CHELSEA overwhelmed Crystal Palace 3-0 in the Premier League to give interim manager Guus Hiddink his first victory, while Tottenham drew 1-1 at Everton in a matchday that saw Man United also record a win to ease off the pressure from LVG while Arsenal raced further ahead at the summit. No such joy for Aston Villa as they slipped deeper into the mud.
In Spain Barcelona dropped points for the third time in four league games as they were held 0-0 by local rivals Espanyol in a heated Catalan derby on Saturday. Atletico Madrid moved two points clear of Barca at the top of the table, having played a game more, thanks to substitute Thomas Partey’s late winner to edge past Levante 1-0.
Meanwhile, a Paco Alcacer header gave Valencia a 2-2 draw in a highly charged La Liga clash with third-placed Real Madrid who had Mateo Kovacic sent off late in the second half on Sunday.
Real went ahead after a magical team move in which Karim Benzema linked up with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo before finishing clinically after 17 minutes. The game was evenly poised when Kovacic was red carded for a reckless two-footed challenge on Joao Cancelo in the 68th minute shortly after Ronaldo thought he should have had a penalty.
West Ham 2 Liverpool 0
Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio both scored for a second successive match as West Ham United leapfrogged Liverpool in the Premier League table by beating them 2-0 on Saturday. The pair had scored in the 2-1 victory over Southampton that ended a run of eight games without a win and their efforts against Liverpool at Upton Park ensured that Slaven Bilic’s side started 2016 on a high.
Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 0
Arsenal moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League table after Laurent Koscielny’s second-half winner secured an unconvincing 1-0 win over Newcastle United. The Frenchman’s 72nd-minute winner masked a stuttering display, but if the sign of an effective team is that they win even when below their best, then Arsenal justified their status as favourites to take the title.
Leicester City 0 Bournemouth 0
Leicester wasted a chance to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal as Artur Boruc saved Riyad Mahrez’s penalty to give 10-man Bournemouth a 0-0 draw. Claudio Ranieri’s side kicked off 2016 behind Arsenal only on goal difference, but they fell two points adrift of the Gunners at the end of a frustrating afternoon at the King Power Stadium.
Manchester United 2 Swansea City 1
Wayne Rooney eased the pressure on Louis van Gaal as the Manchester United captain’s superb backheeled strike secured a hard-fought 2-1 win over Swansea City. Rooney’s 77th-minute moment of magic took him ahead of Denis Law to become the second-highest goalscorer in United’s history and he is now also the second-highest scorer in the Premier League era with 188 goals.
Norwich City 1 Southampton 0
Southampton’s mid-season slump continued at Carrow Road after they suffered a late red card minutes before Alexander Tettey clinched the winner in a 1-0 victory for hosts Norwich. The Canaries have now picked up nine points from a possible 12 over the holidays and in doing so Alex Neil’s charges have climbed to within a point of Southampton.
Sunderland 3 Aston Villa 1
Jermain Defoe scored twice as Sunderland beat Aston Villa 3-1 at the Stadium of Light to boost their own Premier League survival hopes and leave Villa further marooned at the bottom. Defoe struck twice in the last 20 minutes after Patrick van Aanholt’s first-half opener for the home side had been cancelled out by a spectacular Carles Gil strike.
West Brom 2 Stoke City 1
Jonny Evans struck a scrappy injury-time winner as West Bromwich Albion ended Stoke City’s run of good form with a 2-1 victory at The Hawthorns. Stoke substitute Jon Walters looked to have rescued a point when he cancelled out Stephane Sessegnon’s opener, but Geoff Cameron’s 83rd-minute dismissal handed West Brom the initiative and they prevailed at the death
Watford 1 Manchester City 2
Manchester City maintained their Premier League title challenge after ending their away-day blues with a stirring late comeback that saw them win 2-1 at Watford. Two goals in as many minutes from talismen Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero kept City in touch at the top of the table when it appeared that they were destined for defeat.
Crystal Palace 0 Chelsea 3
Guus Hiddink enjoyed his first victory since taking over as Chelsea interim manager as the troubled Premier League champions crushed Crystal Palace 3-0 on Sunday. After draws against Watford and Manchester United following his arrival as short-term replacement for the sacked Jose Mourinho, Hiddink was at last able to celebrate three points at Selhurst Park.
Everton 1 Tottenham 1
Aaron Lennon scored against his former club as Everton displayed rediscovered resolve in a 1-1 draw at home to Champions League-chasing Tottenham. Everton had lost their two previous home games, 3-2 against Leicester City and 4-3 against Stoke City, but they took a 22nd-minute lead when Lennon converted Romelu Lukaku’s knock-down with a neatly controlled half-volley.
PSG advance in Cup; Lyon run riot
Holders Paris Saint-Germain laboured to a 1-0 win at fourth-tier Wasquehal on Sunday to reach the last 32 of the French Cup, while Lyon and Monaco recorded thumping victories over amateur sides. Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed home a Marco Verratti cross on the hour in far northern France as the runaway Ligue 1 leaders maintained their unbeaten domestic run this season.