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PL roundup: Liverpool falter late; Man Utd inch closer to top-four

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A roundup of Monday’s action in the Premier League…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Sunderland 2-2 LiverpoolFULL RECAP

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds blew a pair of one-goal leads, each time wiped out by Jermain Defoe penalty kicks, as they opened the door for Chelsea to go eight points clear of their closest title challengers at the end of Matchweek 20. Daniel Sturridge put the visitors ahead after 20 minutes, and Sadio Mane restored the advantage on 72 minutes, but Defoe hit back not long after on both occasions. The draw pulls Sunderland to within a point of 17th-place Crystal Palace and the freedom of relegation that would come with overtaking them.

West Ham United 0-2 Manchester UnitedFULL RECAP

If it weren’t for Chelsea, who have won 13 straight games, the PL’s in-form side would be Man United, who topped West Ham and moved to 11 games without a defeat, including six straight wins of their own. Sofiane Feghouli was dubiously sent off in the 15th minute, making it an uphill fight for the Hammers, but they held on for more than an hour, until Juan Mata (63rd minute) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (78th minute — 13th PL goal of the season) did their part to move the Red Devils level on points with fifth-place Tottenham and a single point back of fourth-place Arsenal (neither north London side has played their Matchweek 20 fixture).

STRATFORD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at London Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Stratford, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Manchester City 2-1 BurnleyFULL RECAP

Gael Clichy and Sergio Aguero scored two minutes either side of the hour mark, as a 10-man side Man City side moved back ahead of Tottenham and Arsenal for third in the league table. Pep Guardiola opted to rotate half of his attacking quartet, leaving Aguero and David Silva on the bench for the first 45 minutes, but calling on them after the halftime interval. They duly delivered, and City maintain their three-point advantage on the red side of Manchester. Ben Mee grabbed the Clarets’ consolation prize in the 70th minute.

Everton 3-0 SouthamptonFULL RECAP

The last laugh belongs to Ronald Koeman (for now). After losing on his return to St. Mary’s in November, Everton executed the textbook smash-and-grab against Southampton on Tuesday, scoring three times in 16 minutes, all after the 70th minute. Enner Valencia, Leighton Baines and Romelu Lukaku got the goals, and the Toffees remain seventh, leading the middling pack of sides a full nine points back of the top-six.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Romelu Lukaku of Everton celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park on January 2, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

West Bromwich Albion 3-1 Hull CityFULL RECAP

Hull took a 1-0 lead into the halftime interval at the Hawthrons, and proceeded to concede three times in the second half — Chris Brunt, Gareth McAuley and James Morrison did the damage — as Mike Phelan‘s Tigers blew their chance to move level on points with Palace.

Middlesbrough 0-0 Leicester CityFULL RECAP

In theory, Leicester could probably draw their way through the rest of the season and avoid relegation. Now on 21 points after Monday’s scoreless draw at the Riverside Stadium, the defending champions finally have a bit of breathing room (three places and six points) between themselves and the relegation zone. Boro, meanwhile, have just one point from their last three games, and Sunderland lurk just two places and four points back.

Tuesday’s PL schedule

Bournemouth vs. Arsenal — 2:45 p.m. ET
Crystal Palace vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET
Stoke City vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET

Wednesday’s PL schedule

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET

Kane, Sterling star as England rout Bulgaria

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On a night where racist abuse from the stands in Bulgaria marred the overall spectacle, England’s players produced an incredible result and spectacle for the visiting fans, with all things considered.

Harry Kane scored once and assisted on three others as England rolled over Bulgaria, winning 6-0 on Monday evening in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both scored a brace for the Three Lions and Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt from a tight angle gave England the opening goal it needed.

The blowout result was the perfect response after England had suffered its first loss in qualifying for a decade, losing on Friday, 2-1 at the Czech Republic. The six goals England put past Bulgaria was also the fourth time out of six games that England had scored at least five goals in a match. The only other time, aside from the defeat, was a 4-0 win last month at Wembley Stadium over Bulgaria.

This story will be updated.

 

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.

In-form striker Duvan Zapata injured on international duty

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This international break has been particularly brutal to clubs who have seen a host of key players go down with injuries, and there’s still a few days of matches remaining.

The latest player to succumb to injury is Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata who returned from Colombia duty with an adductor strain and will miss at least three weeks, according to Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia). Zapata went down 23 minutes into Colombia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Chile on Friday and was sent back to Italy for tests at his club.

Those tests have reportedly confirmed the initial fears. The loss of Zapata is a massive one for Atalanta, as the 28-year-old has been steadily building for years and is having a breakout start to this campaign, scoring six Serie A goals in seven matches plus one more in Champions League play, currently on a run of four consecutive games with a goal across all competitions. With Zapata’s help, Atalanta sits third in the Serie A table, having bagged the most goals of any team with 18 through seven games.

Zapata becomes the latest high-profile injury from this international break, joining Colombia teammate Alexis Sanchez who went down late in the same match and is reportedly out until 2020 with a serious ankle injury. Chelsea has been hit the hardest, with Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, and Reese James all pulling up while N’Golo Kante was injured in France warmups but he is expected to be fit for the weekend. Luka Modric may miss time after going down in a Euro qualifier against Wales, while Gareth Bale also picked up a knock in that match. Neymar went down in Brazil’s match against against Nigeria, which forced manager Tite to explain his reasoning for the selection in a friendly. Sergio Aguero is apparently struggling to train with Argentina thanks to a mystery injury confirmed by Lionel Scaloni. Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos withdrew from Spain training earlier in the week with “hamstring overload.” Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson left USMNT camp with a hamstring problem with the MLS playoffs on the horizon.