Everton 4 Hull City 0: Lukaku dominates headlines again with late double

18 Mar 2017
Amid speculation over his future, Romelu Lukaku’s brace helped Everton move into the Premier League top six with a 4-0 win over Hull City.

Romelu Lukaku proved his worth to Everton as he scored twice and set up another as Ronald Koeman’s side moved up into the top six of the Premier League with a 4-0 victory over 10-man Hull City.

Lukaku publically questioned the club’s ambition in the days preceding Saturday’s contest to cast doubt over his Everton future, but the Belgian added the gloss to a convincing victory as he moved top of the league’s scoring charts with a late double at Goodison Park.

Having already teed-up Enner Valencia’s strike, Lukaku took advantage of slack Hull defending to move two clear of Tottenham’s Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot on 21.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin squandered a terrific chance in the reverse fixture in December, but the youngster made no mistake on this occasion as he nudged in Tom Davies’ cross to give Everton the lead early on.

Marco Silva’s side responded well to going behind, but any hopes of a Hull comeback were all-but ended when Tom Huddlestone was dismissed – harshly so – for a lunge on Idrissa Gueye midway through the second half.

Valencia secured the points just over a minute after coming on, with Lukaku adding a quickfire double. Hull remain planted in the relegation zone, while Everton – who face Liverpool after the international break – move level on points with fifth-placed Arsenal.

Despite Lukaku’s reported refusal to sign a new contract, Everton fans showed no hesitation in getting behind the striker as the teams were announced in the pre-match build-up.

But for all of the attention on the Belgian, it was Lukaku’s strike partner Calvert-Lewin who opened the scoring after nine minutes.

Ross Barkley and Davies combined brilliantly to set-up the 20-year-old, who duly tucked home to open his Premier League account.

Calvert-Lewin went close to a second before Lukaku looked to have responded perfectly to his critics when he found the net, only for a late offside flag to deny the former Chelsea man his 20th league goal of the season.

Gareth Barry replaced the injured Morgan Schneiderlin on the half-hour mark, and the veteran nearly made an immediate impact with a cross into Ashley Williams, who headed straight at Eldin Jakupovic.

Hull looked bright after the restart, with Everton lacking the zip and guile that was present in the opening stages, though Lukaku went close with a rasping strike.

Lukaku, desperate to reinforce his comments with a goal worthy of a world-class talent, forced Jakupovic into a fine save soon after, while Andy Robertson should have done better with a close-range volley at the other end.

But as Hull looked to be building a head of steam, they were reduced to 10 men – Huddlestone receiving a straight red card after diving in on Gueye.

Everton soon made their numerical advantage pay – Lukaku teeing-up Valencia with a delightful flick – the West Ham-loanee proceeding to thump a precise finish into the bottom-left corner.

Valencia returned the favour in the 91st minute, sliding a throughball into Lukaku who confidently despatched past Jakupovic. Lukaku was not finished there, though, doubling his tally in the final minute of stoppage time after latching onto Omar Elabdellaoui’s awful back-pass.

Key Opta stats:

– Everton have won six successive Premier League games at Goodison Park for the first time since April 2014 (7 wins).
– Romelu Lukaku (21) became the first Everton player to reach 20+ league goals in a single season since Gary Lineker in 1985-86 (30 goals).
– Lukaku is the fourth player in Premier League history to score 80+ goals in the competition before turning 24 years old (Also Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney).
– Enner Valencia scored just 69 seconds after coming off the bench for Everton.
– No team has been shown more Premier League red cards this season than Hull City (4) – Man City and West Ham also with four.

Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0: Resurgent Eagles make it three on the bounce thanks to Deeney own goal

18 Mar 2017
An own goal from Troy Deeney helped Crystal Palace to an important 1-0 win over Watford in the battle against Premier League relegation.

Resurgent Crystal Palace chalked up a third consecutive Premier League victory to move four points clear of the relegation zone as a Troy Deeney own goal was enough to beat Watford 1-0 on Saturday.

