Images from the English Premier League matches played on Saturday.
Liverpool's dream run was demolished in the most unlikely fashion by strugglers Watford on Saturday in what must be considered the most extraordinary reverse of the entire Premier League season.
On the evening when the European champions were expected to complete the best sequence in the history of English football’s top-flight with a 19th straight league victory, they were instead hammered 3-0 by the team lying one from bottom.
Earlier Chelsea earned a late draw 2-2 at Bournemouth with two goals from their predatory defender Marcos Alonso and West Ham United moved out of the drop zone with a 3-1 win over Southampton after protests outside the London Stadium.
Yet nothing could compare with the drama of the late match as Watford’s Senegalese winger Ismaila Sarr scored twice and set up a third for his captain Troy Deeney in a second-half shredding of Liverpool’s aura of domestic invincibility.
Liverpool’s first league defeat in their 28th match this season also meant the end of a 44-game unbeaten streak stretching back to January 2019, as well as killing off their dreams of going an entire English top-flight campaign without a loss like Arsenal and Preston North End before them.
They remain 22 points clear of City, who have a game in hand, so it will doubtless prove only a bump en route to Liverpool’s first English title for 30 years yet such has been the Reds’ supremacy this term, it felt more than a minor tremor.
Sarr, who pounced twice in the space of six minutes just before the hour, was hailed an “unbelievable talent” by Deeney, who could not help but smile about a victory “nobody had given us a prayer” to achieve.
Liverpool’s captain Virgil van Dijk told Sky Sports the defeat was “unacceptable”, adding: “If you concede three goals, obviously we have to improve as a team. We will.”
The thoroughly deserved win saw Nigel Pearson’s Watford move out of the bottom three on goal difference into 17th place on 27 points, the same as 16th-placed West Ham and Bournemouth, who slipped into the drop zone after Chelsea’s late equaliser.
At the Vitality Stadium, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was relieved, but still a little alarmed to be left reliant on defender Alonso coming to the rescue.
“I don’t want my left-back top of the scoring charts. I want our attackers scoring goals and they haven’t,” said Lampard, after watching Alonso head home five minutes from time to ensure Chelsea avoided a second defeat in five days following their humbling Champions League home loss to Bayern Munich.
Alonso double gives Chelsea 2-2 draw with Bournemouth
Midfielder Marco Alonso struck twice for Chelsea as they stormed back from a goal down to snatch a 2-2 draw away to AFC Bournemouth in their Premier League clash at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
With both sides playing open, attacking football, Chelsea took the lead in the 33rd minute when Reece James crossed for Olivier Giroud to send his effort onto the crossbar, with Alonso on hand to smash home the rebound.
Bournemouth bounced back with a headed goal from Jefferson Lerma nine minutes after the break and three minutes later they were ahead, Joshua King tapping the ball home from close range after a superb ball in from the right by Jack Stacey.
Jolted into all-out attack, Chelsea substitute Michy Batshuayi had a goal ruled out for offside moments after coming on, but they continued to bombard the Bournemouth box with set-pieces and crosses.
Their efforts paid off with five minutes of normal time left as Mason Mount fired a rocket that keeper Aaron Ramsdale could only parry and Alonso reacted quickest to head home.
Chelsea stay in fourth position on 45 points, while Bournemouth are still hovering above the drop zone on 27 points, two ahead of 17th-placed Aston Villa.
Ayew strike lifts Palace to win at Brighton
Jordan Ayew’s late goal helped Crystal Palace claim a 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion, leaving the hosts without a win in eight Premier League matches this year.
Both teams were wasteful in front of goal in the first half, with Brighton midfielder Solly March failing to convert any of his three good chances.
The atmosphere in the Amex Stadium intensified at the half-hour mark after Palace forward Wilfried Zaha was involved in an altercation with Brighton substitute Ezequiel Schelotto, who was shown a yellow card despite not being on the pitch.
Neal Maupay and Lewis Dunk went close to finding a breakthrough for Brighton shortly after the interval but it was Palace forward Ayew who found the net against the run of play.
Christian Benteke carved open the Brighton defensive line after 70 minutes with a deft reverse pass for Ayew to score his seventh league goal of the campaign.
Palace climbed to 12th in the table on 36 points, three places and eight points better off than Brighton who are now winless in their opening eight league matches of a calendar year for the first time since 1998 when they were in the fourth tier.
West Ham boost survival hopes with 3-1 win over Southampton
West Ham United produced an excellent performance to beat Southampton 3-1 and provisionally climb out of the Premier League relegation zone.
The result lifted the Hammers one place to 17th on 27 points from 28 games, one more than 18th-placed Aston Villa who have a game in hand as they meet Manchester City in the League Cup final on Sunday.
Jarrod Bowen fired West ham ahead with his first goal for the club since his January move from Championship side Hull City, with Sebastian Haller and Michail Antonio sealing the win after Michael Obafemi had equalised for Southampton.
Bowen struck in the 15th minute with a clinical finish before Obafemi levelled in the 31st, sweeping the ball in with a first-time shot after James Ward-Prowse delivered a low cross from the right.
Haller restored the home team’s advantage shortly before halftime as he beat Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to a looping cross from the left and slid in to prod the ball home from a tight angle.
Antonio put the game beyond Southampton’s reach when he steered the ball past McCarthy after another superb assist by Pablo Fornals, who released the midfielder with a defence-splitting pass through the middle.
Newcastle's barren run continues against stubborn Burnley
Newcastle United's barren run of form continued when they largely dominated but still ended up being held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley in a sterile Premier League game at St James' Park.
Steve Bruce's United have now won just once in their last 10 league matches after running into a stubborn Burnley side, who are enjoying their best season in the Premier League era as they moved up to ninth place.
The impressive Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and the returning Jonjo Shelvey all had decent chances blocked by committed Burnley defending in a disappointing goalless first half.
Newcastle upped the pace after the break but Gayle's overhead kick from Miguel Almiron's cross and a Ritchie piledriver were the closest they came to breaking the deadlock.
Chris Wood briefly livened up Burnley's challenge when he came on as a substitute but the man who had scored the winner in the corresponding fixture at Turf Moor in December was unable to earn Burnley their first league double over Newcastle for 59 years.