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EPL: Brighton stun City; Chelsea beat Leicester

May 19, 2021 08:47 IST
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Brighton bounce back to beat 10-man Man City 3-2

Manchester City

IMAGE: Brighton & Hove Albion's Dan Burn celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Reuters

Brighton & Hove Albion scored three times in the second half to fight back from two goals down and beat Manchester City 3-2 at home on Tuesday in a thrilling Premier League encounter in which the champions lost Joao Cancelo to an early red card.

Ilkay Gundogan struck in the second minute, heading home a superb cross from Riyad Mahrez to briefly silence just under 8,000 Brighton fans who had been allowed to return to the stands following over a year away due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Cancelo saw red in the 10th minute for a clumsy challenge on Danny Welbeck, but City struck again three minutes into the second half as Phil Foden won the ball inside his own half and out-sprinted the Brighton defence before slotting home his 15th goal of the season in all competitions.

Brighton's amazing comeback began almost immediately, with substitute Leandro Trossard dribbling across the box and drilling the ball in at the far post as the Seagulls began to make the most of their numerical advantage.

Adam Webster drew them level in the 72nd minute with a towering header before Dan Burn notched the winner four minutes later, scooping the ball into the net after his initial effort was blocked.

Brighton survived a late VAR check following Adam Lallana's challenge in the box on Gabriel Jesus and a late City onslaught to secure a win that lifts Graham Potter's side to 15th spot in the table on 41 points.

Chelsea gain revenge over Leicester in crunch top-four battle

Chelsea

IMAGE: Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/Reuters

Chelsea seized control of their destiny in the Premier League top-four battle as they avenged their FA Cup final defeat by Leicester City to beat them 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Roared on by 8,000 fans Thomas Tuchel's side dominated and were rewarded after the break with Antonio Rudiger bundling in their opener before Jorginho rolled home a penalty.

Timo Werner twice had goals ruled out before the break while Leicester, who looked flat after Saturday's celebrations, offered little threat until Kelechi Iheanacho gave the visitors a lifeline with a cool finish in the 74th minute.

It was a nervy climax and Ayoze Perez wasted a glorious late chance to equalise but Chelsea clung on for a priceless win that moved them into third place on 67 points with one game remaining, meaning a win at Aston Villa on Sunday will guarantee them Champions League football next season.

For Leicester there is now the looming possibility that they will let a Champions League berth slip through their fingers for the second season in succession.

A win would have ensured a top-four finish but they will drop to fifth if Liverpool win at Burnley on Wednesday.

Leicester, who have 66 points, finish with a home game against Tottenham Hotspur while Liverpool's final game of the season is at home to Crystal Palace.

Chelsea's win guaranteed Manchester United runners-up spot behind champions Manchester City.

"Fantastic. It was an outstanding performance but the job is not done," Tuchel said.

"We have two more to go. The fans made a huge difference. The speed in our game, the hunger, the ambition. It was a very strong performance and I'm delighted the team can present itself like this in front of our fans."

While Saturday's historic first FA Cup final triumph sparked huge celebration in the East Midlands, Tuesday's trip to Stamford Bridge was, in financial terms, an even bigger game.

Leicester have been in the top-four since January but could now miss the Champions League jackpot, as they did last season.

Chelsea flew out of the traps with Christian Pulisic just failing to turn in a cross and Reece James drilled a shot narrowly wide. Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel, magnificent at Wembley on Saturday, then made a sharp save from N'Golo Kante who, worryingly for Chelsea, went off injured before halftime.

Werner thought he had scored in the 21st minute when he was played in by Mason Mount but he had drifted just offside.

The German was celebrating prematurely again before the interval when Cesar Azpilicueta flicked on a corner and Werner turned the ball just over the line before it was cleared.

While the ball had definitely crossed, a VAR check showed that Werner's arm had made the final contact.

Leicester's luck ran out in the 47th minute when a Chelsea corner skimmed off the head of Jamie Vardy who was back defending and Rudiger forced the ball in.

Chelsea looked home and dry when Wesley Fofana tripped Werner just inside the box and Jorginho coolly rolled home the spot kick.

