LONDON – Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League by crushing Swansea in Wales on Saturday, while Jermain Defoe was well shackled on his Sunderland debut.
With Manchester City playing Arsenal on Super Sunday, Jose Mourinho’s Premier League leaders faced a tricky test in south Wales but they opened up a five-point gap at the top by blowing Swansea City away with a 5-0 win.
It took Oscar just 49 seconds to score Chelsea’s opener and after 35 minutes the Brazilian had secured a double along with Diego Costa as the hosts’ defence capitulated.
All eyes were on Defoe at White Hart Lane as the English striker made his return after his spell in Canada. But his first game ended in a 2-1 defeat for Sunderland against his former club Tottenham, a match settled by a late goal from Christian Eriksen.
Southampton kept the pressure on the top two as they produced a resilient and flowing display to win 2-1 at Newcastle United and re-take third spot from Manchester United.
Louis van Gaal’s United needed Marouane Fellaini and James Wilson to rescue them with a 2-0 win at QPR to keep the pressure on manager Harry Redknapp, Burnley saw a two-goal lead disappear in a 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace, while Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert scored the goals as Liverpool won 2-0 at Aston Villa.
It was a pretty quiet contest at the King Power Stadium, but it was more gloom for bottom club Leicester as they held on for an hour until Bojan scored to seal the spoils for Stoke City.
But who is going to catch Chelsea when they show this sort of form? Mourinho may have been moaning last week about his team facing different rules than his opponents but this was a display that oozed class, speed and brutality in front of goal.
Bafetimbi Gomis led the line for Swansea, who sold Wilfried Bony to Manchester City earlier this week, but their defence will need to be shored up if the opening minute is anything to go by. As soon as Oscar struck his sizzling opener, the Swans were all at sea as Costa and Cesc Fabregas carved open the hosts.
It was slippers on for the Blues in the second half, but Andre Schurrle still managed to grab a fifth after coming on from the bench.
Tottenham and Sunderland produced plenty of fireworks in north London but it didn’t end happily for striker Defoe who was unable to find the net for the first time on his debut after starting for his sixth club.
He may have scored over 120 goals during spells with West Ham United, Portsmouth and Spurs but, apart from a half-hearted penalty shout when going down in the first half, he rarely threatened for Gus Poyet’s men.
It took 158 seconds for Jan Vertonghen to score the opener, only for Sebastian Larsson to level with a stunning free-kick. It was Eriksen who found the winner, although Spurs needed a smart save right at the end by keeper Hugo Lloris to hang on.
Manchester United had Fellaini to thank for three crucial points in their push for a Champions League spot after the Belgian was on target just before the hour with fine work from Antonio Valencia. Substitute Wilson scored a fine solo effort in injury time to leave manager Van Gaal grinning at Loftus Road.
QPR were often camped in their own half but they had their chances with on-fire Charlie Austin denied twice by the acrobatics of keeper David de Gea. Redknapp’s strugglers remain second from bottom.
Southampton made it five wins from six as they battled all the way to get the spoils at St James’ Park.
Dutch forward Eljero Elia scored a double, after Yoan Gouffran’s earlier deflected equaliser, but the Newcastle fans were furious in the last minute when they had a big shout for a penalty turned down following a Emmanuel Riviere shot striking the arm of Jose Fonte.
A broad smile was on Alan Pardew’s face at the final whistle at Turf Moor as Palace produced a devastating comeback to beat relegation rivals Burnley.
Sean Dyche’s men began the game in confident mood with the same starting line-up for the eighth consecutive league match and they were in cruise control with two early goals by Ben Mee and high-flying Danny Ings.
Dwight Gayle reduced the deficit and immediately after the interval, Jason Puncheon equalised, leaving Gayle to steal the headlines and help his team rise away from danger, leaving the Clarets hovering one spot above the relegation spots.
Liverpool continued their recovery in the Premier League with a hard-fought win at Villa Park. The protest at owner Randy Lerner by home fans was not as big as initially feared and their mood was not helped after Borini and Lambert fired in for the visitors.
Villa were tame in the first half as their defence was ripped open by Raheem Sterling and his team-mates, but they improved massively in the second half with the Reds defence wobbling but as they pushed desperately for an equaliser, Lambert blasted in a rare goal to wrap up the points for Brendan Rodgers’ men.
Stoke leapt up to 10th and left Leicester rooted to the bottom with a 1-0 away win, and manager Mark Hughes will be grateful for the magic of former Barcelona striker Bojan who spun and fired in from 20 yards in the second half to steer his side to their fourth win on their travels. – SkySports