Monmouth Park has a full slate of activities to celebrate the nation’s birthday next weekend, starting on Saturday, July 2, with the $750,000 Grade 1 United Nations topping the card with a guaranteed Pick-4 pool of $100,000. On Sunday, all paid admissions will receive a free Miller Lite Month of July Grandstand Pass good for free admission all month long. The Rory Daniels Band will perform live “On the Green” as the card is headed by the $150,000 Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap. For the Fourth, all paid admissions will receive a commemorative Monmouth Park oversized umbrella, courtesy of Miller Lite. Cats on a Smooth Surface Band will perform live as the Grade 3 $150,000 Jersey Shore Breeders’ Cup Stakes highlights the racing action. Bravo, Hills and Goldberg top Monmouth standings With 25 of 90 days of Thoroughbred racing at the 2005 Monmouth Park meeting in the books, jockey Joe Bravo has opened up his lead atop the rider standings as Tim Hills and Alan Goldberg lead the trainer’s ranks. Having piloted 41 winners from 153 mounts, Bravo leads Stewart Elliott by 11 wins. Tied in third with 18 wins each are Chris DeCarlo and Aaron Gryder. Rounding out the top five are Elvis Trujillo and C.C. Lopez, with 13 wins apiece. Over in the trainer’s race, two-time top conditioner Hills is tied with Goldberg, each sending out eight winners this meet. Four trainers are just one win behind the dueling leaders: Lawrence Q. Walters, Bruce Levine, Kelly John Breen and Todd Pletcher. The owner’s race has Jayeff B Stables showing the way with seven wins, one more than the pair of Michael Gill and Hardacre Farm LLC.
BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer SCOTT PILLING staff Brookdale’s Brendan Hilliard (l), of Hazlet, fires the ball upfield during the Jersey Blues’ game with Prince George’s College in Lincroft on Aug. 30. Mike Costa and the Brookdale Community College men’s soccer team will spend the early part of the 2006 season learning about each other. Costa, the Jersey Blues’ new head coach, who was an assistant at the school in 2002, has been spending the preseason finding out just what he has, while the players are learning that the former Jackson Memorial High School coach puts defense first. “We have some very talented players and they move the ball well,” said Costa, who replaced Wayne Palmer on the sidelines. “It’s a matter of combining the different styles, and the players getting used to each other.” The one criticism of the his club is that it “just doesn’t play defense the way I’m used to.” That has been a Costa priority. The Blues will be a predominately young team this fall with just four sophomores, three of them returning starters, on the team. Two of them, Mike Baur (Colts Neck) and Pablo Penagos, are two of the team’s tri-captains. Baur is a midfielder and Penagos is a forward. Penagos missed last season due to a knee injury. Vic Masino (Howell), a sweeper, is the third captain. Masino is a two-way player at sweeper who will be the anchor of the defense, as well as the player who can trigger the transition from offense to defense. Costa said the ex-Rebel is an “excellent leader.” Up front, Christian Pozo (Neptune) is a talented forward who is a proven scorer. The Blues have two solid forwards in Sergio Morales (Colts Neck) and Helder Andrade (Ocean Township), who are good playmakers. The Brookdale offense got a lift when Joe Shan (Central Regional) returned from injury. The versatile midfield/forward missed most of the preseason with a broken collarbone. Also starting at forward is Tomas Cholula (Colts Neck). Costa has a lot of depth on defense with Steve Coleman (Point Pleasant Beach), one of three returning starters on the team, Anthony Ferretti (Freehold Township), Brendan Hilliard (Raritan) and Stalin Larco (Long Branch). Starting in goal is sophomore Juan Medias, the third returning starter. He was a field player in ’05 and has switched to goal, where he is playing well. Rounding out the team are Diego Alvarez, forward; Henry Cachipuendo (Freehold Borough), midfield; Eric Castanheira (Howell), midfield/forward; Brett Czerwinski (Ocean Township), midfield; and Lee Sherman (Shore Regional), defender. Costa, who became the Blues coach just three weeks before the start of the season, credited his assistant coaches Brad Fraley and George Banaco (goalie coach), both ex-Jersey Blues players, with being big assets for him. Costa is happy to be back on the Lincroft campus where he coached in ’02. “I always loved Brookdale,” said Costa. “When I had my good run at Jackson (winning a state title), I sent my kids to Brookdale because I knew they would graduate.” Brookdale’s season began Wednesday with a 3-3 tie against nationally ranked Prince George’s (Md.), in Lincroft. Pozo knotted the match at 3-3 when they were 61 minutes into the match. Cholula and Shan scored in the first half for the Blues. Medias made 15 saves in his net debut. The Blues play four of their first five games at home. They host Gloucester on Saturday at noon and Sussex on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer
