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Friday, July 03, 2020

Premier League: Chelsea fight back at struggling Aston Villa; Liverpool draw at Everton

Chelsea boosted their hopes of securing Champions League football next season as second-half goals from Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud secured a 2-1 comeback win at relegation-threatened Aston Villa.

By: Reuters | Updated: June 22, 2020 10:26:24 am
Chelsea fight back to earn 2-1 win at struggling Aston Villa (Source: Reuters)

Chelsea boosted their hopes of securing Champions League football next season as second-half goals from Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud secured a 2-1 comeback win at relegation-threatened Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.

The result left Chelsea fourth on 51 points from 30 games, five ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United, while Villa’s hopes of avoiding the drop were dented as they stayed second-bottom on 26 points, one point adrift of the safety zone.

Substitute Pulisic equalised on the hour and Giroud netted the winner two minutes later after defender Kortney Hause had fired the home side ahead against the run of play in the 43rd minute with his first Premier League goal.

Hause achieved a rare accomplishment of scoring in each of England’s top four divisions when he scrambled in a close-range rebound after Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga parried an Anwar El Ghazi shot from a delightful cross by Douglas Luiz.

“We dominated, but it’s the story of some of our games, we need to be more clinical,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard told Sky Sports. “But I can give the players some leeway because they’ve had a lot of time off. We showed great character and quality in the second half to win the game.”

Chelsea had 76% of the possession in the opening half and missed a string of chances, with Villa keeper Oerjan Nyland twice denying Mason Mount while Mateo Kovacic volleyed inches wide from the edge of the penalty area.

Arrizabalaga was also forced into action at the other end when he parried a ferocious El Ghazi shot from 25 metres, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek failed to get a touch on Mount’s low cross at the far post in the 39th minute.

Liverpool’s Klopp praises ‘world-class’ Alisson after Everton draw

American Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp hailed his “world class” goalkeeper Alisson after the Brazilian produced a superb late save in the 0-0 draw at Everton on Sunday.

With 10 minutes left Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s clever flick from a low Gylfi Sigurdsson cross was pushed out by Alisson and Tom Davies’ follow-up shot hit the post.

“That’s what a world-class goalkeeper is, nothing to do for 90 minutes pretty much and then in one second you have to be there and he was there,” Klopp told reporters. “It obviously saved us a point — it wasn’t the first one.

“… Outstanding. A difficult goalkeeper game.”

Liverpool need five more points to be sure of their first title of the Premier League era. They face Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Klopp said defender Andy Robertson, who was left out of the squad against Everton due to a minor knock, would be involved. Liverpool will also assess James Milner and Joel Matip after the pair sustained injuries against Everton. equalised five minutes after coming on, when he stabbed a Cesar Azpilicueta cross off the underside of the bar at the far post as Villa’s defence finally cracked under intense Chelsea pressure.

Azpilicueta delivered another telling assist two minutes later, threading the ball to Giroud from a flowing move and the Frenchman’s deflected shot on the turn gave Nyland no chance.

Villa missed a gilt-edged chance to snatch a draw in the 87th minute when Spanish substitute Jota drove an opportunist shot inches wide of the far post after a sloppy clearance by Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen.

Joelinton ends goal drought as Newcastle overpower Sheffield United

Record signing Joelinton scored his first Premier League goal since August as Newcastle United secured a convincing 3-0 win over 10-man Sheffield United on Sunday.

The Brazilian striker found the net from close range to round off a dominant display for Newcastle, who were playing their first game since the Premier League restart.

Sheffield United did not create many opportunities at St James’ Park and were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when defender John Egan collected his second yellow card.

Egan, who was cautioned for clashing with Joelinton over an offside decision in the first half, brought down the Brazilian striker to receive his marching orders from referee David Coote.

Newcastle seized control of the contest in the 55th minute when midfielder Matt Ritchie’s cross from the left wing found Allan Saint-Maximin, whose low shot found the net.

Ritchie doubled Newcastle’s lead in the 69th minute with a swerving shot from the edge of the box, before Joelinton recorded only his second league goal of his debut campaign in the northeast.

“I see Joelinton in training and he’s working really hard to score,” Saint-Maximin said.

“You have to know that a striker sometimes has a difficult time but I hope he can keep going and score against Aston Villa.”

The result means Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United, who played out a goalless draw against Aston Villa in their first match back, remain seventh in the standings and four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

The Blades next face fifth-placed Manchester United on Wednesday and will need to produce a much-improved display to keep their European qualification hopes alive.

“I’m sick and tired of people talking about Europe and Champions League,” Wilder said.

“It’s about working in the present and the present is that we’ve put in two bang average performances this week.

“We have to play at our maximum to get anything, we have to go at it full tilt, but we are off the pace at the minute.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle moved up to 12th spot with 38 points to surely put any remaining relegation fears to rest.

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