LONDON: A late Axel Tuanzebe own goal prevented Manchester United moving up to second in the Premier League after a 2-2 draw at Leicester, as Aston Villa moved into the top six with victory over Crystal Palace yesterday. A share of the spoils between the sides in second and third at the King Power Stadium means Chelsea have the chance to move into second when they visit Arsenal later, with the Gunners desperately in need of a win to ease their fears of a relegation battle at the other end of the table.
United missed out on equaling a Premier League record of 11 straight away wins as for once this season they paid for not finishing strongly. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men had come from behind in each of their previous away league games this season, but twice went in front through Marcus Rashford midway through the first half and Bruno Fernandes 11 minutes from time. “One point is not the worst result but we are disappointed we didn’t get away with three,” said Solskjaer.
“We had loads of big chances and we could’ve finished it off. They are a very dangerous side.” Harvey Barnes’s blistering strike leveled for Leicester before half-time and United were undone by Jamie Vardy’s movement in the box late on as the veteran striker latched onto Ayoze Perez’s cross and his shot deflected in off the unfortunate Tuanzebe. “It’s important for the development of us as a team and as a squad that we can come from behind against a really, really good side, a top side, and get the result,” said Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers.
Villa’s transformation from just staying up on the final day of last season to contending for Europe continued as they held on a man down for the full second half to beat Palace 3-0. The Eagles were thrashed 7-0 by Liverpool last weekend and got off to another dreadful start as Bertrand Traore turned in the rebound after Vicente Guaita saved Ollie Watkins’s first effort. A tussle between Tyrone Mings and Wilfried Zaha resulted in a yellow card for both and moments later when Mings blocked off Zaha, the England international was dismissed in first-half stoppage time. However, Villa soaked up the pressure and the 10 men extended their lead when Kortney Hause forced the ball home from close range after Watkins’s header came off the bar.
Watkins also played a part in the third as he teed up Anwar El Ghazi to fire in off the far post for his fourth goal in four games. Fulham edged to within a point of safety with a 0-0 draw at home with Southampton. The Londoners were without manager Scott Parker as he was isolating due to a family member testing positive for coronavirus. However, Fulham did their absent boss proud as they matched a Southampton side flying high at the other end of the table.
Fulham needed a sensational save from Alphonse Areola to claw away James Ward-Prowse’s first-half free-kick, while Shane Long and Theo Walcott had late goals ruled out for offside for the visitors, who missed the killer instinct of the injured Danny Ings. Everton also have the chance to move into second behind Merseyside rivals Liverpool later on Boxing Day when they visit winless Sheffield United. Manchester City are also in action at home to Newcastle, badly needing to win to keep their title hopes alive as they trail Liverpool by eight points with a game in hand. – AFP