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PL Saturday roundup: Spurs, Arsenal win big; Costa-less Chelsea get back on track

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Both ends of the table continue to provide intrigue after another busy day around the Premier League, including the division’s top three sides each picking up convincing victories.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Here, we take a look back at Saturday’s action from around England’s top flight.

Tottenham 4-0 West Bromwich Albion — RECAP

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is hitting its stride at the right time, and now Spurs find themselves all the way up to second in the PL. Harry Kane‘s hat-trick helped guide Tottenham to an easy home win over West Brom on Saturday at White Hart Lane as Spurs picked up their sixth-straight victory. The Baggies have now lost three of their last five matches despite sitting in the top 10.

Swansea City 0-4 Arsenal — RECAP

Swansea’s struggles continued on Saturday despite a lively start from the hosts. Once again though, the Gunners proved that they can punish any team in the blink of an eye if given the opportunity. Goals from Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez, as well as two own goals, helped guide Arsenal up to third in the table as the top of the league remains congested. Meanwhile, the Swans still sit at the bottom of the PL on 15 points.

Leicester City 0-3 Chelsea — RECAP

No Diego Costa, no problem. While speculation over the Spaniard’s future continues to swirl, the Blues got back on track against the reigning top-flight champions. A brace from Marcos Alonso and a third from Pedro helped give Chelsea all three points and a tentative seven-point advantage over Spurs at the top of the PL. The Foxes once again fell short on Saturday for their ninth loss of the campaign, after having fallen just three times a season ago. Claudio Ranieri‘s men are now just five points above the bottom three with 17 matches remaining.

Burnley 1-0 Southampton — RECAP

The Clarets continued their impressive home record this season with another home victory. Joey Barton‘s first goal since returning to Burnley helped push the hosts up to 10th in the standings after the midfielder came on as substitute. All eight of Burnley’s victories have come at home this season, while 25 of the team’s 26 points have been picked up at the Turf Moor.

HULL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: Tom Huddlestone of Hull City (C) celebrates his side third goal with his Hull City team mates during the Premier League match between Hull City and AFC Bournemouth at KCOM Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Hull, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Hull City 3-1 Bournemouth — RECAP

Marco Silva received everything he could have wished for on his PL debut for the Tigers. Despite going down early after Junior Stanislas converted from the penalty spot, it was all Hull the rest of the way. An Abel Hernandez double helped put Hull out in front against the Cherries, while a Tyrone Mings own goal sealed the fate of the visitors on Saturday. Hull now has four wins on the season, moving the Tigers up to 18th in the table.

Sunderland 1-3 Stoke City — RECAP

Marko Arnautovic and Peter Crouch both scored for the visitors as Stoke City rose to ninth on Saturday against the Black Cats. While Jermain Defoe continues to keep Sunderland in the hunt to climb out of the relegation zone, the Englishman lacks a supporting cast up front. Sunderland remains in the bottom three on 15 points, although the Black Cats are just one point behind 17th place Crystal Palace.

Watford 0-0 Middlesbrough — RECAP

Both sides remain above the drop zone despite an uneventful encounter at Vicarage Road. Middlesbrough failed to record a shot on target on Saturday, however, the visitors came the closest to finding an opener when Cristhian Stuani knocked home a flicked ball from Alvaro Negredo. Unfortunately for Boro, the finish was called back for offsides.

West Ham 3-0 Crystal Palace — RECAP

The Hammers remain in fine form as of late courtesy of Michail Antonio‘s three assists against the Eagles at the Olympic Stadium. Manuel Lanzini, Sofiane Feghouli and Andy Carroll all punched their names on the scoresheet for West Ham, who now move up to 12th in the league. None were better than Carroll’s bicycle kick strike which put an exclamation on the match. Palace, however, have fallen all the way to 17th after failing to win in their last seven matches.

New York Red Bulls introduce space at RBA for autistic families

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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) The Red Bulls have announced plans for a permanent sensory-friendly space at their stadium for families impacted by autism.

Formerly executive offices, the space overlooking midfield is a calm area that is free from the crowds and the noise of Red Bull Arena during matches. Families can use it for free.

