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Premier League wrap: Man Utd hammer Fulham; Chelsea beat Man City; Salah hat-trick lifts Liverpool

By Opta
Premier League wrap: Man Utd hammer Fulham; Chelsea beat Man City; Salah hat-trick lifts Liverpool

London, Dec 8: Romelu Lukaku celebrated his return to the Manchester United starting line-up with a goal as Jose Mourinho's under-fire side breezed to a 4-1 win over an abject Fulham. While Mohamed Salah's hat-trick helped Liverpool thrash Bournemouth 4-0 away from home to go top of the Premier League for at least a few hours.

While holders Manchester City suffered their first defeat of the season as N'Golo Kante and David Luiz secured a hard-fought 2-0 victory for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku celebrates return in style:

Lukaku's close-range finish was his first at Old Trafford for 997 competitive minutes and followed efforts from Ashley Young and Juan Mata inside the opening half hour.

Claudio Ranieri's team lived down to the reputation of the Premier League's bottom club and any encouragement from Aboubakar Kamara's 67th-minute penalty was extinguished by Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa's red card 47 seconds later.

Marcus Rashford completed United's first win in five league games, achieved with Paul Pogba as an unused substitute, which lifts them up to sixth.

Young did a fine job of lifting the prevailing mood at Old Trafford by nutmegging Denis Odoi on the left in the 13th minute and arrowing a superb strike into the top-right corner.

Lukaku's pass cut Fulham apart down the same flank and Mata's finish through the legs of Tim Ream matched the precision of Rashford's cutback – the England forward whose venomous free-kick was well saved by Sergio Rico in the 38th minute.

Unfortunately for the Fulham goalkeeper, the defensive efforts in front of him remained woefully tepid and Lingard released Mata to give Lukaku a simple finish before half-time.

Rico bravely threw himself at Lukaku's feet to save following a teasing cross from Diogo Dalot early in the second half.

Chris Smalling departed through injury, doing little to knock United out of their stride as Ander Herrera side-footed narrowly wide.

The Spanish midfielder was then harshly adjudged to have fouled Kamara, who converted from the spot.

Hopes of a Fulham revival were short-lived as Anguissa challenged Rashford untidily and was shown a second yellow card.

The overworked Rico saved well from Rashford and Lukaku following the introduction of Fred as a substitute. Given those stops, it was somewhat galling when Rico patted Rashford's speculative 83rd-minute effort into the net.

What does it mean: Mourinho ends gloomy run

The unusual spectacle of Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes effectively offering his client a vote of confidence on Friday stood as the latest indication that all is not well at Old Trafford. At the very least, this authoritative win acts as a moment of respite for their beleaguered boss, who tastes victory in the Premier League for the first time since November 3. If Fulham's return of four points from Ranieri's first three games at the helm was cause for encouragement, such a meek surrender perhaps indicates the true magnitude of his task with the Premier League's bottom club.

United's flying start inspired by flying full-backs

Young's goal was his first in 39 games across all competitions for United since a brace against former club Watford last November and he looked to repeat the trick shortly afterwards. On the other wing, Dalot had already driven forward from deep to send a pair of testing deliveries into the box. The veteran and the youngster gave United's performance a dynamism that has been sorely lacking over recent weeks and the rewards followed.

Odoi horror show emblematic of Fulham's problems

For United's opener, Young was kindly presented with the chance to relive his years as a flying winger. Odoi was obligingly nutmegged, taken out of the game too easily. His attempts to stop United's subsequent goals down his side were notable by their absence. It raised the wider question of why, as Fulham spent in excess of £100million in the past transfer window, did they leave themselves needing to rely on a player appearing so out of his depth at Premier League level.

What's next?

United travel to Valencia with top spot in their Champions League group still up for grabs before a mouth-watering showdown against bitter rivals Liverpool at Anfield next weekend. Fulham have a week to regroup before a London derby versus West Ham.

Kante and David Luiz hand champions first defeat

Manchester City suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season as N'Golo Kante and David Luiz secured a hard-fought 2-0 victory for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The reigning champions were on top from the outset, but Pep Guardiola's decision to play Raheem Sterling through the middle in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero failed to pay dividends and they were unable to regain top spot from Liverpool, who beat Bournemouth 4-0 earlier on Saturday to edge a point clear.