Back-to-back league wins over Middlesbrough and West Brom had helped move Palace out of the bottom three and Sam Allardyce’s men continued their revival at Selhurst Park, albeit with a little helping hand from Deeney.

Palace had appeared the more dangerous side in a match between two evenly matched teams with Wilfried Zaha looking particularly threatening for the Eagles.

And they got their reward when Deeney, who earned a 1-1 draw for Watford in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, headed past Heurelho Gomes when attempting a clearance in the 68th minute.

The result leaves Palace two places and four points clear of Hull City, who are 18th, with a game in hand, while Watford may still be throwing nervous glances at the bottom three, albeit they have a seven-point buffer with 10 games to go.

Palace made an encouraging start to the game and Zaha felt he should have been awarded a penalty following a challenge from Craig Cathcart, while Mamadou Sakho headed over from a corner shortly after.

Yohan Cabaye was next to threaten for the Eagles after more good work from Zaha down the left, but the Frenchman was unfortunate to see his shot hit the leg of a Watford defender as it bounced wide for a corner.

Watford, meanwhile, struggled to create any chances of note, with M’Baye Niang’s opportunistic long-range strike straight at goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and Valon Behrami’s wayward volley their only attempts before the break.

The visitors improved somewhat after half-time and Etienne Capoue tried his luck early on, blasting a shot over the bar from a dangerous position just outside the box.

Palace remained the more dangerous team, though, and they came close to opening the scoring when Zaha fired just over from a narrow angle after being set up by Andros Townsend.

But Palace did make the breakthrough with just over 20 minutes to play. Cabaye whipped a free-kick in from the left and Deeney’s header beat Gomes at the near post, the ball striking the upright on its way home.

Christian Benteke should perhaps have put the match to bed in the closing stages of the game, but his miss would matter little in the end as Palace saw out the game to take the three points.

Key Opta stats:

– Crystal Palace are only the fourth team since 2003-04 to win a Premier League game without directing a single shot on target.
– Watford have failed to find the back of the net in five of their last seven top-flight games on the road.
– Only Sunderland (22) have failed to score a first-half goal in more Premier League games this season than Crystal Palace (21, level with Hull).

Bournemouth 2 Swansea City 0: Afobe seals big step towards safety

Bournemouth took a huge step towards Premier League safety by recording a vital home win over struggling Swansea City.

Benik Afobe was key as Bournemouth recorded a 2-0 victory over Swansea City at the Vitality Stadium that opened up a nine-point gap on the relegation zone and kept their opponents in the thick of the Premier League survival battle.

Alfie Mawson scored a first-half own goal as he tried to block Afobe’s shot.

And Afobe went on to score Bournemouth’s second 18 minutes from time, his fourth league goal of the season settling a contest largely lacking goalmouth drama.

After a slow start to 2017, Bournemouth have now collected seven points from a possible nine, this win moving them up to 11th with a sizeable cushion over the bottom three.

Swansea, meanwhile, have lost four straight away games and stay 17th, just three points clear of third-bottom Hull City, who beat them last week.

Bournemouth have now recorded back-to-back league wins for the first time in over a year.

Eddie Howe’s side won the reverse fixture on New Year’s Eve 3-0 and two of the scorers from the game came close early on, Marcus Fraser firing wide before Afobe’s header just missed the target.

At the other end, Gylfi Sigurdsson volleyed over before Joshua King was inches away from scoring an own goal as he tried to head clear the Iceland international’s free-kick.

Tom Carroll had a penalty claim denied when his cross struck the raised arm of Marc Pugh from close range, and Swansea’s frustration increased when the hosts took a 31st-minute lead.

Federico Fernandez charged out of defence, leaving space for King and Pugh to combine with Afobe, whose low shot from outside the area took a huge deflection off Mawson to beat Lukasz Fabianski, the Swansea defender credited with an own goal.

