EPL: City win 6-3 at Leicester, Spurs rout Palace 3-0, West Ham lose

Manchester City isn’t short of goals in the title defense, and the champions found a way to make it unintentionally even more entertaining against Leicester.

A 6-3 victory — featuring a double from Raheem Sterling — put City six points in front at the top of the Premier League at the halfway point on Sunday, with second-place Liverpool having a game in hand.

It was a compelling second half on Boxing Day just when it looked like Leicester was completely out of sight after City had scored four times in the opening 25 minutes.

Three goals in 10 second-half minutes offered Leicester a glimmer of hope of a comeback that was snuffed out by Aymeric Laporte’s header and Sterling’s second.

It secured a ninth successive victory for Pep Guardiola’s side, with the last three seeing 17 goals scored by City.

And while title rivals Chelsea and Liverpool are busy with two-legged League Cup semifinals at the start of January, the end of City’s defense of that title does give some recovery time after the packed Christmas and New Year schedule.

There was little doubting City’s fitness levels from the outset against a Leicester team that was too easily picked apart.

It was a high ball over the top from Fernandinho that reached Kevin De Bruyne, who had the space to maneuver the ball around Leicester territory before scoring the opener after five minutes.

A foul by Youri Tielemans on Laporte secured a penalty that was converted by Riyad Mahrez.

Bernardo Silva’s ability to coast past Leicester players created the opening for the third, with João Cancelo squaring for Ilkay Gündoğan to net from close range.

Leicester was struggling to contain the threat and conceded another penalty when Tielemans tripped Sterling, who struck into the top corner in the 25th.

A game that seemed over was brought to life again 10 minutes into the second half when Laporte’s slip allowed Leicester to launch a counterattack that ended with Kelechi Iheanacho setting up James Maddison.

The midfielder turned provider in the 59th when he muscled his way past City players before slipping the ball through to Iheanacho whose throughball set up Ademola Lookman.

The third Leicester goal came in the 65th after Maddison’s shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Ederson and the ball dropped for Iheanacho to send over the line to reduce City’s lead to 4-3.

It took only four minutes for Laporte to restore City’s two-goal lead as the eighth different scorer in the match.

Sterling had the final say with a close-range strike after Rúben Dias headed down a corner.

Moura, Kane, Son give Tottenham 3-0 win over Crystal Palace

Lucas Moura scored one and set up goals for Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as Tottenham beat Crystal Palace 3-0 in the Premier League on Sunday.

Palace had failed to get the game called off after a coronavirus outbreak in the squad and manager Patrick Vieira was absent after testing positive himself.

Wilfried Zaha compounded Palace’s woes with a needless red card in the 37th when the south London club was already trailing 2-0.

Tottenham remains unbeaten in six league games under Antonio Conte and is six points behind fourth-place Arsenal with three games in hand.

A decisive five-minute period swung the game in Tottenham’s favor with two quickfire goals and Palace then reduced to 10 men.

Kane scored in the 32nd minute from Moura’s center after he was set free by Emerson Royal.

The Brazilian pair combined again two minutes later when Emerson’s cross was headed in from close range by Moura.

Palace’s capitulation was complete as, 11 minutes after picking up a first yellow card, Zaha foolishly flung his arms at Davinson Sanchez and was sent off by referee Jon Moss.

Tottenham had to wait until the 74th before extending its lead further. Moura again found space down the right and his cross was turned home at the near post by Son for his fourth goal in five games.

Rare away win for Southampton as West Ham’s slump continues

West Ham’s slump continued as Jan Bednarek’s late goal secured a rare away win for Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday.

Bednarek’s header condemned the Hammers to a 3-2 defeat in what was only Southampton’s second win on the road this season.

West Ham’s hopes of a place in the top four look increasingly unlikely after another below-par display at the London Stadium.

Southampton took the lead after only eight minutes when Mohamed Elyounoussi finished from the edge of the penalty area.

West Ham coach David Moyes hauled off Nikola Vlasic and Pablo Fornals at haftime, sending on Michail Antonio — back from a spell out with COVID-19 – and Manuel Lanzini.

The move paid instant dividends with Antonio pouncing from a corner after Craig Dawson headed Jarrod Bowen’s delivery back across goal.

But Dawson was at fault when Saints went back in front on the hour, the defender being out-paced by Armando Broja before bringing him down on the edge of the box. Referee Kevin Friend consulted the pitch-side monitor before awarding the penalty, which was converted by James Ward-Prowse.

West Ham equalized four minutes later when Bowen got free down the right and crossed for Said Benrahma to sweep home.

However, when Ward-Prowse swung in a free kick with 20 minutes remaining, Bednarek got above Dawson and Tomas Soucek to put the visitors in front again.

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