Chelsea were forced to sit deep for much of the opening period before Kante scored with their first shot on target in the 45th minute.

Maurizio Sarri's team were well-drilled in the second half and a 78th-minute header from David Luiz sealed a huge victory after a run of just one win in four.

Chelsea tried to press the visitors high from kick-off, but Guardiola's side were capable of passing their way out of any situation and they dictated terms.

However, it was not until the 33rd minute that City truly threatened, Sterling turning Marcos Alonso easily and finding Leroy Sane for a shot that deflected over off Cesar Azpilicueta.

Chelsea then punished City against the run of play on the stroke of half-time with a swift break, Kante firing into the roof of the net after he was teed up by Eden Hazard, who led the line ahead of Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud.

The Blues carried the momentum into the second period and Willian had a free-kick pushed away by Ederson, with Guardiola responding by sending Gabriel Jesus on for Sane.

Kepa Arrizabalaga parried a free-kick from Kyle Walker as City, who saw David Silva hobble off with an injury in the 68th minute, laboured in their search for an equaliser.

David Luiz ensured the visitors' 14-game unbeaten run in away Premier League matches was ended when he beat John Stones to Hazard's corner - which Guardiola was adamant was incorrect to award - and looped a header beyond Ederson.

What does it mean? Chelsea cannot be counted out

After results earlier on Saturday sent Chelsea down to fifth, the Blues climbed back up to third and moved within eight points of Liverpool in top spot. Sarri's men showed grit and resilience to keep City at bay during the opening period, and their increased confidence steeled them to hold onto the points with a well-organised closing 45 minutes. Their fellow title hopefuls will no doubt take notice.

David Luiz key at both ends

City's early pressure looked certain to culminate in a goal, but a brilliant tackle from David Luiz denied Sane a great opportunity to open the scoring in the 15th minute. The Brazilian has been inconsistent this season, but he remained solid in the second period and nodded home late on to seal what had initially appeared an unlikely victory.

Guardiola's Sterling choice fails

With Aguero still sidelined due to a muscle injury and Jesus out of form, Guardiola decided to play Sterling through the middle. However, the England international still spent most of his time playing from the right as City's attack lacked cohesion despite them being on top for prolonged periods. Guardiola changed things in the 53rd minute and Sane can consider himself unfortunate he was the one hooked, while Jesus did not test Kepa until second-half stoppage time.

What's next?

City will be out to wrap up top spot in Champions League Group F when they host Hoffenheim on Wednesday, while Chelsea will take on Vidi in the Europa League 24 hours later.

Arsenal 1 Huddersfield Town 0

Lucas Torreira's 83rd-minute overhead kick earned Arsenal a 1-0 victory over Huddersfield Town that moved them into the top four and extended their unbeaten run to 21 games in all competitions.

The Gunners had scored in each of their 14 Premier League matches since a 2-0 loss to Manchester City in their opening fixture, but they were frustrated by a stubborn Huddersfield side until Torreira's strike late on.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had missed a great chance in the first half, provided the assist with a chip into the middle that an unmarked Torreira acrobatically fired in.

Arsenal moved up to third with the victory while Huddersfield dropped into the relegation zone.

Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang were paired together and both strikers spurned clear chances within a minute just before the half-hour mark.

Aubameyang directed Granit Xhaka's attempted shot wide before Lacazette slipped and fired over when found by Matteo Guendouzi.

Referee Paul Tierney handed out seven first-half yellow cards - five of those shown in as many minutes - and Arsenal felt further injustice when Lacazette was denied the opener having been adjudged offside, though the flag only went up after Huddersfield's Mathias Jorgensen had touched the ball.

As he did against Tottenham, Arsenal boss Unai Emery made a double switch at half-time as he brought on Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi.

Huddersfield were also forced into two alterations in quick succession due to injury, and between the two substitutions Alex Pritchard was denied a penalty when he claimed Hector Bellerin clipped him.

Shkodran Mustafi then picked up an injury and forced Emery into a final change in the 66th minute, and the alternations contributed to Arsenal's lack of fluency.