After Swansea lost possession early in the second half, Dan Gosling tested Fabianski from 25 yards having been set up by King.

Fabianski was called upon again to deny Fraser as Bournemouth attempted to find a second goal.

Swansea were offering little going forward after the break, Sigurdsson striking a free-kick straight into the wall, prompting Paul Clement to bring on Luciano Narsingh and Wayne Routledge.

But Bournemouth soon made sure of the points, Afobe latching on to a throughball from strike partner King that took Mawson out of the game and beating Fabianski with an impressive low finish in off the far post.

It was almost three when Fabianski got down sharply to save a thumping header from King, but Bournemouth were unconcerned by that as they comfortably held on and took a huge step towards survival.

Key Opta:

– Bournemouth are unbeaten in three Premier League games (W2 D1) for the first time since October (4 games).
– Swansea have kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 games and have shipped a league-high 63 goals overall this season.
– The Cherries have scored two or more goals in seven of their last eight games against Swansea.
– Swansea have netted 10 own-goals in the league over the course of the last two seasons, more than any other side in the Football League in that period.
– Josh King has been directly involved in eight goals in his last six Premier League games (7 goals, 1 assist).

Liverpool 2 Burnley 1: Can’s the man in comeback win

12 Mar 2017
Liverpool fought back from a goal down to beat Burnley and gain ground on the Premier League’s top three as Emre Can netted the winner.

Emre Can struck the winner as Liverpool beat Burnley 2-1 at Anfield to close the gap to third-placed Manchester City in the Premier League table ahead of their meeting next weekend.

With the rest of the top six in FA Cup action, Jurgen Klopp’s side came from behind to beat Burnley and consolidate fourth place, while closing to within a point of City and Tottenham.

Liverpool did not have it all their own way in the first half, though, with Ashley Barnes opening the scoring for the visitors as they eyed a maiden away win this term and a first seasonal double over the Reds since 1930.

But Georginio Wijnaldum equalised in first-half stoppage time and Can’s long-range stunner completed the turnaround just past the hour, clinching the points with Burnley’s attempts at a leveller of their own coming up short.

Klopp’s men took until the sixth game of the calendar year to taste a league victory in 2017, but they have now won three of their last four with a trip to City’s Etihad Stadium to come next Sunday.

It had looked as though the Reds’ woes against middling opposition had returned when Burnley deservedly led after seven minutes.

Matthew Lowton delivered a superb low cross from the right and Barnes, arriving behind Joel Matip at the back post, stretched to finish high past Simon Mignolet.

The visitors retained a threat on the break through Andre Gray and he shot across the face of goal from a narrow angle, but, having previously offered little in response, Liverpool drew level on the stroke of half-time.

Divock Origi drifted wide to the left and cut back inside to deliver a cross towards Wijnaldum, who saw his attempted flick blocked but then pounced on the rebound to wrong-foot Tom Heaton with a calm strike.

Barnes sent an effort dipping wide shortly after the restart, but Liverpool finally took control with just under half an hour remaining.

Origi was again the provider as he squared for Can, 25 yards from goal, to step forward and drill beyond Heaton into the bottom-right corner.

The hosts were given an immediate reminder of Burnley’s menace as a ball dropped for Barnes in the area from a set-piece, but Ragnar Klavan dived across to block magnificently.

Ben Woodburn, on for Philippe Coutinho, flashed a cross just past the right-hand post and only a fine Heaton save kept Sadio Mane from adding a third, before Burnley’s best late chance fell to right-back Lowton, rather than a striker, and he blazed over.

