Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea move 12 points clear of Arsenal with Stamford Bridge victory

Chelsea strengthened their grip on top spot and all but ended Arsenal's title hopes with a 3-1 win on a day of goals and drama in the Premier League on Saturday.

Eden Hazard's stunning solo goal early in the second half doubled the lead after Marcos Alonso's controversial opener before former Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas punished a Petr Cech error late on.

Arsenal felt Alonso fouled Hector Bellerin in scoring the opener, but their only consolation from the day was a stoppage-time goal from Olivier Giroud.

Away from Stamford Bridge, most eyes were on the fight at the bottom and specifically Selhurst Park, where Sam Allardyce's Crystal Palace suffered a 4-0 hammering at the hands of his old club Sunderland - with all the goals in the first half.

Lamine Kone - signed by Allardyce for the Black Cats - swept home the rebound when Wayne Hennessey spilt Sebastian Larsson's 10th minute free-kick.

But it was during a crazy few minutes before half-time that Palace's afternoon completely fell apart.

Didier Ndong made it 2-0 with his first goal for Sunderland when he nicked the ball off Joe Ledley and rifled home in the 43rd minute.

Jermain Defoe then scored twice in first-half stoppage time to leave Sunderland fans in dreamland.

However, the win was not enough to lift the Black Cats off the foot of the table thanks to Hull's 2-0 victory over Liverpool.

The deadlock was broken in the 39th minute when Alfred N'Diaye stabbed home a goal Simon Mignolet will not want to see again.

Liverpool pressed but were undone on the counter-attack as Oumar Niasse made sure of the win six minutes from time.

Early drama was the order of the day with six goals and a red card inside the opening 15 minutes of the six 3pm kick-offs.

The red card came at Vicarage Road where Burnley's Jeff Hendrick was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Jose Holebas.

Watford swiftly took advantage as Troy Deeney scored in the 10th minute with a powerful header.

The Hornets doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time through M'Baye Niang's header.

There was a glimmer of hope for Burnley when Sebastian Prodl handled on the line, and Ashley Barnes's penalty went in off the post, but Watford hung on to win 2-1.

The fastest goal came at Goodison Park, where Romelu Lukaku needed all of 31 seconds to fire Everton in front against Bournemouth.

That set the tone as James McCarthy doubled the lead in the 23rd minute from Lukaku's assist and the Belgian's second made it 3-0 after 29 minutes.

But Joshua King gave Bournemouth hope in the 59th minute when he poked home from close-range and the nerves were apparent around Goodison after King made it 3-2 with 20 minutes to go.

However, Lukaku scored his third and fourth goals of the afternoon seconds apart inside the last 10 minutes to secure the victory.

There was time for Harry Arter to pull one back, but Ross Barkley had the final word in a 6-3 Everton win.

At Southampton, Manolo Gabbiadini needed only 12 minutes of his debut to score for the Saints, hammering a shot in off the underside of the bar, but that was about all that went right in a 3-1 loss to West Ham.

The celebrations were barely over before West Ham replied through Andy Carroll's 14th minute strike.

Pedro Obiang's low shot deflected in to make it 2-1 before the break, and seven minutes into the second half Mark Noble's free-kick deflected off Steven Davis to find the net.

James Morrison scored his second goal of the week as he opened the scoring for West Brom against Stoke just six minutes in.

Saido Berahino was introduced as a substitute against the team he left in January, but barely made an impact as West Brom won 1-0.


From Belfast Telegraph