Yet seven minutes from time Torreira finally broke Huddersfield's resistance.

Aubameyang brought down Guendouzi's ball in the box and though his initial effort was blocked by Terence Kongolo, the Gabon international spotted Torreira and lifted the ball into the midfielder to smash in an emphatic winner.

What it means? Below-par Gunners march on

Arsenal were brilliant when they beat Tottenham in the north London derby but Huddersfield kept them at bay until late on. Yet the best sides win even when they do not play well and ultimately that is what Emery's side did.

Match-winner Torreira shines again

Six days after scoring a crucial goal against Spurs, Torreira found the net again at home. He is proving to be crucial for Emery and looks like one of the signings of the season.

Gunners punished for theatrics

Five Arsenal players received cautions and three of them - Xhaka, Mustafi and Guendouzi - were rightly booked for diving. Emery's team are winning admirers but they must cut the play-acting out to keep the neutrals on side.

What's next

Having already qualified for the Europa League knock-out phase, Arsenal round out the group stage against Qarabag on Thursday before hosting Southampton three days later, a game that Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mustafi will now miss through suspension. Huddersfield entertain Newcastle United in the first of back-to-back home games before Christmas.

West Ham 3 Crystal Palace 2

West Ham stormed back from behind to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 in a thrilling contest and win a third straight Premier League game for the first time in two years.

James McArthur had put Palace ahead after just six minutes with his second goal in three games.

But Robert Snodgrass' impressive equaliser - his first Premier League goal for 705 days - changed the momentum just after half-time, with Javier Hernandez and Felipe Anderson then striking to wrap up a 17-minute blitz.

Manuel Pellegrini's men held on for a dramatic victory despite a late reply from Palace substitute Jeffrey Schlupp, moving into the top 10 as a result, as struggling Palace, who have one win in 11 top-flight games, slipped to 16th.

Hernandez's scuffed finish failed to beat Wayne Hennessey from an excellent early opportunity, and West Ham rued that when Palace went straight up the other end to strike.

Patrick van Aanholt's free-kick was flicked on by James Tomkins and indecisive keeper Lukasz Fabianski was beaten to it by McArthur who, left in oceans of space by the home defence, prodded in from six yards.

West Ham had more of the play for the rest of the half, but almost fell two behind moments before the break when Luka Milivojevic curled a 25-yard free-kick against the crossbar.

Andy Carroll replaced Lucas Perez at the break, but it was Snodgrass who struck within three minutes of the restart, sending a dipping 20-yard strike inside Hennessey's near post.

And the turnaround was complete after 62 minutes, Hernandez reacting sharply to fire in a left-footed strike after Felipe Anderson's free-kick was only parried by Hennessey.

With West Ham's next attack, Felipe Anderson scored his fifth goal in six games, curling a stunning strike into the far corner from the edge of the area, having been found by Hernandez.

Hernandez then fired inches wide, and Schlupp ensured a nervous ending by heading in Max Meyer's cross with 14 minutes left, but the Hammers held on.

Burnley 1 Brighton and Hove Albion 0

Burnley beat Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 at home thanks to James Tarkowski's fortunate goal to record their first win since September and move out of the Premier League's relegation zone.

A run of six defeats in seven league games had seen Sean Dyche's Clarets - who finished seventh last term to qualify for the Europa League - slip into the bottom three.

But they broke that poor run of form with a first win in nine league matches against Brighton thanks to a scrappy first-half goal from England international Tarkowski at a wet and windy Turf Moor.

After a Johann Gudmundsson free-kick was kept alive by Burnley, Jack Cork fired at goal and Tarkowski got in front of Mat Ryan to nudge the ball home and earn a crucial victory that lifts his side to 17th.

Robbie Brady volleyed over a cross from Gudmundsson as both sides struggled for creativity in tricky conditions in the first half.

Chris Wood and Brady then tested Ryan in quick succession as Burnley built momentum.

And the Clarets forced the opener in the 40th minute, Brighton unable to clear their lines from a Gudmundsson set-piece with Cork's drive taking a decisive deflection off defender Tarkowski.

A superb Lewis Dunk clearance denied Ashley Barnes a close-range header against his old club before Burnley saw a strong penalty appeal rejected when Yves Bissouma caught Phil Bardsley with a high boot in the box.

