Salah inspires Liverpool, Chelsea crush Stoke
LONDON – Liverpool celebrated Virgil van Dijk’s arrival at Anfield by coming from behind to beat Leicester City 2-1 thanks to Mohamed Salah’s brace as Chelsea crushed Stoke City 5-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.
Van Dijk, signed from Southampton for a world record fee for a defender of £75 million ($100 million), isn’t able to play for Liverpool until January, but the flaws the Dutch centre-back will be asked to fix were on display as Leicester took a third minute lead at Anfield.
With Van Dijk watching on, Joel Matip carelessly conceded possession and Riyad Mahrez set up Jamie Vardy to slot past goalkeeper Loris Karius, selected in place of the dropped Simon Mignolet, for his 10th of the season. Liverpool levelled seven minutes after the interval. Egypt winger Salah took Sadio Mane’s brilliant pass and showed good footwork before drilling past Kasper Schmeichel for his 22nd club goal of an incredible debut season following his move from Roma.
Salah then won it for Liverpool in the 76th minute, turning away from Leicester defender Harry Maguire and firing in at the Kop end. Liverpool, unbeaten in 12 league games, remain fourth and now hold a four-point advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur in the race to qualify for the Champions League. “It is a maximum satisfaction to win like this. Today was pretty much perfect,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. “When we were one goal down our reaction was the best I’ve ever seen in this situation. Mo was fantastic with his dribbling and his vision. I couldn’t ask more from him.” At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea climbed into second place above Manchester United, who host Southampton later. Antonio Conte’s side made the perfect start when German defender Antonio Rudiger headed home from Willian’s free-kick in the third minute. Eden Hazard was rested, but his replacement Danny Drinkwater did a passable impression of the brilliant Belgian, the midfielder bagging his first goal for the Blues with a blistering strike in the ninth minute.
Stoke boss Mark Hughes’s decision to field a severely weakened team in the midst of the hectic festive fixture list was backfiring badly. The visitors were three down by the 23rd minute when Pedro finished off Willian’s pass to put Chelsea on course for a fourth win in their last five league games.
Willian got on the scoresheet himself in the 73rd minute, stroking home a penalty, before wing-back Davide Zappacosta grabbed his first Premier League goal with two minutes remaining. “Every win is important for us, today it was important to get three points to continue our positive run,” Conte said. “The title doesn’t depend on us, because let’s be honest, Man City are on a fantastic run.”
Carlos Carvalhal made an immediate impact at Swansea City as his new club climbed off the bottom of the table with a dramatic 2-1 win at Watford. Carvalhal was the surprise choice to replaced the sacked Paul Clement just days after he’d been dismissed by second-tier Sheffield Wednesday.
The Portuguese coach’s first game got off to a bad start when Andre Carrillo nodded home in the 11th minute. But Carvalhal was heard lambasting his players at half-time and they responded to his words with four minutes when left Ghana striker Jordan Ayew equalised. Luciano Narsingh then won it for Swansea in the 90th minute.
Swansea are two points from safety after their first win in five games. “We deserved the win. I must say to my players I’m very happy with what they did in a difficult situation,” Carvalhal said. Ryan Fraser’s last-gasp goal clinched Bournemouth’s first win in nine matches as they beat Everton 2-1 at Dean Court to move out of the relegation zone.
Fraser side-footed Bournemouth ahead in the 33rd minute, only for Idrissa Gueye to equalise for Everton in the 57th minute.
Everton boss Sam Allardyce was unbeaten in seven games in all competitions since replacing Ronald Koeman, but Fraser ended that run with his 89th-minute strike. Newcastle drew 0-0 with Brighton and Huddersfield Town shared a goalless draw with Burnley.
Chelsea 5-0 Stoke
Liverpool 2-1 Leicester
Bournemouth 2-1 Everton
Huddersfield 0-0 Burnley
Newcastle 0-0 Brighton
Swansea 2-1 Watford