Leicester vault to 2nd in Premier League

Sports Desk, Jan 16 (efe-epa).- Leicester City downed Southampton 2-0 Saturday to grab second place in the Premier League, just a point behind leaders Manchester United, on the eve of the North West Derby pitting the Red Devils against defending champions Liverpool.

Saturday also saw Chelsea win for just the second time in seven league matches and West Bromwich Albion prevail for only the second time all season Youri Tielemans assisted on both goals as the Foxes beat Southampton at Leicester’s King Power Stadium for the first time in nearly five years.

James Maddison opened the scoring in the 37th minute and Harvey Barnes doubled the advantage in the dying seconds of stoppage time as the Saints pressed for an equalizer.

Southampton’s best opportunity fell to Stuart Armstrong, whose blistering strike beat Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel before bouncing harmlessly off the cross-bar.

The Foxes go to 35 points, 2 more than third-place Liverpool, though the Reds have two games in hand. Southampton slipped to eighth by virtue of their loss and Chelsea’s 1-0 victory earlier against Fulham, who played more than half the match with 10 men.

The Blues came into the derby at London’s Craven Cottage having lost four of their last six Premier League matches, raising questions about the future of coach Frank Lampard in just his second season behind the bench with the club he led to titles as a player.

Talent-rich Chelsea would have been expected to shine against promoted Fulham, who have improved after starting the season poorly yet remain third-from-last.

The visitors dominated, especially in the second half, but struggled to create chances.

Fulham looked the better team during an extended stretch late in the opening period before losing Antonee Robinson in the 44th minute.

The US international was sent off with a straight red card for a reckless challenge that sent Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta flying.

But the Blues attack remained ineffectual, forcing Lampard to turn to his bench as the contest entered the final 30 minutes.

First to come on was Tammy Abraham, joined a quarter of an hour later by Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner.

On one of his first touches, Hudson-Odoi made his way into the offensive zone and lofted a pass to Ben Chilwell, whose cross into the box was slapped away by Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola only for the ball to end up at the feet of Mason Mount, who smashed it into the bottom corner to put Chelsea up 1-0 in the 78th minute.

The Blues moved up to seventh on 29 points, the same as Southampton and West Ham but with a better goal difference. Fulham have 12 points, 4 fewer than 17th-place Burnley.

The day’s action began in Wolverhampton in an eventful Black Country Derby that saw West Bromwich Albion prevail 2-3 for only their second win of the season.

Matheus Pereira opened the scoring at the Molineux with a penalty in the 8th minute, but the home team led at half-time thanks to goals from Fabio Silva and Willy Boly.

Semi Ajayi brought the Baggies level in the 52nd minute and another penalty just four minutes later was duly converted by Pereira. West Brom held on until the final whistle to secure their first victory since Sam Allardyce took charge as coach.

Though they remain second-from-bottom, the Baggies improved to 11 points, 5 from safety.

Wolves, losers in six of their last nine Premier League contests, are in 14th place with 19 points.

Brighton & Hove Albion were victorious Saturday in the Premier League for the first time since November, nipping hosts Leeds United 0-1.

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