Manchester City left it late to win. Liverpool left it even later.
The two teams leading the English Premier League each staged late comebacks to win 2-1 against unfavored opponents on Saturday. The gap between leader Liverpool and second-placed City stayed at six points, but only after some late drama.
For City, the hero was Kyle Walker, setting up one goal and scoring the winner against Southampton in the 86th minute.
For Liverpool, it was Sadio Mane with an assist for Andy Robertson in the 87th and a winning header against Aston Villa deep into stoppage time.
“We won, (but) Liverpool still won,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
“When they win so many games in the last minute, it is because of special character. The first season we won with 100 points (in 2017-18), we won four or five games in the last minute.”
Before Southampton and Aston Villa had their dreams of a surprise win crushed, Bournemouth celebrated a 1-0 victory over a diminished Manchester United.
LIVERPOOL STAYS UNBEATEN
Liverpool’s players knew how close they came to losing their status as the only unbeaten team in the league, but they kept fighting.
Robertson said his team’s job was to force errors from Villa all the way to the final whistle. His charging run to the far post to meet Mane’s cross certainly wrongfooted Villa’s defense.
“We want to keep going, we want to win every match,” Robertson said. “If we do that or not, that’s another thing. We know we’ve got so many tough games ahead.”
Only one team has won the league unbeaten — Arsenal in 2004.
Before Liverpool’s comeback, it looked like the video assistant referee system might have decided the game.
VAR checks declared Villa’s Mahmoud “Trezeguet” Hassan onside for the opening goal, but ruled Roberto Firmino’s armpit was marginally offside when he put the ball into the net for Liverpool shortly after.
The lengthy review left Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wondering whether the VAR officials needed extra time “to find a line where Bobby was offside.”
WALKER REVIVES CITY
City had little trouble beating Southampton 3-1 in the League Cup on Tuesday, but Saturday was a very different proposition.
When Ederson spilled the ball while saving Stuart Armstrong’s shot in the 13th, James Ward-Prowse was waiting to pounce.
Southampton was organized in defense in vast contrast to its 9-0 capitulation to Leicester eight days before, and held City at bay until Walker and Aguero combined to score two vital goals.
SOLSKJAER DOUBTS UNITED
Manchester United not good enough to get a draw at Bournemouth? A few years, ago that would have sounded ridiculous.
Yet, it was United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who said “it was the lack of quality that couldn’t give us the point or three” in heavy rain on England’s south coast.
Joshua King, a former United youth player, scored the only goal of the game in the 45th minute, turning and shooting as United’s star summer signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka did little to stop him.
PULISIC SCORES AGAIN
Christian Pulisic took advantage of another start for Chelsea to score again
A week after a hat trick on his first Premier League start since August, the American hit Chelsea’s second goal in a 2-1 win over last-placed Watford.
Tammy Abraham was yet again crucial to Chelsea’s attack, scoring his ninth goal in 11 games off a pass from Jorginho which sliced through the Watford defense.
He also sent in a low cross for Pulisic to score the second, before Watford cut the deficit with a penalty from Gerard Deulofeu. With the last touch of the game, Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made a save from a header by Watford keeper Ben Foster at a free kick.
Chelsea stayed eight points off Liverpool in third after the fifth straight league victory for Frank Lampard’s young team.
After 11 games, Watford remained the only team without a win in any of Europe’s five biggest leagues.
Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers drew 1-1 after Raul Jimenez scored for Wolves in the 76th to even out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s earlier goal for Arsenal. The Gunners have conceded in each of their last five games in all competitions.
Captain Granit Xhaka was out of the Arsenal squad after appearing to swear at fans last week, and Aubameyang wore the armband in his absence. Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil returned to the starting lineup for the first time since September but made little impact.
Elsewhere, Sheffield United earned its biggest win since returning to the league, beating Burnley 3-0 to rise to third in the table, thanks to two goals from John Lundstram. Sheffield is unbeaten in its last four games.
After strong early season form, West Ham’s slide continued with a 3-2 loss to Newcastle, its sixth game without a win, while Brighton returned to the top half of the table with a 2-0 win over Norwich.
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