N’Golo Kante’s second-half goal gave Chelsea a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on Sunday to strengthen its grip on fourth place in the Premier League.
After a frustrating first half for the visitors, Kante provided the breakthrough when he ran onto a ball over the top from David Luiz in the 51st minute, chested it down with his first touch and slotted the ball under goalkeeper Vicente Guaita with his second.
Olivier Giroud also had two well-taken strikes questionably ruled out for offside _ one in each half _ while Willian and Ross Barkley both hit the post for Chelsea. But Kante’s goal was enough to lift the Blues five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal and close the gap to Tottenham to just two points.
Palace had mainly focused on defending until Kante’s goal and couldn’t muster much of an attacking threat until the final five minutes, with Patrick Van Aanholt having a shot blocked for a corner and Wilfried Zaha firing off target from a dangerous position moments later. Substitute Connor Wickham then wasted the best chance for an equalizer when he fired high from six yards out after the ball fell to him following a free kick into the box.
Roy Hodgson’s side, which is in 14th place, had just 32 percent of possession.
Chelsea struggled to make use of its dominance in the first half, though, with Willian hitting the left post from a free kick and Barkley also hitting the frame with an acrobatic overhead finish with his back to goal.
Giroud thought he had put his team ahead when he was sent clear on goal by Jorginho in the 28th and slammed a fierce left-footed shot into the far corner, but he was flagged for offside. Replays, however, indicated that it was a marginal call. It was the same story again for Giroud in the 73rd, when another left-footed strike was disallowed by the offside flag. He was injured in the process of scoring that one, and limped off with an apparent ankle problem.
Manchester City end losing streak, beats Southampton 3-1
Manchester City got its faltering Premier League title defense back on track with a 3-1 win at Southampton on Sunday thanks to two quick goals just before halftime.
After throwing away an early lead, City provided a reminder of its devastating attacking potential by netting twice in first-half injury time to end a run of two straight losses and three defeats in its last four Premier League games. David Silva and Sergio Aguero scored for the visitors, who also benefited from a fortunate own-goal by James Ward-Prowse.
Southampton finished the game with 10 men after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who had scored the team’s equalizer, was sent off in the 85th minute for a reckless tackle on Fernandinho.
The win puts Pep Guardiola’s team back into second place, two points ahead of Tottenham but still seven behind leader Liverpool ahead of their top-of-the-table clash on Thursday.
City took the lead in the 10th minute through Silva, who met a cross from Bernardo Silva with a simple finish from in front of goal. But City’s recent habit of making costly mistakes continued as left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko allowed Hojbjerg to rob him of the ball, and the Southampton midfielder stormed forward, dribbling between Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte before firing a fierce shot past goalkeeper Ederson.
Minutes later, Ward-Prowse appealed for a penalty when he was pushed over by Zinchenko in the area. But referee Paul Tierney waved play on and Ward-Prowse instead found himself putting City ahead at the other end during a decisive momentum swing.
Raheem Sterling dribbled past Ward-Prowse down the left side of the Southampton area and tried to send in a cross that was deflected by the midfielder into his own net, with goalkeeper Alex McCarthy unable to react in time to keep it out.
It was a slice of luck for City, and Southampton had hardly recovered from the setback before the visitors doubled their lead. Zinchenko made amends for his previous mistake by sending in a pinpoint cross for Aguero to head home with virtually the last touch of the first half.
City then largely dominated the second half, with Aguero hitting the crossbar and Sterling having a penalty appeal of his own turned down. Southampton’s slim hopes of a comeback were then ended by Hojbjerg’s poor tackle on Fernandinho, which summed up a frustrating afternoon for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
Burnley beat West Ham 2-0 to end losing run
Burnley ended a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday to boost its hopes of climbing out of the relegation zone.
Chris Wood and Dwight McNeil scored in the first half against a surprisingly toothless West Ham side, giving Burnley only its second win since Sept. 30. Sean Dyche’s side remained in 18th place, but now only trails Southampton on goal difference and is just four points from 14th in a tight bottom third of the table.
Four days after losing 5-1 at home to Everton, Burnley looked resolute at the back and confident going forward as Wood opened the scoring in the 15th minute and the 19-year-old McNeil netted his first goal for the club in the 34th.
Dyche made a number of changes from the Everton defeat, including dropping goalkeeper Joe Hart to the bench and giving McNeil his second league start of the season.