Raritan H.S. sending nine to Region 6; CBA, eight Raritan High School’s Devin Holmes (bottom) tries to gain the upper hand in his 138- pound match with Middletown South’s Tim Cody (top) at the NJSIAA District 22 Wrestling Tournament held at Red Bank Regional High School on Feb. 17. Holmes won this quarterfinal match and went on to take third place in his weight class. ERIC SUCAR staff Coming off a Group II title at the NJSIAA team tournament finals, the Raritan Rockets placed second behind Ocean Township High School and ahead of Christian BrothersAcademy at the District 22 championships last weekend.Christian Brothers Academy finished with 174.5 points at the district competition, with Ocean taking the top spot with 215 points. Raritan edged CBAfor second place with a team score of 188.5.Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver hosted the tournament that was held on Feb. 17 and 18.Raritan was one of three District 22 teams that vied for a state championship this season, but was the only squad to bring home a title. The Rockets will send nine grapplers to the Region 6 tournament at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.The regional championship was scheduled to begin Wednesday, Feb. 22, and will continue on Friday and Saturday. Wrestlers who placed second or third at the district tournament competed on Wednesday, while district champions will first wrestle on Friday.By winning their respective weight classes, Raritan’s Nick Liguori (126) and Jason Bohal (132) earned first-round byes in the Region 6 championships. Matt Lindo (113), Anthony Scarcella (120), Steve Corona (170), Vic Ianello (195) and Pat Toal (Hwt) had second-place performances. After winning third-place consolation matches, Devin Holmes (138) and Nick Rice (220) also qualified for the regional tournament.“We lost to a better team in Ocean,” Raritan head coach Rob Nucci said. “Districts are always an emotional rollercoaster. Some guys will overachieve, and others will lose matches they should have won.”Nucci said that Pat Toal was one of those wrestlers that overachieved this year. The sixth-seeded Toal defeated Long Branch’s Gianni Augustin, the third seed, and Christian Brothers Academy’s Kirby Gardner, the second seed, before falling in the title match to top-seed Kyle Gora of Ocean.Devin Holmes (138) also exceeded expectations when he pinned Long Branch’s Nick George, who already defeated Holmes three times this season, to take third place and advance to the regional tournament. AndMatt Lindo, who won a silver medal at districts, was going for his 100th win on Wednesday.“That’s what it’s going to take in the regions,” Nucci added, referring to the effort displayed by the Rockets last weekend. “At this stage, everybody is good and everybody is in shape. It’s just a matter of who wants it more.” Eight members of the CBA wrestling team were medal winners at districts. Erik Beshada (113), Vin Favia (160), Mike Hoegler (170) and Hayden Hrymack (195) registered first-place finishes, while Christian Casselli (126) and Mike Matlaga (138) finished second and Grant Brown (106) and Kirby Gardner (Hwt) finished third.Ocean rebounded from its loss to South Plainfield in the Group III final and will send 11 wrestlers to the regional competition. The Spartans were perfect in each of their six first-place bouts. Max Rallo (106), Zach Hertling (120), Orion Rovegno (138), Withler Marcelin (145), Colton Bigelow (220) and Kyle Gora (Hwt) earned gold medals. In third place for Ocean were Jordan Eugenis (113), Andrew MacNeille (126), Chris Pappayliou (170), Jacob Bell (182) and Sam Sottile (195).Luke Balina (132), Gavin Pejakovich (145) and Jake George (152) each placed second in their respective weight classes for Long Branch, which lost to Raritan in the Central Jersey Group II semifinals. Long Branch registered a fourth-place finish as a team with 94.5 points.“In my opinion, District 22 is better than District 24 this year. This is the first time I can say that,” said Nucci, who wrestled in District 24 for Toms River North. “There are some good guys who are not advancing to the regions, some who I think are even better than guys in other districts.” BY MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent
The Middletown Lions Club is holding a foul shooting competition for boys and girls in grades 4-8 Oct. 23. The contest will take place from 6-9 p.m. at the New Monmouth School on New Monmouth Road in Middletown.The event will benefit Hoops for Hunger. Steed captured the $16,000 New Jersey Futurity for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings, setting a track record of 1:58.4, Oct. 16 at Freehold Raceway.Steed’s time for a 2-year-old gelded trotter eclipsed the 1:59.2 track record he established Sept. 17 when he won the Harold Dancer Trot. The Futurity and Dancer are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey.Steed, the 5-1 third choice in the featured third race, cut the fractions of :29.1, :59 and 1:28.2, romping to a 12¾-length victory.The 5-2 second choice, Stayin Strong (Muscles Yankee), broke stride on the final turn. Southwind Flash (Muscle Hill), the 1- 2 favorite, miscued in the first turn.Driven by Daniel Dube and trained by Richard Johnson, Steed is a son of Muscle Hill-Armbro Emma. He has two wins and three seconds in 10 starts. Bred by Flintlock Farm, he was a $50,000 Harrisburg Sale purchase. He races for TLP Stables of Kearny, D’Elegance Stable IX of Florham Park, Vito Cucci of Belmar and Carmen Iannacone of Lyndhurst.Threeupthreedown (Muscle Hill) was second with Inukchuk Chuck (Muscles Yankee) third by 13 lengths.
