Pedro wonder goal helps Chelsea stay top

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Antonio Conte’s men had to come from a goal down to post another vital win which keeps them a point clear of Liverpool and Manchester City, who also secured wins Saturday.

Defeat rounded off a miserable week for visitor Tottenham, which exited the Champions League with defeat in Monaco Tuesday and has not recorded a win at Chelsea’s west London ground for 26 years.

The omens looked promising after Christian Eriksen fired them in front on 10 minutes, coupled with a dominant performance with the home side rarely threatening.

But a wonder strike from Spain’s Pedro just before the break, cutting inside before beating Hugo Lloris with a curling effort, boosted the Blues.

The second half was only a few minutes old when Victor Moses put Chelsea ahead as his shot deflected off Jan Vertonghen before finding the net.

Tottenham, which saw its title challenge last year ended in a 2-2 draw on the same ground, could not find the goal to secure a similar scoreline, but manager Mauricio Pochettino believed his team deserved at least a point.

“If we analyze the game we were better,” he said.

“We are disappointed but we need to be pleased for the performance and the way we competed against a very good team.”

Conte tried to play down talk of Chelsea winning the EPL. “It’s too early,” he said. “This league is very tough. Tottenham showed the talent in this league. There are six, seven teams that can win the title. For us it’ important to continue in this way.”

Liverpool’s 2-0 home victory over bottom side Sunderland came at a cost as its influential Brazil forward Philippe Coutinho was stretchered off during the first half at Anfield with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.

He sustained it after being tackled by Sunderland’s Didier Ndong and immediately dropped to the ground in pain.

Coutinho’s replacement Divock Origi put Liverpool ahead with 15 minutes remaining with a low shot, while James Milner added a late second from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

Earlier, Manchester City maintained its title challenge in a tight battle at the top with a 2-1 win at Burnley, coming from behind to secure three points with goals either side of half time from Sergio Aguero.

Match of the day in the EPL was a remarkable nine-goal affair at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium as the home side conjured up a first victory for former US team manager Bob Bradley in a 5-4 win over Crystal Palace.

He had seen his side lead 3-1 only to fall 4-3 behind as Palace scored three quickfire goals.

But two late strikes in stoppage time from substitute Fernando Llorente stunned the visitor, suffering its sixth straight defeat.

“I see the win as a turning point in so many ways,” Bradley told BBC Sport.

“Sometimes you feel like you need something crazy and maybe this game can be that moment.”

Elsewhere, champion Leicester scored a late equalizer through Islam Slimani in a 2-2 home draw with Middlesbrough, while Hull and West Bromwich Albion shared two goals.

In La Liga, a Cristiano Ronaldo double helped Real Madrid to a fortuitous 2-1 home win over Sporting Gijon to stretch its lead to seven points in the Spanish title race.

Victory extended Real’s unbeaten run in all competitions to 31 matches, but its fans breathed a sigh of relief when Duje Cop missed a late penalty for Sporting which would have drawn the scores level.

Real were two-up inside 20 minutes as Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice, the first from the penalty spot, to take command.

But Carlos Carmona pulled a goal back 10 minutes before the break and threatened before Cop’s late spot kick, which went high and wide.

“We can’t be happy with the content of the game, but that can happen sometimes,” said Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane.

Arch-rival Barca can cut the gap back to four points if they can win away at Real Sociedad Sunday, with the teams meeting in the first El Clasico of the season next weekend.



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