McNeil set Ashley Barnes up for a chance inside two minutes, but the forward shot narrowly wide. However, Barnes then turned provider as he headed the ball down for Wood to put the hosts ahead. Burnley continued to push forward and doubled the lead when West Ham failed to clear its lines and Ashley Westwood’s deep cross toward the far post found McNeil sliding in to apply the finish.
McNeil could have scored a third when Barnes cut the ball back for him seven minutes before the break, but he could not get his foot around the ball and sent it just wide.
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini swapped Lucas Perez for Andy Carroll at the break, hoping for a shift in momentum. However, Burnley nearly scored a third moments after the restart when Barnes beat the offside trap and pulled the ball back for Wood, but, as he prepared for an easy tap-in, Angelo Ogbonna made a last-ditch challenge to turn the ball away.
Minutes later, Lukasz Fabianski made a point-blank save to deny Barnes, keeping the Hammers in it.
West Ham, which is in 11th place, struggled to test Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton until a curling effort from Carroll in the 66th which the goalkeeper held low to his right.
Substitute Xande Silva saw a shot deflect narrowly wide and Heaton then made an outstanding save to push Carroll’s header onto the crossbar in the dying minutes.
Pogba leads resurgent Man United to 4-1 win over Bournemouth
Paul Pogba is feeling so good at Manchester United these days that he’s practicing his goal celebrations during the pre-game warmup.
With good reason, too, as the French World Cup winner is once again finding plenty of reasons to celebrate.
Pogba scored another two goals and added an assist as United continued its resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a free-flowing 4-1 win over Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday.
Pogba, who had been relegated to the bench during the final weeks of Jose Mourinho’s reign after falling out with the Portuguese manager, put United 2-0 up after 33 minutes before Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku added a goal apiece at Old Trafford.
“To finish the year like that is beautiful,” Pogba said. “It’s just a reaction of all the players, everybody enjoying themselves. That’s what we need, a team needs to enjoy playing football.”
The midfielder showed just how much he’s enjoying himself by celebrating his first goal with a playful dance, shimmying his hips with arms folded across his stomach _ a move that TV cameras revealed he had been practicing on the pitch before kickoff.
Pogba, though, insisted it wasn’t a rehearsed routine.
“No, no, no, it’s just coming,” he said. “Everybody knows I love to dance. That’s how I celebrate my goals.”
After Rashford made it 3-0, Nathan Ake gave Bournemouth some hope by pulling a goal back with a header just before halftime, but United rarely looked troubled after the break and Lukaku added the fourth from a suspected offside position in the 72nd.
United finished the game with 10 men after Eric Bailly was sent off in the 79th for a late scissor tackle on Ryan Fraser but the hosts still eased to a third straight victory under Solskjaer, who took over from the fired Mourinho earlier this month. They have scored 12 goals in that stretch _ having averaged less than two per game under Mourinho _ with Pogba netting two for the second game in a row. The attacking football that was the club’s hallmark under Alex Ferguson is definitely back at Old Trafford and Pogba, the club’s record signing, looks completely rejuvenated under the caretaker manager.
“Obviously it’s different,” Pogba said. “It’s just a different style of play, we are more offensive I would say, so we create more chances, and a bit higher as well. … That’s how we want to play, we want to attack, the manager wants to attack, and that’s what we do on the pitch.”
The midfielder slid in to tap home a low cross from Marcus Rashford in the fifth minute after the England forward showed great footwork to go past a defender and break inside from the right flank. He doubled the lead with a header, beating goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to a cross from Ander Herrera by the near post.
Rashford was then rewarded for his own excellent attacking display when he was on hand to turn in another cross by Anthony Martial, but Bournemouth was able to respond immediately to pull a goal back before the break. David Brooks floated a ball into the United box and Ake jumped highest to bury a header past David de Gea.
Bournemouth had a penalty appeal waved away in the 70th minute when Bailly put his foot up near the face of Charlie Daniels, and United sealed the game minutes later. Lukaku, who had just come on for Rashford, met a lofted pass from Pogba and sent a low finish past Begovic.
Pogba then came inches away from completing a first hat trick at United when Begovic tipped his low strike against the post in the 77th.
The only negative for United was an apparent injury to Rashford and Bailly’s rash tackle, which will earn the centre-back an automatic three-match ban.
The win puts United just three points behind fifth-place Arsenal, but they remain eight points outside the Champions League places.