The team announced the new space on Saturday before the Red Bulls were set to host the Chicago Fire. It was Autism Awareness Night at the stadium.

“Families deserve to feel welcome and comfortable each time they step foot into Red Bull Arena, not just one night a year,” Red Bulls GM Marc de Grandpre said in a statement released by the club. “We hope all sports teams and entertainment venues are inspired to take similar action to provide comfort for families with loved ones on the autism spectrum.”

League Two game restarted in empty stadium after fans storm field

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LONDON (AP) An English soccer game restarted in an empty stadium after a pitch invasion led to the crowd being told the fixture had been abandoned.

There were five minutes remaining in Leyton Orient’s fourth-tier game against Colchester on Saturday when a sit-down protest was staged on the pitch by Orient fans against Italian owner Francesco Becchetti.

It forced the referee to take the players off the field. The protests lasted for more than an hour before the crowd was told the game had been abandoned and the stadium eventually cleared. The teams came out and finished the game.

Leyton Orient lost 3-1 a week after its relegation from the English Football League was confirmed after 112 years.

“A decision was taken with the police to announce that the game had been abandoned as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct,” the EFL said in a statement. “However, it was deemed appropriate that the game needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition.”

La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid hold serve in tight title race

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Super-duper Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of top 7 ]

Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona are doing all they can do — win — in their bid to usurp Real Madrid in the race for the title. While they entered the weekend — and still are — ahead of their El Clasico rivals based on head-to-head results this season, Los Blancos still have a game in hand which will surely decide whether Madrid claim their 33rd top-division title, or a 25th for Barca.

On Saturday, Luis Enrique’s side had more than just the title at stake — also at stake: the Derbi Barceloni, against fellow Catalan side Espanyol.

For 45 minutes, the home side held firm and refused to break, but once Luis Suarez put the Blaugrana ahead in the 50th minute, that was all she wrote. Ivan Rakitic doubled the advantage in the 76th minute, and Suarez completed the scoring 11 minutes later.

Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia

By the time the derby kicked off, Madrid had already applied the pressure and gone three points clear with a 2-1 victory that was a whole lot closer than the final score indicates.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, and Zinedine Zidane’s side was well on its way to victory. Ronaldo followed up his opening goal with a missed penalty kick 10 minutes into the second half, and Daniel Parejo pulled the visitors level with a sensational free kick just eight minutes before the end of regular time. Points looked sure to be dropped, and the door opened wider for Barca, but Marcelo was prepared to play the part of hero on the day, and the Brazilian left back bagged one of the season’s more improbable goals, a right-footed strike from the top of the box, in the 86th minute.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid
Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Osasuna vs. Deportivo La Coruña — 6 a.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Alaves — 10:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Leganes — 12:30 p.m. ET
Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:45 p.m. ET

Monday’s La Liga schedule

Malaga vs. Sevilla — 3 p.m. ET

Championship Focus: It’s all about the playoff places now

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With Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United having already clinched the Championship’s two automatic promotion places, all eyes turn to the four teams behind them still jockeying for playoff positioning…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

3rd — Reading — 82 points, +2 GD
4th — Sheffield Wednesday — 81 points, +16 GD
5th — Huddersfield Town — 81 points, +1 GD
6th — Fulham — 77 points, +27 GD

First of all, the Championship remains the least sensible league in the world. Disagree? Just try to explain the above wildly varying points totals and the corresponding goal differentials. Go ahead, I’ll wait

As for the weekend’s results, Reading and Wednesday did themselves major favors in the race for third with victories over Wigan Athletic (1-0) and Ipswich Town (1-0), respectively, while Huddersfield, who entered the weekend in that top playoff place, played 67 minutes with a man advantage against Birmingham City, and lost 2-0. All three of Reading, Wednesday and Huddersfield have clinched their place in the promotion playoffs, which begin two weeks from Saturday, on May 13.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of the top 7 play ]

Given Leeds United’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City, a win would have clinched the fourth and final playoff place for Fulham, but the Cottagers dropped a pair of points themselves in a 1-1 draw with Brentford at Craven Cottage. Still, Fulham are all but into the playoffs with a three-point lead on Leeds, and a goal differential that’s 13 goals better.