By Peter StevensonTHE Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and the Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CTFA) signed a landmark agreement in Zurich on Tuesday, paving the way for the reunification of football on the island after almost 60 years.“A major milestone in the history of Cypriot football was reached today, November 5, 2013, with the signing of a provisional arrangement for the organisation of football in Cyprus at the Home of FIFA in Zurich,” a FIFA statement said.The document was signed by CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis and the CFTA chairman Hasan Sertoglu in the presence of FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini.However, reports later on in the day suggested the ‘milestone’ is more of a transient rainbow as it immediately came under fire from one of the cosignatories.According to the Istanbul correspondent of state broadcaster CyBC, as soon as the agreement was signed, Sertoglu stressed that this was simply a draft agreement, which needed certain amendments, and was not the final deal. The CTFA chairman reportedly said he would not take the agreement as is to his general assembly for approval.Under the arrangement the CTFA will become a member of the CFA as an association in accordance with CFA statutes and regulations. The CFA will continue being a member of FIFA and UEFA. It will also remain the governing body responsible for organising, servicing and administering football in Cyprus as well as any international football activities in the country. Both parties agreed on the setting up of a steering committee to work towards implementing the agreement.“The agreement, which is based on the FIFA and UEFA statutes and only concerns football-related matters, aims to unify and facilitate the progress of football within the football communities in the island of Cyprus through a relationship of trust, mutual respect and goodwill,” the statement added.Blatter, one of the most powerful figures in world football, said: “Both the Cyprus Football Association and the Cyprus Turkish Football Association are today providing the whole world with an excellent example of how football can build bridges and bring people together after a long period of conflict.”Platini welcomed the courage and the determination of the two sides to reach agreement on the matter, while President Nicos Anastasiades expressed his “deep satisfaction” with the provisional arrangement, which, he said, has his full support.He described the step as a “positive and encouraging development” and hoped that implementation of the agreement would “gradually lead to the integration of football in Cyprus”.Koutsokoumnis said the signing marked a historic day for Cypriot football and the people of Cyprus.He was accompanied by CFA board members Giorgos Koumas, Andreas Santis and Nicos Nicolaou. Accompanying Sertoglu were CTFA members Orcun Kamali, Hasan Balman and advisor Jerome Champagne.The agreement will must be approved by both associations’ general assemblies before it can be implemented. It is considered only temporary until a solution to the wider political problem on the island is found.Under the terms of the agreement, the CTFA will apply to be a member of the CFA, essentially inducting all the Turkish Cypriot clubs.The CFA will then recognise the CTFA as one of its associate members, giving it the duty of handling matters regarding Turkish Cypriot clubs and the right to organise a championship with its members.Once the CTFA is inducted into the CFA, it will be able to have representatives present at board meetings. A steering committee will be formed to work towards implementing the agreement, made up of four Greek Cypriots and four Turkish Cypriots.The agreement will also oblige Turkish Cypriot teams to adhere to FIFA regulations regarding transfers. They will be able take part in CFA competitions and the UEFA Regions Cup. Turkish Cypriot coaches will also be able to obtain UEFA coaching licences through the CFA.The arrangement can be terminated at any time by either side, annulling any of the terms of the agreement.Turkish Cypriot teams withdrew from the CFA in 1955, following the beginning of the armed EOKA struggle for union with Greece.The last match to take place was between Larnaca side Pezoporikos and Cetinkaya in the semi-final of the Cyprus Cup.
