– Ighalo’s Watford in contention up to eight
– Victor Moses inspired West Ham comeback
– Chelsea humiliates Newcastle
– Resurgent Southampton wins again
Naij.com sports reviews the round 26 of the EPL. The Champions are BACK! With a comprehensive thrashing of hapless Newcastle and the beleaguered Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal plunged into further crisis with a defeat at lowly Sunderland.
Ighalo’s Watford climbed to eighth and with a fighting chance of European football while the resurgent Southampton registered another victory without conceding a goal.
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The Hammers came back from the brink to snatch a late draw – thanks to the introduction of Victor Moses and Adebayor’s first goal was unable to rescue the goal-shy Palace.
Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United
Manchester United lose more ground on the top four, plunging their beleaguered manager Louis van Gaal deeper into crisis. This United side looked anything but a top four side despite all the millions spent.
The home team came flying out of the box and quickly converted the first opportunity that came their way. Wahla Khazri opened the scoring with a well taken free-kick from over 25 yards that eluded everyone to slot home.
United enjoyed most of the possession in the first half without making any in-roads. Martial eventually struck the equalizer in the 39th minute with a delightful chip over Mannone after he parried his save from Mata to him.
Sunderland fully deserved the victory on their second-half performance alone, courtesy of a firm header by Lamine Kone who proved what all the fuss was all about over his on and off January transfer saga. Khazri whipped in a fantastic corner into the box with Kone jumping the highest to plant a firm header which De Gea spilled into his own net.
It was a moral boosting and hugely vital victory for the home side to greatly enhance their survival bid from relegation.
Swansea 0-1 Southampton
The first half was not the best in terms of quality but a very tight contest with both teams attempts either wayward or blocked.
James Ward-Prowse’s lofted pass 20 minutes before the final whistle gave all the three points to the resurgent Southampton with Shane Long who jumped the highest to steer a strong and precise close-range header past Lukasz Fabrianski, giving him no chance.
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Swansea are still entwined with the relegation battle while it is onwards and upwards for the Saints.
Bournemouth 1-3 Stoke City
New signing, Gianelli Imbula set the ball rolling with a brilliant shot just outside the box from a rebound, and beyond the reach of Artur Boric.
Ibrahim Affelay doubled the scoring from the edge of the box with a tentative but accurate effort that went inside the right post from a pass by Jonathan Walters.
Joselu gave Stoke an unassailable lead with a close-range header, planted into the left side of the goal from a perfect cross by Shaqiri.
Bournemouth reduced the deficit when Matt Ritchie latched onto Charlie Daniel’s pass. He showed a good awareness inside the box with a first-time strike which went inside the post.
It was a welcomed victory for the away side after recent deep and losses.
Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford
Troy Deeney, Watford’s Captain fantastic stole the show to send the Vicarage road outfit to a dizzy height of eight in the EPL table and a touching distance of Europe.
Watford’s performances are going unnoticed due to Leicester City’s exploits but what they have been able to achieve so far this season borders on unbelievable.
The home side’s fans can at least be relieved to witness one of their strikers register a goal from open play after a long wait when Adebayor finally broke that dock with his first goal for Palace.
Palace could have won this tie on chances created but wasted, only for Watford to inflict a classic smash and grab on the hosts.
Watford opened the scoring from the spot when Deeney was brought down by Jedinac before tucking in the resulting penalty. Adebayor restored parity with a cushioned header, from Wickam’s floated cross.
Deeney’s ninth goal of the season came in the 82th minute from a cross by former Palace midfielder Ben Watson. He had time to take a touch before firing home.
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Norwich 2-2 West Ham
Victor Moses turned this match on it’s head with a stunning performance after his introduction as a substitute.
The host must have been dreaming of three points after going two goals ahead, another two points lost in the jaws of victory with Liverpool’s late comeback last week.
Jerome gave the home side the lead when he caught Michail Antonio napping on the ball, advanced 10 yards before curling a the ball unerringly beyond Adrian with his weaker foot. Hoolian’s clip doubled the advantage with a clip past Adrian.
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Dmitri Payet turned the ball home from a rebound by Moses before Mark Noble fired delightfully from the edge of the box to restore parity.
Both sides could have won the game but the Hammers will be the happier of the two with a point from the jaws of defeat.
Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle
The champions are back to their championship winning best in the rout against the hapless Newcastle at Stamford bridge.
Chelsea played with the gusto they are renowned for in their EPL winning season. Despite the huge outlay in the January transfer window Newcastle were made to look a pauper.
It truly was men against boys, the magpies dysfunctionality was a depressing sight to behold that must put the managers tenure into question – a sixth successive away defeat.
Costa seven goals in eight games in the fifth minute set the stall for the rout, Pedro double the tally with a crisply taken shot just outside the area, Willian easily made it three nil from Costa’s pass.
Pedro completed his brace after collecting a lofted pass from Fabregas to dispatch a fault, Traore added the fifth before a pointless Townsend reply.
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