Both Bournemouth and Southampton came from a goal down to beat Stoke and West Brom, respectively. Brighton beat West Ham 3-1 courtesy of excellent second-half goals from Jose Izquierdo and Pascal Gross.
Swansea also picked up an impressive point at Leicester. With Huddersfield losing at Manchester United, the Swans and the three victors took small, incremental steps toward safety.
Alexis Sanchez also took the first major step of his Manchester United career. He won a second-half penalty and stepped up to the spot. He was denied by Jonas Lossl at the first attempt, but slid the rebound past Huddersfield’s sprawling keeper for his first United goal.
United had labored through the first half, and questions swirled about Jose Mourinho’s team selection. The Portuguese manager had left Paul Pogba out of his starting lineup after an argument between the two three days earlier at Tottenham. United missed his creativity.
But Romelu Lukaku swept home Juan Mata’s cross to break the deadlock 10 minutes after halftime.
From there, United cruised to a 2-0 victory to firm up its position in second place.
Southampton’s first league win since November
Southampton beat Everton 4-1 on Nov. 26. It subsequently went 13 Premier League games without a victory. Finally, at the 14th time of asking, it got one.
The Saints went behind to an early Ahmed Hegazi header, but drew level through a screamer from Mario Lemina:
Three minutes later, Jack Stephens completed the quick-strike turnaround with a header.
After the halftime interval, James Ward-Prowse gave the visitors a meaningful cushion with a free kick:
West Brom pulled a goal back late on, but Southampton held on for a massive 3-2 win that takes it out of the bottom three.
Stoke, meanwhile …
The Potters slipped into the bottom three despite leading for much of their trip down south. Xherdan Shaqiri’s fifth-minute header had them 1-0 to the good.
But Paul Lambert’s side fell apart in the final 25 minutes. Josh King leveled matters with 20 to play. Lys Mousset then nodded home a free kick to complete Bournemouth’s comeback and bring the Cherries all the way up to ninth place, ahead of Everton.
Brighton’s big win
Izquierdo’s stunner (video above) propelled Brighton and Hove Albion up into 13th. But Pascal Gross was the real catalyst behind a massive win.
The German playmaker had released Glenn Murray for Brighton’s eighth-minute opener. He later took matters into his own hands to put the game to bed:
Chicharito’s first-half goal was the lone bright spot for West Ham:
The Hammers still rest comfortably in 12th place. But the bottom half of the table is remarkably – perhaps unprecedentedly – tight. Teams 11 (Watford) through 19 (Huddersfield) are separated by just three points.
West Brom is down in 20th, four points off 19th, and in any other year would be in deep trouble. But it is also four points off 16th place. One victory can change so much. One victory did change so much for several teams on Saturday.
Leicester 1-1 Swansea
Earlier in the day, wasteful Manchester City blew its first lead of the season, and settled for a 1-1 draw at Burnley.
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