By Julien PretotVincenzo Nibali became the first Italian to win the Tour de France since the late Marco Pantani on Sunday, dominating his rivals on all terrains as his main rivals crashed out of a superb three-week race.While Italy celebrated its seventh Tour winner, a jubilant France hailed its first double podium finish in 30 years as veteran Jean-Christophe Peraud and youngster Thibaut Pinot took second and third respectively.“We are very happy, it’s a beautiful victory. Congratulations to the whole team,” said Nibali’s Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov.Nibali beat Peraud by 7:37 and Pinot by 8:15 to become the sixth man to win all three Grand Tours after Belgian Eddy Merckx, Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Italian Felice Gimondi and Spaniard Alberto Contador.The Italian finished safely as the sprinters contested the embers of the three-week Tour around the Champs Elysees, emulating the 1998 feat of Pantani.Germany’s Marcel Kittel produced a burst of speed to claim the final stage, his fourth stage win of the Tour and a repeat of his victory on the iconic Parisian landmark last year.Nibali began the day with a near eight-minute lead and only needed to avoid a last-day crash to complete victory.Contador, who was hoping to add to his two Tour titles, crashed out in the 10th stage, riding 15 kilometres with a broken shinbone before pulling out.Last year’s winner Chris Froome packed his bags after a crash on the cobbles in the fifth stage, the day Nibali opened a big gap over all his main rivals with a scintillating display on the treacherous lanes of northern France.“I was ready to take them on. And crashes are part of the race,” Nibali replied when asked if Froome and Contador’s exits would undermine his title.Nicknamed ‘The Shark of Messina’, Nibali stayed true to his aggressive self by attacking repeatedly on the big climbs, hammering the opposition in the mountains.While the 2012 Tour crowned a ‘rouleur’ in Wiggins and a climber the following year in Froome, this year’s race belonged to a true all-rounder.On Sunday, he just stayed safe in the bunch during the last stage as Kittel beat Norway’s Alexander Kristoff and Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas.The 137.5-km procession to Paris started from Evry in a festive atmosphere after the riders were transferred by plane from Bergerac, where all the distinctive jerseys were effectively sealed.True to tradition, Nibali and his team-mates drank champagne while the peloton rode towards Paris at a snail’s pace.It got competitive once the race reached Paris as the bunch geared up for the final sprint.Peraud crashed with 43km left as he slipped on a curve leading to the Champs Elysees. But he got back onto his bike and helped by team-mates, fought his way back into the peloton.Nibali avoided trouble on the last stage, just as he did for the past incident-packed three weeks.He took the yellow jersey in the second stage with a late attack on the way to Sheffield, England, where the Tour was greeted with immense crowds.The Astana rider surrendered his overall lead for just one stage to Tony Gallopin, one of several Frenchmen to impress.Pinot, 24, claimed the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider, beating compatriot Romain Bardet, sixth overall, after cracking him in the Pyrenees.Slovakian Peter Sagan sealed his third consecutive green jersey for the points classification although he failed to win a single stage on the Tour.French outfit Ag2R-La Mondiale won the teams classification.Poland’s Rafal Majka confirmed he is a top climber by taking the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification after being handed a free role by his team following Contador’s exit.The 2014 Tour proved a failure for Team Sky as they could not pick themselves up after Froome’s abandon.Australian Richie Porte was their plan B but he cracked in the first Alpine stage and never recovered.“We won it twice (with Bradley Wiggins and Froome in 2012 and 2013). You must win with dignity, but also lose with dignity,” Team Sky manager David Brailsford said.
