Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen on Wednesday scored within 11 seconds to overshadow Alexis Sanchez’s Premier League debut for Manchester United, while Chelsea crashed to a 3-0 defeat by AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester City ignored the carnage around them to march serenely on, widening their lead to an enormous 15 points with a 3-0 victory at home to West Bromwich Albion with just 13 games still to play.
The buildup to Wednesday’s matches was dominated by late moves in the transfer window, but Spurs ensured the focus switched back to the pitch immediately, stunning Jose Mourinho’s men with a performance full of attacking verve in a 2-0 win.
Chelsea, who earlier announced the signing of Olivier Giroud from Arsenal, conceded three second-half goals while Theo Walcott scored twice for his new club, Everton, in a 2-1 win against Leicester City.
“We always try to be aggressive from the beginning,” delighted Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said. “Our aim is to be focused from the beginning. You can win a game if you’re ready to fight. It was massive to be up early in the game.”
“Three more points puts us in a very good position to fight for the top four. I’m sure new signing Lucas Moura enjoyed that a lot,” he added.
The painful defeat for United realistically ends any lingering hopes they might have harbored of catching runaway leaders City.
Mourinho signed Sanchez this month to bolster his attacking options, but Spurs caught the visitors cold at a packed Wembley, Eriksen opening the scoring from the kickoff following a long ball from inside the Tottenham half.
The goal, timed at 10.48 seconds, was the first United have conceded this year, but despite some bright moments of their own, they were 2-0 down just before the half-hour mark after Phil Jones lashed the ball into his own net.
Tottenham, who announced the signing of Moura from Paris Saint-Germain shortly before kickoff, were a constant threat and had multiple chances to stretch their lead.
Mourinho threw on Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini in the 63rd minute, but bizarrely took Fellaini off just seven minutes later, replacing him with Ander Herrera. The Belgium international took off his shirt and marched straight down the tunnel.
The impressive win for Spurs puts them right back at the heart of the hunt for a UEFA Champions League qualification spot, just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
“It’s a performance that starts with a ridiculous goal,” Mourinho said. “That goal after a few seconds has a big influence in the game, because Tottenham can play the way they like to play.”
“In the end we played against a very good team. Both goals were ridiculous goals,” he added.
Pochettino’s men were further buoyed by the defeat for Chelsea, who fielded only Pedro up front, showing their need for more firepower. Callum Wilson, Junior Stanislas and Nathan Ake scored the goals for Bournemouth.
“We have to accept it’s a bad result and understand that we have to fight this season — if someone didn’t understand this, they don’t understand football,” Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said. “Football is not simple.”
He said that the signing of Giroud would not necessarily solve the club’s problems in front of goal.
“In the past, with a striker we have chances and still don’t score,” he said. “I think now is not the right moment to speak of the transfer market for me. It’s not important, it’s important to work and do best with my players.”
It was business as usual for Guardiola’s City, who handed a debut to ￡57 million (US$81.2 million) defender Aymeric Laporte, who only signed for the club from Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday.
City struck through Fernandinho midway through the first half and doubled their lead through Kevin De Bruyne in the second half before Sergio Aguero struck late on.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Newcastle United drew 1-1 with Burnley, Southampton drew 1-1 at home to Brighton & Hove Albion and Stoke City were involved in a goalless stalemate with Watford.
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