Chelsea’s lead in the Premier League was reduced to one point after their 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
Written by Rob Harris, AP . World Football Writer
London (AFP) – The cautious match plan, with Cristiano Ronaldo falling off the bench, worked for Manchester United.
Hitting Chelsea on the counter-attack, with Jadon Sancho scoring his first Premier League goal, collecting a point is the kind of damage-limiting mode at United this season.
Grabbing a 1-1 draw on Sunday – after home insults to Liverpool and Manchester City in the fading embers of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign – gives Ralf Rangnick a platform to build on.
The German has yet to formally take over – with a post-Brexit work permit – but this could be Michael Carrick’s last job as interim caretaker manager.
United’s disappointment would not hold on to the lead after Aaron Wan-Bissaka hit Thiago Silva’s heel while clearing the ball. Jorginho equalized with a penalty kick in the 69th minute – the day before the Italian found out if he had won the Ballon d’Or.
Jorginho missed United’s goal in the 50th minute. Poor control of clearance from United midfielder Bruno Fernandes’ long pass allowed Jadon Sancho to grab the ball. The 21-year-old striker had room to run on goal before past goalkeeper Edward Mendy, who slipped into the right post.
Sancho, who joined in July for 85 million euros ($100 million at the time), also netted in the Champions League on Tuesday in a win at Villarreal.
Now another positive result – after losing five of their last seven league games under Solskjaer – has put United five points away from West Ham in fourth place in qualifying for the Champions League.
“It is not enough that we equal, but at the moment, the way we are it is a big point,” said United goalkeeper David de Gea. “In the last games we conceded three or four goals, now we conceded a penalty and got a clean sheet against Villarreal, so I think we are improving.
“But these are two games, we need to show up in the next matches, like Arsenal – a big game again. Let’s keep going, keep focused.”
Cut the lead in Chelsea
Manchester City beat West Ham 2-1 as the defending champions reduced Chelsea’s lead at the top to one point.
Ilkay Gundogan scored in City’s opening match in the 33rd minute from Riyad Mahrez’s skewed pass. Fernandinho’s goal in the 90th minute means Manuel Lanzini’s poor shot in injury time will be a consolation.
It was snowing at Etihad Stadium in Manchester but it was an even stronger storm about 30 miles (48 km) north at Turf Moor that forced Burnley to postpone their home game against Tottenham less than an hour before kick-off.
Before the Merseyside derby meeting with the former Liverpool club, Rafa Benitez went for the seventh match without a win with Everton.
Evan Toni, who played under Benitez at Newcastle but struggled to play, scored the goal that gave Brentford a 1-0 win over Everton.
Brentford scored their first home win in the league since the opening day of the season against Arsenal in August to move up to 12th place. Everton are two places up in the 20-team standings.
The unfortunate return of Ranieri
Five years after unexpectedly winning the Premier League title with Leicester, Claudio Ranieri’s task now is to avoid relegation with Watford.
However, the 4-2 loss to Leicester leaves Watford two places above the relegation zone by four points. James Madison scored a goal and provided assists to Jamie Vardy. Ademola Lookman also scored as Leicester celebrated only their third win in 10 league matches to move up to 10th place.