KEY OPTA STATS

– Liverpool have now won 16 Premier League games this season; equalling their tally of wins for the entire 2015-16 season.
– Burnley have taken just two points from a possible 42 away from home in the league this season (W0 D2 L12).
– Liverpool have won 14 points from losing positions in the Premier League this term; a joint-high with Tottenham.
– The Clarets had just one shot on target in the game – no team has had one or fewer shots on target in an away game more often than Burnley in the top-flight this season (4).
– Ashley Barnes (10) is now just one goal short of tying with Danny Ings (11) for the most Premier League goals for Burnley.
– Liverpool conceded inside the first 10 minutes of a Premier League game at Anfield for the first time since August 2015 (v West Ham, Manuel Lanzini).
– All 16 of Georginio Wijnaldum’s Premier League goals have been scored in home matches (five for Liverpool, 11 for Newcastle).
– Since Jurgen Klopp’s first game in charge, the Reds have scored more Premier League goals from outside the box than any other team (21).

Hull City 2 Swansea City 1: Niasse at the double to revive survival bid

11 Mar 2017
Hull City remain unbeaten at home under Marco Silva after Oumar Niasse came off the bench to secure a 2-1 win over Swansea City.

Oumar Niasse was the Hull City hero as the Tigers beat Swansea City 2-1 at the KCOM Stadium to breathe new life into their Premier League survival bid.

Marco Silva’s side slipped four points adrift of safety in defeat at Leicester City last week, but a third win over the Swans this season has put them back in touch with teams above them, including Saturday’s visitors.

Silva’s first game in charge was a 2-0 home win over Paul Clement’s men in the FA Cup, but this triumph could be all the more significant come the end of the campaign.

Given the high stakes, it was little surprise that the game was a tense affair, but Silva was rewarded for a brave second-half introduction of Niasse, who joined Abel Hernandez up front and scored twice within 15 minutes of coming on.

Hull remain unbeaten at home under the Portuguese, with games at the KCOM Stadium to come against the likes of Middlesbrough and Sunderland suggesting all is not lost for the Tigers.

Wayne Routledge was guilty of wasting the Swans’ two best openings, with Alfie Mawson’s stoppage-time goal proving too little too late.

The first of those Routledge chances came in just the ninth minute, but Eldin Jakupovic denied Routledge one-on-one after an excellent reverse pass from Gylfi Sigurdsson.

The visitors failed to build on their strong start, however, and Jordi Amat playing in an unfamiliar right-back role after Angel Rangel’s injury-enforced withdrawal gave Hull foundations for a revival late in the half.

Left winger Kamil Grosicki gave Amat a stern examination, curling a cross-shot into Lukasz Fabianski’s arms before flashing a shot wide and then almost supplying a tap-in for Hernandez, who was bravely denied by a flying Fabianski after being lobbed by his Poland team-mate.

The in-form Fernando Llorente was also forced off before the break with a dead leg, and Clement was visibly angered when Routledge again wasted a good chance to score, blazing high and wide after Jakupovic palmed Tom Carroll’s cross back into danger.

Jakupovic was called into action at full stretch from a Sigurdsson free-kick, prompting Silva to bolster his attacking options by replacing Alfred N’Diaye with Niasse and the Tigers immediately had more bite, but Grosicki could not take advantage after rounding Fabianski inside the box.

However, the move paid dividends soon after as Niasse burst clear on the end of a return ball from Hernandez and finished calmly past the onrushing Fabianski.

And the Senegal striker sealed the win nine minutes later, latching onto Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross to blast past Fabianski from close-range.

Mawson continued his fine run in front of goal with a 91st-minute header from Sigurdsson’s free-kick, but the earlier missed chances may come back to haunt a Swans’ side that have lost every away game in which they have conceded first this term.

KEY OPTA STATS

– All three of Oumar Niasse’s Premier League goals for Hull City have been as a substitute.
– The Swans have lost their last three visits to the KCOM Stadium, each in a different competition.
– Swansea have now shipped 61 goals this season. No side to have conceded 60+ goals after 28 games of a Premier League season has stayed up.
– Swansea have now conceded more goals in the final 30 minutes of games than any other Premier League side this season (29).
– Niasse is the fourth substitute to score twice in a Premier League game this season, and first since Fernando Llorente against Crystal Palace in November.
– The Tigers have won three of their four Premier League home games under Marco Silva (D1), the same number they’d won in their previous 16 at home in the competition.

