fly home following a Covid-19 outbreak within the squad, attention will now turn to whether or not the province can fulfil their next fixture - a European tie away to Wasps on December 12th. With 34 players among their party of 48 in Cape Town, and with those returning to Ireland having to spend 10 days in home quarantine, the Munster cupboard looks fairly bare. Gerry Thornley explains the situation: “Munster have 58 players registered with EPCR, and of the 34 who did not travel to South Africa, nine are currently injured or unavailable, so 15 registered players have been training at their HPC under Ian Costello, who returned to Munster as academy manager this season after three years as Wasps’ defence coach. The 15 players are: hookers (2) Declan Moore, Scott Buckley*; props (2) David Kilcoyne, Mark Donnelly*; locks (2): Tadhg Beirne, Eoin O’Connor*; backrow (2) Peter O’Mahony, Daniel Okeke*. Scrumhalves (2) Conor Murray, Ethan Coghlan*; outhalves (1) Joey Carbery; centres (2) Damian de Allende, Keith Earls; back three (1) Andrew Conway (*denotes academy player).”

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