Palace’s Zaha stuns Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool win

Palace’s Zaha stuns Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool win

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Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha celebrates after scoring against Chelsea during their Premier League match at Stamford Bridge Saturday. — Reuters

LONDON — Wilfried Zaha rocked Chelsea as Crystal Palace breathed new life into the Premier League title race with a stunning 2-1 win over the leader at Stamford Bridge Saturday.

 

In a frantic start, the Ivory Coast winger cancelled out Cesc Fabregas’s opener and teed up Christian Benteke for the winner as Chelsea lost at home for the first time since Sept. 16.

 

Second-place Tottenham Hotspur took advantage by winning 2-0 at Burnley to trim Chelsea’s lead to seven points.

 

“I’m stunned. They’re top of the league. No-one would expect us to come here and do that,” said Zaha, whose side have won four games in a row.

 

Liverpool closed to within 10 points of Chelsea, albeit having played a game more, after sinking Everton 3-1 in the Merseyside derby.

 

But Manchester United lost ground in the race for top-four places following a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion.

 

Zaha’s headline-grabbing display against Chelsea followed a week of headlines about his decision to switch international allegiances from England to Ivory Coast last year.

 

His side fell behind in the fifth minute when Eden Hazard crossed from the left for Fabregas to score at the near post.

 

But Zaha levelled matters in the ninth minute, drilling home through a posse of defenders, and two minutes later his pass freed Benteke to dink a cocky finish over Thibaut Courtois.

 

Despite losing defenders James Tomkins and Scott Dann — Tomkins’s replacement — to injury, Sam Allardyce’s patched-up Palace side gallantly held on to stay four points clear of the bottom three.

 

Tottenham kept its title hopes flickering after Eric Dier scored from close range and Son Heung-min converted a cross from Dele Alli in the second half at Burnley.

 

However, victory came at the cost of injuries to midfielders Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks, who was taken to hospital with a potentially serious ankle injury.

 

Philippe Coutinho scored a dazzling goal and made another for Divock Origi as Liverpool overcame Everton at Anfield.

 

Sadio Mane put Liverpool in front in the eighth minute, drilling in following a one-two with Roberto Firmino, but was later forced off by a knee injury.

 

Matthew Pennington equalized, but Coutinho strolled past him to restore Liverpool’s lead with a fine, curling effort and then teed up Origi, Mane’s replacement, to slam home Liverpool’s third.

 

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley was fortunate to avoid a red card for a crude foul on Dejan Lovren, but his manager Ronald Koeman felt Liverpool’s protests were excessive.

 

Victory lifted Liverpool to third place, two points above fourth-place Manchester City — which visits Arsenal Sunday — having played two games more.

 

Manchester United now lies four points off the Champions League positions in fifth place after being held to an eighth draw of the season at Old Trafford by West Brom.

 

Anthony Martial and Marouane Fellaini squandered good chances for Jose Mourinho’s men either side of half-time.

 

But former United midfielder Darren Fletcher almost snatched victory for West Brom with a shot that David de Gea pushed against the bar.

 

Leicester City’s resurgence continued with a 2-0 home win over Stoke City that gave Craig Shakespeare a fifth successive victory since succeeding Claudio Ranieri as manager.

 

The champion prevailed through a glorious 25-yard strike from Wilfred Ndidi and a sharp Jamie Vardy volley, leaving it six points clear of the relegation zone.

 

Bottom club Sunderland remains seven points from safety after Miguel Britos’s header earned Watford a 1-0 win at Vicarage Road.

 

Andy Robertson and Andrea Ranocchia wiped out Andy Carroll’s opener as third-bottom Hull City came from behind to win 2-1 at home to West Ham United.

 

It left Marco Silva’s side below fourth-bottom Swansea City on goal difference alone. — AFP

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