 

Everton 3 West Brom 0: Hosts equal last season’s points tally with easy win

11 Mar 2017
Everton matched their Premier League points tally from last season after easing to victory over West Brom.

Romelu Lukaku’s 19th Premier League goal of the season helped Everton beat West Brom 3-0 on Saturday in a win which saw them match their total points tally of 47 from last season, highlighting their marked improvement under Ronald Koeman.

Everton’s display emphasised their increased solidity in defence since Roberto Martinez’s departure, while there were no signs of that negatively impacting their effectiveness going forward as they equalled last season’s record despite having 10 more games to play.

It did take them a little longer than they would have liked to open the scoring, but a brilliant six-minute spell at the end of the first half had Everton well on course to wrapping up

a comfortable win, finally making the most of their superiority over a West Brom team which showed little attacking intent.

Kevin Mirallas got the first in the 39th minute, reacting quickest in the area before tucking away, with Morgan Schneiderlin then rounding off a fine first half with his first goal for the club.

West Brom enjoyed a little more time on the front foot after the interval, but they never had Everton looking particularly uncomfortable.

And ultimately Everton sauntered to victory, as Lukaku struck late on to overtake his previous Premier League best of 18 goals in a single season to spoil Tony Pulis’ 300th Premier League match as a manager.

Even from the early exchanges it looked set to be a long day for West Brom, as Everton started brightly and put their visitors under considerable pressure, though it took them 16 minutes to craft the match’s first chance.

Gareth Barry tussled with Jake Livermore on the edge of the box and came out on top, before feeding Lukaku and he dragged a right-footed effort agonisingly wide of the left-hand post.

Lukaku went close again just before the half-hour mark, escaping Jonny Evans in the area and heading off target after a great left-wing delivery from Leighton Baines.

But Everton finally found their range in the 39th minute.

Ben Foster failed to hold on to Ross Barkley’s 20-yard effort and Mirallas was there to pounce, smashing home from close range.

And Schneiderlin doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time – prodding past Foster after latching on to Lukaku’s precise reverse pass.

Sensing they had already wrapped things up, Everton looked to invite West Brom pressure early in the second half.

And the visitors did at least get a shot on goal six minutes after the break, but Joel Robles pushed away Nacer Chadli’s 25-yard effort with relative ease.

Everton continued to look the more inventive in attack, though, and Barkley worried them just after the hour mark, shrugging off Gareth McAuley and rifling into the side-netting inside the area.

West Brom were finally finished off eight minutes from time – Lukaku rising to meet Barkley’s cross and heading beyond the helpless Foster.

It almost got even worse for West Brom in stoppage time, but Idrissa Gueye’s 20-yard strike came back off the right-hand post.

Key Opta stats:
– Everton have won five consecutive Premier League home games for the first time since April 2014 (a run of seven).
– West Brom haven’t kept a Premier League clean sheet on the road since the first game of the season at Crystal Palace, conceding in each of their last 13.
– Romelu Lukaku has been involved in 24 Premier League goals this season (19 goals, 5 assists) – only Alexis Sanchez has been involved in more (26).
– Ross Barkley has provided an assist in consecutive Premier League games for the first time since November 2015.
– This was Tony Pulis’ 300th Premier League game as manager. Of managers to reach the milestone, only Steve Bruce won fewer of his opening 300 (88, Pulis 95).

Bournemouth 3 West Ham 2: King hat-trick puts Hammers to the sword to seal vital win

11 Mar 2017
Bournemouth missed two first-half penalties but still managed to secure a deserved first win of 2017 courtesy of King’s 90th-minute goal

Joshua King’s hat-trick helped Bournemouth secure their first win of 2017 in a dramatic 3-2 triumph over West Ham, despite the Cherries missing two penalties at the Vitality Stadium.

