2 Points separate City, Liverpool, Chelsea atop Premier League

Sports Desk, Dec 11 (EFE).- Manchester City remain the Premier League leaders after Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton, but both Liverpool and Chelsea won to stay on the heels of the defending champions.

Facing the league’s fourth-stingiest defense at the Etihad, City failed to score from open play despite enjoying the numerical advantage for the entire second half thanks to the sending off of Wolves’ top attacker, Raul Jimenez, before the break.

The Mexican star picked up two yellow cards in the space of a minute, the second for not giving enough space for a City free kick.

Yet the hosts ultimately needed a penalty to secure the 3 points.

Raheem Sterling’s 100th Premier League goal came from the spot in the 66th minute after the referee deemed Joao Moutinho’s defensive block to have been a hand-ball, ignoring the vociferous protest of the Portuguese player.

Wolves, who entered the contest with five wins and three draws in their last 10 Premier League matches, are eighth.

City improved to 38 points, 4 better than Liverpool, but the Reds edged 12th-place Aston Villa 1-0 a few hours later to narrow the gap to 1.

Villa coach Steven Gerrard received an enthusiastic reception from the crowd at Anfield in recognition of the 17 seasons he played for Liverpool, a tenure that saw the club win two FA Cups, three League Cups, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup.

But the Liverpool legend would leave disappointed.

The visitors gave a good account of themselves and the difference between the sides was Mohamed Salah’s penalty in the 67th minute. The Egyptian drew a foul from Tyrone Mings and then converted with authority.

The home side, who extended their Premier League winning streak to seven games, would have had more if not for a trio of impressive stops by Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Chelsea kept pace with City and Liverpool, beating Leeds United 3-2 on a penalty in stoppage time.

The Blues were shaky at the back and Leeds made them pay. Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso attracted the scrutiny of the VAR official with a challenge on Daniel James in the box.

Review complete, the referee pointed to the spot and Raphinha made it 1-0 for the visitors in the 28th minute. Alonso redeemed himself 14 minutes later by assisting on Mason Mount’s equalizer.

The hosts went ahead in the 58th minute on a goal by Jorginho, who converted a penalty awarded for Raphinha’s foul on Antonio Rüdiger.

Leeds continued to create chances and they pulled level in the 83rd minute with a goal by Joe Gelhardt, who scored seconds after coming on as a sub.

Two minutes into stoppage time, Chelsea won yet another penalty and Jorginho completed his double to keep the Blues in the title race.

A penalty also decided Saturday’s match between Manchester United and last-place Norwich City, who kept the visitors at bay until the 75th minute, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the spot after being fouled by Max Aarons.

The Canaries pressed hard for the equalizer and keeper David De Gea made several outstanding saves to ensure the victory and lift the Red Devils to 27 points, the same as West Ham United, but the Hammers are fourth thanks to better goal difference. EFE


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