Tarkowski almost scored a second but he glanced Brady's corner just wide before Chris Hughton made a double change in attack, sending on Jurgen Locadia and Glenn Murray.

Solly March rifled a pair of efforts wide and Locadia headed a great chance from Murray's cross over the crossbar as Brighton mounted late pressure, but the hosts clung on to leapfrog Southampton and Huddersfield Town in the relegation battle.

What does it mean? Vital three points for Burnley

Burnley play Tottenham and Arsenal away next, so this was a must-win game for Dyche's men. Brighton missed talismanic striker Murray, who was fit only for the bench, as the Seagulls failed to test Joe Hart on the goalkeeper's 400th appearance in English football.

Gudmundsson Burnley's spark again

Winger Gudmundsson has been one of the few reliable performers for Burnley this term. His pair of dangerous crosses led to Tarkowski's winner and he provided right-back Bardsley with some crucial defensive cover. That he left the field gingerly when substituted will be a concern for Dyche.

Andone makes no impact

Striker Andone earned a start in attack for Brighton after scoring in consecutive wins in the Premier League for the Seagulls. The Romania international, who was linked with joining Burnley last year, offered little presence and he failed to record a shot before being replaced in the 63rd minute.

What's next?

Burnley head to Wembley to face Tottenham on Saturday, with Brighton also in action against London opposition. The Seagulls host Chelsea the following day.

Bournemouth 0 Liverpool 4

Mohamed Salah was the star of the show with a hat-trick as Liverpool thrashed Bournemouth 4-0 away from home to go top of the Premier League for at least a few hours.

Jurgen Klopp said pre-game that Manchester City would feel no added pressure for their trip to Chelsea if the Reds were to briefly go above them, but the champions now have to prove his point, as Salah led a rout at the Vitality Stadium.

There was more than a hint of fortune about Liverpool's first-half opener, as Salah netted from close range despite appearing to be offside.

The Egypt star was decisive again just after the restart, singlehandedly taking the game to the Bournemouth defence and finding the net, before a Steve Cook own goal and Salah's third rounded things off in the latter stages, taking him to double figures in the league this term.

And victory capped off a day to remember for James Milner, who made his 500th Premier League appearance.

After an even opening, Bournemouth went mightily close to the first goal, as David Brooks was released into the left side of the penalty area and Alisson stopped the shot squeezing inside his near post.

Liverpool then capitalised shortly after in the 25th minute, as Asmir Begovic palmed a Roberto Firmino shot back into the danger zone and Salah - who was fractionally offside - tucked home for a contentious breakthrough.

There was nothing controversial about Salah's second just after the break, however.

He broke forward, riding a cynical Cook challenge in the process, then ran at Nathan Ake and shot across Begovic to find the bottom-right corner just inside the area.

Any chance of a Bournemouth fightback was emphatically ended 22 minutes from the end, as Cook flicked an Andy Robertson cross out of the reach of the helpless Begovic.

And Salah completed the scoring with a fine solo effort, outmuscling Cook before then twisting away from Begovic twice and coolly slotting home.

What does it mean? Reds throw gauntlet down to City

While City have looked imperious so far this season, all of a sudden they travel to Stamford Bridge to face a good Chelsea side having dropped from the top of the table. It is time to see what they are made of.

Cherries crushed by Salah

A constant thorn in Bournemouth's side, Salah's pace and movement gave the defence issues throughout. Although his first goal was fortuitous given he was just offside, his second and third were simply reminders of his brilliance. A devastating display.

Cook dishes up a disappointment

It was a day to forget for Bournemouth centre-back Cook. While he failed with a cynical tackle on Salah in the lead-up to Liverpool's second, he haplessly put beyond his own goalkeeper afterwards and was then beaten easily for number four.

What's next

Bournemouth face a trip to Wolves next Saturday, while a big week awaits for Liverpool. After their crucial final Champions League group game against Napoli at Anfield on Tuesday, they return to Premier League action five days later at home to bitter rivals Manchester United.

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Story first published: Saturday, December 8, 2018, 22:40 [IST]
Other articles published on Dec 8, 2018
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