Pacy forward King was the man to miss Bournemouth’s first effort from 12 yards in the ninth minute with Michail Antonio putting the Hammers in front just 48 seconds later.

King quickly made amends with a fine solo goal to level proceedings before Benik Afobe this time fluffed his lines from the spot to add to Bournemouth’s frustrations.

Bournemouth did take the lead early in the second half thanks to King’s close-range effort, before late drama ensued, starting with Andre Ayew restoring parity with eight minutes remaining.

But Eddie Howe’s men were not to be denied as King again pounced from close range in the last minute of normal time to earn a timely three points for Bournemouth, who end an eight-match winless Premier League run and move eight points clear of the drop zone.

West Ham, meanwhile, have now gone four games without a win and missed out on the chance to force their way into the top 10.

Ryan Fraser dragged a shot across goal and Afobe headed a Marc Pugh cross wide in a lively opening from Bournemouth.

The hosts looked poised to make the most of that bright start when Sofiane Feghouli hauled down Charlie Daniels when he burst into the box, but King placed his penalty wide.

And 48 seconds later West Ham went in front. Harry Arter’s misplaced pass was stolen by Feghouli and he found Antonio, who picked out the bottom-right corner on the spin.

Antonio continued to trouble the home defence and he fizzed a 20-yard effort past the right-hand post before creating a chance for Manuel Lanzini, who failed to keep his shot down when well placed.

Bournemouth remained a threat, though, and West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph was called into action twice in the space of a minute to keep out Fraser’s long-range half-volley and a powerful header from Steve Cook.

Randolph could do nothing to stop Bournemouth’s equaliser, though, as King neatly chipped the ball over Jose Fonte’s head with his right foot before drilling home with his left.

Incredibly, Bournemouth were awarded another penalty when Fonte was deemed to have tripped Pugh in the box.

Afobe took the responsibility this time, but his tame effort was saved easily by Randolph low to his right.

The end-to-end nature of the opening period continued right up to the half-time whistle as only Artur Boruc’s outstretched left boot prevented Feghouli from restoring the London side’s lead.

There was no let-up in the drama after the break as Bournemouth took the lead within three minutes.

Cook rose highest to meet Fraser’s free-kick and, as the West Ham defence appealed in vain for offside, King calmly applied the close-range finish.

Referee Bobby Madley duly consulted with his assistant as the visitors continued with their protests, but the goal was allowed to stand.

Afobe was then denied by Randolph as the Hampshire side pressed for a third goal, but as the final whistle loomed, West Ham began to look the more threatening and duly made it 2-2 with eight minutes left.

Pedro Obiang’s superb pass split the home defence wide open, Sam Byram delivered the low cross and fellow-substitute Ayew swept the ball home.

Bournemouth were not done, though, and King fittingly had the last word, rattling home from eight yards out after Randolph had parried Jack Wilshere’s initial effort into his path.

 

Manchester City 0-0 Stoke City: Sane misses sitters as hosts remain third

8 Mar 2017
Pep Guardiola will rue his men missing the opportunity to overtake Tottenham in second place after his side failed to break down their stubborn guests

Leroy Sane missed a great chance to score the winner as Manchester City were held to a 0-0 draw against Stoke City on Wednesday.

The Germany international, who came into the match at the Etihad Stadium having netted in three consecutive appearances, was once again a livewire down the wing.

However, he was left holding his head when he skied his shot after Kevin De Bruyne’s cross escaped Joe Allen’s reach and found him on the hour mark.

Sane’s chance proved to be one of City’s best chances of the night, with the youngster unable to make contact with a great delivery for what would have been a guilt-edge chance in stoppage time.

David Silva – introduced for the ineffective Jesus Navas – had already spurned a glorious chance 18 minutes from the end, though he did make a big difference to City’s attacking play.

