Sports

EPL: Chelsea put down stubborn Leeds to go top

*Man United stage another fightback to beat Hammers, Man City outclass Fulham as Burnley, Everton battle to draw

Chelsea went top of the Premier League as they came from behind to beat Leeds United in their first game in front of fans for nine months.
Former Blues striker Patrick Bamford, who spent five years at Chelsea without making a senior appearance, gave Leeds an early lead at Stamford Bridge after getting between defender Kurt Zouma and keeper Edouard Mendy.
Timo Werner then somehow managed to miss from point-blank range after Olivier Giroud’s flicked header from a corner, the Germany forward hitting the underside of the bar before Leeds cleared.
However, Giroud marked his first league start of the season with his fifth goal of the week, the scorer of all four of Chelsea’s Champions League goals away to Sevilla in midweek poking home from five yards after Reece James’ cross.
Chelsea, who welcomed 2,000 fans back to Stamford Bridge after coronavirus restrictions were eased, went ahead as Zouma headed in from Mason Mount’s corner before substitute Christian Pulisic added a late third.
Chelsea, who started the day third, are one point clear at the top.
Meanwhile, Manchester United responded to their midweek Champions League defeat by Paris St-Germain by staging another Premier League fightback to beat West Ham United and climb to fourth in the table.
Goals from Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and substitute Marcus Rashford turned things around for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who have fallen behind in all five away games this term but have won every match as part of a club-record nine successive away league victories.
With London placed in Tier 2 following the end of the national lockdown on 2 December, the Hammers became the first side to welcome back fans in the Premier League after a nine-month absence.
David Moyes’ side made by far the better start and were rewarded for their first-half superiority when the unmarked Tomas Soucek headed in from a corner after 38 minutes.
They should have added more before the interval, but Pablo Fornals hit the post and Sebastien Haller slipped at the crucial moment after rounding goalkeeper Dean Henderson – who was making his first Premier League start for the visitors.
After being omitted with a crucial Champions League meeting with RB Leipzig looming on Tuesday, the introduction of Bruno Fernandes and Rashford coincided with a much-improved second-half display from Solskjaer’s side.
Pogba’s excellent finish from outside the box eventually stood following a VAR review to check whether Henderson’s long clearance to Rashford had curled out of play and then back in.
Rashford’s cool finish after Greenwood had slotted in from Alex Telles’ cross made it three goals in 13 minutes as United moved two points behind leaders Tottenham.
And Manchester City continued their return to form with another one-sided home win, outclassing Fulham to move up to fifth in the Premier League table.
Pep Guardiola’s side recorded their now annual 5-0 home win over Burnley last weekend and were similarly dominant, albeit a bit wasteful against the Cottagers to move three points behind league-leaders Tottenham.
Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne laid the platform for the win, with the latter setting up the former to slot in the opening goal.
The roles were then reversed with the England winger tripped in the box by Joachim Andersen to allow the Belgian midfielder to score from the penalty spot.
The pair could easily have had another four goals between them but Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola made a string of good saves, while De Bruyne also struck the bar with a shot.
It is the first time this campaign that City have won back-to-back league matches and it lifts them to a spot in the table more in keeping of a side with title aspirations.
Earlier, Burnley and Everton shared the points in an entertaining Premier League arm-wrestle at Turf Moor.
The hosts made a lightning start, Robbie Brady’s strike from outside the box giving them the lead in the third minute, reports the BBC.
Everton were vulnerable, but improved after an injury to Fabian Delph forced them into a reshuffle midway through the first half.
They equalised just before the break through Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the Premier League’s leading scorer this season.
Both sides had chances to win it, only for goalkeepers Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope, the men vying for the England number one shirt, to shine in front of the watching Gareth Southgate.
Burnley stay in the bottom three, a point behind 17th-placed Fulham, who lost to Manchester City. The Clarets will have a game in hand on the majority of the league by the end of the weekend.
RESULTS
Chelsea 3 – 1 Leeds
West Ham 1 – 3 Man United
Burnley 1 – 1 Everton
Man City 2 – 0 Fulham

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