Liverpool’s star summer signing scored his 16th and 17th Premier League goals of a remarkable debut season to lead the Reds from a 1-0 second-half deficit to a 2-1 victory at Anfield. They kept rolling with three points that, for long stretches of Saturday’s game, seemed elusive. Salah’s resilience captured them.
But Liverpool’s wasn’t the only comeback. Down at the bottom of the table, Swansea beat Watford away from home with two goals in the final five minutes. And Bournemouth, previously just two places above the Swans in 18th, beat Everton in the 89th minute to leap out of the relegation zone.
Chelsea was the only one of 12 teams involved in six early games to enjoy a comfortable Saturday afternoon. The Blues were the most impressive of the 12. But we’ll begin our roundup with Liverpool.
Liverpool 2-1 Leicester
Liverpool, contrary to past seasons under Jurgen Klopp, has made a habit of burying non-top-six teams as of late. But Leicester is not your typical non-top-six team. And Saturday was not your typical game against one.
Rather than start on the offensive, as it so often has over the past month, Liverpool went behind inside three minutes. Joel Matip played a loose pass to Emre Can out of the back. Can, rather than going into the challenge with conviction, went to ground rather early, and lost it to Vicente Iborra.
Iborra then sprung a textbook Leicester counter. His side-volley was inch-perfect. Riyad Mahrez was barely onside, and squared for Jamie Vardy, who put Leicester in front.
With the match still at 1-0 to the visitors, Salah fashioned a few chances for himself with flawless first touches. He fizzed one shot past the near post, and dinked another wide. He and other Liverpool players were foiled by last-ditch Leicester interventions.
The Foxes did anything but park the bus after their early opener. They were committed to playing on the counter. But they were somewhat sloppy when they did get chances to break. The corollary was that they were somewhat open at the back.
They did take the lead into the second half, but soon lost it. Because Salah kept on coming. He equalized seven minutes into the second after showing unteachable patience in the penalty area.
And he didn’t stop. The winner was emblematic of his all-around excellence. He had drifted inside, and plopped himself right in Harry Maguire’s lap. When James Milner’s flick came toward him, he was positioned to spin the English defender and have a run at Schmeichel. He buried his shot just inside the near post, and ensured Liverpool will remain in the top four heading into 2018.
Chelsea 5-0 Stoke
There is no better time for the sporting equivalent of an easy day out on the town than the holiday period. With games piling on top of one another and fatigue accumulating, earning 45 low-pressure minutes can be vital. That’s what Chelsea did Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues only needed a quarter of their match against Stoke to roar to a 3-0 lead. Antonio Rudiger got the party started inside three minutes. The center back overpowered Stoke’s defense and nodded home Willian’s free kick:
Danny Drinkwater doubled Chelsea’s advantage with a tailing volley right into the top corner of Jack Butland’s net. The Stoke keeper was rooted to his spot.
Drinkwater’s was the most aesthetically pleasing of Chelsea’s five goals. But Pedro’s, which put the Blues up 3-0, was almost as smooth.
The Spaniard received Willian’s square pass expertly, with a clever shift of his weight to wrong-foot Josh Tymon and open up an angle for a shot. He spanked that shot past Butland into the far corner.
Chelsea was all over its visitors from the north. The Stoke defense was distressingly disorganized, and could have been punished on several other occasions as well. Alvaro Morata squandered multiple chances. Willian made it 4-0 with a second-half penalty. Davide Zappacosta made it 5-0 with a few minutes remaining.
Chelsea held Stoke to one shot. It had 21 of its own. From the 23rd minute onward, the result was never in doubt. Conte, therefore, was able to relieve N’Golo Kante, Victor Moses and Alvaro Morata with 20 minutes or more to go. They, along with Hazard and potentially Fabregas, will be fresh for Wednesday’s clash with Arsenal.
Watford 1-2 Swansea
New managers always spark optimism. Sometimes, though, it can be fleeting. Any optimism connected to Swansea’s hiring of Carlos Carvalhal was an afterthought when the Swans went 1-0 down to Watford in the 11th minute.
An hour and a half later, they were still trailing. Impatience among the traveling fans was growing. But, as if there was never a doubt, the “new manager bump” endured. Jordan Ayew, for the second time in three games, popped up with a late equalizer:
And with stoppage time beckoning, Luciano Narsingh was quickest to react to a rebound. He stole all three points for Swansea, and lifted the Welsh club up from the bottom of the Premier League:
Bournemouth 2-1 Everton
For a club like Bournemouth, avoiding relegation in the Premier League requires a lot of skill, determination and commitment. It also, without exception, requires some luck.
All four of those attributes contributed to the Cherries’ 2-1 win over Everton. Ryan Fraser’s deflected strike in the 89th minute pulled his side out of the bottom three.
Manchester United 0-0 Southampton
Huddersfield 0-0 Burnley
Newcastle 0-0 Brighton
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