But ultimately Guardiola introduced Silva too late and Stoke held on for a draw despite City’s desperate late onslaught.

Stoke were much quicker out of the blocks than their hosts and should have taken an early lead through Mame Biram Diouf when the Senegal forward scuffed a first-time effort straight at Willy Caballero from Erik Pieters’ cross.

The visitors continued to look bright in attack and caused problems again in the 15th minute.

Ramadan Sobhi cleverly turned Nicolas Otamendi on the left side of the area and darted towards the danger zone, but Bacary Sagna made a vital intervention before Diouf could pounce.

Diouf was then involved at the other end shortly after, tracking the run of Leroy Sane and producing a marvellous last-ditch tackle to deny him a clear run at Lee Grant and the Stoke goal.

Otherwise, Stoke did a fine job of keeping City at bay, with only an Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick – which Grant saved comfortably – troubling them.

City attacked with more intent after the break and crafted a good opening early on, but Sergio Aguero – captain on the night – saw his 20-yard effort deflected just over after being picked out by Sane.

The in-form German winger then went close with a chance of his own in the 60th minute, receiving De Bruyne’s cutback and blazing over from 12 yards as Silva’s entrance injected a little more urgency to City’s attack.

Silva went close twice in quick succession as the match approached its final 15 minutes – first agonisingly missing the bottom-right corner from just inside the box, before drilling wide of the opposite post from distance.

Aguero almost stunned Stoke at the death when slipped into the left side of the box, but the Argentinian could only find the side-netting as Stoke secured a solid point.

 

West Ham 1-2 Chelsea: Hazard and Costa restore 10-point lead for Blues

6 Mar 2017
Antonio Conte’s side put in a professional performance in a capital derby at the London Stadium to cement their standing at the Premier League summit

Chelsea continued their relentless march towards the Premier League title with a controlled 2-1 win over West Ham at London Stadium.

A much-changed Blues XI were knocked out of the EFL Cup at the same ground in October but Antonio Conte’s men were all business this time around.

They absorbed early pressure without coughing up chances and Eden Hazard displayed the devastating, clinical edge West Ham lacked as he scythed through them for a counter-attacking opener.

Conte’s side carried menace on the break throughout, although their second came courtesy of poor set-piece defending from Slaven Bilic’s side, with Diego Costa needing no second invitation to collect his 18th goal of the season after 50 minutes.

Manuel Lanzini grabbed a late consolation for the Hammers, who remain just outside the top-10, as he rifled home his sixth league goal of the season.

But Chelsea were not to be denied and sit 10 points clear of Tottenham at the summit, although their lead will be cut to eight if Manchester City win their game in hand at home to Stoke City on Wednesday.

Running repairs were the order of the day during the opening stages as West Ham striker Andy Carroll suffered a bloodied nose in an aerial challenge with Victor Moses and Chelsea defender Gary Cahill needed to replace a torn shirt.

West Ham pressed the league leaders back without crafting a goalscoring opportunity before being clinically unpicked on the counter-attack after 26 minutes.

Mark Noble’s pass was cut out by N’Golo Kante and Hazard seized upon the opportunity – tearing forward from his own half, exchanging passes with Pedro and accelerate past goalkeeper Darren Randolph to slot home.

Worrying scenes followed as an angry West Ham got on to the field to confront the celebrating Chelsea players, before being led away by security.

Hammers playmaker Lanzini made a similarly darting run towards a more well-manned Chelsea defence but blazed over after a one-two with Noble.

The hosts somehow escaped falling two behind in the 42nd minute when Diego Costa missed his kick from Hazard’s low cross, Moses saw his follow-up bravely blocked by Aaron Creswell and Randolph saved from Pedro on the rebound.

But Chelsea had their second within five minutes of the restart as Pedro Obiang could only glance on Cesc Fabregas’ corner for Costa to bundle in from close range.

