A stoppage-time penalty from James Milner earned Liverpool a dramatic 2-1 victory over Leicester City at Anfield on Saturday, maintaining the league leaders’ 100% start to the Premier League season.
On his return to the club he almost guided to the 2013-14 Premier League title, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers set his current side up to frustrate a Liverpool team chasing a 17th consecutive league victory.
The hosts, who came into the clash unbeaten in their last 43 league games at Anfield, did initially struggle to break down Leicester as Rodgers seemed to have got his tactics spot on.
This relentless Liverpool team cannot be kept at bay for too long, however, as Sadio Mane brilliantly slotted home his 50th league goal for the club to break the deadlock in the 40th minute.
Chances for Liverpool to double their advantage came and went, with Mane and Mohamed Salah guilty of poor finishing, and their profligacy looked to have cost their side as James Maddison equalised with 10 minutes left.
However, the drama was not over, as Mane was brought down in the box to give Liverpool the chance to snatch all three points and Milner converted the penalty to send Liverpool, with Manchester City not in action until Sunday, eight points clear at the top of the standings.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Brazilian striker Wesley scored twice and missed a penalty as Aston Villa thumped injury-hit Norwich City 5-1 at Carrow Road for their biggest Premier League away win in 11 years.
Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane and Douglas Luiz completed the rout, with Josip Drmic scoring a late consolation for Norwich who looked a shadow of the side who had beaten Manchester City in their previous home game.
Wesley, who has now doubled his Villa goal tally, was criticised for a slipshod performance against Burnley last weekend but justified manager Dean Smith’s faith with his first-half strikes.
On 14 minutes he brought down Anwar El Ghazi’s cross to rifle past Michael McGovern, Norwich’s third-choice keeper making his Premier League debut for the club at the age of 35.
Wesley took advantage of good work from Hourihane to double Villa’s lead on 30 minutes but then had a penalty well saved by McGovern, who also did enough to ensure Wesley’s follow-up shot ballooned over the bar.
Grealish side-footed home his first top-flight goal in four years for Villa’s third just after the break before more bad defending allowed Hourihane to hit their fourth. Luiz’s 83rd-minute thunderbolt delighted the noisy away support as Villa leapfrogged Norwich to move out of the relegation zone.
A 72nd-minute volley from Jeff Hendrick meanwhile gave Burnley a 1-0 win over Everton in the Premier League at Turf Moor on Saturday, condemning Marco Silva’s side to a fourth straight defeat.
The result leaves Everton languishing in 17th place, a point above the relegation zone, while Burnley extended their unbeaten run to four games and moved up to fourth place ahead of Sunday’s games
Gylfi Sigurdsson tested Burnley keeper Nick Pope with a free kick and, at the other end, Hendrick went close with a back-post volley from a corner which was kept out by the legs of Everton keeper Jordan Pickford but openings were rare in the first half.
Everton were reduced to 10 men in the 56th minute when captain Seamus Coleman was given a second yellow card for a reckless aerial challenge on Dwight McNeil.
Ashley Barnes then found space in the Everton box but blasted high and wide as the pressure from Burnley increased against an Everton side looking well short of confidence.
The goal came via an Ashley Westwood corner which was met by a totally unmarked Hendrick at the back post, the Ireland international doing well to volley in from a tight angle.
Teenage striker Aaron Connolly scored twice on his first Premier League start as Brighton & Hove Albion humbled Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 to ensure the visitors’ nightmare week ended on the worst possible note.
Defeat at the Amex stadium was compounded by a bad injury to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who was stretchered off after falling heavily on his arm in conceding Brighton’s third-minute opener to Neal Maupay.
Under no obvious pressure, the Frenchman, who had gifted Southampton a goal last weekend and then conceded seven to Bayern Munich, dropped Pascal Gross’s cross straight into the path of the striker who scored from a yard out. In his desperation, Lloris landed badly and was carried off, receiving oxygen.
The keeper’s replacement Paulo Gazzaniga was himself beaten on 32 minutes by the 19-year-old Connolly, who reacted to the keeper’s parry to score neatly — the eighth goal that Spurs had conceded in 78 minutes of competitive action.
A shellshocked Mauricio Pochettino responded by bringing on Harry Winks at half-time for his £63m summer signing Tanguy Ndombele but Connolly was again on hand with an even better goal on 65 minutes.
This time the Irishman picked up a long ball down the left, easily cut inside Toby Alderweireld on his right foot and curled a shot past Gazzaniga’s outstetched hand as Brighton recorded their first win over Spurs since 1983.
The clocks have not even gone back yet but Liverpool’s fans might already be dreaming of Premier League title celebrations early next summer after a Manchester City’s shock home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday capped a perfect weekend.
After a last-gasp penalty against Leicester City helped Liverpool make it eight wins from eight games on Saturday, City were expected to respond but instead went down 2-0 with Adama Traore scoring a late double at a stunned Etihad Stadium.
It meant City are eight points adrift of Liverpool already, which considering the relentless nature of last season’ title race when the sides were virtually inseparable throughout a compelling run-in, feels like a chasm.
City’s fans could at least comfort themselves as Manchester United slipped to a dismal 1-0 defeat by Newcastle United later on Sunday which left them in 12th spot, two points above the relegation zone.
Teenager Matthew Longstaff, playing in midfield alongside his older brother Sean, scored Newcastle’s winning goal on his Premier League debut to help his side out of the bottom three.
Arsenal moved into third place in the table with 15 points to City’s 16 thanks to Davis Luiz’s first goal for the club early on in a tight 1-0 win at home to Bournemouth.
Chelsea romped to a 4-1 victory at Southampton to climb into fifth place with 14 points — Tammy Abraham paving the way for the win with his eighth league goal of the season.
City’s first home league defeat since they lost to Crystal Palace on Dec. 22 left Liverpool with the biggest lead after eight games but manager Pep Guardiola was not panicking.
“I know these guys,” Guardiola said. “They are still incredibly involved and they can still do it.
“The distance is big, I know that. For many circumstances, they (Liverpool) didn’t drop points. It is better not to think one team is eight points ahead. It is only October.”
Manchester United’s haul of nine points is their worst from eight games since 1989-90 when they had eight and went on to finish 13th. That they were undone by a 19-year-old on his first Premier League start added to the sense of gloom over United who looked bereft of ideas as an attacking unit.
They have won only two of their last 13 Premier League games and Solskjaer’s golden honeymoon period when he replaced Jose Mourinho, first as a caretaker, is now a fading memory.
“We are never happy when we don’t win and we are going through a very difficult period,” Solskjaer said.
For Newcastle manager Steve Bruce it was his first victory over United as a manager at the 23rd attempt.
His decision to throw in Longstaff was fully vindicated as he thumped home a second-half winner.
“Since pre-season in China I’ve said ‘who’s this kid?’ He stands out with his ginger hair,” Bruce said. “He has wonderful enthusiasm and he lights up your day.
“He’s 19? So what. I’m delighted for him.”