Gabriel Jesus scored twice in Manchester City’s 3-1 victory over Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday as the champions took full advantage of Liverpool’s inactivity to return to the top of the Premier League.
The home victory was sealed by a strike from substitute Raheem Sterling as City quickly banished memories of last week’s defeat at Chelsea to move two points clear of Juergen Klopp’s unbeaten side who entertain Manchester United on Sunday.
Tottenham Hotspur were the only other team in the top five to play, edging Burnley 1-0 with an injury-time strike from substitute Christian Eriksen, while Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Watford and West Ham United all won too.
There was good news for Manchester City with the return from a knee injury of Kevin De Bruyne, who played 15 minutes as a second-half substitute in his first game for six weeks.
Sergio Aguero was also back on the bench after his thigh problem although Jesus proved the perfect deputy with a sharp left-footed finish in the 22nd minute and a 50th-minute header to register his first Premier League goals since August.
City manager Pep Guardiola was delighted with the Brazilian’s performance. “He showed fight and personality, he is a young player and has to improve many things. It is good for his confidence,” said the Spaniard.
Guardiola, whose team have 44 points from 17 games while Liverpool have 42 from 16, said he was looking forward to tuning in to Sunday’s clash at Anfield. “Yes it is a nice game to watch,” he said.
At Wembley, a Burnley side inspired by goalkeeper Joe Hart thought they had secured a point with an impressively resilient performance that frustrated Spurs.
Yet Eriksen, who came off the bench in the 65th minute, finally found a way past the former England keeper in the dying seconds to secure the three points.
“Every time you come on you want to make an impact. To score in extra time was extra nice,” said Eriksen.
Wolves beat Bournemouth 2-0 with goals from Raul Jimenez and Ivan Cavaleiro to win a third successive top-flight game for the first time since 1980 and move into seventh place.
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo was delighted by the way his side braved the elements on a bitterly cold day across England.
“In this weather, with the wind, cold and rain and against Bournemouth — I’m very proud. We did a fantastic job,” he said.
The two sides had never met at this level before but the result was seldom in doubt and Bournemouth continue to drop down the table after losing a sixth game out of seven.
Below them, Cardiff City remain in the thick of the relegation fight after losing 3-2 at Watford, a game graced by a stunning opener from the home side’s Gerard Deulofeu, who slipped past two defenders in the box before drilling a fine finish past goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
Watford’s Portuguese youngster Domingos Quina, 19, scored his first Premier League goal before Cardiff fought back with two goals in the last 10 minutes but were unable to stop the home side winning their first league match in seven.
Crystal Palace finally broke their curse of not being able to win without their talismanic winger Wilfried Zaha in the side as they beat Leicester City 1-0.
The Londoners, who last won without the suspended Zaha in September 2016, had Luka Milivojevic to thank for a win that moves them clear of the relegation zone.
Newcastle also boosted their survival chances with an opportunistic 1-0 victory at strugglers Huddersfield Town. Salomon Rondon scored the only goal from a counter-attack in the second half.
“Against a team so close to us in the table, and to get three points, it was a good achievement,” said Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez.
Fulham remain at the bottom after losing 2-0 at home to resurgent West Ham United, who have won four successive league games for the first time in four years. Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio scored the goals.
LIVERPOOL 3 MANCHESTER UNITED 1
Dec 16 (Reuters) – Two second-half goals from substitute Xherdan Shaqiri gave Liverpool a 3-1 Premier League win over Manchester United on Sunday as Juergen Klopp’s side regained top spot with a pulsating performance in the North West derby.
Liverpool roared out of the traps at Anfield and took the game to Jose Mourinho’s side, grabbing the lead in the 24th minute when Sadio Mane chested down a pass from Fabinho and slotted past David De Gea.
Against the run of play, United drew level in the 33rd minute when Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker spilled a harmless low cross from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard pounced on the loose ball to find the net.
The hosts continued to dominate but it was not until the introduction of Swiss international Shaqiri that the game turned decisively in their favour.
Mane’s pull back from the byline took two deflections as it ricocheted to Shaqiri on the edge of the area and his shot flew off Ashley Young and into the top corner to make it 2-1 in the 73rd minute.
Seven minutes later fortune was on Shaqiri’s side again as another deflected shot, this time off Eric Bailly, beat the helpless De Gea.
Unbeaten Liverpool have 45 points from 17 games with champions Manchester City, who beat Everton 3-1 on Saturday, a point behind.
SOUTHAMPTON 3 ARSENAL 2
A late goal by substitute Charlie Austin gave relegation-threatened Southampton a thrilling 3-2 victory over Arsenal on Sunday in new Austrian manager Ralph Hasenhuettl’s first home game.
It was the Londoners’ first defeat in 23 games and meant they lost ground on fourth-placed Chelsea, while Southampton moved out of the bottom three.
Danny Ings, back after injury, headed two fine goals in the first half from equally good crosses by Matt Targett and Nathan Redmond.
In between, Mkhitaryan drew Arsenal level with a header of his own and early in the second half he scored via a big deflection.
Yet in the 85th minute Austin, who had come on for the tiring Ings, headed in a cross by Shane Long.
The win sent Southampton above Burnley into 17th place while Arsenal remained fifth in the table.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 1 CHELSEA 2
Dec 16 (Reuters) – Chelsea consolidated fourth place in the Premier League with a 2-1 win at Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday that became harder work than had seemed likely in the first half.
Having won 4-0 at the Amex Stadium last season, they were on course for a repeat after taking a 2-0 lead at the interval.
Eden Hazard set up the first goal for Pedro after 17 minutes and scored the second himself before halftime following a defensive error.
Brighton came back into contention through Solly March’s goal midway through the second half and Lewis Dunk went close to an equaliser.
The home side have not beaten Chelsea in any competition since 1933 but they stayed 13th in the table, nine points clear of the bottom three places.
Chelsea moved three points clear of London rivals Arsenal, who were beaten at Southampton.
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri felt Hazard, whose goal was his first since October, could have done even better, and will do when he recovers full fitness.
“I think that Hazard could have played better because his level is a very high level,” said Sarri.
“He can do more. But I think after the two injuries, he lost the physical condition.
“Now he’s improving. In one or two matches he’ll be back at the top.
“I think that we played a good match, we could have won by more goals.
Hazard, who had been outstanding when scoring twice in the 4-0 January win, made the opening goal with his ninth assist of the season.
Regaining possession after his shot was saved, he played a perfect pass to give Pedro a tap-in.
Brighton contributed to their own downfall 12 minutes from halftime with a poor clearance by Leon Balogun.
Willian intercepted and from his own half sent Hazard through to beat goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
From a position of apparent comfort, Chelsea came under pressure after Marcos Alonso had crashed a shot against the post.
The home team revived, halving their deficit when Bernardo headed back across goal for March to score, but Chelsea held on for an important win.
“We knew we needed to score a third goal, but we didn’t and conceded,” Hazard said. “You feel the pressure, but we managed the game well.
“We want to be top of the league at the end of the season. We know Man City and Liverpool are good teams and we don’t want the gap to be big.”
Brighton’s manager Chris Hughton said: “They had two chances in the first half and scored two goals. We started the game well but you can’t give them the leg up by going behind.
“But I can’t fault the effort our players put in.”