When Iheanacho swept in after a mistake by Mateo Kovacic it looked as though Leicester could get out of jail and Perez should have earned them a late point when, with the goal gaping, he fired a gilt-edged chance over the bar.

Tempers flared in stoppage time with virtually every player on the pitch involved in a mass shoving contest near the touchline after Rudiger pushed Ricardo Pereira.

When the dust settled it was Chelsea who had one foot in the Champions League, whatever happens in this month's final against Manchester City in Porto.

Wasteful Man United held to 1-1 home draw by Fulham

Manchester United

IMAGE: Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes shoots at goal from a free kick. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Manchester United were held to a 1-1 home draw by relegated Fulham in their penultimate Premier League match of the season after visiting defender Joe Bryan cancelled out a stunning Edinson Cavani opener on Tuesday.

United stretched their winless league run to three games after home defeats by Leicester City and Liverpool but were already assured of a top-four finish, prompting manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to leave striker Marcus Rashford on the bench.

Cavani netted with a sublime lob from 40 metres in the 15th minute to delight 10,000 home fans at Old Trafford who returned to the stadium for the first time in 14 months as the British government eased COVID-19 lockdown measures.

But United wasted a string of chances to add to their tally and were punished in the 76th minute as Bryan got on the end of Bobby De Cordova-Reid's cross and headed it past goalkeeper David De Gea at the far post.

Solskjaer conceded United had fallen short in the Premier League but expressed hope he would pick up his maiden silverware as the club's manager when they face Villarreal in the Europa League final on May 26.

"It’s so great to have you back supporting the team, it's been a long year for everyone," the Norwegian said in a public address to the fans as his players headed for the tunnel.

"It’s been great working with these boys. We know we are not where we want to be in the league but hopefully we can bring a trophy back in about 10 days."

United midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who captained the side in the absence of injured centre back Harry Maguire, was also delighted with the fans' return.

"It was really good," the Portuguese playmaker told the BBC. "We know how important fans are to football so it was really nice to have them back. We didn't give them what we wanted with the victory."

United's Paul Pogba and Amad Diallo applauded fans after the match while holding a Palestinian flag, in an apparent show of support for the Palestinian people amid the most serious hostilities in years between Israel and Hamas Islamists who rule Gaza.

The game got off to an electrifying start as Cavani took a De Gea punt into his stride and beat Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola with a perfectly weighed effort.

Fernandes went close for United three times with long-range efforts while Ademola Lookman and Fabio Carvalho missed gilt-edged chances at the other end before Bryan struck against the run of play.

The result left United second on 71 points from 37 games while Fulham stayed 18th on 28 as they managed only their second draw alongside seven defeats in the last nine league games.

United visit Wolverhampton Wanderers in their final league match of the season on Sunday while Fulham are at home to Newcastle United.

Leeds' Bamford and Roberts spoil party mood at Southampton

Leeds United

IMAGE: Leeds United's Tyler Roberts celebrates scoring. Photograph: Frank Augstein/Reuters

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford and Tyler Roberts scored late on to spoil the party for Southampton fans as the visitors claimed a 2-0 victory in the Premier League match played in front of 8,000 supporters on Tuesday.

The Saints fans marched back into St Mary’s Stadium full of enthusiasm after relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, creating an atmosphere more akin to the opening day of the season rather than the last home game of the campaign for their side.

But after a poor first half from Leeds, Bamford broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute when he beat the offside trap from Rodrigo’s pass and steered the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

Leeds scored their second in added time as their quick break caught Southampton without numbers in defence and Roberts scored his first goal of the season.

Leeds climb to eighth place on 56 points from 37 games and have ensured a top-half finish on their return to the Premier League, while Southampton stay in 14th with 43 points.

Saints’ James Ward-Prowse struck the frame of the goal with a wicked, dipping 30-yard free-kick early in the second half before Leeds’ first shot on target from Raphinha forced an excellent fingertip save from McCarthy.

Bamford should have put the Yorkshire side in front when he ghosted in behind the home defence and was left with McCarthy to beat, but the keeper forced him wide. The striker made up for that error with his opener, his 16th league goal of the season.

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