WITH APOEL crowned champions and the European slots all but secured by AEK, Omonia and Apollon, attention this weekend will shift towards the relegation dogfight. Ethnikos Achnas and Paphos FC are tied at the foot of the table on 35 points while Aris are just three points above them and with two games still to play, any of the three teams can join Ayia Napa and Paralimni in the second division.However whatever the results this weekend, the relegation scramble is set to go down to the wire as the two teams tied in last position will face each other in Paphos on the final day.This weekend, Paphos FC appear to have the toughest task as they are away to group leaders AEL.However AEL have long forgotten this season and have already begun their plans for next season. Their coach Pambos Christodoulou will not even be present at the game as he will be abroad scouting for players for the ‘new’ AEL.AEL are expected to field a number of youngsters as a number of foreign players have already been shown the door.Despite a bright start to the playoffs Paphos FC let slip a seven-point cushion and are now in imminent danger of relegation.“We have two finals, with hard work we believe that we can win both games and save our season”, Paphos FC’s press spokesman Louca said earlier this week.Ethnikos Achnas have finally regained the form that saw them defeat teams in the top group and know that their fate is now in their own hands.They are up against Aris who up until two weeks ago were sitting comfortably in second place. Two consecutive defeats and the Limassol team has begun to look over their shoulders as they still need a point to be sure of safety.In the final relegation group game Doxa Katokopias are at home to Ermis Aradippou.In the top group, champions APOEL travel to Limassol to face Cup finalist Apollon while second-placed AEK face the other finalist, Omonia, in Larnaca.At least three of the four teams – AEK and the two finalists – will field weakened teams.AEK will rest no fewer than eight plays while another three are suspended for their game against Omonia. With the Cup at the back of his mind Omonia coach Vladan Milojevic is also expected to give some of his key players a breather while Apollon coach Pedro Emmanuel is expected to do likewise.In the final game of the weekend Anorthosis take on pointless Nea Salamina and they need to win if they are to stand any chance of ‘stealing’ the last European slot from Apollon.
Since Andy Murray’s memory is as razor sharp as his service returns, he will not have forgotten the parting shot he received from Milos Raonic when they last played.“Next time I’m going to try to serve through him!” the Canadian sharp shooter warned.Three weeks after losing a three-set tussle to Murray at Queen’s Club, Raonic will get a chance to execute his plan as the two clash in Sunday’s Wimbledon final.Over the past fortnight, anyone brave enough to stand in Raonic’s firing line has been flatted by a series of 140 mph missiles.The man with the golden arm tops the list for aces (137) and fastest serve (144 mph) at this year’s tournament after he pole-axed Roger Federer for the first time in a major to became the first Canadian man to reach a grand slam final.Now the sixth seed wants to make sure all his hard work does not unravel in the final as he faces a rival who he called tennis’s “premier workaholic”.“The biggest challenge for me, (is not to get) sucked into his game,” said the 25-year-old, who trails Murray 3-6 in head-to-head meetings.“Andy will try to throw you off, give you some slower balls, some harder balls, all these kinds of things. I guess my goal is to keep him away from that, play it on my terms, be aggressive, not hesitate.”TWO COACHESIn the era of super-coaches, Raonic has the luxury of relying on not one, but two former grand slam champions in the shape of Carlos Moya and three-times Wimbledon champion John McEnroe. Adding the American to his team for the grasscourt season has proved to be a masterstroke.“Milos has got the type of game when he can take the racket out of anyone’s hand. That’s what he did against Federer,” said McEnroe.“You can see how badly Milos wants it and how deep he is willing to go. Against Murray he will have to serve big and go for it.”While the Canadian’s work ethic has come a long way since his childhood days, when he said he would “hit tennis balls from the standing position for two hours” as he was “too lazy” to move, Murray likes nothing better than to put in the hard work in training.Those behind-the-scenes sweat sessions propelled the Briton into a third Wimbledon final and his 11th overall.But playing in an era when Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have snared 43 slams between them, Murray has had to make do with winning just two titles — at the U.S. Open in 2012 and the All England Club in 2013.RAONIC THREATWith such a poor success rate in the finals, Murray will be eager to capitalise on the chance to face someone other than Djokovic, who surprisingly perished in the third round, or Federer in a title showdown.At the same time, the number two seed is aware of the threat posed by Raonic.“Obviously, first time I’ll play a slam final against someone that isn’t Roger or Novak. So, yeah, that’s different,” said Murray, who was runner-up to Djokovic in this year’s Australian and French Open finals.“Milos is a very tough opponent. He’s played very well on the grass this year and has earned his right to (be in) the final by beating one of the best, if not the best, player ever at this event.“But I’d love to win it again. These tournaments are why I’m still playing and why I’m training hard and trying to win these events. That’s what really motivates me,” added Murray, who has a 2-0 record over Raonic in grand slams and has won their last five meetings.Rekindling his coaching partnership with Ivan Lendl, who guided Murray to his two previous major triumphs, has also added an extra dimension to his game.“From the beginning of the tournament Murray’s been playing better than anyone else. He has been playing better than he ever has, he’s got more confidence and adding Lendl has added that touch more belief,” said McEnroe.At 29, Murray knows that these opportunities will eventually run out and he will be eager to make it count, especially since he can rely on an army of 15,000 Centre Court fans to cheer him all the way to the finishing line.“The older you get, you never know how many more chances you are going to have to play in grand slam finals so you want to make the most of your opportunities,” said Murray.