A deft piece of skill from Marcos Alonso saw him breeze past Jose Fonte – continuing a torrid outing for the West Ham centre-half – but the wing-back prodded just past Randolph’s far post.

The hosts’ willingness to hurl balls into the Chelsea box almost paid off in the 61st minute as Thibaut Courtois saved with his legs from Sofiane Feghouli and Robert Snodgrass headed over.

Randolph remained the more threatened goalkeeper and the Republic of Ireland international reacted superbly to tip around the corner after Costa turned masterfully to get a shot off inside the box.

West Ham kept plugging away commendably for a side safely ensconced in mid-table and gained some consolation when Lanzini latched on to a loose ball and thrashed past Courtois in stoppage time.

Chelsea, with an FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United next on the agenda, have their sights firmly trained upon the double.

 

Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Everton: Kane double helps to seal Spurs success

5 Mar 2017
The England international netted an important brace, while Dele Alli scored late on, with Romelu Lukaku and Enner Valencia replying for the Toffees

Harry Kane’s supreme run of form continued as his double gave Tottenham a 3-2 victory over Everton at White Hart Lane, strengthening their grip on second place.

Spurs moved within seven points of Premier League leaders Chelsea – who play West Ham on Monday – courtesy of a goal in each half from the in-form England international.

Kane now has 19 league goals and leads the Golden Boot race outright having scored with a brilliant strike in a first half that also saw Victor Wanyama hit the post.

Everton were not at the races and Kane’s second – after a costly mistake from Morgan Schneiderlin – extended their advantage after the break, taking the England international’s 2017 record to 14 goals in 12 matches.

Romelu Lukaku got one back late on to become the club’s outright top scorer in Premier League history, but the hosts soon restored their two-goal cushion thanks to Dele Alli’s neat flick.

Spurs hold a four-point cushion over Liverpool and Manchester City after a club-record ninth straight Premier League win.

Everton, who netted a stoppage time consolation through substitute Enner Valencia, stay seventh in the standings and five points adrift of Manchester United above them after losing for the first time in 10 top-flight games.

After a quiet start to the match, unchanged Spurs took the lead in spectacular fashion through Kane.

With Everton in no obvious danger, Kane collected a pass from Ben Davies and promptly worked an opening for himself before unleashing a dipping 30-yard strike that beat Joel Robles.

The striker almost got a second a few moments later, only to be denied by Joel from close range following some neat footwork and a clever exchange with Christian Eriksen, who lashed over from the rebound.

Eriksen squandered two more opportunities, dragging a shot wide from the edge of the area after being found by Kyle Walker before heading Davies’ cross just wide.

But it was Wanyama who came closest to striking again before the break, sending his deflected left-footed effort against the post from 25 yards as Spurs threatened to run riot.

Jan Vertonghen charged forward and forced a save from Joel early in the second half and Spurs quickly made it two, striking on 56 minutes.

Kane was the beneficiary of some dreadful Everton defending, sliding in a low finish after Dele Alli had capitalised on Schneiderlin and Ashley Williams making a hash of dealing with Joel’s ill-advised throw.

Everton brought on Kevin Mirallas and James McCarthy in a bid to change the match’s momentum, although Ross Barkley’s tame strike at Hugo Lloris was the first time the Spurs keeper was called into the action.

There was some hope for the visitors with nine minutes to go when Lukaku collected Mirallas’ pass and drilled a right-footed finish past Lloris.

But after Joel had to save bravely from Kane to deny him a hat-trick, it was Alli who put the result beyond doubt in the second minute of stoppage-time.

Substitute Harry Winks’ free-kick caught Everton’s defence flat-footed, with Alli’s deft touch giving him a 13th league goal of an impressive campaign.

And a crazy finish to the game saw Valencia latch on to Barkley’s free-kick to sweep in from six yards just 70 seconds later, but Spurs were not to be denied.