Chelsea go top of Premier League

Sports Desk, Dec 5 (efe-epa).- Chelsea came from behind Saturday to beat Leeds United 3-1 and move up to first place in the Premier League, while the two Manchester clubs solidified their presence in the upper echelon after suffering rocky starts to the campaign.

But the most dramatic development for the English top-flight this first weekend of December was the return of fans to stadiums.

Under a scheme of tiers based on the pandemic situation in each city, clubs in some parts of the country are being allowed to welcome supporters back to the grounds after nearly nine months.

Each of Saturday’s two games in London included the presence of 2,000 socially distanced, temperature-checked spectators.

A week after winning away to Everton, promoted Leeds started brightly at Stamford Bridge and took the lead in the 4th minute on a goal by former Chelsea player Patrick Bamford.

Olivier Giroud, the author of all four goals in Chelsea’s 4-0 rout of Sevilla in Champions League play at mid-week, brought the Blues level in the 26th minute.

The contest remained deadlocked at 1-1 until just past the hour mark, when Kurt Zouma headed-in a Mason Mount corner to give the hosts the advantage. US international Christian Pulisic added a third goal in stoppage time.

Chelsea go to 22 points, 1 more than both Tottenham Hotspur and reigning champions Liverpool, each with a game in hand. Leeds are 13th with 14 points.

Across town at London Stadium, West Ham United hosted Manchester United.

Tomas Soucek scored with seven minutes left in the first half to put the Hammers up 1-0 and the lead held until Paul Pogba equalized for the visitors in the 65th minute with an assist from Bruno Fernandes.

West Ham protested the goal, insisting that goalkeeper David De Gea’s aerial ball to Fernandes went out of play on its trajectory downfield. The referee waved off the objection.

Man United surged ahead three minutes later with Mason Greenwood’s first goal of the current Premier League season and Marcus Rashford scored a third for the visitors in the 78th minute.

The Red Devils climb to fourth, with 19 points from 10 matches. West Ham, who scrambled to avoid relegation last season, are seventh with 17 points.

Hosting promoted Fulham at the Etihad, Manchester City cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Raheem Sterling scored in the 5th minute off a great pass from Kevin de Bruyne and the same two players combined to produce a second goal 20 minutes later.

Sterling went down in the area after contact with Fulham’s Joachim Andersen and the referee awarded a penalty. De Bruyne converted from the spot and it was job done for City, who move up to fifth place with 18 points.

Fulham are 17th with 7 points, just 1 more than West Bromwich Albion, who will be at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Everton could manage no more than a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor with 19th-place Burnley, who jumped out to an early lead thanks to Robbie Brady’s goal in just the 3rd minute.

The visitors pulled level in first-half stoppage time with Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s league-best 11th goal of the season, but that turned out to be the end of the scoring.

With just one victory in their last seven matches, the Toffies have slipped down the table to ninth. EFE apa-jad/dr

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