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Premier League

Man City and Chelsea bounce back to wins, Burnley defeat West Ham

Soccer Football - Premier League - Southampton v Manchester City - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - December 30, 2018 Manchester City's Raheem Sterling in action with Southampton's Mohamed Elyounoussi Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

SOUTHAMPTON 1 MANCHESTER CITY 3
Manchester City bounced back from two consecutive defeats to beat Southampton 3-1 on Sunday and cut the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to seven points before the top two meet on Thursday.

Pep Guardiola’s champions needed to regain their footing after stumbling against Crystal Palace and Leicester, and did so with strikes from David Silva, Sergio Aguero and James Ward-Prowse’s own goal at St. Mary’s.

Charlie Austin should have put Southampton ahead but miscontrolled the ball after being played in on goal and City immediately took advantage, with Bernardo Silva teeing up David Silva to slot home unmarked in the 10th minute.

Alex McCarthy made a good save to keep out Aguero from point-blank range after good work by Sterling and City were made to pay for their profligacy when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg slammed home after robbing Oleksandr Zinchenko.

City regained the lead when Sterling’s cut-back deflected against Ward-Prowse and in after 45 minutes and Aguero headed home another from Zinchenko’s cross in the third minute of first-half stoppage time.

McCarthy made good saves to deny Sterling and Mahrez afetr the break, while Aguero hit the crossbar and Hojbjerg was sent off for a rash tackle on Fernandinho.

Defeat left Southampton 17th in the table on 15 points, the same as 18th placed Burnley, who beat West Ham United 2-0 on Sunday

BURNLEY 2 WEST HAM UNITED 0
Goals from Chris Wood and Dwight McNeil gave struggling Burnley a much-needed 2-0 Premier League win over West Ham United at Turf Moor on Sunday, ending a run of three straight defeats for Sean Dyche’s team.

After his side’s 5-1 mauling by Everton on Boxing Day, Dyche dropped former England goalkeeper Joe Hart and brought back Tom Heaton for his first league start since September 2017. He also gave 19-year-old McNeil only his second Premier League start.

The Clarets took the lead in the 15th minute when Wood fired home after Ashley Barnes headed into his path. New Zealander Wood has now scored five goals in four appearances against West Ham in the Premier League.

Left-winger McNeil made it 2-0 with a volley at the back post after Ashley Westwood had whipped in a deep cross from the right and the youngster should have added another goal moments later when he shot wide after a fine pull-back from Barnes.

Heaton justified his recall with a good save from an Andy Carroll header late in the game to give Burnley a rare clean sheet and three valuable points, stopping West Ham’s run of three straight away victories.

CRYSTAL PALACE 0 CHELSEA 1
Chelsea kept up their pursuit of the Premier League’s top three clubs with a 1-0 win away to London rivals Crystal Palace on Sunday, thanks to a strike by N’Golo Kante early in the second half.

Chelsea had to work hard to break down Palace who had taken seven points in their previous three matches, including a shock win over champions Manchester City, but seemed content to allow their visitors most of the possession.

After a sterile first 35 minutes, Willian smacked the post with a swinging free kick and Ross Barkley hit the same upright soon afterwards with an acrobatic overhead effort.

Kante broke the deadlock in the 51st minute when his darting run into the Palace penalty area was spotted by defender David Luiz who fed the France World Cup winner to score from close range.

Palace substitute Connor Wickham spurned the hosts’ best chance of the game when he toe-punted a shot over the bar in the dying minutes.

Chelsea remain in fourth place in the Premier League, one point behind Manchester City — who were playing later on Sunday — and two points adrift of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, but 11 behind leaders Liverpool. Crystal Palace remain in 14th spot.

The win also gave Chelsea an important five-point cushion over Arsenal, their nearest challengers for the fourth Champions League spot who were hammered 5-1 by Liverpool on Saturday.

“It is never easy to play here or control it here especially when they (Palace) play long balls but we did well. We could have scored early but they also did a great match defensively which is why it was so difficult,” Chelsea’s Luiz told reporters.

Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud had two goals ruled out for offside and then was forced off injured.

Coach Maurizio Sarri said the Frenchman had an ankle problem which looked set to rule him out of Wednesday’s game against Southampton and adds to the team’s fitness problems, particularly in attack with Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Ruben Loftus Cheek also currently sidelined.

“We played against a dangerous opponent so we had to have possession, we played well in the first 45 minutes and even better in the second half, the only thing I didn’t like is that we didn’t kill the match off,” added the Italian.

“That meant it was hard to defend the match in the box in the final minutes.”

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