Olympic officials on Thursday cleared about 270 Russian athletes to compete at the Rio Olympics, just one day before the opening ceremony, the TASS news agency reported, citing the head of the Russian Olympic Committee.Russian boxers, tennis players, judokas and shooters were among those given the last-minute approval by an International Olympic Committee panel set up to review the eligibility of allRussian athletes previously cleared to compete by their international federations.“We have received documents on the admission of about 270 sportspeople, now we need to do the updated counting,” TASS cited Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian committee, as saying. That is about 70 percent of the 387 athletes Russia initially planned to send to the games.Russia, which narrowly avoided a complete ban from the Olympics following revelations of state-backed doping, had hoped to have between 272 and 280 athletes declared eligible for Rio after the IOC review.The International Boxing Association (AIBA) said all 11 Russian boxers who qualified for the Games had been given the all clear.They will be joined by eight Russian tennis players, 18 shooters, 11 judokas and Russian golfer Maria Verchenova, the sports’ international federations said.Russian news agency R-Sport reported that 29 Russian swimmers and canoeing world champion Andrey Kraitor would also be allowed to compete.“AIBA has carried out an individual analysis of the anti-doping record of each of the 11Russian boxers qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games…” AIBA said in a statement.“That process is now complete and confirmation has been received from the IOC (International Olympic Committee) Review Panel that the following 11 Russian boxers are eligible to compete at Rio 2016.”Russia‘s doping scandal, which centres on allegations that the Russian government and FSB security service systematically covered up widespread cheating in sport, has already cost the country’s track-and-field athletes and weightlifters their place at the Rio Games.The IOC chose not to impose a blanket ban on all Russian athletes at a meeting in July, but directed sports federations to allow Russians to compete if they met a set of criteria, including a clean doping past and sufficient testing at international events.The Games’ ruling body said on Saturday those decisions would now be reviewed by an independent panel consisting of Ugur Erdener, the IOC’s medical commission chairman, Germany’s Claudia Bokel and fellow IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr.
Liverpool’s quest for a top-four finish suffered a setback as a 2-2 draw at home to Bournemouth on Wednesday saw them again drop points to a side in the bottom half of the Premier League – the Anfield team’s Achilles heel this season.Liverpool are unbeaten in 10 games against top-six teams this season, having won five and drawn five, claiming seven more points than their closest rivals Chelsea in that mini-league.Liverpool’s downfall has been their inability to dispatch teams lower down the table, with their last six defeats dating back to last season coming against teams in the bottom half.Liverpool have now matched their points tally from last term but losses to Burnley, Bournemouth, Swansea City, Hull City and Leicester City have created a sense of ‘What if?’ at Anfield.Against Bournemouth on Wednesday, Liverpool led 2-1, having conceded an early opener, and were heading for three points before Joshua King’s 86th-minute equaliser.At one stage, Liverpool were level on points with second-placed Tottenham Hotspur but the Merseysdiers’ late setback, coupled with Spurs’ late 3-1 comeback win at Swansea City, means they now sit five points adrift of the north London side.Liverpool remain third but Manchester City are two points behind them with a game in hand, while Arsenal and Manchester United are six points adrift but have two extra games to play.“We could have closed the game earlier but we didn’t find the right solution, the right pass,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told the BBC.“It was clear it would not be perfect tonight but, of course, we could have found this one counter-attack to close the game.“And then, of course, there was the second ball after the set piece (which led to the equaliser). It’s my responsibility. We have to work on this, we have to sort it because it hurts a lot,” added Klopp.“It is important that you feel disappointment because we can’t ignore it and say, ‘No problem’. It’s one point more which is good. We all know we can beat each team but obviously we can lose against a few. We have to learn from it.”Liverpool travel to Stoke City in their next game.