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Weekend Review: FA Cup draw delight as punters perplexed by Premier League parity

Liverpool secure domestic double with penalty shootout victory as West Ham captain Mark Noble retires after 2-2 Manchester City draw

A swathe of draws across the Premier League and a 0-0 stalemate between Chelsea (13/5) and Liverpool (21/20) in the FA Cup final made it a bumper weekend for the bookies.

Liverpool eventually lifted the trophy at Wembley after a 6-5 penalty shootout victory as neither side could find a goal in 120 minutes.

It appeared as if Sadio Mane’s stellar season would culminate in scoring the winning penalty in the final, yet Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy saved low to his left.

Mason Mount saw his penalty saved by Alisson before Liverpool’s Greek fullback, Konstantinos Tsimikas, scored the winner.

In the Premier League, West Ham (13/2) sent off club legend Mark Noble in style, having rushed into a 2-0 lead over Manchester City (2/5) thanks to a Jarrod Bowen brace before being pulled back to 2-2.

Łukasz Fabiański saved a Riyad Mahrez penalty to share the spoils, with Noble giving an emotional post-match speech to the 60,000-strong crowd.

Betway’s Chad Yeomans said: “The weekend’s biggest game was without doubt the FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Chelsea, which took a penalty shootout to decide the winner. A draw in a final is always a positive result for the book, so we were happy to see it goalless at 90 minutes.”

Elsewhere, Wolves’ (11/20) dreams of Europe were dashed after being held 1-1 by relegated Norwich (19/4), while Leeds (7/4) kept their hopes of survival going with a stoppage time equaliser against Brighton (8/5).

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill said: “A good weekend in the Premier League for layers this week as the end of the season starts to take its toll on some teams as others are halfway to the beach. Four draws on Sunday were great for the margin, with the obvious standout for us being City’s draw with West Ham, the missed Mahrez penalty late on being a huge bonus.

“On Saturday, the FA Cup Final was close to perfect from a layer’s point of view, if not for the watching public. A 0-0 is always great for the book and this was no exception, although Liverpool were slightly better backed in the ‘To Lift the Trophy’ market,” he added.

As Liverpool secured a domestic cup double, the quadruple is still on, although Jürgen Klopp’s side find themselves four points adrift of Manchester City, albeit with a game in hand.

Betfred’s Alan Firkins told EGR how the outright title market is shaping up ahead of the season’s climax.

He said: “City are 1/10 to retain their title, with Liverpool 6/1. The FA Cup final draw was a good result, particularly being scoreless, and Klopp’s walking wounded must beat Southampton on Tuesday (2/5 Liverpool) to keep up the pressure on the champions, triggering a grandstand finish on Sunday.”

Bet365’s Steve Freeth added: “Having already paid out on West Ham thanks to our two goals ahead early pay out offer, it was a huge relief to see Lukasz Fabianski dive like a cat and keep out Riyad Mahrez’s penalty to keep the title race alive.

“Liverpool’s quadruple dreams are also still alive and while that would be a huge pay out, their victory via a penalty shootout after a 0-0 during normal time was very much to our liking.”

On the continent, with the La Liga and Bundesliga titles sewn up, and the top teams with one eye on the beach, gave way for the opportunity for the smaller sides to snatch a draw.

Bayern Munich (2/5) were held to a 2-2 draw against 12th-placed Wolfsburg (5/1), while Champions League finalists Real Madrid (3/2) drew 1-1 away at Cadiz (17/10) and Barcelona (21/20) couldn’t find a way past Getafe (11/4) in a scoreless draw.

Yeomans said: “In Spain, the top four all drew, albeit with two of those sides playing each other and with Bayern Munich drawing in the Bundesliga, it’s been a good weekend for us where football is concerned.”

Elsewhere, in horseracing, Baaeed strode to victory in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury as the William Haggas-trained 4-9 favourite blitzed his eight rivals.

Ridden by Jim Crowley, the son of Sea The Stars ended up as a three-and-a-quarter-length winner, ahead of Real World (5/1) in second and Chindit (20/1) in third.

Gill said: “The Lockinge at Newbury on Saturday went the way of short odds on favourite Baaeed, who looked very impressive again in extending his unbeaten record. Despite going off 4/9, punters still latched on and managed to take a good profit out the race.

Finally, on a heart-warming note, Ukraine emerged victorious in the Eurovision Song Contest, with the continent joining arms in positivity.

Ukraine had been as short as 2/9 to win on Saturday night, while the UK, which finished second, had been available to back at 14/1 with some layers.

Firkins said: “The world and his/her better half were on Ukraine to win Eurovision, and what an emotional, uplifting night it was.”

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