Chelsea opened up a five-point gap at the top of the English Premier League on Saturday, goals from Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou wrapping up a 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
With Manchester City facing Arsenal and Manchester United traveling to Stoke the following day, the champions seized the chance to put pressure on the chasing pack by taking maximum points at Stamford Bridge.
Malouda’s goal came on 23 minutes, the French international providing the finish after neat interplay between Yuri Zhirkov and Nicolas Anelka.
Salomon Kalou bagged Chelsea’s second after a scintillating sequence of one-touch play opened up the Wolves defense on 81 minutes.
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti was pleased his team had been able to register a victory after a grueling midweek Champions League trip to Moscow.
“It was a difficult week because we had to travel to Moscow, so I think we were not 100 percent. It’s important to win when you are not 100 percent,” said Ancelotti, downplaying the significance of Chelsea’s lead at the top. “We are in a good position, we started well and we have to continue, but nothing more.”
In other matches on Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur shared the points with Everton in a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.
“They’re a good side. You don’t get an easy game with Everton, you never do,” Spurs boss Harry Redknapp said. “We had the better of the chances, but I’m happy with a point.”
Elsewhere, West Bromwich Albion advanced to fourth after coming from behind to defeat Fulham 2-1 at the Hawthorns.
Fulham had taken the lead on nine minutes when a Zoltan Gera shot was tipped onto the post by Scott Carson, only to cannon back off the West Brom goalkeeper and roll into the net.
Yet the Baggies were back on level terms soon afterwards, when Chris Brunt picked out Youssouf Mulumbu, who rifled past Mark Schwarzer to make it 1-1.
West Brom took the lead five minutes before halftime, Brunt and Jerome Thomas combining well to play in Marc-Antoine Fortune, who made it 2-1.
Baggies manager Roberto Di Matteo played down his side’s flying start to the season.
“I keep saying the same — we’ve only played nine games. It’s important where we stand at the end of the season, not right now,” Di Matteo said.
At the Stadium of Light, Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne set an unwanted Premier League record when his own-goal handed Sunderland a 1-0 victory.
It was the eighth own-goal of Dunne’s career and proved decisive as Villa struggled in vain to find an equalizer after dominating the second half.
Villa manager Gerard Houllier bemoaned his side’s inability to convert any of a string of openings.
“A fair result would have been a draw,” Houllier said. “We had opportunities, but in football you have to put the ball into the back of the net.”
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce admitted his team had been fortunate to score after struggling to find the net this season.
“We needed a bit of luck,” Bruce said. “We needed something. You always worry against a side with the quality of Aston Villa whether one goal is going to be enough. In the second half, it proved to be.”
Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers fought out a 1-1 draw at the DW Stadium, Hugo Rodallega scoring on 59 minutes for the Latics, before Swedish international Johan Elmander leveled for the visitors seven minutes later.
Birmingham City piled on the misery for minnows Blackpool with a 2-0 victory at St Andrews.
City went 1-0 up through a Liam Ridgewell goal shortly before -halftime, following up to nod home after Serbian Nikola Zigic had headed onto the bar.
The Blues doubled their lead shortly after the restart after a mistake by Blackpool playmaker Charlie Adam allowed Zigic to pounce and drill home on 57 minutes.
In the late game, West Ham United remained anchored firmly to the foot of the table after losing 2-1 to Newcastle United at Upton Park.
Carlton Cole shot the Hammers into the lead on 12 minutes, but the Magpies equalized through Kevin Nolan on 23 minutes, before Andy Carroll powered home the winner midway through the second half.
Yesterday’s early kickoff:
‧ Stoke 1, Manchester United 2
Kamaru Usman put on a Fight Island masterclass yesterday to retain his UFC welterweight world title by grinding down a brave Jorge Masvidal in Abu Dhabi. “I’m at the top of the mountain and everyone’s looking at me,” said the 33-year-old Usman after scoring a unanimous points decision 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 on the three judges’ cards. The Nigerian-American Usman (17-1) looked the fresher fighter, with Masvidal (35-14) having taken the UFC251 headline bout at just six days’ notice when Brazil’s Gilbert Burns (19-3) tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to travel. The Las Vegas-based UFC pulled off a power-packed schedule with
Thailand international Pitsamai Sornsai, a new arrival for Inter Taoyuan, is to lead her team against Taipei Bravo tomorrow in the 10th round of the Taiwan Mulan Football League. Sornsai, who is nicknamed Pui, has attracted interest from media and fans as the first foreigner signed to play in Taiwan’s women’s league. Inter are among six teams battling for the title this year. The addition of Sornsai is a boost for the international profile of women’s soccer in Taiwan and elevates the competition. The 31-year-old brings a wealth of experience, including from the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Championship, the Southeast Asian Games and
MONKEYS ALSO WIN: The Rakuten Monkeys kept the Brothers from the first-half title as they dominated the Uni-President Lions, scoring four in the fourth The CTBC Brothers still need another win to clinch the first-half CPBL title, despite thrashing the hapless Fubon Guardians 17-0 yesterday, after the Rakuten Monkeys beat the Uni-President Lions 9-2. Fans of CTBC Brothers were hoping to celebrate the first-half title, with a crowd of more than 10,000 packed into the Taichung Intercontinental Stadium for their home game against the Guardians. The figure was an attendance record for this year, when baseball and most other major sports events worldwide have been played in empty venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Entering the game, CTBC had pushed their magic number down to 2, meaning
Preparing to complete a ninth Serie A campaign without winning the scudetto, AC Milan decided that returning to the pinnacle of club soccer required a new approach. Roc Nation, the entertainment agency of US rapper Jay-Z is at the center of it, linking up with Milan to scour the world for sponsors, and use concerts and other high-profile events to attract new fans. And who better to ask about how to end a title drought than the team who just won their league for the first time in 30 years? “We have been talking to Liverpool, because they’ve been through the same path