Man City stays serene in title charge on wild night in EPL
The quickest goal of the season. A six-goal thriller featuring a sprinkle of Brazilian magic. A stunning late comeback.
It was a wild night of action in the Premier League. Except, that is, at Manchester City, whose march to the defense of its title couldn’t be more serene.
City never lost control in a routine 2-0 win over Brentford that saw the champions open up a 12-point lead in the title race.
Control was what Tottenham lacked in conceding two late goals in a chaotic 3-2 loss at home to Southampton that damaged its top-four ambitions.
It was even more frantic and end-to-end in the 3-3 draw between Aston Villa and Leeds in which Philippe Coutinho took center stage. The Brazil playmaker scored one goal and set up two others to push Villa 3-1 ahead, only for Leeds to fight back for a draw to keep the team clear of relegation danger.
The other match of the night wasn’t without incident, either, as Norwich scored inside 39 seconds — through Teemu Pukki — for the fastest goal scored this season in a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace, for whom Wilfried Zaha scored a superb solo equalizer before missing a penalty with a scuffed effort that went well wide.
It’s 14 games unbeaten for Man City, which will now see if second-place Liverpool can reduce the gap back down to nine points with a win over Leicester on Thursday. Liverpool has played two games fewer.
Riyad Mahrez, with his eighth goal in his last seven games for City, and Kevin De Bruyne, netting for the fourth straight home game in the league, were the scorers for the champions.
Mahrez converted a penalty in the 40th after Raheem Sterling was brought down, and De Bruyne stroked home a low finish into an unguarded net in the 69th after Sterling had a shot saved.
Southampton appeared to be driven by a sense of injustice in its comeback at Spurs after Son Heung-min’s goal in the 70th minute that put the hosts ahead. In the build-up, Emerson Royal looked to have fouled Armando Broja in the air and it led to some heated exchanges among players and coaches.
The visitors poured forward and after Mohamed Elyounoussi equalized in the 79th, Che Adams headed in an almost identical goal for the winner in the 82nd.
Broja had earlier canceled out Tottenham’s opening goal that was scored by a Southampton player, as Jan Bednarek slid in deflect a cross into his own net under pressure from Son.
Tottenham stayed seventh, four points off the Champions League places. West Ham occupies fourth place but has played three more games than Tottenham.
Fresh off scoring a brilliant long-range goal for Brazil last week, Coutinho pulled the strings for Villa in a whirlwind first half against Leeds where he canceled out Dan James’ ninth-minute opener by scoring off his own low finish in the 30th.
The playmaker then provided the passes for goals by fellow midfielder Jacob Ramsey in the 38th and 43rd minutes, one of them a stunning defense-splitting through-ball after spinning free in the middle of the field.
James made it 3-2 in first-half stoppage time and Diego Llorente ensured a pulsating game ended all square by scoring from close range after Villa defender Tyrone Mings failed to clear.
The draw edged Leeds six points clear of the relegation zone and denied Villa a place in the top half of the league.
Wilfried Zaha went from the sublime to the ridiculous at Carrow Road.
In his first appearance for the club since Boxing Day, having played for Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations, Zaha cut inside and curled home from the edge of the area to equalize on the hour mark.
That canceled out Pukki’s goal — his first in more than 11 hours of play — but Norwich couldn’t hold on for a fourth straight win that would have lifted the team out of the relegation zone.
It could even have lost only for Zaha to scuff a tame penalty wide of the left post after Tyrick Mitchell had been fouled by Max Aarons.
Norwich is in the relegation zone in third-to-last place, one point from safety.
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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80