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Everton lead Premier League; Chelsea survive scare; Man Utd get lucky

London, Sep 26 (efe-epa).- Everton edged Crystal Palace 2-1 on a controversial penalty Saturday to post their best start to a Premier League season in 27 years.

A third straight win saw the Toffies take sole possession of first place with 9 points.

Three teams, Leicester City, Arsenal and defending champions Liverpool, are all on 6 points from two matches, while Palace remain at 6 points after three games.

A big part of Everton’s success so far has been the addition of James Rodriguez, who helped set up his team’s first goal at Selhurst Park in South London.

The Colombian passed to Seamus Coleman and the Everton captain got the ball to Dominic Calvert-Lewin to put the visitors up 1-0 in the 10th minute.

It was the fifth goal of the campaign for Calvert-Lewin, who has emerged as a consistent scorer since Carlo Ancelotti became Everton’s coach.

Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate leveled in the 26th minute with a header off Andros Townsend’s corner. The Toffies, however, reclaimed the advantage in the 40th minute, when Richarlison converted from the penalty spot after the referee cited defender Joel Ward for hand ball.

Though Ward seemed to make an effort to get his arm out of the path of a Lucas Digne header, referee Kevin Friend consulted VAR and signaled penalty.

The hosts battled hard in the second hand, but Everton saw out the match to go top of the Premier League with 9 points from 9.

“I thought it wasn’t our best performance today, but we stuck in there and got the result to keep the momentum going,” Calvert-Lewin said afterward.

Chelsea fell behind 3-0 to promoted West Bromwich Albion and needed a goal in stoppage time to come away from the West Midlands with a point.

The talent-laden Blues would have been expected to cruise to victory against a Baggies side who conceded eight goals in their first two games.

Instead, it was the hosts who flourished on the attack, thanks mainly to spectacular blunders by the London squad, such as the giveaway by Marcus Alonso to set up Callum Robinson’s goal in the 4th minute.

Robinson added a second goal for West Brom in the 25th, exploiting a failed clearance by the normally steady Thiago Silva, who just joined Chelsea.

Two minutes later, an unmarked Kyle Bartley scored off a corner to make it 3-0 for the Baggies.

Chelsea coach Frank Lampard began the second half with a double substitution, replacing Alonso with Cesar Azpilicueta and Mateo Kovacic with Callum Hudson-Odoi in what would prove to be an astute decision.

Azpilicueta assisted on Mason Mount’s goal in the 55th minute to reduce the deficit to 3-1 and Hudson-Odoi scored with 20 minutes left in regulation to bring Chelsea within one.

The Baggies, who conceded 76 percent possession to the visitors and were outshot 10-3, clung to the narrow lead until the 3rd minute of stoppage time, when Tammy Abraham pushed the ball into an open net with keeper Sam Johnstone unable to react after going down to stop a strike by Mount.

While the big news at the start of the match was Lampard’s decision to bench starting goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in favor of 38-year-old Willy Caballero, Lampard didn’t blame the Argentine for any of the West Brom goals.

Chelsea paid Athletic Bilbao $91 million – a record fee for a keeper – in 2018 to obtain Kepa, but Lampard appears to have soured permanently on the Spaniard and this week signed Edouard Mendy from Rennes with an eye toward making the Senegal international the starter in net.

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