United, Chelsea rely on strokes of fortune in EPL
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) – Manchester United and Chelsea needed fortunate goals to maintain their status as the closest challengers to rampant leader Manchester City in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Ashley Young’s long-range shot looped up off a defender and spun into the far corner to earn second-place United a 1-0 win over Brighton, for its eighth consecutive victory at Old Trafford.
Chelsea claimed only a point from a 1-1 draw at Liverpool in the day’s standout game and again there was luck involved, substitute Willian’s attempted cross to the far post soaring into the top corner for an 85th-minute equalizer.
Chelsea’s Willian celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield, Liverpool, England, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Still, it was another good day for City, even though the leader wasn’t playing until Sunday at Huddersfield.
United might have moved five points behind but the Anfield draw saw two more possible title rivals drop points, while Tottenham’s travails at Wembley Stadium continued with a 1-1 draw against lowly West Bromwich Albion.
There were also wins for Watford and Crystal Palace.
Here’s a look at the action:
With United struggling to break through Brighton’s defense, it found inspiration from an unlikely source in left back Young. The utility player picked up a clearance on the edge of the box and shot into the top corner, via the sprawling Lewis Dunk.
“It’s taken a deflection,” said Young, who disagreed with the award of an own goal. “You know, it was going on target, so I’ll be claiming that.”
Brighton, which had been undefeated in its previous five league games, gave United one of its toughest challenges this season and was punished for failing to take its chances.
“I want to be honest and give them what they deserve, for me probably they deserve more than the result they got,” United manager Jose Mourinho said.
For United, its 39th home game in all competitions without defeat set a club record. The last loss at home was in September 2016 to Manchester City.
SALAH SCORES AGAIN
Chelsea was nearly left embarrassed by another former player.
Two months ago, it was Kevin De Bruyne – discarded prematurely by then-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in 2014 – scoring the winner against the Blues for Manchester City.
Mo Salah was at Chelsea around the same period and made just six league starts before being sent on loan by Mourinho to Fiorentina and then Roma, which he eventually joined on a permanent deal. Chelsea might be regretting it.
Salah scored his 15th goal of the season, in just 20 appearances, when he ran into Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pass and slotted home in the 65th. He is the league top scorer on 10 goals and must go down as the signing of the summer.
Willian’s goal came within two minutes of coming on as a substitute.
“Everything was good,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said, “until Willian crossed the ball.”
SPURS’ SEASONAL STRUGGLES
Tottenham will be looking forward to the end of November. For a second consecutive season, it has won just one of its three matches in the month.
Harry Kane equalized 15 minutes from the end after Salomon Rondon gave West Brom’s stand in-manager, Gary Megson, the perfect start. West Brom, which hasn’t now won in 11 league games, was playing for the first time after firing its Tony Pulis on Monday.
Tottenham is 10 points adrift of City.
Watford’s run of scoring two goals in its league away games this season ended at Newcastle, but it didn’t mind.
The Hornets went one better with a 3-0 win at St James’ Park. Will Hughes and Andre Gray scored either side of DeAndre Yedlin’s own goal to secure a comfortable win.
Watford has more away points in seven matches this season than the team managed in the whole of its previous campaign.
Mamadou Sakho scored in added time to give last-place Crystal Palace a 2-1 win over Stoke and move the team to within three points of safety.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s solo effort put Stoke in front but Ruben Loftus-Cheek equalized just three minutes later. Sakho reacted first when Yohan Cabaye’s effort came back off the post to seal only Palace’s second win of the season.
Also, Swansea and Bournemouth drew 0-0.
Associated Press writer Sam Johnston in London contributed to this report
Brighton & Hove Albion’s Anthony Knockaert, left, and Manchester United’s Ashley Young clash during the English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)
West Bromwich Albion’s Salomon Rondon, left, and Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier in action during their English Premier League soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London, Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
Brighton & Hove Albion’s Pascal Gross, left, and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford in action during the English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)
Watford’s Will Hughes, obscured centre left, scores his side’s first goal of the game against Newcastle United during their English Premier League soccer match at St James’ Park in Newcastle, England, Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson reacts during during the match against Stoke City, during their English Premier League soccer match at Selhurst Park in London, Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Daniel Hambury/PA via AP)
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