Man City back on top as Newcastle, Man Utd press top-four claims

LONDON – Erling Haaland scored his 50th goal of the season on Sunday as Manchester City beat Fulham to return to the Premier League summit, with Newcastle and Manchester United winning to close in on a top-four finish.

Liverpool maintained their unlikely pursuit of a Champions League place by beating Tottenham 4-3 in a thriller but Southampton and Leeds are staring into the abyss.

City’s 2-1 win at Craven Cottage left Pep Guardiola’s men a point clear of long-time leaders Arsenal, with a game in hand.

The defending champions, chasing their fifth Premier League title in six seasons, were ahead in the third minute when Haaland scored from the penalty spot after Julian Alvarez was fouled.

Haaland’s 34th Premier League goal of the season equals the competition record held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer – set in the days of 42-game campaigns.

The Norwegian is the first player to reach a half-century of goals across all competitions in a single English top-flight season since 1931.

“Before Winston Churchill was Prime Minister? Wow. Sounds a long time ago. Congratulations to Erling,” said City boss Guardiola.

Fulham equalised in the 15th minute through Carlos Vinicius but Alvarez restored City’s lead nine minutes before half-time.

Treble-chasing City, on top for the first time in 10 weeks, have won their past eight league games and are unbeaten in their past 18 matches in all competitions.

They are red-hot favourites to retain their title, taking full advantage of Arsenal’s stumbles — the Gunners are winless in their past four matches.

Arsenal host struggling Chelsea on Tuesday, with City at home to West Ham the following day.

“It’s important but on Tuesday Arsenal will play,” said Guardiola. “Important is the West Ham game, it’s a game in hand. After that we’ll be top of the table and it will be more real.”

Wilson double

Callum Wilson came off the bench to score twice as third-placed Newcastle fought back to beat Southampton 3-1 and edge their opponents towards relegation.

The England forward was left out of Eddie Howe’s starting line-up despite scoring twice at Everton in midweek but produced the perfect response.

He cancelled out Stuart Armstrong’s first-half opener and then helped himself to a second after Theo Walcott’s own goal had given the Magpies the lead.

The win keeps Newcastle two points ahead of Manchester United but Southampton are anchored at the foot of the table, six points from safety with just four games to play.

Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United edged in-form Aston Villa 1-0, courtesy of a first-half goal from Bruno Fernandes.

“We look from game to game and next we have Brighton so we need to work hard again,” Ten Hag told the BBC.

“We need to show passion again and not worry about the table. We are totally in control (in the race for the top four). It’s all about us and it’s in our hands.”

The match came just two days after Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani and Jim Ratcliffe submitted their third, and what are expected to be final, offers to buy United from unpopular American owners the Glazers.

Other parties are interested in minority investment, and it was reported that Joel and Avram Glazer could remain stakeholders under one deal being proposed by British billionaire Ratcliffe.

A group of United fans marched to Old Trafford on Sunday in protest against the Glazers, with a giant banner reading “Full Sale Only”.

Seven goals at Anfield

In the later kick-off, Liverpool hit managerless Tottenham with a three-goal blitz in the first 15 minutes but the visitors stormed back and Richarlison scored an improbable equaliser in the 93rd minute.

Just when it seemed that Spurs had grabbed a dramatic point Diogo Jota won the game, leaving the Reds in fifth spot, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United having played a game more.

“We got away with it thank to Diogo Jota — it makes it spectacular and everybody goes home buzzing,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told Sky.

Colombia midfielder Jefferson Lerma scored twice in four first-half minutes as Bournemouth moved 10 points clear of the relegation zone with a 4-1 home win over Leeds, who remain in deep trouble. – AFP