Chelsea go top of log as Saints shock Liverpool

LONG TIME COMING::Chelsea found their winning form against Fulham to take the Premier League lead, but the standings could change after yesterday’s major matches

Reuters, LONDON

Mon, Sep 23, 2013 - Page 18

Chelsea put a miserable week behind them to return to the Premier League summit with a 2-0 home win over Fulham, while the wheels came off Liverpool’s bright start in a 1-0 home defeat by Southampton on Saturday.

A first Premier League goal from Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel, after Oscar had given them the lead, sealed a victory that will help consign to memory last weekend’s loss at Everton and their shock midweek Champions League reverse at home to Basel.

The victory moved Chelsea on to 10 points from five matches, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference, after Southampton inflicted a first defeat of the season on the Merseysiders.

Saints defender Dejan Lovren scored with a second-half header to emphatically quieten the premature talk of a title push that had been swirling around Anfield.

Unbeaten Everton celebrated a stunning 3-2 success at West Ham United, with Leighton Baines twice equalizing from free-kicks and on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku heading a late winner to move them up to fifth with nine points.

Hull City also twice came from a goal down to win 3-2 at Newcastle United. West Bromwich Albion’s debutant Stephane Sessegnon scored against his former club Sunderland in a 3-0 victory that left the visitors stuck at the bottom of the table.

Aston Villa’s deadline-day Czech signing Libor Kozak came off the bench to replace the injured Christian Benteke and then scored his first goal for the club in a 1-0 win at Norwich City.

The standings could take on a new complexion yesterday, when champions Manchester United were to visit local rivals Manchester City, third-placed Arsenal were to host Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur, who are fourth, were to visit promoted Cardiff City.

LA LIGA

AFP, MADRID

Pedro Rodriguez scored a hat-trick as Barcelona maintained their 100 percent start to La Liga this season with a comfortable 4-0 win over Rayo Vallecano de Madrid on Saturday.

The Spain international rewarded the visitors’ bright start when he slotted from after some brilliant play by Lionel Messi on the half-hour mark.

However, just as in recent weeks, Barca were thankful to goalkeeper Victor Valdes for keeping them in front as he saved his second penalty in as many games when he palmed away Roberto Trashorras’ effort 10 minutes before halftime.

That was to be the turning point, as Pedro added a second barely two minutes into the second half, before sealing his hat-trick 13 minutes from time.

Cesc Fabregas rounded off a fine evening for Gerardo Martino’s men with a thumping finish two minutes later.

Atletico Madrid also maintained their 100 percent record so far this season as second-half goals from Raul Garcia and Diego Costa handed them a well-deserved 2-0 win away to Real Valladolid.

UD Almeria kept up their record of having scored and conceded at least twice in every game since their return to the top flight with a 2-2 draw at home to Levante UD.

Real Sociedad’s win-less league streak extended to four games as they could only manage a 0-0 draw at home to Malaga.

BUNDESLIGA

REUTERS, BERLIN

Treble winners Bayern Munich demolished Schalke 04 4-0 with a stellar performance on Saturday to join Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table after they drew 1-1 at Nuremberg.

Bayern’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, back in the starting lineup after an ankle injury, drilled in a well-timed header in the 21st minute and Mario Mandzukic did exactly the same a minute later to silence the 61,000 Schalke crowd.

Franck Ribery sealed the win with a clever flick off a David Alaba cutback in the 75th minute before substitute Claudio Pizarro completed yet another dominant Bayern performance in the 84th, following their 3-0 midweek mauling of CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

“This was our best game so far,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola told reporters. “We completely dominated one of Germany’s strongest teams.

Schalke dropped to 12th after riding a wave of enthusiasm following their 3-0 midweek win over Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League.

Bayer Leverkusen are still third with 15 points, shrugging off their own Champions League defeat to Manchester United by crushing Mainz 05 4-1 with two goals from Australian Robbie Kruse.

Hamburg SV, the only team to have played in the Bundesliga every season since its creation in 1963, headed deeper into crisis by losing their northern derby against visitors Werder Bremen 2-0 after a Nils Petersen double.

Hamburg, who sacked coach Thorsten Fink on Monday, dropped to third-from-bottom on four points, while Bremen, in ninth place, have nine.

Croatian striker Ivica Olic struck once either side of halftime to help VfL Wolfsburg fight back from a goal down and beat Hoffenheim 2-1 to move up to sixth place.